Mariana Espinel Aguirre

Mariana Espinel Aguirre

Journalist and Madrileña based in London

48 Hours In Madrid

If you’re heading for a long weekend or just have a long layover, 48 hours in Madrid will make for an action packed visit.

This emblematic European capital has so much to offer: Madrid is art, culture, gastronomy and passion. Even if you’re only in the city for 48 hours. Here it is possible to enjoy a coffee surrounded by literary culture or to get lost in a museum for hours.

For iconic food, savour the famous star eggs of Casa Lucio, a restaurant with a long history in the heart of Madrid. Established in 1720, the restaurant can be found in one of the oldest streets, Calle Cava Baja (near La Latina Metro).


Also in this area is the Rastro flea market that is celebrated every Sunday between Calle Embajadores and Ronda de Toldedo. You’ll find clothes and antiques among many other treasures.

Of course no visit to Madrid is complete unless you enjoy the tapas and the Spanish gastronomy, considered some of the best in the world. You will tapas everywhere but my personal favourite as a Madridista is La Pequena Grana, on Calle de Embajadores (La Delicia Metro).

Mmm tapas – Pic Eisenmenger via Pixabay

Historic Madird

Wherever you are, take the metro and get off at Sol (line 1, 2 and 3). Puerta del Sol is the centre of Madrid. There you can find the zero kilometer of the whole Spain. So why not start our busy 48 hours here? 

At this point you can see the famous poster of Tio Pepe (Uncle Pepe) on one of the roofs of the buildings. Also, the imposing post-house building with the famous clock that gives the countdown every New Year’s Eve.

Once the photos are made, head down Calle Mayor, the main street, to the Plaza mayor. The old square in the heart of the city is one of the most popular tourist spots. Enjoy the majesty of this square and the history behind it, will invite you to sit on a terrace equipped to have a coffee or a ‘caña’ (beer) in this historic square of Madrid.

Plaza Mayor, Madrid – pic: Lapping via Pixabay

Time does not stop and being a tourist for 48 hours is not easy. So, the adventure continues along the same main street towards the unrivalled San Miguel market (just behind Plaza Mayor) where you can enjoy the famous Spanish gastronomy. Here you will find delicatessen, tapas, fine wines and different beers made in Spain. Usually open from 10am until 24 h. So, there is no excuse to make a short stop in this traditional gastronomic market.

The same main street will take us to know the classic Madrid where you want to stop at every corner and take a snapshot. If you continue walking you will find the Plaza de la Villa, famous in Madrid in the Middle Ages.

You will also find the house and tower of the Lujanes Gothic-Mudejar style of the 15th century. History is passion if you walk down the main street, Calle Mayor.

Royal Madrid

At the interesction of Calle Mayor is Bailén Street where you can see the remains of the Muslim wall of Madrid (Muralla Arabe). Here, too, is the Manzanares River and the famous Royal Palace (Palacio Real).

If the sun is out and it’s hot (it can get very hot in Madrid), relax under a tree in Campo del Moro, a beautiful park next to the river. There are fountains, beautiful trees and flower gardens to relax with a picnic or simply hide in the shade.

Palacio Real – pic: Neozenit via Pixabay

The Royal Palace is very, very close. That’s why it must be the next stop. Who does not want to know the largest palace in western Europe that occupies an area of 135,000 square meters? It’s beautiful!

The gardens are perfectly preserved and touring will be a pleasure. Inside the royal Palace you will be able to see the works of art of an incalculable value telling visitors the glorious history of the Spanish monarchy. The timetable to visit the palace begin at 10am and usually ends at 6pm or 20h depends on the months of the year and the price of the ticket costs €10.

If by chance, it is Wednesday, and you are in Madrid, you will see the change of guard every Wednesday to the 11h.

You cannot leave Madrid without visiting the Almudena Cathedral and you will find it opposite the Palacio Real. The cathedral was built in the late nineteenth century. Its imposing architecture of more than 100 meters of length and 70 meters of height will leave it with the mouth open and the best thing is that the entrance is free.

Being a tourist is not easy, so you will have to replenish your strength and sit down for a snack in the Plaza de Oriente. A luxurious point of the capital where it seems that everything is very expensive, but no, you will enjoy a good glass of wine for less than four euros. In addition to being able to contemplate the solemn Royal Theatre, a building inaugurated in 1850. Do not hesitate to make a guided tour for €7 if you still have time and strength for history and culture.

Art & Culture

Of course, no visit to Madrid is compelete without a visit to the Prado. One of the world’s great museums, you’ll find classical Spanish art by Velasquez and Jose de Ribiera and masters like Rubens, Titian and Rembrandt. General entry is €15 but if you have an interest in art of culture, it is worth every penny.

If you prefer modern art, Museo De Reina Sofia (Museum of Queen Sofia) has works of art including many by Picasso such as his famous Guernica. Entry is €10 although if you buy tickets online it’s €8.

Fiesta In Madrid

If the moon has already appeared in Madrid, you have to travel to Calle Preciados to get to Callao and walk through Gran Via. The screens, the theatres, the hundreds of people will recharge it with a radiant energy from Madrid.

Thus, until you reach Plaza España and admire the sculpture of Don Quixote and Sancho in the middle of the square surrounded by emblematic buildings such as the 117-metre-high Spain building or the 142-metre tower of Spain.

If you like to enjoy a drink with a view, there are many great rooftop bars to enjoy cocktails and tapas before you party the night away… The Radio Rooftop Bar at the ME Hotel offers tasty cocktails and food for you to enjoy as the sun sets, with a spectacular view as well.

Or, if you’re feeling rich and you want a real royal experience, head to Palacio de Cibeles for food and drinks on their terrace.

Madrid Bar – pic: LifeOfPix via Pixabay

The Spanish party late, so head to Plaza de Santa Ana or the area around Calle Cava Baja for late night bars. You’ll find many places, many very busy, where you can get cheap beers and cocktails until early in the morning.

No matter if you spend 48 hours in Madrid, or less, you’ll find plenty to choose from to make your stay memorable and you’ll definitely want to come back!

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