Madrid top 10

Puerta de Alcala

Madrid is one of Europe’s largest cities and top cultural hubs. Once the center of one of the world’s most powerful empires, the Spanish capital boasts spectacular palaces, parks, world class museums, romantic medieval streets and churches, colossal basilicas and state of the art architecture.

With so much to see and do in Madrid, here’s our suggestion for things you really shouldn’t miss.

Jump to: First time visitors | Repeating visitors | Madrid for Families | Excursions near Madrid

Madrid for first time visitors

  1. Take one of the free tours to get to know the city.
  2. Take a stroll along the Gran Via.
  3. Take a photo with Don Quijote and Sancho Panza at Plaza de España.
  4. Explore the Parque del buen Retiro and find out how it got this name (Good Retreat).
  5. If you’re into art, check out the Doña Sofía Museum for some of the finest modern and contemporary art collection, including the famous Guernica by Picasso.
  6. Get lost in the central La Latina neighbourhood to enjoy its cosy streets and squares, find tiny romantic churches and historic houses of wealthy families.
  7. Find and admire the Plaza Mayor, a fine example of the traditional Spanish enclosed plazas.
  8. Roam around the Royal Palace, discover the rulers of Spain since Gothic times and admire the magnificent Royal gardens.
  9. Find the Bear and strawberry tree – the symbol of Madrid at Puerta del Sol.
  10. Visit the gigantic Santiago Bernabeu stadium – home of the legendary Real Madrid football club.

Madrid for repeating visitors

Puerta de Alcala
Puerta de Alcala
  1. Explore the Museo Nacional del Prado, one of the world’s most famous and important art museums. This might take you several hours (that’s why we didn’t suggest this for first-timers. 😉
  2. Find the remaining monumental gates of Madrid’s city walls: Puerta de Alcalá and Puerta de Toledo.
  3. Take a walk, bike or skate at the banks and parks along the Manzanares river.
  4. Discover the ancient Templo de Debod, brought piece by piece from Egypt.
  5. Visit the monumental Monasterio del Escorial on the outskirts of Madrid.
  6. Awe at the spectacular Atocha train station indoor garden.
  7. Get to the top of Faro de Moncloa for some breathtaking views of downtown Madrid.
  8. Grab a book from the famous book stands at Cuesta de Moyano (Between Retiro park and Atocha train station).
  9. On a Sunday go explore El Rastro, a legendary flea market where you can find everything and anything.
  10. Take a walk along Paseo de la Castellana, one of the most important avenues and gateway to modern Madrid. Here you can find many historical buildings contrasting with the tallest skyscrapers.

Madrid for families

Don Quijote and Sancho Panza statues at Plaza de España, Madrid
Don Quijote and Sancho Panza statues at Plaza de España
  1. Enjoy a fun day at Parque de Atracciones, one of the largest amusement parks in Spain.
  2. Have some family fun at the Madrid Rio (Manzanares river parks) area.
  3. Find the great telescope at the Royal Observatory and learn more about the universe at the planetarium.
  4. Warner amusement park is another great option to spend the day, though it is a bit farther from the city center.
  5. Get some adrenaline going at the Carlos Sainz Go-Kart Center (for children age 8 and above).
  6. Take a photo with Don Quijote and Sancho Panza at Plaza de España.
  7. Try some churros and porras with hot chocolate.

Excursions near Madrid

  1. One of the most popular excursion destinations from Madrid is Toledo (70km SW) – a UNESCO listed medieval town with an impressive alcazar (castle) and cathedral.
  2. Alcalá de Henares is a historic town dating from Roman times, and home to the ancient Complutense University of Madrid.
  3. Segovia (70km NW) is another must if you have enough time. The charming town has one of the best preserved Roman aqueducts in the world, and also an impressive cathedral. If you head to Segovia, you should also visit the Royal Palace of La Granja.
  4. The Real Monasterio de San Lorenzo del Escorial, or simply El Escorial (40km NW), is more a town in its own right than just a monastery. It’s colossal, monumental and definitely worth visiting.
  5. Sierra de Guadarrama can be seen from every part of the city, though you can only discover its many treasures from up close. Small lakes, snow covered peaks, lush meadows and lovely villages can be found in the Sierra, which has recently become a National Park.
  6. The town of Aranjuez (45km S) on the Tajo (Tejo) river is also home to a monumental royal palace.
  7. El  Pardo (13km N) is another baroque royal palace near Madrid worth visiting.
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