From artisan markets to museums and chocolate shops to parks, here’s our pick of the best things to do in Madrid. A city where ancient meets modern, Spain’s capital is bustling, vibrant and packed with culture.
Places to visit
For a more unusual way to see the Madrid attractions, hop on a Segway and tour the city checking out all the sights as well as the Puerta del Sol and the Plaza Mayor. Or why not take them to the Planetarium on Avenida del Planetario, where there are plenty of interactive exhibits for all ages? On sunny days, hire a rowing boat at the lake in El Retiro Park, or pack a family picnic to make the most of Madrid’s scorching summers. There’s so much cultural history to enjoy in Madrid, and a walk around the museum district will give you a real feel for the city.
One of the best things to do in Madrid is head for the Museum Triangle on Paseo del Prado. Here you’ll find the city’s top three museums: The Museo del Prado, home to one of the finest art collections in the world, the Thyssen-Bornemisza which hosts a collection of classical art, and the Reina Sofia, Madrid’s bets collection of modern art (and where you’ll find some of Pablo Picasso’s work). It’s an art lover’s paradise and great if you want to see some premium quality artwork without busting too far into your holiday spending money.
Make sure that you take time to take a guided tour of the Royal Palace. One of Europe’s largest (and one of Madrid’s most beautiful) buildings, you should get up early to avoid the long queues, especially in the summer.
Places to visit
Soaking up a little local culture should be top of your agenda when visiting this beautiful city. There are plenty of authentic Madrid attractions to choose from. If you want to immerse yourself in the spirit of Madrid then book tickets to a Flamenco show at the Corral de la Moreria, where you can also enjoy a traditional Spanish meal with the show.
Holidays to Madrid should always include some shopping. If it’s designer labels you’re after, Calle Serrano is the place to be, while the Calle de Preciados is home to all your favourite high street names. For alternative shops and local goods, Fuencarral Market is a one-stop shop.
One thing you simply must try in Madrid is the tapas (pinxto). These authentic Spanish bar snacks are typically served in tapas bars along with a drink, designed to be enjoyed at any time of day. Other local specialities include Chorizo, Callos a la Madrilena (a spicy beef hot pot) and Sopa de Ajo, a garlic soup usually made with paprika and ham. There’s plenty of choice when it comes to dining out
With so much to see and do for all ages, Madrid’s culture, nightlife and cuisine are sure to mean this is one holiday you won’t forget.
For a true flavour of traditional Madrid life, go to the historic Mercado de San Miguel in the city’s old quarter where you can enjoy everything from seasonal fruit to traditional tapas and chocolate to caviar.
Browse the stalls at the iconic El Rastro flea market and go on a treasure hunt to find unique gifts and souvenirs. Open on Sundays and public holidays, El Rastro is the oldest open-air market in the city.