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).
The 50 Best Things to Do in 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.