Madrid is where you should head to if you only have time to visit just one city in Spain.
In some ways, the capital city of Spain is still somewhat lost in the past. From small stores closing at midday to locals who still do not speak a word of English, Madrid has it all when it comes to an authentic Spanish culture.
We can’t possibly go through everything that is on offer, that would take far too long. However here are our picks on the top 11 things to do when visiting the capital of Spain, Madrid.
1. Admire The Architecture at Plaza Mayor
Plaza Mayor dates all the way back to the 1500s. Now it is home to street performers and Christmas markets.
The architecture here at Plaza Mayor is one of the most decorated and impressive architectural feats all across Spain. The 237 balconies that is visible from the cobblestone square look absolutely stunning, like scenes from medieval fantasy.
One of the most emblematic pieces of art, the statue of King Philip III is the centerpiece that most tourists come to see for themselves.
The square starts to get busy by 2pm and is surrounded by cafes and restaurants that get more crowded as darkness falls.
2. Explore The Royal Palace of Madrid
It is not a secret that palaces in every country around the world try to stand out and be as exquisite as possible so the Royals could convey how wealthy and powerful they are.
The Golden Palace of Madrid is luxurious and extravagant, it is definitely worth a visit.
The building consist of 6 floors with over 3000 rooms. Only a few rooms are open to public for viewing and inside you’ll find beautiful paintings, well crafted furniture and ancient armors that are over centuries old.
Now you get to have a glimpse at royal life.
3. Visit Ancient Egypt’s Temple de Debod
The original home of Temple de Debod is actually not Spain but Egypt. This temple was gifted to Madrid by the government of Egypt as a token of gratitude for aiding in the reinstatement of other temples in Egypt.
Temple de Debod was then delivered piece by piece and put together in Madrid. This temple has thousands of visitors from all around the world simply because it is an Egyptian architecture that isn’t in Egypt. It consist of a hall, a number of chapels and a small scaled museum.
The magic and the history of this temple will take your breath away any day, any time. It is also one of the best places in Madrid to watch a sunset.
4. Experience Rowing at Buen Retiro Park
El Retiro park happens to be in one of Europe’s greenest cities, Madrid. El Retiro park boasts of a scenic man-made lake surrounded by lush greenery in the form of gardens, lakes and playgrounds.
Don’t forget to rent a rowboat for just 6 euros and head over to Palacio De Cristal which is home to a rose garden with over 4,000 roses.
Most travelers agree that the park is a great place to catch some shade whilst enjoying the view of the lake that many have likening the lake to that off New York city’s Central Park.
5. Catch Real Madrid at The Santiago Bernabeu Stadium
Real Madrid, the most successful team in European history with 13 UEFA champions league wins, including the inaugural competition back in 1955. You wouldn’t be able to talk about Madrid history without including Real Madrid C.F in it.
Madrid is and always will be a footballing city. Even if you don’t happen to be a fan of football, watching the Galacticos in action is a must.
The Spanish La Liga has Real Madrid playing all from August up to April with 38 games per season. Book early to make sure you get to watch a home game at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium.
Or if you want the ultimate Spanish football experience yet, then get tickets to the El-Clasico. El-Clasico is the name given for a match between Real Madrid and Barcelona. It doesn’t get any bigger than this in Spanish football.
6. Shop, Eat, and Drink at Gran Via
Gran Via is Spain’s most premier and touristy street till date. Although Gran Via was dedicated to entertainment with many cinemas, theaters, musical, bars and so on, it is popularly known for shopping.
All the way from high fashion to high-street fashion, you can find all of Spanish brands here and not to mention some international designers as well.
Once you have shopped until you’ve dropped, you can head on to a good deal of outstanding bars to grab a drink or tapas and recover. Perhaps, you can choose to relax at Madrid’s one of many rooftop bars with an amazing view of of the whole city in one hand and a tasty cocktail in another.
7. Marvel At Present Day Art at The Reina Sofea Museum
Along with The Prado and the thyssen-Bornemizsa, the Reina Sofea Museum completes what is known as the “Golden Triangle” of art in Madrid.
Where the Reina Sofea museum stands out from the rest, is in it’s vast collection of contemporary art. With pieces of work from some of the most notable names in the art history, there is no surprise that art connoisseurs all around the world highly regard the Reina Sofea Museum.
A few key painting to lookout for when at the museum is Pablo Picasso’s Guernica and The Great Masturbator by Salvador Dali.
8. Uncover Art at Museo de Romanticismo
The art and history of the Romantic period from the 19th century in Madrid was devoted through the Museo de Romanticismo otherwise known as the Museum of Romanticism.
If you’d like to know how the upper class in the 1800s lived, you should head on to this museum. Not only you’ll be able to see what kind of lives they’ve lived but also learn a lot about the protagonist in this historical period.
This museum displays paintings, books, porcelain, furniture, photos and other artifacts that dates back from the 19th century, allowing us to take a peak into the life of the rich. The fare to enter the museum is fairly cheap but the luxurious feeling you’ll be getting is not.
9. Visit One Of Madrid’s Famous Landmarks – Puerta De Alcalá
This classic landmark is located in Independence Square. Inaugurated in 1788 by Francesco Sabatini, an Italian architect who dedicated most of his life serving the Royal Family of Spain.
It is walking distance away from one of the many entrances to Buen Retiro park. The gate is located right smack in the center of a large roundabout. Having said that, it is still an ideal location to take photos of the gate.
The gate comes to life at night with lights showcasing the intricate stone work. Think of the gate as a grand entrance to an even grander city.
10. Take The Kids to Parque Warner Madrid Theme park
Located just 20 Kilometers from the city center is this amazing theme-park. Opened in 2002, this theme park has over 42 rides and 6 roller-coaster spanning across 150 hectares of land.
Parque Warner Madrid is home to the tallest and longest roller- coaster in Europe. The park has rides for people of all ages, making sure that no one in the family gets left out.
People who have visited the theme-park commended it for being affordable with ample of things to do for the whole family.
11. Biggest and Oldest Flea-Market; El Rastro
El Rastro is the biggest, 400 year old flea market to run in open air in Spain.
It is hosted every Sunday morning and to get there, you need to head on to La Latina’s Metro Station, you won’t need any other landmark as it is the biggest flea market so you won’t miss it.
El Rastro puts on a large number of booths for any thing that you can imagine- food, clothes, drinks, toys, souvenirs and a lot more. If you are all about supporting local businesses, then this place is where you want to go as most of the items sold here are often made by the sellers themselves.
You should also keep an eye of your belongings as pickpockets are a problem here. Be sure to try out the tasty tapas in any one of the bars in La Latina once you are tired of being in the flea market.
The city of Madrid will always be one of those places where there’s ample amount of things to do and just isn’t enough time to fully immerse yourself in the activities, food or culture that the city brings.
Apart from looking for things to do, spend some time to take in everything, to converse with the locals as much as you can and most importantly, make as many memories as possible.
There’s something about heading over to a big square, sitting down and just observing the moment around you, whether or not you’re alone, with a loved one or just a stranger, cherish it.
Last Updated on April 2, 2020