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Short breaks in Madrid – two days of art, bar-hopping and gourmet dining

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Our 48-hour itinerary will help you make the most of a short break in Madrid. Spend a few nights in a Madrid hotel to experience the bustling, compact Spanish capital.

Madrid short break day one, morning

Mornings are ideal for Madrid’s art museums without the crowds. The Prado’s Flemish collection is impressive, in particular Bosch, along with the Spanish art of Velázquez, El Greco and Goya. A 10-minute walk south is the Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, home to Guernica, Picasso’s powerful Spanish Civil War painting.

Walk up Paseo del Prado, stopping for coffee in Café Gijón, a favourite haunt of Hemingway’s. Follow Calle de Alcalá towards Sol, taking time to admire Plaza de Cibeles square and the Circulo de Bellas Artes building en route.

Start: Prado museum
Nearest metro: Banco de España

Afternoon

South of Sol is the perfect lunch spot, Plaza de Santa Ana, lined with bars and cafés including Cervecería Alemana. Post-lunch, stroll through Sol and along Calle Arenal towards the gardens of Plaza de Oriente. Nearby, the vast Royal Palace and Madrid’s cathedral flank each side of the Plaza de la Armería. From Opera metro, take the train to Gran Via for shopping in the Fuencarral district.

Start: Plaza de Santa Ana
Nearest metro: Sevilla

Evening

An aperitif in Plaza Mayor is a chance to sit, sip and admire the square’s ornate balconies and arcades. For dinner, sample tapas in the streets west of the square like Cava San Miguel, dotted with mesónes, old cave-like taverns. A short walk south leads to Cava Alta and Cava Baja, ideal for bar-hopping in trendy La Latina.

Start: Plaza Mayor
Nearest metro: Sol

Madrid short break day two, morning

On Sundays, La Latina (south of Plaza Mayor) hosts the buzzing, bustling open-air El Rastro flea market. Pick up art, antiques, vintage clothing and music memorabilia from over 3,000 stalls. Alternatively, visit the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum near El Retiro park for European, American and Pop Art.

Start: La Latina
Nearest metro: La Latina or Tirso de Molina

 

Afternoon

No short break to Madrid is complete without enjoying the leafy haven of El Retiro park, much loved by Madrid’s locals. Pack a picnic, go boating in El Estanque lake or stroll the winding pathways, passing by street entertainers, drummers and puppet shows. Beside the park are the solitude and shade of the Botanical Gardens. Don’t miss the impressive cacti in the hothouse.

Start: El Retiro 
Nearest metro: Retiro

Evening

Trendy restaurants and alfresco bars dot the neighbourhoods of Chueca and Malasaña, north of Gran Via. Go for dinner around Plaza Chueca, home to quirky and upscale eateries. In Malasaña, the picturesque Plaza Dos de Mayo is the place to enjoy a drink and tapas on one of the square’s many terraces.

Start: Plaza Chueca. Nearest metro: Chueca
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Start: Plaza Dos de Mayo. Nearest metro: Tribunal