31 BEST Things to do in Madrid [November 2019]

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The largest city in Spain and the cultural heart of the country, Madrid is overflowing with art, music, and history.

From romantic evenings watching a local flamenco dance to touring the bustling flea markets, each moment in Madrid offers a memory that can last a lifetime!

Whether you’re coming to Madrid for the fantastic photo opportunities, the world-famous cuisine, or the majestic historic landmarks, check out this guide to the best activities in Madrid and a few accommodation options to fit your travel budget.

 

Table of Contents

Our Favorite Places to Stay in Madrid!

Madrid has a lot of variety in activities, attractions, and neighborhoods. Depending on what draws you to the city in the first place, you’ll want to select an accommodation option that will help you make the most of your time in Madrid!

 

Bluestock Hostels Madrid

The Best Budget Hostel in Madrid

Bluestock Hostels Madrid

Bluestock Hostels Madrid is our pick for the best budget hostel in Madrid

  • Right in the center!
  • Walking distance to numerous attractions

Stay right in on the action at Bluestock Hostels Madrid without breaking your budget! The Centro is full of attractions including historic landmarks, tapas venues, and museums. Rooms have heating and air conditioning to make sure you stay comfortable no matter what time of year you come.

 

LaNave

The Best Mid-Range Option in Madrid

LaNave

LaNave is our pick for the best mid-range option in Madrid

  • Close to the old Town!
  • Enjoy a continental breakfast!

Located in the Moncloa-Aravaca area close to the old town, LaNave offers a unique, yet comfortable stay in Madrid. There are family rooms if you’re traveling with kids, free Wi-Fi throughout the property, and a sun terrace and lounge to relax!

 

Plaza España Skyline

The Best Luxury Option in Madrid

Plaza España Skyline

Plaza España Skyline is our pick for the best luxury option in Madrid

  • Self-catering option!
  • View of Parque Oeste

Luxury modern apartments in a historic setting, the Plaza España Skyline is the perfect place if you’re hoping to live the high life in Madrid! Apartments come with a complete kitchen, washer, sofa, and flat-screen TV and there are numerous attractions and restaurants in walking distance.

 

31 Best Things to do in Madrid

 

#1 – Visit the Prado Museum

Visit the Prado Museum

One of Madrid’s top museums

  • World famous museum!
  • El Bosco, Veláquez, Rubens, and more!
  • An architectural masterpiece

One of the most famous attractions of Madrid, the Prado Museum is a true treasure of the city. Outside and in, you’re certain to be fascinated by the beauty of the Prado!

The collection at the Prado consists of the work of mostly European artists featuring masters such as Durero, Tintoretto, El Greco, Goya, and many, many others!

Need more specifics? Find out where to stay in Madrid based on what you want to do there!

#2 – Experience the Majesty of the Royal Palace

Experience the Majesty of the Royal Palace

One of the top historic attractions of Madrid

  • Over 300 rooms!
  • Residence of Spanish royalty
  • Artwork, marble decorations, and frescoes!

From the grand staircase to the intricate tapestries adorning the walls, the Royal Palace of Madrid has one stunning surprise after another!

Feel a bit like a king or queen yourself and take a tour to see the top attractions of the Palace.

 

#3 – Stroll around the Plaza Mayor

Stroll around the Plaza Mayor

One of the best free things in Madrid! (Photo Credit – Culture Trip)

  • Must-visit attraction
  • Grab a coffee or people-watch!
  • Heart of Madrid

The cultural and physical center of Madrid, the Plaza Mayor is a large public square surrounding by some of the most important historic buildings of the city. Make sure to bring your camera to get some great iconic photos!

From a quiet morning coffee to a busy afternoon shopping, the Plaza is always a great place to go when you’re in Madrid!

What sort of trip are you planning? Madrid has incredible hotels for all types of visits!

#4 – Enjoy a Flamenco Show

Enjoy a Flamenco Show

One of the best cultural activities in Madrid

  • A vibrant and fun evening!
  • Passionate dancing and music
  • Watch live in a tablao!

There’s nothing quite like experiencing flamenco dancing in an authentic tablao venue in Madrid whether you’re a passionate music fan or new to the style.

Make a full night of it by enjoying drinks and dinner while watching the performance!

 

#5 – Walk around Buen Retiro Park

Walk around Buen Retiro Park

One of the things to do in Madrid this weekend! (Photo Credit – erasmusu.com)

  • Always free!
  • Over 300-acres of park space!
  • Perfect for a picnic or walk

The largest and most popular public park of Madrid, Parque Buen Retiro is definitely the green lung of the city. It’s also one of the best places in Madrid for photos, so make sure you bring your camera!

Once the grounds of Felipe IV’s palace, the park still maintains a majestic charm to this day!

Spain is amazing! You can see more of it with these great day trips from Madrid!

#6 – Take a Day Trip to Toledo

Take a Day Trip to Toledo

Amazing cultural experience in Madrid!

  • “City of Three Cultures”
  • Full of artwork and religious monuments
  • Easy trip from Madrid

Toledo has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its amazing history and cultural blending. You’ll have the unique opportunity to see a place where Christians, Muslims, and Jews have cohabited a city in peace!

Top attractions of Toledo include masterpieces by El Greco, Gothic cathedrals, and incredible monasteries.

 

 #7 – Photograph the Gateway of the Sun

 

  • Top iconic landmark of Madrid!
  • True center of the city
  • Spectacular at night!

If you want to get the postcard image of Madrid, the Gateway of the Sun (Puerta del Sol) is the place to do.

Especially in the evening when the city lights come on to illuminate the square, this large majestic arch is a truly amazing sight to behold!

 

#8 – Cycle the City

Cycle the City

One of the best fun things to do in Madrid!

  • All the major landmarks!
  • Exercise and sightsee
  • Awesome photo opportunities

In the bike-friendly city of Madrid, get outside, enjoy the sun, and peddle your way past historic churches and monuments!

You’ll have plenty of opportunities to get great photos along the way or stop to pick up some local refreshments or souvenirs.

 

#9 – Explore the Mercado San Miguel

Explore the Mercado San Miguel

Shop until you drop! Then grab something to eat (Photo Credit – free-city-guides.com)

  • Right in the Plaza Mayor!
  • Vibrant, fun, and local
  • Best food around!

Considered one of the top tourist attractions of Madrid, the Mercado San Miguel is easy to access and full of fun treats and surprises! Sample dishes with fresh seafood or sample some local wine varieties.

Come in the morning to enjoy a quieter atmosphere or visit in the evening when the market is alive with food and music!

 

#10 – Tour the El Escorial Monastery

Tour the El Escorial Monastery

  • Incredible architectural design!
  • Guided tour to follow the history
  • 8th world wonder!

Not far from the city of Madrid is the famous Royal Monastery of El Escorial. This intricately decorated building has sometimes been called the 8th world wonder thanks to is stunning symmetry and religious significance!

Don’t forget to take some photographs; it’s easy to be blown away by the gardens, statues, and geometric precision of the monastery!

 

#11 – Watch a Fútbol game at the Bernabéu Stadium

Watch a Fútbol game at the Bernabéu Stadium

Become a fan for life (Photo Credit – unsplash.com)

  • Be like a local!
  • Great attraction for soccer fans
  • Book a tour

Want to enjoy Madrid like a local? Come watch a fútbol game at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, home of the Real Madrid team. Buy a team jersey to cheer on the players with everyone else in the stands!

If you’re a true soccer fan, make sure you book a tour to see behind the scenes for a look at the history of the stadium, successes of Real Madrid, and the chance to see places normally closed to the public!

 

#12 – Spanish Artwork at the Reina Sofía Museum

Spanish Artwork at the Reina Sofía Museum

  • The best of Spanish art
  • Picasso, Dalí, and more!
  • Impressive architectural monument

Named after Queen Sofía, this important museum in Madrid focuses on Spanish artists including Picasso’s enormous masterpiece “Guernica.”

If you’re an art lover, this is a must-visit attraction in Madrid with the unique opportunity to see the prints, sculptures and paintings of some of Spain’s most highly acclaimed artists.

 

#13 – Take Photos in the Plaza de Cibeles

Take Photos in the Plaza de Cibeles

Madrid’s architecture at its finest (Photo Credit – 123rf.com)

  • Important city square
  • Incredible architecture!
  • Snap some great selfies

The main attraction of the Plaza de Cibeles is the enormous fountain sitting at its center dedicated to Cybele, the Roman goddess of fertility.

If you’re looking for the best photos, it’s better to visit the square at night when special lights will illuminate the Cibeles Palace and fountain for a truly spectacular effect!

 

#14 – Take a Day Trip to Segovia

Take a Day Trip to Segovia

  • Visit the Alcázar castle!
  • A UNESCO World Heritage City
  • Amazing historic sites

Segovia is one of the most popular tourist attractions of Spain, bursting with historic sites and amazing monuments all perfect for awesome photographs!

Top attractions include the Plaza Mayor, an impressive Roman aqueduct featuring over 160 arches, the castle of Alcázar, and the majestic Segovia Cathedral.

 

#15 – Enjoy the View from Círculo de Bellas Artes

Enjoy the View from Círculo de Bellas Artes

One of the best scenic attractions of Madrid (Photo Credit – adelanteblog.com)

  • Important art and culture center
  • Beautiful rooftop terrace!
  • Numerous art exhibitions

Is there a more romantic way to conclude a day in Madrid than watching the sunset from a rooftop terrace overlooking the city?

Make sure you check out what exhibitions are being hosted during your time in the city for a unique chance to see local art displays, new independent films, or special guest performances!

 

#16 – Visit a Local Winery in the Ribera del Duero

Visit a Local Winery in the Ribera del Duero

A very cool thing to do in Madrid

  • Famous local wines
  • Charming medieval villages!
  • Watch the wine-making process!

The Ribera del Duero has become one of the world’s most famous red wine-producing regions!

If you go with a guided tour, you’ll be able to learn all about the family history of the wine-making business and enjoy samples of the best varieties.

 

#17 – Check out the Egyptian Temple de Debod

Check out the Egyptian Temple de Debod

One of the more unique things to do in Madrid (Photo Credit – travellector.com)

  • Over 2,200 years old!
  • Only Egyptian temple in Madrid
  • Located in Parque del Oeste

When walking through the beautiful Parque del Oeste, you’ll come across an ancient monument dating back to the times of Egyptian pharaohs.

This beautiful temple is the only Egyptian temple left standing in Spain! It’s worth a trip to enjoy the ambiance of the park and view the temple for yourself.

 

#18 – Tour the Teatro Real

Tour the Teatro Real

  • Famous opera house of Madrid
  • Opened in 1850
  • Delve into the history!

The exquisite Teatro Real opera house was opened in 1850 and has since become an important landmark in Madrid.

Tour the 10 different rooms including the royal box and foyer, all of which has been preserved or restored from the fires and flooding that have almost destroyed this treasure of Madrid.

 

#19 – Discover Madrid by Night

Discover Madrid by Night

One of the best things to do in downtown Madrid

  • A new perspective
  • Learn about the legends!
  • Fascinating historic tales

Once the sun goes down, Madrid takes on a new and magical quality. On a night tour of the city, you’ll have the chance to learn about the Spanish Inquisition, the Knights Templar, and witch trials!

After your mystical adventure through the alleys and imposing buildings, you won’t be able to look at Madrid the same way again!

 

#20 – Learn the Art of Spanish Cuisine

Learn the Art of Spanish Cuisine

Learn to take the taste of Spain back home!

  • Paella, Tortilla, and more!
  • Traditional Spanish cooking lessons
  • Use local ingredients!

If you completely fall in love with the cuisine of Spain, why not learn how to prepare some of your favorite dishes yourself?

Take a class from a professional and discover the secrets to your favorite dishes, all with fresh fish, regional wines, and local vegetables!

 

#21 – Dinner and Flamenco at Café de Chinitas

Dinner and Flamenco at Café de Chinitas

It’s the music that keeps the city moving

  • Heart of flamenco!
  • History of famous performers
  • Traditional and fresh cuisine

What better place to view a flamenco show than in one of the most renowned venues in the city?

In the setting of an 18th century palace, you’ll be transported to another world by the lively music, fantastic cuisine, and welcoming atmosphere!

 

#22 – Prestigious Art at the Marlborough

Prestigious Art at the Marlborough

World class art, world class experience (Photo Credit – barcelona.b-guided.com)

  • Modern art from around the world!
  • World famous venue
  • Regular new exhibitions

The first Marlborough gallery was opened in 1946, and then expanded to other prominent cities including Tokyo and New York.

Keeping to a high standard, the Marlborough Gallery in Madrid hosts singular exhibitions of new and cutting-edge artists. A must-visit for any art lover coming to Madrid!

 

#23 – Shop in the El Rastro Street Market

Shop in the El Rastro Street Market

One of the best cheap things to do in Madrid (Photo Credit – timeout.com)

  • Oldest market in Madrid!
  • Every Sunday morning
  • Best bargains in the city!

Hoping to find a cool souvenir without breaking your budget? El Rastro is the place to go!

On top of having the best bargain prices around, it’s also an interesting historic attraction since the market has been running for almost 5 centuries!

 

#24 – Satisfy Your Sugar Craving at the Chocolatería San Ginés

Satisfy Your Sugar Craving at the Chocolatería San Ginés

Discover the sweet side of Madrid (Photo Credit – Yelp)

  • Churros anyone?
  • Open 24 hours!
  • Madrid’s signature sweets!

Maybe you’re up late enjoying the nightlife of Madrid or looking for something sweet to start off your day.

No matter what time it is, stop by San Ginés, one of Madrid’s most highly acclaimed and historic chocolate shops opened back in 1894!

 

#25 – Visit the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza

Visit the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza

  • Permanent and temporary exhibitions
  • Nearly 1,000 displayed pieces!
  • Renoir, Cézanne, Manet, and more!

A detailed collection of European artwork spanning from the 13th to the 20th century is housed in the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.

Browse through the galleries and once private collections now on display for the public!

 

#26 – Family Fun at the Parque Warner Madrid

Family Fun at the Parque Warner Madrid

Great thing to do in Madrid with kids

  • All the favorite cartoon characters!
  • A great family experience
  • Roller coasters, games, and rides!

Tired of sightseeing? People of all ages will enjoy the fun rides and games at the Parque Warner Madrid.

Hop on a roller coaster then take a picture with Bugs Bunny or Daffy Duck!

 

#27 – Check out the World’s Oldest Restaurant

Check out the World’s Oldest Restaurant

Be a part of making history (Photo Credit – somethinginherramblings.com)

  • Cozy local vibe
  • Almost 300 years old!
  • Norris McWhirter certificat

El Sobrino de Botín is famous for being the world’s oldest restaurant, which is definitely the place to dine if you want some serious bragging rights!

The venue might be a bit crowded, but the cuisine is as traditional as it comes, and it’s worth being able to say you were there!

 

#28 – Visit the Historic City of Cuenca

Visit the Historic City of Cuenca

  • Jaw-dropping architecture!
  • Visit the hanging houses!
  • Easy day trip from Madrid

Dramatically set on the rocky cliffs between the Júcar and Huécar rivers, the city of Cuenca has captivated countless travelers and photographers.

Top attractions include the first Gothic Cathedral in Spain, the 16th century Bridge of St. Paul, and the 15th century Hanging Houses on the edge of the ravine!

 

#29 – Have Fun at Madrid’s Permanent Circus

Have Fun at Madrid’s Permanent Circus

Crazy and unexpected fun! (Photo Credit – timeout.com)

  • Open year-round!
  • Established in 2007
  • Concerts, circus performances, and more!

Maybe you loved watching the circus as a child or you’re looking for a family-friendly activity in Madrid. The answer? The Teatro Circo Price!

All year there are fun workshops, shows, and cutting-edge circus acts to entertain all ages!

 

#30 – A Foodie Experience in Madrid Tapas

A Foodie Experience in Madrid Tapas

You haven’t tasted Spanish cuisine until now

  • Eat like a local!
  • Learn about the best venues in Madrid
  • Patatas bravas, cheese, bread and tomatoes…

Indulge in what locals call tapear, or going out for tapas, which are drinks and small portions of carefully selected food.

The traditional Ibérico ham, the custom cheese, and homemade dishes of paella will make your mouth water! Between mouthfuls, learn about the interesting history to this local tradition.

 

#31 – Hit the Slopes

A ‘cool’ thing to do in Madrid in winter

  • Top class ski resorts
  • Amazing downhill skiing and snowboarding
  • Fun day trip

During the winter, the nearby ski resorts in the Sierra de Guadarrama mountain range are open for a day of face-paced adventure!

Take a bus for a day trip or spend a night at a resort for a complete mountain experience.

Conclusion

Art? Got it. History? Got it. Fine Cuisine? Got it! Madrid has all this and more waiting for you on your next vacation. Start planning now to prepare for the trip of a lifetime!

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About the Author Nicola Smart

Gin lover. Coffee addict. Nicola has traveled the world for 7 years and is a staff writer for Hotel Jules. Born in London, Nicola first got the taste of travel studying abroad in Barcelona. Since then she's been hooked - traveling the world non-stop. Passionate about green travel and vegan lifestyle, Nicola spends more of her free time staring at maps wondering where she will head to next!