(hotels, meals, activities and local transportation includedd)
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Enjoy Spain´s 2 main cities in a short 4 day Barcelona to Madrid vacation. Fantastic airport connections to most countries andhigh speed train to get to Madrid or Barcelona make this a perfect combination to enjoy Mediterrean and Gaudi architecture in Barcelona. Tapas and art in Madrid… not to forget about soccer, shopping, nightlife…
Both cities offer great day excursion opportunities in case you would like to extent your stay
At Makesdpain we work hard to find the best trip ideas for you in Spain. We do not sell travel. We would however appreciate if some of the services proposed are booked through the links you will find. By doing so you help us in our aim to provide great content and trip advise.
Our budgets are based on average costs if you enjoy the different activities mentioned. Please bear in mind that prices vary from month to month, or also in case of special events at the city.
You can add any of the elements we recommend to your Barcelona and Madrid trip plan list to ease your planning
1 hour – 3 hours
On day 1 of this Madrid and Barcelona vacation we recommend to enjoy a bit of Gaudi at Casa Batló, a walk in Las Ramblas to get the pulse of Barcelona and to experience the Gothic area and Barcelona´s Cathedral.
Hotels: We provide 3 alternatives for different budgets, all of them are great hotels and well located to enjoy the itinerary.
Restaurants: We recommend light lunch (tapas like) and a quality dinner to enjoy a special area of Barcelona
Near Casa Batló
One of the best book shops in Barcelona is located at less than 10 minutes walk: Livreria La Central at Carrer de Mallorca 237 .
If you are not into books but into fashion M69 is a great shop for you and very close to Casa Batló.
Some of Barcelona´s oldest shops can be found in La Rambla and the Gothic.
Casa Beethoven (La Rambla 97)is Barcelona´s oldest music shop.
Casa Cotchet J.Xanco (La Rambla 129) is one of Barcelona´s protected shops. Fantastic modernist decoration inside. They sell high quality men´s fashion.
Casa Gispert (Carrer dels Sombrerers, 23) is one of Barcelona´s oldest food shops. Opened in 1851, a great selection of products can be found. The atmosphere is very special.
Abracadabra book shop (Carrer del General Álvarez de Castro, 5,) is a fantastic bookshop for children. Books in english are available.
1 hour – 3 hours
On day 1 of this vacation you will enjoy the genius of Gaudi. His name is almost a byword for Barcelona and his works are a magnet for tourists.
La Sagrada Familia is Gaudi´s most important, yet unfinished work. With Gothic inspiration but with the aim to emulate nature, Gaudi designed curves and frames that provide with surreal qualities.
Restaurants. We provide you with different options to enjoy local gastronomy in Barcelona
We strongly recommend to start your visit at opening hours to avoid crowds. A skip the line ticket is also advisable. If this not possible, the you should opt for the latest possible time but always with light to enjoy the stained glass windows!. As a matter of fact, if there is a sunnier day during your stay we would recommend that one to enjoy the interior of Sagrada Familia.
5 minutes walk from Sagrada Familia you will find Bodega Iturre, where you can enjoy a traditional bar that has not changed much through the years.
A 30 minute walk is needed from Sagrada Familia to arrive at Parl Güell. We would recommend using a taxi if a 30 minute walk seems long (public transportation does not offer a good combination)
What to do after visiting Park Güell? We would recommend you walk down Gracia neighbourhood once you finish your visit to Park Güell. Calle verdi is your best option to enjoy local atmosphere and a bit of shopping. You can stop at Plaça Virreina and enjoy views of the church and then continue to walk to Avenida Diagonal where you will be able to take the metro.
We propose a different hotel, activity and restaurant most suited to different type of travellers.
1,5 hours – 2,5 hours
On day 1 in Madrid we propose you to enjoy an oasis of greenery, tapas and culture. The Retiro park was built as a preserve for kings but since 1868 it was opened to the public and it is one of our favorite places in Madrid. Another highlight of the day is the spectacular Palacio de Comunicaciones (today the town hall) Out of the 3 art-galleries in Paseo del Prado we have opted for el PRado, but Reina Sofia or the Thyseen museum may be more suited to your taste… or you may prefer to enjoy the wax museum, or the naval museum or the bonatical gardens near the Retiro park (all 3 perfectly located within this itienrary too)
Perhaps the best flamenco performance you will find in Madrid as well as some of the best food you can enjoy, prepared by Michelin star chef David García. A triumph.
Atocha train station
Take one of the earliest trains from Barcelona to enjoy the day in Madrid. The main area at Atocha station is a fantastic example of civil architecture with an iron and glass structure and tropical garden inside.
El Retiro Park
Do not miss the Palacio de Cristal, the Retiro´s most beautiful monument. We recommend to start your walk from the entrance closest to the Prado museum. The Retiro is one of the few places in the world with a statue dedicated to the Fallen Angel (Lucifer). Your visit should include a stop at one of the terraces near the lake or the Paseo de Carruajes. We recommend to leave the Retiro from Puerta de Alcala, Madrid´s most famous Gate.
Tapas like a Madrileño If you would like to enjoy tapas like Madriñeos do we recommend you exist the Retiro in Avenida Menendez Pelayo and get to streets Doctor Castelo and Menorca where many bars await you. You can continue your itinerary in Goya and Serrano streets. These streets are one of Madrid´s main shopping districts. Serrano is home to some of the most exclusive shops in town. If you opt to walk from El Retiro straight to Plaza de Colón you will also find many bars and restaurants with tapas menu.
Near Plaza de Colón If you are fond of chocolate you will find one of Madrid´s best shops near Colon (Cacao Sampaka) behind the romantic park of Plaza de la Villa de Paris. Plaza de Santa Barbara is very close too, a local´s favorite for cañas ((the way locals refer to beer)
Recoletos and Cibeles. Cafe Gijón is one of Madrid´s most famous coffee-shops with lots of history.
At Cibeles (the square where real Madrid fans celebrate when the team wins a championship) you may decide to visit the City Hall. Views from the upper terrace are fantastic.
1 hour – 3 hours
On day 2 you will enjoy the Madrid where the Royal power seated. But you will also enjoy fantastic Plazas! The itinerary will take you first through Gran Via and Puerta del Sol, 2 of Madrid´s most reknown areas. Sol is meant to be Spain´s 0 kilometer. Plaza Mayor follows., one of the most beautiful plazas in Spain. We recommend to enjoy tapas in Mercado San Miguel and then head to the 3rd beautiful Plaza of the Day: Plaza de la Villa, which offers a deep contrast to the Plaza de Oriente which overlooks both the royal palace and the opera house. Our itinerary ends in Templo de Debod, where you will enjoy the best views of the city!
Gran Via and Sol
We recommend to start the itinerary drinking a coffee at one of the best terraces in Madrid (Hotel Principal or, on the other side of street, Círculo de bellas Artes). Do not miss the Metropolis and the Telefonica building (once the highest building in Madrid).
The clock in Sol hosts every New year´s eve the count-down for the start of the New year.
Plaza de Oriente
If you would appreciate to try a good paella or high quality cocido you will find 2 good options near the Opera House (El pato mudo for paella and La Bola for Cocido)
La Almudena Cathedral and San Francisco el Grande
From San Miguel market you may decide to get to the Royal Palace through the Latina area instead of calle Mayor and Plaza de la Villa.. You will find some of Madrid best bars in Cava Baja and Cava Alta (and also Lucio restaurant). If you enjoy a bit of atmosphere we recommend you to stop at the terrace of el Viajero. At the end of this “tapas detour” you will find la Basilica de San Francisco el Grande, which holds Madrid´s largest dome. From there you can continue to the Cathedral and the Royal Palace.