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Things to do in Madrid

Things to do in  Madrid

Welcome to Madrid

From its royal palace to art museums to tapas bars, Madrid offers plenty to discover while wandering its boulevards. Sitting near the geographic center of the Iberian Peninsula, the Spanish capital is the seat of not only the country’s government, but also of much of its culture, food, history, and art. With so much to do, it can be hard to exhaust Madrid’s many attractions, ranging from Buen Retiro Park to the Prado museum. But make sure to leave time to explore farther afield, where historic sights including El Escorial, Toledo, and Segovia make for perfect day trips.

Top 10 attractions in Madrid

#1
Royal Palace of Madrid (Palacio Real de Madrid)

Royal Palace of Madrid (Palacio Real de Madrid)

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Madrid's Royal Palace (also known as the Palacio Real or Palacio de Oriente) is a beautiful baroque structure with some 3,000 rooms, making it one of Europe's largest castles. Although the royal family no longer lives here, the Palacio Real still serves as the king and queen's official residence, a venue for state ceremonies, and a place for tourists to get a peek into the royal history of Spain.More
#2
Prado Museum (Museo del Prado)

Prado Museum (Museo del Prado)

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The Prado Museum (Museo del Prado) houses one of the finest art collections in the world, specializing in European art from the 12th to 19th centuries. Thousands of European paintings, sculptures, and other works of art are on display throughout its halls, and they represent merely a fraction of the total collection. Highlights include works by Francisco Goya, Diego Velázquez, and El Greco. Perhaps the most famous paintings are “Las Meninas” (The Maids of Honor), an inventive self-portrait by Velázquez, and The Garden of Earthly Delights, a triptych from Hieronymus Bosch.More
#3
Plaza Mayor

Plaza Mayor

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Today this central square is a popular meeting place for tourists and locals, but Plaza Mayor’s history goes back to the early 17th century during King Felipe III's reign. The central statue is a nod to the king’s role in overseeing the project's completion. Forming the outer walls are a series of 3-story buildings with balconies overlooking the center.More
#4
Puerta del Sol

Puerta del Sol

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It’s fitting that the name Puerta del Sol (“gate of the sun” in English) evokes light and warmth, because this central Madrid square is an energetic hub. A must for first-time visitors to Madrid, the area is packed with hotels, cafés, souvenir-selling vendors, and barhopping locals.More
#5
Santiago Bernabéu Stadium (Estadio Santiago Bernabéu)

Santiago Bernabéu Stadium (Estadio Santiago Bernabéu)

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Football fans won’t want to miss a visit to the magnificent Santiago Bernabéu Stadium (Estadio Santiago Bernabéu) , home to the legendary Real Madrid football team. Despite boasting a capacity of 81,000 spectators and reaching a 5-star rating as a UEFA-classified Elite Stadium, Santiago Bernabéu is actually Spain’s second-largest football stadium, after Barcelona’s Camp Nou.More
#6
Almudena Cathedral (Catedral de la Almudena)

Almudena Cathedral (Catedral de la Almudena)

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King Alfonso XII laid the first stone of the Almudena Cathedral (Catedral de la Almudena) in 1883, yet the neoclassical structure, built atop an old church that itself was built atop the city’s first mosque, wasn’t consecrated until 1993. Compared to Europe’s other major cathedrals, this one is uniquely modern, with touches like pop art–stained glass windows.More
#7
Corral de la Morería

Corral de la Morería

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Although southern Spain is known as the hub of flamenco performance, Madrid visitors can still find traditional venues—called tablaos—to see this timeless art. Corral de la Morería is one of the best. With more than six decades of history, this restaurant and venue is known for its flamboyant, energetic shows from world-renowned dancers.More
#8
Cibeles Fountain (Fuente de Cibeles)

Cibeles Fountain (Fuente de Cibeles)

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The Cibeles Fountain is one of Madrid’s most famous monuments. Crowning the end of the Paseo del Prado in the middle of the city it’s a landmark for locals and a must-see for visitors.More
#9
Alcalá Gate (Puerta de Alcalá)

Alcalá Gate (Puerta de Alcalá)

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The neoclassical Alcalá Gate (Puerta de Alcalá), in Plaza de la Independencia, is one of Madrid’s most recognizable monuments. Designed by Italian architect Francesco Sabatini and erected in 1778, the triumphal granite gate once served as one of five main entrances to the city. The statues on top represent the cardinal virtues.More
#10
San Miguel Market (Mercado de San Miguel)

San Miguel Market (Mercado de San Miguel)

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One of Madrid’s most picturesque and popular markets, San Miguel Market (Mercado de San Miguel) is also the city’s oldest. Built in 1916 and recognizable for its wrought-iron and glass facade, the market now houses tapas restaurants, wine bars, bakeries, and other tempting eateries.More

Trip ideas

Top activities in Madrid

Full Day Tour Ávila and Segovia from Madrid with Tickets to Monuments Included
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Madrid Tapas and Wine Tasting Tour

Madrid Tapas and Wine Tasting Tour

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USD87.14
Flamenco Show & Special Menu at Torres Bermejas in Madrid
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Madrid City Tour Hop-On Hop-Off

Madrid City Tour Hop-On Hop-Off

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Three Cities in One Day: Segovia, Ávila & Toledo from Madrid
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Full Toledo with 7 Monuments and Optional Cathedral Access
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El Prado Museum and Madrid Royal Palace Guided Tour (tickets included)
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Skip-The-Line Early Entrance Tour of the Royal Palace of Madrid

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Skip-The-Line Early Entrance Tour of the Royal Palace of Madrid

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From
USD30.50
USD43.57  USD13.07 savings

Things to do in Madrid this...

Recent reviews from experiences in Madrid

star-5
Madrid bike tour! The only way to do it!
Suzanne_J, May 2022
3 hrs highlights bike tour Madrid
What a great way to see Madrid!
star-5
Fantastic
Latena_L, May 2022
Welcome Tour to Madrid in Private Electric Tuk Tuk
Great way to see Madrid.
star-5
Good way to see the city & identify sites to visit.
MaryM_H, May 2022
Madrid City Tour Hop-On Hop-Off
Liked the ease of hopping on & off at sites we wanted to visit.
star-5
Amazing tour of Madrid!!!
Monica_B, May 2022
Highlights of Madrid by Bike
We got to see so many important parts of Madrid in one morning and our tour guide was brilliant!
star-5
Great City
Francisco_A, May 2022
Madrid City Tour Hop-On Hop-Off
Madrid is a great place to visit and enjoy !
star-5
Maria is a fabulous tour guide!
Jim_B, May 2022
Highlights & Hidden Gems With Locals: Best of Madrid Private Tour
As Americans on our first trip to Spain, we appreciated that she was engaging and informative, and that her English was impeccable.
star-5
Great Intro to Spain Food & History
Patrick_E, May 2022
Madrid Historical Walking Tour with Food Tasting and Dinner
Pablo’s English skills are great, and his personality brings the rich elements of Madrid to life.
star-5
A Great Introduction to Madrid
John_W, May 2022
Highlights & Hidden Gems With Locals: Best of Madrid Private Tour
We had one day in Madrid, and so we wanted to see as much as possible.
star-5
Loved it!
Christine_P, May 2022
Highlights of Madrid by Bike
Perfect way to see Madrid when you don’t have much time in the city or you want to learn of some interesting locations to investigate in depth.
star-5
Enjoyable and informative palace tour
Karen_L, May 2022
Madrid Walking Tour and The Royal Palace with Skip the Line Tickets
His English is great.
star-5
Tuk Tuk with Pablo - outstanding!
Susan_M, Apr. 2022
Historical Madrid Tour in Private Electric Tuk Tuk
We had arrived that morning and while we were a little tired it was a good way to see some of the sights and get a introduction to Madrid.
star-5
Awesome way to experience Madrid
Yasser_S, Apr. 2022
Welcome Tour to Madrid in Private Electric Tuk Tuk
We really enjoyed this way to see this incredible city.
star-5
Best way to tour Madrid
Rori_O, Apr. 2022
Historical Madrid Tour in Private Electric Tuk Tuk
Great way to see Madrid!
star-5
Great family experience!!!
David_F, Apr. 2022
3 hrs highlights bike tour Madrid
Great way to see Madrid!!!
star-5
Great way to get to know Madrid
Petr_M, Mar. 2022
Expert PLUS Tour of Madrid in a Private Electric Tuk Tuk
We got to see all the highlights of Madrid with enough facts thrown in to keep us entertained.
star-5
The tour was Amazing....
Edward_C, Mar. 2022
Full Day Tour Ávila and Segovia from Madrid with Tickets to Monuments Included
It's nice to see old avenues as well as buildings so preserved in perfect condition.
star-5
Fun 20th birthday party
Eleanor_V, Mar. 2022
Madrid Tapas and Wine Tasting Tour
We came to Madrid with our college kids for spring break.
star-5
Great Way to See and Experience Madrid
Bernard_D, May 2022
Madrid City Tour Hop-On Hop-Off
Using the Madrid Hop-On/Hop-Off Tour we were able to see much of older Madrid and the first stop was very near to our hotel and the Prado.
star-5
Best Tuk Tuk Experience
elsa212000, Jan. 2022
Madrid Expert Tour in Private Electric Tuk Tuk
I love this trip, the best way to see everything about Madrid in few hours.
star-5
Veronica was a great...
Simon_H, Jan. 2022
Madrid Historical Highlights Segway Tour
We got to see so much of central Madrid in a fun and interesting way.

All about Madrid

When to visit

Spring kicks off in Madrid with the Festival of San Isidro, but it’s World Pride week in June that draws the biggest—and most colorful—crowds. Balmy summer nights mean plenty of options for alfresco dining and entertainment, but be aware that many businesses close down in August as locals escape the city's heat for the coast.

A local’s pocket guide to Madrid

Lara Sanchez

Lara was born and raised in Madrid. You’ll find her exploring the world, tasting all sorts of local food, and playing with clay in her spare time.

The first thing you should do in Madrid is...

hit the bars (or San Miguel Market) and try some tapas. Start with patatas bravas at Las Bravas, then head to Plaza Mayor for the best squid sandwich in La Campana.

A perfect Saturday in Madrid...

starts with churros and chocolate for breakfast at San Ginés, includes a museum (both the Prado and Reina Sofia are fantastic), and ends with some shopping in the Salamanca neighborhood.

One touristy thing that lives up to the hype is...

renting a rowing boat at the lake in Retiro Park.

To discover the "real" Madrid...

take a walking tour to learn about the most historic neighborhood, Madrid de los Austrias. Then, recharge your batteries with tapas in the La Latina neighborhood.

For the best view of the city...

head to the Faro de Moncloa Observation Deck, or catch the sunset on either the Círculo de Bellas Artes or Cibeles Palace terrace.

One thing people get wrong...

is that paella is not the official dish in Madrid. Two authentic Madrid dishes are cocido (the best version of this garbanzo-based meal is served at Malacatín) and callos, a traditional beef tripe stew.

People Also Ask

What is Madrid known for?

Madrid is known for its art galleries, architecture, royal palaces, buzzing nightlife, and its famous fried calamari sandwiches. People often flock to see the Golden Triangle of Art—an area that’s home to three art museums; the Prado Museum, Reina Sofia, and Thyssen-Bornemisza.

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Is 2 days enough in Madrid?

Yes, a 2-day trip is a perfect introduction to Madrid. Take a stroll through Plaza Mayor; visit Mercado de San Miguel to feast on tapas and wine; admire artistic masterpieces at the Prado Museum; and if the weather’s nice, visit Retiro Park or Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid.

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What food is famous in Madrid?

Madrid is famous for its bocadillo de calamares, or calamari sandwiches, made with deep-fried squid in a crusty baguette. It’s also known for cocido madrileño (a traditional chickpea-based stew), decadent donut-like churros with chocolate sauce, and its tapas scene as a whole. Be sure to visit Cava Baja—Madrid’s tapas street.

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What do locals do for fun in Madrid?

Madrid’s continental Mediterranean climate means a lot of favorite local activities center around spending time outdoors; such as meeting up at Retiro Park. Madrileños (Madrid locals) also live and breathe tapas culture, and it’s perfectly acceptable to sit outside and enjoy tapas and drinks at pretty much any time of day.

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What is the most visited place in Madrid?

The most visited attraction in Madrid is the Prado Museum, a world-renowned art museum that’s home to paintings and sculptures by European artists such as Botticelli and Bosch. Puerta del Sol—one of Madrid’s most famous squares—is one of the most visited outdoor spaces and a popular meeting point.

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Is Madrid dangerous?

No, Madrid isn’t dangerous. It’s seen as a safe city, but just like other European capital cities, pickpockets operate in crowded and touristy areas. Be sure to keep your belongings close to you and watch out for pickpockets in busy areas such as Plaza Mayor, Puerta del Sol, and Gran Via.

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Frequently Asked Questions
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