Discover the best things to do and see in Madrid and find out why the Spanish capital is worth visiting. 

Madrid is a cosmopolitan city full of energy, offering its visitors endless options for leisure and culture, making it impossible to get bored! For example, you can visit the world-famous Prado Museum and admire the artworks or feel the dynamic vibes on the city’s main streets and squares, such as Gran Via, Plaza Mayor, Puerta del Sol, and Puerta de Alcalá.

If you want to disconnect from the busy city life and connect to nature, go to Retiro Park, an ample green space located in the heart of Madrid.

Furthermore, the capital has an enormous culinary offering! The joy and liveliness you will feel in its countless bars and markets is a memorable experience. Eating a squid sandwich (Bocadillo de Calamares) at La Campana next to Plaza Mayor or cod croquettes (Croquetas de Bacalao) at Casa Labra is essential! 

For being the biggest city in Spain, Madrid is very walkable – at least for the main attractions. The Metro (subway) is an excellent choice for exploring the characteristic neighborhoods of Malasaña, Chueca, La Latina, Lavapiés, and Salamanca!

Visiting the capital for four days is the best choice and can always be extended if you also want to take a day trip to the nearby beautiful cities of Toledo or Segovia. However, if you visit only for a weekend, I recommend taking the hop-on hop-off bus since it allows you to discover the city’s historic and modern sites much quicker. 

Best Things to Do and See in Madrid

#1 Stroll along Gran Via

People shopping on the big avenue Gran Via in Madrid, the capital of Spain.

The Gran Via is Madrid’s main boulevard, with many imposing buildings, retail fashion shops, cafés, restaurants, and bars. It is a lively area and undoubtedly one of the best places in the city to dive quickly into the capital’s spirit!

The most famous buildings symbolizing the Gran Via avenue are the Metropolis, Telefónica, Grassy, and Carrion.  

For the ultimate experience, I recommend you start at Plaza España and walk up to Retiro Park, where you can take a well-deserved break before continuing to explore the city. Walk along the avenue, admire the architecture and facades of the well-maintained buildings on each side, and feel the hustle and bustle around you. 

TIP: Walk the Gran Via in the daytime and later at night when the avenue is illuminated / For the best views of  Gran Via, go up to the terrace of the shopping mall “El Corte Inglés” or the cultural center “Círculo de Bellas Artes”

Top Food Places near Gran Via: Bar Restaurant Nice To Meet You / Restaurant Honest Greens / Mediterranean Restaurant Vinitus

#2 Visit the Royal Palace

Royal Palace with Gardens in beautiful gardens and a blue sky in the background in Madrid, Spain.

Exploring the Royal Palace (Spanish: Palacio Real de Madrid) is a must and, without any doubt, one of the best things to do and see in Madrid! The majestic monument, built in the 18th century, is the largest in Europe and has more than 3000 rooms, each with a unique and luxurious design that will blow your mind! 

Although the Palace is the official state residence of the Royal Family, they do not live here. It is, in fact, mainly being used for state ceremonies and official events. 

You can book a top-rated and certified guided tour to learn more about the Royal Palace, its interior, and its rich history. You will visit the Private Royal Apartments and also get the chance to explore the Royal Gardens on your own! 

Watch the “Changing of the Guard” ceremony, which lasts 50 minutes and is held on the first Wednesday of each month at 12:00 PM at “Plaza de la Armería.” 

TIP: Book your entrance tickets several days before your visit, as they sell out quickly / Get the audio guide if you are not taking a guided tour / You have free entry to the Palace from Monday to Thursday from 17:00 to 19:00 (expect long queues!)

➜ Royal Palace Fast-Track Admission Ticket

➜ Check Opening Hours and Prices 

Top Food Places near the Royal Palace: Tapas Bar Arbonaida / Café FOUR / Bar La Mayor Cervecería 

#3 Step Inside the Almudena Cathedral

Almudena Cathedral in Madrid, Spain.

Next to the Royal Palace and well worth checking out is the Almudena Cathedral (Spanish: Catedral de Santa María la Real de la Almudena). Its name comes from the Arabic language “al-mudayna,” which means citadel. 

Once you step inside, you will see beautiful altarpieces and colors everywhere, especially when the sunlight shines through the Cathedral’s stained glass windows that reflect the walls! It instantly creates a warm and cozy atmosphere! 

You can enter the monument for free, though a donation is always appreciated. 

Top Food Places near Almudena Cathedral: Tapas Bar Arbonaida / Café FOUR / Bar La Mayor Cervecería 

#4 Have Churros for Breakfast

People enjoying churros with hot chocolate in Madrid, Spain.

For a Spanish-style breakfast experience, start your day with churros and a cup of hot chocolate (Spanish: Chocolate con Churros) or coffee! 

Churros are deep-fried pastry sticks made of a flour-based batter, then coated with sugar. The sweet treat is fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside. Spaniards typically like to have their churros for breakfast or after lunch, dipping them into thick hot chocolate or café con leche (coffee with milk).  

Top Places for having Churros in Madrid: Churrería Las Farolas / Chocolate Shop San Ginés / Churrería Madrid 1883

#5 Explore the Temple of Debod

Egyptian temple of Debod in the city center of Madrid, capital of Spain.

You don’t have to travel far to see Egypt – or at least to see a little bit of it. 

The Temple of Debod, donated to Spain by the Egyptian Government in 1968, is an ancient temple in a fantastic setting! You have gorgeous views of the Royal Palace and the city from the surrounding park. Moreover, it is one of the best spots to watch the sunset in Madrid! 

The Temple of Debod is free to visit and is close to Gran Via and Plaza España, making it a perfect site to combine with the Royal Palace and the Almudena Cathedral. 

TIP: Go just before the sun sets to experience a magical sunset and see the temple illuminated! 

Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday and public holidays from 10:00 to 20:00 / Closed on Mondays, January 1 and 6, December 24, 26, and 31

Top Food Places near the Temple of Debod: Craft Brewery Bee Beer Debod / Brunch Restaurant ORIGEM ACAI Madrid / Restaurant Olmo 

#6 Enjoy Nature at Retiro Park

Emblematic green park in the heart of Madrid, Spain's capital.

This wonderful urban oasis in the heart of the capital’s city is popular with locals and tourists and is another of the best things to do and see in Madrid! 

Retiro Park is a beautiful, big green area with monuments and statues where you can walk around, disconnect from the busy city life, and connect to nature.

Access is free, and the park is beautiful at any time of the year. You can meet with friends, read a book, explore the magnificent glass pavilion “Palacio de Cristal,” do yoga, listen to music, etc. It is one of those places you can visit several times and never get bored. 

On a pleasant sunny day, rent a boat and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere at the lake. Or, for a unique experience, take a guided 1-hour Segway tour throughout the entire park!


Price: 6,00 € (Monday to Friday) / 8,00 € (Saturday, Sunday, and public holidays)

Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday from 10.00 to 18.30/20.00, depending on the time of the year 

*Note: Entrance fees and opening hours may change. For updated information, please check the official website of ES Madrid

Top Food Places near Retiro Park: Tapas Bar Manero Madrid / Café Plenti

#7 Explore Plaza Mayor Square

Big square with beautiful buildings and enchanting architectural details in Madrid, Spain.

Going to the Plaza Mayor is obligatory if it is your first time in Madrid! It is one of the most picturesque squares you’ll ever see and, therefore, one of the best things to do and see in Madrid! 

Beautiful buildings with enchanting architectural details surround the square, making it an appealing tourist attraction and a popular meeting point. In the middle of Plaza Mayor, you can take a closer look at the giant statue of King Philip III of Spain. 

The square is full of restaurants and bars where you can eat or drink something and enjoy the lively atmosphere around you. However, I recommend reading the reviews of these places first, as many of them are overpriced! 

TIP: For a typical Madrid experience, buy the famous Squid Sandwich (Spanish: Bocadillo de Calamares) at Bar “La Campana” and immerse yourself in the plaza’s vivid atmosphere, enjoying the spirit of Spain’s capital! 

Top Food Places near Plaza Mayor: Bar La Campana / Restaurant Casa Goyo / Tavern La Juana 

#8 Puerta del Sol

Vivid square with many historic monuments in the center of Madrid, Spain.

Puerta del Sol is the capital’s most emblematic square and, therefore, one of the best things to do and see in Madrid. Visiting this symbolic landmark and soaking up its vibrant atmosphere is, in fact, vital for every visitor.

For the best experience, have a homemade Napolitana (sweet bun with a pastry cream filling) at the historic cake shop La Mallorquina. Then, explore the several attractions located at Puerta del Sol!

The most important is the Bear and the Strawberry statue, representing this fantastic city. It is also a popular meeting point, and people love to take pictures with the statue. 

The most exciting building, however, is the Post Office, with its famous clock, known throughout Spain for being the place from where the New Year’s Eve chimes emit. Every year, thousands of people gather together at the beautifully decorated square to eat grapes and welcome the new year. Also, check out the plaque of the kilometer 0 in front of the building, representing the point where the Spanish radial roads begin. 

Additionally, with the iconic Tío Pepe neon sign advertising a popular sherry brand, you can find a piece of Andalusia in Madrid! 

TIP: Be careful with your belongings!  

Top Food Places near Puerta del Sol: Bandida Tapas & Cocktails / Restaurant Lynch / Tavern Casa Labra

#9 Go for Tapas at a Food Market

People visiting and enjoying drinks and tapas inside the historical Market of San Miguel in Madrid, Spain

Food markets are the best gastronomic spaces for anyone who loves trying a little bit of everything, and they are also a great way of getting to know the local cuisine.

Try the country’s most famous products, including Manchego cheese, Iberian ham, Spanish omelet (tortilla española), marinated olives, and local wine.

Mercado de San Miguel, within walking distance from Plaza Mayor, is the capital’s most popular market, receiving more than 7 million visitors annually!

The iron architecture characterizes the market, and its more than 30 stalls allow you to try many unique tapas. Go early during the week to get a seat and to avoid the masses of people. 

A second food market worth checking out is Mercado de San Anton, located in the charming Chueca neighborhood. It has several floors and a lovely terrace upstairs, making it an excellent place to hang out with friends.

Go in the afternoon and enjoy quality dishes made of fresh food from the market paired with a glass of red wine or a cold beer.

#10 Have a Great Time on Cava Baja Street

A beer and a tapa consisting of cheese and crackers at a bar in the vivid Cava Baja Street in Madrid, Spain.

Another great way to experience Madrid’s bustling and culinary life is by spending a few hours on Cava Baja Street in the historic “La Latina” neighborhood. The picturesque street is popular among locals and tourists looking for an unbeatable atmosphere!

With over 50 eateries, including bars, taverns, and restaurants, you will indeed have a memorable time! Here, you will also find the well-known restaurant “Casa Lucio,” famous for their dish “Huevos Rotos,” which translates into Broken Eggs. 

TIP: Go during the week since the area gets crowded on weekends  

Top Food Places on Cava Baja: Tavern La Concha / Restaurant Posada de la Villa / Tapas Bar La Perejila / Restaurant Casa Lucio

#11 Check out the Motor Market

People having a pleasant day between old locomotives and craft stalls at the Motor Market in Madrid, Spain.

The Motor Market is a fantastic activity to do on the weekend, and the best thing about it is that it’s different from the typical tourist attractions in Madrid. 

Located at the old train station Delicias (take the Metro line L3 and get off at Delicias), you find yourself between old locomotives, surrounded by many exciting craft stalls. There is something for everyone, from clothes, sunglasses, and bracelets to local food such as cheese and cured meats.

Outside the train museum, you also have excellent gastronomic options, with food trucks offering a variety of fast food such as burgers, samosas, and much more. You can enjoy your meal sitting outside next to the flea market while listening to live music. 

Note that the market only opens on the second weekend of each month. So, if you want to see it, plan your trip accordingly.

Price: Free

Opening Hours: The market opens the second weekend of each month from 11:00 to 21:00 

Museums in Madrid

Browse through the list below for some of Madrid’s best museums, and check entrance fees, opening hours, and location.

National Prado Museum

Explore one of the most visited museums in the world, the Prado Museum. The main Spanish national art museum hosts artwork from the 12th century to the 20th century. Here, you will find works by Goya, El Greco, and Velázquez, to name a few.

General Entrance:

15,00 €

Free access: Monday to Saturday from 18:00 to 20:00 / Sundays and public holidays from 17:00 to 19:00

➜ Prado Museum Entry Ticket 

➜ 1.5 hours Prado Museum Guided Tour with Skip-the-Line

Opening Hours:

Monday to Saturday from 10:00 to 20:00

Sundays and public holidays from 17:00 to 19:00

Address: C. de Ruiz de Alarcón, 23

*Note: Entrance fees and opening hours may change. For updated information, please check the official website of Museo del Prado

Reina Sofia National Art Museum

Visit Spain’s National Contemporary Art Museum of the 20th Century. Here, you will find one of Pablo Picasso’s most significant artworks, the Guernica painting. But you will also see artworks from famous Spanish artists such as Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró, Lucio Muñoz, and Antoni Tàpies.

General Entrance:

12,00 €

Free Access: Monday / Wednesday to Saturday from 19:00 to 21:00 / Sunday from 12:30 to 14:30

➜ Reina Sofía Museum Entry Ticket

Opening Hours:

Monday / Wednesday to Saturday from 10:00 to 21:00 / Sunday from 10:00 to 14:30

Closed on Tuesdays

Address:  C. de Sta. Isabel, 52

*Note: Entrance fees and opening hours may change. For updated information, please check the official website of the Reina Sofia National Art Museum

Sorolla Museum

Visit this beautiful museum house of the Valencian painter Joaguín Sorolla. A visit to this place will take you back in time, and you can admire the fantastic personal collection of the artist, the furniture, the paintings, and the gardens.

General Entrance:

3,00 €

Free Access: Saturdays from 14:00 to 20:00 / Sundays from 10:00 to 15:00

Opening Hours:

Tuesday to Saturday from 9:30 to 20:00

Sundays and public holidays from 10:00 to 15:00

Closed on: Mondays / January 1 and 6 / May 1 / November 9 / December 24, 25, and 31

Address: P.º del Gral. Martínez Campos, 37

*Note: Entrance fees and opening hours may change. For updated information, please check the official website of the Museo Sorolla

National Archaeological Museum

Learn about our history and the different cultures that inhabited the peninsula. It is an educational museum where you will find precise explanations and see faithful reconstructions of prehistoric objects from different periods.

General Entrance:

3,00 €

Free Entrance: Saturdays from 14:00 / April 18 / May 18 / October 12 / December 6

Opening Hours:

Tuesday to Saturday from 9:30 to 20:00

Sundays and public holidays from 10:00 to 15:00

Closed on: Mondays / January 1 and 6 / May 1 / November 9 / December 24, 25, and 31

Address: C. de Serrano, 13

*Note: Entrance fees and opening hours may change. For updated information, please check the official website of the Mueso Arceológico Nacional

Madrid History Museum

Visit the Museum of History and learn more about how everything started in Madrid. The museum houses sculptures, paintings, etc., that document the evolution of the capital.

General Entrance:


Opening Hours:

Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 19:00

Closed on: Mondays / January 1 and 6 / May 1 / November 9 / December 24, 25, and 31

Address: Calle de Fuencarral, 78

*Note: Entrance fees and opening hours may change. For updated information, please check the official website of the Museo de Historia de Madrid 

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