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Madrid is the capital city of Spain and one of the largest cities in Europe. This cosmopolitan city is filled with world-class art museums, ancient historical sites, and grand palaces. Exploring a neighborhood or two, going for a stroll on Gran Vía, and dining on tapas and local cuisine all make it on to the list of best things to do in Madrid.

This guide starts off with the top 15 experiences to have in Madrid, perfect for those who are planning a quick trip to the city or only want to visit the “must-sees.” We then go on to list more things to do in Madrid, for those with more time.

We spent eight busy days in Madrid, not only exploring the city and its neighborhoods but also day tripping to nearby towns. Spoiler alert: taking a day trip from Madrid is one of the top experiences and we’ll get to this later in this guide.

Let’s get started.


15 Best Things to Do in Madrid

This list starts with the very best things to do in Madrid. Madrid is well known for its long list of art museums and a few of them show up on this list.

1. Visit the Prado National Museum

The Prado National Museum (Museo Nacional del Prado) is the #1 thing to do in Madrid. On display is an enormous collection of European art and the largest collection of Spanish art in the world.

Adorning the walls of the Prado National Museum are works of art by Titian, El Greco, Peter Paul Ruebens, Diego Velázquez, and Bosch. Francisco Goya is the most represented artist in the museum.

The Prado Museum, Museo Reina Sofia, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum form a trio of art museums which is called Madrid’s Golden Triangle of Art. These museums were listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2021. There is an Art Walk Pass (Paseo del Arte Pass) that includes all three museums.

Prado Museum

Even with a ticket purchased online in advance, there is a good chance you will have to wait in line to enter the museum, like the people in this photo. 

How to Visit the Prado National Museum

Tickets: Purchase your ticket online in advance through the official website. This is best done at least several weeks before your visit to Madrid because tickets can sell out in advance. You will be purchasing a timed entry ticket. If tickets are sold out, they can also be purchased on GetYourGuide.

Hours: The Prado Museum is open 7 days a week, generally from 10 am to 8 pm, with reduced hours Sundays and some days of the year. Get updated hours here.
Time: It takes 1 to 3 hours to visit the Prado Museum, depending on your interests. The official website has itineraries on how to spend one or two hours at the museum.
Entering the Museum: Don’t just show up at your entry time expecting to get in right away. The line to enter the museum can take 20 to 40 minutes. We got in line at 10:10 for our 10:30 timed entry and by the time we got to the front of the line it was 10:30. When we left the museum the entry line was even longer.
Photography: Photography is not permitted inside of the museum.

2. Go for a Stroll on Gran Vía

Going for a stroll along Gran Vía is an essential experience to have in Madrid.

This is Madrid’s most famous street. It runs from Plaza de Cibeles to Plaza de Espańa and is home to several of the city’s most iconic buildings, such as the Metropolis Building and the Carrion building.

Known as the “street that never sleeps,” it is also lined with a long list of restaurants and rooftop bars (we recommend El Jardín de Diana, a rooftop bar on top of the Hyatt Gran Vía).

Gran Via

The Metropolis Building | shutterstock.com

3. Visit Parque del Retiro

Sitting in the city center of Madrid is a tranquil oasis that provides the perfect retreat from the city’s hustle and bustle. This is one of the largest parks in Madrid and it is located next to the Prado Museum. In 2021, it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This park is filled with a long list of landmarks, gardens, and hidden treasures to visit. Here’s a list a few cool spots to mark on your map:

Great Pond of El Retiro: This large pond is one of the most photographed sights in the park. The Monument to Alfonso XII sits on the pond. Rowboats are available for rental.

Great Pond of El Retiro

Great Pond of El Retiro

Palacio de Cristal (Crystal Palace): Modeled after London’s Crystal Palace, this glass pavilion is used as a venue for art exhibitions.

Parque del Retiro Madrid

Crystal Palace

Rose Garden (La Rosaleda): In May and June, this small garden is filled with blooming rose bushes.

Fountain of the Fallen Angel: Located near the Rose Garden, this sculpture is dedicated to the devil. It sits 666 meters above sea level and depicts Lucifer at the moment of his expulsion from heaven.

Fountain of the Fallen Angel

Fountain of the Fallen Angel

Velázquez Palace: This palace is now used as an exhibition hall by the Reina Sofia Museum.

To get around Retiro Park, you can simply go for a stroll or a jog or rent bikes and spend the afternoon exploring the park.

4. Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum

With over 1,600 paintings, this was once one of the largest private collections of art in the world. Its founder, Baron Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, collected artworks by English, Dutch, and German artists as well as Italian painters.

Famous artworks include Paul Cezanne’s Seated Man, Edgar Degas’ Swaying Dancer, Edouard Manet’s Horsewoman, Van Gogh’s Les Vessenots in Auvers, and Dalí’s Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee. Woman in Bath by Roy Lichtenstein is one of the museum’s most famous pieces.

Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum

Dalí’s Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee

 Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum Art

Van Gogh’s Les Vessenots in Auvers

We recommend taking a look at the official website. They have a page with the top masterpieces in the museum along with their location. For those who don’t want to spend hours in the museum, you can pick out a few works of art and focus your visit on these.

How to Visit the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum

Tickets: Purchase your tickets in advance on the official website. Mondays are free. We visited on a Monday and were surprised at how empty the museum was, so if you want to save a few euros, plan your visit for a Monday.
Hours: 10:00 am to 7:00 pm Tuesday through Sunday; 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm Monday. Get updated hours here.
Paseo del Arte Pass: If you have plans to visit the Prado Museum, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, and the Sofia Reina Museum, you can save some euros by purchasing the Paseo del Arte Pass (the Art Walk Pass).

5. Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

The Reina Sofia Museum is one of Madrid’s Golden Triangle of Art museums. It houses a large collection of 20th-century art, much of this being Impressionist and Expressionist paintings. It is located on Paseo del Prado, not far from the Atocha train station.

Most of the artworks are by Spanish painters, including Picasso and Dalí. The most famous piece in the museum is Picasso’s Guernica, which was painted in 1937 and depicts the horror of war following the German bombing of Guernica, a city in Spain.


Guernica by Picasso

Rooms 206-1, 206-2, and 206-3 contain works of art by Dalí, Picasso, and Miró. Room 205-13 contains Dalí’s Face of the Great Masturbater. The 205 rooms contain more works of art by Picasso and Dalí. To see Picasso’s Guernica, join the crowds in room 205-10.

How to Visit the Sofia Reina Museum

Tickets: For the best experience, purchase your tickets online in advance to avoid the wait in the ticket line.
Hours: Closed on Tuesday. Open from 10 am to 9 pm with reduced hours on Sunday. Get updated hours here.
Paseo del Arte Pass (Art Walk Pass): If you have plans to visit the Prado Museum, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, and the Sofia Reina Museum, you can save some euros by purchasing the Paseo del Arte Pass.

6. Eat Your Way through Mercado San Miguel

This small, busy, and most likely very crowded market is one of Madrid’s best dining experiences. Food stalls sell everything from aged cheeses to empanadas to fresh seafood to croquettes. This is the perfect way to sample the local foods and wash it down with a glass of wine or Estrella beer.

Mercado San Miguel Madrid

Mercado San Miguel Food

Mercado San Miguel

Midday, a visit here can be a bit overwhelming. The market becomes one of the most crowded places to visit in Madrid and finding a table can be challenging, but it’s still a very worthwhile experience. If you get here early (before noon) it is not so chaotic.

The market is open every day from 10 am to midnight.

7. Tour the Royal Palace of Madrid

This is another top tourist attraction in Madrid. Touring the palace to see its ornately decorated rooms draws huge numbers of visitors every day.

The Royal Palace of Madrid (Palacio Real de Madrid) is the official residence of the royal family. However, now it is only used for royal ceremonies. With more than 3,000 rooms, it is the largest functioning royal palace in Europe. This palace was modeled after the Louvre in Paris.

Royal Palace of Madrid

On a visit here, there are a few things to see and do:

Tour the rooms of the Royal Palace: Similar to touring the rooms in Versailles or Schönbrunn Palace (Vienna, Austria), you will walk through the most important rooms of the palace (not all 3,000 of them). These include the Hall of Halberdiers, the Throne Hall, the Main Staircase, and the Royal Chapel. Midday when it is busy, it can be slow moving through the palace.

Royal Palace of Madrid Interior

Royal Palace of Madrid Banquet Hall


The Royal Armoury: This large room houses weapons and armor worn by the Kings of Spain and other members of the royal family since the 13th century.

Royal Palace of Madrid Armoury

The Armoury

Gallery of the Royal Collections: This is a separate art museum with works of art from the Spanish Royal Collection. It is on a separate ticket from the Royal Palace. It’s interesting but not a must-see in our opinion, and we discuss this museum later in this guide.

PRO TRAVEL TIP: For the best experience, purchase your tickets online in advance on the official website for the first time slot of the day.

How to Visit the Royal Palace of Madrid

When to Purchase Tickets: Purchase your ticket online in advance on the official website. You will purchase a timed entry slot. Tickets can be purchased onsite and through GetYourGuide (a great option if they are sold out on the official website). If you wait to purchase your ticket onsite, the ticket line can be incredibly long and slow moving.


Ticket Options: There are several ticket options. Royal Palace: This is the main ticket to tour the palace. Royal Palace Kitchen: A guided tour (in Spanish) of the kitchen

Guided Tour: If you prefer to visit the palace with a guide, this guided tour gets rave reviews and you have the option to add on the Royal Collections.

Entry: Like the Prado Museum, it is best to get in line anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes before your entry time. Midday, there is a long line to enter the palace, even for those with timed entry tickets.

Hours and Pricing: Get updated hours and pricing on the official website.

Time: A visit here lasts 2 to 4 hours, depending on crowd levels and how quickly you move through the palace.

8. Visit the Almudena Cathedral

This cathedral, also called the Cathedral of Saint Mary the Royal of the Almudena, sits next to the Royal Palace. It is a Roman Catholic cathedral and a must visit while in Madrid (we found it to be more interesting than the Royal Palace). Not only is the interior beautiful by you can also view Madrid from the roof and descend underground to the crypt.

Almudena Cathedral Madrid

Photo taken from Mirador de la Catedral

There is a surprisingly long list of things to do here. Here they are:

The Cathedral Floor: For free, you can walk around the cathedral floor. To do this, enter through the door that sits on C. de Bailen street (this is a separate entrance from the main entrance). The ceiling of the nave is covered with colorful geometric designs giving the interior a very unique and somewhat unexpected appearance. It’s definitely worth stepping inside of the cathedral just to see this.

Almudena Cathedral Dome

Almudena Cathedral Virgin Mary

Also not to be missed is the Virgin of Almudena

The Dome: The best part of visiting the cathedral, in my opinion, is climbing the steps to the top of the dome and the 360° outdoor panoramic rooftop terrace. From here, you get incredible views of Madrid and the Royal Palace. This requires a paid ticket. When you take the stairs back to ground level, you will then enter the cathedral floor so you can see this as well. There is also a small museum that you can visit (included on the paid ticket).

Almudena Cathedral Rooftop

Almudena Cathedral Rooftop View

Another view from the roof

The Crypt: This has a separate entrance on the back of the cathedral on C. Mayor Street. It is free to visit but donations are appreciated. This is the final resting place for the royal family. The crypt features over 400 columns, each with a different capital. The painting of Our Lady of the Lily is one of the oldest images of the Virgin Mary in the city.

Almudena Cathedral Crypt

The crypt


Our Lady of the Lily

Our Lady of the Lily

Get hours and pricing on the official website.

PRO TRAVEL TIP: For a great view and photo of the cathedral, walk to the Mirador de la Catedral, which is located across the street from Plaza de la Armeria.

9. Sample a Few of Madrid’s Top Restaurants

One of our favorite things to do in Madrid was to eat. Madrid has a long list of restaurants to try, from markets like Mercado San Miguel to small tapas restaurants and tabernas to fine dining and Michelin-starred restaurants.

A few of our favorite places to eat are Viva Madrid (a small tavern with a local vibe), Barmitón (a gem of a restaurant that serves gourmet dishes; located in Barrio de La Latina), Pilar Akaneya (a Japanese restaurant that serves Kobe Beef and Matsusaka Beef and it is one of the most unique dining experiences in the city), and Isa Restaurant & Cocktail Bar (fabulous sushi and cocktails).

Tapas at Viva Madrid

Tapas at Viva Madrid

10. Visit Plaza Mayor

Dating back to the 15th century, this was once the site of the main market in town. Standing in the center of the square is the bronze statue of King Philip III, which dates back to 1616. Surrounding the square are restaurants and shops. Nine gates line the square, creating grand entry and exit points.

Things to Do in Madrid

Plaza Mayor Madrid

Plaza Mayor

11. Barrio de La Latina

This neighborhood is located in one of the oldest areas of central Madrid. With its narrow streets, small squares, and numerous restaurants, this is a great place to go for a stroll in Madrid.

On Sundays, the Rastro flea market pops up on the eastern side of La Latina. Mercado de la Cebada is a market filled with stalls selling local produce and meats.

One of the best things to do in Madrid is hop from tapas restaurant to tapas restaurant along Calle de la Cava Baja and Calle de la Cava Alta. Barmitón, one of our favorite restaurants in Madrid, is located on Calle de la Cava Alta.

Barrio de La Latina

Barrio de La Latina Madrid

12. Plaza de Cibeles & the Cibeles Fountain

Plaza de Cibeles is one of Madrid’s most famous landmarks and an incredibly busy intersection in the heart of the city.

Sitting in the center of the square is the Cibeles Fountain, one of Madrid’s most iconic fountains. The sculpture in the center of the fountain represents Cybele, a Phrygian earth and fertility deity. This fountain is the spot where Real Madrid’s fans gather to celebrate the team’s victories.

The best place to get a view of Plaza de Cibeles is from Palacio de Cibeles, mentioned next.

Plaza de Cibeles

Plaza de Cibeles

13. Palacio de Cibeles

Cibeles Palace is one of the most beautiful buildings in Madrid. It sits on Plaza de Cibeles and visiting its rooftop for a view of the city is one of the best things to do in Madrid.

There are two outdoor terraces to visit.

Mirador Madrid

This viewpoint, also labeled as Mirador del Palacio de Cibeles, is an outdoor terrace on the roof of Cibeles Palace. You get 360° views of Madrid, but the best view is the one looking along Calle de Alcalá and Gran Vía. This is also a terrific spot to watch the orchestrated movements of the cars and buses coursing around Plaza de Cibeles.

Best Things to Do in Madrid Spain

Mirador Madrid View

To visit this viewpoint, purchase a timed entry ticket in advance. Arrive 10 minutes early so you can ride the elevator up to Floor 6E and walk to the entry point for Mirador Madrid. The visit is timed such that every 30 minutes a small group of people visit the terrace, which helps keep crowds low. From the entry point, you will walk up 88 steps to get to the upper outdoor terrace.

Get hours and pricing on the official website and purchase your tickets in advance. Mirador Madrid is closed on Monday and some holidays.

Terraza Cibeles (aka Azotea Cibeles)

This is a rooftop bar on Cibeles Palace. The outdoor terrace sits lower than Mirador Madrid, so you don’t get the sweeping views of the city. However, if you could not get a ticket to Mirador Madrid, this is a nice option to get a similar view.

Terraza Cibeles

Terraza Cibeles View

This rooftop bar does not get great reviews. Service is slow and it costs €10 to enter, making it much more expensive than Mirador Madrid. Plus, there are only a few tables with a view of Plaza de Cibeles. To make it worth it, ask if one of these tables is available, before paying your fee.

Get hours and learn more on the official website.

14. Drinks and a View from a Rooftop Bar or Restaurant

One of our favorite things to do in Madrid was to have a cocktail at a rooftop bar, of which there are many to choose from. We tried our best to get to as many as possible (all in the name of research, of course 😉) and here are a few of our favorites.

Azotea del Círculo is one of Madrid’s most famous rooftop bars, with a great central location and hip vibe.

Azotea del Círculo Madrid

Azotea del Círculo


Azotea del Círculo View

The view from Azotea del Círculo

The 360° Sky Bar is another popular spot, with one of the best views of the city from its very elevated position on top of Hotel RIU Plaza Espańa (make a reservation in advance).

360 Rooftop Bar Madrid

The view from 360° Sky Bar

One of our personal favorites is El Jardín de Diana, a small rooftop bar on top of the Hyatt Centric Gran Via. The service is fast and friendly and the cocktails are perfectly crafted.

The Garden of Salvador Bachiller serves food and very creative drinks in a gardenlike setting. A visit here is more about the food and drinks as the rooftop bar does not offer much of a view.

You also get an amazing view from Dani Brasserie, a restaurant on top of the Four Seasons Hotel. The food is decent but the views are incredible, especially at sunset.

Dani Brasserie Madrid

The view from Dani Brasserie

15. Take a Day Trip

One of the best things to do in Madrid is to day trip to the nearby small towns and palaces that surround the city.

Toledo is the most popular day trip from Madrid. This is an incredibly picturesque city to visit. It was the capital of Spain until 1561 and strolling the city streets, visiting the amazing Catedral Primada, and enjoying the view from a long list of viewpoints are the top experiences here. Learn more in our article How to Plan a Toledo Day Trip from Madrid.

Toledo Spain

Toledo, Spain

Segovia is a small city that is famous for its Roman aqueduct.

Segovia Spain

Segovia, Spain

Ávila is a small city surrounded by medieval walls that is fun to explore and photograph.

Avila Spain

Avila, Spain

These cities can be visited independently, as they are easy to get to using public transportation. However, this tour gets rave reviews and includes Toledo and Segovia with the option to add on Ávila.

Go Deeper: More Things to Do in Madrid

16. Visit the Church of Saint Anthony of the German

This isn’t a place that shows up on many lists, but we really enjoyed this experience. Called the “Sistine Chapel of Madrid,” the interior of this small church is covered with colorful frescoes. Numerous artists painted the frescoes in stages, creating one of the most unique Baroque churches in the city.

Church of Saint Anthony of the German Madrid

Like many sites in Madrid, it is best to book a time slot in advance, which you can do on the official website (plus get updated hours and pricing for your visit).

A visit lasts anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes.

17. Indulge on Chocolate with Churros at Chocolatería San Ginés

Churros are one of the top foods to eat in Madrid and there are many restaurants with these on the menu. However, the best place to get them is at Chocolatería San Ginés.

Since 1894 Chocolatería San Ginés has been serving chocolate with churros, making them one of the oldest cafes in the city. Their churros have become so sought after that they have expanded to other locations in the Madrid and around the world (even in Shanghai and Tokyo). If you want to dine at the original location, visit the café on 5 Pasadizo de San Ginés.

San Gines Churros and Chocolate

San Gines Madrid

5 Pasadizo de San Ginés

18. See the Sights at Puerta del Sol

Puerta del Sol is another sprawling square in Madrid. This square, ‘Gate of the Sun’ in English, is one of the busiest places in the city.

Puerta del Sol was one of the original gates in the city walls that once surrounded Madrid. There are a few famous landmarks to see on the square.

The Statue of the Bear and the Strawberry Tree (El Oso y el Madrońo): This bronze statue is a real-life representation of the Madrid coat of arms and an official symbol of the city. It sits on the east side of Puerta del Sol.

Statue of Bear and Strawberry Tree

Kilometer Zero: This point marks the geographical center of Spain and the starting point for measuring the country’s six national roads. Look for the plaque on the ground next to the Post Office building.

Royal Post Office: This building (aka the Real Casa de Correos) is the oldest building on Puerta del Sol. Every year on the night of December 31, the clock chimes, marking the ritual of the twelve grapes (eating a grape with each chime of the clock to welcome the New Year).

Puerta del Sol Madrid

19. Museo Cerralbo

The Cerralbo Museum houses the private gallery of Enrique de Aguilera y Gamboa. On a visit to this museum, tour the aristocratic house and view the immense collection of weapons, archaeological artifacts, furniture, paintings, textiles, and ceramics.

Currently, tickets are available onsite only (no advance online sales). Lines can be very long to enter and in our case, it was a one hour wait to enter the museum. If this looks like something you would like to do, either get here at opening time or be prepared to wait in line (especially midday).

20. Temple of Debod

Sitting in the city center of Madrid is an ancient Egyptian building, the Temple of Debod. It was a gift from Egypt to Spain in 1968, as a thank you for helping to save the temples of Abu Simbel.

Temple of Debod Madrid

This building is estimated to be at least 2200 years old. It sat in the flood zone after the construction of the Aswan Dam in Egypt (along with Abu Simbel). To save both the Temple of Debod and Abu Simbel, they were both dismantled. The Temple of Debod was relocated to Madrid and Abu Simbel was relocated to higher ground in Egypt.

The Temple of Debod is located in Parque de la Montańa, near Museo Cerralbo, Plaza de Espańa, and the Royal Palace. It is free to visit.

21. Santiago Bernabéu Stadium

This is the second largest football stadium in Spain and it is the home stadium of Real Madrid. It is named after Real Madrid president Santiago Bernabéu.

This stadium has been hosting football games since 1947 as well as important religious events (in 1982 Pope John Paul II addressed 160,000 people here) and concerts (Bruce Springsteen, Frank Sinatra, and Enrique Iglesias, just to name a few). Taylor Swift performed here in 2024 during her global Eras Tour.

If you are lucky enough to be in town during a football game, this would be an incredible experience to have (Real Madrid played Barcelona on our visit; we attempted to get tickets but they were super expensive, over €1000 per person).

If you want to see the stadium, a cheaper way to do it is to tour the stadium. Be aware that it is undergoing a restoration project (although this may finish later in 2024) so you can’t tour all parts of the stadium.

22. Visit the Oldest Restaurant in the World, Botín

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Botín is the oldest restaurant in the world. It was founded in 1725 and continues to serve traditional Castilian cuisine, suckling pig and roasted lamb.


Botin Restaurant

The cellars of the restaurant were once part of a tunnel system under the streets of Madrid. These tunnels once led to the Royal Palace.

Rumor has it that Francisco de Goya worked here as a dishwasher.

Ernest Hemingway was a regular here. He befriended the owner and dined here several times. The restaurant gets a mention in his novel A Farewell to Arms.

There are two ways to visit Botín, by simply dining in the restaurant or taking a guided tour.

We took the guided tour, which was informative, unexpectedly interesting, and memorable. You get to see the original oven, tour the underground tunnels and cellars, and visit all four dining rooms. We learned a lot on this tour, not only about the history of the restaurant but also some history of Madrid.

The tour is held an hour before opening. Your tour includes lunch and you get your pick of the best tables in the restaurant, including Ernest Hemingway’s table.

The food was OK. This is not the type of food that we typically like to eat but it’s part of the cultural experience. Since this is the world’s oldest restaurant, it does attract a big tourist crowd and the quality of the food reflects that. Even so, it’s a very worthwhile experience, to try traditional food in a very historic setting.

Here is a link to the official website to learn more. If you want to tour the restaurant, make your booking here (make your reservation at least two weeks in advance).

23. Explore Barrio de Salamanca

Barrio de Salamanca is Madrid’s most upscale neighborhood. Home to the Golden Mile, this is the place to go shopping, with brand names such as Louis Vuitton, Versace, Chanel, Jimmy Choo, and Hermès. Calle de Serrano is a tree-lined street where you will find many of these shops.

This neighborhood sits to the north of Retiro Park and to the east of Paseo de Recoletos.

24. Get a History Lesson at the National Archaeological Museum

This museum is located on Calle de Serrano in Barrio de Salamanca. Its collection contains artifacts from the Iberian Peninsula, Ancient Greece, and Ancient Egypt.

Lady of Elche

Lady of Elche

One of the most important pieces in the museum is the Lady of Elche, an Iberian funerary urn. Other things to see include the Lady of Cerro de los Santos, the Treasure of Guarrazar, and the Guanche Mummy of Madrid.

Get hours and pricing on the official website.

25. Puerta de Alcalá

This Neo-classical gate sits on Plaza de la Independencia, between Retiro Park and Barrio de Salamanca. This gate was built in 1778 as a grand entrance into the city of Madrid.

Puerta de Alcalá

26. Paseo del Prado

This tree lined boulevard runs along the west side of Retiro Park, connecting Plaza de Cibeles with Plaza de Atocha. It is part of a combined UNESCO World Heritage Site with Retiro Park.

Along this lovely boulevard are the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, the Reina Sofia Museum, the Prado Museum, and the Neptune Fountain, so there is a very good chance that you’ll walk at least part of this street during your visit to Madrid.

27. Royal Collections Gallery

This is part of the Royal Palace but we are mentioning it separately since it has its own ticket and entrance. This is an art museum and on display is artwork from the Spanish Royal Collection.

Royal Collections Gallery Madrid

It is located on Armería Square, next to the Almudena Cathedral.

After touring the rooms of the Royal Palace, the Armoury, and Almudena Cathedral, this art museum felt like a bit of an overload to us. However, if you are an art or history aficionado, this could be worth adding on to your visit to the Royal Palace.

Tickets are timed entry. Get hours and pricing on the official website.

28. See the Old Muslim Walls

Located in Parque del Emir Mohamed I sits the remains of 9th-century Moorish walls. This is one of the oldest sites in Madrid and these walls date back to a time when Muslims ruled the Iberian Peninsula.

The walls are free to visit. They are located behind Almudena Cathedral.

Muslim Walls Madrid

29. The Royal Basilica of Saint Francis the Great

This grand basilica was constructed in the late 18th century. Adorning the interior of the basilica are Spanish paintings, including a few by Francisco Goya and Zurbarán. The dome is the fourth largest in Europe, coming in behind the Pantheon in Rome, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Florence Cathedral.

Royal Basilica of Saint Francis the Great

Royal Basilica of Saint Francis the Great

30. Enjoy the View from El Corte Inglés

Plaza del Callao is a wide plaza located on Gran Vía. With its large screens on the buildings, it looks like a smaller version of Times Square in New York City.

The El Corte Inglés department store sits on this square. Ride the elevator to the top floor to The Gourmet Experience. This is a great spot to have lunch or dinner, and to enjoy the view over the plaza. There is outdoor seating with a very nice view plus a floor to ceiling window where you can photograph Plaza del Callao and Gran Vía.

Schweppes Building Madrid

31. Watch a Flamenco Show

Flamenco is deeply rooted in Spanish culture and watching a flamenco performance is one of the top experiences to have in Spain.

The best place to watch a flamenco performance is in Andalusia (such as Seville, Córdoba, or Granada), where flamenco got its start. But if you won’t be heading that way on this trip, there are flamenco performances in Madrid, such as the Emociones flamenco performance at Teatro Flamenco Madrid.

32. Visit the Naval Museum

This hidden gem of a museum is filled with exhibits about Spain’s naval history, which is quite impressive.

The main reason to visit this museum is to see the oldest known map to show America. Juan de la Cosa, a man who sailed with Christopher Columbus on three of his journeys, created this map when he was the captain of the Santa Maria. The map was drawn in 1500 and shows America, Caribbean islands, Europe, Africa, and Asia.

Madrid Naval Museum

Oldest Map of America

The oldest map of America is on this glass covered table

33. Take a Stroll through the Royal Botanical Gardens

These are the prettiest gardens that we saw in Madrid. The Royal Botanical Gardens (Real Jardín Botánico) sits just to the south of the Prado Museum and to the west of Retiro Park.

Madrid Botanical Garden

The entrance is located on Plaza Murillo, which is the side of the garden that faces the Prado Museum. There is a small fee to enter. Get hours and pricing on the official website.

34. Snap a Photo of the Vertical Garden

From the botanical garden, take a short walk across Paseo del Prado to the CaixaForum. The CaixaForum is a cultural center in Madrid, but it is famous for its Vertical Garden, a hydroponic living wall containing over 300 species of plants.

Madrid Vertical Garden

35. Tour the Sorolla Museum

Joaquin Sorolla was a Spanish artist who painted colorful landscapes. His home has been converted into a small art museum, displaying his art pieces.

Sorolla Museum

Sorolla Museum | shutterstock.com

Get hours and pricing on the official website. This has become a popular art museum in Madrid, so it is best to purchase your ticket in advance.

Best Things to Do in Madrid: On a Map

How to Use This Map: Click the tab in the top left hand corner of the map to view the layers. The items on our 15 best list are in blue, the remaining things to do are in green, and restaurants and rooftop bars are in red. You can click the check marks to hide or show layers. If you click the icons on the map, you can get more information about each point of interest.
If you click the star next to the title of the map, this map will be added to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.

10 Unique Things to Do in Madrid

  • Take a tour of Botín, the oldest restaurant in the world
  • See the Temple of Debod
  • Take a tour of Santiago Bernabeu Stadium
  • See the oldest map of America at the Naval Museum
  • Take a photo of the Vertical Garden at CaixaForum
  • See the amazing frescoes in the Church of Saint Anthony of the German
  • Indulge on chocolate and churros at Chocolatería San Ginés
  • Go restaurant hopping in Barrio de La Latina
  • Eat your way through Mercado San Miguel
  • Enjoy the view from Mirador Madrid

10 Free Things to Do in Madrid

  • Go for a stroll along Gran Via
  • Visit Plaza Mayor
  • Go for a walk in Retiro Park
  • See the Temple of Debod
  • Visit Barrio de La Latina
  • Enjoy the lofty view from El Corte Inglés
  • See the ancient Muslim walls
  • Visit Puerta del Sol
  • Go for a walk along Paseo del Prado
  • Explore more of Madrid’s vibrant neighborhoods

If you have any questions about the best things to do in Madrid, or if you want to share your favorite things to do, let us know in the comment section below.

More Information for Your Trip to Spain

TOLEDO: Toledo is the most popular day trip from Madrid. Learn how to plan your visit with our article Best Things to Do in Toledo and How to Plan a Toledo Day Trip from Madrid.

BARCELONA: Start with our guide to the best things to do in Barcelona. Plan your visit with our 3 Day Barcelona Itinerary, our guide on Where to Stay in Barcelona, and get recommendations on where to eat in Barcelona.

ANDALUSIA: In our guides to Andalusia, Spain, we cover the best things to do in Seville, the best way to spend one day in Seville, a one day itinerary with a walking tour of Ronda, and a guide to the Caminito del Rey, one of the most famous walks in Spain. And if you have plans to visit Granada, don’t miss our Guide to the Alhambra.

MONTSERRAT, SPAIN: Learn how to plan your day trip to Montserrat from Barcelona and how to hike to Montserrat (and find out if it is worth it).

MORE CITIES AROUND THE WORLD: Visit more cities around the world with our guides to RomeParis, London, New York CityAthensLisbon, and Sydney. 

EUROPE ITINERARIES: Check out our article 10 Days in Europe: 10 Amazing Itineraries for 10 different ways to visit the best places in Europe. And if you have less time, check out our guide to 25 Ways to Spend One Week in Europe.

Read all of our articles about Spain in our Spain Travel Guide.


Madrid Spain Bucket List


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