12 Best Things to do in Madrid for Travellers in 2024

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Are you going to Spain soon and want to know what are the best things to do in Madrid? You’ve come to the right place!

While most visitors head straight to Barcelona, Madrid is also a great destination to add to your bucket list!

It’s the perfect destination if you have an interest in art, history and local culture.

It’s home to some of the most famous museums in the world where you can find Renaissance masterpieces and iconic pieces from the 20th century.

But Madrid is way more than that! There is something for everyone here. It’s a city that is very fun to explore.

So are you ready? Let’s discover the best things you can do in Madrid to make your trip unforgettable.

1. Royal Palace

royal palace gardens madrid

When you are visiting Madrid, the Royal Palace should definitely be on your list.

As you may know, Spain is a monarchy and the current royal family, the House of BorbĂłn, has been reigning since 1700. Their official residence is in Madrid.

INTERESTING FACT: The royal family has no political power but has a very important public and cultural role.

Known for its rich history, the Royal Palace was built during the reign of King Philip V, in the 1700s on the site of the old Moorish Alcazar fortress-palace which burnt down in 1734.

It features a stunning neo-classical architectural design and is Western Europe’s largest royal residence!

The Palace is open to the public. Inside you’ll find famous painting of Goya, Velazquez and Caravaggio. There’s also an exhibit of a collection of royal items – jewellery, tapestry, etc.

Pro tip: If you want to know more about the history of Spain and the royals, you may want to consider going on a guided tour with skip-the-line.

2. Puerta del Sol

Puerta del sol

La Puerta del Sol is a very famous public square in Madrid. It’s a very lively place and can get quite busy but it’s definitely a must-see.

The most famous feature here is the statue of the strawberry tree and the bear (Madrid’s official emblem).

It’s also where local people gather when there are public events. The most noticeable one is NYE when thousands of locals come here to eat the 12 grapes at midnight.

3. Museo Del Prado

Museo Del Prado in Madrid

The Museo Del Prado is a must-visit in Madrid for art lovers.

The Prado contains a large collection of pieces of art by masters of the Baroque and Renaissance era.

Please note that you will need to have some time ahead of you for this activity! There are lot of things to see and you could easily spend the entire day here.

Of course, you can still go for a few hours to get a glimpse of it but if you are only staying in Madrid for a day, it might not be your top priority. It’s pretty much the Spanish equivalent of The Louvre in Paris.

Some of the must-see paintings include Las Meninas by Velazquez, which takes you back into the Spanish Golden Era of the Royal Family, Caravaggio’s David with the Head of Goliath and many of Goya’s Black paintings!

The Prado is located in the city centre and is easily accessible by foot or metro. Just get off at either Banco de España or Estación del Arte.

PRO TIP: Make sure to book your ticket in advance. This will save you time and is the best way to avoid any disappointment.

If you’d like to learn more about the most famous pieces in the Prado Museum, you should consider joining a guided tour. It’s well worth the money and your time! See prices here.

4. Gran Via

Gran Via in Madrid

Famously known as the entertainment, shopping, and cultural hub of Madrid, Gran Via is always a great place to visit.

You will find both luxury and high-street brands. Everybody loves shopping there but it can be quite busy.

You will also find a lot of restaurants, perfect to take a break during your shopping session and enjoy a bit of tortilla (or even a sangria!).

As you stroll along, you will come across the magnificent Telefonica Tower. It was completed in 1928, and provides the early version of the skyscraper which proves to be a wonderful visit!

5. Plaza Mayor

Plaza Mayor in Madrid

Built in the 16th century, Plaza Mayor is a monumental piece of the Renaissance era with 9 beautiful gates.

You will find many cafes which is ideal for a coffee break or to try one of Madrid’s typical foods, the calamari sandwich!

It’s also home to an important symbol of the city, the statue of Phillip III on his horse.

6. Cybele Palace

cybele palace in madrid

Located a bit outside of the centre, the Cybele Palace is one of the most gorgeous buildings in Madrid! It’s also a very good photo spot!

It used to be the post office headquarters but it is now the City Hall.

Its white facades are very unique, definitely a sight to see!

7. Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum

Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid

The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum is situated in the private Villahermosa Palace and has a collection of over 1,000 art pieces. It was named after the family who owned the place.

Out of the 1,000 paintings, some are from the German Expressionism period, others from the Russian Constructivist period, and it also contains 19th-century American art.

You will also get to see amazing pieces from the renowned artists Titian, Renoir, Durer, Van Gogh and many more!

The paintings ordered by movements, from the earlier periods of history.

9. Reina Sofia Museum

Reina Sofia Museum entrance in madrid

Reina Sofia museum is known for its 20th-century paintings. It is one of the most famous museums in Madrid alongside the Prado and Thyssen Bornemisza.

You will find over 21,000 pieces of art with paintings by Salvador Dali, Joan Miro, etc. One of the crowning gems in the collection is Picasso’s Guernica.

If you are someone who enjoys modern art and architecture, then this is the place for you!

The best way to explore this museum is by starting from the top floor and making your way down to the temporary exhibits and main displays.

Pro Tip: If you are visiting during the peak season, the museum can be quite busy. In this case, it’s worth considering a skip the line ticket. 

Museum Pass

If you are planning on visiting these 3 museums, you may want to consider taking a Museum Pass. This will give you access to the 3 museums and will save you a bit of money and time as it’s a skip-the-line!

If you will only go to one museum, it wouldn’t be worth it but otherwise, it is.

For more information and prices, head this way.

10. Casa De Campo Park

Casa de Campo is one of the largest parks in Madrid. It’s the perfect place to relax.

Apart from being the perfect place for picnics and bike rides, it also contains an aquarium, an amusement park and a zoo.

11. Retiro Park

Retiro Park in Madrid

The Retiro Park is located east of the Museo Del Prado. It used to be a royal estate but is now open to the public.

The Grand Pond and the Alfonso XII monument are the highlights of the park. You can even hire rowing boats which is always a fun activity.

FUN FACT: The oldest tree in Madrid is located in the Retiro Park. It was planted in 1633 and is a Montezuma Cypress.

If you want to explore more of the Retiro Park, you can also go on a biking tour! Cycling and culture at the same time!

12. Flamenco Tablaos

Flamenco in Madrid

So when you are in Madrid, why not tick off learning the flamenco dance off your list? Even if you don’t want to learn it, you can still watch the performance over dinner.

It is a kind of dance that came from Andalusia, Murcia and Extremadura but you can also see Flamenco shows in Madrid.

It’s better to book in advance because they can sell out quickly.

Where to eat in Madrid

Spanish Foods Bucket List
Spanish Foods Bucket List

Madrid is a paradise for foodies! You will get access to some of the best food in the country but most of all, a lot of traditional dishes and tapas.

Unlike Barcelona, Madrid stayed a very authentic city when it comes to food. There are way fewer tourist traps which makes it easier!

Before we crack one with names and places, let me make sure you understand what traditional spanish tapas actually are.

In any other country than Spain, Tapas are a type of meal. Basically small bites that cost a fortune! In Spain, especially Andalusia, they come with a drink.

This means you don’t actually go to a restaurant and order tapas.

You go to a bar, order a drink and they will bring you tapas to come with it. You generally don’t get to choose. They have a selection for the day and will bring whatever is there.

Some places keep it simple with olives or aubergines but very often you will get amazing seafood as well!

The place I particularly recommend to get tapas is the Barrio de las letras.

Although mostly famous for its bookshop and literature influences, it’s also full of tapas bars!

If you head to Plaza de Santa Anna, you will find many historical cervezerias! Perfect to relax, sipping on your sangria and eating delicious croquetas.

Pro tip: Another way to experience tapas is to go on a food tour! That way you can get the best of both worlds. You will go on a walking tour and get tapas! For more information and prices, click here.

If you love tapas and want to learn how to make them, you may want to consider taking a cooking class in Madrid! You can head this way for details and pricing.

You can also head to Malasaña, Lavapies or the Mercado de San Miguel.

Madrid is a great city to visit if you are vegan. There are many vegan places in Madrid where you can get delicious food!

Map of the Best Things To do in Madrid

map things to do in madrid

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