12 Best Things to Do in Madrid
Talking of only 12 of the best things to do in Madrid is capping your adventures too low, as it offers a wealth of activities that go beyond any list.
For once, Madrid is a place where you will immediately feel like you belong, with its renowned museums, superb cuisine, and stunning architecture. I’ll guarantee it’ll make you come back every time. While there are countless activities and delights to indulge in within the capital of Spain, here are some authentic experiences that you don’t want to miss.
1. Visit El Prado Museum
Spain’s art wonderland. Why is it unique? You dive into El Greco, Goya, and Velázquez’s works, true gems. Don’t miss ‘Las Meninas’ or Dürer’s 1498 self-portrait. Bosch’s mystic art will astound you. Madrid’s art palace is one of the best things to do in Madrid.
2. Get to Santiago Bernabéu Stadium
Named after the team’s president, is home to Real Madrid, the city’s cherished football team and amazingly the most successful club of the 20th Century, according to FIFA. The stadium can host up to 81,000 guests, which explains the buzz when the home team scores. Kids, especially, will relish the backstage tour, covering locker rooms, training zones, trophy displays, and the team’s seats.
3. Admire the Royal Palace
Experience royalty for a day and dive into Madrid’s rich past. Begin with a walk in the city and head to the 18th-century fortress, built on an old Moorish fort. This huge building served as the Bourbon family’s home until 1931, so you’ll find fancy furniture, and murals, along with lots of stories from your guide.
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4. Relax in Retiro Park
Visit Madrid’s most extensive park. It has it all: jogging trails and a lake with hourly rowboat rentals. The park is easy to navigate with signs, but trails are tricky without comfy shoes. If in a rush, head to the lake and the Crystal Palace (Palacio de Cristal), where you can enjoy rotating art exhibits, all free to the public. In fact, it’s among the best things to do in Madrid, Spain, offering a blend of nature and culture.
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5. Attend a Flamenco Show
Flamenco, a captivating dance with soulful tunes, strummed Spanish guitar, and rhythmic castanets, is an art form that truly engrosses the senses. While southern Spain claims Flamenco’s birth, reigns as its fiery capital. Indeed, the city blazes with grand, theatrical flamenco spectacles, and myriad shows unfurl beneath the nightly Madrid sky. You can watch it in a “tablao” like Corral de la Morería or Villa Rosa. I assure you you’re in for a real treat if you’ve never seen flamenco.
6. Get Down to Cava Baja Street
Cava Baja Street houses many tapas bars and restaurants, which makes it easier to sample a variety of dishes, and enjoy a wine-tasting session with famous Spanish treats: Iberian ham, salted cod, and creamy chickpea stew. Alternatively, on this intimate wine and tapas walking tour, stroll the illuminated streets with a guide. For instance, sample tapas at top restaurants, all while learning about Spanish cuisine and the local ingredients used in these dishes.
7. Pass by Puerta de Alcalá
A grand city gateway stands in the middle of Independence Square. This landmark was built for Charles III in the 18th century, it’s a must-see, especially at dusk when it’s brilliantly lit. Further along Calle de Alcalá, you’ll find Plaza de Cibeles with its iconic fountain depicting the Greek goddess Cybele. Real Madrid fans often gather there to celebrate big wins. It’s also a spot to enjoy Madrid’s famous skyline from the Círculo de Bellas Artes rooftop bar, where you can watch the sunset over the city’s skyscrapers.
8. Bargain in El Rastro flea market
If you’re there on a Sunday morning, just follow the crowd to Ribera de Curtidores in the Embajadores area, they are searching for great deals. El Rastro is the city’s oldest flea market and famous. The name “Rastro” means “stain” and this market has a history tied to its past as a meat market from the 17th and 18th centuries when streets bore traces of blood from carcasses. Now, you can explore many stalls along the street. You’ll find vintage and new clothing, jewelry, art, decorations, vinyl records, household items, and more.
9. Explore San Miguel Market
Explore this market for a fantastic evening. Would you imagine that it has been open for a century? Offering an authentic taste of Spain from every region, one of the world’s top food markets. From the best Iberian ham to fresh seafood from Galicia and Mediterranean rice dishes. It also features cafes, pizzerias, and various food vendors where you can enjoy local seafood, tapas, and Spanish wine.
10. Visit La Latina
This district features narrow streets, open squares, and ancient Islamic walls, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere. Surely, a rich journey through history and culture, and a must-visit for those seeking delicious tapas, shopping, lively music, and dance scenes. However, it’s best to avoid La Latina on weekends due to the bustling crowds.
11. Ride on the Madrid Cable Car
Hop aboard the Teleférico de Madrid, one of the best things to do in Madrid, connecting both sides of the city, and providing a convenient route to avoid busy morning and evening traffic. Amongst the travelers, you’ll spot curious tourists and cheerful families. Just across the river lies Casa de Campo, an amusement park and zoo. This elevated excursion provides a unique, bird’s-eye view of the city, revealing its lush, green pockets in all their splendor.
12. Gaze at the Temple of Debod
Spain received this temple from Egypt as a symbol of gratitude for safeguarding the Abu Simbel temples from flooding during the construction of Egypt’s Aswan Dam. During its journey to Madrid, the temple was carefully taken apart and faithfully rebuilt, stone by stone, to its original specifications. The temple’s exterior is adorned with intricate decorative motifs and projections, artfully narrating the captivating story of this ancient wonder.
Some travelers asked…
Q/ How many days is enough in Madrid?
A. Think of a city with plenty to see, attractions, and cultural experiences. Many travelers agree you need at least 3 days to fully enjoy all the highlights.
Q. What is the best way to stay connected in Madrid?
A. Sure, you’ll find public WiFi around the city, be cautious as using these networks could expose your device and put your data at risk of theft. The easiest, cheapest, and most convenient option is using an eSIM. To do so, check out Yohomobile’s plans for Spain, which allows you to call and message via WhatsApp, Telegram, and Facetime anywhere in the country, all while enjoying free roaming.
Q. How much money do you need for Madrid?
A. According to travelers, daily meals range from $21 to $37 per person, a ticket for ten trips costs 13 euros. If you add accommodation costs, a one-week trip for 1 person could cost around $1300.