Madrid is an exciting city with beautiful parks, lovely boulevards, and some of the most famous works of art in the world. This is a big city with lots to see and do, so it helps to remember a few key highlights to help guide your trip. Fortunately, lots of the city’s top attractions are in walking distance of each other, so you can explore the things that interest you the most at your own pace!
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See the Museo del Prado (Nearby Hotels)
There are lots of museums in Madrid, but if you only have time to visit one, make it the Museo del Prado. The Prado Museum has thousands of paintings and hundreds of sculptures that celebrate Spanish, Italian, and Flemish art. This is a very popular museum with lines often extending out the door. The museum is typically open from 10am to 7pm on Sundays and holidays and from 10am to 8pm every other day. You can visit the museum for free on the last two hours of each open evening.
People-Watch in Plaza Mayor (Nearby Hotels)
To take a break from sightseeing in Madrid, stop at one of the open-air cafes around Plaza Mayor. This public square in the middle of Madrid is an ideal place to relax and people-watch for a while. Order a cup of coffee or glass of wine and take in the scenes of street performers and tourists from all over the world. The square is busiest in the late afternoon and evening. It is very touristy here, which means the shops are pricey and most of the best restaurants are a little more off the beaten path. But it’s still worth a visit, and there are also holiday markets held at the plaza seasonally.
Sample Spanish Tapas (Nearby Hotels)
It would be a shame to spend some time in Madrid without experiencing the culinary bliss of authentic Spanish tapas. A tapeo is a bar crawl that focuses on both tapas and drinks, and you can even take a tapa tour of the city for a seriously immersive experience. Recommended tapas bars in Madrid include Casa Gonzalez, La Venencia, and El Tempranillo. Make sure and try typical foods like cocido madrileño, huevos rotos, and a famous sandwich called the bocadillo de calamares.
Relax in Retiro Park (Nearby Hotels)
Retiro Park, also known as Parque del Retiro translated as “The Retreat,” is east of Central Madrid and full of gardens, lakes, playgrounds, and lots of green space. The park once was home to Felipe IV’s palace but is now open to the public. This is a great place to rent a paddle boat, walk through the rose garden, and even watch outdoor theater performances that are family-friendly. If you’re traveling around town by public transit, you can get to the park by hopping off at the Retiro, Ibiza, or Atocha metro stations.
Watch a Real Madrid Football Game (Nearby Hotels)
In the north-central region of Madrid, you can visit Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, the city’s main fútbol (soccer) stadium. The Real Madrid team plays here, so definitely plan to attend a game if you can. Even if the team isn’t playing during your visit, it’s still worth stopping by the stadium to take a tour. The tour route includes a history room, photo montages, the presidential box, dressing room, dugouts, press room, official store, and more. Tours last about an hour and a half and cost 25 Euros for adults. Hop off at the Santiago Bernabeu metro stop if you’re traveling by public transit.
Browse the Rastro Open-Air Flea Market (Nearby Hotels)
El Rastro isn’t your average flea market, and it’s a market that dates back to the 15th century. Most of the market is along Calle de la Ribera de Curtidores between Plaza de Cascorro and Ronda de Toledo. Here’s a great place to find little souvenirs, clothing, jewelry, handbags, and an exciting atmosphere with live music. There are also lots of stores that line the streets behind the market that you can pop into as well. The market is held on Sundays from 9am to 3pm and popular among both locals and tourists.
Watch a Live Flamenco Show (Nearby Hotels)
Music and dancing is a huge part of Spanish culture, so catching a live performance in Madrid is a must. Café de Chinitas is a popular spot to watch traditional dancing, as well the performance venue known as Tablao Flamenco Cardamomo. Corral de la Morería and Casa Patas are other great local options. Since Madrid is such a large and popular city to visit, many of the top performers in the country come here to show off their skills.
Try Locally Made Beer (Nearby Hotels)
You might expect to see local people in Madrid drinking lots of wine and sangria, but beer is a big beverage of choice here. Lots of local restaurants and bars open up their patios when the weather is nice, providing perfect places to sip a brew. Mahou is Madrid’s popular and very drinkable pilsner. There are also microbreweries in Madrid that are fun to visit, such as Fabrica Maravillas, Be Hoppy, Mad Brewing, and Más Que Cervezas.
Explore the Conde Duque Neighborhood (Nearby Hotels)
As far as neighborhoods go, Conde Duque is a great place to wander around and get to know the city a bit better. The Conde Duque is a performance space for music, theater, dance, exhibitions, and film. You can catch a performance here and also check out the fashion shops, public squares, and old taverns here. It’s quieter and less touristy than other parts of the city with a free-spirited and local vibe.
See the Ancient Egyptian Templo de Debod (Nearby Hotels)
One of the more unusual attractions to see in Madrid is an ancient Egyptian temple called the Templo de Debod. This temple was given from Egypt to Spain in 1968 as a gift for helping to save historic sites that were at risk of flooding. You’ll find it in Parque de la Montaña, surrounded by a reflecting pool. While it’s beautiful to see during the day, it’s absolutely stunning while lit up at night. In the evenings, you’ll often find young adults hanging out and getting ready for a night out on the town. There’s no cost to see the monument, and feel free to take all the photos you like.