Even though Spain doesn’t have the status of Italy or Switzerland, it is no less of a perfect holiday destination.
Madrid in particular is so full of liveliness, art, and culture. The city screams the background of the Spanish empire and its history.
It has the best art museums on the continent and not to mention the cuisine in Madrid, it is just delicious. The nightlife of the city is also very vibrant.
The beautiful places worth visiting include Palacio de Cristal, elegant gardens like El Retiro, an iconic art museum, parks like Seven tits, historical buildings, statues like Alfonso XII, and much more.
There are also many frequent guided tours across the city.
1. What is the Best Time to visit Madrid?
Madrid, Spain in terms of climate is very extreme. The winters are extreme, and the summers are also extreme. Many of the residents leave the city in summer to the coast to have a calmer time.
Thus, Madrid city also closes down, becomes silent, and many restaurants shut down and aren’t easy to see the sights and can’t walk around.
Christmas is a great time to visit Madrid city. It is great to see many Christmas things in Madrid and Christmas markets and lights. But beware the cold can be extreme.
The best time to visit Madrid, Spain, is early spring or fall. The temperature is temperate and the calm breezes blow making the city come alive.
2. How to Get There & Move Around Madrid city?
Madrid owns an international airport which is also one of the largest in Spain. It is quite busy and has many international flights every day.
Another option is the high-speed train coming from other Spanish cities like Barcelona, Valencia, and more to Madrid. It is quite affordable compared to the flight tickets and you get to see the sights outside on the way.
Coming to local travelling, the best way to go around Madrid city is by walking. To see all the things, stop and inspect, and feel the live city, you have to walk. The major attractions are all close to each other.
Other options include the metro in Madrid city which is quite affordable and can be bought even bought in a pack of 10. You can also rent out a car in local car rentals or a bicycle or a scooter as it can be a great experience too.
3. 16 Not-to-Miss Things to do if You’re in Madrid
Below is a list of the things to do in Madrid to get the full experience of the Spanish marvelous city to its fullest.
3.1. Visit the Royal Palace of Madrid
If you go to Madrid, the first thing to visit here should be the Royal Palace of Madrid. It is located on the west side of Downtown, on Calle de Bailén, east of River Manzanares.
It was made for King Philip V of the Royal family in the Mid-1700s and it stands on the burned-down Moorish Alcázar fortress site. This is the largest royal castle in west Europe.
Today, it is Spain’s royal family’s official residence and is used for official functions only.
The castle has more than 139,354 Square meters of floor space with more than 3,400 rooms. It is made on basis of Bernini’s design for the Louvre Museum.
Due to its huge size, you might be only able to see some of these rooms at once.
Certain tour trails change every few months for the guided tour but you will defnitely get to see the art of Caravaggio, Velázquez, and Goya.
There are other incarnate things on display to see. It includes silverware, armour, and much more.
3.2. Explore the Golden Triangle of Art
Madrid has a Golden Triangle of Art which has three famous and busiest art museums.
Madrid’s Art Triangle includes the Thyssen Bornemisza Museum, Reina Sofía Museum, and Museum Paseo del Prado. These are home to some renowned arts.
The Museo del Prado in Central Madrid has art exhibitions that have masterpieces of Spanish artists like Goya, El Greco, Caravaggio, Francisco Zurbarán, Diego Velázquez, and much more. People flock to this place to see Las Meninas of Velázquez and Bosch’s Earthly delights.
Reina Sofía is a national museum that is all about 20th-century art. They exhibit the permanent collection of Salvador Dali, El Greco, Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris, Miró, and sculptor Eduardo Chillida. The most visited art is Picasso’s Guernica.
Thyssen Bornemisza Museum was a private art collection of a baron and his son. They have more than 1000 art paintings of famous European and American artists of the 13th to 20th centuries like Monet, Tintoretto, Rembrandt, and more, some on temporary exhibitions.
3.3. Plaza Mayor
Having 9 entrances with a huge space, a 400-year-old bronze statue of King Philip III, and many frescoes from the 17th century, Plaza Mayor is a must-visit in Madrid.
Plaza Mayor is located in the oldest part of the city and there are historic high residential properties. It used to be the place for crowning ceremonies, outdoor markets, bullfights, public executions, and more.
There are also various cafes and watching people while having coffee is a thing in Plaza Mayor.
After having a good time in the Plaza Mayor square, enjoy a beer on the terrace but it can be a bit expensive. Make sure to try the quintessential Madrid dish, Bocadillo de calamares aka Calamari sandwich.
If you are visiting Plaza Mayor during winter, make sure to visit the Christmas market and festival for San Isidro, a Spanish saint.
3.4. Take a Stroll Around Retiro Park
This is a great garden situated in Plaza de la Independencia and is just a few minutes away from the Prado.
El Retiro park houses open cafes, rose gardens with more than 4000 types, gazebos, and much more.
The Statue Walk, a path lined with 18th-century bronze statues of people in Spanish culture, and a manmade lake next to Alfonso XII’s monument, are must-visits.
You should also visit the oldest tree in the city, Montezuma Cypress, and the Palacio de Cristal, a greenhouse from 1887 when in El Retiro Park.
El Retiro Park is also a great place to sunbathe, stroll and relax in the green spaces in the late afternoon. There is also a great and beautiful ballroom.
Sit near fountains in El Retiro Park and take in nature’s beauty. There is also a popular statue dedicated to El Diablo, Angel Caido.
3.5. Visit Gran Vía
It is an avenue that has entertainment, culture, and shopping and is also the busiest shopping centre in the city. There are many malls here that are home to brands like H&M, Zara, and various luxury brands.
There are cinema theatres and stage theatres where you can see movies or a musical.
This place is also where the nightlife comes alive with top nightclubs. They also have restaurants and cafes that offer great dishes.
Make sure to visit the iconic Telefónica building in Gran Vía from 1928, an early skyscraper that has great panoramic views.
If you are in Retiro park, this place is just a few minutes away from it. It is in central Madrid.
3.6. Spend An evening in Puerta del Sol
Puerta del sol means‘Gate of the Sun’ and it is also the symbolic centre of Spain.
This is the city centre square known as ‘Kilometer 0’. It is also the official point of start for 6 national roads, all of which lead to Sol.
This open space is right next to the Post Office Building or Casa de Correos, also an important place.
The Plaza also has a bronze statue of King Charles III. This historic monument is often shadowed by a famous sculpture on the east of the square, The Bear and the strawberry tree or El Oso y El Madrono, the symbol of Madrid in the Middle Ages.
Everyone here recognizes the big clock at the top of the post office that counts the new year countdown every year.
The vibrant street, Calle Preciados, is where you can go shopping and see many street performers. You can sit back and enjoy the performance and the sight without spending any money as a fun option.
3.7. Go Shopping in El Rastro
Madrid’s infamous flea market is open every Sunday-Saturday morning from 9 am to 3 pm. This is in the neighbourhood of La Latina.
This market brings life to the street of La Latina with its bustling stalls and bars. These 3,500 stalls are open for all alike to enjoy the atmosphere. You can find vintage goodies, furniture, comics, antiques, ceramics, old books, religious relics, plants, and more.
This is a must-visit place in Madrid, Spain. Make sure to buy souvenirs for your loved ones.
The markets in Plaza de Cascorro, Ronda de Toledo, and Ribera de Curtidores have the best shopping region here. Make sure to arrive early to have more time and get better off the lot.
Note – Most of the shops only accept cash, not cards, so keep in mind to take cash.
3.8. Visit the Templo de Debod
This authentic Egyptian temple has a great history to it. The temple goes back to 2200 BCE. It was later moved to the city from Aswan in 1968.
It was gifted by the Egyptian government as a thank-you for their assistance in protecting Abu Simbel temples during the Aswan Dam’s construction. It was taken apart and rebuilt from stone to stone to its original form.
This temple honours the Isis and Amun gods. There are many decorative and religious motifs and projections that tell history.
This is one of the best places to see the most incredible sunset, however, it is quite small and can only hold 15 people at once which can cause it to be quite crowded.
3.9. Spend Some Peaceful Time in La Almudena Cathedral
This 19th century is in the Calle de Bailén, south of the Royal Palace. It is also near the Egyptian temple.
The design of Almudena Cathedral is a mix of Gothic revival and Neoclassical styles and the interior of the church is almost similar to the royal palace.
There is a museum that tells about its history as well as a 16th-century Neo-Romanesque crypt that has the painting of the Virgin, La Almudena.
This church was consecrated by Pope John Paul in 1993 and this is also where King Philip and Queen got married.
The cemetery also has many notable Spaniards resting there. It is free to enter the church but to access the art museum and crypt, there is a fee.
3.10. Taste the Infamous Churros at San Ginés
Churros are deep-fried piped dough and we recmened you have it with Spanish hot chocolate.
It is so rich that it is one of the most luxurious things to try and is perfect for winter.
Try the perfect sugary churros in San Ginés.
They have been selling churros and hot chocolate for 24 hours since 1894. They have a prepaid ticket system to serve everyone that comes here.
Also, try the ‘Porras’ similar to Churros along with the chocolate.
San Ginés is just a few steps away from Puerta del Sol.
3.11. Stroll Around the Markets and Taste New Dishes
There are many food markets in Madrid, some of them with many years of history.
Mercado de San Miguel and San Fernando Markets are two of the most famous markets.
Mercado de San Miguel is the place to taste classic Spanish cuisine. There is a food hall in the building. This market goes back to 1916 and is the largest municipal market in Europe. It is just an easy walk from Plaza Mayor.
You get to try many samples from 24 or so gourmet stalls, which is the main site of this place. There are tapas bars, fresh produce markets, and more. This place might be a bit pricey, but there are free samples.
Mercado de San Fernando is another popular market to try out. This is a market of traditional fishmongers and butchers. These stalls are loved along with the international cuisine here.
This market might not be as famous as other markets, but this is a great place to enjoy and try new things. It is in the Lavapiés neighbourhood.
This place was made after the Spanish Civil War and has been renovated over the years.
This market is known for its high-quality products, bars, and cafes. Pay- per- Bookshops and beer stalls are one of the hit stalls here.
3.12. Visit the National Archaeological Museum
This iconic museum is invaluable as it tells all about Spain’s rich history.
It is located at the Calle de Serrano along with the National Spanish Library and was founded in 1867 by Isabella II of Spain.
There are so many historic pieces in the museum from various parts of the country. Many items in the museum go as far as Roman times.
The Lady of Elche in the museum is a woman with a detailed headdress and coils above her ears. There are also a vis-gothic set of crosses and crowns that goes back to the 600s known as the Treasure of Guarrazar.
3.13. Walk around Palacio de Cibeles
This great building is at the main intersection with the famous Paseo del Arte.
It was opened in 1907 and is the headquarters of the Madrid city council. It earlier used to be the country’s headquarters post office.
There is now a cultural centre that hosts rotating exhibitions and concerts. Make sure to walk past the grand structure to see the immaculate fountains.
Climb to the roof terrace to see the great views of the city. There are also restaurants in the building to try out.
While entry is free, you have to buy tickets for events.
3.14. Go to the Atocha Train Station
Atocha Station was opened in 1851 and it was the 1st major railway station in Madrid. It is at the end of Paseo del Prado and Caixa Forum.
Along with it being a completely working train station, there is a huge botanical garden.
The botanical garden in the atrium has more than 5,000 plants that are from 400 various species from different continents. There are a lot of restaurants, cafes, and shops that surround the garden.
Just arrive early to explore more and less crowd. This tropical garden has tall trees that reach the roof of the station.
3.15. Visit the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium
The football scene in Madrid and Spain is superb. Real Madrid is the most famous and successful team with an amazing record with 11 European cups.
This stadium is also named after the longest president of the team and has a capacity of almost 85,000 people.
To see the stadium, complete there is always a tour that offers panoramic views.
They also show the dressing room, press room, presidential box, training area, trophies, dugouts, and much more.
There is also a museum that has jerseys, memorabilia, and all about the history of football in the country.
Additionally, they also host live entertainment and concerts.
3.16. Enjoy Concerts
Frequent concerts happen in Madrid. It happens almost any day of the week. They are mostly in live music venues. Many bars also freely host open-mic sessions.
You can even hear live blues by international and local names late at night.
If you are visiting the city during a festival like Christmas, there are always free concerts held at the public squares here.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q.1. Is 2 days enough for Madrid, Spain?
Ans- While 2 days are perfect to go to all the major sights of Madrid, it is best to have more than 2 days planned.
Q.2. What is Madrid best known for?
Ans- Madrid is famous for its food markets, monuments, royals, museums, and busy nightlife.
Q.3. What is the best time to visit Madrid, Spain?
Ans- The best time to visit Madrid, Spain is during the fall or early spring.
Q.4. Is Madrid better than Barcelona?
Ans- Madrid is better than Barcelona as it is cheaper, the food is better, more things to do and has great architecture.
Q.5. Is Madrid, Spain costly?
Ans- While it is quite costly when it comes to living there as compared to other Spanish cities. But it is affordable compared to other major cities.
Madrid, the capital of Spain is a perfect place to have a holiday. It is a city of tapas, great street life, and bright lights. Numerous historic monuments have so much history connected to them. There are always guided tours in the city.
There are so many things to do in Madrid like exploring the markets, art museums, art galleries, terrace restaurants, and much more. There is even an Egyptian temple. There are also so many things to do other than those mentioned below.
Make sure to go through this list before making the itinerary to have a great time and see all the important places in Madrid.