20 things you must do in Madrid

There's so much to experience in Madrid that it can hard trying to fit it all in. To make it a little easier, local blogger Maria Sanchez has this handy guide to the 20 things you must do in this hip city.

1. Relax with a drink in La Latina.

For a lazy Sunday in style, head to La Latina. One of the city's most relaxing spots, order an afternoon tipple in this trendy neighbourhood and you'll soon lose track of time, especially if it's a sunny day.

Things to do in Madrid: Barrio de la Latina

Barrio de La Latina, Madrid

Need a recommendation for somewhere to eat? Head to El Viajero, which has a fantastic rooftop terrace and generous portions. 

Website , Facebook and Twitter

2. Catch a screening at a historic cinema 

Madrid's beautiful, historic cinemas are sadly declining in numbers so it's worth visiting one while you still can. The Callao Cinema is located in the city centre and dates back to 1926.Most English language films are dubbed into Spanish rather than subtitled, which isn't so great if you don't speak the local language. However, a few of the city's historic cinemas are committed to showing films in their original version (look for screenings listed as VO, VOS or VOSE). The Ideal Cinema is one of the city's more buzzing cinemas, with an attractive plaza outside and impressive stained glass windows. Decorated in red and gold inside and out, the Cine Dore offers classic movie screenings - from silent movies and art films to vintage blockbusters. Its ticket prices are also a bargain as the venue is publicly funded. 

Cines Callao - Facebook and Twitter . 

What to do in Madrid: Cine Callao

Cinema Callao. Photo: Cinescallao.es.

 

3. Try the churros at the San Ginés Chocolatería

Close to the Puerta del Sol, the San Gines Chocolateria has served countless hungry visitors for over a century. Despite being tucked away in in an alley in the San Ginés Pasadizo (going down from Sol towards the Royal Theater by street Arenal), you'll no doubt find a queue when you get there. But your patience will be rewarded when you try their famous, finger-licking churros.

Website - Facebook and Twitter .

What to do in Madrid: Chocolate con churros. Photo: Chocolateriasangines.com.

Churros with chocolate. Photo: Chocolateriasangines.com.

 

4. Lose yourself around Conde Duque

You'll find Conde Duque behind the Plaza de España, in one of Madrid's most charming neighbourhoods. There's lots to see here, including a cultural centre which hosts exhibitions, theatre shows and concerts.But the real charm of the area is in its narrow, cobbled streets which are filled with small shops and bars. It's a slice of authentic Madrid life and a world-away from the busy city streets just around the corner.

What to do in Madrid: Entrance to the Conde Duque Cultural Center.

Entrance to the Conde Duque Cultural Center. Photo: © Jesús Cabrera.

5. Go shopping on the Gran Vía

Whether you're looking for a bargain item from a high street favourite, or window-shopping outside exclusive designer stores, it's all here on Madrid's main shopping street. However, at more than 1.3km long, there's plenty more there to explore too, including some monumental architecture and inviting coffee shops.

6. Visit the Royal Palace and the Almudena Cathedral

One of Madrid's most-visited spots, it's more than worth braving the crowds to see the impressive Royal Palace. Head down in the morning to see the majestic halls and ornate decor at its very best. Or, if you don't mind queuing, you can visit for free from Monday to Thursday from 4pm to 6pm from October to March, or from 6pm to 8pm from April to September.And since it's only next door, wander through to the Almudena Cathedral too. It's truly impressive when seen up close.

What to do in Madrid: Palacio real de madrid

Sightseeing

  7. Cycle through the Madrid Rio

Running alongside the Manzanares river, the Madrid Rio park has more than 10 kilometers of lush parkland to explore, and a variety of sports and leisure facilities.For 5 euros per hour you can rent a bicycle in the park and cycle along the length of the river. Mi Bike Rio is a nearby bicycle rental company - have a look at their Website and Facebook for more details.

What to do in Madrid: madrid rio

Madrid rio

  8. Snap a selfie by the bear and kilometer 0

Puerto del Sol might be a bit of a tourist trap, but that doesn't mean that it's not worth a visit at least once. Check out the famous Bear and Strawberry Tree statue (the symbol of the city) and the kilometer 0 marker. Take advantage of the opportunity to grab a selfie while you're here - it's one of the best spots in the city to do so.

the bear and the arbutus

The bear and the madroño, Madrid

  9. Visit Madrid during the San Isidro Festivities

Taking place in May, the San Isidro festival is an annual celebration of the city's patron saint. Centred around Pradera de San Isidro park, the festival offers a chance to explore Madrid's traditions, such as the parade of the  chulapos and chulapas. You'll also get to enjoy fantastic music and tasty snacks and drinks - particularly doughnuts and Madrid-style lemonade. 

Website 

What to do in Madrid: Fiestas de San Isidro

Festivities of San Isidro. Photo: Tourism of Madrid.

  10. See the 'Guernica' in the Reina Sofía and 'Las Meninas' in the Prado, among other masterpieces

Madrid has a spectacular selection of art museums, such as the Thyssen and the Caixa Forum.If you're really strapped for time, head to The Reina Sofia gallery, which is devoted to 20th century Spanish art, including the works of Dali and Miro. Picasso's masterpiece Guernica can be found here and is a must-see.The nearby Prado is one of the world's most famous art museums. Showcasing a more classical selection of work such as the world-famous Las Meninas. 

Al Reina Sofía is free on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 9pm to 9pm and Sundays from 3pm to 7pm.

Al Prado is free Monday to Saturday from 6pm to 8pm and Sundays and holidays from 5pm to 7pm. 

Website of the Reina Sofía Museum , Facebook and Twitter 

Website of the Prado Museum , Facebook and Twitter .

What to do in Madrid: museo del prado

Museum of the Prado, Madrid

  11. Walk along the main routes though the city

These routes take you past Paseo del Prado, Recoletos and La Castellana, with the Kit towers in the background. If this is too much of a hike, we recommend the final section, Paseo de la Castellana, at 6.3 km  It is the third longest street in the city - behind Alcalá at 10.5 km, and Bravo Murillo.

walk of the castellana

View Paseo de la Castellana, Madrid

  12. Take in the view from the Círculo de Bellas Artes terrace

The roof of the Circulo, in the heart of Madrid, has its own bar and restaurant. It's situated next to Gran Vía, at the beginning of Alcalá Street. 

Website - Facebook and Twitter 

What to do in Madrid: Azotea del Círculo.

Roof of the Circle. Photo: Azoteadelcirculo.com.

  13. Explore the Chueca neighborhood

Relax with a coffee in Pedro Zerolo square (formerly Vázquez de Mella) or climb to the terrace of Room Mate Oscar. Enjoy tapas in San Antón market and browse the shops by Hortaleza. It's also the heart of Madrid's LGBTQ scene, so you can be sure of great nightlife.

14. Discover the Crystal Palace in the Retiro

Retiro Park's late 19th century metal and glass building was inspired by London's Crystal Palace. It was designed as a great greenhouse but is now a gallery, showing exhibitions from the Reina Sofía. It can be found near the pond and the monument to Alfonso XII. It's best to visit in the morning, as this is when it's in the best light.

Website

What to do in Madrid: Palacio de cristal el retiro

Crystal Palace in the Retiro, Madrid

  15. Madrid Trail

At El Rastro de Madrid open air flea market you can discover old books, antiquarian furniture, vintage clothing, and much more. It's held every Sunday and on public holidays. Either side of the market you'll find local snacks such as patatas bravas or toasted cabrales. 

Website

What to do in Madrid: rastro de madrid

Rastro of Madrid

  16. Have a calm moment in El Capricho

El Capricho is located in Alameda de Osuna and you can get there by Metro. The park was created by a number of artists, gardeners and scenographers. One of the best kept secrets here is the bunker, home to the headquarters of the Republican Army of the Central Region during the Spanish Civil War. Located 15 meters underground, it was able to withstand bombs. El Capricho can be visited on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, from 9am to 6.30pm. 

Website

What to do in Madrid: capricho park

Park of the Capricho, Madrid

  17. Culture in Matadero de Madrid

Close to the slaughterhouse and municipal cattle market in Madrid this renovated complex hosts a series of rooms where photography, painting, musical performances, workshops, readings and many other cultural activities take place. 

18. Snack on a bocadillo de calamarares by Plaza Mayor

You'll find this squid-filled snack in the bars in the Plaza Mayor arcades. Don't expect great quality, the important thing is the experience. One of the most iconic spots is the La Campana bar, but there are many more places too.

What to do in Madrid: bocata de calamares

Squid Sandwich

  19. Sunset at the Temple of Debod

Very close to Plaza de España, this majestic Egyptian temple from the second century AD, is located in the Park of the Mountain Quarters. You can normally go inside, but even if it's closed, no need to worry as you'll still be able to see one of the most beautiful sunsets in Madrid from this spot.

What to do in Madrid: temple of debod

Temple of Debod, Madrid

  20. Party in Malasaña

Revive the "Movida Madilena" movement with a Saturday in the pubs associated with its iconic era. The Penta, la Via Lactea, Tupperwar (for indie fans), Neuva Vision, Sirocco, Free Way or el Molocco are perfect venues to end your evening, dancing to music from Los Secretos or Radio Futura. 

Fancy seeing Madrid for yourself? Have a look at our latest city break deals, or leave us your own tips below.


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20 things you must do in Madrid

There's so much to experience in Madrid that it can hard trying to fit it all in. To make it a little easier, local blogger Maria Sanchez has this handy guide to the 20 things you must do in this hip city.

1. Relax with a drink in La Latina.

For a lazy Sunday in style, head to La Latina. One of the city's most relaxing spots, order an afternoon tipple in this trendy neighbourhood and you'll soon lose track of time, especially if it's a sunny day.

Things to do in Madrid: Barrio de la Latina

Barrio de La Latina, Madrid

Need a recommendation for somewhere to eat? Head to El Viajero, which has a fantastic rooftop terrace and generous portions. 

Website , Facebook and Twitter

2. Catch a screening at a historic cinema 

Madrid's beautiful, historic cinemas are sadly declining in numbers so it's worth visiting one while you still can. The Callao Cinema is located in the city centre and dates back to 1926.Most English language films are dubbed into Spanish rather than subtitled, which isn't so great if you don't speak the local language. However, a few of the city's historic cinemas are committed to showing films in their original version (look for screenings listed as VO, VOS or VOSE). The Ideal Cinema is one of the city's more buzzing cinemas, with an attractive plaza outside and impressive stained glass windows. Decorated in red and gold inside and out, the Cine Dore offers classic movie screenings - from silent movies and art films to vintage blockbusters. Its ticket prices are also a bargain as the venue is publicly funded. 

Cines Callao - Facebook and Twitter . 

What to do in Madrid: Cine Callao

Cinema Callao. Photo: Cinescallao.es.

 

3. Try the churros at the San Ginés Chocolatería

Close to the Puerta del Sol, the San Gines Chocolateria has served countless hungry visitors for over a century. Despite being tucked away in in an alley in the San Ginés Pasadizo (going down from Sol towards the Royal Theater by street Arenal), you'll no doubt find a queue when you get there. But your patience will be rewarded when you try their famous, finger-licking churros.

Website - Facebook and Twitter .

What to do in Madrid: Chocolate con churros. Photo: Chocolateriasangines.com.

Churros with chocolate. Photo: Chocolateriasangines.com.

 

4. Lose yourself around Conde Duque

You'll find Conde Duque behind the Plaza de España, in one of Madrid's most charming neighbourhoods. There's lots to see here, including a cultural centre which hosts exhibitions, theatre shows and concerts.But the real charm of the area is in its narrow, cobbled streets which are filled with small shops and bars. It's a slice of authentic Madrid life and a world-away from the busy city streets just around the corner.

What to do in Madrid: Entrance to the Conde Duque Cultural Center.

Entrance to the Conde Duque Cultural Center. Photo: © Jesús Cabrera.

5. Go shopping on the Gran Vía

Whether you're looking for a bargain item from a high street favourite, or window-shopping outside exclusive designer stores, it's all here on Madrid's main shopping street. However, at more than 1.3km long, there's plenty more there to explore too, including some monumental architecture and inviting coffee shops.

6. Visit the Royal Palace and the Almudena Cathedral

One of Madrid's most-visited spots, it's more than worth braving the crowds to see the impressive Royal Palace. Head down in the morning to see the majestic halls and ornate decor at its very best. Or, if you don't mind queuing, you can visit for free from Monday to Thursday from 4pm to 6pm from October to March, or from 6pm to 8pm from April to September.And since it's only next door, wander through to the Almudena Cathedral too. It's truly impressive when seen up close.

What to do in Madrid: Palacio real de madrid

Sightseeing

  7. Cycle through the Madrid Rio

Running alongside the Manzanares river, the Madrid Rio park has more than 10 kilometers of lush parkland to explore, and a variety of sports and leisure facilities.For 5 euros per hour you can rent a bicycle in the park and cycle along the length of the river. Mi Bike Rio is a nearby bicycle rental company - have a look at their Website and Facebook for more details.

What to do in Madrid: madrid rio

Madrid rio

  8. Snap a selfie by the bear and kilometer 0

Puerto del Sol might be a bit of a tourist trap, but that doesn't mean that it's not worth a visit at least once. Check out the famous Bear and Strawberry Tree statue (the symbol of the city) and the kilometer 0 marker. Take advantage of the opportunity to grab a selfie while you're here - it's one of the best spots in the city to do so.

the bear and the arbutus

The bear and the madroño, Madrid

  9. Visit Madrid during the San Isidro Festivities

Taking place in May, the San Isidro festival is an annual celebration of the city's patron saint. Centred around Pradera de San Isidro park, the festival offers a chance to explore Madrid's traditions, such as the parade of the  chulapos and chulapas. You'll also get to enjoy fantastic music and tasty snacks and drinks - particularly doughnuts and Madrid-style lemonade. 

Website 

What to do in Madrid: Fiestas de San Isidro

Festivities of San Isidro. Photo: Tourism of Madrid.

  10. See the 'Guernica' in the Reina Sofía and 'Las Meninas' in the Prado, among other masterpieces

Madrid has a spectacular selection of art museums, such as the Thyssen and the Caixa Forum.If you're really strapped for time, head to The Reina Sofia gallery, which is devoted to 20th century Spanish art, including the works of Dali and Miro. Picasso's masterpiece Guernica can be found here and is a must-see.The nearby Prado is one of the world's most famous art museums. Showcasing a more classical selection of work such as the world-famous Las Meninas. 

Al Reina Sofía is free on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 9pm to 9pm and Sundays from 3pm to 7pm.

Al Prado is free Monday to Saturday from 6pm to 8pm and Sundays and holidays from 5pm to 7pm. 

Website of the Reina Sofía Museum , Facebook and Twitter 

Website of the Prado Museum , Facebook and Twitter .

What to do in Madrid: museo del prado

Museum of the Prado, Madrid

  11. Walk along the main routes though the city

These routes take you past Paseo del Prado, Recoletos and La Castellana, with the Kit towers in the background. If this is too much of a hike, we recommend the final section, Paseo de la Castellana, at 6.3 km  It is the third longest street in the city - behind Alcalá at 10.5 km, and Bravo Murillo.

walk of the castellana

View Paseo de la Castellana, Madrid

  12. Take in the view from the Círculo de Bellas Artes terrace

The roof of the Circulo, in the heart of Madrid, has its own bar and restaurant. It's situated next to Gran Vía, at the beginning of Alcalá Street. 

Website - Facebook and Twitter 

What to do in Madrid: Azotea del Círculo.

Roof of the Circle. Photo: Azoteadelcirculo.com.

  13. Explore the Chueca neighborhood

Relax with a coffee in Pedro Zerolo square (formerly Vázquez de Mella) or climb to the terrace of Room Mate Oscar. Enjoy tapas in San Antón market and browse the shops by Hortaleza. It's also the heart of Madrid's LGBTQ scene, so you can be sure of great nightlife.

14. Discover the Crystal Palace in the Retiro

Retiro Park's late 19th century metal and glass building was inspired by London's Crystal Palace. It was designed as a great greenhouse but is now a gallery, showing exhibitions from the Reina Sofía. It can be found near the pond and the monument to Alfonso XII. It's best to visit in the morning, as this is when it's in the best light.

Website

What to do in Madrid: Palacio de cristal el retiro

Crystal Palace in the Retiro, Madrid

  15. Madrid Trail

At El Rastro de Madrid open air flea market you can discover old books, antiquarian furniture, vintage clothing, and much more. It's held every Sunday and on public holidays. Either side of the market you'll find local snacks such as patatas bravas or toasted cabrales. 

Website

What to do in Madrid: rastro de madrid

Rastro of Madrid

  16. Have a calm moment in El Capricho

El Capricho is located in Alameda de Osuna and you can get there by Metro. The park was created by a number of artists, gardeners and scenographers. One of the best kept secrets here is the bunker, home to the headquarters of the Republican Army of the Central Region during the Spanish Civil War. Located 15 meters underground, it was able to withstand bombs. El Capricho can be visited on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, from 9am to 6.30pm. 

Website

What to do in Madrid: capricho park

Park of the Capricho, Madrid

  17. Culture in Matadero de Madrid

Close to the slaughterhouse and municipal cattle market in Madrid this renovated complex hosts a series of rooms where photography, painting, musical performances, workshops, readings and many other cultural activities take place. 

18. Snack on a bocadillo de calamarares by Plaza Mayor

You'll find this squid-filled snack in the bars in the Plaza Mayor arcades. Don't expect great quality, the important thing is the experience. One of the most iconic spots is the La Campana bar, but there are many more places too.

What to do in Madrid: bocata de calamares

Squid Sandwich

  19. Sunset at the Temple of Debod

Very close to Plaza de España, this majestic Egyptian temple from the second century AD, is located in the Park of the Mountain Quarters. You can normally go inside, but even if it's closed, no need to worry as you'll still be able to see one of the most beautiful sunsets in Madrid from this spot.

What to do in Madrid: temple of debod

Temple of Debod, Madrid

  20. Party in Malasaña

Revive the "Movida Madilena" movement with a Saturday in the pubs associated with its iconic era. The Penta, la Via Lactea, Tupperwar (for indie fans), Neuva Vision, Sirocco, Free Way or el Molocco are perfect venues to end your evening, dancing to music from Los Secretos or Radio Futura. 

Fancy seeing Madrid for yourself? Have a look at our latest city break deals, or leave us your own tips below.