Have you ever fallen head over heels in love with a city?
When you get to know the city of Madrid, Spain, that’s what might happen as the city has a stunning range of activities to keep even the pickiest visitor busy! You’ll find a wide variety of shopping centers, gardens, restaurants, museums, bars, and sporting events to choose from during your visit.
We curated a list of the best activities available for individuals, families, and groups. So you’ll never be stuck wondering what to do in Madrid.
Arts and Cultural Attractions
Madrid is a global cultural capital. The city is brimming with museums, historical remains, cultural sites, and architectural wonders. If we listed them all, we’d have to write a book. So for the sake of this article, we’re only going to mention the best of the best.
Paseo del Arte
The Paseo del Arte is a beautiful art district that begs you to stroll through slowly. It’s a place you need to savor. Translating in English to “The Art Walk,” it couldn’t have a better name. In the space of a kilometer, you have access to beautiful historic buildings, fascinating institutions, and three world-class art museums.
First, you’ll find the Prado Museum, which is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the city and among the premier art museums in the world. It contains the most extensive collection of Spanish masterpieces to be found. The museum boasts more than 700 sculptures and 8,600 paintings. So set aside plenty of time to enjoy all the Prado Museum has to offer!
Reina Sofia Museum
Next, be sure to visit the Reina Sofia Museum. It’s the home of Picasso’s Guernica, a mural that would be worth the visit by itself. The Reina Sofia Museum walks patrons chronologically through contemporary Spanish art.
Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum
Finally, visit the Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum to explore European paintings spanning seven centuries. This museum features a collection of portraits from the 15th century as well as paintings by such artists as Caravaggio, Rubens, Degas, Monet, Chagall, and Picasso. We guarantee you’ll be amazed by the masterful art on display here.
Las Ventas Bullring
The world’s most famous bullring is the Las Ventas Bullring in Madrid. Built in 1929, it has been one of the most important attractions in Madrid. It’s also one of the biggest bullrings in the world.
Las Ventas Bullring offers a fascinating peek into the history and culture of Spain. Inside Las Ventas, you’ll find a chapel, an infirmary, and a bullfighting museum. You’ll be able to buy matador clothes in the gift shop and play a virtual bullfighting game.
Tours are available in groups, on your own with an audio guide, and private tours. During July and August, Las Ventas offers unique night-time tours on Thursday and Saturday nights.
The Royal Palace
The royal palace in Madrid is breathtaking for its sheer size and beauty! If you like history, then you have to make time to tour the Royal Palace. The palace was constructed in the mid-1700s and showcases the design preferences of kings and queens spanning over 200 years.
A fascinating exhibit recently reopened to the public is the royal kitchen. After a massive renovation, it’s the oldest well-preserved royal kitchen in Europe.
Be sure to keep your eyes open for royalty during your tour. While not home to the King of Spain, it is his official residence. The King also hosts royal audiences at the palace from time to time.
If you’re around on a Wednesday or Saturday, be sure to catch the changing of the guard at the Royal Palace.
Parks and Gardens
You’ll find an impressive array of gardens throughout Madrid. Whether you’re looking for leisure time, a botanical treat, or an athletic afternoon, you’re sure to find a park in Madrid to suit your needs. While there are too many parks and gardens to list, here are three parks you certainly don’t want to miss:
Casa de Campo
Casa de Campo Park is the biggest park in Madrid. It was initially declared a royal forest in the 1700s during the reign of King Ferdinand VI – and has been a revered natural spot in the city since that time. The state gave the Park to the citizens of Madrid in 1931.
Inside Casa de Campo Park, you’ll find an enormous assortment of activities.
Nature lovers will be very much at home in the Casa de Campo. There’s an abundance of forestry, as well as rolling hills, beautiful valleys, and streams that meet the Manzanares river. There are also many ponds and a lake scattered about the park, with plenty of wildlife running throughout.
Royal Botanic Gardens
A stunning collection of plants and botanical research awaits you at the Royal Botanic Gardens. You’ll find more than 5,000 live plants on display, ranging from common plants such as roses or onions to exotic plants transplanted from all over the world.
In addition to the live plants, there’s also a fascinating collection of almost 10,000 botanic drawings commissioned throughout the last 200 years to collect data on plants worldwide. You’ll learn about plants, plant care, and the role plants play in our everyday lives.
El Retiro Park
In the heart of Madrid, you will find this lush 308-acre park. Overflowing with over 15,000 trees and awe-inspiring gardens, El Retiro Park is sure to be your favorite oasis.
You can stroll through the park and admire its many monuments and fountains, canoe in Retiro Park Lake, or tour the breathtaking glass castle. Get lost in vast wooded areas or sunbathe by the water. You can rent a bike, eat at an outdoor café, or visit the public library inside the park.
Whatever your idea of relaxation, you’ll find it in El Retiro Park. Just be sure to set aside plenty of time. El Retiro isn’t a park you’ll want to leave quickly.
Food and Nightlife You Don’t Want to Miss
You can’t forget about food when you’re deciding what to do in Madrid. When it comes to restaurants, you’ll find something for everyone. From convenient kiosks to trendy nightclubs to centuries-old diners, there are many restaurants and bars throughout the city. Here are a few worth visiting.
Sobrino de Botin
The oldest restaurant in the world is the Sobrino de Botin, founded in 1725. History buffs will be thrilled with Sobrino de Botin because the building oozes history.
The Sobrino de Botin uses a 300-year-old oak-burning oven that gives suckling pigs a sublime flavor. The fact that this oven has an open door lends a unique aroma to the atmosphere.
If you like sweets, Casa Mira is the place to be! This high-end sweet shop creates desserts that are both beautiful and delectable. The business has passed from generation to generation since 1842 and has been in the same building since 1855.
Casa Mira is famous for creating incredible nougat. Their nougat recipe is what started Casa Mira over 200 years ago. In the past, they were the official supplier to the Royal House throughout the reigns of several monarchs. And today, they still make their treats by hand using the very same recipes!
1862 Dry Bar
A bar inside an 1862 palace enhances the bustling nightlife in the Trimball neighborhood. The 1862 Dry Bar is a must-see due to its beautiful ambiance and the simple fact that it’s an incredibly cool bar.
They serve classic cocktails, modern drinks, and a few surprises unique to the establishment. You may find their cocktails to be a bit pricey. But surely a once in a lifetime experience is worth the price tag!
Malasaña is the trendiest district in Madrid! It stays busy during the day with shopping, coffee shops, museums, and restaurants. In the evening, Malasaña transforms into a hotspot. If you’re looking for nightlife, look no further than Malasaña.
This district is full of nightclubs, bars, music halls, and pubs. If you want to expand the party, nearby Chueca has a bustling nightlife as well. Don’t expect a good night’s sleep in Malasaña, because the party here goes deep into the night!
What If You Can’t Decide What to Do in Madrid?
With so much going on, it’s understandable if you can’t figure out what to do in Madrid. The city’s official tourism website has you covered with plans tailored to your needs. They’ve put together tourist itineraries to guide your trip regardless of how much time you have to spend.
We’re confident that you’ll have the time of your life - whether you plan to spend a fun day, a luxurious weekend retreat, or a frugal week in the city. Come prepared to fall in love with Madrid.