Our 15 Must Do's in Madrid, Spain
A cosmopolitan city full of culture, architecture, food and nightlife! Below you will find our 15 favorite things to do in Madrid.
TAKE A FREE WALKING TOUR
Taking a free walking tour will help you see all the major attractions of the city and its history as told by a local. Although these are free don’t forget to tip the tour guide. The tour guides are not volunteers and they are not paid by the government or the companies themselves. Some do this as a full time job. Average tip is between €10-15 ($12-18USD) per person, but ultimately you decide the price the tour was worth for you. They are also very knowledgeable so don't forget to ask for additional tips or recommendations!
TIP: We recommend SANDEMAN's Madrid Free Tour.
EL PARQUE DEL RETIRO
You can't leave Madrid with out visiting El Parque del Retiro! A huge park with lots of attractions. My favorites were the Crystal Palace and the Lake of Buen Retiro. Here you can rent a little boat or bring your own snacks and enjoy a picnic!
LA GRAN VIA & EL METROPOLIS
If you love shopping you will love this via! The famous Metropolis building is also located here. It is famous for its beautiful French architecture.
TIP: Visit El Metropolis by night for some amazing pictures!
LA PLAZA MAYOR
You will find plenty of restaurants and drinking spots around this area. You can find El Botin one of the oldest restaurants in the world! This plaza is always busy with tourists and locals alike. During the summer they host free events.
LA CATEDRAL DE ALMUDENA
The cathedral is located in front of El Palacio Real. It houses a museum that helps you better understand the history of the cathedral. Behind it you can find a garden which has a fountain in the shape of the star of David, an ancient wall known as 'The Muslim Wall' and in the background the Almudena Cathedral which shows the harmonious religious tolerance that you see in the city today.
EL PALACIO REAL DE MADRID
This grand palace is one of the largest and most important palaces in Europe with over 3,000 rooms including a Royal Pharmacy! Not only is the inside beautiful to visit, but the Sabatini and Campo del Moro Gardens are worth a visit too. The palace is no longer used as the official residence of the Royal Family, but it is still used for special events and holiday celebrations.
TIP 1: You can visit the palace free of charge if you go between 4-6pm from Monday-Thursday in October to March and from 6pm-8pm Monday-Thursday in April-September.
TIP 2: Catch the Changing of the Guard held every Wednesday at 11am in Puerta del Principe except in July, August and September.
EL TEMPLO DE DEBOD
This authentic Egyptian Temple was built in the 2nd Century BC, at the village of Devod in Egypt. It was dismantled and rebuilt in Madrid. It is located in the West Park which also provides beautiful panoramic views of Madrid. Admission is free.
EL RASTRO MARKET
This is open only on Sundays and it is one of the largest markets in all of Spain. Perfect place to get your souvenirs at a great price!
MERCADO SAN MIGUEL
Make sure you go to Mercado San Miguel on an empty stomach! There is plenty to eat and drink in this mercado. Inside this historic building you can find the typical paellas, tapas or cañas (pint of beer).
PUERTA DEL SOL
Here you will find the famous monument of the Bear and Strawberry Tree. This monument represents the city of Madrid.
WATCH A BULL FIGHT IN LAS VENTANAS!
This sport is a controversial topic for many, but for Spaniards it has been part of their culture for thousands of years. Las Ventanas is the only iconic bullfighting ring that offers shows every Sunday.
TIP: If you have the guts to see this sport check it out for yourself and book your tickets online to avoid the hassles at the door.
When in Spain watching a Flamenco show is a must! You will find many great locations that offer the show and some even offer bundled deals for dinner and a show!
MUSEO DEL PRADO
This museum is one of the best in the world. We were able to see the beautiful masterpieces of the famous painters Goya, Rubens, Rembrandt, Murillo, Velazquez and many more! You will also get a glimpse of the beautiful Jacinto Cathedral as soon as you exit this museum.
TIP 1: El Museo Del Prado is free Tuesday-Saturday from 6pm-8pm or Sundays 5pm-8pm. Be sure to get there early, long lines are expected, but they do move pretty quickly.
TIP 2: In order to make the most out of your visit, pick up a guide when you enter the museum. The guide highlights of all the masterpieces in the museum so you can try and see them all!
EL CORTE INGLES GOURMET FOOD EXPERIENCE IN CALLAO
If you want one of the best panoramic views of Madrid's skyline you must visit El Corte Ingles on Plaza Callao. The 9th floor also known as the Gourmet Food Experience has a great selection of food and drinks for you to enjoy. The best part is that the views are free!
TIP: Time your visit around the sunset for stunning pictures.
NIGHTLIFE, FOOD & DRINKS
If you come to Madrid you must experience the nightlife! Madrid is full of discotecas and bars. In this city a late dinner always turns into a social event. The main areas we recommend are El Barrio de Las Letras, Calle Huerta and Malasana. You can also find the locals drinking at 100 Montaditos, La Surena and Museo de Jamon before heading to a night out.
TIP 1: 100 Montaditos has a special menu every Sunday and Wednesday called 'Euromania'. Everything on this special menu is only €1 ($1.20USD). This includes small food portions.
TIP 2: La Surena has 'Cubos' aka buckets of beer for €4 ($4.79USD). Our favorite was 5 beers of Cruz Campo for €4 ($4.79USD)! There are other variety of 'Cubos' to chose from like 5 beers of Heineken for €6 ($7.19USD).
TIP 3: Keep an eye out for the prices at the bar. Some restaurants (Museo De Jamon) have different pricing depending on if you are ordering by the bar or if you are sitting down at a table. For example: a beer ordered at the bar will cost you €0.90 ($1.08USD) vs €2.90 ($3.48USD) if you decide to get a table!
TIP 4: In Spain, Sangria is geared more towards the tourists. When tourists come to Spain, they are eager to drink authentic Sangria. The funny thing is that Spaniards prefer to drink Tinto De Verano vs Sangria. So if you want feel like a true local order your Tinto de Verano instead of Sangria!
TIP 5: If you get tired of eating Spanish food, the other alternative for us was Mexican food (since we missed it so much)! We were able to find the best Mexican tacos outside of Mexico. You can find them at Takos! Not only are they delicious, but they are reasonably priced. 1 Taco for 1€ ($1.20USD). You can also find the typical Micheladas which Ricky loved so much and of course our favorite Mexican beer...Modelo!
Have you visited Madrid and have other tips you'd like to share?
Comment below, we'd love to hear them!
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