The capital city of Spain boasts a lively nightlife, grand architecture, a diverse culinary scene, and vibrant public plazas like Plaza de Espana and Plaza Mayor. Madrid touring is an excellent way to see the city’s major sights.
From Madrid art galleries and cathedrals to fascinating palaces and museums in Madrid, visitors have a wide range of options. Keep reading to find out more about the best things to do in Madrid.
We Spotted the 7 Best Things to Do in Madrid - Check Them Out!
1. Marvel at Awesome Madrid Museums
Museums are no doubt the major Madrid attractions. The Prado Museum (Museo Nacional del Prado) is the most famous one. Its holdings include French, Italian, and Spanish paintings, some of which are over 300 years old. Aside from paintings, there are also more than 1,000 sculptures, around 4,800 prints, and a lot of historical documents.
They are all collected in a total of 4 floors. The Museo Nacional del Prado dates back to 1819. The museum has withstood the test of time and it’s now one of the most important national landmarks.
With a huge collection that spans over 7,000 valuable paintings, the Prado Museum is the top art gallery not only in Spain but also in Europe. Other museums you should visit include:
- Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum — Situated on Madrid’s boulevard close to the Prado, this art museum encompasses more than 1,600 paintings in the private collection of Baron Thyssen.
- Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia (or simply Reina Sofia) — This contemporary museum specializes in twentieth-century Spanish art. There is a whole host of gems within, from Picasso’s Guernica and Salvador Dalí’s works to masterpieces that focus on the Spanish civil war.
- National Archaeological Museum — This museum contains an astonishing collection of archaeological and decorative artworks. Visitors can marvel at ethnographical, pre-historic, and ancient pieces that are dedicated to Roman and Greek life.
2. Explore Cathedrals & Palaces
Madrid is home to many extravagant palaces and cathedrals. The La Almudena Cathedral is the most famous church in the city. This gorgeous Madrid Cathedral is located near the Royal Palace.
The church was established in 1883 by Cubas who was inspired by the French Gothic from the 18th century when beginning this project. He added various elements from the León, Reims, and Chartres cathedrals. Madrid Cathedral was consecrated in 1993 by Ioannes Paulus II and it is now one of the most beautiful Baroque-style cathedrals in Europe.
You are advised to explore other cathedrals, such as Parroquia de la Santa Cruz, Church of San Manuel y San Benito, and Basilica of Our Lady of Conception, as well as the Royal Palace (Palacio Real de Madrid) and Palacio de Cristal.
The Royal Palace of Madrid is home to numerous Spanish kings, such as Alfonso XIII, Charles III, and many more. This historic palace will take you on an educational journey through Spanish history. Today, it is not the home of the royal family but their residence that is open to visitors.
3. Spend a Night at Madrid Theaters
Madrid is a city that offers broad programming of dance, art, and theatre to visitors and residents alike. They both enjoy discovering classical theatres and watching passionate performances from dancers.
The most visited theatres are Royal Theatre, Häagen Dazs Theatre, and Fernán Gómez Theatre.
They allow visitors to watch flamenco shows performed by some of the best dancers in Spain and experience the ‘fever’ of this seductive dancing. This is a unique chance to experience Spanish dance and music by venturing to the center of Madrid Old Town.
Don’t miss it!
4. Discover Santiago Bernabéu Stadium
If you are a fan of Real Madrid, you must discover the Santiago Bernabéu (Real Madrid Stadium) during your stay in Madrid. This doesn’t mean that people who are not supporters of this Spanish club should not visit it.
Named after the famous Madrid manager, this remarkable football stadium holds more than 81,000 people. Such a great seating capacity makes it the 2nd-largest stadium in Spain as well as the 3rd-largest European stadiums.
How to get to Santiago Bernabéu? It’s positioned on the La Castellana (a major street in Madrid) in the heart of the city, which is one of the principal avenues in Madrid. Santiago Bernabéu lies roughly 4 kilometers (about 2.5 miles) north of a large square called the Plaza de Cibeles.
It is also located about 3 miles from Puerta del Sol. While you can get to the stadium from different directions and in many different ways thanks to its location, we recommend reaching it by metro - line 10.
5. Have Fun and Relax in Retiro Park
Retiro Park is the ‘green heart’ of Madrid that combines elegant gardens and pavilions with ponds, fountains, statues, monuments, and bald cypresses. They all create a unique mixture that is worth checking out. This central 119-hectare park is located in the vicinity of the Prado Museum.
Both tourists and locals come here to relax and have fun. One of the most entertaining options during the summer is paddling on the enchanting Grand Pond.
Aside from paddling, visitors also enjoy boating, jogging, walking the dogs, and picnicking. Take a peek at a majestic ballroom while exploring Retiro Park.
6. Go Shopping at El Rastro
A huge number of people descend on Plaza de Cascorro and Ribera de Coritodores on Sundays. Most of them go shopping at El Rastro. With more than 3,500 stalls, this is a paradise for shoppers. Whether you're on the lookout for used or new goods, chances are good you will find what you are looking for.
El Rastro is the biggest flea market in the city. This place tends to get hectic (especially on the weekends), so we recommend showing up early in the morning if you don’t want to wade through the crowds. You should check out the antique shops in particular. They are located on the narrow streets that branch off Calle de la Ribera de Curtidores.
7. Try Madrid Food at the World-Class Restaurants
You can easily get hungry while wandering through the city. Don’t worry, there are a lot of restaurants, bars, and eateries that offer the best Madrid food. They allow you to try some of the most varied and exciting food in Spain, including fried cod, oxtail, snails, Cocido Madrileño (Madrid’s namesake stew), etc.
Apart from traditional fare, there are other culinary offerings from Mexican cuisine to Asian fusion.
As for drinking, there's a wide selection of the finest sherries and vermouth cocktails in the city. That makes Madrid very popular with gourmands and drinkers. Listed below are the most popular restaurants in Madrid:
- Palacio de Cibeles restaurant
- Dani García’s restaurant
- Colección Cibeles
- Fokacha and Bel Mondo
- Bosco de Lobos
Bar terraces are extremely popular in the summer. They spill out onto pavements and rooftops throughout the city. Most of them are located in Plaza de la Cebada.
The Bottom Line
There are so many exciting things to do in Madrid, Spain as it is known to be a centre for fashion, arts and bohemian culture.
To sum up, visitors can marvel at museums and palaces, explore extravagant cathedrals, go shopping, watch flamenco shows, eat varied food in top-notch restaurants, head to Real Madrid Stadium, relax in parks, and much more.
The opportunities are endless, so it’s impossible to get bored even if you want to spend the entire month in Madrid.