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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
Plaza de Cibeles

Plaza de Cibeles

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One of Madrid’s most splendid, iconic views is from Plaza de Cibeles at the end of tree-lined Paseo del Prado. Fuente de la Cibeles, the fountain at the center of the grand roundabout, depicts Cybele, Greek goddess of nature and fertility, steering a lion-drawn chariot. The fountain was built in 1780 and has since become a symbol of the city. The fountain has also become a rallying point for fans of the soccer team Real Madrid whenever the team wins a major tournament.Surrounding the plaza sit some of Madrid’s grandest buildings, including the ornate Cybele Palace, red brick Buenavista Palace, the Palace of Linares and the dignified Bank of Spain building.More
#6
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
#7
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
#8
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
#9
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
#10
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

Trip ideas

Top activities in Madrid

Toledo and Segovia Tour with Alcazar Entrance from Madrid
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Toledo Half or Full-Day Guided Tour from Madrid
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Andalusia and Toledo - 4 DayTour

Andalusia and Toledo - 4 DayTour

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US$626.16
Madrid City Tour Hop-On Hop-Off

Madrid City Tour Hop-On Hop-Off

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Segovia and Toledo Day Trip with Alcazar Ticket and Optional Cathedral
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Full Day Tour Ávila and Segovia from Madrid with Tickets to Monuments Included

Special Offer

Three Cities in One Day: Segovia, Ávila & Toledo from Madrid
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Wineries Guided Tour to Ribera del Duero with Wine Tasting from Madrid
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Full-Day Toledo Tour with Cathedral from Madrid

Special Offer

Full-Day Toledo Tour with Cathedral from Madrid

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US$103.40  US$20.68 savings
Toledo Half-Day Tour from Madrid

Toledo Half-Day Tour from Madrid

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Wine Tasting Small Group Tour from Madrid
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Highlights of Madrid by Bike

Highlights of Madrid by Bike

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Recent reviews from experiences in Madrid

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A Must Do!
Ronald_B, Nov 2021
Highlights of Madrid by Bike
This was a great way to see the high points of Madrid in 3 hours!
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Great tour
Jane_T, Nov 2021
Private Express Tour of Madrid in Electric Tuk Tuk
Really got to see the best of Madrid.
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Great tour guide
JEANNE_C, Oct 2021
Highlights of Madrid by Bike
Wonderful way to see Madrid So many stops And very informative Stopping at market was great also for tapas
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Such a fun and beautiful...
Josh_P, Sep 2021
Highlights of Madrid by bike - only 3 hours
Such a fun and beautiful way to see the city and get a better understanding of Madrid’s history!
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Amazing Tour!
Reyn_O, Sep 2021
Toledo and Segovia Tour with Alcazar Entrance from Madrid
It was very convenient and cost effective being able to see a number of the historical sites outside of Madrid in one day!
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Great day trip from Madrid
TrevorH, Sep 2021
Toledo and Segovia Tour with Alcazar Entrance from Madrid
This tour opportunity is ideal for anyone who wants to see Toledo and Segovia, but has limited time in Madrid.
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Recommended
Linda_K, Sep 2021
The 10 Tastings of Madrid With Locals: Private Food Tour
This was a fun way to see Madrid.
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Highly Recomended Tour
BETINA_I, Jul 2021
Private Express Tour of Madrid in Electric Tuk Tuk
It helped us highlight places we wanted to be sure to visit during thw duration of our trip
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Great overall experience
Ryan_L, Jul 2021
Madrid Tapas and Wine Tasting Tour
Carlos additionally had great recommendations for what to do in our days to come in Madrid.
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Perfect
Jessica_M, Jul 2021
Avila and Salamanca Tour from Madrid
This was a wonderful day trip from Madrid with enough to see to leave you wondering at the beauty just outside of the city.
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You don't want to miss seeing Madrid at night with Enrique!
John_P, Dec 2021
4-Hour Private Night Walking Tour of Madrid: Custom Tour
Great way to see Madrid in the evening - we strolled through famous streets, saw gorgeous and historical buildings, palace and so many sites.
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Best day with Nando!
Maria_F, Nov 2021
Private tour to Toledo, with or without transfer from Madrid included
So I was very overwhelmed on what tour to take for Toledo - I am SO glad that we picked this tour & got to see Toledo with Fernando.
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AMAZING MARIA JOSE!
ELLA_D, Nov 2021
Private Walking Tour of the Barrio de las Letras in Madrid
I definitely recommend her to everybody who is going to visit Madrid.
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Quick overview of sites and history
JvL, Oct 2021
Private Tour of Historic Madrid in Electric Tuk Tuk
We had just arrived in Madrid and were seeking a quick overview of the important sires and attractions of the area.
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Getting to know Museo Del Prado.
Rosalinda_s, Oct 2021
Prado Museum 3-hour Private Tour with Skip-the-line
Fluent in English.
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Informative and interesting tour
Ivan_S, Sep 2021
Royal Palace of Madrid Early Access in a Small Group
The tour guide (if I remember correctly he was called Jose, but I'm not sure) spoke good English.
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A GREAT Day!!
William_M, Aug 2021
Toledo and Segovia Tour with Alcazar Entrance from Madrid
A great day trip to see two wonderful sites outside of Madrid.
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Balloon ride tour with pickup from Madrid
Harry_R, Sep 2021
Hot Air Balloon Ride Over Toledo or Segovia with Optional Transport from Madrid
Segovia was only a short and easy journey from Madrid, and it was lovely to see it from the air.
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Put this at the top of your list of things to do in Spain!
SydneyAH, Sep 2021
Hot Air Balloon Ride Over Toledo or Segovia with Optional Transport from Madrid
Also, I was the only one who wasn't fluent in Spanish and the tour guides explained things in English in addition to Spanish.
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Touring your way
Elisabeth, Sep 2021
Madrid Like a Local: Customized Private Tour
This is a great way to see Madrid.

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
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
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