- Explore the Old City
- Eat at Madrid’s Food Markets
- Discover Madrid’s Famous Art Scene
- Hire a Rowing Boat at Retiro Park
- Experience Madrid’s Tapas Street
- Go to a Sofar Sounds Secret Gig
- Find Treasures at El Rastro Market
- Enjoy Traditional Spanish Flamenco
- Walk the Players’ Tunnel at The Bernabeu
- Marvel at the Templo de Debod
- Catch the Train to Toledo or Segovia
Madrid, the vibrant capital of Spain, is a city that seamlessly blends rich history with cutting-edge culture. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a food lover, or a night owl, Madrid has something for everyone.
In this blog post, we’ll unveil the top attractions, must-see sights, and hidden gems that make Madrid a must-visit destination. From indulging in chocolate-dipped churros to Madrid 5* hotels and exploring the city’s cool and unusual offerings, this guide will help you make the most of your visit to the Spanish capital.
First time in Madrid? I can highly recommend using the Go City Pass to save a ton of money on entrance fees and tickets. The all inclusive pass provides access to all of Madrid’s paid attractions including the palaces, museums and galleries, hop-on-hop-off bus tour, flamenco shows, Real Madrid stadium tour and even segway tours around the city!
These are the best things to do in Madrid:
1. Explore the Old City
Madrid’s historic quarter, also known as Madrid de los Austrias is a captivating district that showcases the city’s rich history and architectural grandeur.
Located in the heart of the Spanish capital, it encompasses an area of narrow, winding streets lined with stunning Renaissance and Baroque buildings.
This historical neighborhood is home to iconic landmarks like the Royal Palace, Almudena Cathedral, Plaza Mayor, and Puerta del Sol, each carrying centuries of cultural significance (these are all things to see in one day in Madrid).
As well as the above attractions, don’t miss Plaza de la Villa, one of the must-see attractions in Madrid where you’ll find the oldest buildings still standing in the city.
Looking for unusual things to do in Madrid? Just at the back of this square you can buy homemade biscuits from nuns through a secret hatch, which is pretty cool.
Also, the Muslim Walls, which were built in the 9th century are worth a visit for history-lovers.
To really immerse yourself in Madrid’s history, you should do this brilliant small group walking tour with Lexi, it’s the best walking tour in Madrid.
It’s also one of the top-rated things to do in Madrid by yourself, providing the opportunity to meet other solo travellers.
If you’re searching for crazy things to do in Madrid, I think you’ll love the Old City Segway Tour, which includes Churros and Chocolate at the famous Chocolatería San Ginés.
2. Eat at Madrid’s Food Markets
Madrid’s food markets are a food lover’s paradise, offering a vibrant and diverse culinary experience.
The most famous market, Mercado de San Miguel, is a beautifully restored iron structure where visitors can indulge in an array of gourmet delights like tapas, seafood, and local specialties.
Mercado de San Antón is known for its international cuisine, and rooftop terrace offering panoramic city views (one of the amazing things to do in Chueca, Madrid) whilst Antón Martín Market is known for its epic homemade croquetas stall.
Mercado de San Fernando in the arty Lavapiés neighbourhood is a vibrant multicultural hub in Madrid, offering a diverse range of international flavors and fresh produce.
It showcases the neighborhood’s cultural diversity through its wide variety of cuisines, including Indian, African, Middle Eastern, and Latin American.
It’s a must-visit for food enthusiasts seeking global culinary experiences in Madrid and has a real ‘locals vibe’. Don’t miss La Tentación tacos, they are the best I’ve ever tasted.
Trying one of the city’s food markets is undoubtedly one of the 10 best things to do in Madrid.
When people ask ‘Is Madrid expensive?’, I direct them to Anton Martin or San Fernando food markets so they can see for themselves the reasonably priced food and drinks.
Visiting a food market is one of the ultimate things to do in Madrid at night, offering a buzzing ambience every night of the week.
3. Discover Madrid’s Famous Art Scene
Madrid’s art scene is thriving, with a wealth of world-class museums, galleries, and cultural institutions.
The Prado Museum, one of the top sights in Madrid, houses an exceptional collection of European art, while the Reina Sofia Museum showcases contemporary and modern masterpieces.
Make sure you book your tickets to the art museums in advance because slots often sell out (if you want to visit both museums as well as other brilliant attractions like the Royal Palace, it’s definitely worth getting a Go City Pass).
Visiting one of these art galleries is also one of the top things to do in Madrid when it’s hot, as you can escape the sun inside the cool marble buildings.
Madrid also has incredible street art, and discovering it is one of the top things to do in Madrid for young adults. Take a wander down Calle de Embajadores in Lavapiés to see some of the most beautiful graffiti in the city (stopping off at LAP Bar Café for a vermouth on the terrace beside some artwork).
To finish off your art tour of Lavapiés, you need to check out The Ryder Projects, a brilliant contemporary art gallery showcasing thought-provoking pieces.
4. Hire a Rowing Boat at Retiro Park
Wondering what to see in Madrid? Retiro Park needs to be top of your list.
Renting a rowboat in Retiro Park is one of the city’s top attractions.
Inside Retiro Park, an oasis of green in the heart of the city, visitors can rent rowing boats to explore the serene Retiro Lake.
It’s a tranquil escape from the bustling city, perfect for relaxation and enjoying the park’s natural beauty.
Costing around $6 for 45 minutes, renting a boat is also one of the best cheap things to do in Madrid, Spain.
Prefer to stay on dry land instead? You’ll enjoy this epic bike tour around Retiro Park and the Crystal Palace (visiting Crystal Palace and Velázquez Palace are the top things to do in Retiro Park, Madrid).
5. Experience Madrid’s Tapas Street
There are tonnes of incredible foodie experiences you can have in Madrid, from paella cooking classes to michelin-star dining.
Trying tapas is one of the best things to do in Barcelona, but Madrid’s tapas scene is even better.
Did you know there is a famous tapas street in Madrid? It’s one of the things about Madrid I’ll never get over.
Madrid’s Tapas Street is called Calle de la Cava Baja, and it’s where you need to go for the best tapas in the city.
The long narrow street, lined with tapas bars and restaurants, is just a few minutes’ walk from Plaza Mayor in the centre of Madrid.
All you need to do is head to this street and enjoy a leisurely afternoon popping in and out of all the taverns.
This is a great thing to do in Madrid in December, as you can stay warm as you hop between the cosy taverns.
6. Go to a Sofar Sounds Secret Gig
Sofar Sounds Madrid is a part of a global community that brings together artists and music lovers in intimate and unique settings.
Booking tickets for Sofar Sounds gig is one of the best hidden things to do in Madrid.
The organization hosts secret gigs in private spaces, offering a platform for emerging and established artists to perform for small and attentive audiences.
You’ll find out the location of the gig 24 hours before, and usually you can ‘bring your own booze’ and snacks. We took a cheese board and wine, which was delicious (this is also one of the cutest Madrid things to do for couples!).
The events aim to create a special connection between the artist and the audience, providing an alternative to traditional live music experiences.
Sofar Sounds Madrid showcases a variety of music genres, from indie and folk to jazz and electronic, and creates a memorable experience for both the performers and attendees.
If you’re looking for unique things to do in Madrid, you can’t miss Sofar Sounds.
7. Find Treasures at El Rastro Market
El Rastro flea market in Madrid is a vibrant and bustling market held every Sunday and public holiday.
Found in the vibrant La Latina neighbourhood, it offers a treasure trove of antiques, vintage clothing, art, and more.
Visitors can explore the narrow streets lined with stalls, soak in the lively atmosphere and music floating from every street corner.
After the market, it’s tradition for locals to head to one of La Latina’s many taverns for a caña and some tapas to refuel.
8. Enjoy Traditional Spanish Flamenco
Tablao Flamenco Torres Bermejas is a renowned flamenco venue in Madrid.
It offers captivating performances by talented flamenco artists in a traditional setting.
The intimate space, adorned with Moorish-style décor, creates an authentic atmosphere, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the passion and artistry of this iconic Spanish dance form.
If you get your ticket as part of the Go City Pass, you get a free drink on arrival too!
9. Walk the Players’ Tunnel at The Bernabeu
Visiting the Real Madrid stadium, Santiago Bernabeu, is a thrilling experience for football enthusiasts.
The Bernabeu offers guided tours that provide an up-close look at the club’s rich history, trophies, and iconic memorabilia.
Visitors can explore the players’ tunnel, step onto the pitch, and visit the team’s dressing room.
The stadium tour also includes access to the museum, where exhibits showcase the club’s legendary players and victories.
With its grand architecture and electrifying atmosphere, a visit to the Santiago Bernabeu allows fans to immerse themselves in the storied legacy of one of the world’s most renowned football clubs.
10. Marvel at the Templo de Debod
Templo de Debod is an ancient Egyptian temple located in Madrid’s Parque del Oeste.
Gifted by Egypt, it was dismantled and rebuilt in Spain.
Visitors can admire its impressive architecture, explore the interior museum, and enjoy stunning sunset views over the city from its surroundings.
This is also one of the best places to visit in Madrid for free.
11. Catch the Train to Toledo or Segovia
There are two beautiful historic cities just a train ride from Madrid – Toledo and Segovia.
Toledo is a historic city in central Spain, known for its rich cultural heritage.
It features stunning medieval architecture, including the Toledo Cathedral and Alcázar fortress.
The city offers a blend of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim influences, making it a captivating destination for history and art lovers.
Segovia is a picturesque city in central Spain, famous for its Roman aqueduct, Alcázar castle, and stunning Gothic cathedral.
It is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and offers a charming old town filled with narrow streets, beautiful architecture, and a rich history.
Suckling pig, known as “cochinillo,” is a specialty in Segovia. It is roasted to perfection, resulting in tender, flavorful meat with a crispy skin, making it a must-try culinary delight in the city.
Got 3 or 4 days in Madrid? Definitely do a day trip to either Toledo or Segovia. OR, avoid the hassle of checking train timetables and join a full day tour of BOTH Toledo and Segovia.
Visiting one of these historic cities is undoubtedly one of the best things to do near Madrid.
I really hope you’ve enjoyed my Things To Do in Madrid Blog, we think it’s much better than Culture Trip! Don’t miss the Best Food Experiences in Madrid or the Best Luxury Holiday Apartments in Madrid.