Madrid: Explore the City of Tapas, Flamenco and Art in 5 Days
Arts & Culture
Food & Wine
Madrid is one of my favorite cities in the world. I love its energy, its charm and its endless possibilities. Whether you're interested in art, culture, history or food, Madrid has something to offer everyone. But Madrid is often overlooked by US travelers, who are missing out on a truly special experience. Even if you just have a few days in the Spanish capital, you can maximize your time with some careful planning and working with a knowledgeable travel advisor.
The Fora Difference
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Where to stay
Four Seasons Hotel Madrid
Seven historic Madrid buildings converted into a bustling hub marrying the past and present with a touch of luxury so true to the Four Seasons name.
When you book Four Seasons through Fora, you will enjoy exclusive Four Seasons Preferred Partner benefits. Your advisor will be pleased to give you more details.
Mandarin Oriental Ritz, Madrid
Luxury hotel in the heart of Madrid with antiques-filled rooms.
$100 food / beverage credit.
Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.
Palacio de los Duques Gran Meliá
Elizabethan-style palace offering timeless luxury next to the Royal Palace, the Royal Theatre and the Almudena Cathedral in Madrid.
$100 hotel / resort credit.
Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.
Unlock perks by contacting Christina to book your trip.
Day 1: Check In
Morning: After checking into your hotel, take a walk around the Plaza Mayor, Madrid's central square. Admire the ornate buildings and enjoy the lively atmosphere.
Afternoon: Visit the Prado Museum, one of the world's greatest art museums. See masterpieces by Velázquez, Goya, and El Greco, including Las Meninas, The Third of May 1808, and The Burial of the Count of Orgaz.
Evening: Have dinner at one of Madrid's many tapas bars. Casa Botín is a historic tapas bar that has been serving food since 1725. Try some of the bar's classic tapas dishes, such as patatas bravas (fried potatoes with a spicy sauce) and croquetas (fried croquettes filled with ham and béchamel sauce).
Day 2: Exploring Madrid
Morning: Visit the Reina Sofía Museum, which houses a collection of modern and contemporary art. See works by Picasso, Dalí, and Miró, including Guernica, The Persistence of Memory, and The Surrealist Dog.
Afternoon: Take a walk through Retiro Park, a beautiful oasis in the heart of the city. Rent a rowboat on the Retiro Lake or simply relax on a bench and enjoy the scenery.
Evening: Attend a flamenco show at the Tablao Flamenco Torres Bermejas. See passionate dancers perform to the sound of flamenco guitars and singers.
Day 3: Visiting the Cathedrals
Morning: Visit the Royal Palace of Madrid, the official residence of the Spanish royal family. Take a guided tour of the palace's lavish state rooms and gardens.
Afternoon: Visit the Cathedral of La Almudena, the main cathedral of Madrid. See its impressive Gothic architecture and admire its stained-glass windows.
Day 4: Day Trip to Toledo
Morning: Take a day trip to Toledo, a historic city located about an hour from Madrid by train. Visit the Cathedral of Toledo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its stunning Gothic architecture.
Afternoon: Visit the Alcázar of Toledo, a former royal palace that is now a museum. See its impressive Moorish architecture and admire its panoramic views of the city.
Evening: Have dinner at one of Toledo's many restaurants and enjoy the views of the city at night.
Day 5: Last Day
Morning: Visit the Mercado de San Miguel, a gourmet food market where you can sample a variety of Spanish cuisine. Try some of the market's famous tapas dishes, such as huevos estrellados and croquetas.
Afternoon: Take a cooking class at the Madrid Fusion Culinary Center and learn how to make some of your favorite Spanish dishes.
Evening: Have a farewell dinner at one of Madrid's many rooftop restaurants, such as Azotea del Círculo or La Terraza del Casino de Madrid. Enjoy the views of the city skyline and savor your last meal in Madrid.
Madrid is a very walkable city, so you can easily get around on foot. If you are planning on visiting multiple museums, consider purchasing a Madrid Tourist Travel Pass. The Madrid Tourist Travel Pass gives you free admission to many of Madrid's top museums, as well as unlimited use of public transportation. Madrid is known for its nightlife, so be sure to check out some of the city's many bars and clubs. Madrid is also a great city for shopping. Be sure to check out some of the city's many markets, boutiques, and department stores. Unlike many other European cities, English is not widely spoken outside of the main tourist areas, so it is helpful to learn a few key Spanish phrases and have a translation app handy while visiting Madrid.
Need to Know
Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out my guide, Three Days in Paris - Getting the Most Out of a Short Parisian Adventure.
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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Madrid.