31 Best Things to Do in Madrid, Spain | 2023 (with Photos)
Madrid, the capital of Spain, is a city full of history, culture, and energy. From stunning architecture to world-class museums, delicious food, and exciting nightlife, there is never a shortage of things to do in Madrid.
In this article, we'll take a deep dive into the 31 best things to do in Madrid, so you can make the most of your visit and experience all that the city has to offer.
Get ready to explore Madrid's top landmarks, museums, neighborhoods, and hidden gems.
Most Recommended Thing to Do
Top Choice Hotel
Hotel Ritz Madrid
Our Top Choice Restaurant
Our Top Choice Bar for Nightlife
Best Time to Visit
Sunny weather, mild temperatures, and fewer tourists.
The average temperature in Madrid, Spain is hot.
Metro, bus, taxi, bike lanes, car rental, walking
Average Cost ($, $$, $$$)
My Top Recommendation
Madrid is an enchanting city that offers a blend of rich history and vibrant culture. Stroll through the narrow streets of the charming Old Town, where you can soak in the architectural wonders like the Royal Palace and indulge in authentic Spanish cuisine at local taverns.
For a truly personalized experience, venture off the beaten path and explore the lesser-known neighborhoods, such as Malasaña and Lavapiés, where you'll find eclectic shops, cozy cafés, and lively nightlife. Immerse yourself in the local lifestyle by joining a flamenco dance class or savoring traditional tapas in bustling markets like Mercado de San Miguel.
Madrid has a charm that will instantly make you feel at home, providing countless opportunities to make unforgettable memories.
What You'll Need to Bring
Passport, comfortable walking shoes, camera, local currency, travel guidebook, sunscreen, umbrella, water bottle, adapter for electrical outlets.
Table of Contents
1. Santiago Bernabéu Stadium Tour
Santiago Bernabéu Stadium is one of the most famous football stadiums in the world and home to Real Madrid C.F.
The Santiago Bernabéu Stadium has hosted some memorable moments in football history, including World Cup matches and UEFA Champions League finals.
Taking a guided tour provides a behind-the-scenes look at the stadium and allows visitors to explore the club's museum collection of trophies and learn about the history of Real Madrid.
The stadium's architecture is also impressive, with its steep stands and modern design making it a true spectacle.
2. Take a Walking Tour
A walking tour is an excellent way to explore Madrid's attractions and historic buildings.
Unlike self-guided tours, a walking tour is led by an experienced guide who can provide insights and context about the landmarks you'll be visiting.
A walking tour is particularly useful in Central Madrid, where many of the city's most famous sights are located, including the Plaza Mayor and Paseo del Prado, home to some of the city's most important museums and galleries.
You'll be able to see some of Madrid's most iconic places, including the Royal Palace, Puerta del Sol, and the Prado Museum.
3. Puerta del Sol
Puerta del Sol is one of Madrid's most famous public squares, known for its stunning architecture, vibrant atmosphere, and its famous clock tower, which is the official symbol of the city.
Visitors to Puerta del Sol can explore the many shops, cafes, and restaurants, or get a train from here to many of the other Madrid hot spots.
One of the main attractions of Puerta del Sol is the New Year's Eve celebration, where thousands of people gather and watch the clock tower strike midnight.
4. The Prado
The Prado Museum (Museo Nacional Del Prado) is one of Spain's most famous museums. It boasts a vast collection of over 35,000 works of art, including the iconic painting by Velázquez, "Las Meninas".
Prado Museum displays an extensive collection of European art, spanning from the 12th to the 20th century. The museum's permanent collection includes works by Goya, El Greco, Rubens, Rembrandt, and many other renowned artists.
5. The Royal Palace and Gardens
The Royal Palace in Madrid is an imposing structure that has been the official residence of the Spanish Kings since the 18th century. It is the largest royal palace in Western Europe, covering an area of 135,000 square meters.
The Royal Palace also houses a priceless collection of art, including works by Goya, Velázquez, and Caravaggio. The palace's gardens are equally impressive, covering an area of more than 100 acres and featuring fountains, ponds, sculptures, and beautifully manicured lawns.
6. Retiro Park and the Crystal Palace
Retiro Park is a beautiful urban oasis and one of the city's most popular attractions. It is a sprawling 125-hectare space, featuring elegant gardens, tranquil lakes, and numerous walking and biking paths.
The Palacio de Cristal, a glass pavilion that dates back to the 19th century, is a beautiful example of iron and glass architecture. Palacio de Cristal is home to numerous contemporary art exhibitions throughout the year.
Visitors to Retiro can explore the park's many sights, from the Rose Garden to the boating lake, and enjoy a picnic on the lush lawns.
7. The Reina Sofia Museum
The Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid (Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía) houses a collection of over 20,000 works of art, including paintings, sculptures, and installations from the 20th and 21st centuries.
The most famous work on display at the Reina Sofia Museum is Picasso's "Guernica," one of the most iconic paintings of the 20th century, as well as works by artists such as Salvador Dalí, El Greco, and Joan Miró.
8. The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum of Art
The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum of Art houses a collection of over 1,000 works of art, including European paintings from the 13th to the 20th century.
The collection includes works by artists such as Van Gogh, Monet, Dürer, and Caravaggio.
The building itself is an architectural masterpiece, with a neoclassical façade and a modern interior.
Visiting the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum of Art is an opportunity to see some of the most significant works of art ever created.
9. Stroll around the Royal Botanical Gardens
The Royal Botanical Gardens in Madrid is a stunning oasis in the heart of the city. Founded in the 18th century, the gardens span over 20 acres and feature a diverse collection of plants from around the world.
You can explore the numerous greenhouses and outdoor spaces, which are home to over 5,000 different plant species. From towering palm trees to exotic orchids, the Royal Botanical Garden is a true botanical wonderland.
10. The Barrio de Las Letras
Barrio de Las Letras, or the Literary Quarter, is a historic neighborhood, known for its vibrant cultural scene.
It was home to many of Spain's most famous writers, including Miguel de Cervantes.
Today, the area is filled with beautiful architecture, charming cafes and bars, and a range of art galleries.
You can take a stroll through the winding streets and find a number of museums and cultural centers, including the Casa-Museo de Lope de Vega.
11. The Barrio de La Latina
Barrio de La Latina is a colorful neighborhood in Madrid, known for its bustling streets, lively atmosphere, and delicious food.
This area is famous for its traditional Spanish bars and taverns, which serve up a range of tapas, paella, and fresh seafood.
You can stroll through the winding streets, soaking up the energy of the neighborhood, and stopping in at the various bars to sample some of the delicious food and drink on offer.
12. Mercado de San Miguel
The famous Mercado de San Miguel is a historic food market in Plaza de San Miguel, near Plaza Mayor. It is famous for its wide variety of fresh seafood, cheeses, meats, fruits, and vegetables.
You can find both traditional Spanish dishes and international cuisine, as well as a wide range of wines, beers, and cocktails.
The Mercado de San Miguel is not only a great place to eat and drink, but also a vibrant social hub where locals and tourists gather to enjoy the flavors of Spain, making it one of the most fun things to do in Madrid.
13. Try Churros with Chocolate at San Ginés
Chocolatería San Ginés is a historic café in Madrid that has been serving ''churros con chocolate'' since 1894.
The San Ginés décor has remained unchanged for over a century, with its tiled floors, marble counters, and wooden chairs and tables.
You can dip the churros into the hot chocolate and enjoy a traditional Spanish breakfast, afternoon snack, or dessert.
Visiting Chocolatería San Ginés is not only a chance to taste a Spanish treat but also to experience a part of Madrid's culture.
14. The National Archaeological Museum
The National Archaeological Museum has a collection that spans over 2,000 years of Spanish history, from prehistoric times to the modern era, with a vast array of sculptures and other objects of cultural significance.
The museum's exhibitions cover topics ranging from ancient Iberian civilizations to the Islamic period, the Renaissance, and beyond.
The National Archaeological Museum is home to the famous "Lady of Elche" sculpture, the impressive Treasure of Guarrazar, and the remarkable Roman mosaics.
15. Plaza Mayor
Plaza Mayor is one of Madrid's most famous and picturesque public squares.
The Plaza Mayor square dates back to the 17th century and has served as a hub of social and cultural life in Madrid for centuries.
Plaza Mayor is surrounded by stunning architecture and sits very close to the oldest restaurant in the world.
You can relax at one of the many cafes that line Plaza Mayor and people watch, or simply take a stroll and admire the stunning architecture.
16. The Faro de Moncloa
Faro de Moncloa is a 92-meter-high observation deck in the Moncloa neighborhood of Madrid. It was built in 1992 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus.
You can take an elevator to the top of the tower and enjoy panoramic views of the city. The observation deck's information boards provide details about the history of the landmarks visible from above.
17. Enjoy the Sunset from a Rooftop Bar
One of the most magical experiences in Madrid is watching the sunset from a rooftop bar in the city center.
As the sun goes down over the city skyline, the warm orange hues paint the sky, creating a stunning backdrop for a night out.
There are many rooftop bars throughout Madrid, offering panoramic views of Gran Via, Retiro Park, and beyond.
Sipping on a cocktail or a glass of wine while watching the sunset from a rooftop bar is the perfect way to relax after a long day of sightseeing.
18. The Palacio de Cibeles
The Palacio de Cibeles was originally designed as the headquarters for the Spanish postal service but is now home to a range of cultural institutions, including an art gallery and a rooftop terrace that offers stunning views of the city.
The majestic fountain, which dominates the square in front of the palace, is a masterpiece of neoclassical sculpture, with intricate carvings and figures that represent the four seasons, as well as various gods and goddesses from Greek mythology.
19. El Rastro Flea Market
El Rastro is an open-air flea market that takes place every Sunday in the Plaza de Cascorro and beyond.
The market is a sprawling maze of stalls selling everything from vintage clothing and antiques to handmade souvenirs.
It is a bustling hub of activity that attracts locals and tourists alike, with live music, street performers, and a lively atmosphere. The market is also a great place to sample traditional Spanish food and drink.
20. Admire the Egyptian Temple of Debod
The Temple of Debod was originally built in Egypt in the 2nd century BC and was later gifted to Spain by the Egyptian government as a gesture of gratitude for saving ancient archaeological sites threatened by the construction of the Aswan Dam.
Today, the Egyptian temple is one of the few examples of ancient Egyptian architecture outside of Egypt and a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts. The temple is located in a peaceful park setting and offers stunning views of the city skyline.
21. El Oso y El Madroño
El Oso y El Madroño statue is not only a popular symbol of Madrid but also an important part of the city's history.
The sculpture depicts a bear reaching up to a strawberry tree, which was a common sight in the forests that once surrounded Madrid in the Middle Ages.
The bear and tree have long been associated with the city and were first used as a symbol in the 13th century when the city was under the rule of King Alfonso VIII.
Today, the sculpture is seen as a representation of the city's cultural heritage and has become an iconic landmark.
22. Círculo de Bellas Artes
The fantastic Círculo de Bellas Artes is a cultural center in Madrid that was founded in 1880. It has since become one of the most important cultural institutions in Spain, hosting a range of exhibitions and events throughout the year.
The building itself is also an impressive sight, with its beautiful façade and rooftop terrace. Visitors to Círculo de Bellas Artes can explore the center's art galleries, attend a performance, or simply enjoy a drink and the view from the rooftop terrace.
23. Casa de Campo Park
Casa de Campo is a vast park that covers over 1,700 hectares of land. You can enjoy an extensive network of trails, go cycling or running, or simply enjoy a picnic on one of the many lawns.
The park is also home to a number of attractions, including a large lake where visitors can rent row boats or paddle boats, an amusement park with attractions for all ages, and the Madrid Zoo, which houses animals from all over the world.
24. Madrid's City Hall
Madrid's City Hall, also known as the Palacio de Cibeles, is an iconic landmark in the heart of the city. The building on the Plaza de Cibeles was constructed in the early 20th century and is known for its striking architecture.
The rooftop terrace of the building offers stunning views of the city, making it a popular spot for tourists and locals alike.
The Palacio de Cibeles is also home to a number of restaurants and cafes, making it a great destination for a drink with a view.
25. The Lázaro Galdiano Museum
The Lázaro Galdiano Museum is a hidden gem in Madrid showcasing the impressive art collection of the Spanish businessman and philanthropist José Lázaro Galdiano. It contains over 12,600 pieces, ranging from the 16th to the 20th centuries.
You can admire works by renowned artists such as Goya, El Greco, Velázquez, and Zurbarán, as well as lesser-known Spanish and European artists.
The museum is set in a beautiful mansion that once belonged to Lázaro Galdiano.
26. The Vertical Garden
The Vertical Garden at Calle De Cenicero is not only a marvel of nature but also a work of modern art. This living wall brings together nature and contemporary design in a way that is both beautiful and functional.
The garden is home to more than 15,000 plants of 250 different species, carefully arranged to create a stunning visual display.
Designed by Patrick Blanc, a pioneer in the field of vertical gardens, the Vertical Garden is an awe-inspiring work of modern art that serves as a reminder of the importance of nature in our urban environments.
27. The Teatro Real
The Teatro Real opera house is an iconic cultural landmark in the heart of Madrid and a must-visit destination for anyone interested in music, theater, and architecture. It is one of the world's most technologically advanced and acoustically perfect opera houses.
The Teatro Real is home to some of the world's most renowned opera productions, performed by world-class singers, musicians, and conductors.
In addition to opera, the theater also hosts ballets, concerts, and other cultural events throughout the year.
28. Gran Vía
Gran Vía is one of Madrid's iconic streets, known for its stunning architecture, shopping, and entertainment options. Gran Vía stretches for more than a kilometer and is lined with grand buildings, theaters, shops, and restaurants.
You can admire the stunning architecture of the buildings, including the Telefónica Building, which was once the tallest building in Spain. Gran Vía is also home to many rooftop bars.
29. The Lavapiés Neighborhood
Lavapiés is a vibrant neighborhood of Madrid. After the Spanish Civil War, Lavapiés became a cultural melting pot due to immigration from Latin America, North Africa, and other countries.
Today, it's known for its diverse community, lively streets, and rich history.
Lavapiés is one of the most dynamic and colorful neighborhoods in Madrid, with a thriving arts scene, delicious food, and great nightlife.
You can explore the narrow streets and alleys, visit the many street art murals, and soak up the lively atmosphere of this unique place.
30. Plaza de la Independencia
Plaza de la Independencia, also known as the Puerta de Alcalá, is a historic square located in the heart of Madrid, Spain. It is surrounded by three of the city's most important streets: Calle de Alcalá, Calle de Alfonso XII, and Calle de Serrano.
The Puerta de Alcalá, a neoclassical triumphal arch that dates back to the 18th century, is the centerpiece of the square and one of the most recognizable landmarks in Madrid.
In the evenings, the plaza comes alive with street performers and musicians, creating a lively atmosphere.
31. Visit the National Museum of Decorative Arts
The National Museum of Decorative Arts in Madrid is a treasure trove of art that is sure to impress visitors with its stunning collection of decorative objects, including furniture, ceramics, textiles, and metalwork.
The museum's collection spans five centuries of art, with works by some of Spain's most renowned artists and designers.
You can admire exquisite examples of furniture from the Renaissance to the 20th century, delicate ceramics from the Islamic world, and intricate textiles from around the globe.
FAQs: Things to Do in Madrid, Spain
In this section, we provide answers to frequently asked questions related to the best things to do in Madrid, Spain.
Is there anything fun in Madrid?
Madrid is a vibrant city with plenty of fun things to do. There are many museums and landmarks to visit, such as Plaza Mayor, Paseo del Prado (home to three well-known art museums: the Prado, the Reina Sofia Museum, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum), Puerta del Sol, and Plaza de la Independencia.
One of the most fun places to go in Madrid is Retiro Park, where you can rent a boat to row in the lake, have a picnic, or just relax under the sun.
There are also lively neighborhoods, such as Malasaña and Chueca, where you can find trendy bars, restaurants, and shops. Overall, Madrid is a city that offers plenty of fun activities for everyone.
Are 2 days enough for Madrid?
Two days is enough to see some of the city's highlights. Some must-see attractions include the Prado Museum, the Royal Palace, the Reina Sofía Museum, Plaza Mayor, and Retiro Park.
You could take a guided tour or take a stroll around the neighborhoods of La Latina and Lavapiés to soak up some local culture.
What is Madrid most popular for?
Madrid is known for its historic sites, rich culture, and art. One of the city's most popular attractions is the Museo Nacional Del Prado, which houses a vast collection of European art from the 12th to the 19th century.
Madrid is also known for its gastronomy and its nightlife, with many bars and clubs that stay open late. Finally, Madrid is known for its soccer team, Real Madrid, which is considered one of the best in the world.
Summing Up: The Best Things to Do in Madrid
As you can see, there is no shortage of things to do in Madrid.
This is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience the rich culture and history of Western Europe. From the iconic Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol to the stunning art museums and galleries, there is something for everyone in this vibrant city.
You can immerse yourself in the fascinating history of the Spanish Royal family and take a stroll through the beautiful Crystal Palace in Retiro Park.
Whether you're interested in art, history, architecture, or simply soaking up the vibrant atmosphere of the city center, Madrid has something for everyone. So, pack your bags and get ready to experience the many wonders of this beautiful city.