Madrid is one of the world’s great cities, and the perfect destination for a weekend mini-break. It’s
an easy city to get to whether you are flying or catching the train. While Madrid is very much a
modern city, it has managed to preserve its wonderful architecture so it still retains a very old-world
Europe feel. From a visitors perspective there is something to appeal to everyone – fantastic
museums and galleries, a vibrant nightlife, and a great cafe culture where you can just happily sit
in the sun in a piazza and soak in the pace of life in this beautiful place. In this article I’ll give you
some suggestions on how you might structure a mini-break to Madrid- gearing it more to a laid-back, cultural
experience as opposed to a hard-core banging night out on the town.

Day 1

Once you have arrived and checked into your accommodation (which should be as central as
possible), hit the streets and go for a walk to get your bearings of the city. The Gran Via will be your
main references point – this huge avenue stretches for more than a kilometre and is lined with
shops and bars and restaurants. Try not to cram too much into your first day, stop for coffee, stop
for lunch, get a feel for where everything is and how Madrid works.
The Plaza Mayor is a good landmark – a bit touristy but well worth exploring.
Wander through the Casa de Campo – Madrid’s biggest park (five times bigger than New York’s
Central Park).
Start your evening with some beers – when the weather is warm everyone will be sitting outside
drinking. The streets of Cava Baja or Cava Alta will be full of people and a lot of fun.
There are some fantastic restaurants in Madrid, so your dinner options are limitless, why not try
Gau & Cafe in the Lavapies barrio where you are surrounded by 18th century ruins and some
stunning examples of traditional Madrid architecture.

Day 2

Make this your museum day. Head to the area known as Madrid’s Art Triangle on the Paseo del
Prado – here you will find the Museo del Prado, the Reina Sofia, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza.
Next stop – the CaixaForum with its stunning vertical garden. There’s also a lot of small galleries
scattered around Madrid that will be showcasing interesting work from emerging artists, so check
the guides to which are the hot shows to see.
In the evening why not have a drink near the Puerta de Alcala in the Plaza de la Independencia which is
one of the old gateways to the city and is lit up beautifully from nightfall.

Day 3

If this is your last day in Madrid, then after breakfast why not hit the markets. If it’s a Sunday then
El Rastro is an enormous flea market that is hugely popular. As well as the myriad of stalls selling
all kinds of stuff that you didn’t know you needed, there are some great cafes and bars in this
Embajadores neighbourhood, and some of the smaller streets are worth exploring for the antique
shops that are hidden there. Finish off with a big plate of chocolate con churros (sugary donut
sticks served with thick hot chocolate) and start planning your next trip back to Madrid. There’s no
way you can see it all in three days.

A seamless blend of the old-world Europe of yesterday with the modern attitude and style of one of
the leading cities in the world. Madrid is well worth a weekend mini-break.

Photo Credit: Javi Vte Rejas under Creative Commons license. Plaza Mayor.