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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


Prado Museum (Museo del Prado)

The Museo del Prado - Prado Museum - is considered to house one of the finest art collections in the world. It displays thousands of European paintings, sculptures, and other works of art throughout its halls - and this is only a fraction of their collection!What doesn't fit in the display space is stored or sent on loan to other fine galleries throughout the world. The Prado specializes in European art from the 12th-19th century (Madrid's Reina Sofia Museum is home to the post-19th century art), that was built from the Spanish Royal Collection.The most famous piece in the collection that is on display at the Prado is Las Meninas by Diego Velazquez. He dedicated many of his own pieces to the museum and had a hand in obtaining several works from great Italian painters as well. In tribute to Velazquez, his statue is one of the few marking the entrances to the museum.More

Royal Palace of Madrid (Palacio Real de Madrid)

The Palacio Real (or Royal Palace, also referred to as the Palacio de Oriente) is the lavish site of royal events, but is not home to the royal family (they have lived in the smaller Palacio de la Zarzuela for some time).The Palacio Real is still a fascinating place to walk through though, with its maze of 50 themed rooms decorated in the finest metals and richest fabrics - though this is only a small sampling of the total 2,800 rooms of the palace. On the guided tour, you will also learn much about the interesting history behind the Bourbon dynasty, during whose reign the palace was most in use.Highlights of the tour include the throne room, the immense staircase, the collection of suits of armor and the peculiar royal pharmacy, filled with all sorts of strange concoctions.More

Plaza Mayor

Plaza Mayor is a large square in central Madrid. It serves today as a meeting place for tourists and locals alike, and has played host to a variety of festivities throughout history, including bull fights, soccer matches, and executions during the Spanish Inquisition. The plaza was built in the early 17th century during King Felipe III's reign - the central statue is a nod to him overseeing the project's completion. Forming the outer walls are a series of three-story residential buildings with balconies overlooking the center, providing excellent views of the action below. The most prominent of the buildings in the plaza is the Casa de la Panaderia - House of the Baker's Guild, which today serves municipal and cultural functions. There are also several shops and eateries that occupy the ground level of the buildings and provide refreshments for hungry and thirsty travelers admiring the square.More

Puerta del Sol

As the central hub of Madrid, the Puerta del Sol makes a popular starting point for sightseeing tours of the city, with a vast number of hotels, hostels and tourist apartments lying on or near the plaza. The famous public square, laid out in its current form back in the 1850s, was once the site of the city’s gates, whose sun emblem gave the area its name – Puerta del Sol translates to ‘the Gate of the Sun.' Not only is the square a key navigational landmark but it’s also home to a number of iconic sights. The 18th century Real Casa de Correos is best known for its monumental clock tower – the city’s principal timekeeper and the centerpiece of the city’s lively New Year’s Eve celebrations – and by its entrance lies the famous Kilometer Zero stone, the official starting point for Spain’s 6 National Roads, laid out in 1950. Take a moment by the legendary stone to ponder the square’s turbulent history - the 1766 Esquilache Mutiny, the 1808 resistance against Napoleon’s troops and the 1812More

Lázaro Galdiano Museum (Museo Lázaro Galdiano)

The Prado and the Reina Sofia are must-see museums when in Madrid, but the often overlooked Museum of 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

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

The Centro de Arte Reina Sofia - or Reina Sofia Museum - is Madrid's premier modern art gallery featuring mostly works by Spanish artists. Amongst them is Guernica, a political statement on the Spanish Civil War by Picasso, as well as a room devoted to Joan Miró's paintings and a collection of about 20 Dalí pieces. One's adventure through the gallery begins with a ride up the glass elevator, which provides excellent views of the plaza and buildings below. The second floor houses the permanent collection, broken up into about 10 rooms while the top floor is taken up with works from artists of the 1980's as well as those of international artists. Don't forget to stop at the gift shop on your way out to grab a print or postcard of your favorite piece!More

Madrid Wax Museum (Museo de Cera de Madrid)

With two levels of more than 400 wax statues of historic figures, the Madrid Wax Museum is an excellent introduction to periods of history and those who impacted the world at that time. An incredible range of wax figures from all eras is on display, from Napoleon, Cleopatra and Christopher Columbus to modern day celebrities like Brad Pitt and Antonio Banderas. The museum is constantly updated with figures of the world old and new. In other rooms, a collection of Spanish monarchs and Catholic leaders brings history to life. There is a section dedicated to children’s figures such as Snow White, the Simpsons, and Harry Potter. Those interested in a scarier experience will appreciate the ‘Terror Train’ journey through a dungeon of figures such as Dracula and Freddy Kruger. Beyond the wax figures, there is even a Simulator ride that takes visitors on a journey through modern space, and a telling of the History of Spain by an animatronic Emperor Charles I.More

Retiro Park (Parque de El Retiro)

Parque del Buen Retiro - or Park of the Pleasant Retreat - is Madrid's most expansive park and landmark, covering 1.4 km2 (350 acres). Known locally as just "El Retiro", the park is referred to as "The Lungs" of Madrid, providing the majority of the greenery to feed off of the carbon dioxide of urban life and release enough oxygen to keep its many residents and visitors alive. One of the city's most popular attractions, Parque del Buen Retiro is filled with numerous statues, gardens, galleries and a beautiful lake. People go to meet with friends, to read or picnic, and to admire the art, both indoors and out. You can even rent yourself a boat to paddle around the lake. During the warmer months, also be sure to catch the free concerts in the park every Sunday afternoon.More

Almudena Cathedral (Catedral de la Almudena)

The Almudena Cathedral is the official Cathedral of Madrid and is dedicated to the Virgin of Almudena. Taking over a century to complete, the Almudena is one of the youngest cathedrals in Europe, consecrated by Pope John II himself in 1993. A statue of the pope stands outside of the cathedral to mark the momentous occasion. The lengthy construction process was due to the change in status from a church to a cathedral a year after breaking ground, which warranted an upgrade in style from Neo-Gothic to Neo-Classic and required new blueprints. Another event that put construction on hold was the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s, during which building stopped entirely until 1944.More

Cibeles Fountain (Fuente de Cibeles)

Madrid’s most memorable statue is Cybele’s Fountain, or Fuente de la Cibeles, depicting the Greek goddess of fertility, Cybele, being pulled by two lions on a chariot. Designed by architect Ventura Rodriguez for King Carlos III in 1782, the white marble monument stands encircled by water in the center of the historic Plaza de Cibeles. Once providing water to local residents, the fountain is now merely decorative, doubling up as a popular meeting point for locals. Real Madrid’s football fans, in particular, have adopted the spot for post-game celebrations. Its job as a water source might be redundant but Cybele’s Fountain is still one of the most prominent symbols of Madrid and if you look closely, you’ll see the 8-meter-tall goddess not only holds a scepter but also a set of keys – said to be the keys to the city.More

Trip ideas

Top activities in Madrid

Andalusia and Toledo - 4 DayTour

Andalusia and Toledo - 4 DayTour

Madrid City Tour Hop-On Hop-Off

Madrid City Tour Hop-On Hop-Off

Toledo Guided Private Tour from Madrid

Toledo Guided Private Tour from Madrid

per group

Recent reviews from experiences in Madrid

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.
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.
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.
Must do this
Susie, Feb 2020
Madrid Segway Tour
Great way to see the center of Madrid and learn about the culture!
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.
drtovaavrech, Feb 2020
Madrid Tapas and Wine Tasting Tour
A good way to see the inner Madrid!
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
marktippie, Oct 2019
Segovia and Toledo Day Trip with Alcazar Ticket and Optional Cathedral & Lunch
Our group was split into two groups - Spanish & English.
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.
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.
Great time!
kevinwiese80, Sep 2019
Madrid Tapas and Wine Tasting Tour
Great way to see and experience some of Madrid.
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.
So much fun!!!
nancylrz, Sep 2019
Madrid Food Tour: Gastronomy & History with Lunch or Dinner
Great way to see Madrid!
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!
Very good tour.
MRazak, Aug 2019
Sunset in Madrid by segway
It has excellent places to visit.

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