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Things to do in Madrid

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Things to do in Madrid

Capital cities like Madrid are full of things to do. You could spend weeks and yet not get tired, find something different each day, and each night. And with so many things to see it gets more important to plan ahead and choose among the, sometimes, overwhelming amount of local proposals. We would like to start this section with our recommended 5 top things to do in Madrid. We would then move on and recommend activities in Madrid based on your travel style.

Table of Contents

The top 5 things to do in Madrid

This initial short list may vary depending on whether this is your first time to Madrid or not… If you are not a newcomer your priorities may be different… or you may after all decide you would like to repeat some of these top things.

1- Enjoy tapas at different neighbourhoods.

We would recommend to start on the safe way and join a tapas tours first. Some of them are really good.

They cover the most typical areas and you will get to understand what tapas is about, what to do and things to avoid. Then, once you are ready you can decide to get more adventurous (a safer option compared to bar hopping is to enjoy restaurants that specialise in tapas and where you can eat seated)

Our top recommendations include streets Doctor Castelo, Menorca, Lope de Rueda (all these streets are near El Retiro park.
In Chamberi district Calle Ponzano is a must. Packed bars and fantastic diversity make this a locals´s favorite.
In La Latina you should walk down (and enter and try!) every single bar in Cava Baja, including the famous Casa Lucio.

In Huertas, besides the famous Plaza de Santa Ana, we recommend you Calle Echegaray. The quality of tapas is probably not as good as in the other streets we have mentioned, but there is so much fun at night in this area!

2- Get lost in the Retiro park

The Retiro is a fantastic park located at the very heart of Madrid.

Our recommendation is to enter the Retiro from street Alfonso XII (this is very convenient after a visit to the Prado museum for instance) or from Puerta de Alcala (which is perfect if you are arrive from Cibeles or from Calle Serrano). You can enjoy some of the highlights at El Retiro (the lake, the Bosque del Recuero, The palacio de Cristal, the Fallen angel statue, the Rosaleda…) We strongly recommend to drink a horchata at one of the terraces in the park and once you are done, leave the park towards calle Ibiza to enjoy top quality local tapas!

3- Walk from Puerta del Sol to the Debod temple to enjoy the best views of Madrid and some of Madrid´s top highlights on the way

This itinerary will take you 25 minutes (if you do not stop on the way). You will enjoy Calle Mayor, which is full of shops and from you wil be able to get to Plaza Mayor, the San Miguel market or La Latina district and the Cava Baja street (wine and tapas paradise). You can head toward the beautiful Plaza de la Villa, one of the least mentioned, yet most beautiful squares in Madrid. Your itinerary continue towards the Royal palace and the iconic Plaza de oriente. You are half way now to the Debod temple. This temple was saved at the time the Asuan water dam was being built. The temple, located at the end of The Parque del Oeste is located right next to a view point with breath-taking views of Madrid (Royal palace and Cathedral) and beyond…

4- Enjoy at least 1 of the top attractions of Madrid

No matter your travel style, we recommend you visit at list one of Madrid´s top tourist attractions. No matter if this is the Prado Museum, The Royal Palace or the Bernabeu stadium. At least one of these is a must in our view. You will be able to get the bet guides, recommendations and tickets prices at our guides for each of these top attractions.

5- Enjoy a Unesco site visit from Madrid

If you have a bit of time (and believe us, you should really try to squeeze that time in your travel plan) we strongly recommend to enjoy at least 1 of the 5 amazing Unesco sites located at less than 1 hour from Madrid Madrid is the capital city in Europe with more Unesco sites so close and yet this is unknown to most visitors. Toledo and its 3 cultures, Segovia and its amazing aqueduct, Aranjuez and its gardens, Avila and its fascinating walls  or El Escorial monastery they are all amazing places worth visiting. You will not regret this decision.

More recommended things to do in Madrid based on your travel style

Best things to do in Madrid with Children

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Travelling with children always needs a bit of extra preparation. Madrid is pretty flat and easy to walk. Public transportation is excellent and clean and taxis are not over-priced. This means moving around with children gets easier. Madrid has 2 excellent zoological parks, excellent parks with lots of attractions for children (our favourite park with children is Madrid Rio). We are sure one of the Soccer stadiums in Madrid will be a sure bet with children and if you would like to follow the cultural route the Reina Sofia is probably your safest option (the elevators are already a good attraction for children!) We copy here a link to some good family-friendly restaurants in Madrid.


Faunia Madrid

Faunia Madrid is the cities second zoo. The park opened its doors back in 2001. Back then it was known as the Parque biológico de

zoo madrid

Madrid Zoo

Overview The city of Madrid has had a long relationship and interest in exotic animals. The first Madrid zoo that was ever opened in Madrid

Madrid wax museum

Overview The Madrid wax museum is located in the heart of Madrid on Paseo de Recoletos nº 41 and oddly enough is one of Madrid’s

Madrid Rio

Madrid Rio- Madrid

Madrid Rio. The park with the best views in Madrid Madrid Rio´s very long path starts in the Puente de los Franceses and runs a

Museo Reina Sofia

Reina Sofia museum

Rein Sofia museum – Picasso, Dali and so much more! The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia is one of the most important of

Top romantic things to do in Madrid

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Free and always great for couples, El Retiro park is the ideal place to stroll or bike. You will be able to rent a boat too!. If your idea of a romantic stay implies fine dining, Madrid offers many luxury or traditional restaurants which are great for romantic dinners in Madrid. Many couples find also very romantic food markets, and besides San Miguel (maybe too touristic these days, you wll be be able to enjoy Mercado de San Anton, Mercado de Ibiza, Mercado de Chamartin among many others. Remember that the best views of the city are to be found from Debod temple!


The most romantic restaurants in Madrid

Couples that arrive to Madrid to enjoy a romantic break or to celebrate an anniversary or special occasion will find it easy to discover some hidden treasures and ideas that can bring that extra magic to their stay. We recommend you to visit our guide with romantic things to do and ideas in Madrid.

From parks to go hand in hand during romantic strolls, to restaurants that offer that perfect atmosphere to end the day… Our team of local experts have hand-picked the following restaurants.

El Capricho Park

El Capricho Park- Madrid

El Capricho Park, Madrid´s most romantic park El Capricho is probably Madrid´s most beautiful and romantic park and despite it is not very well-known, we

Retiro Park

Retiro Park- Madrid

Retiro Park, the best park in Madrid The Retiro park is probably Spain´s most famous park. Enjoying a boat ride in the Retiro lake is

Plaza de Oriente

Plaza de Oriente- Madrid

The Plaza de Oriente is one of the most beautiful squares in a city where there are many plazas, and many of them are fantastic.

Top cultural activities to enjoy in Madrid

There are great museums in Madrid and also many temporary exhibitions. Art lovers from all over the world arrive to Madrid to enjoy one of its well-known art-galleries. We are sure you will also find amazing some of the smaller museums (the Sorolla museum is our favourite). The Austrias district is the area of Madrid with more interesting architecture. Plazas are one of Madrid´s most interesting things: Plaza Mayor, Plaza de Oriente, Plaza de Olavide, Plaza de Chueca, Plaza del dos de Mayo, Plaza de España, Plaza de Sol…. Our favourite are Olavide (where you will still get a genuine local atmosphere) and la Plaza de la Villa, with traditional architecture.

Museo Thyssen Bornemisza

Museo Thyssen Bornemisza- Madrid

Why we recommend Museo Thyssen Bornemisza? The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum gives the public a stroll through art, from the XIII century until the end of the

Catedral de la Almudena

The Almudena Cathedral in Madrid

The Almudena Cathedral The Almuneda Cathedral was built a part of the Royal Palace with a north-south orientation, differentiating from the rest of the cathedrals,

Museo Reina Sofia

Reina Sofia museum

Rein Sofia museum – Picasso, Dali and so much more! The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia is one of the most important of

Get to know Madrid deeper!

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