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How We Spent A Romantic Weekend in Madrid: 2-Day Itinerary for Food Loving Couples

Caleb and I can’t get enough of Spain’s vibrant capital, and we firmly believe Madrid deserves a spot on your travel bucket list. After visiting almost 10 times, we’re even planning to move there! 

In our guide, we’ve created a romantic, food-focused itinerary that is based on our own travels and covers each part of your day, from must-visit spots to the best tapas bars (our favorite part of visiting!) Whether you’re a foodie couple or an art and history-loving couple, our itinerary has something for you!

Let’s dive in, staring with a highlight video I made of some things you’ll get to do!

YouTube video

quick Navigation:

Day 1: Saturday – Classic Madrid Top Sites

Morning

You have a busy day of walking, so you two must fuel up, which means brunch at Ojala – Caleb and I’s favorite brunch spot in the city that is also HIGHLY Instagrammable. Ojala is a bohemian-inspired cafe in the heart of the hip Malasana district, known for its colorful breakfast plates and fresh fruit smoothies!

You have to order their pan con tomate with Iberico ham. We dream of it often. If you’re extra hungry, their scrambled eggs are impossibly creamy and oh-so-delicious.

Once you’re done munching, explore the Malasana neighborhood, which has tons of cool retro and vintage stores, along with awesome coffee shops if you need another cup of joe. Caleb and I love Mision Cafe, Cafe Angelia, and Wolfox Coffee.

Now it’s time to cross the main “tourist spots” off your Spanish bucket list. You’ll want to spend the rest of the morning visiting these top things:

The Almudena Cathedral: More modern than the palace, entry is free here, and you can see the whole thing in 20-30 minutes.

The Royal Palace (Palacio Real Madrid) – Just a 3-minute stroll from the cathedral, find Europe’s largest royal palace. Built in the 18th century, it’s been the Spanish royal family’s official spot since 1735. Now mainly for ceremonies, its HUGENESS includes 3000+ rooms, with gems like the “Throne Room” on display.

If you don’t want to deal with the stress of getting tickets, waiting in lines and possibly missing tickets, we recommend doing this skip-the-line palace tour!

PRO TIP: Don’t miss the Sabatini Gardens outside the palace if you want to add a nice little stroll to your Saturday morning!

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Afternoon

Before you finish sightseeing, it’s time for the best part of visiting Madrid – more food and drinks! Between 12 and 2 pm, it’s time to get into the drinking culture for an “Hora de Vermut” like a local. Walk 10 minutes to Taberna La Concha, me and Caleb’s favorite tapas bar in Madrid for vermouth, and snag yourself their famous “Manuela” vermouth cocktail. 

Before you go, Caleb and I recommend buying some of their vermouth as a souvenir and then heading over to Mercado De La Cebada no later than 2 pm. Here, you’ll find the pop-up tapas party in the seafood section that not many people know about, but Caleb and I LOVE.

It’s SUPER busy and kinda crazy but FUN! Simply find a seafood stall at the bottom of the market and wait in line. When it’s your turn, point at the seafood you want and tell him the weight you want. Then they will warm it up for you, ask if you want wine or beer, and then you stand around and eat!

Caleb and I can HIGHLY recommend the octopus! Don’t eat too much, as you have a food tour tonight!

If seafood isn’t your thing, we recommend heading to Mercado San Miguel to grab a snack. We must warn you, it’s SUPER touristy and overpriced, so it’s not our favorite market. But it’s something you have to do in Madrid.

A vibrant display of Spanish tapas at a market stall, with a server arranging assorted delicacies like pastel de bacalao, boquerones, and anchoas. Prices are visible, offering a glimpse into the local culinary commerce.

Spend the rest of the afternoon and early evening visiting:

Plaza Mayor – This historic, 17th-century public square is the largest in Madrid! It was once the center of Madrid and now has many shops and restaurants!

PRO TIP:

Do NOT eat at any of these restaurants. They are low-quality, over-priced tourist traps.

Puerta Del Sol – At the city’s central meeting point, you’ll find the iconic statue of the bear and the strawberry tree (El Oso y El Madroño.) You guys should also look for the “kilometer” zero sign as you’re standing at the very geographical center of Madrid AND Spain!

Evening

For the evening, you have a couple of options depending on what you prefer to do as a couple. 

We suggest starting with a romantic sunset. Caleb and I have two favorite spots. Choose which is closest to you:

A couple shares a romantic moment with a scenic backdrop of the Almudena Cathedral in Madrid, captured during the golden hour, highlighting the city's historic architecture and serene skies
  1. Route to “Mirador de la Catedral” on your Google Maps to a pretty secluded spot next to the cathedral with an incredible sunset view! We don’t know why more people don’t go here.
  2. Go to the Egyptian Templo De Debod for sunset. There are a lot of people here. But, our pro tip is to NOT stand at the main lookout area because it’s a major tourist fail in Madrid. Walk a little down the path for an equally amazing view with fewer people.

From there, you have 2 options to spend the rest of the night:

1. Do This Tapas Cooking Class with Bottomless Wine – Caleb and I did this cooking class where the focus is more on drinking wine and enjoying it than cooking (yay!) If TRULY bottomless wine with delicious tapas and a pro-prepared main dish and dessert is your vibe, sign up for this class RIGHT NOW. 

2. Do an Epic Food Tour – Caleb and I have done this tapas tour TWICE because we love it that much. If you want to avoid cooking your own food and experience some hidden-gem, family-owned tapas bars that have the best food in the city, without having to organize it all yourself, sign up for this tapas tour now because it gets booked up fast!

Fun Fact: Spain holds the record for the most bars per capita in Europe, according to Yahoo!

Day 2: Sunday – other sites and bites!

Morning

Kick-off day two of your Madrid itinerary uniquely with hidden nun cookies from a monastery, a hidden gem of Madrid where cloistered nuns bake without any direct contact. Head to Monasterio del Corpus Christi, look for the “Venta de Dulces” sign, open 9:30-1:00 and 4:30-6:00. Press the “Monjas” button on the intercom to get buzzed in. Follow the “torno” signs, choose your cookies by 1kg or ½ kg, and put your cash (no card) right in the torno!

Caleb and I HIGHLY recommend the sherry cookies (ironic coming from nuns, we know) with a hint of lemon.

Once you’re fueled, you have a 30-minute walk ahead of you to the Unesco World Heritage Site: Retiro Park! This is Caleb and me’s favorite park in Madrid! We recommend routing your Google Maps to Gran Via first and THEN Retiro Park, which takes you down Madrid’s central shopping street – you have to see it. 

Retiro is HUGE, with lots of fountains, gazebos, and paths to stroll. You could even rent a paddle boat and paddle around the pond. So romantic until you realize it’s kinda like playing bumper boats. 😅

Inside the park, you’ll find the Palacio de Cristal, a greenhouse in the 19th century. Sometimes, it houses art exhibits now, but very rarely.

Outside the Crystal Palace, you’ll find a serene little pond where you can watch the ducks and turtles swimming around for a minute.

Afternoon

It’s time for another episode of “Let’s Eat in Madrid!” because it’s time for lunch! For the afternoon and lunch, you have a couple of options:

  1. Walk about 20 minutes to the tapas bar Taberna El Sur for Madrid’s most mind-blowing delicious Sangria. It’s the best Caleb and I have ever had! We also love their tapas, like their creamy cod scrambled eggs and super-tender grilled squid.

It’s a bit out of the way, but we wouldn’t steer you wrong regarding food. 

2. Do this guided tour of the famous Prado Museum that comes with a VIP lunch at Botin Restaurant – the oldest continuously running restaurant in the world. It’s pretty much impossible to get into this restaurant. If you’re planning to visit the museums, we 11/10 recommend you snag this tour for a once-in-a-lifetime meal with culture!

After lunch, you can visit the museums on your own:

The neoclassical facade of the Museo del Prado in Madrid, with its towering columns and the Spanish flag waving above, representing one of the most significant cultural landmarks in Spain.
  • The Prado Museum: Home to over 7000 paintings by Spanish masters and global artists like Rembrandt. Ideal for art lovers, with free entry times to avoid crowds. 

If you don’t visit on the lunch tour, get tickets online in advance here, as it gets busy!

  • Reina Sofia Museum: Showcases modern art by Picasso, Miró, and Dalí, famously housing Picasso’s “Guernica.” Visit on Sunday afternoons for free entry.

Purchase tickets online to skip the line.

  • Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum: Features around 1000 works by Degas, Renoir, Van Gogh, and Dali. It’s a smaller art museum, so it’s an excellent option to see some art without spending much time.

If you don’t want to visit a museum, we highly recommend the Royal Botanical Gardens outside the Prado! It’s a quiet and romantic walk for your afternoon!

Evening

As usual, I have choices for you based on what you prefer as a couple:

Option 1: The more “touristy” evening: walk down to Circulo de Bellas Artes for an amazing sunset with a not-so-amazing and overpriced cocktail. While we thought the sunset was gorgeous here, the drinks kinda suck, and there are SO many people snapping photos.

A woman enjoys a glass of wine on a rooftop terrace at sunset, with a panoramic view of Madrid's cityscape bathed in warm hues of orange and red, reflecting a tranquil urban evening

You also have to buy a ticket just to use the elevator to get to the rooftop bar, which is kinda lame. However, the sunset is EPIC here.

While a bit far away, we recommend taking in this flamenco show after your drink as it’s traditional and gives you the option to NOT include dinner. This is actually a plus. Most tourists don’t realize that flamenco theatres are NOT known for their food, and you should not eat there! Just get the drink option and eat after!

After your show, you can find a restaurant for dinner in the area or walk 30 minutes to Madrid’s famous tapas street and do a tapas crawl, which we have a guide for! 

Option 2: Less-touristy: Walk to “Vinoteca Vides,” a wine bar with over 200 Spanish wines! Caleb and I found this spot to be super cozy and VERY local. We just told the waiter what flavor profiles we liked, and he brought the perfect wine!

From there, walk 20 minutes to Calle de Cava Baja, where the best tapas bars are located, and do your own tapas crawl like a local to end your weekend!

Got a long weekend? Some ideas

If you have 3 days in Madrid and need some other things to do, Caleb and I have some ideas for you:

  1. Go on a day trip!

Madrid is an excellent hub for exploring nearby cities! Caleb and I love day-tripping to Cordoba because the Jewish Quarter is SO romantic and beautiful!

Segovia, Toledo, and Avila also make fantastic day trips if you want something a little closer.

If you guys want to visit all three without the hassle of planning and transport, we HIGHLY recommend this day trip —it’s a real time-saver and lets you get more out of the day trip because you’re not worrying about timing and schedules!

2. Go on a tapas crawl with the locals.

While we LOVE Calle Cava Baja, it’s a little more “touristy” than other places. Caleb and did our own tapas crawl on the lesser-known tapas street, Ponzano, and we LOVED IT.

⭐️ Check out our Ponzano guide here to put together your own tapas crawl like a local! ⭐️

3. Go on a guided winery tour and tasting!

You love wine? Cool – us too! Then you will LOVE this tour that takes you to 3 local wineries and lets you taste more than 10 WINES (!!!) without worrying about drinking and driving. That means more enjoyment and less stress for you!

The storefront of Mercado Jamón Ibérico invites passersby with its bold signage, offering a taste of Spain through jamón, cheese, and wine, epitomizing the rich culinary culture of the region.

The Basics To Know For Your Getaway

If you don’t have this, check out the Travel Wifi store by the Puerta Del Sol to rent a portable wifi block!

  • Budget: If you are following our 2-day itinerary, you should spend about $600-$700 total for the weekend as an excellent, mid-range budget.
  • Tipping in Madrid: we recommend 10% in restaurants and leaving some change for quick-service places like coffee shops.
  • Getting Around: The best way to get around Madrid is to walk. We don’t recommend ride-share as traffic can get so bad that walking is faster. The metro is a solid second bet if you prefer to avoid walking.
A quiet, cobblestone street in Madrid flanked by traditional buildings with wrought-iron balconies and vibrant facades, exuding the historic charm of the city's old quarters.

Our Personal Madrid Tips

  • Get the Madrid Card, the Madrid Metro Card, and/or the Madrid City Pass to help you skip the lines, book things in advance, and save money. 
  • The easiest way to get to Madrid from the airport is by metro. Enter the metro station at the airport, buy a ticket, and if you are facing the train, you go down the stairs to the left, not the right. That platform gets you to downtown.
  • Do not eat anywhere that has photos next to the menu. Locals know what food is and don’t need to see it.
  • The best way to get around is on your own two feet.
  • Leave the backpacks at home when you go to tapas bars. They are way too crowded, and it screams, “I’m A TOURIST!”
  • Pickpocketing is common in Spain, especially in exceptionally crowded areas; bring a Travelon purse or money belt.
  • Meal times are late! Lunch is usually around 2 pm, and dinner does not start until 9 pm.
  • Learn some basic phrases in Spanish before going.
A customer from a rear view looking at a glass counter filled with trays of 'tapas', showcasing a variety of Spanish appetizers, inside a bustling tapas bar.

Where to Stay

This itinerary is created assuming you are staying in the city center. If you are staying outside of this area, you must get there to start the itinerary.

Because Madrid is so walkable, you only need to stay in one place for the entire 2 days! We’ve been to Madrid so many times that we have some great recommendations. Here they are at a glance, followed by more details!

Hotel NameStar RatingNeighborhoodBudgetBooking Link
Airbnb Central with BalconySolFrom $150 USD per nightClick here to check prices and availability
Posado Del Leon de Oro Boutique Hotel⭐⭐⭐⭐La LatinaFrom $180 USDClick here to check prices and availability
Gran Estudio Centro⭐⭐⭐EmbajadoresFrom $100 USD
Click here to check prices and availability
Grand Hotel Ingles⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Barrio de las LetrasFrom $500 USD
Click here to check prices and availability

Details:

For mid-budget accommodation, we suggest this Airbnb as it’s centrally located, decently spacious, and has this awesome enclosed balcony overlooking a busy street! We LOVED it!

>> Click here to see reviews, photos and current prices and availability! <<

If that one is booked, then we highly recommend Posado Del Leon de Oro Boutique Hotel! The rooms are simple but clean and it’s in an unbeatable location for foodies – right in the La Latina district! You won’t have to walk far after a late night out tapas bar hopping!

>> Click here to see reviews, photos and current prices and availability! <<

Budget: we suggest Gran Estudio Centro. This cute apartment is in the center of Madrid with lots of cafes and restaurants nearby!

>> Click here to see reviews, photos and current prices and availability! <<

Luxury: want to treat yourself? We recommend the Grand Hotel Ingles! The place is a 19th-century building that oozes class and beautiful design! The location is central and amazing too!

>> Click here to see reviews, photos and current prices and availability! <<

>> If none of those look great to you, click here to see other options in Madrid including price, reviews and photos! <<

A woman in a black coat with long hair stands in the foreground, slightly out of focus, with the majestic Royal Palace of Madrid illuminated by the golden light of the setting sun in the background.

How we can help you next:

If you’re not sure where to stay for a weekend getaway to Madrid, we can fix that! Caleb and I have stayed in many areas – some good and some bad – so we wrote a detailed guide on picking the perfect area to stay!

So, what part of the itinerary are you most excited about?

More From Our Madrid Files:

Free Email Course: Madrid Made Easy

Discover everything you need to know to plan an EPIC Madrid Getaway in our free email course!
A couple stands embracing while looking at the Almudena Cathedral during sunset in Madrid, with the grand architecture and clear skies in the background

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