We had two full days in Madrid (in addition to the two day excursions) and thought that it was plenty. I like your concept of keeping a day open for further planning; if you truly enjoy Madrid, you may remain there; otherwise, do a third day excursion. My basic rule of thumb is that three full days in any city is sufficient for an initial visit. If you have time during your first visit, then make another.
Madrid is a big city with a lot to see and do. With only 2 days, you won't be able to do it all. So my recommendation is to choose what interests you most and just spend some time doing those things. There's also a free walking tour called "The Real Madrid Story" that covers key sites around town. It's offered in several cities across Europe with the latest location being London. I didn't take this tour but other travelers say it's interesting and informative. The website has more information about it.
After two full days in Madrid, we wanted to go outside of the city center so we did a half-day trip to Segovia. This city is known for its medieval buildings and located about 2 hours from Madrid by train. We didn't have much time there but it was worth visiting.
We returned to Madrid on the last night of our vacation and decided to do a self-guided metro tour. This way we could see more places within the city limits and avoid lots of traffic.
Do you only have two days in Madrid? Don't be concerned. While the Spanish capital is home to some of the world's top museums, parks, and even football clubs, two days is all you need to get a taste of this wonderful city and the enthralling Spanish culture.
Madrid is full of beauty and history, and it's easy to see why it has been called Europe's last imperial capital. Here you can visit ancient palaces, luxurious salons, and busy marketplaces, all within a few miles of each other.
The royal palace complex is one of Madrid's most visited attractions. The original building was constructed by Carlos I in 1623 but he wasn't the first monarch to live here: that honor goes to Philip II, who started to build his new capital, Brussels, after he defeated the Dutch rebels in 1568. When Carlos I came to the throne three years later, he decided to continue with the project his father had begun and completed it within eight years. Today, visitors can walk through more than 80 rooms, suites, and halls scattered over five magnificent buildings, which represent some of the finest late Renaissance architecture in Europe.
Another famous monument inside the royal palace complex is the Chapel of San Ignacio de Loyola. It contains many paintings by Diego Velázquez, the greatest painter in Spain at the time he created them.
You can travel there in one hour and 40 minutes by rail from Madrid, then take a cab to the city beach. It's pricey, but it's not an impossibility for a day trip from Madrid. The train leaves from Chamartín every 30 minutes, and the fare is about 35 euros.
The best beaches for swimming are: La Coma, El Pardo, Pozo Azul, San Lorenzo, El Saler. These are all within an hour's drive of central Madrid. There are also other good beaches closer to town that aren't as popular with tourists, such as Los Lances or Los Berruejos. You can reach them by bus or taxi.
The main airport for trips to the coast is Madrid Barajas, but smaller airports such as Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas and Torrejon de Ardoz serve as a connection for flights from Canada and the United States, respectively.
The best months to visit the coast are spring and fall. In summer the temperatures can reach up to 40 degrees Celsius, while winter brings cooler weather with temperatures that rarely drop below 10 degrees Celsius.
Madrid has many museums and galleries worth visiting.
How many days do you need to spend there? I believe you should stay in Barcelona for four or five days to gain a true sense of the city. While you could watch it in less time, you'd be doing yourself a disservice if you rushed through it. This is a city where late-night meals, late mornings, and afternoon siestas are the norm. She's all about living life to the fullest and having fun, so make sure you allow herself this little break once in a while.
Here's what one person's experience is like: "One day is enough to see most of the top sights in Barcelona. There's so much to do and see that you won't be able to cover it all in just one day. However, you can probably get away with spending two to three days here."
The average daily cost of visiting major sites in Barcelona is around $25 - $30. To cover the whole city with enough time left over for some lunch and dinner, you'll need to budget around $100 - $120 per person.
You don't have to go on an organized tour to see the main attractions in Barcelona. These can be found within the city limits, which are small enough to walk around easily. But if you want to save time and hassle, we recommend checking out our guide to the best Barcelona tours available today. They're easy to find and offer different perspectives on the city.
The best time to visit Madrid is in the fall (September to November) or spring (March to May), when the city comes alive with warm temperatures. However, if you don't mind dismal weather and a sleepy Madrid, visit in the winter when hotel rates are lower. The summer months of June to August are extremely hot in Madrid, with average temperatures between 90 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Rainfall is low throughout the year, except for may/june when it rains frequently.
Madrid has good public transportation, with buses and trains available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There are also taxis available at all major airports and train stations. It's easy to get around Madrid by foot; most of its attractions are within walking distance of each other. If you want to see more than just the major sights, consider using the metro, which is fast, efficient, and convenient.
The key to enjoying your time in Madrid is to have a good balance of activities. If you spend too much time in one place, you won't be able to enjoy the rest of your trip. Walk around the city and take advantage of its many museums and galleries. If you're interested in sports, check out some soccer games - especially if you're from an English-speaking country like America. And of course, eat Spanish food!