20 Things to Do in Madrid, Spain & Best Places to Visit

Things to Do in Madrid

Madrid is a wonderful city with a colorful past that dates back almost a thousand years. The Spanish capital has sights and attractions to please every visitor, including magnificent architectural wonders, top-notch cuisine, renowned art museums, and even an Egyptian temple within the city limits.

Madrid lacks the classic allure of Andalusia or the beauty of Barcelona, but it does boast a thriving café culture and vibrant nightlife. Visitors will be overwhelmed by the abundance of things to do in Madrid, which is constantly bustling with activity.

A never-ending collection of art created during Spain’s Golden Age is on display at the renowned Prado Museum. Meanwhile, the 18th-century Royal Palace is comparable to France’s Château de Versailles.

It is important for visitors to experience Madrid at night when the city comes alive. Locals enjoy going out, and it is the beloved evening tradition in the city. 

It’s best to avoid going during the scorching summer months if at all possible. Many tourists visit Madrid in the spring or the fall to soak into its pleasant weather.

Madrid, the capital of Spain, is home to an incredible collection of historical landmarks, art museums, as well as lovely gardens and public plazas.

If you are still unsure about what to do in Madrid, Spain, the following list of top attractions and best things to do in Madrid Spain – 

1. Wander and Spend Some Great time at Plaza Mayor

Plaza Mayor

During the time of Philip III, this opulent plaza was constructed. It served as a hub for trade, civic activity, and ceremonial occasions like the coronation of saints and the proclamation of new kings. Bullfights, dramatic performances, and knightly competitions are some of the events that are hosted at this venue.

The Plaza Mayor is still a significant gathering spot in Madrid today. The huge pedestrian-only cobblestone square is flanked with picturesque restaurants and outdoor cafés. The square is a bustling gathering place for locals and tourists in the evenings, and is one of the top things to do in Madrid.

2. Be a Spectacle of The Finest European Artwork at the Golden Triangle of Art

Golden Triangle of Art

Three prominent museums, the Museo del Prado, Reina Sofa, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza, make up Madrid’s “Golden Triangle of Art“. It houses some of the most priceless art collections in the entire world. Even if you’re not usually the art kind of person, visiting one of the great things to do in Madrid.  

There are numerous Spanish masterworks on display at the Prado. The oil on canvas painting Las Meninas by Velázquez is regarded as one of the most significant works of Western art. It is arguably the most well-known piece that draws millions of tourists in the city. 

The Reina Sofa, meanwhile, is Spain’s national museum and features remarkable collections by Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali, two giants of the Surrealist and Expressionist movements.

The Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza exhibits almost 1000 works of art by some of the most renowned American and European painters from the 13th to the 20th centuries. For lovers of art, it’s a true feast.

3. Wander at Buen Retiro Park

Buen Retiro Park

The largest park in Madrid was originally only accessible to Spanish aristocracy and monarchy before being formally opened to the general public at the end of the 19th century. 

Ornate fountains, monuments of Spanish authors and heroes, verandas, and outdoor cafes may be found throughout “El Retiro.”

Throughout the park, you can see different types of gardening, from rocky tree-lined trails to French-inspired lush gardens to the romantic La Rosaleda rose garden. It has over 4000 roses that are in full bloom from May to June and is one of the famous places in Spain.

The majestic Monument to Alfonso XII, which features the former Spanish king riding a horse, “The Fallen Angel” monument, one of the only public representations of Lucifer in existence, and the oldest tree in Madrid, which was planted in 1633, are all inside the park grounds. 

Don’t forget to see Palacio de Cristal, a spectacular iron and glass building that frequently organises events and mirrors beautifully on the nearby lake.

4. Witness the Change of Guard at the Royal Palace of Madrid

Royal Palace of Madrid

The Royal Palace is still the Spanish monarchy’s official house, although the king and queen of Spain no longer reside here. The palace, which overlooks a sizable central courtyard and has 3418 rooms. It is the largest operational royal residence in Europe.

Granite and the white Colmenar stone make up the entirety of the magnificent Neoclassical facade. Ionic columns and Doric pillars on the front are replicas of sculptures that Bernini created for the Paris Louvre. It must be on your, and is one of the best places to visit in Madrid.

Every Wednesday and Saturday, the changing of the guard occurs which features a horse parade and the Spanish Royal Guard.

5. Visit the Center of Spain

Visit the Center of Spain

The sun emblem on the old city gate  inspired the name “Puerta del Sol.” The expansive town square faces the first ray of the sun. The Puerta del Sol serves as a public transportation hub. It also serves as a “Kilometre Zero” location from which the distances of all national road networks of the country are calculated.

The Puerta del Sol has been the witness of famous historical events from the Spanish uprising against Napoleon on May 2nd, 1808, to the proclamation of the Second Republic in 1931, and the WWII combat that took place here.

Today, the square is becoming a popular spot for people to gather and unwind and is one of the top Madrid attractions. It is one of the busiest city squares, lined with stores and cafes.

6. Be a Shopaholic at Gran Via

Gran Via

Unquestionably one of Madrid’s busiest and most well-known streets is Gran Via. Here, you can find all of the standard high-street brands, including higher-end boutiques as well as Zara, H&M, and Bershka. 

If you want to save money, head over to El Corte Ingles, one of Spain’s most recognizable department stores, for all the top brands in fashion, and is truly one of the best things to do in Madrid.

7. Stroll Around Fuente De Cibeles

Fuente De Cibeles

The Fuente de Cibeles, one of the #1 Madrid tourist attractions is situated at a busy intersection. Roman Goddess Cybele is portrayed in beautiful statues driving a chariot driven by lions. With the intended intention of providing water for public use, Francisco Gutiérrez and Roberto Michel built the fountain in 1782.

Behind the fountain is the CentroCentro cultural center, which includes art exhibitions and workshops, symposia, and concerts, is located in the Palacio de Cibeles.

The  Restaurante Palacio de Cibeles, which is an upscale diner with breathtaking city views, is located in the Centro Palacio de Cibeles.

Visitors can also admire the best views of the city from the Mirador observation deck on the building’s eighth floor.

8. Visit the Ancient Egyptian Temple

Ancient Egyptian Temple

Few people are aware of the existence of an ancient Egyptian temple in the heart of Madrid that dates back to the second century BC until they travel there. 

The Temple of Debod was built as an act of gratitude by the Egyptian government to Spain for helping to restore the Abu Simbel temples in Upper Egypt. It was dedicated to the goddess Isis and the god Amun.

Stone by stone, the temple was moved and rebuilt in Madrid’s Cuartel de la Montana Park, close to Plaza Espana, and right by Parque del Oeste.  

The Temple is home to some of the best panoramic views of western Madrid, especially after sunset when the temple’s walls are mirrored in the nearby pools and make for a photogenic attraction. And, is one of the best places to visit in Madrid.

9. Take a Tour of Madrid’s lconic Soccer Stadium

lconic Soccer Stadium

Spain is a soccer powerhouse, and from 2008 to 2012, when the team was at its Golden era, when the men’s national team won both the World Cup and the European Championships twice.

Football fans can explore the Santiago Bernabeu, home of Real Madrid, and the Wanda Metropolitano, home of Atlético de Madrid. There are guided tours available to the museums, which showcase the trophies won by the teams, their historical uniforms, and other artefacts. It is definitely one of the best places to go in Madrid.

10. Attend a Flamenco Show

Flamenco Show

Even though Andalusia in southern Spain is where flamenco originated, you don’t need to travel far from Madrid to see live performances. The ancient Spanish dance has been recognized by Unesco as an Intangible Cultural Heritage. Typically, dinner, tapas, and beverages are offered throughout the show, making it a complete evening of entertainment.

Tourist-oriented venues like Cardamom and Teatro Flamenco, and Las Tablas are top places to visit in Madrid Spain for the frenzied spectacle. The Corral de la Moreria is a cozy location with a Michelin-starred restaurant for a truly luxurious experience.

The Corral de la Moreria is a cozy location with a Michelin-starred restaurant for a truly luxurious experience.

11. Appreciate the Artwork of Goya Frescoes at 18th-century Chapel

San Antonio de la Florida

Perhaps the least recognized in Madrid is the significant art treasures that feature beautiful murals painted by Francesco Goya. It grace the vaults and ceiling of this chapel of the Hermitage of San Antonio de la Florida.

The modest 18th-century church, along the banks of the Manzanares River behind the Royal Palace, hosts an annual celebration in honor of Saint Anthony of Padua on June 13th. But it’s the interior that has become a tourist attraction for art enthusiasts.

The frescoes, which rank among Goya’s best creations, represent scenes from daily life in Madrid while simultaneously illustrating the theme of Saint Anthony’s miracles. The frescoes exhibit Goya’s audacious artistic style and bold painting techniques. These paintings were created at a pivotal time in Goya’s career and are regarded as early examples of modern art. It is one of the underrated activities in Madrid, and offers free entry.

12. Relish on the Best Tapas in Town

Best Tapas in Town

A popular pastime in Spain is going from tapas to tapas, which is a delicious introduction to supper, which is traditionally eaten between 9:00 and midnight. A tiny dish of food known as a “tapa” is typically enjoyed with a glass of wine or a small glass of beer.

You may go tapas bar hopping with locals to try a variety of Iberian pork chops, chorizo, and cheeses. Cava Baja, one of the famous places in Madrid in the ancient La Latina neighborhood, is best visited on Sunday afternoons, when it is full of lively tiny pubs, taverns, and eateries that are ideal for a casual tapas tour.

13. Visit the Lazaro Galdiano Museum

Lazaro Galdiano Museum

The outstanding private collection of 19th-century financier Lázaro Galdiano is on exhibit at the Lázaro Galdiano Museum, which is housed in the Parque Florido mansion where he lived. Around 9,000 items of art are displayed throughout the museum’s 30 rooms.

The collection is highly varied, containing everything from weapons, medals, and coins to gold, and rugs. The paintings of renowned Old Masters from the 16th and 17th centuries are on the display. Some of the artists on exhibition include El Greco, Goya, Velázquez, Zurbarán, Ribera, Pereda, and Murillo.

14. Take a Tour of Basilica de San Franciso El Grande

Basilica de San Franciso El Grande

Carlos III erected the Basilica of San Francisco the Great in 1761 for a Franciscan friary. The Church of Santa Maria in Campitelli in Rome served as inspiration as he created the Neoclassical architectural style for the building. 

The impressive 58-meter-high dome within is higher than the dome of London’s Saint Paul’s Cathedral. The basilica’s chapels are decorated with magnificent artwork, including works by Spanish Old Masters.

Saint Bernardino by Goya, Saint Bonaventure by Velázquez, and The Appearance of the Virgin to Saint Anthony are all located in the first chapel on the left. The painting of Saint Bonaventure which was created by Zubaran hangs in the church. It is one of the famous attractions in Madrid.

15. Go Shopping Spree at Rastro Flea Market

Rastro Flea Market

You may partake in a 400-year-old shopping tradition at the El Rastro flea market every Sunday.  El Rastro, which is open from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm, is a labyrinth of outdoor stalls selling apparel, souvenirs, antiques, handicraft, and every kind of collectibles you can think of. 

The market is located along the Plaza de Cascorro, La Ribera de Curtidores, and the Ronda de Toledo in the La Latina neighborhood.

Additionally, this is the ideal location to find exquisite home interiors that are offered for sale at dirt-cheap fares. It’s important to keep in mind that many of the vendors only accept cash. It is definitely one of the fun things to do in Madrid. 

16. Get Blown Away by Puerta de Alcala

Puerta de Alcala

King Charles III ordered the construction of this massive Neoclassical triumphal arch to mark the king’s entry into the nation’s capital. Francesco Sabatini created the monument, which was constructed in the 17th century.

The elegant granite entrance gate, which is nearly 30 meters high, makes a striking first impression. Capitol, statues, and artistic frescos grace the exterior. Lonely Planet described it as one of the most visited Madrid sightseeing spots.

Madrid’s most upscale patisserie shop, VAT Pasteleras, is located right below the monument at 54 Calle Alcalá and serves the finest confectionery in town.

17. Explore the Town Ernest Hemmingways’

Town Ernest Hemmingways

In various bars and clubs in Madrid, there is a common joke that reads, “Hemingway didn’t get drunk here.” As a foreign writer covering the Spanish Civil War, it is no secret that the American literary giant, affectionately known as “Don Ernesto,” in the city. He was the chosen puritan who loved to booze, feast, scribble, travel, and watch bullfights.

Fans of Hemingway may retrace his travels and visit some of his favorite places that are still open today One such is El Sobrino de Botin, which Guinness World Records claims is the oldest restaurant in the world and has a 16th-century cellar filled with wine bottles. 

Hemingway also frequented La Venencia, a dimly lit wine bar with incredibly large wooden barrels, antique cash drawers, and faded sepia-hued posters. Don’t bother pulling out your phone to take pictures here; it’s still against the rules, just like it was in the 1930s when the bar was on the lookout for nazi spies. It is definitely one of the top things to see in Madrid. 

18. The Madrid Cable Car is Something Not to Miss!

Madrid Cable Car

Take the Madrid Cable Car, which connects to Casa de Campo, the city’s largest green space. It offers spectacular bird’s-eye views of the Spanish capital and is a sight to behold.

The 80-cabin twin cable transit system covers a distance of around 2500 meters and has six seats in each cabin. If you can handle altitude sickness, it rises to a maximum of 40 meters. It is definitely one of the best places to visit in Madrid. 

19. Discover the Best of Street Arts in the City

Street Arts in the City

Madrid is known for its numerous street art festivals, including CALLE Lavapiés, Pinta Malasaa, and Urbanity Art. You may see all of these fantastic works of street art on a walking tour of Madrid’s trendiest neighborhoods, Malasaa and Lavapiés.

El Rey de la Ruina, Cassassola, and Ze Carrión, three of the most well-known street artists, have all contributed to street art in Madrid. Their creations can be seen in hip streets and various parks in the town.

Bring a local graffiti enthusiast as a guide if you want to learn the significance of these artworks! And, it is one of the top things to do in Madrid.

20. Appreciate Love and Arts at the Museum of Romanticism

Museum of Romanticism

A distinctive collection on the subject of Romanticism, an intellectual movement of the early 19th century, is on display at the National Museum of Romanticism. The Palacio del Marqués de Matallana, which houses the museum and was built in 1776, has gorgeous furnishings and decor from the 19th century.

The unique collection consists of porcelain dolls, gems, ceramics, and antiques. The collection of 19th-century paintings, a centrepiece of the museum, stands out for its remarkable quality thanks to creations by masters like Goya, and Dali.

The museum also boasts a magnificent Magnolia Garden that was designed in the formal French manner of the 18th century. It features avenues, a pond, and parterres. 

Best Places to Eat in Madrid

Best Places to Eat in Madrid Pez Tortilla

Madrid is a sanctuary for foodies. It’s tough to avoid a feast in the vivacious Spanish city, which offers everything from inexpensive tapas bars and outdoor markets to upscale eateries. The best restaurants for travelers of all budgets have been compiled.

  • Pez Tortilla – You’ll be rewarded with a broad selection of creative tortillas and croquetas, including the brie, porcini, and jamón tortilla and fritters with monkfish and salsa verde. You can squeeze through this frequently busy location right off Gran Va. Additionally, a variety of craft beers and wines are available at Pez Tortilla.

Address – C. del Pez, 36, 28004 Madrid

  • Takos Al Pastor – This real Mexican taqueria is well-liked at any time of day and sells a variety of tacos for just one euro. During the busiest lunch and dinner hours, a long line frequently forms outside the restaurant, but it moves rather quickly. Patient consumers place their orders, then settle down at tables to get personal service. Traditional spicy Mexican beer cocktails like margaritas and micheladas are ideal for soaking up the flavors.

Location – C. de la Abada, 2, 28013 Madrid

  • El Tigre – Budget-conscious crowds love this no-frills hangout in the center of the gay-friendly Chueca neighborhood. Every beer or tinto de verano (a sangria-like beverage) order comes with a hefty platter of Spanish tapas, typically patatas bravas, prosciutto, or tortilla (fried potatoes with a spicy sauce).

Address – C. del Conde Rodríguez San Pedro, 43, 28053 Madrid

  • El Enfriador – You may savor high-quality classic tapas like tostadas (toasted bread with toppings), handcrafted sardines, and quesadillas at this vibrant neighborhood favorite. El Enfriador offers a decent assortment of beers, Spanish wine, and cava (sparkling wine) at reasonable costs. It offers a contemporary twist to a typical beer garden.

Location – P.º de la Castellana, 89, 28046 Madrid

Best Places to Stay in Madrid Spain

The Westin Palace Madrid

It is best to go sightseeing anywhere between the Royal Palace and Buen Retiro Park, which encompasses the Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol. These areas are home to the majority of the city’s major tourist attractions, with the most art museums concentrated along Paseo del Prado, known as the “Mile of Art”. It runs along Buen Retiro Park. These popular hotels in Madrid are all located in the downtown area – 

  • Catalonia Las Cortes – Between the Plaza Mayor and the Prado Museum is Catalonia Las Cortes. A restored 18th-century palace with authentic architectural features now houses this four-star hotel. Modern conveniences like flat-screen TV and coffee makers are included in the roomy, stylish guestrooms. Breakfast is complimentary. 

Address – C. del Prado, 6, 28014 Madrid

  • The Westin Palace Madrid – The Westin Palace Madrid is a well-known landmark close to the best institutions in Madrid and is housed in a historic monument that Alfonso XIII ordered in 1912. One of the most magnificent hotels in Spain is this lavish five-star establishment. Three restaurants, a workout facility, wellness services, an outdoor pool, and a hair salon are among the amenities.

Address – Pl. de las Cortes, 7, 28014 Madrid

  • The NH Madrid Nacional – On Paseo del Prado, next to the Atocha rail station, the NH Madrid Nacional is located adjacent to the Real Jardin Botánico (botanical gardens). Just a few steps away from the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, this contemporary four-star hotel is situated in Madrid’s “Art Triangle.” Complimentary parking, an indoor heated pool, and free breakfast and some of its amenities. 

Address – P.º del Prado, 48, 28014 Madrid

Phone number – +34-914-29-66-29

  • The Artrip Hotel – The Artrip Hotel is praised for its friendly atmosphere, concierge service, and well-constructed contemporary guest rooms. The Reina Sofia Museum is around a 10-minute walk from the hotel, and the Prado Museum is just a stone’s throw away.

Address – C. de Valencia, 11, 28012 Madrid

Bottomline

Madrid has so much to offer. Its rich history and incredible art and culture will delight any visitor. Hiking in the snow-capped mountains of nearby Sierra Nevada, exploring medieval landscapes in Toledo, or those unforgettable hours spent floating among the clouds on an outdoor hot air balloon ride—all can be found within a two-hour’s drive from the city.

The list of best things to do in Madrid is endless and can be customized based on the traveler’s preferences. If you want to avoid long queues and want to get the most out of your money and time then it is wise to plan in advance.

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