25 Things to do in Madrid

25 Things to do in Madrid Travel Guide

25 Things to do in Madrid Travel Guide
25 Things to do in Madrid Travel Guide

Hola y bienvenidos a Madrid. Recently, we had the privilege of spending 10 days in the capital of Spain.

Its been on our radar for a while, after all this is a city renowned for its arts, cuisine, and nightlife.

With such few days to spare, we decided to hit up some of the best sights and attractions and film a guide highlighting “25 things to do in Madrid”.

In this video you can expect everything from lively markets and world renowned museums, to beautiful gardens and Spanish dishes.

Now let’s find out what the Spanish capital is all about!

Madrid Travel Video


Madrid Attractions Travel Guide

Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid - Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid

1) Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid – Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid

Visiting Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid (Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid) is a must when in Madrid. Why? Because it is a beautiful shaded space with a plethora of different plants from around the world. Founded in 1755 by King Ferdinand VI, this 20 acre garden is located at Plaza de Murillo beside the Prado Museum. Divided into seven major sections and five greenhouses it is simply massive and you’ll want to pickup a map to prevent getting lost. We ended up covering only  a fraction of the 90,000 plants and flowers.

Palacio Real de Madrid - Royal Palace of Madrid

2) Palacio Real de Madrid – Royal Palace of Madrid

Palacio Real de Madrid is one of the largest palaces in all of Europe. Technically, this is the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family, however, they choose to live in a smaller and more modest palace in the outskirts of town. The Royal Palace is open to visitors year round and features a massive floorspace of 135,000 square meters featuring 3,400+ rooms! This is indeed the largest palace in Europe in terms of floor area and contains paintings by Francisco de Goya, Carvaggio and Anton Raphael Mengs to name just a few.

Changing of the guard in Madrid, Spain

3) Changing of the Guard at Madrid’s Palacio Real

So another thing you can do at the palace is check out the changing of the guard. We were there at eleven o’clock and that is when it started. If you’d like to attend show up on Wednesdays between 11:00 to 14:00.

4) Jardines de Sabatini – The Sabatini Gardens

One thing that we kept noticing about our stay in Madrid was that they love their gardens and their parks. Jardines de Sabatini was a beautiful place to visit and there were hardly any tourists compared to other areas of the Royal Palace. Only opened to the public in 1978 they honor the name of Francesco Sabatini, an Italian architect who designed several features of the palace.

5) Teleférico de Madrid – Madrid’s Cable Car

To view Madrid from high above take an eleven minute cable car journey on the Teleférico de Madrid. This two and a half kilometer ride starts on the Paseo del Pintor Rosales street and finishes at Casa de Campo park. From the higher vantage point you’ll have a unique view of many of the city’s famous landmarks while also getting to marvel at all of the green space.

6) Rosaleda del parque del Oeste – Rosaleda Garden

La Rosaleda is a massive rose garden located in the west end of the city. The various roses are divided by variety, class or color in sectioned rose beds. Every year during the month of May a contest is held to select the most beautiful rose of them all. We missed the contest by a couple of months, but we still enjoyed wandering through the grounds.


7) Gazpacho – Cold Spanish tomato soup

Meals were a big highlight during our visit to Madrid, especially gazpacho! Given that most days were around 40 degrees this cold, refreshing and tangy tomato soup helped us to cool down. Featuring chopped bell peppers, green peppers and onion you’ll also notice olive oil drizzled on top. It is so good we had it over and over again.

8) Museo del Prado (Museo Nacional del Prado) – Prado Museum

The Prado museum holds one of the best collections of Spanish art. They have works by artists like Francisco de Goya, Diego Velazquez, and El Greco. Admission to the museum is free in the evenings 2 hours before closing, but you’ll need few days to cover everything this museum has to offer.

9) El Retiro (Parque del Buen Retiro) – The Buen Retiro Park

Parque del Buen Retiro is a massive park in Madrid. It has beautiful boulevards for strolling, a large pond where you can rent row boats, and plazas with trees that will make you feel like you’ve stumbled into Alice in Wonderland. We ended up taking numerous breaks in the shade because summer in Madrid feels like someone has turned on the blow-dryer and they’re just blowing it all over your body. It is like a wall of hot air hitting you in the face. This massive park helps you to escape that a little bit 😉

Palacio de Cristal - Crystal Palace
Palacio de Cristal – Crystal Palace

10) Palacio de Cristal – Crystal Palace

One attraction you shouldn’t miss when visiting Parque del Retiro is the Crystal Palace. It’s a beautiful building that streams in natural sunlight, and on occasion they host contemporary art exhibitions. It was originally built back in 1887 to house fauna and flora all the way from the Philippines.

11) Palacio de Velázquez (Palacio de Exposiciones) – Velázquez Palace

Palacio de Velazquez is also located in the same park. It has red-brick-and-tile architecture, and inside you’ll find temporary exhibitions organized throughout the Reina Sofi­a museum. This large neoclassical red brick building was designed by Ricardo Velázquez

12) Feria de libros cuesta de moyano – book fair

So if you’re in Madrid during the summer months you can check out this book fair which is located just behind the Botanical Gardens. Cuesta de Moyano is a little hill lined with book stands and you can pick up literature ranging from philosophy to fantasy, all for a couple of Euros.

13) Paella – Spain’s national dish (a Valencian rice dish)

We couldn’t come to the capital and not try Spain’s national dish: paella. This Valencian rice dish consists of rice, meat, seafood, green beans, saffron, rosemary, artichoke, olive oil and various other kinds of vegetables. You can get several different kinds; however, we recommend seafood. In terms of price you can expect to pay between 11 to 15 Euros at most restaurants and upwards to 30 at gourmet establishments. It is my favorite Spanish food, so I highly recommend it!

Templo de Debod - Temple of Debod Egyptian Temple
Templo de Debod – Temple of Debod Egyptian Temple

14) Templo de Debod – Temple of Debod Egyptian Temple

The Temple of Debod is an ancient Egyptian Temple located in Madrid. It wasn’t stolen by the Spaniards; in fact, it was given as a gift because they were building a dam in Egypt in the same area where the temple used to be located. At the time it was at risk of flooding so it was given as a gift in order to preserve it. Aside from visiting it you’ll also not it is one of the most popular places to watch sunset.

15) Estadio Santiago Bernabéu – Santiago Bernabéu Stadium (Home of Real Madrid Club de Fútbol – Real Madrid C.F.)

Real Madrid football club is easily one of the most famous teams in the world not just in Spain. If you visit Santiago Bernabéu Stadium you’ll have an opportunity to watch a game during the season or take a tour of the stadium during the off-season. If time is short, at the very least, head to the team store and pickup a hat or a t-shirt.

16) Enjoying Madrid’s nightlife

Madrid has legendary nightlife. In a word it is pulsating. Around midnight things are just barely getting started. If you’re going to party like a local you’ll be out until four or five in the morning. We had the pleasure of experiencing a few wild nights out on the town with some good friends who are now calling Madrid home.

17) Mercado de San Miguel – Market of San Miguel

The San Miguel Market is the place to come if you want to sample a wide array of Spanish dishes all under one roof. You’ll find everything ranging from seafood to meats and sausages, as well as glasses of Sangria and Tinto de Verano.

18) Plaza Mayor de Madrid – Plaza Mayor of Madrid

Plaza Mayor is Madrid’s central square and it is lined with little cafes and restaurants. It’s a nice place to enjoy a cup of coffee and do a bit of people watching, but you will pay a lot more than you would elsewhere in the city.

19) Churros – Eating a Spanish Donut (Spanish fried-dough pastry)

If you’ve got a bit of a sweet tooth be sure to indulge in churros. These Spanish fried-dough pastry is a popular way to start your morning with locals. Order it with a cup of hot chocolate, which when served is more like thick sludge. Any attempt at losing weight while in Madrid was thwarted by these delicious Spanish doughnuts.

20) Puerta del Sol – Gate of the Sun

Puerta del Sol means Gate of the Sun and it is one of the busiest spots in Madrid. It’s a great spot to do a bit of shopping, catch a street performance, and then grab a quick bite.

21) Santa María la Real de La Almudena – Almudena Cathedral

La Almudena is a catholic church which sits directly across from the Royal Palace. The church is open to visitors free of charge, but a small donation is suggested to upkeep the building.

22) Plaza de Oriente – Orient Plaza

For yet another impressive garden, come check out the Plaza de Oriente which is located beside the Royal Palace.

23) Tortilla Española (Tortilla de patatas) – Spanish Omelette

For breakfast in Madrid have a madrileño which is the local Spanish option that everybody likes to eat in the city. Tortilla is a potato and egg type of dish that looks more like an omelette than anything else. It typically comes with a side of bread, juice and/or coffee. It was Audrey’s favorite breakfast and on her birthday she ate it three times!

Museo Reina Sofía (Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía) - Queen Sofía Museum
Museo Reina Sofía (Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía) – Queen Sofía Museum

24) Museo Reina Sofía (Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía) – Queen Sofía Museum

The Queen Sofia museum focuses on 20th-century art. It forms part of the Golden Triangle of Art, which also includes the Prado and the Thyssen.

25) Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza – Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum

You can also visit Thyssen-Bornemisza, an art museum in the city that was once the second largest private collection in the world.

The train station in Madrid is a truly a spectacle. Certain sections appear more like a Botanical Garden than any kind of transportation hub.
The train station in Madrid is a truly a spectacle. Certain sections appear more like a Botanical Garden than any kind of transportation hub.

The train station in Madrid is a truly a spectacle. Certain sections appear more like a Botanical Garden than any kind of transportation hub.

I've already raved about all of the green spaces in Madrid. Well, check out this wall!
I’ve already raved about all of the green spaces in Madrid. Well, check out this wall!

I’ve already raved about all of the green spaces in Madrid. Well, check out this wall!

I found in Madrid I was often taking photos of architecture and streets that we're even major tourist attractions.
I found in Madrid I was often taking photos of architecture and streets that we’re even major tourist attractions.

I found in Madrid I was often taking photos of architecture and streets that we’re even major tourist attractions.

Audrey was a willing model for many shots I took around the city.
Audrey was a willing model for many shots I took around the city.

Audrey was a willing model for many shots I took around the city.

Maybe someday I'll be living in an apartment in Madrid!
Maybe someday I’ll be living in an apartment in Madrid!

Maybe someday I’ll be living in an apartment in Madrid!


Radisson Blu Hotel Madrid Prado room

During our stay in Madrid we partnered with Club Carlson as part of their #AroundTheWorldIn75Days campaign. The location where we stayed at (Radisson Blu Prado – Plaza de Platerias Martinez, Calle de Moratín, 52, 28014) was within walking distance of the Botanical Gardens, the Prado Museum, The Reina Sofia Museum and El Retiro Park.

In fact, we quite honestly were close to everything. The only attraction on our 25 things to do list that we used public transportation to visit (as opposed to walking) was the home of Real Madrid. With lots of restaurants and cafes right across the street it wasn’t long before we found some favorite spots that frequented often. In terms of features of the hotel, the downstairs pool in the basement was a nice place to cool down.

When we first checked into the room they presented us with a platter full of fruit. The stylish rooms featured urban themed wallpaper. The bed was large and comfortable and the air conditioning, which worked really well, was a welcome relief given the heat outside. Given the friendly service, location and quality of rooms we’d gladly stay there again.

Radisson Blu Hotel Madrid Prado welcoming fruit platter

Final Thoughts

Madrid was a city that really clicked with me. Unlike most cities, where I’m happy visit and the leave, Madrid felt more like a place where I could potentially settle as a base. I really enjoyed the laid back culture, impressive architecture and plethora of green spaces. Had the temperature been cooler (we visited in the dead of summer) I could imagine myself going jogging most mornings, having a leisurely breakfast and then a nice long siesta in the afternoon. It is a city where nightlife is second to none. Even though I don’t tend to party hard I could envision myself going out more often than normal. Another very appealing aspect is just how affordable it is. Restaurant meals won’t set you back an arm and a leg. Furthermore, groceries are reasonable. As an example, I could pickup a container of red wine for less than a Euro, a pack of chorizo meat for the same price and come home with several full grocery bags without spending more than 20 Euros total.

And that is a wrap of our time in Madrid! We had a splendid time and were truly sad to say goodbye to the city, but that just means we’ll have to come back again. If you have any travel tips for Madrid, feel free to share those in the comments below.

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  1. says: SudesteAsiati.co

    Having lived in Madrid for 6 months I don’t think I went to all those places which is a real bummer. I’m living in Barcelona now but thanks to your guide maybe I’ll pay a visit to the ones I haven’t been in a near future 🙂

  2. says: James Johnson

    If you end up in Madrid on a Sunday they have an amazing Sunday Market at El Rastro. Some of it is cheap junk, but there are some really interesting Spanish stalls and shops, too. If you go down some of the little side streets, there are antique shops which give you a great insight into what Spain was like in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s.

    There’s also a tiny little restaurant called Ataca Paca that serves Sunday Tapas, but you get a free bottle of Red Wine with it. Just make sure you remember your way back to the hostel for a nap.

  3. I traveled to Barcelona, Marbella, Sevilla, Malaga, Torremolinos but i did not had a chance to stop in Madrid. I did love Spain very much. All the tapas, the wine, the old cities, the friends i ve made over there. I see this article and i feel that is the time to return and enjoy Madri and other cities that we could visit yet. But, this year of 2016 is the year of the Olympic Games in Rio and we need to go to Rio to enjoy that, but, 2017 we hope to be back to the lovely Spain.
    Thanks for the tips.
    Tchau from Mister Brazil Travels

  4. says: Linda

    Great list! I’m a huge fan of tortilla española so I love to see it in articles like this one. There are also some great day trips from Madrid: Toledo is beautiful, Segovia has a spectacular aqueduct, and Alcalá de Henares is great for tapas and history.

  5. says: Marie

    Loved this post! Madrid has been on my bucket list for a while now. My father’s family is from Spain and I’ve always wanted to get out there. Thanks for all the info!

  6. says: Rob

    We only got to stay in Madrid a short time for only 4 days, but it is definitely a city that deserves more attention and we will be going back for an extended visit next year. Thanks for a great lit of thing to see and do. We did an excellent food tour and would highly recommend it to others that visit Madrid.

  7. Thrilling!
    I’ve been to Madrid years ago and I love it a lot! It is among my favourite European destinations and I just adore its architecture. Too bad it has no sea/ocean shore… but still, it’s fantastic!
    Nice photos, by the way…

  8. Hello Samuel,
    My husband and I are travel enthusiasts and I have been pestering him to book a vacation to Madrid. Your blog was one the coaxing methods I used and he agreed after reading through your list of things to do in Madrid. Thank you so much for the pointers.

  9. says: bruna

    Madrid is a wonderful city, when I was there I met some wonderful sights. I will never forget the seven days I spent it. I was homesick. Many thanks for the memories.

  10. says: Raul

    Thanks for sharing such useful information, I’ll remember it when I have to travel there from Chile next month. I loved the images, besides Spain is a place that offers so many interesting places for sightseeing, and each has its own charms, starting with Madrid.

  11. says: Christine

    Guess that spanish omelette was really good! Lovely photos Sam! I made it out to Spain several years ago and Madrid was a beautiful and quiet city full of tradtion, but i had an absolutely hard time eating it. Barcelona was friendlier to the vegetarian diet. But Madrid is beautiful!

  12. says: Renuka

    Madrid appeals to me more than Barcelona. It looks like a dainty city. And as you mentioned, it’s a place where you’d want to go for morning jogs, take after siestas…I guess I would like to visit it.

  13. says: Tash

    Wow this list couldn’t have come at a better time for me, as I’ll be in Madrid in two weeks and have no idea what to do! One thing I do know is that I will spend most of my waking minutes there eating and drinking. Thanks!

  14. says: mo

    wife & I spent 8 weeks in Cuenca neighborhood in Spanish Immersion program & agree..Madrid is d’BOMB! Museos..food..people..art. Cheap eats for sure. Glad u two enjoyed. We also line u went to Toledo & spent a weekend via bullet train in Sevilla! Strongly suggest u see Southern España next eh? Also Avila,Salamanca just North of Madrid rocks! Next time we will do Bar-THE-lona! Ciáo! (Bay Area San Fran Stateside)