El Retiro Lake Madrid-Spend 3 Days in Madrid Alone

How to Spend 3 Days in Madrid Alone Over 50

Wanting to add Madrid to your Spain solo travel itinerary and need ideas on what to do? Here is my suggested way to spend 3 days in Madrid alone, full of top attractions, perfect for the first-time solo traveler over 50 to plan a relaxing, long weekend in Madrid.



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More Spain & Europe Solo Travel Itineraries


The Ultimate Madrid Solo Travel Guide

While using this 3 days in Madrid itinerary, don’t forget to use my Ultimate Madrid Solo Travel Guide to plan your over 50 solo travel to Madrid. It’s complete with when to go, how to get there, getting around Madrid, where to stay in Madrid, and what to do alone. It also has great budget and eco-friendly travel tips.

Trust me, if you’re a first-time traveler to Madrid, you’re going to want to read my Madrid travel guide.


Museo de la Catedral de la Almudena Madrid
Museo de la Catedral de la Almudena

Madrid Solo Travel Packing Essentials



The Madrid Pass

If you use this 3 days in Madrid itinerary in full, or in part, you may wish to consider buying The Madrid Pass. It may save you money and time.

The pass comes with dedicated Prado Museum entry, The Royal Palace of Madrid fast track entry, including smartphone attraction guides, smartphone city guide, and panoramic bus tour of Madrid.

You select your visit dates in Madrid and receive tickets via email in advance.



I highly suggest getting top attraction tickets in advance to save time if your solo trip to Madrid is in peak season.


Madrid 3 Day Itinerary for Solo Travel

This Madrid itinerary not only shows all of things to do alone in Madrid in 3 days but also provides Madrid tourist tips. Use this itinerary and you’ll have an eventful but relaxing time on your solo travel in Madrid over 50.


3-Day Madrid Itinerary Travel Tips

  • This itinerary assumes staying close to Puerta del Sol
  • This itinerary works best checking into (or bags at) your hotel no later than noon.
  • Travel in the shoulder season for good weather and daylight hours, less tourists, and lower costs.
  • Wear comfortable walking shoes and stay hydrated, especially if your travel in Madrid is in peak season.
  • Consult the Madrid Solo Travel Guide and Spain Travel Guide to plan your Madrid solo travel.

Madrid Day 1 – Walk on the West Side

Morning / Noon

Bags securely checked at your Madrid hotel, hostel or other, walk minutes to lively Puerta del Sol (Puerta del Sol, 28013) in the heart of the Centro district. Allow 30 minutes to meander and observe street performers, local shops and some of the top sights within the square:

  • Cartel del Tío Pepe (Tío Pepe sign) – iconic neon sign that lights up the square at night.
  • Kilometer Zero – ground plaque marking where all of Spain’s six major roads start.
  • Real Casa de Correos – the old post office on east side of square with famous clock Spaniards watch to count down the New Year.
  • El Oso y el Madrono (The Bear and the Strawberry Tree statue) – a symbol of Madrid’s coat of arms.
  • Estatua Ecuestre de Carlos III (Equestrian Statue of Charles III) – can’t be missed in the center of the square.
  • Sol metro – also can’t be missed.

El Oso y el Madrono statue seen on 3 days in Madrid solo travel
El Oso y el Madrono statue


Stroll west down Calle Mayor for a stop in Playa Mayor (C. Gerona 4, 28012), the central plaza in the oldest area of the city, Hapsburg Madrid. Revel in the architecture and history while watching the street performers. Stroll for souvenirs then grab a late lunch al fresco of beer and an obligatory calamari roll Madrileños frequently nosh. Allow 1 hour.

Rested, keep heading west to Catedral de la Almudena (C. de Bailén 10, 28013), the Baroque cathedral with Romanesque crypt and unique, colorful ceiling and chapels. It’s free to enter, but they do accept donations. Allow 30 minutes.


Catedral de Sta Maria la Real de la Almudena in 3 days in Madrid
Catedral de Sta Maria la Real de la Almudena

Go across the way to the The Royal Palace of Madrid (C. de Bailén, s/n, 28071), a must on a Madrid visit. Home to the Spanish Royal family, it now serves for tourism and ceremonies of state. Take in the Baroque-style architecture and all angles from Plaza de la Armería before entering the palace. Some of the elaborate interior rooms will blow your mind.

Have your skip the line ticket in hand, if peak season, or opt for a private 1.5 hour tour. Last entry is at 5pm (3pm on Sundays and holidays). Allow 1 – 2 hours.


Royal Palace of Madrid on Madrid Solo Travel Guide
Royal Palace of Madrid

From the place, go north to admire the open space of Plaza de España (renovations completed November 2021) and take pics of the bronze Cervantes on horseback. Then head west to La Montaña Park for more pics, this time of the ancient Egyptian Temple of Debod. Allow for a quick loop around the park, if you wish.


Temple of Debod Madrid solo travel
Temple of Debod

Your hotel room should definitely be ready by now. Head back towards the Royal Palace, then cross the street to stroll through the crisply manicured hedges and vibrant flower beds of the Plaza de Oriente (C. de Bailén, 28013). Don’t forget to admire the stately Teatro Real (Pl. de Isabel II, s/n, 28013).

If you’re like me, you like treats and wine in your hotel room. Swing by the Mercado de San Miguel (Pl. de San Miguel, s/n, 28005) if you want to pick up something for your room.


Plaza de Oriente on 3 days in Madrid
Plaza de Oriente

Evening

After checking in and having some relaxation time in your hotel, head out for dinner and drinks.

Go south to La Latina neighborhood, a lively area of winding streets full of cafes, bars and cantinas. Tapas bar hop down Calle Cava Baja.

Don’t fill up on tapas, though. You have one more stop for the night for one of the best eats in Madrid: churros and chocolate at Chocolatería San Ginés, another must in Madrid. San Ginés (Pasadizo de San Ginés, 5, 28013) has been serving up churros and chocolate since 1894. The chocolate is so rich, its sinful.


San Gines Chocolateria Madrid in 3 days in Madrid
San Gines Chocolateria

Madrid Day 2 – Art and Parks

Morning

Take your time getting up. If you’re having an amazing European breakfast in your hotel, it more than likely won’t be ready until 8am.

The first epic art experience will be at Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, a 15 to 20 minute walk from Puerta del Sol. Enjoy the outdoor art as well as that inside. It’s a large museum, so I suggest narrowing down to the exhibits of art that interests you most.


Miro statue Museo Reina Sofía Madrid
Miro, Reina Sofía Museum

By all means, don’t forget to see La Guernica by Pablo Picasso. It’s a quintessential piece. Also see my favorite Salvador Dali, La Muchacha en la Ventana. Allow 1-2 hours.


Madrid Tourist Tip

  • Free admission to Reina Sofía is Sunday from 12:30pm to 2:30pm and Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday 7pm to 9pm.
  • If you experience lines at the main entrance of the Sabatini Building without a ticket, go around the back. There is a small ticket booth at the Nouvel Building.
  • Reina Sofía ticket includes entry to Palacio de Cristal and Palacio de Velázquez in El Retiro Park.

Leaving from the main entrance, walk northeast across the roundabout, in front of Atocha Station, to enter the south end of El Retiro Park. Enter through the Puerta del Ángel Caído (Gate of the Fallen Angel) and it won’t be long until you reach the Fountain of the Fallen Angel.


Turtles El Retiro Park on 3 days in Madrid
Turtles at El Retiro Park

You’ll start to notice many stands that offer cool drinks, coffee, ice creams and the like in case you get hungry. Make sure to bring cash with you in case one has issues with the credit card machine, like I encountered.

Walk north through El Retiro Park. It is expansive and quite pleasing to take your time. Have city map, or one on your phone, so you know where you’re going. Stop at the the Palacio de Cristal (you have your ticket already). Enjoy the black and white swans, ducks and turtles on the lake before heading to the Palacio de Velázquez for more art (with your existing ticket).


Velázquez Palace El Retiro Park on 3 days in Madrid
Velázquez Palace

Afternoon

For lunch, grab a bite outside at one of the cafes in front of Palacio de Velázquez. You’re in no rush. it’s good time to rest your feet and fuel up before heading to El Retiro Lake, where you can rent a boat or just sit by the water for great people watching.


People boating on El Retiro Lake Madrid
El Retiro Lake

After a couple of hours, exist west of the park and walk to San Jerónimo el Real (C. de Moreto, 4, 28014), the 15th century monastery where monarchy is crowned. After marveling at the Baroque interior, walk across to the Museo Nacional del Prado (C. de Ruiz de Alarcón, 23, 28014) to leisurely view Spanish and other European masterpieces from the 12th to 19th centuries. Allow 1 – 2 hours.


Museo Nacional del Prado in 3 days in Madrid
Museo Nacional del Prado

Dinner / Evening

Feel free to wander the Real Jardín Botánico (Plaza de Murillo, 2, 28014) next to the Prado. It does not close until 7:30pm.

Then head north up Calle de Alfonso XII through the Puerta de Alcalá (Pl. de la Independencia, s/n, 28001) to the Salamanca district for dinner and drinks. For traditional callos in a modern setting, consider dining at La Tasquería (C. del Duque de Sesto, 48, 28009) or Restaurante La Trainera (Calle Lagasca 60, 28001) for Mediterranean seafood dishes.

Catch the Madrid metro from the Serrano station back to Puerta del Sol or which ever station is more convenient.


Real Jardin Botanico gate Madrid
Real Jardin Botanico


Madrid Day 3 – Art and Gran Via

Morning

After breakfast, make your way back east for art, but this time you’ll finish the “Golden Triangle” of art with 13th to 20th century European masterpieces at the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza (P.º del Prado, 8, 28014). Allow 1 – 2 hours.

From the museum, enjoy the architecture and scenary with a stroll on the Paseo del Prado (UNESCO World Heritage site). First noting the Neoclassical Neptune Fountain (Pl. Canovas del Castillo, s/n, 28014) depicting Neptune on a shell-shaped chariot within the roundabout.

Keep north on the tree-lined Paseo del Prado to pass the Naval Museum until you get to the grand Cybele Fountain in front of the Palacio de Cibeles (Plaza Cibeles, 1, Sexta Planta, 28014). Definitely picture worthy.


Cybeles Fountain and Cybele Palace Madrid Spain
Cybeles Fountain and Cybele Palace

Afternoon

Turn left onto Calle de Alcala to make your way to the grand Metropolis building that will start your walk along the Grand Via.

Before you begin your stroll, stop into Círculo de Bellas Artes (entrance on the side street) to go up to the roof top for a drink, food and panoramic views of Madrid. Note, there may be a line to get up top and small 4-5 Euro fee, but if you have the time it will be worth it.


Metropolis Gran Via Madrid in 3 days
Metropolis, Gran Via

Once refreshed, stroll the Gran Via westward as slowly as you please. Shop if you must. This is the place to do it on the last of your three days in Madrid.

The Gran Via will take you all the way back to the Plaza de España so you can stop at any time before then. It’s up to you.


Evening

Head back to your hotel for a break and then venture back out in the Centro area to explore the dining options. As you’ve noticed already, Madrid is full of places to dine al fresco.

For a casual outdoor dining around the corner from Puerta del Sol is Chiquita Restaurante (C. de Postas, 15, 28012), which can be followed up with a tasty, sweet crepes at Mimi’s Crêperie (C. de Postas, 17, 28012) just next door. Very yummy.


outdoor dining in Centro Madrid
Outdoor dining, Centro

Another option is Gourmet Experience Gran Vía (Plaza Callao 2, 28013). On the 5th floor El Corte Inglés department store, this upscale food court comes with an outdoor patio with more sweeping views of Madrid that won’t break your bank.

Don’t forget there’s always El Botin (C/Cuchilleros, 17, 28005), the oldest restaurant in Europe (since 1725). I would make a reservation.

End the night with some wine or Vermouth in the authentic Spanish tavern, Taberna Bodegas Ricla (Calle Cuchilleros 6 28005, 28005).


Before Leaving Madrid

If you’re 3 days in Madrid is truly a long weekend, you’ll be checking on Sunday, right? Perfect. Keep your bags in your room, grab a coffee, and head to El Rastro (Pl. de Cascorro, 13, 28005). This open-air flea market is only open Sundays.

Take your time to peruse second-hand goodies and grab a bite at one of the stalls, or walk back through La Latina for late Sunday morning brunch before hotel check out.


Extra Day – Day Trip from Madrid

If you have the time to make this a 4 day Madrid itinerary, I suggest a day trip from Madrid.

There are multiple, exciting locations accessible from Madrid; however, it’s best to stick to a location no more than an hour or hour and a half from Madrid for the optimal solo travel experience.

What is that close by? Boy, are you in luck. Not only can you go to each of the following self-guided, they are also UNESCO World Heritage sites. You can’t beat that.



Let Me Hear From You

I would love to hear if how to spend 3 days in Madrid alone was helpful to you. Post me your thoughts or questions in the Comments section below. Thank you!



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