20 amazing things to do in Madrid, Spain

Madrid, third largest city in the EU (after Berlin and London) gives you an abundance to discover. Whether you’re keen to eat your way through tapas, indulge in the parks museums and splendid culture, or merely be in awe of the stunning structural design, you’re without a doubt to run across something that picks your interest. If you’re in route to Madrid for the first time, we have compiled a solid list of things to get into.

 

How to travel to Madrid cheap, arriving at Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport and finding your way to the city center.


  • Book early, at least a month ahead no matter the departure to get a moderate price and always search in incognito mode. 
  • Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas has 4 Terminals you can arrive or depart from, T1, T2, T3 and T4.
  • It costs 5 euros with the bus or metro to get to the city center and 2 euros 70 cents  with the train from T4. In 30 minutes you are in the city.

#1. People Relax & Watch at Plaza Mayor

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Plaza Mayor, Madrid

This is the central square in Madrid and is abundant with history. Take a seat and grab a bite to eat (paella for example or tapas for something light) have a glass of La Rioja wine, bask in the atmosphere and watch people and the day just pass on by. Once in the square you can stop by “Bar Tineo” a quaint bar with a traditional Spanish bar look.

FUN FACT: The equestrian statue in the middle some time ago gave off an awful stench and following additional examination they found tons of carcasses of tiny birds who made their way into the horse’s mouth and couldn’t escape. Since then they have closed off the mouth.

 

#2. Enjoy Tapas at Mercado de San Miguel

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Mercado de San Miguel

One of Madrid’s most ancient and most stunning markets; this is a foodies paradise. Nibble on native treats or just people watch.

 

#3. Take pleasure in lunch and views at the Gourmet Experience

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Terrace view, Madrid

Make your way to the top floor (9th) of the El Corte Ingles Shopping Center for some of the best free views in Madrid. You’ll be able to gaze at the Royal Palace, Catedral de la Almundena, and you can indulge in all that is to offer in the dining area. Great food + great view = great day!

 

#4. Chill out at the Rooftop Bar of Círculo de Bellas Artes

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Circulo de Bellas Artes. Photo credit: Georgina Cummins

It is often said that this is the best view Madrid has to offer, but it calls for you to pay a price of 4 euro to gain access to the top. While we were there, the view was spoiled by scaffolding and a huge advertisement, but I did appreciate the vibe of

 

#5. Unwind at Retiro Park (Parque del Retiro)

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Parque Retiro. Photo Credit: Georgina Cummins
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Parque Retiro. Photo Credit: Georgina Cummins

Without a doubt this is the most popular park in Madrid. With 350 acres to explore you can lay out in the sun or shade or get on a boat and row casually around the lake. Be sure to check out the Cristal Palace which offers free exhibitions and a majestic setting in the middle of the park.

 

#6. Browse and Buy at Europe’s Largest Open-Air Flea Market

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Lalatina, Madrid
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Lalatina’s Street Art

Every Sunday morning from 9am to 3pm in the afternoon the hustling and bustling forges on at the El Rastro Market holding the title as the largest open-air market in Europe. With about 3500 stalls, there is a lot to keep you busy. Once you finish shopping, you can watch the street artists or dip into one of the restaurants or cafes dotting the streets to grab a beer or tapas.

 

#7. Gawk at the Artwork at Museo Reina Sofia

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Museum Reina Sofia

In the past an infirmary, this contemporary art museum is the domicile to works by Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali. By a long shot, the most famous piece is Picasso’s Guernica, which is of staggering size!

 

#8. Take a Gander alongside Madrid Rio’s Riverside Walk

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Madrid Rio

Indulge in the places of interest, resonance, and fresh air along the Manzanares river. There are quite a few park areas, recreational areas, and small overpasses to delve into. With a bike friendly path this was one lovely break from the buzzing city center!

 

#9. The Iconic Plaza de Cibeles

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Plaza de Cibeles from above.

The Cibeles Fountain is an emblem in Madrid. When you’re there don’t miss the Palacio de Comunicaciones. It was constructed in 1917 and is one of the city’s most striking structure. Formerly the center of operations to the postal service, it now serves as Madrid City Hall.

 

#10. Jam out at the Afro Jam

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Afro Jam

Venture over to Sala El Juglar at Calle de Lavapies 37 (37 Lavapies Street) for a musician-friendly jam session/open mic on a Wednesday night from 10pm and treat yourself to the warm vibes and good music that The AfroSouls put on. A band led by American ProfeSoul with an eclectic band with members from 7 different countries I’m sure their groove of Hip-Hop, Neo-Soul and Rnb will keep you dancing if not sweating for the entire time they grace the stage.

 

#11. Browse and gaze at the Architecture on Gran Vía

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Gran Via, Madrid
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Gran Via, Madrid

Take a stroll down one of the most well-known streets in Madrid and enjoy the stores, cafés, restaurants, theaters, and architecture. The main bit goes from the Metrópolis building to the Plaza de España.

 

#12. Prado Museum (Museo Nacional del Prado)

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Museum Prado, Madrid.
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Museum Prado, Goya Entrance.

Prado Museum is the dwelling to over 9,000 pieces of art and is recognized as the world’s biggest art gallery. The museum was founded in 1819, and has free educational activities (in Spanish) and offers temporary displays showcasing profound artists and pieces from all over the globe.

 

#13. Catch a Flamenco Show at Corral de la Moreria

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Corral de la Moreria
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Corral de la Moreria

Flamenco is a marvelously passionate method of dance and music. Even though there are an abundance of places to catch a show, Corral de la Moreria is the oldest flamenco abode on the planet and regarded as the “cathedral of flamenco.”

 

#14. Bask in the gargantuan Royal Palace of Madrid (Palacio Real)

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Palacio Real
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Palacio Real

Being the biggest building in Madrid and the biggest royal palace in Western Europe it sure is daunting. It’s adjacent to the Plaza de Oriente which is also a nice retreat to have an ice cream cone or simply lay out on the manicured grass.

 

#15. Post up at Kilometer Zero at the Doorway of the Sun (La Puerta del Sol)

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Kilometer Zero, Madrid

La Puerta del Sol is the central focal point for touristic Madrid. There, you will encounter a half circle on the ground that says km0, it’s right in front of the mayor’s residence and about 100 meters from the bear and strawberry tree statue!

 

#16. Catedral de la Almundena

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Catedral de la Almundena

The Catedral de Santa María la Real de la Almudena is adjacent to the Royal Palace. There is an entryway from the Plaza de la Armería, a roomy plaza flanked by the Catedral and Palace, and a secondary entryway with imposing bronze doors by the sculptor Sanguino.

 

#17. Catch a Show at Teatro Compac Gran Via

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Teatro Compac Gran Via

Gran Via has been likened to Broadway of Manhattan due to the immense number of cinemas and theaters that line the avenue. Many of them have since been closed down, but few iconic theaters still remain. Teatro Compac Gran Via is one of the most famous theaters dating back to 1944 and holds a wide variety of shows.

 

#18. Give Bocadillo de Calamares a Go

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Bar de Calamares, Madrid

One of Madrid locals and mine’s included favorites, the bocadillo de calamares is a baguette loaded with lightly battered, deep-fried squid rings. You can get them all over the city. We tried it at one at a suggested place called El Brillante right in front of the Museo Reina Sofia, but Plaza Mayor is the most popular place to scarf down this tasty treat. Ask them to put on some ali-oli sauce (garlic/parsely mayo) or you can have it the way locals prefer,fried squid rings and bread. A bit dry if you ask me but to each it’s own.

 

#19. The very impressive Egyptian Temple of Debod

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Egyptian Temple of Debod
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Egyptian Temple of Debod. Night View.

You may be astounded to find out that an authentic Egyptian temple dating from the 2nd Century BC resides in Madrid. Devoted to the deities of Amon and Isis, this sanctuary was bequeathed to the Spanish in 1968 as gratification for the assistance in saving consecrated structures. It was taken apart stone by stone, transported, rebuilt, and open to public by 1972.

 

#20. Munch on Churros and sip on hot Chocolate at San Ginés

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Churros and Chocolate in Madrid

San Ginés became open to the public in 1894 and is renowned for its chocolate and churros. Plunge warm churros in melted chocolate for a delicious treat. It doesn’t closed and is a staple for the Madrid nightclub crowd after they close there doors. It’s well-known by tourists and can fill up quickly at all hours of the day. To be honest it’s a commercial spot famous for its legend not its quality.

 

 

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28 thoughts on “20 amazing things to do in Madrid, Spain

  1. Madrid is one of my favorite cities! We were there in March and just loved everything about it. Mercado de San Miguel was a huge favorite, my 5 year old loved sampling all the yummy food! It sounds like we had a pretty similar trip!

  2. We were so surprised by the Temple de Debod standing among the usual European architecture, but it really is best seen at night. The Parque del Retiro is full if relaxed subathers in the summer, no better way to spend your lunch hour. Great selection of things to do here, especially AfroJam which would make for something really unique for visitors.

    1. Thanks Danni Lawson for the response. The Temple de Debod knock folks out with the stunning beauty at night. You should visit the AfroJam anytime around Madrid again.

      Happy Flying!

  3. This looks so fun! I love to people watch and tapas are the best. You can’t beat people watching while sharing wine and small plates of yummy food. Maybe I’ll make it there someday. My bucket list just gets longer and longer…
    Safe & Happy Travels
    -Cheryl

    1. Thanks Cheryl for the response. Nothing feels better than relaxing with your red wine and watching the people on their different vibes.

      Happy Flying!

  4. Churros, hot chocolate and people watching sound like a perfect way to spend a day! I’ve been to Spain a number of times but haven’t made it to Madrid yet. I feel like I need to plan a trip now to check off everything on your list here!

    1. Thanks Lois for the feedback. Yes, you’d visit Madrid one day and check out all the beauties compiled in this article.

      Happy Flying!

  5. What a coincidence. I wrote about Madrid too this week. I fell in love with Madrid and my favorite place in Madrid was, of course, the Temple of Debod. I loved the Retiro park and the Prado museum too. Would love to return one day. Afrojam sounds really interesting.

    1. Thanks Soumya for the response. Yeah, I saw your post was quite interesting to read and also we shared similar things.

      Happy Flying!

  6. That is certainly an impressive list indeed! So much in the way of interesting things to do in such a lovely city. I just love the architecture and culture of Spain and her people. Lovely post and photos.

    1. Thanks Nicole Anderson for the feedback. Indeed a lot of interesting stuffs to get yourself engaged in the city of Madrid!

      Happy Flying!

  7. I’ve yet to make it to Madrid, but I have always wanted to go. Now I have a great list of things to do when I finally get there! I love people watching in particular, so hanging around gorgeous architecture and doing that is right up my alley!

  8. Wow, it looks like there is so much to see and do in Madrid. I would love the markets at Mercado De San Miguel! The bird story in the equestrian statue is crazy!!!

    1. Thanks Sasha for the feedback. Madrid is a large city and these are just surface of few things you can do in the city. Yeah that’s funny with the equestrian.

      Happy Flying!

  9. I would love to visit Madrid someday. It has so much history and a lot of great tourist attractions. There is an abundance of good food too. I am craving for some churros right now. Haha! I love shopping too and I must try to visit the stalls. I can’t believe that they have 3500 stalls. The location must be massive.

  10. Such stunning views from the rooftop bar! I’d love to visit Madrid for its architecture and to have Churros of course! 🙂 The Egyptian temple looks impressive indeed. Quite an amazing list you have here! 🙂

  11. This is an amazing compilation of all the things to do in Madrid. I would love to have the lunch at El Corte Ingles Shopping Center. The view from there looks so pretty. And I definitely want to explore the Prado museum, that looks so interesting. Thanks for this list, I have will bookmark this page and use this when I plan my travels to Madrid.

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