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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
Reina Sofia Museum (Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia)

Reina Sofia Museum (Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia)

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The Reina Sofia Museum (Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia) is Madrid's premier modern art gallery featuring mostly works by Spanish artists. Among them isGuernica, a political statement on the Spanish Civil War by Pablo Picasso, as well as a room devoted to Joan Miró's paintings and a collection of about 20 Salvador Dalí pieces.More
#6
Retiro Park (Parque de El Retiro)

Retiro Park (Parque de El Retiro)

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Retiro Park (Parque de El Retiro), often referred to simply as El Retiro, serves as the Spanish capital’s green lung. Dotted with ornate fountains, formal gardens, marble monuments, and plenty of space to relax, these former grounds of the Spanish monarchy became public in 1868 and have become a beloved spot for Madrilenos.More
#7
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
#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
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
#10
Lázaro Galdiano Museum (Museo Lázaro Galdiano)

Lázaro Galdiano Museum (Museo Lázaro Galdiano)

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The Prado and the Reina Sofia are must-see museums when in Madrid, but the often overlooked Lázaro Galdiano Museum (Museo Lázaro Galdiano) has been called “the best kept art secret” in the city. The elegant mansion housing the collection was once the home of José Lázaro Galdiano, a 19th-century Spanish publisher, entrepreneur, and art collector. Galdiano gifted his exquisite collection of almost entirely Iberian art — including works by Goya, El Greco, Velazquez, Zurbarán, and Murillo — to the state upon his death in 1947.Today it is an impressive display of more than 13,000 works of art ranging from sculpture and furniture to jewelry and ceramic, among some of Madrid’s finest paintings. You’ll also find the work of French, Italian, and English painters on the second floor. The room dedicated exclusively to Goya’s work is particularly special, though the house itself with its fresco ceilings and magnificent ballroom is worth a visit alone.More

Trip ideas

Top activities in Madrid

Andalusia and Toledo - 4 DayTour

Andalusia and Toledo - 4 DayTour

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423
From
US$672.83
Madrid City Tour Hop-On Hop-Off

Madrid City Tour Hop-On Hop-Off

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US$29.12
Highlights of Madrid by Bike

Highlights of Madrid by Bike

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From
US$30.33
Avila and Salamanca Tour from Madrid

Special Offer

Avila and Salamanca Tour from Madrid

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From
US$60.90
US$87.00  US$26.10 savings

Recent reviews from experiences in Madrid

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Excellent short trip
Sue, Mar. 2020
Segovia and Toledo Day Trip with Alcazar Ticket and Optional Cathedral & Lunch
our English tour guide Danny was so helpful.
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Antique ride through Madrid
Benjamin_J, Mar. 2020
Historic Madrid + Modern
While in Madrid my wife and I wanted to see Madrid under our own terms with out huge crowd and this is the perfect way to do it.
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We got more than we thought
Laura_B, Feb. 2020
Private Tour Prado Museum + Reina Sofía
We explore Velázquez, Goya and then Picasso with all the connections they’ve got and our friendly and easy-going guide (who speaks a perfect English) provided tons of information not only about both museums, but also about Madrid.
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Must do this
Susie, Feb. 2020
Madrid Segway Tour
Great way to see the center of Madrid and learn about the culture!
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Seeing tbe nooks and crannies
petite25, Feb. 2020
Highlights of Madrid by Bike
Being in Madrid for only 2 days this was by far the best way to see all the nooks and crannies of this very spread out city.
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Excellent
drtovaavrech, Feb. 2020
Madrid Tapas and Wine Tasting Tour
A good way to see the inner Madrid!
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Interesting tour
jamehar, Feb. 2020
El Escorial, Valley of the Fallen & Segovia day tour from Madrid
Very nice tour (Escorial, Valley of Fallen and Segovia).
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Insights into Spain
Kenneth G, Nov. 2019
El Escorial Monastery and the Valley of the Fallen from Madrid
The tour provides an excellent way to visit sites otherwise difficult to reach from Madrid.
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GREAT BIKE TOUR!
Bumblebee_9, Nov. 2019
Highlights of Madrid by Bike
Felt safe, easy to navigate around Madrid, perfect to see the City in 3 hours and decide what you want to go back and see at your leisure, would highly recommend.
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Madrid Hop on Hop Off
Charlie B, Nov. 2019
Madrid City Tour Hop-On Hop-Off
Then go to the various attractions that we want to see.
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Good for Limited time
DottyK, Nov. 2019
Madrid City Sightseeing and Skip the Line Royal Palace Guided Tour
We had limited time and wanted to see the city.
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Great Segway city tour
mkndv, Oct. 2019
Emblematic Madrid Segway Tour: City Center and Retiro Park
It’s a great way to see lots of places in a short amount of time.
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Wonderful
marktippie, Oct. 2019
Segovia and Toledo Day Trip with Alcazar Ticket and Optional Cathedral & Lunch
Our group was split into two groups - Spanish & English.
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An orientation essential.
470keithw, Sep. 2019
Madrid City Tour Hop-On Hop-Off
If you only have a short time to see Madrid this is a good way to maximise what you see.
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Best way to see Madrid’s Retiro park and few highlights
Julez3, Sep. 2019
Private Guided Segway Tour with Flexible Duration in Madrid
We had a great 2hr Segway tour - we saw Retiro park for one hour - best way to see the huge park, the other hour we spent in the old city.
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Great time!
kevinwiese80, Sep. 2019
Madrid Tapas and Wine Tasting Tour
Great way to see and experience some of Madrid.
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Well organized and thorough one-day tour
F6370EZsharon, Sep. 2019
Toledo and Segovia Tour with Alcazar Entrance from Madrid
Great way to see two iconic locations near Madrid in just one day.
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So much fun!!!
nancylrz, Sep. 2019
Madrid Food Tour: Gastronomy & History with Lunch or Dinner
Great way to see Madrid!
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Fun car tour of Madrid!
hellaborella, Sep. 2019
Touristic tour by classic car around Madrid
A great way to see and learn about Madrid in a classic car from the past!
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Very good tour.
MRazak, Aug. 2019
Sunset in Madrid by segway
It has excellent places to visit.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions