Day 1 in Madrid

Welcome to Madrid! Upon arrival, you will go through customs and immigration. Should you opt to purchase a transfer to your hotel; a representative will be waiting for you as you exit immigration. Arrive at your hotel, check in and do not give in to jet lag! There is so much for you to see and do!

Begin the afternoon with lunch in one of the many open-air cafes to be found throughout Madrid. Afterwards, we recommend that you get acquainted with the city by choosing an optional tour such as 'Madrid City Hop-On Hop Off Tour', where you will have the opportunity to admire the architectural and cultural magnificence of Madrid at your leisure or try the 'Panoramic Madrid Sightseeing Tour' of Madrid, showcasing many of the city's elegant squares and famous attractions.

Later, visit the Catedral de la Almudena (Madrid Cathedral) as well as the Palacio Real, the largest royal palace in Western Europe, before savoring traditional Spanish paella and sangria at one of the terrazas around the Plaza de Oriente. Likewise you may prefer to see a Flamenco show at the world famous Corral de la Moreria!

Day 2 in Madrid

Start your morning with café con leche in the Plaza Mayor before exploring the narrow streets and charming squares of the Austrias District. Afterwards, head to Puerta del Sol, considered to be the geographical center of the country and Madrid's answer to Times Square or Piccadilly Circus. Here you can see the statue of El Oso y el Madroño (The Bear and the Strawberry Tree) that is the emblem of Madrid. From here, continue along Calle del Alcalá to the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, the oldest art museum in Madrid, to see remarkable works by Spanish and Dutch masters. See the room of Goyas works if nothing else.

After lunch, visit the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, an exquisite gallery with an impressive collection ranging from Old Dutch masters to modernist masterpieces by Picasso. Then be sure to stop at the Fountain of Neptune (Fuente de Neptuno) and the San Jeronimo el Real church before making an afternoon visit to the Museo Nacional del Prado. You may want to purchase our optional tour 'Skip The Line: Prado Museum Express Ticket and Tour in Madrid'. You will avoid the lengthy queues and visit the main works including the 'Las Meninas' by Velazquez and 'The Family of Carlos IV' by Goya as well as other masterpieces by El Bosco and El Greco. You will then be free to explore other sections of the museum at your leisure.

Following your visit of the Prado (and time permitting) you may want to explore the sylvan pathways of the Botanical Gardens adjoining the museum or make a stop at the Casa Museo de Lope de Vega, the medieval house that was the home of Spain's most famed and prolific 16th century playwright. This evening we suggest you head to the nearby tascas of el Barrio de las Letras (Calle de las Huertas) where you can drink local wines like sherry and cava and sample assorted tapas such as fish, chorizo, cheese, eggs and olives.

Day 3 in Madrid

Begin your day at the Reina Sofia, which will complete your tour of Madrid's Golden Triangle of Art. The Dalís and Tàpies are worth seeing, but Picasso's groundbreaking 'Guernica' is not to be missed! Leaving the modern concrete, glass and steel structure of the museum behind, continue to the Parque del Retiro for a relaxing stroll (and a bite to eat) in this oasis of calm. Stop at the Palacio de Cristal as well as the Glorieta del Angel Caldo before emerging into the Plaza de la Independencia where you will find the imposing Puerta de Alcala.

From here, continue to the Plaza de las Cibeles. Madrid's most famous fountain is found here at the meeting point of Alcalá and the Paseo del Prado, opposite the Banco de España. Sporting successes are traditionally celebrated in this square. Next, make your way along Madrid's Gran Vía for lunch and some shopping. Time permitting, stop at the Convento de las Descalzas Reales for a quick tour.

Finally, make your way to the Plaza de Espana, the Egyptian Temple of Debod, poised high on the edge of Parque del Oeste, and the Ermita de San Antonio de la Florida (Panteón de Goya). Some of Goya's most beautiful frescoes (restored in 1996) depict the Miracles of Saint Anthony on the interior of the cupola. The artist himself is buried in front of the altar. This evening, take the Teleférico de Madrid cable car ride across the Manzanares River and Parque del Oeste into the Casa de Campo. Enjoy an evening drink and dinner in one of the tavernas beside the lake.

Additional Days in Madrid

Should you be able to spend additional days in Madrid then be sure to see a bullfight at the Plaza de Toros de las Ventas. There were moves to have the corrida de toros (bullfighting) banned throughout the whole country at the beginning of 2010, but Madrid Community President Esperanza Aguirre thwarted the move and had the event declared 'Of Touristic Interest,' thereby preserving the tradition for some time to come.

If one of your days in Madrid is a Sunday then be sure to visit El Rastro, Spain's largest flea market. Occupying a roughly triangular district of streets and plazas south of Plaza Mayor in Plaza Cascorro and Ribera de Curtidores, this market will fascinate anyone looking for a mishmash of antiques and junk interspersed with bric-a-brac and paintings. Just be warned that thieves are abundant here so secure your wallet and be alert!

Day trips from Madrid are a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. Always popular is a visit to Toledo, the former capital of Spain and one of the oldest cities in Europe. Or perhaps a visit to the beautiful walled city of Avila and the impressive Roman city of Segovia in our full day excursion 'Avila and Segovia Day Trip from Madrid'. We also recommend 'El Escorial Monastery and the Valley of the Fallen from Madrid'. Whatever your pleasure, be sure to check out our optional sightseeing tours for availability and prices.

Your Last Day in Madrid

Depart your hotel for the airport for your return home. We recommend that you purchase a private transfer, if so a representative will meet you at the hotel, in time to take you to the airport for your flight out.