Excited? You should be and we are too. Thus, there’s a lot to explore in this beautiful city.
This article is part of our guide for one week in Spain.
Furthermore, we are keen to share here our best insider tips to spend one week in Madrid and its surroundings. Also, we added a few great day trips that we loved.
We cover in this guide:
- Basic Introduction
- Where to stay in Madrid
- How to get around
- What to see in Madrid
- Things to do in Madrid
- Tickets you have to buy before – must read
- Food and Restaurants
- Day Trips from Madrid
- Itinerary for Madrid
- Packing List
- City Map
In this guide, we will discuss with you the essential things to know whether you are 3 days in Madrid or a full weekend.
Plus, giving you the best insider tips on the places to visit, things to do, delicacies to try and reminders you should keep an eye on.
Moreover, we are here to guide you basically from planning your trip until you step foot in the city of Madrid and its neighboring cities. Just like a traveler yourself, it makes us happy to share what we know and help others have a memorable trip.
So let’s get this rolling. We now officially welcome you to your one week in Madrid!
1. Madrid for Beginners
Madrid is a big city. No surprise here.
Moreover, it can be quite overwhelming with all its different districts, the sights to see, the accommodations, and transport.
However, with all our information that we will share with you through this guide, you will be able to spend a marvelous one week in Madrid, stress-free. Further, here are the basics you need to know.
Currency: EUR (€)
Language Spoken: The official language is Spanish.
Population: 3.1 million
Known for: Aside from Madrid is the capital of Spain, it is also known to have the oldest and still existing restaurant in the world.
Moreover, the world also knows Madrid for its famous football team, Real Madrid. Plus, they are also recognized for their calamari sandwiches which you should try.
Another, don’t miss to visit “The center of all the roads in Spain”, Madrid’s Puerta del Sol. It’s the geographical center of Spain which only a few know.
Best time to visit: Our favorite time to visit Madrid is in Spring from May to June and Autumn from September to November.
On the other hand, winters can be surprisingly cold with even snow. While the hot summer months of July and August can be extremely hot with temperatures of 35°C and more.
Accommodation: Just like any other European city, Madrid is loaded with great luxury hotels to middle-ranking hotels. Similarly, you can also find friendly-budget hostels as well as good apartments for your one week in Madrid.
Public Transport: The best way to get around the city is through the Metro, bus, and bikes. Hence, the bus and metro are very well connected.
Find more details on how to get around Madrid.
Safety: Pick-pockets are the #1 “threat” in the city. Even though Madrid is safer than hot-spots like Barcelona and Rome, it is still a big European city. Therefore, pick-pocketing is common, unfortunately.
Moreover, physical violence, meaning robbery is very rare. Pick-pockets are usually only after your wallet and smartphone. Pay attention especially in the major tourist destinations like Placa del Sol and Placa Mayor.
Have a look at the Lonely Planet Madrid – up to date!
Electricity: 230V/50Hz (European plug). Remember to pack your travel plug adapter.
2. Where to stay in Madrid
Particularly, Madrid is not just the home of great footballers but also one of the richest culinary capitals of Europe. How amazing would it be to personally see its renowned rich repositories of European art? Not to mention the Prado Museum’s works by Goya, Velázquez and other Spanish masters.
Furthermore, we know it would be hard for you to decide where to stay in your one week in Madrid. Thus, we have made a list of accommodations that would personally suit your taste.
Also, we have made a map to further guide you to navigate the city and see where each is located. Besides, included also on the map are tourist destinations that you should pay a visit during your trip to the city.
Plus, knowing where these tourist destinations are would help you see which hotels are within the area.
Our handpicked recommendations:
- Families: Barceló Torre de Madrid
- Couples: Only YOU Hotel Atocha
- Luxury Travelers: Eurostars Madrid Tower
- Design Lovers: Barceló Imagine
- Groups: MOLA Hostel
- Solo Traveler: Sungate One
- Nightlife Traveler: TÓTEM Madrid
- On a low budget: The Hat Madrid
You can also check the 3 best hostels in Madrid here.
We wrote a big, detailed guide on where to stay in Madrid. Here we cover all neighborhoods, and for which type of traveler we recommend the areas and hotels.
Below you find our quick and smart summary plus the map.
2.1 Barceló Torre de Madrid – Best for Families
Located right in the heart of Madrid is Barceló Torre de Madrid.
Moreover, suited very well for families since its location puts you near many of the city’s theaters. Thus, we are sure that the kids will love it. Plus, the Royal Palace can be reached within walking distance of about 10 minutes.
Most of all, offering large king-size beds and an indoor pool, surely families would love to stay here.
Good to know: The hotel has babysitting and child services. Just perfect when you’ll want to visit the hotel bar and spas.
2.2 Only YOU Hotel Atocha – Best for Couples
Featuring great views over the Paseo Infanta Isabel and Calle Alfonso XII, Only YOU Hotel Atocha offers a great deal on location.
Generally, a wide range of shops, restaurants, and bars awaits you and your partner which is just within a 10-minute walk from the hotel.
Even more, it is located directly across Atocha Train Station where you drop off from the airport. Hence, in no time, you right in your hotel accommodation.
Good to know: Rooms are soundproof. (If you know what we mean.)
2.3 Eurostars Madrid Tower – Best for Luxury Travelers
Aside from sophistication and high-class service, we are sure that you will love the majestic views of Madrid in Eurostars Madrid Tower.
In particular, a hotel located in the 235 m high SyV Tower will pamper you with their amenities beyond the ordinary.
From spacious modern bathrooms, rooms equipped with a steam brush for clothes and a haircare set, piano bar, hot tub, and jacuzzi, and sauna to name a few.
Furthermore, the Barajas Airport is within 14 minutes car ride from the hotel.
Good to know: Plus, they even have a pillow menu where you get to choose the pillow you desire. How cool is that?
2.4 Barceló Imagine – Best for Design Lovers
Definitely, for design lovers, Barceló Imagine features an avant-garde style.
Particularly, the hotel’s concept brings together all types of musical genres plus features themed rooms exploring rock, jazz or flamenco.
Hence, if you love music, without a doubt you’ll fall in love with Barceló Imagine.
Plus, you can also take advantage of their rooftop terrace that features an outdoor pool and a garden.
Good to know: Even more, the hotel offers function rooms that give direct access to a terrace.
2.5 MOLA Hostel – Best for Group Travelers
Located right in the city of Madrid, MOLA Hostel gives you a great location ideal for your one week in Madrid.
Even more, just around the hotel are various restaurants, bars, and shops you can choose from. Plus some of the most popular destinations are so close by. You can reach El Prado Museum within 10 minutes on foot.
Also, MOLA Hostel offers room and dormitories with great value for money. Hence, it very well suits a group of travelers.
Good to know: Morever, the hostel offers pub crawls. Without a doubt, you and your group would enjoy this one.
2.6 Sungate One – Best for Solo Travelers and Backpacker
Offering one of the best locations for an amazing nightlife in the city, Sungate One is best for you.
Thus, the hostel offers mixed dormitories and female-only dorms, too. Moreover, what is good about Sungate is that you get to have your bed, not bunk beds, that goes with a personal locker.
Plus, the hostel also places you near the main historical sites of the city including the Royal Palace and Plaza Mayor.
Good to know: Also, they got a long list of FREE amenities like free linens, free coffee, and tea, free city map, and free WiFi.
2.7 TÓTEM Madrid – Best for Nightlife Traveler
Guests get satisfied with TÓTEM Madrid‘s cocktail bar.
Therefore, grab a cold beer or drink your favorite cocktail. Only one thing is for sure, your nights for one week in Madrid will truly be amazing.
Moreover, bartenders are very accommodating, especially Gaston. Plus, we guarantee you won’t go to bed unsatisfied with your night.
However, in case you still would want to try something out, several cafes and bars can be located near the hotel.
Good to know: TÓTEM Madrid also features Wellness facilities you can use during your stay.
2.8 The Hat Madrid – Cool Hostel
The Hat Madrid features a restaurant and bar, a rooftop terrace and solarium.
Aside from its amazing facilities, the hostel also offers very good deals. Thus, it perfectly fits your budget for one week in Madrid.
Furthermore, another great thing about The Hat Madrid is the free things they have to offer. From free city maps, free linens, to free events, they have it.
Plus, the supermarket is just opposite the hostel and you can rent bikes for tours.
Good to know: Also, they will get you into the city’s coolest clubs – for free!
3. How to get around Madrid
So, we have your accommodation set, now let us get out and explore.
Best for sightseeing: Just like most popular cities in the world, Hop On – Hop Off Bus is the easiest way to go around Madrid and see its tourist destinations.
You can choose between Route 1 which lasts for 80 minutes. On the other hand, Route 2 will take you 65 minutes tour. Bus frequency is every 7-15 minutes, depending on the season.
Peak Season is every March to October (9:00-22:00). On the other hand, Low Season is between November to February (10:00-18:00).
Check more info in Hop on – Hop off Bus.
Public transport: Although Madrid is relatively a large city, its main tourist destinations are however all located in one small central area. Making it convenient for travelers to see the city on foot.
Of course, other than walking, you can use the public buses and metro to bring you from point A to B.
The bus runs from 6 am to 11:30 pm on Mondays to Fridays. It also runs on special bus lanes in the city’s principal streets. While on Saturdays and Sundays they run from approximately 7 am to 11 pm.
Always, you can take the metro from 6 am to 1:30 am, every day among 3 lines traveling between more than 300 stations. Even more, the metro is one of the most efficient and fastest ways to get around Madrid.
And lastly, they have Cercanías. This is a commuter train system in the city that connects the entire Madrid autonomous community and other metro stations. You can catch it from 6 a.m. until 23:00, every 10-30 minutes.
Bikes: You might think just like the other cities in Spain, it is the perfect chance to bike around The Forum. Well, sadly, it’s different.
Madrid is not so bike-friendly since they are no bike rental schemes in the city not unlike in Barcelona. Besides, there are few cycle paths and only a small minority here rides a bike.
Walking: Aside from that walking is free, it is also one of the best ways to see the beauty of Madrid on your pace and schedule.
Just like the Madrilenians, the locals of Madrid, (Madrileño in Spanish) who enjoys walking every part of Madrid, unquestionably you will too.
You can walk from one end to the other for just around two hours. Primarily, getting around is easy and the streets are easy to navigate.
Taxi: With more than approximately15,700 taxis in Madrid, getting one is rarely difficult.
Furthermore, taxis are most preferably your safest option during the night. Fares are based on a price per kilometer and a price per hour, which is applied alternately depending on the speed of traffic.
4. What to see in Madrid
Generally, Madrid is the capital as well as the center of Spain. Therefore, more than just great architectures, there is much more what the city has to offer.
From the home of the world-famous Football Team to their popular Plaza Mayor and great tapas, you won’t have much space for your itinerary.
So to better assist you with your one week in Madrid, we have listed below the major tourist destinations you should visit and should prioritize to fully make the most of the city.
The Must Do’s are:
- See Prado Museum
- Admire the Royal Palace of Madrid
- Explore Santiago Bernabéu Stadium
- Visit Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza
- Take your time at Plaza Mayor
- Row a boat at Buen Retiro Park
More great sights to see in Madrid are:
- Centro de Arte de Reina Sofía: Contemporary Art Museum
- Temple of Debod: An Ancient Egyptian Temple
- Basilica de San Francisco el Grande
- Casa de Ocampo
- Calle de Alcalá
- Plaza de Cibeles
- Puerta del Sol (Gateway of the Sun)
- Real Jardin Botanico
- Mercado San Miguel
Photo by Andrea Ferrario
5. Things to do in Madrid
Along with the places that you must visit, we also have made a list of things you can do in your one week Madrid.
Of course, as much as we want, we would like to spoil you with all that can help you have a stress free preparation up to the day of your vacation.
Below are ideas of what you can fill your itineraries with. Even more, let’s keep you busy starting the day you set foot in Madrid.
Have no space for boredom during your trip, just all fun and exciting adventures.
We collected for you a great list of cool Things To Do in Florence:
Here are more ideas:
- Learn Salsa
- Learn about Bullfighting at the Museo Taurino
- Stroll down Gran Via
- Catch Some Live Music
- See a Football Match
- Kill the night in the city’s best nightlife spots on a party bus
- Tasting churros and chocolate at the oldest chocolatería in Madrid
- Eat Tapas
Photo by Carlos Zurita
6. Tickets you have to buy before (Must Read)
I sincerely hope you are reading this section carefully! Indeed, it will make a difference.
This is important so you actually can enter the places you would love to see from the inside.
There are exactly two tickets you have to buy beforehand:
6.1 Royal Palace of Madrid
One of the most visited tourist destinations in Madrid is the Royal Palace.
Even more, being the home to Spanish Royals past and present surely flock tourists causing lines to pile up.
You can buy your tickets on the spot but it would be smart to book them ahead of time to save you more time and energy. Besides, touring The Royal Palace would require you more energy since its a huge space.
Good to know:
- Opening days and times may be modified in the case of special events
Photo by IBE Tours
6.2 Prado Museum
When visiting Madrid, it is a must that you visit the Prado Museum. Being home of the largest and most important collection of Spanish paintings in the world, it is similarly important to witness personally their rich history through arts.
Furthermore, over 8,000 people come to visit the Prado Museum every day. So if you don’t to be in a hassle to wait in long lines, we highly suggest that you book your tickets ahead of time.
Although the museum is free for all from Monday to Saturday (6–8 p.m) & Sundays and holidays (5–7 p.m), we don’t recommend this.
Since it’s free, there’s a greater chance that most of the people will take advantage of this. Therefore, we don’t want to put you in a very crowded situation. But if you’re saving your budget, you can come to the hours we have mentioned.
Good to know:
- The Prado is closed on January 1, May 1 and December 25. Reduced opening hours on January 6 and 24 and December 31 (10:00-14:00)
6.3 Optional: Real Madrid Football Match
When you are in town and interested in watching a football match live in the stadium, you need to check the official website of realmadrid.com.
The fan shops around the city also sell tickets to the matches. It is worth it to have a look at least if you are into football.
Tickets to Real Madrid can start from as little as 20€ for a Copa del Rey Match (League cup) up to 1.000€ for a Clasico Match against FC Barcelona.
If you are interested, but there is no match taking place, you can always enter the Santiago Bernabéu on a Stadium Tour.
I never had the chance to see a live match in the Santiago Bernabeu. I have been in the Museum and on the Stadium Tour back in 2010. It was super interesting and the museum quite impressive.
You can buy your ticket online or at the desk in front; I have never heard the Museum was sold out.
The prices start at 25€.
My recommendation: If you or your children are interested in football, you will love this Stadium Tour!
7. Food and Restaurants
Home of the oldest restaurant in the world, truly Madrid is one of the great cities to discover food.
And let’s not deny, we all love food and we all love to try something new in every place we go.
Moreover, aside from their famous tapas, you will also find in Madrid the oldest churros store in Madrid. How exciting would be it to have a taste of food that has been long-running through generations?
Therefore, we have collected guides that are sure to satisfy your tastebuds during your time in the capital of Spain. All these will excite you have a bite of their foods once you arrive in Madrid so let’s not keep you waiting.
Here are more guides for you to discover their food.
- Don’t miss out to try the 10 Must Eat in Madrid.
- Craving for coffee? Grab a perfect coffee among these 11 Best Coffee Shops in the city.
But if you’re running late, you can choose from these 10 Restaurants to grab your brunch.
On the other hand, lovers can have romantic dates among the following TOP 5 Romantic Restaurants in Madrid.
8. Day Trips from Madrid
Aside from being one of the famous cities in the world, Madrid also offers amazing architecture, rich history, and great food. Besides, the city has so much to offer.
Furthermore, being located in the heart of Spain, Madrid sets you to the very most convenient place to explore the rest of the country. Thus, you have a very long list of options for your day trips from Madrid.
Here are the most popular day trips from Madrid: