17 best things to do in Madrid: my personal list (2024)

best things to do in madrid

“What are the best things to do in Madrid?” You can’t imagine how many times I get asked this question…

If you’re planning a trip to Madrid and want to experience the city like a local, you’re in for a treat. It’s extremely easy to find activities to occupy you whether you’re in Madrid for the first time or you’ve been here repeatedly.

To help you organize your trip, I’ve put together a list of my favorite things to do in Madrid, and trust me, these are the spots I recommend to all my foreign friends.

This isn’t your usual tourist guide – I’ve got some cool, interesting, and off-the-beaten-track places that will make your visit unforgettable.

So, get ready to dive into the real Madrid and explore some hidden gems with me!

Get organized with my Madrid guides

Before you start, have a look at my essential Madrid guides. I’m sure they’ll also come in handy:

My favorite 17 best things to do in Madrid

Planning what you want to see in advance is key. Looking at a map, you’ll surely have a thousand questions… But how to know what are the best things to do in Madrid?

Don’t worry! There’s no need to do a deep research.

I’ve done all the work for you, and I’ve put together my 17 favorite things to help you organize your visit.

Spend hours in the Prado Museum

What is it? Spain’s world-famous museum of art.

Why go? It’s undoubtedly one of the world’s greatest collections of art with over 2,000 paintings (and hundreds more sculptures, prints, and drawings).

Don’t miss: It would be impossible to list all the unmissable masterpieces. The best way to make the most out of your time is to book a skip-the-line guided tour.

Discover Debod, Spain’s only Egyptian temple

What is it? The only Egyptian temple in Spain.

Why go? The Templo de Debod dates back more than 2,200 years and it would have been flooded after the Aswan Dam construction.

Don’t miss: The chance of capturing the sunset on your smartphone.

Visit the Royal Palace

What is it? The Royal Palace of Madrid, also known as Palacio Real, is the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family. However, it’s now primarily used for state ceremonies.

Why go? It’s an opportunity to marvel at the grandeur and opulence of Spanish royalty and get a glimpse of the rich cultural heritage of Spain. Take advantage of a skip-the-line ticket for a guided tour of this impressive royal residence.

Don’t miss: The Throne Room is of the most breathtaking rooms in the palace, adorned with stunning chandeliers, rich red velvet, and elaborate ceiling frescoes by Tiepolo.

Shop at El Rastro flea market

What is it? The city’s famous flea market.

Why go? Like a regular flea market, you can get all sort of things from clothes, accessories, household items, and even antiques. It spills onto quite a few streets, so you need to meander quite a bit if you want to see everything.

Don’t miss: Arrive at 9:00 right when it opens and you’ll beat the crowds.

Discover Madrid on an eco tuk tuk

What is it? A quick 2-hour spin around the city on an electric tuk-tuk tour with an English speaking guide.

Why go? You’ll zip past all the cool spots in Madrid, spotting places you might want to check out more later.

Don’t miss: The chance to ask all the questions you need to organize your days in Madrid.

Stroll and relax in El Retiro Park

What is it? Madrid’s biggest park.

Why go? El Parque del Retiro is a great place for sunbathing, strolling and general all-out relaxing.

Don’t miss: The elegant Palacio de Cristal and the Ángel Caído – a famous statue dedicated to the devil.

See Picasso’s masterpiece at the Reina Sofía

What is it? Madrid’s contemporary and modern art museum.

Why go? It’s a must-visit for art aficionados. Explore Madrid’s Reina Sofia Museum with a knowledgeable guide.

Don’t miss: Pablo Picasso’s famous ‘Guernica’ (1937).

Get up early to eat churros at San Ginés

What is it? A well-known place to get churros con chocolate in Madrid.

Why go? The Chocolatería de San Ginés has been serving churros 24/7 since 1894. Order then with a cup of thick dipping chocolate.

Don’t miss: The quiet atmosphere on an early morning as it gets crowded on afternoons.

Experience Flamenco at Corral de la Morería

What is it? A world-renowned flamenco venue.

Why go? Corral de la Morería offers an intimate setting where you can enjoy breathtaking flamenco alongside delicious dishes and fine wines.

Don’t miss: The bailaora’s fast feet movements!

See the best views from Círculo de Bellas Artes

What is it? A cultural center with a rooftop terrace.

Why go? The Círculo de Bellas Artes offers you the best views across Madrid.

Don’t miss: The cocktail bar at sunset…

Admire amazing art at the Thyssen-Bornemisza museum

What is it? The former private collection of Baron Hans-Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza now state-owned.

Why go? Together with the Museo Nacional del Prado and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, the Thyssen-Bornemisza forms Madrid’s prestigious “Golden Triangle” of art. This museum has a catalogue of 775 paintings.

Don’t miss: Artworks by Van Gogh and Hopper. Join a guided visit of the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum.

Stroll around the San Fernando Market

What is it? A local food market where you can take a look at traditional stalls and grab a bit in those offering international cuisine.

Why go? It is not be as touristy as some of the other markets in Madrid. So it is a great place to watch life go by while relaxing at one of its bars or cafés.

Don’t miss: La Casquería, a pay-by-weight bookshop.

Visit the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu

What is it? The Estadio Santiago Bernabéu is the city’s main fútbol (or soccer) stadium and the domain of the city’s most popular team: Real Madrid.

Why go? Football is an integral part of Spanish life, and the stadium’s sheer size is example of this. You can either go to a match or do the ‘Bernabéu Tour’ and walk through the most emblematic areas of the stadium.

Don’t miss: The collection of UEFA Champions League trophies.

Enjoy art and markets at Matadero Madrid

What is it? A cutting-edge cultural center in a former slaughterhouse.

Why go? Matadero Madrid was an abattoir before being left empty and abandoned for many years. In 2007, however, this beautiful complex was transformed into an arts space.

Don’t miss: The free exhibitions and the weekend markets.

Go on a tapas and wine tasting tour

What is it? A stroll through the streets with a guide to sample authentic tapas dishes at 4 or 5 popular bars, with a drink in each one.

Why go? A delicious tapas tour is the best way to discover Madrid’s vibrant culinary scene. To keep this experience intimate, group size is limited to 12 people.

Don’t miss: The chance to ask your guide about additional options to continue exploring and tasting independently.

Purchase homemade sweets by cloistered nuns

What is it? The hidden Monasterio de Corpus Christi has a bakery run by cloistered nuns popularly known as “Las Carboneras” (“Coal Women”).

Why go? In the 19th century, the nuns began to sell their sweets as a way to be self-sufficient and obtain the financial funds to preserve the building. And nowadays, you can still buy these delicious sweets, handmade by nuns.

Don’t miss: The amazing lemon flavored biscuits.

Tour the Cívitas Metropolitano Stadium

What is it? The Cívitas Metropolitano is the home stadium of Atlético de Madrid football club.

Why go? Discover the vibrant history of this classic Spanish Football Club since its inception in 1903. You can either go to a match or do the ‘Cívitas Metropolitano Tour’ and walk through the most emblematic areas of the stadium.

Don’t miss: The Club’s impressive collection of trophies.

Things to do in Madrid: events calendar

Madrid is a vibrant city that boasts tons of fun things to do, but with so many choices, you may still not sure of what to do in Madrid.

Well, there is nothing to worry about.

Take a peek at my selection of the most important events taking place in Madrid and start planning your next visit!

You’ll discover the most important events in the city and you won’t miss a thing.

Start planning your upcoming trip to Madrid

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