Things to Do in Madrid - Complete Guide to Places and Activities

Chris Curry, Unsplash
January 1
Written by Elena Kostas

Discover the best things to do in Madrid, top places to visit, and exciting activities. Plan your trip with our comprehensive Madrid guide.

Welcome to the heart of Spain, a city bursting with life and culture, Madrid. Whether you're into history, food, art, or nightlife, the Spanish capital has something to charm every traveller. Its vibrant life and countless places to visit in Madrid will more than sate your wanderlust.

Ever wondered what to do in this vivacious city? Well, Madrid is full of surprises! Get ready for an exciting journey through its lively streets where every turn offers something unique and unforgettable. From visiting world-renowned museums to enjoying tapas in a tucked-away taberna, there are so many things to do in Madrid.

Our Madrid guide not only unveils Madrid's must-see sites but also takes you off the beaten path, helping you discover the true soul of this city. Dive in and absorb the local flavors of Madrid!

1. Royal Palace of Madrid

Historical Monuments and Architecture
beige concrete building under blue sky during daytime
Royal Palace of Madrid / Cdoncel, Unsplash

The Royal Palace of Madrid, also known as the Palacio de Oriente, is a must-visit when exploring the capital of Spain. With its stunning architecture and rich history, the Royal Palace is one of the most iconic and representative landmarks of Madrid.

Located in the heart of the city, the Royal Palace serves as the official residence of the Spanish monarchy, although it is currently only used for ceremonial occasions. With over 3,000 rooms, the palace is one of the largest royal palaces in Europe and offers a fascinating glimpse into the life of royalty.

When visiting the Royal Palace, visitors will have the opportunity to explore its impressive state rooms, enjoy the incredible views from its gardens, and discover the art collections it houses. From paintings and sculptures to tapestries and antique furniture, the Royal Palace is a true cultural treasure.

2. Prado Museum

Museums and Art Galleries
statue of man on top of a building
Prado Museum / Ester Lamberti, Unsplash

The Prado Museum, located in Madrid, is one of the world's most prominent museums and a must-visit for art and history lovers. With an impressive collection of masterpieces, the Prado offers a fascinating journey through the history of art from the Middle Ages to the 19th century.

Among the museum's most famous works are Las Meninas by Velázquez, The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch, and The Annunciation by Fra Angelico. These masterpieces are just a small sample of the artistic wealth that can be found at the Prado.

In addition to its impressive collection, the museum also features temporary exhibitions that offer a closer look at different periods and artistic styles. Visiting the Prado Museum is an enriching experience that will immerse you in the world of art and culture.

3. Puerta del Sol

Historical Monuments and Architecture
a large building with a neon sign on top of it
Puerta del Sol / Alvaro Araoz, Unsplash

Puerta del Sol is one of the most emblematic places in Madrid. Located in the city center, this square is known for its famous clock and the statue of the Bear and the Strawberry Tree. It is the meeting point for locals and visitors alike, and the starting point of Spain's roads.

From Puerta del Sol you can enjoy stunning views of the city. In this square, you will also find important buildings such as the Casa de Correos, headquarters of the Government of the Community of Madrid, and the famous Tío Pepe, a well-known advertising sign.

You cannot visit Madrid without stopping by Puerta del Sol. Enjoy its lively atmosphere, its shops and restaurants, and discover everything this vibrant city has to offer.

4. La Latina Neighborhood

History and Cultural Heritage

La Latina is one of the most charming neighborhoods in Madrid. Located in the heart of the city, this picturesque neighborhood is characterized by its narrow cobblestone streets and its colorful old houses. It is a perfect place to get lost and discover its corners full of history and culture.

One of the main attractions of La Latina are its traditional taverns and tapas bars. Here you can enjoy authentic Madrid cuisine, with typical dishes such as 'cocido madrileño' or the famous 'patatas bravas'. In addition, on Sunday mornings, the famous 'Rastro de Madrid' is held, an open-air market where you can find all kinds of antiques and curiosities.

La Latina is also known for its lively nightlife. Its streets are filled with people of all ages who enjoy the neighborhood's bars and nightclubs. Here you can listen to live music, dance until the early hours of the morning, and experience the authentic Madrid party.

5. Retiro Park

Natural Spaces and Parks
a body of water surrounded by trees and buildings
Retiro Park / Lazar Krstić, Unsplash

Retiro Park:

Come and be amazed by the beauty of Retiro Park, one of the greatest tourist attractions in Madrid. With over 125 hectares of land, this green oasis offers a wide range of activities for visitors.

Explore the nature:

Immerse yourself in the beautiful gardens, crossed by winding paths and ponds with rowboats. Enjoy a boat ride on the iconic Estanque Grande, surrounded by sculptures and lush vegetation.

Monuments and attractions:

Discover the numerous monuments and iconic buildings located in Retiro Park, such as the Crystal Palace, the Monument to Alfonso XII, and the famous Fallen Angel. Every corner of the park hides a fascinating history that will transport you to the past.

6. Plaza Mayor

Historical Monuments and Architecture
brown and white concrete building
Plaza Mayor / Moiz K. Malik, Unsplash

Plaza Mayor in Madrid is a must-visit for any tourist arriving in the Spanish capital. Located in the heart of the city, this square is a true historical treasure. Built in 1617, it has witnessed important events throughout the centuries.

Surrounded by impressive buildings, Plaza Mayor is famous for its baroque architecture and its famous balconies. Here you can admire the equestrian statue of Philip III and enjoy the beauty of the architectural details.

In addition to its historical value, Plaza Mayor is a lively place full of life. The cafes, restaurants, and shops that surround it offer a wide variety of options to enjoy the gastronomy and the atmosphere of Madrid.

7. Gran Vía

Historical Monuments and Architecture
vehicles on street near buildings
Gran Vía / Florian Wehde, Unsplash

Gran Vía in Madrid is an emblematic street located in the heart of the city. Known as the 'Madrid Broadway', Gran Vía stands out for its impressive buildings of varied architectural styles, ranging from neoclassical to art deco. It's a true paradise for architecture enthusiasts.

In addition to its architectural beauty, Gran Vía is famous for its nightlife. Here you will find a wide variety of theaters, cinemas, bars, and nightclubs. Fun and entertainment-filled nights await you in this iconic place.

You can't miss a visit to Gran Vía when traveling to Madrid. During the day, you can enjoy its shops, restaurants, and cafes. At night, the street transforms into a lively stage where both locals and tourists gather.

8. El Rastro Market

Food and Markets
a group of people standing around a table filled with figurines
El Rastro Market / Mari Vlassi, Unsplash

El Rastro Market is one of Madrid's most popular markets and a must-visit for shopping and cultural enthusiasts. Located in the La Latina neighborhood, this open-air market spans several streets and offers a wide variety of products, from vintage clothing to antiques.

Explore the colorful stalls and uncover hidden treasures amidst mountains of second-hand clothes. Immerse yourself in the history and culture of Madrid as you discover authentic antiques and unique objects.

In addition to shopping, the lively atmosphere of El Rastro is unparalleled. Its bustling streets, street musicians, and nearby bars and restaurants make this market a complete experience that you can't miss.

9. Santiago Bernabeu Stadium

Entertainment and Pop Culture
stadium with no people under blue and white skies
Santiago Bernabeu Stadium / Andrea Ferrario, Unsplash

The Santiago Bernabeu Stadium is one of the top tourist attractions in Madrid and a must-visit for football lovers. Located in the heart of the city, this iconic stadium has witnessed numerous historic moments in the world of sports.

With its impressive architecture and a capacity of over 80,000 spectators, the Santiago Bernabeu is the home of the famous football club Real Madrid. Here, you can enjoy thrilling football matches, renowned concerts, and guided tours that take you behind the scenes.

Don't miss the opportunity to explore the club's museum, which houses an impressive collection of trophies, historic equipment, and fascinating artifacts. Discover the history of Real Madrid and its influence on the world of sports!

10. Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum

Museums and Art Galleries

If you are looking for things to do in Madrid, you can't miss the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. Located on the famous Paseo del Prado, this museum houses one of the most impressive private art collections in the world.

Walking through its halls is like diving into the history of art through different periods and styles, from medieval painting to modern art. Masterpieces by artists such as Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Picasso, and Monet await you in this incredible museum.

Whether you are an art lover or simply looking for something culturally enriching to do in Madrid, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum is a must-visit that will leave you speechless.

11. Reina Sofía Museum

Museums and Art Galleries

The Reina Sofia Museum is a must-visit for art lovers. Located in the heart of Madrid, this museum houses a fascinating collection of masterpieces, including Picasso's famous painting, Guernica.

Throughout its galleries, visitors can explore the different art movements that have shaped the 20th and 21st centuries, from Dalí's surrealism to Picasso's cubism. The museum also features temporary exhibitions that offer a unique insight into the evolution of contemporary art.

If you're looking for things to do in Madrid, the Reina Sofia Museum is a must-see. Immerse yourself in the fascinating world of art and discover the creativity and beauty that lies within every corner of this iconic museum.

12. Almudena Cathedral

History and Cultural Heritage

Almudena Cathedral is one of the main tourist attractions in Madrid. Located in the heart of the city, this impressive building combines neoclassical and Gothic architectural styles, creating a unique fusion that captivates visitors.

Built in the 19th century, the Almudena Cathedral is a symbol of Madrid's history and religious heritage. Its imposing facade, adorned with sculptures and reliefs, catches the attention of all who pass by.

Once inside, visitors are amazed by the beauty of its interior. Its high ceilings, colorful stained glass windows, and impressive main altar make this place a space full of spirituality and art.

13. Madrid Royal Botanical Garden

Natural Spaces and Parks

The Madrid Royal Botanical Garden is one of the city's most popular tourist attractions. Located in the heart of the capital, this beautiful garden will transport you to an oasis of nature and peace amidst the hustle and bustle of the city.

With X hectares of land, the Royal Botanical Garden is home to a wide variety of plant and tree species, both native and exotic. You can stroll along its shaded paths, discovering corners filled with color and intoxicating aromas.

In addition to its diverse flora, the garden is also home to numerous bird species and other animals, making it a perfect place for nature and biodiversity enthusiasts.

14. Cibeles Palace

Historical Monuments and Architecture

Cibeles Palace is one of the must-see attractions in Madrid. Its majestic architecture and prime location in the city center make it a must-stop for visitors. Built in the 20th century, this iconic building currently houses the City Hall of Madrid and is a symbol of the city's history and culture.

Cibeles Palace is located in Plaza de Cibeles, one of Madrid's most iconic landmarks. Its neo-gothic facade and impressive dome are true works of art, standing out in the city's skyline. In addition to its architectural beauty, the palace hosts exhibitions and cultural events, becoming an important meeting point for locals and tourists.

You can't miss the opportunity to enjoy panoramic views of Madrid from the terrace of Cibeles Palace. From there, you can admire the city's main monuments and points of interest, such as Paseo del Prado, Gran Vía, and Plaza Mayor. Undoubtedly, a unique experience that will allow you to appreciate the beauty and magnificence of the Spanish capital.

15. Neptune Fountain

Historical Monuments and Architecture

The Neptune Fountain, located in the center of Madrid, is one of the city's most emblematic landmarks. Built in 1786, this fountain is a tribute to the Roman god Neptune, considered the god of the sea.

The figure of Neptune in the fountain is imposing, with his trident raised high and surrounded by allegorical figures and water fountains. This monument is known for its grandeur and elegance, and it is a popular meeting point for both locals and visitors.

If you are looking for things to do in Madrid, don't miss the Neptune Fountain. Admire its architectural beauty, take stunning photos, and enjoy a leisurely stroll in the area to discover more of the city's charms.

16. San Miguel Market

Food and Markets$$$

San Miguel Market, located in the center of Madrid, is one of the most popular places for food lovers. Here you can find a great variety of fresh products, such as fruits, vegetables, meats, and fish, as well as delicious prepared dishes and tapas.

Moreover, the atmosphere of the market is lively and welcoming, with numerous food and drink stalls where you can try authentic Spanish delights. You can't miss the opportunity to taste the famous tapas of the area and pair them with a good Spanish wine.

San Miguel Market is the perfect place to enjoy a casual meal with friends or to discover the flavors and aromas of Spanish cuisine. Come and be seduced by the wide variety of options offered by this unique market in Madrid!

17. Golden Triangle of Art

Museums and Art Galleries$$$

The Golden Triangle of Art is one of the most important tourist attractions in Madrid. It consists of three renowned museums: the Prado Museum, the Reina Sofia Museum, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. These museums house some of the most important art collections in the world, spanning from Renaissance masterpieces to contemporary art.

The Prado Museum is known for its impressive collection of Spanish and European paintings, where you can admire works by artists such as Velazquez, Goya, and El Greco. The Reina Sofia Museum stands out for its collection of modern and contemporary art, including iconic works like Picasso's famous Guernica. The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum offers a variety of artistic styles, from Gothic to pop art.

You can't miss the opportunity to visit the Golden Triangle of Art during your stay in Madrid. Immerse yourself in the city's history and art, and discover why it is one of the most popular cultural destinations in Europe.

18. Cibeles Square

Historical Monuments and Architecture

Cibeles Square is one of the most impressive places in Madrid. Located in the city center, it features the statue of the goddess Cibeles in its famous fountain, surrounded by beautiful buildings and well-maintained gardens.

This iconic meeting point is a highly visited spot by both locals and tourists. It is a true symbol of the city and a place you cannot miss during your visit to Madrid.

In addition to its architectural beauty, Cibeles Square also has an important cultural and historical role in Madrid. It is here that the victories of Real Madrid and other important events of the city are celebrated.

19. El Escorial

Historical Monuments and Architecture$$$

El Escorial is an imposing monastery and palace located in the community of Madrid, Spain. It is one of the most iconic monuments in Spanish history and a must-visit place for those exploring Madrid. Built in the 16th century by order of King Philip II, El Escorial is a remarkable example of Spanish Renaissance architectural style.

El Escorial houses an impressive art collection, including masterpieces by renowned painters such as El Greco, Titian, and Velázquez. Its halls and cloisters showcase a rich history and allow visitors to immerse themselves in the lives of Spanish royalty throughout the centuries.

In addition to its historical and cultural significance, El Escorial offers beautiful gardens and panoramic views of the Guadarrama mountain range. Visitors can stroll through the gardens, enjoy a picnic, or simply marvel at the natural beauty of the surroundings.

20. Segovia of Madrid

Historical Monuments and Architecture

Segovia, a charming city located in the region of Madrid, is a must-visit destination for any history and architecture lover. Known for its famous Roman aqueduct, Segovia offers a wealth of historical monuments and tourist attractions that will transport you back in time.

The majestic Alcazar of Segovia, with its impressive architecture and beautiful gardens, is one of the city's main icons. Additionally, the Segovia Cathedral with its stunning Gothic style is another must-see place.

Segovia is also famous for its delicious gastronomy, which combines traditional dishes with modern influences. Don't miss the roast suckling pig and the famous La Granja bean stew, two culinary delights that will make your mouth water.