Madrid, the capital of Spain, is known for its rich culture, lively streets and best art museums. A stroll in Buen Retiro park, casually walking in the streets of Madrid or enjoying drinks at one of the rooftop bars is undoubtedly going to make your day memorable.
Madrid is known for its art exhibitions, museums that hosts painting from remarkable artists and grand plazas that leave you in awe of the architecture. With a lot to see and many places to visit in Madrid, here are some of the top picks which are bound to leave you astounded while exploring the capital. Indulge in activities and eat local delicacies like Tapas and Churros to get an immersive experience of Spanish culture.
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Madrid tourist attractions
1. Plaza Mayor
Plaza Mayor is the most famous square. It boasts of uniform and classic architecture designed by Juan de Villanueva. One of the best places to visit in Madrid, which gives a glimpse of the vibrant city life.
2. Royal Palace of Madrid
Indulge in Royalty at the Royal Palace of Madrid. Now used for state ceremonies this used to be the residence of Spanish Royal family. It is one of the topmost attractions in Madrid. Also known as Palacio Real in Spanish, this palace was built during the 18th and 19th century. The palace was decorated according to the tastes of Charles III and is Lavishly designed. Visitors are allowed to get a glimpse of royal living through several rooms and banquets which are open for public display.
To explore the Royal Palace of Madrid, you can either opt for a guided tour or explore by walking on your own. If you don’t choose for a guide, there are still information boards outside each room and significant places explaining its functions. Many important events took place in these premises which went down in national history.
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3. Museo Nacional del Prado
It holds a great historical significance hosting some of the greatest masterpieces from renowned artists like Rembrandt, Goya, Van Dyck, Velázquez, Titian, El Greco, and Bosch. Even if it is not your scene, you’ll still be dazzled by the paintings dating back to 11th to 18th century.
4. El Retiro Park
Situated in the centre of the city this park is perfect just to laze around, take a stroll, go boating in the lake or try some food at the restaurants. The park is vast, with several trees and gardens inside. The name itself translates to “park of pleasant retreat”.
5. Plaza de Cibeles
It is said to be one of the most beautiful squares in Madrid hence making it one of the most prominent tourist attractions in Madrid. It is located at the intersection of Calle de Alcalá, Paseo de Recoletos, and Paseo del Prado.
The Cibeles fountain stands in front of the Plaza. It has the iconic status of Goddess Cybele sitting on a chariot pulled by two lions.
6. Santiago Bernabéu Stadium
The club is named after the legendary president who headed Real Madrid between 1943 and 1978. Football fans should not miss the Bernabeu stadium tour. The tour shows the stadium from everyone’s perspective and even includes a visit to the player’s dressing rooms.
The tour also takes you through the trophies collections and other memorabilia that are part of its heritage.
Did you know ?
It is the first stadium in Europe to host both a UEFA Euro final and a FIFA World Cup final.
7. The Royal Site of San Lorenzo de El Escorial
Built by the architects of Juan Bautista de Toledo, and Juan de Herrera this took more than 20 years of construction. It is the most important structure of Spanish architecture. The interiors were painted by some of the known artists of Italy and Spain. The Escorial is a UNESCO World Heritage site with its remarkable construction style.
8. Catedral de Sta Maria la Real de la Almudena
One of the most remarkable tourist attractions in Madrid, this building took almost 110 years to finish. It has a mixture of different styles with a neoclassical exterior, a gothic revival interior, and a neo-romanesque crypt.
9. Temple of Debod
The Egyptian government gifted the temple of Debod to Spain as a token of thanks to saving them from floods. The temple dates back to the 2nd century BC. Temple of Debod was dismantled in Egypt and transported to Madrid where it was re-constructed at Cuartel de la Montaña Park.
10. Royal Chapel of St. Anthony of La Florida
This Chapel is a museum dedicated to the renowned artist Goya. The frescoes painted by Goya makes this Chapel a must-visit tourist attraction in Madrid. The Church also comprises the remains of Francisco Goya who was buried right in front of the Altar.
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10 unique things to do in Madrid
With no shortage of activities to do in Madrid, here is a list of our top picks that can help you in making your trip to Madrid exceptional. Madrid has a place for everyone. Pick up the activities based on your preference and get ready to explore Madrid like a local. If you are looking to indulge in some Spanish delicacies or you are a book-worm like me, there is something for everyone here in Madrid.
1. Indulge in cultural activities at El Matadero
Visit this slaughterhouse turned a cultural hub for a unique experience. Located in the Arganzuela district of Madrid, this place is complete with art exhibitions, cinemas, theatre performances, cafes and markets put up in the open space.
2. Cine Dore – For all the Movie buffs
A cosy little place which will leave cinema lovers in awe. This place is not popular among tourists and travellers. Frequented by many Madrilenos this place screens old and new movies in the original version. The movies are priced reasonably at 2.50 Euros.
If you are a cinema buff here is a list of places where you can watch movies in Madrid
3. Immerse yourself in Literature
Madrid is home to some of the best cafe-book shops where you can check out some exciting selection of books. These bookshops throw significant events like book-reading and concerts.
Here is a list of bookstores along with addresses that you can check out on your visit to Madrid
4. Catch a Micro-theatre show in Madrid
To have a fun night catch a 15-minute micro theatre performance in Madrid. The shows are reasonably priced at 4 Euros. The shows are mostly in Spanish. Grab a drink and enjoy the show.
5. Explore the monthly market in Train Museum
Mercado de Motores is held on the second weekend of every month at the Museo del Ferrocarril. It is a quirky vintage market held in a train museum.
Museo del Ferrocarril is itself an abandoned railway station built in the 1880s. Huge variety of food stalls are set up alongside the tracks. Don’t miss out the food trucks outside. Not just food but several shops are selling second-hand lamps, vintage style furniture, jewellery, soap etc.
6. Try Spanish Delicacies at Local Food markets
If you’re in Madrid, you need to find and try different varieties of Tapas and hog on Churros. Here are some of the Food markets both traditional and vibrant, where you can get fresh food with a taste of real Madrid lifestyle.
Markets are usually very crowded but promise a great experience. Here is a list of Markets you should give a try.
- Mercado de San Miguel
- Mercado de San Fernando
- Mercado de San Anton
- Mercado de Anton Martin
- Mercado de la Cebada
7. Take a stroll around the Plazas and Streets of Madrid
Walk around the famous Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol. Plaza Mayor is situated in the heart of Madrid. A major public attraction located near Puerta del Sol. It’s a rectangular arcade surrounded by three-storeyed residential buildings from three sides. A bronze statue of King Philip III is situated in the centre of the square. It’s a great place to witness the architecture and vibrant city life of Madrid.
Some other Plazas and Streets that you shouldn’t miss:-
- Plaza de la Villa
- Plaza de Oriente
- Plaza Olavide
- Plaza de Dos de Mayo
8. Walk around the streets of Lavapies
A 10 minutes walk from Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol lies this dynamic neighbourhood. It houses a world-famous Museum The Reina Sofia Museum which houses art pieces from some of the renowned artists like Picasso and Dali. This Museum boasts of being home to Picasso’s most famous works, Guernica.
There is plenty of art that can be seen in the streets of Lavapies. When you are here drop your must-see list and just casually take a walk around the several lanes. From stencil art to Magnificent Murals, this place has art all over it.
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9. Have a Picnic in the Park
There are beautiful parks in the city to sit around and enjoy a light meal. Grab your picnic basket and laze around while admiring the beautiful city.
Retiro is the city’s most famous park situated in the centre. Several gardens are hosting different species of plants and flowers. Enjoy a boat ride in the lake, visit the Crystal Palace or sit in a restaurant to enjoy your time here.
Did you know ?
The park is sprawled over 125 hectares and hosts more than 15,000 trees.
10. Take a Guided Tour in Madrid
Book a guided tour to visit the local hotspots in the city. Devour Madrid is a highly recommended one for their food and cultural tours. Get a taste of Spanish culture like a true local here with the folks of Devour Madrid.
You can choose from a range of tours they offer based on your interests and leave the rest to their experts.
Must-Visit Places to see in Madrid
1. Puerta de Alcalá
This neoclassical triumphal arch is one of the most famous tourist places in Madrid. Situated in Plaza de la Independencia close to one of the El Retiro’s main entrances. The Spanish architect Francesco Sabatini spent most of his life in Madrid working for Spanish royal family.This gate was inaugurated in 1778, which used to be one of the five gates of the city walls.
Did you know ?
In 1986, Víctor Manuel and Ana Belén (two very popular Spanish singers) dedicated a song to Puerta de Alcalá, and it became an instant hit in Spain.
2. Teatro Real, Madrid
The Royal Theatre is considered to be one of the best Theatres in Europe. It has a capacity of more than 1700 people. This exhibits performances from leading artists with a background in dance, music and theatre. Tourists can also opt for a well-guided tour to this major attraction.
3. La Puerta del Sol
The busy square located right in the middle of Madrid goes straight to the list of places to see in Madrid. It hosts the famous clock where everyone gathers to celebrate the new year. This serves as the junction to some of the busiest streets of Calle Alcalá, Calle Arenal, Calle Preciados, and Calle Mayor, Puerta del Sol in Madrid.
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Did you know ?
The chiming of the famous clock marks the beginning of the new year and the traditional eating of twelve grapes.
4. Plaza de España
A spectacle of light and Majesty this should be added to the list of places to see in Madrid. It is one of the grandest plazas in Spain with a total area of 50,000 square metres. The Plaza has a canal across its perimeter which can be explored by a boat giving a real romantic experience.
5. Las Ventas
If you’re in Spain, watching a bullfight is one of the craziest experiences. The bullfight arena of Las Ventas is considered as one of the most prominent one in the World. This place also hosts a museum and a Chapel dedicated to the Virgen de la Paloma and the Virgen de Guadalupe – the patrons of Madrid and Mexico respectively.