What to see in Madrid? Madrid is a city full of places to visit, plans to do, experiences to live and history to know. A lively city where it is practically impossible to get bored. To make sure that this does not happen during your visit, we wanted to create this list in which we show you the 34 essential things you should see and do in Madrid.
What to see and do in Madrid. These are the 34 essentials:
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The Plaza Mayor is a place where, no matter what time you go, you will always find people. It is a rectangular square with arcades, in the purest Castilian style. In addition, being one of the nerve centers of the city, it is the ideal place to start several routes through the most traditional neighborhoods of Madrid and where many of the guided tours and free tours that are offered in the city depart from.
This beautiful rectangular square, 129 meters long and 94 meters wide, is surrounded by important buildings such as the Casa de la Panadería and other jewels such as the Arco de Cuchilleros and the Statue of Felipe III, a gift from the Duke of Florence.
After visiting all its corners, one of the best things to do in Madrid is to sit on one of its terraces to have a drink and watch the daily hustle and bustle of tourists or eat the traditional squid sandwich at the popular Bar La Campana.
If your visit to Madrid is at Christmas time, you cannot miss the Christmas market that is located in this square, where, in addition to the typical Christmas stalls, you will be able to find joke articles so characteristic on these dates, in the Spanish capital.
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Visit the Royal Palace
One of the main monuments of the city. This palace is the official residence of the King of Spain, although it is not currently inhabited, it is only used for state ceremonies. It is the largest royal palace in Western Europe and one of the largest in the world. It was built in the 18th century and houses an important historical-artistic heritage. To avoid queues we recommend you buy your tickets in advance.
Walking through the Campo del Moro
Just to the rear of the Royal Palace, are the Campo del Moro gardens. An ideal place to walk enjoying its vegetation and the beautiful pictures it offers. Its entrance is on the opposite side of the Palace, on the Paseo de la Virgen del Puerto, next to the banks of the Manzanares. In it you can also see several species of animals, such as peacocks or pheasants. Without a doubt, one of the best plans to do in Madrid.
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Go along the Gran Vía
Gran Vía is one of the most emblematic and busy streets in Madrid. In it you will find cinemas, theaters, shops, restaurants, hotels. But our recommendation is that you enjoy it calmly, looking up and contemplating each of its buildings. You will love it!
Visit the Cibeles Palace
The beautiful Palacio de Cibeles is the current seat of the Madrid City Council. Inside there are several areas open to the public and dedicated to culture, such as an exhibition hall, a reading area and an auditorium, among others. In addition, it is also possible to climb to the highest part of its central tower, where a viewpoint has been set up. Climb up and enjoy the views!
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Amaze yourself with the art in the Prado Museum
The Prado Museum is the second most visited museum in Spain and is considered one of the most important in the world. It houses the most important collection of European paintings in the world. Among which important sets of works by Velázquez, El Greco, Goya, Titian, Rubens and El Bosco stand out. In addition to thousands of works by other renowned authors. Skip the lines by buying your tickets in advance.
In addition, together with the rest of the Paseo del Prado and the Parque del Retiro, it is part of the “Landscape of Light”, one of the 49 places declared a World Heritage Site in Spain.
Enjoy like children in the Museum of Illusions
The Museum of Illusions offers a fascinating and educational visual experience with a host of new and unexplored illusions. A place full of optical illusions that will deceive your eyes and that you will enjoy like a child. A fantastic experience for all ages. Despite not having been in Madrid for long, it has become one of the most successful plans in the city. Don’t wait for them to tell you, buy your tickets and enjoy this surprising and fun experience.
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Get to know the National Library
The National Library is a place full of culture. It is possible to visit through the free guided tours that are carried out. In them you can visit the library museum and other areas of the building. In addition, at least once a year, an open day is organized in which special activities are carried out in addition to these visits.
Art at the Reina Sofía Museum
The Reina Sofía Museum is the most visited in Spain. It has an important collection of 20th century and contemporary art. Among them, the ensembles of some of the most important Spanish painters of the 20th century, such as Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí and Joan Miró, stand out. One of the most important is Guernica, by Pablo Picasso. We recommend that you buy tickets in advance and not miss out on one of the best museums to see in Madrid.
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Get to know Sorolla’s house and work
The Sorolla Museum is another of the most interesting museums in Madrid. It often goes unnoticed by visitors who come to the Spanish capital, but inside it houses a precious collection of paintings by the Valencian painter. In addition, it is located in a beautiful mansion that served as a workshop and home for Joaquín Sorolla himself, which gives it a special charm. The entrance fee is 3 euros.
Look for the Bear and the Strawberry Tree in Puerta del Sol
Puerta del Sol is another of the nerve centers of the city. A place through which hundreds of thousands of people pass daily. In addition, it is the starting point for some of the most important shopping streets in the capital. The headquarters of the Community of Madrid is located there. In addition, you will also be able to see one of the icons of the city, the sculpture of the Bear and the Strawberry Tree, present on the city’s coat of arms. Finally, another of the most typical things in Puerta del Sol is stepping on Km.0. Point from which the main radial highways of the country depart. Will you be able to find it?
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Go to the roof of the Círculo de Bellas Artes
Between Plaza de Cibeles and Puerta del Sol, next to the beginning of Gran Vía, is the Círculo de Bellas Artes building. On its roof there is one of the roof terraces open to the public with the best views of Madrid. An ideal place to enjoy a sunset having a drink on its terrace after a long day of visiting the city. Are you going to miss it?
Relax in the Retiro Park
El Retiro is the most emblematic park in Madrid. An ideal place to take a pleasant walk while you discover the beautiful corners that it keeps. One of those corners, and that you should not miss, is the beautiful Crystal Palace. Nor can you leave without going through its pond and the sculpture of the Fallen Angel, one of the few dedicated to Lucifer in the world. Since 2021 it has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO along with other spaces that make up Madrid ‘s “Landscape of Light”. As you can see, the Retiro is much more than a park, it is a place full of history that is well worth taking a guided tour.and discover everything that this green space keeps inside.
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Contemplate a sunset in the Temple of Debod
Although it has only been in the city since 1968, the Temple of Debod is the oldest monument in Madrid. It is 2,200 years old and was donated to the city by the Egyptian government, making it one of the most visited places in the capital. In addition, its privileged location makes it an ideal place to enjoy the sunset.
Enjoy the cultural offer of Conde Duque
This cultural center is a large space dedicated to culture where you can attend exhibitions, film screenings, concerts… It is located in the baroque-churrigueresque building of the old Conde-Duque barracks. We encourage you to consult its programming and stop by to enjoy some of its activities or simply get to know the architecture of the building through one of its guided tours.
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Enter the Almudena Cathedral
Located in front of the imposing Royal Palace, we find another of the icons of the city, the Almudena Cathedral. It is a great temple that was built between the end of the 19th century and the end of the 20th century and in which the neoclassical, neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque styles are mixed.
Go from markets to Matadero
Matadero is a space totally dedicated to creation, in all its forms. You will be able to find a wide range of activities: workshops, concerts, exhibitions, craft markets. Without a doubt, it is another of the must-see places in Madrid and from which you will surely take good memories.
Take a walk through Madrid Río
Since its creation, Madrid Río has become one of the busiest spaces in the city. Its large garden areas, its avant-garde style and its extensive promenades make it an ideal place to practice sports or to take a pleasant walk along the banks of the Manzanares River.
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Attend one of its theaters
Without a doubt, the largest selection of theaters and musicals in Spain is in Madrid. And among this offer are some of the most important in the country. For this reason, during your visit to Madrid you should also take the opportunity to attend one of these shows.
Savor its gastronomy
Of course, during your visit to Madrid you cannot miss out on trying the most typical dishes of Madrid gastronomy. Like the Madrid stew, Madrid-style tripe, garlic soup, Madrid-style sea bream, chicken or the mythical squid sandwiches, among others. And for dessert, a good chocolate with churros!
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Take hundreds of photos at IKONO Madrid
It is one of the newest and most visited activities in the capital. At a time when image and social networks are the protagonists, IKONO Madrid offers a colorful and eye-catching visual paradise for all those who want to get unique photos and videos. A 60-minute adventure that takes you through various rooms, each with a unique and impressive experience inside. So, if you want to come back with enviable content, don’t hesitate to buy your tickets and enjoy this fantastic space.
Go to the oldest restaurant in the world
Yes, Madrid is home to what, according to the Guinness Book of Records, is considered the oldest restaurant in the world. It is El Sobrino de Botín, located on Calle Cuchilleros, very close to the Plaza Mayor.
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Enjoy the views from the Casa de Campo Cable Car
A different way of contemplating Madrid. From the heights through its cable car. This offers a beautiful panoramic view of the city along the 2,457 meters of its route. Its beginning is in the Paseo del Pintor Rosales and reaches the heart of the Casa de Campo, reaching a maximum height of 40 meters. You dare?
Go shopping at the Rastro
The most important market in the whole city, El Rastro. It is celebrated every Sunday morning. So we recommend you come and walk all its streets in search of a bargain, which you will surely find.
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Another of the most emblematic monuments of the capital, the Puerta de Alcalá. It is one of the five ancient royal gates that gave access to the city. Today it is a monumental gate in the neoclassical style. It was built in the 18th century by order of Carlos III and to replace the previous 16th century gate.
Return to the past at Platform Zero in Chamberí
Andén Cero are several suburban museums in which the history of the Madrid Metro is shown. One of them is the old Chamberí Station, belonging to the first metro line opened in Madrid and which was closed in 1966. Today it is preserved as is, so visiting it you will feel that you have traveled to the past.
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Discover the Madrid of the Austrias
The Madrid of the Austrians is the area that surrounds four places that we have already talked about, the Plaza Mayor, the Puerta del Sol, the Royal Palace and the Almudena Cathedral. But, in addition to visiting these places, it is also worth walking around and discovering the streets that intertwine with each other. Some streets full of charm and history where you will find unique corners. In addition, through the free tours that run through them, you will be able to learn more about the stories and legends that they keep.
Feel nature in the Parque del Capricho
Parque del Capricho is one of the most beautiful and unknown parks in Madrid. It is a green space that houses an important botanical, sculptural and artistic wealth. Walking through it, in addition to a large number of plant species, you will find fountains, ponds, hermitages, pavilions and even a palace. In addition, in the Parque del Capricho it is also possible to visit a bunker from the Spanish Civil War. The bad news is that you can only visit this park if your visit to Madrid coincides with a weekend or a holiday, as those are the only days it is open. Without a doubt, one of the best ways to visit it and get to know all the history and beauty it keeps, is through one of the free tours available.in this beautiful place.
Admire the beauty of San Antonio de los Alemanes
San Antonio de los Alemanes is another of the most unknown jewels of the city. A place that often goes unnoticed by visitors but that keeps inside a unique church in Madrid. Unique for its ellipsoidal floor plan and for being entirely frescoed. It is worth spending some time to observe all the details of its decoration.
Walking aimlessly through the Barrio de las Letras
Located between the Plaza de Santa Ana and the Prado Museum, the Barrio de las Letras gets its name from being the place where several of the great writers of the Golden Age lived, such as Miguel de Cervantes, Lope de Vega or Quevedo. Walking through its streets you will discover a large number of references to these and other writers of this great era of Spanish literature.
See the Four Towers from near and from afar
The Cuatro Torres Business Area, which now consists of five towers, is one of the most modern and impressive areas of Madrid. Four skyscrapers that, for a few years, have shaped the city’s skyline. We encourage you not only to see them from afar, but also to feel small observing them from their base and enjoying their modern architecture.
Know the history of Madrid in the Plaza de la Villa
The Plaza de la Villa is another of the places that can be found in Madrid de los Austrias. A beautiful square located next to Calle Mayor and from which several streets that were part of the original layout of the city emerge. For this reason, this square is one of the places with the most history in the city and where you can see several buildings from different centuries and architectural styles, among which is the one that was the seat of the City Council until its transfer to the Cibeles Palace.
The Burning House
La Casa Encendida is a social and cultural center open to all audiences and in which there are a large number of activities that revolve around 4 fundamental themes: Culture, Solidarity, Environment and Education. Based on these 4 fields, exhibitions, concerts, workshops and spaces for reflection and debate, among many others, are usually organized. Do not hesitate to check their programming and encourage yourself to attend any of these activities.
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Look over Madrid from the Cerro del Tío Pío
Located in the Puente de Vallecas area, the Parque del Cerro del Tío Pío is one of the places that offers the best views of the city of Madrid. An ideal place to escape a little from the hustle and bustle of the city while enjoying a beautiful sunset from one of its hills.
Get to know the Tabacalera
In the building of the former Embajadores Tobacco Factory is one of the liveliest spaces dedicated to art in Madrid. It is divided into two areas: “Tabacalera, Art Promotion Space”, in which temporary exhibitions and activities related to photography, contemporary art and visual arts are organized, and the “La Tabacalera de Lavapiés Self-managed Social Center”, managed by the residents and artists themselves and in which a large number of activities related to art in any of its expressions are carried out.
Surely we leave many things behind, Madrid is a city with endless activities and possibilities. But these are the 34 essential things that you should see or do during your visit to the capital. Enjoy it!