Madrid is the beautiful vibrant capital city of Spain. The city has many things to offer, but if you’re visiting for the first time, it can be hard to know about the best things to do in Madrid Spain.
This is a true guide on how to enjoy not just the city, but the whole region baby!
Madrid city is a metropolitan area and happens to be the third largest city in the European Union.
It’s a solid choice for any travel theme and is one of the world’s leading tourist destinations, attracting more than 3.2 million international tourists annually. Lots to do here!
The city isn’t only for tourists. It’s also a huge business hub and its common for Spaniards to move to Madrid in efforts to find a better job.
There are more than 3,000 international companies, including major global firms such as Telefónica, Iberdrola, and Repsol.
Whether you are traveling slow or fast, there’s tons of actitivities so brace yourself for this jampacked list!
What is Madrid?
Madrid is a city obviously but it’s important to mention that it’s much bigger than that. Its a whole autonomous community in Spain.
Simpler terms, think about it like a region or simply a state if you are American.
Inside a Spanish communidad de autonoma you have provinces and the capital city of the region which in Madrid’s case is Madrid city.
A bit of geography helps understand the country of Spain better so theres a quick breakdown. Hope you are still with me :).
What’s Madrid famous for?
When wondering what to do in Madrid, you have to think about what Madrid is famous for. Here are things Madrid is known for.
Madrid is famous for their historic business establishments. You’ll find tons of restaurants, bars, and other eateries, that have been in business since 1900s and even before that. It’s also home to the oldest restaurant in the world, Casa Botin that opened in 1725.
In addition to historic business establishments, Madrid is also famous for their historic beautiful buildings. The architecture here is next level and it’s simply a very polished looking city. Travel aesthetic friends, come hither!
If you like culture and art, Madrid is very well known for their art collections in some of the best world class museums.
Royalty is also well known in Madrid and the royal palace is something everyone should see upon visiting. Atleast from the outside.
An obvious one, Madrid is famous for their soccer league. If you are a soccer fan, Madrid is definitely a place you have to visit. Soccer is HUGE here and there are tons of events usually going on where you can watch the game and socialize with other soccer fans.
Additionally, Madrid is also home to multiple different food markets, there is a buzzling food scene here. You also have the famous Madrid barrios that everyone loves to explore.
Lastly, Madrid is simply famous for the activities and that there’s always something to do. Nightlife or day life, you’ll have plenty of options.
Things to do in Madrid Spain
Whether you are a night owl or morning person, there’s something for you to do.
You should definitely take a walking tour of the city. Not only will you know where everything is, you will also know what’s important. History is so rich here, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t.
Although it’s advertised as free, the concept is you tip your guides what you think the tour was worth so don’t skimp!
Here are the best walking tours in Madrid:
- Free walking tours Madrid
- Leaf Madrid
- Sandemans New Europe tours
Take a Day trip
Madrid is in the center of Spain so no brainer you are in an awesome location to travel spontaneously. Take a day trip and see what else is out there in the surrounding areas. You won’t be disappointed and now with the avlo and Ouigo budget trains, moving around has never been more affordable!
Get lost in art at world class museums
What type of art do you like? Either way, there’s definitely something in the city for you. Here are the best of the best in the city:
- Prado Museum
- Reina sofia
- National Archaeological museum
If you are on a budget, make sure you check those websites. Many have a certain time frame when you can visit for free. Incase you are a student or senior citizen, those also have discounted rates.
Enjoy Gluten free bakeries in Madrid
Staying healthy while traveling doesn’t have to seem impossible. In fact, Madrid has loadssss of healthier eateries. Make sure you check out the gluten free bakeries so you can please your sweet tooth the right way in the Spanish capital.
Go for a hike in the outside pueblos
This is something majority of tourists don’t know about. However, if you are an adventure traveler or simply just love the mountains, then grab your rental car or take public transportation. Go to Rascafria or any of the surrounding pueblos. You won’t regret it and all the hikes in Madrid have beautiful views.
Majority are only an hour away and it’s certainly worth the trip!
Watch the lavender bloom
Ah, perhaps you thought only France has lavender fields! I know I did, ha! In July, there is a very special time when the lavender fields have completely bloomed. It’s such a beautiful view. I highly recommend checking it out.
Take a walk in the park
Yep, the parks in Madrid are epic. That probably sounds boring to mention to go visit parks when traveling but trust me you should definitely go for a stroll in any of them.
They are not only insanely well kept and maintained, there’s also a ton of things to do in them. Spanish people are very active people, they’re always doing things. Make sure you check out if there are any activities going on in the area.
Get fancy in Salamanca
The neighborhood of Salamanca is one of the best. Even though it’s a bit more expensive than other neighborhoods, the vibe there is awesome. It’s so pretty and definitely worth a walk even if you don’t do anything there.
Calle de Serrano in Salamanca is often called golden mile due to its exclusivity mirroring NYC’s fifth ave. If you are into designer things, now’s the time to shop. You’ll find all the big luxury names in this area from Prada, Gucci, Cartier, etc.
Catch the sunset at Templo de Debod
One of the best things to do in Madrid Spain is to catch the sunset. Templo de Debod is an awesome place to watch the sun go down.
The sun in Spain sets a bit later than usual, around 9:30. Sometimes in the beginning of summer its 10-10:30. Pretty cool. You’ll find plenty of people doing the same thing. This area is a hotspot for locals and travelers alike.
Visit the exact center of Madrid at Puerta del Sol
The Puerta del Sol is kilometer zero, the exact center of Madrid. You’ll find monuments about kilometer 0 right next to the Apple store that’s by there.
This is in the center of Madrid so there are a ton of things to do right nearby. Shops, restaurants, bars, etc. You’ll find street performers doing their things and other pretty monuments such as fountains and historic figures.
Tapeo is one of the best things to do in Madrid Spain
Someone say food? Can’t forget about my foodies out there. Ha! One thing that is a must is going for tapas in Madrid which is oftenly referred to as tapeo.
The streets of La Latina is home to some of Madrid’s best tapa bars, specifically Calle Cava Baja. Start at Taberna Tempranillo and work your way down the street. Tempranillo has awesome food and a fabulous wine selection so make sure you make a stop there.
The point of this is to eat a little bit of everything so don’t go too crazy at the first place. Lol, you’ll need the room. Trust me!
These plates are a perfect finger food for a night out on the town. A diversity of flavors and spices await those who attend.
Tapas can be a confusing thing to understand in Spain because tapas are light appetizer but in some areas of Spain you get them for free with your drinks and others you pay for the tapas.
However not all restaurants have tapas on menus, some have bigger sharable portions and you call them raciones.
Day 7- Start the Day With a Delicious and Healthy Breakfast at Almuzara Gastronomic Market
Learn about the city’s rich royal heritage at Palacio Real de Madrid
Spain is famous for the royals and you have to go visit the house! Even if it’s from outside, although the inside is definitely worth viewing.
Watch the guard change in Madrid
Adding on to visiting the royal palace, make sure you try to catch the Royal guard changing. It’s a frequent thing they do in the beginning of the month.
Specifically the first Wednesday. However, they recently changed it so locals can see it on Saturdays.
Immerse yourself in Spanish culture and watch Flamenco
If you visit Spain, you absolutely must see a flamenco show. The sound is so pretty and the dancing is so entertaining. Go to Cardamamo, it’s recommended by New York Times.
Casa Patas is another great option too. They were supposed to close due to covid, but they now appear to be doing shows, not sure if it’s at the same place though. Check their instagram for up to date information, website doesn’t always have recent news.
Visit the Plazas of the city
You’ll notice everywhere in Spain that there are plazas ALL over the country. There are a ton in Madrid and you should definitely go for a stroll in them.
Here are the plazas in Madrid: Plaza Mayor, Plaza de España, Plaza Santa Ana, Plaza del Oriente, Plaza Isabel, Plaza de la Paja, Plaza del Dos de Mayo, and finally Plaza de la Independencia.
Wasn’t exaggerating when I mentioned there’s alot of plazas! Hehe.
Things to do in Madrid Spain conclusion
There you have 15 amazing things to do in Madrid Spain so you can actually experience the whole region like a true local.
I’m not a fan of only staying on the touristy route. That’s why it’s so important to find local actitivities so you can truly immerse yourself in the local culture.
With this guide you will have more than enough things to do in the city. You definitely won’t be bored. Let me know in the comments how are you liking them once you visit Madrid. Have you ever visited the Spanish capital?