Madrid, things to see and do

The residents of Madrid are called Madrileños. Fortunately, the city and the different districts have managed to keep an authentic atmosphere, despite the busy traffic network and metro network. Major attractions in Madrid are the Palacio Real (Royal Palace), the Retiro Park, the archaeological museum, and three internationally renowned art museums: the Prado, the Museo National Centro de Arte Reina Sofia and the Museo Thyssen-Boremsza.This blog has more to tell than just the tourist attractions. I have compiled a top 37 tips for people who have a week, a few days or just a few hours to spend in Madrid. If you have limited time I suggest you also check this blog about 48hours in Madrid.

1. A terrace on Plaza Mayor

The central square has a long history but today there are many restaurants and tapas bars to enjoy a delicious snack and a beer . You will also find the ‘Torre del Oro’, a small bar that is against bullfighting and where you will find a photo shoot on the wall depicting the terrible history of bullfighting. They sometimes call this bar in English ‘The Revenge of the Bulls’.

2. A visit to the Mercado de San Miguel

This is the oldest and most beautiful market of Madrid where you should really take the time to enjoy. Especially if you want tasty and cheap Spanish food this market is worth visiting. You can try different local dishes such as Spanish ham (Jamón Ibérico de bellota), olives (Campo Real olives) or different Spanish cheeses (Quesos), also a delicious Spanish wines (vino) or small beers (caña) are available to drink and of course you can take beautiful pictures while you are there.

3. Gran Vía Gourmet Experience + lunch

Take the elevator to the 9th floor of the department store El Corte Inglés where you will find the largest Spanish department store known as the Beehive, here you can spend many hours shopping. On the 9th floor you have fantastic views of the city. From here you can see the Royal Palace and Cathedral de la Alumdena but you can also enjoy a lunch. You can also capture photos albeit through a glass back but it’s definitely worthwhile.

4. Make a drink on the roof of the Circulo de Bella Artez ‘

Many people say that this bar has the best views over Madrid for a fee of a few euros. If you are only there for the scenery then it is better to go to the Gourmet Experience because it is free and the view is almost the same. If you want to stay a little longer for a drink served with a breathtaking view the city then this bar is worth a visit.

5. A walk in Retiro Park (Pareque del Retiro)

Although there are more parks in Madrid, this is the most well known. You can even rent a boat and sail around the park making a stop at the Crystal Palace. Here you can often see free exhibitions or enjoy the old architecture as well as the street performers, skaters, cyclists and plenty of course plenty of people walking their dogs. Furthermore, just next to the park in the northwest corner you will find the grand gateway which is worth visiting.There are plenty of cafes in the area to keep you entertained for hours.

6. The largest outdoor flea market in Madrid – El Rastro market

Here you can spend hours shopping and walking around but unfortunately only on Sundays from 9am to 3pm as with many Spanish markets. The El Rastro Market has around 3,500 stalls, and so plenty to keep you busy for a day. Also in the area many street performers and small cafes where you can enjoy tapas and a beer.

7. Museo Reina Sofia – (Picasso and Dali)

This building was a hospital but now it is home to modern art. You’ll find works by Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali. The most famous piece in the museum is Picasso’s Guirnica. Every day there are a number of hours where you can visit the museum for free. Unfortunately, photography is not allowed anywhere.

8. A walk along the river (Rio Manzanares)

During this walk (cycling too) you’ll pass several parks, playgrounds and beautiful bridges to discover a real taste of life in Madrid and let time slip by.

9. Plaza de Cibeles and Palacio de Comunicaciones

The Cibeles fountain is a major attraction in Madrid which is next to the Palacio de Comunicaciones. It was built in 1917 and is still one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. Originally it was the headquarters of the Spanish Post but now you can see it as the town hall for the people of Madrid. The fountain is often the central but unofficial meeting place for Real Madrid fans and players to celebrate big wins.

10. Tour Bernabeu Stadium (Estadio Santiago Bernabeu) – Real Madrid Museum

Of course, when in Madrid don’t forget to visit the Bernabeu, the stadium of Real Madrid. The museum there has information about the long history of the club that fans be able to enjoy for a few hours. There is a wall of photos and hundreds of trophies that you can photograph as well. You can also take a seat on a chair on the stage so that you feel that you really have been part of the history.

11. Shopping, stroll around and enjoy the architecture of the Gran Vía.

Here you walk through the main streets of Madrid where you can see all kinds of nice shops, cafes and restaurants. It is rich in history with historic theaters and Spanish architecture. The main part starts from the Metropolis building on Plaza de España.

12. Prado Museum (Museo del Prado)

The Prado Museum is home to more than 9,000 works of art and is also known as the world’s largest art gallery. It was opened in 1819, and the museum offers educational activities (in Spanish) and often has temporary exhibitions of amazing artists from around the world.

13. Flamenco show at Corral de la Moreria

The Spanish dance Flamenco is a style of dance and music. There are many opportunities in Madrid to see a show but the Corral de la Moreria flamenco is the oldest house in the world and is seen by Spaniards as the Cathedral of Flamenco. Usually photography prohibited during the show.

14. A visit to the Palacio Real

This is the largest building in Madrid and it is also one of the largest palaces in Southern and Western Europe. It is next to the Plaza de Oriente square which you can visit when you go to Palacio Real

15. La Puerta del Sol (Gate of the Sun)

This is the main square in Madrid. The square is one of the most famous landmarks of Madrid and all of Spain. This is the center of the radial network of Spanish roads, where the clock (Casa de Correos), which is best known for the countdown to the New Year eve. In Spain you eat the ‘traditional twelve grapes’, one at each stroke. This tradition is said to bring good luck in the new year. The clock on La Puerta del Sol is also seen on TV for the new year. In this square you will find the fountains, the four-meter high statue Oso Y Madroño (bear and maypole), the bronze 9 meter statue of Carlos III (a copy of the original which you can visit in the Real Acedemia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando) , you will also find the statue of the Bear and the Strawberry Tree, which is the symbol of Madrid.

16. Visit to the Cathedral de la Almundena

The Cathedral of Santa Maria la Real de la Almundena is located right next to the Royal Palace and is often forgotten after a visit to the Royal Palace. You can reach it via Plaza de la Armeria. There is a large square between the Palace and the cathedral. There is also a second entrance with impressive bronze doors by the sculptor Sanguino.

17. A show looking at the Teatro Compac Gran Via

Gran Via is still known as the Madrid Broadway because of all cinemas and theaters. Many function as both a theater and a cinema. Teatro Compac Gran Via is one of the oldest theaters which was founded in 1944 and hosts various shows and musicals.

18. Try the Calamari Bocadillos

One of the local favorites, the bocadillos The calamari is a baguette filled with fried squid rings. You can buy them in many different places. A recommended place to try it is called El Brillante right outside next to the Museo Reina Sofia, but Plaza Mayor is also a popular area to get them.

19. Visit the Egyptian Temple of Debod

In Madrid you can visit an authentic Egyptian temple from the 2nd century BC. This is dedicated to the gods Amon and Isis. This temple was donated in 1968 to the Spanish people as a thank you for helping to save the sacred buildings. It was dismantled stone by stone, transmitted, reconstructed and opened to the public in 1972.

20. Churros with chocolate eating in San Ginés

Opened in 1894, San Ginés serves the most famous churros in Madrid. Dip warm churros in melted chocolate for a tasty snack. This Ginés is available 24 hours a day and it is a tourist place which can sometimes be very busy. It’s up to you to determine whether this is the best Churros but it’s definitely worth giving them a try here.

21. Dining at the oldest restaurant in the world (Sobrino de Botin Restaurant)

The Sobrino de Botin restaurant dates from 1725 and is in the Guinness World Record a place as the oldest restaurant in the world. There are four floors and the restaurant is a real tourist attraction but the locals will also be happy here. Ernest Hemingway, a famous writer had a special bond with Spain and refers to this restaurant  in many of his novels. To find out more about his stories it is advisable to his book The Sun Also Rises, read it if you have time before you eat here.

22. Free visit museums

Madrid often has specific hours that you pay no entrance fee for both locals and tourists. Even the famous paintings by Picasso and Dalí are free to visit at certain hours of the day but other museums,  also, are often free at certain times so  everyone has the opportunity to visit it.

23. Listening to jazz music at Café Jazz Populart

This bar has live music every night. You can  take a look at the website before you visit. The bar is open until the early hours at weekends.

24. In the bakery go (La Mallorquina)

This bakery is famous baker of Madrid. You can, for example, order a chocolate napolitana or just try some other Spanish pastry with coffee. Spanish grandmothers often buy sweets for their grandchildren here.

25. Tío Pepe billboard (the Puerta del Sol Plaza)

This had to be moved a few years ago because of restoration work but you can still find these at Puerta del Sol plaza. The billboard is one of the best known symbols of the city and therefore this also remains on the square. In Spain today many billboard ads are banned but Tío Pepe billboard is so special that it is also considered one of the most representative monuments of the city.

26. Tapas dinner at Juana la Loca

The best tapas you can get to Juana la Loca. It is advisable to try for example a Spanish Tortilla de Patatas. This is a traditional omelet with onions and potatoes. It is also advisable to try heuvos rotos. This is a fried egg and chips and thin slices of Spanish ham (jamón ibérico). These recommended both dishes especially if you are not so familiar with Spanish cuisine.

27. Spanish bars / night on stage

Spain currently has the highest number of bars per square meter. There are so many options that you only can dream of in many other countries. Spaniards always go late and then stay until daybreak. Many bars in Madrid will also open again before the clubs and bars from the night before are even closed.

28. A Spanish breakfast try to Toma Café.

This small bar is located in the hip Malasaña neighborhood, known for the best coffee in town. A Spanish breakfast consists of a creamy café con leche and pan con tomate (toast with freshly grated tomato and olive oil)

29. discover Malasaña area / Jardines de Sabatini

Wandering around at Plaza de España and the Royal Palace direction recommended, where you can make a stop at Jardines de Sabatini. They are located immediately behind the Palacio Real. These gardens have a luxurious look and it is very quiet in the area. You can also admire the facade of the palace, and then continue walking towards Plaza de Oriente more impressive gardens and statues.

30. La hora de Vermut`

Early in the afternoon and in especially on Sunday many locals take part in “La hora de Vermut`” (the hour of vermouth). This is the number one aperitif of the Spanish capital. The sweet drink is now a well-known phenomenon in the Madrid culture. You can try this example, pre-lunch vermouth in ‘Taberna Real’ where the employees of the Royal Palace once lived.

31. Ir de tapas (tapa bar go tapa bar)

As a Spaniard, it is quite normal that you go from bar to bar to find the best small dishes that you can share with friends or all for oneself. With each drink you get a small snack. It is a Spanish tradition that you can partake in on vacation. In Madrid can take a walk along the Calle de la Cava Baja (a medieval street full of tapas bars and taverns where Taberna Taberna La Concha and Los Huevos de Lucio are worth a visit for tasty tapas).

32. The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum

The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, or simply the Thyssen, is an art museum in Madrid, near the Prado Museum in one of the city’s main boulevards.

33. The Spanish Broadway

In the evenings Gran Vía, which is often referred to as the “Spanish Broadway” is a great place to visit. This large street is home to many luxurious hotels, nightclubs and theaters. By day, this location is the place to shop and where Spanish stores like Zara and Mango can be found. Furthermore, this street is also the place to enjoy 20th century architecture.

34. Roof terraces

Madrid is one of the best capitals of the world to enjoy sunshine. Madrileños always find a reason to go out and enjoy good weather. Therefore, there are several places to sit on a rooftop. For example, the Gymage in Malasaña, Room Mate Óscar in Chueca, Ático de las Letras of the Hat

35. Nightclubs

Many tourists and foreign students go to the nightclub Kapital. This nightclub has seven floors with each floor having different music. If you looking for something more luxurious, Barrio Salamanca has nightclubs such as Gabana perhaps worth a visit

36. Bars late into the evening

If you do not want to go to a nightclub, but rather in a pub. Try the many bars on Calle Pez ‘in Malasaña.

37. Metro maps in PDF

Thanks for reading this blog of Madrid. I would like to extend this blog with your ideas. Put them under the post with a link to your own blog or a nice website.


  1. Thank you so much for posting this. I’m off to Madrid for a couple hours of days this weekend and this comprehensive list gives me plenty of choices.

  2. Wow ! This is amazing . This is really helpful. I fee like I’m in Madrid now . I badly gonna visit Madrid. Basically your blog provides all the necessary information for a traveler and it encourages us to visit Madrid. Keep up the good work . Thanks a lot for the information. Cheers ! 👍👍

  3. I am busy with a post about Valencia and Ronda too. Make sure you sign up for my newsletter so you will get them in your email box. The Ronda post is very detailed as I was there about 20 times. I have it ready in Dutch but I am waiting till my boyfriend translate it in English. Feel free to check my Dutch blog ( and use this translate tool link :

    But it is not that good as a real translation what is coming in the next weeks.

  4. Madrid is a very ‘walkable’ city well worth visiting (but perhaps better in the summer as it is the highest capital city in Europe)

  5. A super post. I just love Madrid. I have fond memories of rowing a boat in Retiro Park on a sunny Sunday afternoon, and then afterwards being directed to a local restaurant by this friendly older Madrileño man, who had a false leg.

  6. What a lovely post. I recently went to Madrid and did a few of these things, but wish I had read your post beforehand!

    There is also AMAZING vegan food in Madrid… So maybe if you go again, you can try it out! Thanks for such a great read 💛

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