48 hours in Madrid


Whether you enjoy hopping from bar to bar, walking the cobbled streets or simply watching the world go by from a park bench, Madrid has something for everyone.

Here are five suggestions that can easily be fitted into a weekend – a mix of walking, eating, relaxing and football that won’t break the bank. Enjoy!

1. Mercado de San Miguel

The Mercado de San Miguel – just off Plaza Mayor – is THE place to be seen on a Sunday.

The glass-and-iron covered market building re-opened in 2015 after a six-year refurbishment and is light and airy, just as a traditional market should be.

Inside it’s cool and busy, packed with people eating, drinking, and just wandering about.

Alongside the stalls selling fresh fish and produce are tapas stands, coffee shops, a sherry corner and Beer House.

The tapas staples are all here – deep-fried boquerones and squid, cones full of jamon and chorizo – as well as the more exotic stuffed sea urchins.

Prices may be higher than other markets in the city but neither the atmosphere nor food disappoints.

  • Nearest Metro stations – Sol (2,5)/Opera (1,2,3)
Mercado de San Miguel, Madrid
Outside the Mercado de San Miguel
Mercado de San Miguel, Madrid
Selection of fried seafood
Mercado de San Miguel, Madrid
Jamon bocadillos
Mercado de San Miguel, Madrid
Warm Spanish custard tarts
Mercado de San Miguel, Madrid
Chorizo in cones
Mercado de San Miguel, Madrid
Coffee and cake
Mercado de San Miguel, Madrid
More coffee and more cake!
Mercado de San Miguel, Madrid
Enjoying coffee and tart
Mercado de San Miguel, Madrid
Fresh sea urchins
Mercado de San Miguel, Madrid

2. Circulo de Bellas Artes

If you need to chill out for the afternoon and get great views of Madrid, had for the rooftop on seventh floor of the Circulo de Bellas Artes.

Here, you can kick back and enjoy a Campari and soda with the locals or book into the restaurant.

There are 360-degree views of the city, and you can walk from the centre of Madrid, the nearby Parque de El Retiro, the main Atocha train station or the Prado Museum.

  • Nearest Metro stations: Banco de Espana/Sevilla (both Line 2)
  • Admission: 4 euros
Circulo de Bellas Artes
Relax at the top of the Circulo de Bellas Artes
Circulo de Bellas Artes, Madrid
Views over Madrid
Circulo de Bellas Artes, Madrid
Book into the restaurant
Circulo de Bellas Artes, Madrid
The rooftop at Circulo de Bellas Artes

3. Bar hopping with free tapas

There is nothing finer that just wandering the streets of Madrid, enjoying a coffee or something stronger – with the added bonus of free tapas.

A coffee can be as little as a euro and a small beer just two, while a menu del dia – five courses with a drink and dessert – from just 12 euros.

But this is Spain, so tapas is king and in Madrid you are likely to get one free with a drink – some ham and tomato on bread, a mini hamburger, or a slice of tortilla.

Head for the Lavapies area during the day, and after dark congregate at the Plaza de San Ildefonso.

Serving up a treat in Madrid
A cold Cruzcampo
Serving beer in the street
More cold beer
Often a free tapas is served with your drink
Madrid bar
Inside a typical Madrid bar
Coffee in Madrid
A coffee can be as little as a euro
Breakfast deal

4. Parque del Retiro

Surely the best free thing to do in Madrid, the huge Parque del Retiro sits in the south-west corner of the city.

You can enjoy a walk along the tree-lined boulevards, drop into the Glass House for the latest art exhibition, have a coffee by the lake or simply sit on the grass and watch the world go by.

If you are feeling energetic, rowing boats cost just eight euros for 45 minutes.

  • Nearest Metro stations: Retiro (Line 2)/Ibiza (Line 9)/Atocha (Line 1)
Parque del Retiro
The boating lake at Parque del Retiro
Parque del Retiro
The Glass House
Parque del Retiro
The fountain and lake in front of the Glass House
Parque del Retiro
Hire a rowing boat

5. Estadio Santiago Bernabéu

Di Stefano, Figo, Zidane. Ronaldo, Bale, Benzema.

No trip to Madrid for a football fan is complete without a trip to the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu – or simply the Bernabéu.

The tour of the ground takes you up into the gods for a bird’s eye view of the pitch, and back down through the directors’  box, dressing rooms and press room onto the pitch.

Once at ground level you get to walk to the edge of the pitch and sit on the – heated – dugout seats.

In between is a tour of the museum, charting the history of Los Blancos and their 11 European Cups.

  • Nearest Metro station: Santiago Bernabeu (Line 10)
  • Museum tour costs 19 euros
Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid
A bird’s eye view of the pitch at the Bernabéu
Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid
You can get close to the pitch
Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid
Inside the press room
Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid
Down at pitch level
Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid
Shirts of the current squad
Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid
The museum tour at the Bernabéu

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