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18 Best Things To Do In Madrid

Madrid is a city full of culture, entertainment, and adventure. From its vibrant plazas to its world-renowned art galleries, Madrid has something for everyone. With such a variety of activities to choose from, it can be difficult to decide what to do when visiting this vibrant capital. To make your visit easier, we’ve compiled a list of the best things to do in Madrid.

1. The Prado

Prado in Madrid

The Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain is a historic art museum that is world renowned for its impressive and vast collection of artwork, and one of the best things to visit if you're in Madrid. It holds over 8,600 works of art from the 12th century to the early 19th century including masterpieces by Francisco Goya and Diego Velázquez.

The Del Prado museum has been open since 1819 and is one of the most visited places in Madrid in terms of cultural attractions. As you enter the museum you are instantly overcome with its grandeur; it boasts an ornate decor complete with intricate moldings and beautiful chandeliers that add to its elegance.

The Museo Nacional del Prado also offers educational experiences such as guided tours that explore specific collections or particular time periods allowing visitors to gain a deeper insight into Spanish culture through their artwork.

Contact:

Address: C. de Ruiz de Alarcón, 23, 28014 Madrid, Spain

Phone: +34 913 30 28 00

2. Retiro Park

Retiro Park

Retiro Park in Madrid is a beautiful getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life and one of the best places Madrid has to offer. It's a popular destination for locals and tourists, offering green space and scenic views for all to enjoy. Spanning over 350 acres, the park has something for everyone including bike paths, cafes, lakes, monuments and more.

The most popular attraction in Parque Del Buen Retiro is El Estanque or The Pond. This large lake serves as an oasis amongst the cityscape, allowing visitors to kayak or take a romantic boat ride while admiring its beauty. In addition to this tranquil spot, there are many other landmarks that can be found within the park such as The Crystal Palace - a stunning glass building with sculptures depicting Spanish culture - and the monument to Alfonso xii or El Monumento de Alfonso XII - an impressive monument dedicated to Spain's former king.

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3. Royal Palace

Royal Palace

The Royal Palace of Madrid is a magnificent sight to behold, situated in the heart of the city, this is the largest Royal Palace in Western Europe. Built in 1738, this stunning palace was once used by Spanish monarchs as their official residence. From its incredibly detailed architecture to its sprawling gardens, this masterpiece is full of beauty and grandeur.

Inside the palace, visitors can explore breathtakingly ornate rooms that were once used for grand banquets and events hosted by royalty. The enthralling Salón de Gasparini is known for its extravagant decor and captivating wall paintings, while the exquisite Throne Room displays beautiful wooden furniture that has been preserved since the 18th century.

Venturing outdoors into the gardens provides an opportunity to admire stunning sculptures and fountains; all created during different periods throughout history.

Contact:

Address: C. de Bailén, s/n, 28071 Madrid, Spain

Phone: +34 914 54 87 00

4. Santiago Bernabéu Stadium

Santiago Bernabéu Stadium

Santiago Bernabéu Stadium is one of the most iconic sports stadiums in the world. Built in 1947, it is home to Real Madrid C.F., one of the most successful football teams. The stadium has a seating capacity of 81,044 and is known for its steep grandstands and vibrant atmosphere that reverberates throughout the city when match day arrives.

Since it was built, Santiago Bernabéu Stadium has seen many memorable events such as European Cup matches and finals, UEFA Champions League matches and Copa del Rey finals and is definitely worth a visit.

Not only does Santiago Bernabéu Stadium host football-related events but also concerts from some of music’s biggest stars such as Justin Bieber, Bon Jovi and Michael Jackson who have all performed at this prestigious venue over the years.

Contact:

Address: Av. de Concha Espina, 1, 28036 Madrid, Spain

Phone: +34 913 98 43 00

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5. National Archaeological Museum

National Archaeological Museum-madrid

The National Archaeological Museum is a must-see attraction for anyone visiting the city of Madrid. It is one of the most important archaeological museums in Europe, and it houses a superb collection of artifacts from all over the ancient world. With more than 1,000 objects on display, this museum provides visitors with an incredible educational opportunity to explore the cultures of antiquity.

The museum's permanent exhibits focus mainly on Spanish antiquities and include some impressive pieces ranging from paleolithic tools to Vis gothic jewelry. In addition to its vast displays, there are also regular lectures and workshops for kids held by expert archaeologists who share their knowledge about these precious artifacts. The National Archaeological Museum also features several temporary exhibitions that explore specific aspects of archaeology from different countries or regions around the world.

Contact:

Address: C. de Serrano, 13, 28001 Madrid, Spain

Phone: +34 915 77 79 12

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6. Puerta del Sol

Puerta del Sol

Puerta del Sol is one of Madrid's busiest and most iconic landmarks. It is located in the center of the city and it serves as a well-known meeting point for locals and tourists alike. People flock to this busy plaza to take pictures, shop at nearby stores, grab a bite to eat, or just people watch. The area has been the setting for many important events throughout history; from royal processions and bullfights to demonstrations during Spain's transition from dictatorship to democracy.

The centerpiece of Puerta del Sol is an 18th century statue depicting King Charles III that stands atop a granite column in the center of the plaza. Around it are multiple historical buildings in Madrid such as Casa de Correos which previously housed Madrid’s post office and now serves as the official seat of the Madrid city council.

7. Gran Vía Street

Gran Via Street

Gran Vía is one of the most famous streets in Madrid and has been a major attraction for decades. Located in the heart of Madrid, it was originally constructed as an avenue for pedestrians to enjoy. The street is lined with shops, restaurants, bars and other entertainment venues that make it a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.

The architecture along Gran Vía is unique and impressive; buildings range from grandiose 19th century structures to modern glass skyscrapers. With over 200 restaurants, you can find myriad cuisine options, ranging from traditional Spanish tapas to international fare. There's also an abundance of shopping outlets, including designer boutiques, electronic stores and souvenir shops.

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8. Plaza Mayor

Plaza Mayor

The Plaza Mayor in Madrid is one of the city's most iconic destination that has long been admired by visitors to the city. Located in the very center of Madrid in southern Spain, this vast plaza was originally constructed between 1580 and 1619, serving as a hub for festivities and royal events.

Despite some renovations throughout its history, it still retains much of its original design featuring nine entrance arches with their unique triple-lobed shape. The symmetrical facades of the buildings line up around the sides of the plaza and are adorned with ornately decorated balconies – all set against a stunning backdrop of red clay tile roofs and the Museo Nacional Del Prado.

On sunny days, people gather to drink coffee at one of the many cafes located around Plaza Mayor’s perimeter or simply take part in some leisurely sightseeing.

9. Mercado San Miguel

Mercado San Miguel

Mercado De San Miguel is a truly unique destination. Located in the middle of Madrid, Mercado San Miguel dates back to 1916 when it was first established as an iron-based covered market. The market underwent renovations in 2009 and reopened its doors on October 10th of that year, with a brand-new look: modern yet timelessly elegant.

The culinary experience at Mercado San Miguel is unparalleled - travelers can browse through the extensive selection of stalls offering everything from freshly caught seafood dishes to succulent Iberian hams and cheeses. In addition to food stalls, other vendors specialize in local wines, beers and ciders curated from various regions throughout Spain. Visitors are free to wander around the market at their leisure while savoring all kinds of delicious snacks.

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10. El Rastro

El Rastro Market in Madrid

El Rastro is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Madrid. It is a large, open-air flea market held every Sunday morning starting at 9:00 a.m. Located in the center of the capital near La Latina, El Rastro attracts thousands of visitors each week who come to browse and buy all kinds of items from antiques and books to clothes and electronics. Shoppers can even find food stalls with delicious treats like paella or sandwiches for sale.

To join in on the fun, city trippers need only to make their way down Calle de la Ribera de Curtidores lined with hundreds of vendors selling merchandise from umbrellas to dolls and costume jewelry. All along this street people can be heard bargaining for prices as they search through racks filled with clothing or piles of old books that have been collected from all over Spain.

11. Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum of Art

Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum of Art

The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum of Art is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Spain. Located near the famous Prado Museum, it is a must-visit for any art enthusiast. The museum houses a wide variety of artwork, ranging from medieval and Renaissance paintings to 20th century works. It includes pieces from artists such as Picasso, Monet and Degas among many others. This impressive collection consists of over 1,600 pieces that span eight centuries of European art history.

Guests can easily spend hours wandering through the galleries and taking in all the beauty this museum has to offer. Each painting or sculpture tells its own story and provides an educational journey into European culture and art history. The vast size of the museum allows ample space for visitors to leisurely explore each exhibit without feeling rushed or overwhelmed.

Contact:

Address: P.º del Prado, 8, 28014 Madrid, Spain

Phone: +34 917 91 13 70

12. Reina Sofia Museum

Reina Sofia Museum

The Reina Sofía Museum in Madrid is a must-see for anyone visiting the Spanish capital. The Nacional Centro De Arte Reina is home to some of the modern world’s most renowned and iconic works of art, including Picasso’s “Guernica”.

Although the museum focuses primarily on 20th-century art, it also houses numerous paintings from earlier periods as well as sculptures and other installations. The building itself is impressive, with sweeping architectural lines that are both modern and timeless.

Contact:

Address: C. de Sta. Isabel, 52, 28012 Madrid, Spain

Phone: +34 917 74 10 00

13. Churros at San Ginés

Churros at San Ginés

San Ginés in Madrid is a churrería that has been around for over 150 years and is renowned for becoming the first place to serve hot chocolate with churros. Although there are several places where you can find churros, San Ginés stands out from the crowd.

The moment you step into the quaint cafe, your senses are overwhelmed by the sweet scent of freshly fried dough emanating from the kitchen. The classic churros served at San Ginés have become world-renowned due to their unique texture and taste. The outside is crunchy while its inside remains fluffy; they are lightly dusted with sugar, adding a delightful sweetness which complements perfectly with the warm cup of delicious thick hot chocolate that accompanies it.

Contact:

Address: Pasadizo de San Ginés, 5, 28013 Madrid, Spain

Phone: +34 913 65 65 46

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14. Temple of Debod

Temple of Debod in the center of Madrid

The Temple of Debod is a destination that should not be missed if you are ever visiting Madrid. Located in the Parque del Oeste, it offers breathtaking views of Madrid, the nearby Manzanares river and stunning sunsets against its ancient stone walls. Built in Egypt over two thousand years ago, it was gifted to Spain in 1968 by its former owners to thank them for their help with restoring monuments threatened by the Aswan High Dam.

Towering 15 meters tall and made of granite blocks, this delicate temple is an impressive feat of ancient engineering. Visitors can observe details such as its sacred inner chambers that have been carefully preserved from centuries past, as well as hieroglyphic inscriptions lining its walls and columns.

Contact:

Address: C. de Ferraz, 1, 28008 Madrid, Spain

Phone: +34 913 66 74 15

15. Puerta de Alcalá

Puerta de Alcalá

Puerta de Alcal in Madrid is an iconic Spanish monument located right outside the city centre. The gate was built in 1778 and has a striking Baroque architecture with its intricate carvings and tall pillars. It is an emblematic representation of Madrid's rich culture and history, having stood through many significant events in Spain's past.

The Puerta de Alcal serves as a major entryway to the city for visitors travelling from abroad or even within Spain itself. Tourists flock to this historic landmark on their visit to Madrid, taking photographs of its grandeur or simply admiring its beauty as they pass through it. The nearby square is also filled with people, vendors selling trinkets, local delicacies that are unique to the region and much more.

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16. Palacio de Cristal

Palacio de Cristal

The Palacio de Cristal is a beautiful and iconic attraction that offers visitors an abundance of beauty and history. It is located in the Buen Retiro Park, one of the largest parks in Europe, which features a large lake, sculptures, fountains, gardens and more. The Palacio de Cristal was built by King Alfonso XII to host special events for the 1887 World Fair. It was designed by Ricardo Velazquez Bosco, with two curved glass domes forming the roof that allows natural light to light up its interior space.

Today, the Palacio de Cristal is known as a cultural center that provides access to contemporary art exhibitions from around the world. Visitors can find sculptures and paintings by famous artists such as Picasso and Dalí displayed inside.

Contact:

Address: P.º de Cuba, 4, 28009 Madrid, Spain

Phone: +34 917 74 10 00

17. Cibeles Fountain

Cibeles Fountain

The majestic Cibeles Fountain is a magnificent sight to behold. Located at the center of the Plaza de Cibeles in Madrid, it stands tall and proud as a symbol of the city. The fountain was designed by Ventura Rodríguez and built between 1777 and 1782. It features a large sculpture representing Cybele, the Greek goddess of fertility, riding on a chariot pulled by two lions atop a large base containing four pools. This stunning structure has become an icon of Madrid's culture throughout history.

The square around the fountain has been an important public space since ancient times, hosting everything from military parades to religious ceremonies. In modern days it is still one of the most visited places in Madrid with locals and tourists alike gathering around it for pictures or simply to admire its beauty.

Recommended reading: Best Cities To Visit In Spain

18. Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid

Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid

The Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid is one of the oldest botanical gardens in Spain and a splendid display of Spanish horticultural heritage. Located near the Paseo Del Prado Museum, it was founded by King Carlos III back in 1781 and has been open to the public ever since. It is comprised of 23 hectares filled with over 5,000 species of plants from around Europe and Africa.

Visitors to this beautiful garden can take a leisurely stroll along its winding paths, admire its many sculptures, fountains and ponds or enjoy some tea or coffee at the café located in the middle of the gardens. The park also offers various educational activities such as walking guided tours, courses and exchanges on topics related to plants and gardening, as well as numerous events like concerts, theatrical performances and open-air film screenings throughout the year.

Contact:

Address: Pl. Murillo, 2, 28014 Madrid, Spain

Phone: +34 914 20 30 17

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Quickly search the best flights from the widest selection of airlines flying to Madrid. Regardless of what airline you go with, you can save money by comparing. Skyscanner is the best airline price comparison service specifically for Madrid.

FAQ

Q: What is Madrid Spain best known for?

A: One of the standout features of Madrid is undoubtedly its remarkable art scene. The city boasts three world-famous art museums - the Prado Museum, Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, and Reina Sofia Museum - which house an exceptional collection of masterpieces by some of history's greatest artists. Visitors can admire iconic works like Diego Velázquez's "Las Meninas" or Pablo Picasso's "Guernica." Art enthusiasts flock to these institutions from all over the globe to immerse themselves in Madrid's artistic heritage.

Q: What is the number one attraction in Madrid?

A: One landmark stands above the rest as the number one attraction in this bustling city: the Royal Palace. This magnificent structure, built in the 18th century is not only an architectural marvel but also a cultural treasure trove. With over 3,400 rooms spread across its sprawling premises, it is considered one of Europe's largest palaces.

Visitors can explore some of these lavishly decorated rooms, including the Throne Room and Hall of Columns adorned with intricate frescoes and exquisite tapestries. The palace also houses an impressive collection of artwork by renowned artists such as Goya and Velázquez.

Q: What food is Madrid most famous for?

A: Among the many mouthwatering dishes that Madrid is famous for, one stands out above all others: tapas. These small plates of savory delights have become an integral part of Spanish culture and are a beloved tradition in Madrid. From traditional options like patatas bravas (fried potatoes with spicy tomato sauce) and jamón ibérico (cured ham) to more innovative creations like croquetas de bacalao (cod croquettes), there is truly something to satisfy every palate.

In addition to tapas, another iconic dish that Madrid is renowned for is cocido madrileño. This hearty stew originated in the region and has become a staple in Madrilenian households.

Q: How to get from Madrid airport to city center?

A: The most efficient and cost-effective way to reach the heart of Madrid is by using the metro. Line 8 connects all terminals of Madrid-Barajas Airport with Nuevos Ministerios station in just 15 minutes, offering a quick and hassle-free journey. From Nuevos Ministerios, travelers can easily transfer to other metro lines or take a short walk to popular attractions such as Gran Via or Puerta del Sol.

If you prefer a more direct route, taxis are readily available outside each terminal at Madrid airport. These black and white cabs are metered and provide comfortable transportation to any destination within the city center.

Q: Is Madrid friendly to tourists?

A: The good news is that this beautiful Spanish capital does indeed have a reputation for being tourist-friendly. One of the reasons why Madrid is considered friendly to tourists is its excellent public transportation system. Whether you prefer to travel by metro, bus, or train, getting around the city is relatively easy and convenient. Additionally, locals are known for their willingness to help visitors navigate through the maze-like streets and provide directions when needed.

Q: Can you walk around Madrid at night?

A: Fortunately, the answer is a resounding yes! Madrid is generally considered a safe city for pedestrians, even in the evening hours.

One of the main reasons why walking around Madrid at night is safe is because of its robust police presence. The Spanish government has invested heavily in ensuring public safety, and you'll often find police officers patrolling popular tourist areas and streets throughout the night. Additionally, Madrid's bustling nightlife contributes to its overall safety. With numerous bars, restaurants, and clubs open until late hours, there are always people on the streets enjoying themselves and adding to the overall sense of security.

Recommended Hotels In Madrid

Fenix Gran Meliá luxury hotel

Hotel Fenix Gran Meliá

The Hotel Fénix Gran Meliá is a luxurious hotel located next to Plaza de Colón, in the Salamanca district of Madrid. It features elegant rooms and free Wi-Fi. All rooms have a flat-screen TV, iPod station, pillow menu, bathrobes and slippers.

Hotel Único

Hotel Único Madrid

The Hotel Único Madrid restaurant has 2 Michelin Stars. Located in Madrid’s Salamanca district, this restored 19th-century building offers free Wi-Fi, a modern gym and a charming garden courtyard.

Rosewood Villa Magna deluxe hotel

Rosewood Villa Magna

The elegant Rosewood Villa Magna offers exclusive rooms and suites in Madrid’s fashionable Salamanca area. The hotel boasts a spa, marble bathrooms and views onto Serrano Street or Castellana Avenue. The large, luxurious rooms have antique-style furniture and modern finishes.

PLAN YOUR TRIP TO MADRID

Book Your Hotel In Madrid

You can book your hotel in Madrid with Booking.com as they have the biggest inventory and best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hotel, they also return the cheapest rates for accommodations like guesthouses, hostels and apartments.

Book Your Flight To Madrid

Use Skyscanner to find cheap flights to Madrid. They are my favorite search engine because they search websites and airline companies around the globe so you always know you get the best rates.

Need a Rental Car In Madrid?

Here is a budget-friendly car rental resource. No matter where you’re traveling, you’ll be able to find the best — and cheapest car rentals in Madrid here.

Looking for an Airport Transfer Service In Madrid?

If you are looking for a convenient and affordable option to get to and from the airport in Madrid, here you will find all the answers to book your next airport transfer in Madrid.

Don’t Forget Your Travel Insurance

Travel insurance will protect you against illnesses, an injury, luggage theft, and even trip cancellations. It’s a comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong during your trip. I never travel to Madrid without it as I’ve had to use it several times in the past. My favorite travel insurance companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the Best Travel Companies to Save Money With?

Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you go to Madrid. I list all the ones I use to save money when I’m taking a trip. They will save you money when you travel too.

Want More Information on Madrid:

Be sure to visit our Madrid Travel Guide for even more travel tips.


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