Madrid: best things to do
What places to visit and what to do in Madrid that you should not miss
We are often asked to make a list of the 10 or 15 most important places to visit in Madrid, and we must recognize that it is an almost impossible request, since Madrid is a city with so much history, so many monumental sites, beautiful and varied, that only a few spotspicked with pincers would not do justice to the whole city.
After much debate between us and as an aid to the traveler, which is our primary goal, we decided to respond to this common request, in a very special way. We wanted to try to highlight 10 ideas of visits, varied and integrated through Madrid, that way you can get to know the more traditional areas of the city and discover many surprises.
- Madrid of the Austrias(The Habsburgs)
It is a must to walk through the millenary Madrid of The Habsburgs. Touring the historic center of the city you can get to know Puerta del Sol, this square is the nerve center of Madrid and from where you can start multiple routes to discover it, there are among others the Bear and the Madroño (the strawberry tree), welcoming you as symbols of the city. Nearby you can reach the Plaza Mayor, with 400 years of history to experience; from there, along Calle de Cuchilleros, visit the Sobrino de Botín Restaurant, the oldest in the world, and visit its subterranean caves. A little further up is the famous Mercado de San Miguel, an eclectic proposal of gastronomy in drinks and tapas. After having satisfied the hunger and thirst, go down to the nearby and charming Plaza de la Villa, with buildings of three different centuries. Discover the most beautiful lady in the city, the Almudena Cathedral, which is right in front of the monumental Royal Palace of Madrid, one of the largest palaces in Western Europe; next to the Plaza de Oriente, its statues and gardens will lead you to the Royal Theatre, a beautiful venue full of culture and history. Then you can visit the Plaza de Isabel II, a peculiar queen whose history gives a lot to remember and talk about. And from there through the Calle de Arenal you can get back toPuerta del Sol square, passing by the Church of San Ginés and if you cheer up there take some typical churros with chocolate.
- Madrid of the Bourbons
Madrid is a city that over the centuries has been able to reinvent itself, without losing its warmth and beauty. The great work of the “Best Mayor of Madrid” King Carlos III during the second half of the seventeenth century, was the modernization and expansion of the capital of the Spanish Empire. Here you can start a route through Madrid de losBorbones, from the Puerta del Sol and through Calle Alcalá, which is the longest street in Spain, you can visit the Real Casa de Aduanas, as well as, the Royal Academy of Fine Arts . We recommend you see the imposing statues that are on top of the buildings, among other things, that represent power and royal glory. You will see the Metropolis Building, the Buenavista Palace and the Bank of Spain. You can get to the famous Plaza de Cibeles, where the fountain of the same name stands, sober, erect and permanent in time, around it you can find the Palacio de Linares (House of America), the Palace of Communications and City Hall of Madrid. Further on, the imposing Puerta de Alcalá, considered a Historical-Artistic Monument that belongs to one of the five royal gates that gave access to Madrid, at the front you can enter one of the lungs of Madrid, the Retiro Park. Then you arrive at the Jerónimos Church and the Prado Museum. Just in front you will see the Fountain of Neptune and going up from there to head back to Puerta del Sol, you will arrive at the Spanish Congress. Thus you will discover great monuments, architecture and landscapes that have witnessed the evolution of the Spanish capital.
- Madrid of Letters
A very beautiful and interesting proposal is to visit the famous Barrio de las Letras (Letters District), one of the areas of the world where more culture and art meet in a single neighborhood, located between Paseo del Prado and Plaza Santa Ana, has a unique charm special for its pedestrian streets that were witnesses of the life of the most important writers of the “Golden Age” of Spanish literature. You can walk along the street of Huertas, visit the house where Cervantes died, the Lope de Vega House Museum, Plaza Santa Ana, Plaza de las Cortes with its statue of Miguel de Cervantes and its surprising secret, the Athenaeum, the houses where Quevedo and Góngoralived and all this between terraces and tapas bars that always give a great atmosphere to the visit.
- Madrid of the twentieth century
Madrid never stops, over the centuries it has witnessed invasions, wars but above all of change and modernity, maintaining the great level of being one of the most visited capitals in the world. That’s why we recommend you to visit the Moncloa Lighthouse, from Madrid to heaven (1992). 92 meters of height that will travel in a panoramic elevator to the great viewpoint, which emerges in the heart of the University City of Madrid. You will enjoy 360º views through its huge panoramic windows, overlooking all the monuments and the silhouette of the city. We guarantee a very beautiful experience.
We invite you to enjoy the Paseo de la Castellana, one of the most important roads in Madrid. It begins in the Plaza de Colón and ends in the north knot. In all its length you will find some of the most characteristic buildings and places in Madrid. You can see some small palaces built between the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, along with the modern and highest skyscrapers of Madrid, the Four towers Business Area, museums and famous restaurants. Also monuments, shopping centers, a lot of traffic of cars and people and even a large football stadium, the Santiago Bernabeu.
- Madrid Football Passion
Spain is synonymous with football and Madrid is always adorned with two of its great teams. That is why the enthusiasts of this sport have a great opportunity to get to know the Santiago Bernabéu stadium, the official headquarters of Real Madrid F.C. and the Wanda Metropolitan Stadium, new home of Atlético de Madrid F.C. Enjoy dreamed tours inside the stadiums: the best internal panoramic, special audiovisual, you can make photomontages with your favorite players, go to the pitch, presidential box, know the changing rooms, go through the tunnel and technical area, press room , store and many more emotions. Long live football.
- Commercial Madrid
The Gran Vía is probably the busiest road artery in Madrid. A beautiful avenue of more than 1 Km. in length and more than one hundred years of history, you can walk from its beginning at the confluence with Calle Alcalá and finish at the Plaza de España. It is an authentic open-air shopping center, as you will find hotels and department stores as well as shops of the most recognized fashion, franchise and much more. You can enjoy a magnificent set of buildings that includes some as emblematic as the Metropolis, the building of Telefónica’s which was the first skyscraper in Spain and former headquarters of this telecommunications company that today houses a cultural space, the Casino and the Capitol Building. The stretch between the Plaza de Callao and Plaza de España is known as Madrid’s Broadway, as they can enjoy cinemas and theaters where famous musical theater plays are presented. The Gran Vía is always charismatic, cheerful, attractive and tempting.
- Artistic Madrid
Between the roundabout of Atocha and the Plaza de Cibeles, in a little more than 1Km. there is the space of the world with the highest density of works of art, that’s why the Paseo del Prado is called the Art Walk, in this walk you can see a series of museums, exhibition halls, galleries and monuments that form an artistic ensemble exceptional in Madrid: the Prado Museum, the Thyssen-Bornemisza, Caixa Fórum, the National Archaeological Museum, Casa de América, Naval Museum, National Museum of Decorative Arts, the National Library of Spain, MediaLab Prado and the wonderful National Museum Centro de Art Queen Sofia and you will discover the fountain of Neptune, the fountain of Apollo and more monuments. The recognized trajectories of all these museums precede them and you may decide to take a panoramic tour around them and then make the visits that pleases you the most to get to know an unparalleled sample of masterpieces and important universally recognized collections.
- Madrid and its Garden
One of our favorite places, the Parque del BuenRetiro is a green haven in the heart of our city that offers at the same time: culture, leisure, sports and fun for adults and children. What we know as the El Retiro Park is what remains today of the gardens of the old BuenRetiro Palace (hence its name) that Philip IV in the seventeenth century built as a recreational estate for the kings of the House of Habsburgs. During the trip to this beautiful place you can discover among others: the large pond where you can even rent a boat to paddle, the imposing Alfonso XII Monument, the Crystal Palace, Velázquez Palace, the Fallen Angel Statue at 666mt. above sea level, puppet theater unique in the world with activities every week, the Forrest of Memories in honor of the victims of terrorism, La Rosaleda, Plaza Parterre and many, many corners full of history that have remained despite several wars, so that you can enjoy them and marvel at such beauty.
- Curious Madrid
If you are in Madrid on a Sunday or a public holiday, from 9am to 3pm, visiting El Rastro (the flea market) is one of the essential dates. In the historical quarter in the Barrio La Latina, it is easily reached from Plaza Mayor, down Toledo Street after passing the Church of San Isidro. It is an outdoor market with more than 400 years of history, it has more than 1000 small stalls, depending on which area you walk through, you will find different items, you may stumble over both everyday objects and curious antique gadgets, all wrapped in an environment of the most lively crafts, clothing and accessories, to kitchen items, records and magazines, pets and objects of all kinds of different antiquity. The area that currently occupies El Rastro was the old place where there were the tanneries (sites where the skins were worked), very close to the slaughterhouse, during the transfer of the cattle to the tanneries, there was left a trail of blood that was the one that gave origin to the name of the famous flea market(trail in Spanish is “rastro”). At the end of your walk, you can enjoy the atmosphere of the neighborhood between its bars and terraces.
- Gastronomic Madrid
It is inevitable to talk about food when you visit Spain and Madrid has its own flavors, some so authentic that go back to the time of Philip II who made it capital, then the towns of the province in their internal movement and with the constant crossing of travelers, they were bringing new flavors that have been turning into gastronomy of world reference. The most typical dish is the famous CocidoMadrileño, a chickpea stew with various vegetables, pork, beef and chicken, chorizo, bacon and potatoes, really exquisite and comforting in cold months. Another typical dish is the Calamari Sandwich…something strange in a city so distant of the coast, however, it is well known that in Madrid there has always been good and fresh products of the sea. Then this dish is the product of both Andalusian and Galician customs that were left in the heart of the capital. The patatasbravas, the huevosrotos and the caracoles a la madrileña are also very typical of Madrid. We recommend you to enjoy Madrid and Spanish cuisine in general through the traditional tapas routes, which is to go to different bars and enjoy a small portion of each dish accompanied by beer or wine. Very joyful, the locals have always known how to taste the famous churros with chocolate, the torrejas and many more sweets, we recommend visiting La Mallorquina and Churrería de San Ginés, local centenary stores that always sweeten the visit.
Thus, in our own way, we present 10 faces of Madrid, of the many edges of a magical city, unrepeatable, ancestral and glorious. You just have to come and let yourself be conquered by it.