4 Days in Madrid Itinerary – Things to do in Madrid

If you’re looking for what to do in Madrid in 4 days, this itinerary is for you! 🙂

Ah, Madrid! Without a doubt, the Spanish capital has so much to offer, also, it’s such a fun and beautiful city!

In this travel guide, I will share my itinerary for 4 days in Madrid with all the best places you can visit, which is enough for any first time visitor. Or 3rd. Or 100th. Yes, Madrid is a city you would love to return to. 🥰

4 days in Madrid itinerary

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How to get there

From London you will find the best flight options from London Gatwick and London Stansted. For the best prices, check here.

Where to stay

I stayed at the Principe Pio and LOVED IT! 😍

Facing Madrid’s Royal Palace and Sabatini Gardens, the hotel is located in the city centre, just off Madrid’s Plaza de España Square. It’s a perfect place to stay because you are close to many main attractions. I haven’t used public transport at all, that’s how convenient it was. 

Other great hotels:

Pestana CR7 Gran Vía Madrid – a partnership between Cristiano Ronaldo and Pestana Hotel Group

Madrid Marriott Auditorium Hotel

Palacio de los Duques Gran Meliá – for those seeking ultimate luxury 🤩

Hyatt Centric Gran Via Madrid

When to visit Madrid

Madrid enjoys around 350 sunny days per year, making it Europe’s sunniest capital! ☀️

Madrid’s climate is one of Europe’s best because the city gets fresh mountain air from nearly all sides, however, given it’s the 2nd highest European capital, that also means significant changes from season to season

The hottest month will be July, the coldest month December and the wettest month November

I was there in the first week of May and the weather was absolutely AMAZING! 🤩 

Each day was sunny, with 30 degrees celsius (around 86 F), it was truly a proper summer time! Whereas during the evening, the temperatures would drop to 23-25 degrees C (74-77 F), but nonetheless you could still be in your summer dresses, it was actually very pleasant!

So, given all those facts you just read, personally I would say that the best time to visit Madrid is during spring. I even dare to say that May could be the best month because you will get plenty of sun, it will still be hot, but on the other hand you won’t experience an unbearable heat like you might in the summer months. 

When to visit Madrid, Madrid Itinerary

Evenings in Madrid in May 😍

How many days in Madrid is ideal

From my personal experience, certainly you need at least 3 days for Madrid only. Then you add 1 extra day for a day trip from Madrid because there are many great smaller towns very close to Madrid worth visiting. For example, my personal choice was Toledo and I’ll explain why later.

With that, 4 days are an ideal amount for your Madrid itinerary.

Heading to Madrid soon? In my 2024 Travel Bucket List you can read more about pros & cons of visiting Madrid.

Madrid 4-Day Itinerary

Retiro Park, Madrid

Retiro Park

Day 1 Madrid Itinerary

If you didn’t know, I’m a big foodie – I have freely nicknamed myself Megi The Piggie 🐽.

With this in mind, the first thing that I ALWAYS do whenever I arrive at my destination is getting the fuel – aka having some food and drinks. Anyone can relate? 😅

Mercado San Miguel

So, once you have left your bags and checked into your hotel, head to the Mercado de San Miguel. There are many great food options you can get, alongside some beer, sangria or fresh juices – whatever your heart desires. Mercado San Miguel was originally built in 1916 and reopened in 2009 (so not that long ago!).

Yummy 😋

Plaza Mayor

After you have fueled up, head to Plaza Mayor – the main square in Madrid. It was begun in the 17th century by King Philip III, whose bronze equestrian statue stands in the square. Officially opened in 1620, it is rectangular in shape and lined with pillars and arches.

Watch this reel to see the Plaza Mayor:

There are a lot of cafes and restaurants here, but kindly note that if it’s lunch time, no restaurant will serve you coffee/drinks only. In this case, we had to return later to have our coffee there.

P. S. Food and drinks are a little bit pricier here, than at some other squares/places, but hey, you are sipping your coffee or having a meal with a dash of history!

Catedral de la Almudena

Next on your Madrid itinerary is La Almudena Cathedral. Unfortunately, there was some kind of event when I was there, so instead on Day 1, I went inside the cathedral on Day 4 (my last day in Madrid).

While the visit to the cathedral is free, if you want to climb the dome, visit its museum, sacristy and chapterhouse, you’d have to pay €7 for it.

Palacio Real

Finally is time for the best activity of the day – visiting the Royal Palace, the main attraction in Madrid. 🤩

I was blown away by its beauty! I loved it even more than Versailles & Dolmabahce Palaces which were my 2 favourite palaces before visiting Palacio Royal.

If you didn’t know, the Royal Palace of Madrid is the largest royal palace in Western Europe and one of the largest in the world. 😱

The Royal Palace was built in the 18th century right on the grounds of the old Alcázar fortress. Although a fire in 1734 sparked some speculation about its history, King Philip V still decided to rebuild. He brought in Filippo Juvarra to design the new palace, which was completed in 1751 under the supervision of Juvarra’s apprentice, Giambattista Sacchetti. Sacchetti made sure the palace was solidly built, using vaults throughout, emphasising its importance as the seat of power in Spain. To this day it is the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family

I advise you to buy your tickets in advance to skip the queue.

Lastly, you can also combine a tour of Almudena Cathedral and Royal Palace. See below for options. On your way out, make sure to check Sabatini Gardens (free to visit).

Gran Via & Rooftop Bar

The main reason why we came to Madrid was to celebrate Slaven’s birthday (he’s my husband to those of you who don’t know him yet 😊).

We wanted to have a nice dinner and drink at the rooftop bar/restaurant. So for that reason we chose Azotea Del Circulo.

It is located at the top of the Circulo de Bellas Artes building, one of Madrid oldest skyscrapers, built in 1880. Today this is a privately owned cultural centre which offers almost 360° of panoramic views of Madrid. 😍

You can come for drinks, or have food as well. Just don’t forget to make a reservation in advance as this place is super popular! 

4 Days in Madrid Itinerary

4 Days in Madrid Itinerary

Day 2 Madrid Itinerary

Your second day in Madrid will cover the most important museums, cultural activities and a nice walk in the park.

Puerta del Sol & Cine Dore

Start your day 2 at Puerta del Sol – one of the busiest squares in Madrid.

The square contains the famous clock whose bells mark the traditional eating of the Twelve Grapes and the beginning of a new year.

On your way towards Reina Sofia you will pass by Cine Dore, a modernism cinema.

Reina Sofia Museum

I have always wanted to visit Reina Sofia. Why? Because Picasso’s Guernica is being held there. 🫶

It was painted as an immediate reaction to the Nazi’s devastating casual bombing practice on the Basque town of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War.

Guernica shows the tragedies of war and the suffering it inflicts upon individuals, particularly innocent civilians.

I was surprised by its size and seeing it in person was an incredible experience for every art history lover! I still remember those days from high school when I was learning about it, having exams on it and daydreaming about seeing it one day. 🥰

With this in mind, you can imagine my disappointment when I realised I am not allowed to take any photos! C’mon, really!? Unquestionably I do understand the importance of preserving the art! Of course I would never use a flash, so I just don’t get why it’s not allowed. Though I am pretty sure they changed this rule recently – maybe they heard me bragging about it on social media! 🤣 But, do double check though.

Buy your tickets in advance:

Parque del Buen Retiro

I love parks! I enjoy taking long walks in Hyde Park, also, I couldn’t wait to visit Central Park, so of course I had to add Buen Retiro Park to my Madrid itinerary too!

It’s similar in size to Hyde Park and Central Park, but I found it more beautiful than these 2 (and they are very beautiful parks too!).

Covering over 125 hectares and comprising more than 15,000 trees, El Retiro Park is a green oasis in the heart of the city. It was recently named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Make sure to check:

  • Columns of Alfonso XII Monument – erected to commemorate the short reign of Alfonso XII, The Peacemaker, who established the foundations for the final socioeconomic recuperation of Spain bringing an end to the political instability that lasted more than half a century. 
  • Palacio de Cristal – a historic 18th-century building with unique architecture that serves as a conservatory with stunning iron, brick and glass construction and design. Today it is used for art exhibits.
  • La Rosaleda – or the Rose Garden with more than 4000 roses that bloom in May and June (all the more reasons why to visit Madrid in May 🥰)

Prado Museum

Right next to the park is the Museo Nacional del Prado.

The Prado Museum houses the most comprehensive collection of Spanish painting in the world, so it’s a must stop for all the art enthusiasts.

It has a great permanent collection of paintings of El Greco, Francisco Goya and Diego Velasquez.

Find your tickets here.

💡I didn’t have time for the Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum, but if you’d like to visit all 3 museums, the best is to buy this Madrid 3 attractions pass to save the money.

Flamenco Show

Surely, there is no better way to end your day 2 of your 4 days in Madrid than to see a Flamenco show!

While Flamenco origin is not from Madrid, but from Andalusia, you will still find so many great Flamenco shows in Madrid because it’s the capital and cultural centre of Spain! I finally watched Flamenco in Madrid, and it was one of the best travel experiences I’ve ever had! 🥹

I went to Las Tablas and cannot recommend it more! A great and moving show is GUARANTEED! 🫶

Before or after Flamenco, you’ll be hungry (in my case I had dinner before the show and then Iberian ham after the show 🐽).

I recommend these 2 places that are close to Las Tablas:

Restaurante Loredo

Las Delicias del Jamón

Day 3 Madrid Itinerary

Day 3 in this Madrid itinerary is reserved for a day trip.

I chose Toledo, but Segovia, Avila, Cuenca, Salamanca could be other good options too!

Day Trip to Toledo

Ah, Toledo! 🩷

Ex-capital of Spain is often overlooked by Madrid. And what a shame!

If there is a one day trip you have to do from Madrid, it has to be Toledo!

The City of Three Cultures is 2000 years old and has had a turbulent history. From Ancient Romans, Visigoths, Emirate of Cordoba to finally becoming a Christian Kingdom in the 16th century. With that, Islam, Judaism and Christianity all shaped Toledo and you’ll notice it as soon as you enter the city.

Toledo, day trip from Madrid, Madrid itinerary

How to get there

The best is to take a train from Madrid Atocha Train Station to Toledo.

Buy your tickets here and in advance, they sell out quickly! I didn’t do it, thinking how I could do that on the spot and boy, what a terrible mistake! I almost ended up not going because if I wasn’t able to get tickets for 2 pm (instead of 10 am when I actually wanted to go), I would not have gone because the next available tickets were after 4 pm! Obviously you need AT LEAST half a day to properly explore!

Additionally, to save yourself some hustle, you can also book a guided tour with GetYourGuide.

Best spots in Toledo

I will write a separate blog on Toledo, however, make sure to check these spots in Toledo:

  • Alcantara Bridge – a Roman stone arch bridge built between 104 and 106 AD.
  • Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes – an Isabelline style Franciscan monastery founded by King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile to commemorate both the birth of their son, Prince John, and their victory at the Battle of Toro 1476.
  • Synagogue of Santa Maria la Blanca – or Ibn Shoshan Synagogue is a museum and former synagogue in Toledo. Erected in the late twelfth or early thirteenth century, it is disputably considered the oldest synagogue building in Europe still standing. The building was converted to a Catholic church in the early 15th century.
  • Calle de los Reyes Catolicos – a beautiful street in Toledo, where you’ll find the Synagogue.
  • Puerta de Valmardon – or The Puerta Bab al-Mardum is a city gate of Toledo. It was built in the 10th century and is one of the oldest gates in the city. Its name ‘mardum’ is Arabic for ‘blocked up’.
  • Catedral Primada de Toledo – is one of the three 13th-century High Gothic cathedrals in Spain. I was in awe of its interior! 😍
  • Statue of M. Cervantes – a 2m high statue of Miguel Cervantes who is holding the Don Quixote book (in the novel he mentioned Toledo and he also spent some time living there).

Check my IG post with these photo spots:

Day 4 Madrid Itinerary

Day 4 of this 4 Days in Madrid Itinerary is more laid back and slow paced.

Make sure to check off some sights you missed in the first 3 days, do some people watching and enjoy the last set of tapas and sangria before your flight back.

On my Day 4 of this Madrid itinerary, I went to Plaza Espana and entered the Almudena Cathedral (remember how there was some kind of an event on my first day?).

After that I had my cup of coffee and later sangria. Did some people watching. Enjoyed sun and 30 degrees. And then flew back to London.

Real Madrid fan and have a night flight? You can also visit Santiago Bernabéu Stadium (find your tickets here). This is the ultimate Madrid spot for football fans.

Or perhaps you can visit Templo de Debod (on my list for next time!). It is an Egyptian temple from the 2nd century BC. The temple is installed in the Parc del Cuartel de la Montaña, near the Plaza de España. The temple was given to Spain by the Egyptian government after the construction of the Great Aswan Dam.

Want to save some money? Check Go City Madrid Pass and see if it makes sense for you depending on what you’d like to do in Madrid. Have a look here.

And here you go, your complete 4 Days in Madrid Itinerary! 😁

Have any questions? Drop me a comment below!

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4 days in Madrid itinerary