The 50 Best Things to Do in Madrid

Madrid is a city in every sense of the word. Incredible museums, vibrant markets and groomed parks attract visitors from across the globe. Despite being a popular travel destination, Spain's capital retains an undeniable sense of authenticity. It also has many low-key, local gems just waiting to be uncovered. With so much to see and do, coming up with a game plan can be quite daunting. Not to worry! We’ve narrowed it down to the 50 most awesome things in Madrid (although there are tons more worth considering if you have extra vacation days to spare). 


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Barcelo Torre de Madrid

1. Book A Room At Barceló Torre De Madrid

First off, you’ll need somewhere to stay. Barceló Torre de Madrid—which occupies the first nine floors of an iconic building on the Plaza de España—is a stylish and central option that surprisingly won't break the bank.

2. Walk Along Gran Vía

Gran Vía is the grand avenue that leads from Plaza de España to Calle de Alcalá.

3. Make Your Way To Puerta Del Sol

Five minutes later, you’ll arrive at Puerta del Sol, Madrid’s central square and home to the famous La Osa y el Madroño statue.

4. Experience Plaza Mayor

A short walk away sits Plaza Mayor, the beating heart of the city.

5. Drop By The Pestana Plaza Mayor

The newly opened Pestana Plaza Mayor is a great pick for a drink. Of course, we won’t judge if you just snap a few pics of the well-decorated interiors.

6. Order Fried Cod At Casa Revuelta

Feeling peckish? The tender, fried cod at nearby Casa Revuelta is sure to satisfy your cravings.

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7. Tour The Royal Palace Of Madrid

Beautiful and behemoth, the Royal Palace of Madrid encompasses a whopping 3,418 rooms. 

8. Take Advantage Of Free Entry To Jardines De Sabatini

You can thank King Juan Carlos I for opening the gorgeous Jardines de Sabatini to the public in 1978. 

9. See Mercado De San Miguel

The Spanish capital has many superb markets. West of Plaza Mayor lies Mercado de San Miguel. Though crowded and admittedly pricey, it’s a must for first-timers.

10. Taste Your Way Through Mercado De San Antón

Alternatively, Mercado de San Antón gives visitors a fantastic introduction to the city’s diverse culinary scene.

11. Eat Your Heart Out At Mercado De La Cebada

Prefer something a bit more traditional? Mercado de la Cebada provides authentic jamón, cheese, olives and seafood—away from the tourists.

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12. Get Lost In La Latina

Spend a few hours meandering in La Latina, Madrid’s most quintessential neighborhood.

13. Linger Longer On Calle Cava Baja

Calle Cava Baja is an atmospheric street with colorful architecture and tapas bars.

14. Dine At El Sur De Huertas

El Sur de Huertas lures patrons with the promise of blistered padron peppers, patatas bravas and scratch-made cheesecake.

15. Nosh On House Specialties At Casa Alberto

For a real-deal tavern experience, it doesn't get better than Casa Alberto. Specialties include tripe, oxtail stew and croquettas.

16. Consume Nose-to-tail Cooking

Feeling adventurous? Savor sweetbreads and fried pig’s head at La Tasquería.

17. Elbow Your Way To The Bar At Bodega De La Ardosa

Locals and savvy out-of-towners flock to the ephemerally busy Bodega de la Ardosa for homey fare such as tortilla de patatas and salmorejo (creamy, cold tomato soup with ham and egg).

18. Wander Around Malasaña

Pop into whatever hip bars or boutiques catch your eye.

19. Admire Iglesia De San Antonio De Los Alemanes

Don’t leave without marveling at Iglesia de San Antonio de Los Alemanes, a Baroque church and Bien de Interés Cultural (national heritage site), situated near Calle del Pez.

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Ayhan Altun/Getty Images

20. Stop By Plaza De Cibeles

Next up, Plaza de Cibeles to peep Cybele Palace and its symbolic fountain.

21. Follow Paseo Del Arte

Paseo del Arte is a stretch of museums and cultural centers that’s not to be missed.

22. Buy Tickets To Museo Nacional Del Prado

Museo Nacional del Prado displays the works of Spanish masters such as Francisco Goya and Diego Velázquez.

23. Visit El Museo Nacional Thyssen-bornemisza

There’s no better spot to appreciate centuries of European art than El Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza.

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24. Check Out Museo Nacional Centro De Arte Reina Sofía

Round out the “Golden Triangle” with a trip to the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía.

25. Shop In Salamanca

Shop for designer fashions in the exclusive Salamanca district.

26. Score Deals At El Rastro

In the mood for bargain hunting? El Rastro is a beloved Sunday flea market located along Plaza de Cascorro and Ribera de Curtidores.

27. Try Snails

Swing by Casa Amadeo los Caracoles for snails (no, that’s not a typo) and other old-school tapas before continuing on your merry way.

28. Demolish A Plate Of Grilled Sardines

Not game for slimy stuff? Devour sardines a la plancha at Bar Santurce.

29. Drink Vermouth Like A Local

Madrileños love vermouth on tap. For a classic (no-frills) scene, venture to Taberna de Ángel Sierra.

la violeta
La Violeta/Facebook

30. Don’t Skip La Violeta

Aperitivo hour at La Violeta is a rite of passage, too, offering over 20 kinds of vermouths.

31. Toss Back Sherry

La Venencia serves only sherry, so this is the place to try try it. Booze it up à la Ernest Hemingway at this old-school joint.

32. Sip Cerveza

Beer lovers can kick back with a cerveza (or two) at La Tape.

33. Imbibe Creative Cocktails

Prefer cocktails? Hightail it on over to 1862 Dry Bar.

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34. Watch The Sunset From Temple Of Debod

Whether your goal is to rev up the romance or induce jealousy in your Insta followers, the sunset views from Temple of Debod won't disappoint.

35. Reserve A Table At Los Montes De Galicia

Touted for its stellar service, excellent Galician dishes and warm ambiance, Los Montes de Galicia has the recipe for date night down pat.

36. Expand Your P.m. Horizons

Looking for outside-the-box evening plans? We've got just the ticket—Sala Equis, an X-rated cinema turned cool drinking den that hosts film screenings.

37. Explore Casa De Campo

Sprawling 1,723 hectares, Casa de Campo is five times the size of Central Park in New York City.

38. Run The Lake Loop

For active travelers, the lake loop at Casa de Campo is one of the best running routes in Madrid.

39. Find Your Way To The Amusement Park

Further into Casa de Campo, you’ll discover an amusement park with rides and games.

40. Go Jogging In Juan Carlos I Park

Need more exercise inspo? Nothing helps the kilometers fly by like jogging past sculptures and olive groves in Juan Carlos I Park.

41. Trot Through Parque Del Oeste

Parque del Oeste is also a scenic setting for your morning cardio burst.  

42. Relax In Jardines Del Buen Retiro

Jardines del Buen Retiro (which literally means "park of the pleasant retreat") delights with its shaded passages, sculptures and fountains.  

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Daniel Hernanz Ramos/Getty Images

43. Glimpse Palacio De Cristal

Set your sights on Palacio de Cristal, a conservatory that’s modeled after London’s Crystal Palace. (Hence the name.)

44. Browse Used Books

Peruse an array of titles at the book stalls along the pedestrian pathway near Jardines del Buen Retiro.

45. Take A Yoga Class

Back to physical fitness, you can practice flexibility (and your Spanish skills) with a class at Yoga Silva or Shala Yoga Madrid.

46. Get Pampered At Egoïste Spa

For some well-deserved R&R, the award-winning Egoïste Spa at Gran Hotel Inglés earns our vote.

47. Gobble Up Churros

Oftentimes, the simplest treats are the most delicious. Case in point: churros con chocolate. The yummiest place to indulge? Chocolatería San Ginés.

48. Sample Gluten-free Sweets

Celicioso is renowned for gluten-free desserts. Also on the menu? Sinfully scrumptious vegan-friendly tarts, cakes and cookies.

49. Score Tickets To A Real Madrid Match

Depending on the season, “football” fans can catch a Real Madrid match at Santiago Bernabéu Stadium.

50. Watch A Flamenco Show

No jaunt to Madrid is complete without seeing a flamenco show. Corral de la Moreria offers patrons delicious food, wonderful atmosphere and an unforgettable performance. 

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Freelance PureWow Editor

Lindsay Cohn is a travel writer and serial trip planner who has visited 46 countries across six continents (and counting). When not globetrotting, she’s most likely either doing...