Things to do in Madrid

The 40 things you can't miss!

A royal city home to the Spanish monarchy. A capital with a history dating back more than a thousand years. An incredible arts scene, phenomenal cuisine, and gloriously unfussy bars. Madrid really does tick all the boxes.

Linger beneath the café canopies of broad plazas in Madrid’s historic heart. Delve into the alleyways of the Lavapiés district, full to bursting with multicultural buzz. Or seek out the top tapas in La Latina after hitting some of the world’s top galleries. No wonder the local’s use the phrase ‘de Madrid al Cielo,’ – ‘from Madrid to heaven!’

Visiting the Spanish capital? Don’t miss the city’s hottest attractions with our pick of the best things to do in Madrid.

Patricia Palacios, co-founder of España Guide
About
PATRICIA PALACIOS
España Guide Co-Founder
Patricia is an engineer turned content creator who for over a decade has been helping travelers navigate her native Spain. In addition to her own website, her tips and recommendations have been featured on BBC Travel, CNN, El País & Lonely Planet, just to name a few.

This article might include affiliate links, allowing us to earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Check our disclosure page for more info.

Patricia Palacios, co-founder of España Guide
About
PATRICIA PALACIOS
España Guide Co-Founder
Patricia is an engineer turned content creator who for over a decade has been helping travelers navigate her native Spain. In addition to her own website, her tips and recommendations have been featured on BBC Travel, CNN, El País & Lonely Planet, just to name a few.

This article might include affiliate links, allowing us to earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Check our disclosure page for more info.

Best 10 Things to Do in Madrid

1

Royal Palace

The Royal Palace – One of the best things to do in Madrid
The Royal Palace – One of the best things to do in Madrid
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If you’re looking for an attraction fit for a king, there’s literally nowhere better than Madrid’s Palacio Real (Royal Palace). Home to the kings and queens of Spain for nearly three centuries, its 3,418 rooms are packed full of treasures.

Madrid Things to Do Tip Icon - Royal Palace Tour    Don't miss! Make the most of your visit by taking part in this Royal Palace Skip-the-Line Guided Tour
Lavish throne room in Madrid's Royal Palace
Lavish throne room in Madrid's Royal Palace
© Patrimonio Nacional

As the largest royal palace in Europe, there’s more than enough space to combine exquisite interiors with works of international repute. Keep an extra special eye out for Giaquinto’s staircase ceiling frescos, artifacts of the Royal Armory, and paintings by Caravaggio, Goya, and Velazquez.

2

Plaza Mayor

Visitors taking photos on a sunny morning at Plaza Mayor – Madrid, Spain
Visitors taking photos on a sunny morning at Plaza Mayor
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Alive both day and night, Plaza Mayor is perhaps Madrid’s best people watching location. This grand public square dates back to the 1580s, though no less than three serious fires have seen it repeatedly improved.

Madrid Things to Do Tip Icon - torture in the plaza mayor    Did you know? During the Spanish Inquisition the Plaza Mayor hosted torture and public executions of accused heretics.
Plaza Mayor (Main Square) in Madrid's city center, Spain
Madrid's Plaza Mayor at sunset

Enclosed by impressive Baroque era buildings all the way around, the square is an absolute must for any Madrid itinerary. This is especially true on Sundays when the popular collectors’ market is held.

3

San Miguel Market

Mercado de San Miguel, one of the best things to do in Madrid
Mercado de San Miguel, one of the best things to do in Madrid
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On the subject of markets, few can compete with Mercado de San Miguel. One of Madrid’s oldest indoor marketplaces – and stunningly beautiful to boot – San Miguel remains the city’s premier food destination.

Visitors in the interior of the San Miguel Market enjoying Madrid's gastronomy
Visitors in the Interior of the San Miguel Market

One of the last remaining examples of iron architecture in Madrid, its 30-plus stallholders welcome over 10 million visitors per year. There are plenty of options for eating and drinking, featuring both Spanish traditional cuisine and some more exotic foreign specialities.

Madrid Things to Do Food Icon - Tapas Tour    Enjoy the true art of tapeo: Discover the best of the local cuisine by participating in this Madrid Tapas & Wine Tour

Be aware that the market can get extremely packed. If you want more breathing room, we recommend to avoid visiting on the weekend. Lunchtime is generally busier than dinner as well.

4

Santiago Bernabéu Stadium

Panoramic views of an empty Santiago Bernabéu Stadium in Madrid
Panoramic views of the Bernabéu Stadium in Madrid

Soccer fans rejoice! Madrid is the location of one of the world’s most famous soccer stadiums – the Bernabéu. Home to team Real Madrid since 1947, the stadium has a seating capacity for 81,000 fans!

If you can’t make it to a match, you can tour the stadium instead. You’ll not only get panoramic views of the stadium, but also the chance to explore the Real Madrid Museum. It contains an impressive array of trophies, alongside hundreds of other items that detail the history of the club.

Madrid Things to Do Icon - Bernabeu tour    Don't miss: Explore the history of the Real Madrid football team by taking part in this Bernabéu Stadium Tour
5

Prado Museum

Imposing facade of the Prado Museum, one of the best things to do in Madrid
Imposing facade of the Prado Museum, one of the best things to do in Madrid

Spain’s national gallery, the Museo del Prado is widely considered to have one of the best collections of art in the world. What first began as a royal art collection by King Ferdinand VII has today grown into a massive sampling of works dating back eight centuries.

Madrid Things to Do - Prado Museum Tickets Icon    Don't waste your time waiting in line: Get your skip-the-line Prado Museum tickets here!

As a result, the list of featured artists is a long one! It includes Raphael, Titian, Bosch, Rubens, Goya, and Tintoretto amongst its 2,300 pieces. Thankfully though, the gallery produces a highlights cheat sheet so you can head straight to the big names if time is short.

6

Puerta del Sol

Statue of the Bear and the Madroño in Madrid's Puerta del Sol
Statue of the Bear & the Madroño in Madrid's Puerta del Sol
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The semi-circular plaza of Puerta del Sol is Spain’s zero point (Kilometer 0). In Italy, all roads are said to lead to Rome. And in Spain, all roads lead to the Puerta del Sol. The exact spot is marked by a plaque in the middle of the square.

Madrid Things to Do Tip Icon - Hop on bus Tour    Don't miss! Make the most of your time in the Spanish capital by taking part in this Madrid Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Bus Tour

Right in front of Kilometer 0 is the Casa de Correos Clock. This is Spain’s equivalent to New York’s Time Square ball drop. Every year Spaniards gather in this square or watch on TV as the clock strikes midnight and party-goers honor the tradition of stuffing 12 grapes in their mouth during the last 12 seconds of the year.

Don’t miss the Statue of the Bear and the Madroño (or strawberry tree). It’s a symbol of the city and favorite photo spot.

7

Flamenco

Mesmerizing dancer with a bata de cola (long-tailed gown) at Teatro Flamenco Madrid
Mesmerizing Flamenco dancer in Madrid
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Although flamenco’s origins lie further south in the Spanish region of Andalusia, Madrid has become one of the leading places in Spain to see an authentic flamenco performance.

Madrid Things to Do Icon - Best Flamenco Shows in Madrid    See a live show: Find the top venues with our guide to the Best Flamenco Shows in Madrid

Dedicated tablaos (flamenco venues) dot the city. They offer the chance to experience the soulful songs and dance moves of this cultural phenomenon. So why not grab a table, enjoy some flavorful foods, and see what flamenco is all about for yourself?

8

Reina Sofía Museum

Picasso's Guernica at the Reina Sofía Museum in Madrid, Spain
Guernica at the Reina Sofía Museum in Madrid

Rivaling the Prado Museum with its art collection, the Museo Reina Sofía is definitely one of the best things to do in Madrid. It forms one side of Madrid’s Golden Triangle of Art along with the Prado and Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.

Unlike the Prado, Reina Sofía specializes in twentieth century art. As a result, there’s no shortage of Picassos, Dalis, and Miros on its walls.

Madrid Things to Do - Reina Sofia Museum Tickets Icon    Save time: Get your skip-the-line tickets for the Reina Sofia Museum here!

The highlight has to be Picasso’s giant Guernica, depicting the horrors of the Spanish Civil War. The ‘controversial’ masterpiece only arrived in Spain after the end of the Franco dictatorship in 1981, having been painted in 1937.

9

Gran Vía

Capitol cinema in Madrid's Gran Vía
Capitol cinema in Madrid's Gran Vía
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Translating simple as ‘Great Way,’ the Gran Vía is one of Madrid’s most important shopping streets. Located right in the heart of the city, it’s also an important stop for architecture lovers.

Bird's eye view of the Gran Vía in Madrid
Bird's eye view of the Gran Vía

That’s because along its 1,400-yard length you’ll find a range of building styles, from the Beaux Arts Metrópolis Building to the art déco Telefonica building – once the tallest in Spain.

Madrid Things to Do Hotels Icon - Best hotels in Madrid    Where to stay? Find out with our curated list of The Best Hotels in Madrid.

With its broadway-style shows, bright lights and tall buildings, you might just think for a moment that you’re in New York City. Madrid’s Gran Via certainly has a big city feel.

10

El Retiro Park

Rowing boats in the lake at El Retiro Park in the center of Madrid, Spain
Rowing boats in the Lake at El Retiro Park
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Covering around 125 hectares, Parque de El Retiro is arguably central Madrid’s most significant green space. It also forms part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with the Prado Museum.

Parque de El Retiro is a great place for a picnic on a sunny day or alternatively you can enjoy one of the parks’ several cafes. But ‘Madrid’s lungs’ also contain an array of other attractions, such as a lake where you can rent a row boat and the iconic Glass Palace.

Madrid Things to Do - Madrid Tuk Tuk Tour    Visit Madrid in style: Discover the city's highlights in a comfortable and unique way by booking this Private Madrid Tour aboard an Electric Tuk Tuk.

El Retiro Park is also home to a monument known as the El Angel Caído – the Fallen Angel – which is the only public statue in the world that represents Satan.

11 to 20: Things to Do in Madrid

11

Malasaña Neighborhood

Street in Malasaña, one of the best things to do in Madrid
Street in Malasaña
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Malasaña is a vibrant and eclectic neighborhood located in the heart of Madrid. Known for its bohemian atmosphere and creative energy, the area is popular among artists, musicians, and young people (especially those from the nearby university). Its streets host busy coffee shops, indie vintage stores, and plenty of places to take the weight off your feet.

Madrid Things to Do Tip Icon - explore Malasaña    Where to start? A great place to start exploring the area is Plaza del Dos de Mayo, whose bars are both welcoming and authentic.

After checking out Malasaña during the day, make sure to stay for its nightlife. It’s many bars and clubs are known to stay open until the early hours of the morning.

Partying not your thing? Head instead to Centro Cultural Conde Duque. It has a packed schedule of (often free) events, from open-air exhibitions and movie screenings to jazz concerts.

12

Almudena Cathedral

The beautiful Baroque facade of the Almudena Cathedral in Madrid
The beautiful Baroque Facade of the Almudena Cathedral
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The Catedral de la Almudena is Madrid’s stunning cathedral. It’s located in the heart of the city, just opposite of the Royal Palace. Although the first stone was set in 1883, it wasn’t completely finished until 1993 when it was officially consecrated by Pope John Paul II.

Besides the beautiful Baroque styling of the cathedral, we particular love the brightly colored ceiling frescoes with their intricate patterns. They are totally unexpected and add a modern and contemporary touch to this otherwise classically styled building.

Brightly colored frescoes inside Catedral de la Almudena in Madrid, Spain
Brightly colored Frescoes inside the Catedral de la Almudena
© ESPAÑA GUIDE
Madrid Things to Do - Madrid Segway Tour    See Madrid on a segway: Book this private yet affordable Madrid Sightseeing Segway Tour.

Also, don’t miss the 400 column neo-Romantic crypt – a masterpiece in its own right. But its main facade echoes the Baroque style. Meanwhile, the interior blends old and modern, with several contemporary artists asked to contribute to its side chapels.

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13

Madrid's Rooftop Bars

La Terraza del Santo Domingo – Rooftop terrace at the Santo Domingo hotel in the center of Madrid
La Terraza del Santo Domingo
A. Martínez © Madrid Destino

Over the last few years, more and more rooftop bars have been popping all over Madrid – everyone loves them. They are the ideal place to enjoy the city's skyline while sipping on a refreshing cocktail or indulging in some delicious tapas.

You will find popular rooftop bars in many upscale hotels, such as the one at the Riu Plaza España. But there are also plenty of budget-friendly options such as Doñaluz, on top of the B&B Hotel Madrid Centro Puerta del Sol.

With Madrid's sunny climate, rooftop bars provide an excellent escape from the heat during the day, while also offering a prime location for a memorable night out.

14

Chueca Neighborhood

Groups of friends having a drink at a vibrant square in Chueca
Vibrant square in Chueca
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Madrid’s Chueca is another “everybody’s welcome” neighborhood which should be high on your list. Adorned with rainbow flags to celebrate the district’s large LGBTQ+ community, the area has a reputation as a party destination, while at the same time it maintains a laid-back and friendly vibe.

There are cafes and bars to pick between, but also plenty of opportunity for shopping at fashion boutiques, and taking in a little culture too.

For the latter, consider the Museum of Romanticism. Situated in a palace built in 1776, its rooms are decked out in the finest nineteenth century paintings, objet d’art, and furnishings. The result is a fascinating what Madrid must have been like to live in two centuries ago.

15

Thyssen Museum

Carmen Thyssen Collection at the Thyssen Museum in Madrid
Carmen Thyssen Collection at the Thyssen Museum
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Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza (or just Museo Thyssen) is the last of Madrid’s three great art galleries. Its collection contains 1,600 paintings, and once formed the second largest private collection in the world.

The collection, created by Baron Thyssen in just 40 years, is particularly strong in the areas of Impressionism, German Expressionism, and 20th-century American art. Some of the big name artists hung here include Rubens, Cezanne, Monet and Van Gogh, as well as Rembrandt, Degas, and Gauguin.

Madrid Things to Do Tip Icon - Thyssen Museum Tour    Don't miss! Make the most of your visit by taking part in this Thyssen Museum Guided Tour with Skip-the-Line Entry

The ground floor of the museum now displays the 180-piece Carmen Thyssen Collection, started by the baron’s wife after his death in 2002.

With its diverse collection of masterpieces from around the world, the Thyssen Museum is a must-see destination for any art lover visiting Madrid.

16

Cibeles Palace & Fountain

Cibeles Palace & Fountain in the center of Madrid
Cibeles Palace & Fountain in the center of Madrid
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As municipal government offices go, you don’t get much more impressive than the Palacio de Cibeles (Cibeles Palace). Opened in 1919 as a post and telegraph office, it is one of the top examples of the Modernismo architectural style in the city. The interior features stunning Art Déco architecture, with beautiful stained glass windows and intricate mosaics.

Egyptian Art déco detail in the facade of the Cibeles Palace
Egyptian Art déco detail
Views from the rooftop terrace of the Palacio Cibeles
Views from the rooftop terrace

For a small fee, visitors can take in panoramic views of the city from the rooftop terrace, which offers stunning views of some of Madrid's most iconic landmarks. With its rich history and cultural significance, the Palacio de Cibeles is a must-see destination for anyone visiting Madrid.

In front the palace you will find one of Madrid’s most famous relics – the Cibeles Fountain. It depicts the Roman goddess Cybele on a chariot pulled by two lions.

Madrid Things to Do Tip Icon - Cibeles fountain & Real Madrid    Did you know? Whenever the Real Madrid football team wins a major championship, the team along with their fans gather around the Cibeles fountain to celebrate.
17

Barrio de las Letras

Santa Ana square in Madrid's Literary Quarter
Santa Ana square in Madrid's Literary Quarter

Occupying just a handful of streets, Barrio de las Letras (Literary Quarter) is one of Madrid’s smallest neighborhoods and our personal favorite. The neighborhood takes its name from the many famous writes and poets who lived here during the Spanish Golden Age.

Authors such as Cervantes – who wrote Don Quixote – and Lope de Vega among many others have called this area home. De Vega’s house is now a museum with a charming courtyard garden from the seventeenth century.

Beyond its reputation for words, Las Letras has also become known for its food, with tapas restaurants spilling out from its main strip, Calle de las Huertas.

18

Puerta de Alcalá

The majestic Puerta de Alcalá at night in Madrid
The majestic Puerta de Alcalá at night

The forerunner of Paris’ Arc de Triomphe and Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, Puerta de Alcalá is one of five royal gateways built in Madrid. Dating to 1778, it was constructed under the orders of King Charles III, transforming a visitor’s arrival into the city in the process.

It was designed by an Italian architect by the name of Francesco Sabatini, who worked for the crown and left a long legacy in Madrid. The gate has neo-classical styling and features multiple granite archways that create a real sense of impression.

19

Cavas Streets

Popular tapas bar in Cava Baja, La Latina - Madrid
Popular tapas bar in Cava Baja
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Cava Alta and Cava Baja (Upper and Lower Streets) lie within La Latina neighborhood. These streets are known for their charming atmosphere and traditional architecture, with many of the buildings dating back to the medieval era. However, the Cava Streets are most famed for being a foodie haven due to its plethora of tapas bars.

Madrid Things to Do Food Icon - Tapas Tour    Enjoy the true art of tapeo: Discover the best of the local cuisine by participating in this Madrid Tapas & Wine Tour

On Cava Baja alone there are somewhere in the region of 50 tapas bars and restaurants within little more than 300 yards. They cover the full spectrum of experiences, from tiny hidden gems frequented by locals, to contemporary eateries blazing a trail.

Not sure where to start? Try Los Huevos de Lucio on Cava Baja, a chic yet informal tapas spot focusing its attention on eggs (huevos) alongside tapas favorites.

20

Rastro Flea Market

Sunny morning at the Rastro Flea Market in Madrid, Spain
Sunny morning at the Rastro Flea Market

Taking place on Sundays and public holidays for over 250 years, Rastro is one of Europe’s largest and most exciting flea markets. With around 3,000 different stalls every week, we can all but guarantee Rastro has something for everyone!

Madrid Things to Do Clock Icon - get to the Rastro early for the best bargains    Get there early for the best of the bargains! The market officially starts at 9 am before petering out around 3 pm.
Leather goods on sale at Madrid's rastro flea market
Leather goods on sale
Birdhouses for sale at the Rastro - Madrid
Birdhouses at the Rastro

The market’s main artery is Calle de la Ribera de Curtidores, a shopping street open all week long. On its surrounding streets you’ll find stalls displaying items as varied as vintage clothing, second hand books, antique furniture, costume jewelry, and retro household ornaments.

21 to 30: Things to Do in Madrid

21

Debod Temple

Debod temple at sunset – one of the best things to see in Madrid, Spain
Debod Temple at sunset – one of the best things to see in Madrid

Possibly Madrid’s most out of place attraction, the Templo de Debod is a legitimate Egyptian temple between the Sabatini Gardens and Parque del Oeste.

Girl walking outside of the Debod Temple
Walking around the Debod Temple
Hieroglyphics inside the Debod Temple - Madrid
Hieroglyphics inside the Debod Temple

Dating to the second century BCE, the Templo de Debod arrived in Madrid in the early 1970s, when it was rescued from the lake formed by the creation of the Aswan High Dam in southern Egypt.

Dedicated to the god Amun, its interior walls are richly carved, ensuring this unusual sight is one of the best things to do in Madrid.

22

Glass Palace

Glass Palace (Palacio de Cristal) in Madrid's El Retiro Park, Spain
Glass Palace in El Retiro Park

Although the Palacio de Cristal (or Glass Palace) is located within El Retiro Park, it’s a destination worth visiting in its own right.

Taking the form of a Greek cross, it was constructed out of iron and glass as a giant greenhouse to ensure the survival of an exhibition of plants from the Philippines in the 1880s.

Today, instead of plants, visitors will find a series of temporary art exhibitions throughout the year. Don’t miss visiting the palace as it’s one of the best things to do in Madrid.

23

Salamanca Neighborhood

Beautiful street corner in the upscale Salamanca neighborhood of Madrid
Beautiful street corner in the Salamanca neighborhood
© ESPAÑA GUIDE

If you want to see how the wealthy of Madrid live, then make sure you check out the upscale neighborhood of Salamanca. Besides its elegant architecture, Salamanca is known for its high-end shopping. The area is home to many luxury brands, including Chanel, Prada, and Gucci, making it a haven for fashion lovers.

Salamanca is also a great place to eat. It’s full of gourmet restaurants, many of them with Michelin stars. If your budget won’t quite stretch that far, a sense of what Salamanca is about can be had at the Platea Madrid food market.

The neighborhood is home to a couple of museums, the most notable being the National Archeological Museum.

Madrid Things to Do Tip Icon - Why visit Salamanca?    Why visit? Overall, Salamanca offers a luxurious and sophisticated experience for travelers looking to indulge in the finer things in life.
24

Chocolate con churros at San Ginés

Traditional Chocolate con churros at Chocolatería San Ginés in the center of Madrid
Chocolate con churros at Chocolatería San Ginés
© ESPAÑA GUIDE

Chocolatería San Ginés is a historic café located in the heart of Madrid, very close to the Plaza Mayor. Established in 1894, it’s known for serving the most famous and traditional chocolate con churros in the city.

The churros are freshly made, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The hot chocolate is thick and rich, making it a perfect pairing.

Madrid Things to Do Tip Icon - Casa de las Torrijas    Pro tip: If you want a sweet treat but are looking to get out of the beaten path, head instead to La Casa de las Torrijas for some delicious torrijas (the Spanish version of French toasts). You won’t be disappointed!

Visitors flock to Chocolatería San Ginés to experience a taste of old Madrid, and to indulge in this delicious treat. The café is open 365 days a year, almost 24 hours a day, so it's an excellent place to visit after a night out, or for an early morning breakfast.

25

Matadero Madrid

The cultural hub of Matadero Madrid
Matadero Madrid

The Matadero has gone from city slaughterhouse to cultural hub. Within the complex, culture vultures are sure to swoon with delight. A stage provides a platform for visual performances of all genres, while a cinema solely shows non-fiction screenings.

Café in Matadero, Madrid
Café in Matadero
Modern Art exhibition in Matadero, Madrid
Art exhibition

A host of temporary exhibitions are held in roughly 4,000 square meters of dedicated space. It’s all rounded off with a couple of restaurants where creatives meet to discuss future projects right throughout the day.

26

Lavapiés Neighborhood

Terraces of ethnic restaurants in the multicultural neighborhood of Lavapiés, Madrid
Terraces of ethnic restaurants in Lavapiés
© ESPAÑA GUIDE

Lavapiés is a dynamic and ever-changing district that is somewhat rough around the edges. It’s best known for its multicultural atmosphere. The area is a melting pot of cultures, with a significant immigrant population from Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

That means you can find many affordable ethnic restaurants, making it a popular destination for foodies and budget-conscious travelers.

Madrid Things to Do Fork-hand Icon - Affordable ethnic restaurants in Lavapiés    Feeling hungry? Looking for exotic foreign cuisine? In Lavapiés, you’ll find everything from Indian curry to Senegalese specialties!

Walking through this neighborhood you will notice its many galleries, street art, and laid-back ambience that makes it a great contrast to other parts of the city. Lavapiés offers a unique and eclectic experience for travelers looking to discover a different side of Madrid.

27

Sabatini Gardens

Sabatini Gardens with the Royal Palace in the background – Madrid
Sabatini Gardens with the Royal Palace in the background

The Sabatini Gardens are located next to Madrid’s Royal Palace. They were designed in the 1930s, occupying the site of the royal stables which had been built in the eighteenth century by Italian architect Francesco Sabatini – who is also responsible for the Puerta de Alcalá.

Madrid Things to Do Tip Icon - Sabatini gardens    Why visit? The Sabatini Gardens are a tranquil oasis in the heart of Madrid and an ideal spot for a peaceful break from the city’s hustle and bustle.

These neoclassical style gardens are meticulously landscaped. They feature numerous fountains, several statues of Spanish kings and a variety of flower beds, all set against the backdrop of the magnificent Royal Palace.

28

La Latina Neighborhood

Real Basílica de San Francisco el Grande in La Latina, Madrid
Real Basílica de San Francisco el Grande in La Latina
© ESPAÑA GUIDE

Heading to the Rastro flea market or Cavas Streets? Then you will find yourself in barrio La Latina – why not stick around? The neighborhood is a common place to head for a relaxing caña (glass of beer) among locals. Although busy, the vibe more than makes up for any lack of table space.

In the same area, you’ll find the massive Cebada marketplace. Here grocers stand side by side key cutters, street food vendors, and small-scale artists and artisans. However, La Latina is well-known for its myriad of churches too, such as the Real Basílica de San Francisco el Grande.

Our recommendation? Wander at will and see where you end up!

29

Plaza de España

Statue of Cervantes in the middle of the lush Plaza de España, Madrid
Statue of Cervantes in the middle of the lush Plaza de España

Plaza de España (Spain Square) is located at the western end of the Gran Vía. The newly renovated square is flanked by some of Spain’s tallest buildings such as the Torre de Madrid and the Edificio España. These behemoth buildings date from the 1950’s and were “symbols of prosperity” during the decades of Francisco Franco’s rule in Spain.

Madrid Things to Do Tip Icon - Dos de Mayo uprising in Plaza de España    Did you know? French soldiers executed rebels here during the Dos de Mayo uprising against Napoleon’s occupation of the city.

In the square, you will find areas to relax, a fountain and a huge monument dedicated to the famous Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes, the author of Don Quixote.

30

Casa de Campo & Teleférico Madrid

The Cable car 'Teleférico Madrid' crossing over Casa de Campo
Cable car over Casa de Campo
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Casa de Campo is Madrid’s largest public park with over 1,500 hectares. What was for centuries a royal hunting ground was eventually converted into a public park in the 1930’s.

Although technically an urban park, Casa de Campo is closer to being a forest. Winding paths cut their way amid the trees and lake, making it a great place for those who enjoy walking in nature.

Madrid Things to Do bike Icon - Casa de Campo bike Tour    Explore by bike: Experience driving an electric bike through one of Europe´s largest urban parks by taking part in this Madrid River Side & Casa de Campo Electric Bike Tour
Lake in Casa de Campo in Madrid
Lake in Casa de Campo
Views over the river with the cathedral in the background from Teleférico Madrid
Views from Teleférico Madrid

The best way to visit Casa de Campo is by taking the Teleférico Madrid cable car from the corner of Parque del Oeste across the Manzanares River. Not only does the ride offer fantastic views of Madrid’s skyline but you can even see parts of the mountain range to the north.

Madrid Things to Do Pro tip icon - Casa de Campo    Pro tip: Cross the river behind the Royal Palace and make your way to the Casa de Campo Lake where you can enjoy one of the many restaurants that surround the water.
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31 to 40: Things to Do in Madrid

31

Cerralbo Museum

Lavish room at the Cerralbo Museum in Madrid
Lavish room at the Cerralbo Museum
© ESPAÑA GUIDE

Although unknown to many first-time visitors, the Museo Cerralbo remains one of the most important museums in Madrid. It boasts the once-private collection of Enrique de Aguilera y Gamboa, the Marquis of Cerralbo. But many consider the nineteenth-century Italianate building to be as impressive as its collection

Historic armor inside the Cerralbo Museum in Madrid
Armor inside the Cerralbo Museum
Billards at the Cerralbo Museum in the center of Madrid
Billards at the Cerralbo Museum

The luxurious interior decoration includes gilt crystal chandeliers and expansive quantities of marble. And when it comes to the art, the collection numbers almost 25,000 individual objects (many coins and bank notes).

Of its larger works, there are examples of ceramics from ancient Greece and Rome, in addition to paintings by El Greco, and a fine selection of Chinese and Japanese artworks.

32

Madrid's Gastronomy

Cocido madrileño – one of the city's most traditional dishes
Cocido madrileño – one of the city's most traditional dishes

Madrid's cuisine is heavily influenced by its history, with a focus on hearty, flavorful dishes made with fresh ingredients. Some must-try specialties include cocido madrileño (a stew made with meats and vegetables) and huevos rotos (fried potatoes, eggs and cured ham).

Also make sure to sample the local Spanish wines, such as those from Rioja, Ribera del Duero and Rueda, and the famous Spanish cured meats, including jamón ibérico and chorizo.

Mercado San Fernando in the center of Madrid
Mercado San Fernando
Jamón stand in Madrid's San Miguel market
Jamón stand in market

The city is famous for its tapas culture, and some of the most popular areas for tapeo, or bar-hopping for tapas, include Calle de Ponzano in the Chamberí neighborhood and Cava Baja in La Latina. Both areas are great for anyone looking to experience Madrid's tapas culture.

Madrid Things to Do Food Icon - Tapas Tour    Enjoy the true art of tapeo: Discover the best of the local cuisine by participating in this Madrid Tapas & Wine Tour

For a more immersive experience, food markets such as Mercado de San Antón – in Chueca – or Mercado de la Cebada – in La Latina – offer a wide range of fresh produce, meats, and seafood, as well as prepared dishes and drinks. You will get a change to sample everything from oysters and sushi to paella and sangría, making it a great way to explore Madrid's culinary scene.

33

Liria Palace

Zuloaga Hall inside the Liria Palace in Madrid
Zuloaga Hall inside the Liria Palace
Á. López del Cerro © Madrid Destino

A building of astonishing beauty inside and out, Palacio de Liria (Liria Palace) was built in the 1700s as the official city residence of the Dukes of Alba.

Madrid Things to Do Tip Icon - Liria Palace Tour    Don't miss! Make the most of your visit by taking part in this Liria Palace Guided Tour

The one hour guided tour of this stately home reveals architecture by British architect Edwin Lutyens, alongside a fascinating collection of artifacts. These include a first edition of Don Quixote from 1605, handwritten documents from Christopher Columbus, and a library of 18,000 etchings.

34

Madrid Río

Green area by the river at Madrid Río, with the Almudena Cathedral in the background
Green area by the river at Madrid Río

Built along the banks of the Manzanares River, Madrid Río is a park created in only the last few years. Wide paved paths stretch around flowerbeds and box hedging while other areas have been given over to rewilding projects. They have seen the return of several lost bird species, including kingfishers and herons.

Puente Arganzuela in Madrid Rio
Puente Arganzuela
Puente Cáscara del Matadero in Madrid
Puente Cáscara del Matadero

There are also two pretty cool bridges that cross the river. The first being the Matadero Shell Bridge (Puente Cáscara del Matadero) and the second, our favorite, the futuristic-looking Arganzuela Footbridge that spirals across the park.

Madrid Things to Do bike Icon - Casa de Campo bike Tour    Explore by bike: Experience driving an electric bike through one of Europe´s largest urban parks by taking part in this Madrid River Side & Casa de Campo Electric Bike Tour
35

Plaza de la Villa

Plaza de la Villa in the center of Madrid
Plaza de la Villa in the center of Madrid

It’s worth heading to Plaza de la Villa since this public square is the location of some of Madrid’s oldest surviving buildings. The most antique is the Casa y Torres de los Lujanes, built in the 1400s. It sits on the eastern side of the square and was built in the Gothic-Mudejar style.

New by comparison is the sixteenth-century Casa de Cisneros, and the Casa de la Villa (old town hall) on the western side of the plaza. The latter remained the location of the city government until 2008.

36

Sorolla Museum

Exhibition room at the Sorolla Museum in the center of Madrid, Spain
Exhibition room at the Sorolla Museum
P. Giocoso © Madrid Destino

The Museo Sorolla is an intriguing blend of an historic home and art gallery. Nineteenth century artist Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida deserves to be better known, so there’s plenty of reason to head to the place he called home in the Chamberí neighborhood.

Said to be one of Europe’s best preserved house museums, it also has the largest number of his paintings anywhere. What’s more, visitors are able to stroll through the garden he designed, just like Sorolla himself must have done during the last years of his life.

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Metrópolis Building

Metropolis building in one of Madrid's most beautiful corners
Metropolis building in one of Madrid's most beautiful corners

First opened in 1911, the Edificio Metrópolis (Metropolis Building) soon became one of Madrid’s landmark buildings, even though it was only ever intended as the headquarters offices of an insurance company.

Richly decorated with carved stonework, its French Beaux Arts style was extravagant 100 years ago and even more so today. Its columns supporting a copper dome topped with a winged figure, make this corner one of the most picturesque of Madrid.

38

Archaeology Museum & National Library

Facade of Madrid's Archaeology Museum
Facade of Madrid's Archaeology Museum
© ESPAÑA GUIDE

The Museo Arqueológico (Archeological Museum) in the Salamanca neighborhood was founded in 1867 by a Royal Decree of Isabella II. The museum isn’t one of Madrid’s most visited. However, considering that it houses the best archaeological collection in Spain, we think that it is highly underrated.

The museum focuses on life in the Mediterranean and Iberian Peninsula from prehistory until the nineteenth century, including the period of Moorish rule. Our favorite part is the unique collection of Pre-Roman sculptures from native Iberian peoples that dates back as far as the Bronze Age.

Lady of Elche from the 4th century BC in Madrid's Archaeological Museum
Lady of Elche from the 4th century BC
© ESPAÑA GUIDE

On the other side of the same building you’ll find the National Library. It contains a copy of every book published in Spain. Although most of the library is off-limits to non-researching visitors, there are eight curated rooms that form part of a free exhibition.

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39

Royal Botanical Garden

Pond at the lush Royal Botanical Garden in Madrid
Pond at the lush Royal Botanical Garden
© ESPAÑA GUIDE

Situated next to Retiro Park and the Prado Museum, the Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid is a great place to slow down and escape the fast-paced city.

Madrid Things to Do Tip Icon - Why visit the botanical garden?    Why visit? In total, the botanical gardens has 90,000 flowers and plants plus 1,500 trees, ensuring there’s something to admire whatever the season.

The beautifully cared for gardens are divided into seven zones, and contains five greenhouses with plants from all over the world. There’s even a Bonsai collection!

40

Royal Theater

Teatro Real de Madrid – Madrid's Royal Theater
Teatro Real de Madrid

The Teatro Real (Royal Theater) is one of the most important opera houses in Europe. It’s has held several world premieres of new works, by both Spanish composers such as Cristóbal Halffter, and international names like Philip Glass.

Madrid Things to Do - guided royal theater tours    Want more? Outside of performance times, the Teatro Real has guided tours lasting 60-90 minutes, taking in the main auditorium and backstage areas.

Productions span much of the year (the only exception being the August heat), resulting in around 20 different operas each year. Add to this a busy schedule of orchestral concerts and choral recitals, and you have a packed events list.

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