Madrid doesn’t need a long introduction. Surely, since you click on this article you are looking for plans and spots, what to visit and what to do in the Spanish capital. Perfect, we are here to help. We present in this article the best places to visit in Madrid and the best experiences in this awesome Spanish city. Keep reading and check your chances.
- 1 Places to visit in Madrid for culture fans
- 1.1 Plaza Mayor
- 1.2 Plaza del Sol
- 1.3 Cibeles
- 1.4 Prado Museum
- 1.5 National Library of Spain
- 1.6 Vallecas
- 1.7 The 7 Tits Park
- 1.8 Barrio de las Letras
- 1.9 Rastro
- 1.10 Debod Temple
- 1.11 El Retiro Park
- 1.12 Royal Palace
- 1.13 Puerta de Alcalá
- 1.14 Reina Sofía Museum
- 1.15 Atocha Station
- 1.16 Almudena Cathedral
- 1.17 Muslim Walls
- 1.18 Matadero de Madrid
- 2 Places to visit in Madrid for sport fans
- 3 Places to visit in Madrid to eat
Places to visit in Madrid for culture fans
Plaza Mayor is the main square of Madrid. It is a public space in the heart of Madrid. Philip III decided to build it in 1580 and the works lasted until 1619. Nowadays Plaza Mayor is one of the most iconic places in Madrid. You can stroll in it, have a drink at one of its tempting terraces or just simply get lost in the crowd.
If you take a look under the arches you will discover some more secrets. There some nice places to eat and you can buy and exchange *or buy old stamps or ancient coins from the antique dealers.
Plaza del Sol
Known just as Sol is where all the locals meet and join for all kinds of activities. Probably Sol is the real current heart of Madrid since everything starts here. Locals join to protest, to start demonstrations, to celebrate New Year’s Eve or just to start a sunday tapas tour with friends. This is the Km 0 of Spain and you will feel it. No matter how many times you have been there. Just go again!
This statue is an icon for the city. Cibeles Fountain has stood in this square since 1782. It is a representation of Cybele, the Great Mother of the gods and Roman goddess of fertility, atop a chariot drawn by two lions. Nevertheless, it is much more. This is the place where Real Madrid fans celebrate their victories and some accidents have occurred to the poor Cybele.
In the same square you will be able to admire the nice building of the Bank of Spain. This is an asset for the fans of the worldwide famous Spanish series Money Heist.
To me Prado means the best collections of paintings in the world. Velázquez, Goya, Brueghel, Tiziano or Tintoretto and many others fully justify a visit. In the last two opening hours of every day the entrance is free and believe me, the painting collection is even better than in the Louvre. Here you can check all kinds of tickets and options for the visit.
National Library of Spain
The building is beautiful but the treasures of its collection are really impressive. La Biblioteca Nacional, as we call it in Spanish, is a major public library and has one of the biggest collections of the world. Just imagine the historic book production of one the biggests ancient empires of the world and coming from the second most spoken language of the world. They do guided visit to discover some secrets of the library.
Vallecas is a working class neighbourhood, very far away from every tourist circuit you will read about speaking about Madrid. Even though it is highly recommended to understand real Madrid. This is a neighbourhood that has evolved from the working class claims to multiculturalism. Some fans of the pulp Spanish culture would recognize some streets or squares of underground movies. There, you can find the terrible looking like but very charming Rayo Vallecano Stadium.
The 7 Tits Park
This park, also called Cerro del Tío Pío is a park in Madrid located in the Numancia neighborhood, in the Puente de Vallecas district. It is commonly known by the name of Parque de las Siete Tetas due to the shape of its hills. It is one of the best places in the city to watch the sunset and from any of its hills you can see a large part of the city. Don’t miss it!
Barrio de las Letras
Can you imagine a neighbourhood where the most important writers of the golden century of Spanish literature lived? Tirso de Molina, Miguel de Cervantes, Luis de Góngora, Lope de Vega, Francisco de Quevedo and Calderón de la Barca lived there. Nowadays, it is a very beautiful quartier of the old center of Madrid, with plenty of bars and restaurants. Some sentences on the floor remind us of those universal geniuses.
Every Sunday, the largest open air market in Spain takes place. It is located in the heart of La Latina neighbourhood and calls the crowd to take a look at antiques and clothes mainly. It can be a bit dizzying so try to be quick and care about your pockets.
The Spanish Congress
The Congress of Deputies (Congreso de los Diputados) is the main house of the Spain’s legislative branch. The Congress meets in the Palace of the Parliament in Madrid. The building was made on purpose for the foundation of the Congress in 1834. Makes sense only for a picture with the lions.
Debod Temple is a real Ancient Egyptian temple that was rebuilt in one of Madrid’s parks, the Parque del Oeste, near the Royal Palace of Madrid, and opened to the public in 1972. In 1960, due to the construction of the Aswan High Dam and the consequent threat to numerous monuments and archeological sites, UNESCO made an international call to save this rich historical heritage. As a sign of gratitude for the help provided by Spain in saving the Abu Simbel temples, the Egyptian state donated the Temple of Debod to Spain in 1968. This is one of the best places to visit in Madrid to admire the sunset.
El Retiro Park
It dates back to 1630 and it has been a place for leisure in Madrid during all those centuries. Nowadays, we can admire the Crystal Palace of the late XIX Century and relax into this city oasis. Some events, like exhibitions and important book events take place there. A very local and popular activity is to hire a boat to row a bit while flirting. On 25 July 2021, El Retiro Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This is the biggest Royal Palace in Europe and one of the must-do visits in Madrid. At least one in your life. Its a classic Museum Palace with all the expected baroque decoration and royal stories. The changing of the guard is a small ceremony every Wednesday. Nevertheless, on the first Wednesday of every month they perform a beautiful solemn changing of the guards, with many horses and a live orchestra performance.
Puerta de Alcalá
Puerta de Alcalá is one more of the very classic Madrid icons. It was made by Carlos III and inaugurated in 1778. The monumental gate is very present in the local folklore, modern songs and literature. It has been the scenery of some of the most relevant historic events of Spanish history and the marks of a cannon burst are still visible.
Reina Sofía Museum
Close to Atocha Station there is Reina Sofía Museum. The perfect place to explore a treasure trove of 20th-century Spanish art, with the best and more famous of the works of its artists.
This is probably the most classic station in Spain. It has an old historic building and a new part with an inner garden with turtles and the departures of one of the best speed trains in the world: AVE.
The cathedral was consecrated by Pope John Paul II in 1993. It is a new ackward building and somehow shows some lacks on the heritage historic chain of Madrid. It is close to Royal Palace and the Muslim Walls so maybe it is worth to take a look at it.
The Muslim or Arabic walls are probably the oldest construction extant in the city. They were built in the 9th century, during the Muslim domination, on a promontory next to Manzanares river. They were part of a fortress around which developed the urban nucleus of Madrid.
Matadero de Madrid
It was a modernist slaughterhouse. Nowadays, Matadero de Madrid is a contemporary arts center hosting exhibitions, performances and cinema. It is very popular for visiting with the family and friends during weekends. The vist to the old modernist buildings is really worth it.
Places to visit in Madrid for sport fans
Atlético de Madrid Stadium
It is called Wanda Metropolitano and it is the stadium of the current champion of the Spanish League and the best team of the Spanish capital 🙂
Whether you support or not, Atletico de Madrid is a club with a long tradition and a very special character who knows suffering, supporting and celebrating the victories. You can get information here for your visit.
Real Madrid Stadium
Santiago Bernabeu Stadium is one of the biggests stadiums in the world. My religion as a Barça supporter has fortunately kept me far away from stepping in but for non believers could be a nice visit. We have to recognize that Real Madrid’s history is rich and interesting and their records and players are extraordinary.
Bar Preciados 38 and cheering for the Spanish National Team
If you want to know what it feels like to cheer for the Spanish National Team when La Roja plays futbol, just go there. The tapas are good, the prices reasonable and the vibe is extraordinary.
Places to visit in Madrid to eat
San Ginés Chocolate House
The historic Chocolatería San Ginés is in between Sol and Plaza Opera. This is the most famous and iconic place to eat churros with chocolate. The place is a classic in Madrid. So classic that it is there since 1894 and Ramón del Valle Inclán mentioned it in his masterpiece Luces de Bohemia, a very famous book of the XX Century Spanish Literature.
Restaurante Botín, the oldest restaurant of the World
Restaurante Botín opened 1725 and according to the Guinness Book of World Records, is the oldest restaurant in the world. Forbes magazine gave the House third place in the list of the world’s top 10 classic restaurants, together with its two specialties, the delicious suckling pig and lamb roasted in the Castilian style. Well, enough reasons to take a look at it.
Route of the Century-old Restaurants and Taverns
It includes twelve restaurants more than 100 years old. This is more than a gastronomic route since it is a journey to the heart of the essence and the history of Madrid. They have created and association out of this and they have published a map.
Mercado San Miguel
This is a classic renovated market where you can taste the best of the local gastronomy. Mercado de San Miguel is not cheap nor authentic but it is very cool. It has this new vibe of a modern designed place for snob people where actually everybody can join. It is a very popular place you should not miss.
Círculo de Bellas Artes
Posh and cool. It is not as expensive as it seems and you would enjoy a very professional service. It is a classic of the high class local society and with a very interesting tradition in arts and literature. If you cannot find it just ask for the letter Lorca wrote at the place with the help of Dalí drawings about a debt of Buñuel!
La Cava Baja
Calle La Cava Baja is one of the best places in Madrid to taste some wines and have some tapas. It has around 50 bars in 300 meters and many of them are really lovely and old school.