Best Things to Do in Madrid – Spain’s Capital!
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Top Things to Do in this city
for a complete experience!
Madrid, the capital of Spain, once of the most visited cities in the entire country with almost 10-million visits every year. Here we present you the best things to do in Madrid for you to enjoy it as much as we did before! 🙂
We reckon that Madrid was a poorly promoted city, undervalued by European standards. Since we currently live away from Spain, we notice that the city of Barcelona or the coastal cities such as Mallorca or Malaga, are more popular amongst the holiday-makers.
But Madrid is a city of elegant boulevards, well-kept parks such as the Retiro Park and lots of beautiful neighbourhoods to walk for hours or even days. It is famous for its wealth in European art, including the works in the Prado Museum which consists of Goya, Velázquez and other Spanish artists. The centre of old Madrid is the historical Plaza Mayor. And of course, thousands of bars and terraces where you can enjoy the delicious tapas!
You definitely don’t want to miss that! 😉
ESSENTIALS YOU CAN’T MISS:
Plaza Mayor (Main Square)
Back in the days, it was the old center of Madrid. Today, it still attracts many walks of life, so you can expect large crowds on weekends or holidays. This is a great place for a walk, swing by to grab a bite or drinks. The vicinity is full of restaurants where you can taste Madrid’s typical dishes and get those touristy souvenirs from the shops.
Puerta del Sol (City Center)
The Puerta del Sol is another well-known busy-place in Madrid. This is where you’ll find the “Kilometre Zero” building being the center of the radial network of Spanish roads. Yes, this is where the road starts in Spain! In this vicinity and adjoining streets are where you can find the famous international brands fashion stores. Look closely in this picture above, can you spot a bear?? That’s the statue “El Oso y el Madroño”, a sculpture of a bear and a ‘strawberry tree’ that was part of a coat of arms in 13th century Madrid.
Gran Vía Street
It’s the most well-known street in Madrid. Along this street you can find many restaurants, bars, clothing stores, cinemas and theaters. But some of these cinemas and theaters have closed recently, Gran Vía still retains its reputation for being known as the Spanish Broadway. You should check out the lights at night and if you’re taking pictures here, just lookout for your belongings (our rule of thumb for every metro-city).
Gran Vía is one of the streets with lots of nightlife in Madrid and it is also known as the street that never sleeps. It’s also one of the major shopping streets in the city.
The Retiro Park is located in the middle-middle of the city as the most popular and largest in Madrid.
It is great for walks on a good-weather day. Here you can find places of interest such as the Crystal Palace, the Pond where you can rent a boat to paddle around, and also the monument of King Alfonso II.
This really is a great place to run away from the busy streets of Madrid and to connect with nature. In good-weather seasons, the park would be full of people. So if you are lucky to have good weather on your visit, it’s a great place to have a picnic or get drinks with friends.
This has always been the official residence of the Spanish Royal family, until a few years back when the Royals and their daughters moved to the Zarzuela Palace. Today, the Palace was used exclusively for receptions, state ceremonies and official events.
Inside the palace are the Campo del Moro park and the Sabatini gardens. The Campo del Moro Park is open to the public from 10.00am to 6.00pm in Winter and from 10.00am to 8.00pm in Summer. You’d have to pay an admission fee to visit the gardens. We recommend that you buy them in advance to avoid the regular daily long queues.
The changing of guards at the Royal Palace takes place every Wednesday from October to July at 11.00am. The ceremony may be canceled due to official ceremonies or adverse weather conditions.
Next to the Royal Palace is the Almudena Cathedral, constructed in 1883 as one of the main religious buildings in Madrid. The interior is amazing, the ceiling and stained glass are decorated with vibrant colours and straight lines, very different from the classic designs of its time.
You’ll have to pay an entrance fee to enter the building. We recommend that you book and buy them in advance to avoid the usual long queues.
Debod Temple (Located in West Park)
This Temple is the greatest treasure of the city and unfortunately it was only known to the few. It is located in West Park, very close to the Plaza de España (Main Square).
This ancient Egyptian temple had been donated to Spain by the Egyptian state to help save the temple of Abu Simbel, as well as other monuments and archaeological sites, from being buried under the construction of the Aswan high dam.
Around The temple, and inside of the park, you can find vast species of plants, trees and green gardens. In good weather the park is also full of people having drinks and food ready to enjoy a day out and enjoy the views. This makes it another good place for a pit-stop, to rest your foot when you explore the city 🙂
The best time to visit this park is just before sunset or when the lights come on at nightfall, as they make it look more mystical and beautiful.
San Miguel Market
The Market was also located in the middle-middle of Madrid next to Plaza Mayor. Clocking more than 10 million visitors a year, this market is the gastronomic-temple of Madrid.
Inside we found a big variety of traditional Spanish foods. From seafood, Iberian ham, potato omelette and thousands of different types of Tapas.
It’s a good place for some snacks and try some of our typical cuisines. But, we thought that the prices were a bit expensive if you compare to restaurants or other food outlets around the city.
If you’re an art lover, you shouldn’t miss the museums in Madrid. These are some links to their websites to check on the opening times and ticket prices.
BEST CITY VIEWS!
Everytime we visit a new city, there’s one thing we’d never miss, look for the best view of the city from above! Of course, Madrid has not 1, not 2 …but at least 3 places for you to visit.
Go on scroll down this page, because we’re going to reveal the best terraces open to the public where you can enjoy of spectacular views of Madrid. And some of them are …free!
El Corte Inglés Terrace in Callao:
This terrace is located on the ninth floor of the El Corte Ingles Building in Callao area (yes, near the Callao metro station). You don’t have to pay anything to get in and you can take one of the elevators of the building without any problems from the security guards.
At the terrace, you’ll find the Gourmet Experience Gran Vía gastronomic restaurant. So you can also grab a drink (if you want) and enjoy a spectacular viewpoint. You’ll have a great view of the Gran Vía road and the buildings of Plaza de España, as well as the historical area around the Royal Palace.
Circulo de Bellas Artes Terrace:
The building is located in a prominent enclave of the city center, between Alcalá Street and Gran Vía, so you can enjoy a beautiful view of this downtown area of Madrid. It also has a restaurant and cocktail bar, making it one of the busiest places on summer nights. The entrance to the roof is €4.00 per person (2019 prices). GoogleMaps : Circulo de Bellas Artes.
Hotel Riu Plaza España Terrace:
On the roof of the Hotel Riu Plaza España building is the popular terrace known as “From Madrid to the Sky Bar” with stunning 360º views of the entire city. It’s located on the 26th and 27th floor of the building and you can go up taking one of its fast elevators. The price to go up to the terrace is €5.00 per person until 6.00pm and €10.00 after 6.00pm.
BEST DISTRICTS TO VISIT:
Known as the gay district of Madrid, it has gained recognition as the most cosmopolitan and exclusive areas of the city. But the area hasn’t lost character of the old neighbourhood. On this street, you’ll find shops, bars and shops oriented both to the LGBTQ+ community and the general public.
Now this is the cooler side of Madrid. Malasaña is one of our favourite districts to hang out. Its streets has a variety of places with that plays all genres of music. This place has a soul of its own where the new and the vintage are blended together.
This district is full of bars and restaurants where you can taste the most traditional Spanish Tapas. La Latina is the oldest and traditional neighbourhood in Madrid. It’s also a good place to walk around and explore the streets. And if you dig deep enough, you’ll find some hidden beautiful hidden squares.
Letras actually means lyrics, in Spanish. It’s the district that houses the writings and art of the great writers from the Golden Age of Spanish literature such as Cervantes and Quevedo. This is where the 3 previously mentioned museums are located.
Huertas Street is where you can find the tapas bars and clubs, where young people gather on weekends for drinks. The Santa Ana Square is also another tourist attraction with many beautiful terraces.
The posh and elite area of Madrid. In this neighbourhood you can find the most exclusive brand stores and classy restaurants. It’s a good area to visit to see the luxurious buildings. Walking along the famous Serrano Street, go people-watching, window-shopping the high-end shops can be a great adventure! 😉
As you can see, Madrid is a city where you can have a good time and with lots of things to do, you can never get bored.
It’s a city filled with restaurants, where you can try various Spanish cuisines like the famous tapas at good prices. The outdoor terraces for you to enjoy a cold Sangria (drink) while spending time with your travel partner or friends. And not forgetting the hundreds of “Churrerías” where you can taste the authentic, delicious churros with chocolate 😉
It is a city that you can walk for hours visiting the beautiful places where you’ll find the mix between the old and the modern cultures. The city is lively that there’s always something going on from arts, culture and entertainment.
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