How to Spend a Weekend Break in Madrid

Last Updated on 01/07/2024 by secretmoona

How to spend a weekend break in Madrid, Spain.

Located in the heart of the Iberian Peninsula, Madrid is not only the capital of Spain but also a cultural hub. It is a vibrant city with stunning architecture, great shopping, and delicious tapas, but more importantly, it is the ideal destination for art lovers. With the abundance of things to do and see in the city, planning the perfect weekend break in Madrid might prove difficult, but hopefully, you will find this article useful. 

Let’s get started on our Weekend break in Madrid.

Planning your Weekend in Madrid

When to visit Madrid?

The best time to visit Madrid is in spring or autumn. It can be extremely hot in summer (temperatures are around 35 ° C.) and very cold in winter.

How long to stay in Madrid?

Madrid is a liveable city with lots of cultural and sociable activities. Therefore, it is ideal for a weekend or a short stay. Alternatively, you can extend your stay and spend a few days in Seville.

Getting around

  • On foot: You can easily walk to most places in Madrid. Walking is the best way to explore the city.
  • By Bus or Metro: Madrid has one of the cheapest, best and most thorough transport systems.

Where to Stay in Madrid

When planning the perfect trip, it’s important to carefully consider where to stay, especially for a weekend getaway. You’ll want to find accommodation that is centrally located, close to transportation, and provides easy access to the main attractions. Madrid is home to a wide range of accommodations: unique boutique hotels, luxury hotels, mid-range hotels, and budget-friendly hotels. For my weekend break in Madrid, I booked two hotels in Gran Vía, and they were perfect in terms of location. For more accommodation choices in Madrid, check via Booking.com.

Hotel Madrid Centro, managed by Melia

Hotel Madrid Centro managed by Melia - Weekend breaks in Madrid

Hotel Madrid Centro, managed by Melia, is located on the east side of Gran Via. The hotel is decorated with a focus on contemporary decor. Although the lobby is small, the breakout area has been carefully decorated to create a welcoming and cosy ambience. Despite facing the busy Gran Via, the rooms are quiet.

Calle Gran Vía, 72, 28013 Madrid – Standard rooms around £85

Hotel Madrid Gran Vía 25, managed by Meliá

Hotel Madrid Gran Vía 25, managed by Meliá - Weekend breaks in Madrid

The second hotel was Hotel Madrid Gran Vía 25, managed by Meliá. The prime benefit of this hotel is its excellent location. Situated just by Gran Via station, it is easy to get anywhere (on foot, by bus, metro or taxi). Everything is literally at the foot of the hotel.

Gran Vía, 25, Madrid City Centre, 28013 Madrid – Standard rooms around £90

Things to Do – Weekend Break in Madrid

If you have read some of my previous articles, you will know I like to walk. Madrid is a great city for walkers, as most places of interest are within walking distance. The city is full of hidden gems that shouldn’t be missed, and the best way to discover them is on foot. With my camera and (tourist) map of Madrid, I explored the Spanish capital. Here are some things you can do during your two days in Madrid.

Madrid is a vibrant city with grand architecture, great shopping and delicious tapas

Discpver Puerta del Sol

Street in Puerta del Sol- Weekend breaks in Madrid

Puerta del Sol, which means “Gate of the Sun” in Spanish, is one of the busiest plazas in Madrid and has been around since the 15th century. While you’re there, check out the impressive architecture, see the famous Bear and Strawberry Tree Statue (el oso y el madroño), and take a picture at Km 0, a plaque that symbolizes the centre of Spain. The area is packed with shops, restaurants, and is a hub for street performances.

Kilometre O in Puerta del Sol- Weekend breaks in Madrid

Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain

Exploring Plaza Mayor

Plaza Mayor - Weekend breaks in Madrid
Restaurant El Soportal in Plaza Mayor - Weekend breaks in Madrid

The Plaza Mayor is the central square in Madrid and has been the site of numerous events. This rectangular-shaped plaza is surrounded by stunning three-story residential buildings with 237 balconies, all facing the plaza. It’s no wonder it’s one of the most visited squares! The square houses a statue of King Felipe as well as many restaurants that are always filled with tourists, despite the expensive price tags.

Plaza Mayor, 28012 Madrid

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Shop at Gran Via

Buildings in Gran Via - Weekend breaks in Madrid

When it comes to the best of Spanish fashion, look no further than Gran Via, often compared to London’s Oxford Street. With major brands like Mango, Zara, and Massimo Dutti, the Spanish capital is an ideal destination for a wardrobe refresh. Gran Via is also nicknamed the “Spanish Broadway” due to its numerous theatres, including one hosting the popular show “The Lion King.”

While strolling along Gran Via, you can escape the sun by visiting the top floor of El Corte Inglés, which offers stunning city views from its food hall.

Gran Via, Madrid, Spain

Relax at El Retiro Park

Inside of Palacio de Cristal - Weekend breaks in Madrid
Palacio de Cristal - Weekend breaks in Madrid
El Retiro Park - Weekend breaks in Madrid

Parque del Buen Retiro is one of Madrid’s must-see attractions. The park used to be a retreat for the Royal Family. Now, it’s enjoyed by locals and tourists, making it the perfect afternoon stop or even a day out with several gardens, monuments, exhibitions, and a lake to explore. You can rent a boat and paddle for a couple of euros. Don’t forget to stop and admire the Palacio de Cristal (Crystal Palace), an amazing building made of metal and glass.

Parque del Retiro, Plaza de la Independencia 7, Madrid

Visit Prado Museum

Park outside Prado Museum - Weekend breaks in Madrid

With over 50 museums, Madrid is the cultural capital of Spain. Staying in Madrid for only 48 hours might not be enough time to visit all of them, but it is highly recommended to visit the Museo Nacional del Prado. As the museum with the largest collection of Spanish paintings in the world, the National Art Museum will not disappoint.

Paseo del Prado (s/n) Banco de España. Hours & Prices: Monday – Saturday, 10:00 – 20:00; Sundays and bank holidays, 10:00 – 19:00. General entry is 14€; free entry daily during the last two hours before closing.

Discover Madrid’s architecture

A street in Madrid - Weekend breaks in Madrid
Red building in Madrid - Weekend breaks in Madrid
Example of Madrid's architecture- Weekend breaks in Madrid

One of the tp things to do in Madrid during your weekend break is to explore the streets. As you wander through the vibrant streets of Madrid, you’ll be greeted by a stunning display of architectural wonders, from grand historic buildings to modern marvels. Be sure to put on your most comfortable walking shoes to explore everything Madrid has to offer. From the diverse range of restaurants serving up mouth-watering Spanish cuisine, to the cosy bars where you can savour local drinks, to the art galleries showcasing captivating works of art, to the charming shops and picturesque balconies, there’s no shortage of captivating sights to discover in this magnificent city.

Looking for non-touristy things to do in Madrid?

What to eat in Madrid

No trip to Madrid would be complete without a taste of churros and tapas. Chocolate con churros can be enjoyed at any time of the day, but it’s especially delicious as a mid-morning or late-evening snack. For the crispiest churros and creamiest hot chocolate, head to Chocolatería San Ginés.

Mercado de San Miguel

Mercado San Miguel - Weekend breaks in Madrid

Don’t miss Mercado de San Miguel, located close to the Plaza Mayor with its upscale restaurants. This market offers a wide variety of Iberian food, including seafood, cheese, and fruits. In addition to the delicious food, visitors can admire the market’s unique architecture, featuring carved wood and industrial-style lighting. Renovated back in 2009, the market serves as a gourmet tapas food hall. It is a trendy spot, especially popular with tourists, and a must-see during your two days in Madrid. If you’re a foodie, arrive slightly before lunchtime to secure the best seats and indulge in gourmet tapas and Spanish drinks. Noteworthy dishes to try include gambas al ajillo (garlic prawns) and other traditional tapas. If seating is unavailable, you can always take your tapas to enjoy in the nearby park.

Plaza de San Miguel, s/n, 28005 Madrid – Sun-Wed 10am-midnight, Thurs-Sat 10am-2am

Go for tapas in La Latina

Mozzarella and salmon tapas - Weekend breaks in Madrid

Tapas, small savoury Spanish dishes, are an essential part of Spanish cuisine. When you want to savour traditional tapas amidst a lively atmosphere, make your way to La Latina. Wander through Calle Cava Baja, a charming street adorned with a variety of bars and restaurants, where locals and visitors alike indulge in the tapas culture by hopping from one bar to another, tasting an array of delightful dishes along the way.

Barrio de La Latina, Madrid, Spain

Mercado de Anton

Mercado de San Anton - Weekend breaks in Madrid

Another worthwhile market to visit during your weekend in Madrid is Mercado de San Antón. This market is more popular among locals and offers friendlier prices. It has more of a food court vibe than a traditional market. The first floor is lined with restaurants where you can grab small tapas dishes from various shops and eat at the high tables. Alternatively, you can head to the top restaurant to enjoy the city view, especially around sunset.

Calle de Augusto Figueroa, 24B, 28004 Madrid – Opened: Mon-Sat 10am-10pm; Sun 10am-3pm

Madrid was a lovely surprise. The city reminded me of a very laid-back Paris with a very authentic Spanish feel to it. Are you planning a weekend break in Madrid or have you already been?

Weekend in Madrid – Pin it for Later

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Hi there! I'm Mayi. Welcome to my blog SecretMoona! I hope to share with you the hidden secret of places I visit.

26 thoughts on “How to Spend a Weekend Break in Madrid

  1. I love Madrid and really enjoyed this guide. Infact I think I’ll be taking it with me next time I visit. A great informative read with lovely photography!

  2. I love Madrid, though I have only been once and my camera got stolen… It’s somewhere I want to go back to. I really want to explore Parque del Buen Retiro more, it was a little too cold when I was there. I also didn’t realise just how many museums there were in Madrid.

  3. I couldn’t have been able to write Madrid in a better way. Great recommendations.
    There is a huge ‘flea’ market on a Sunday that goes on for miles thats worth exploring too. I can’t remember the location but it’s not far from Gran Via I think.

  4. Great tips as always! The Prado is one of my favourite museums. Madrid on a sunny winter’s day is my idea of travel perfection! Such a special city.

  5. I haven’t been to Madrid yet, but it seems like such a great city to explore and get lost in. El Retiro Park looks gorgeous as are all the colourful buildings. Thanks for all the visual inspiration!

  6. The city plaza, museums, shopping and food – this is the perfect way to spend a weekend in Madrid. Your guide is so detailed, I’ll definitely keep this in mind whenever I plan to visit Madrid. Great post.

  7. Love all the beautiful photos of Madrid! I was there nearly 20 years ago, but it’s still just as beautiful and fascinating now, by the looks of it. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Madrid is one of those cities we like to pick a few things to do on each visit. Your post has given me some ideas for our next visit. We love exploring the plazas and taking in the vibe around us. But we will have to plan a visit to the Parque del Buen Retiro for a relaxing day. Maybe even take a boat out for a bit.

    1. Retro is excellent and great for a half or full day. There are so much things to do there! Hope you visit soon.

  9. Love Madrid, it is such a great city. We did a food tour when we there a few years ago and it was epic. Learnt so much about the city and the cuisine. Plus it was super tasty!

    1. I have not tried out the food tour yet but the few times I went to the city, I made sure to hit the food markets.

  10. I need to go back to Madrid and visit some of these sites. Parque del Buen Retiro and the markets sound wonderful.

  11. Saving this for later. I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Madrid for work, but rarely had more than 1 free day to explore.

  12. Madrid is an amazing city. I loved eating tapas and touring the older areas including Puerta del Sol at night.

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