Madrid is the bustling capital of Spain that mixes the historical legacy of a cultural city with elements of present day infrastructure. As you meander through the streets, you will find the historic architecture blends perfectly with an energetic, modern population. Madrid is often used as a starting or ending point for a Spanish vacation. The city contains an artistic, cultural and historic legacy that is crucial to understanding Spanish life. While Madrid might be a busy cosmopolitan city, it’s residents move slowly, savoring every moment. It is not a city that is to be missed! Take a look at our Insider’s Guide that will showcase the best things to do in Madrid and paint a picture of the beauty of this city.
Villa Magna: an amazing 5-star property in the Salamanca district. It’s proximity to Retiro Park and Calle Serrano, the upscale shopping street, provides the perfect morning or afternoon walk. The rooms in the hotel are immaculate with purple and gray accents. The brand-new spa is something you will want to enjoy as well. I mean, who doesn’t want to soak in an infinity jacuzzi?
Hotel Orfila: a small 5-star boutique hotel located in the heart of Madrid. It is a quaint property that makes one feel as if you have been invited into someone’s home. The service is unlike anything I have experienced before. My favorite part? The rooms. European hotel rooms are notoriously small, but not at the Orfila. These rooms are large, with a sitting area and grand bathroom. I could have stayed forever.
Mercado de San Miguel: near the Plaza Mayor, this typical European market serves all the Spanish cuisine your heart could desire. From Nutella crepes, to fresh meat and seafood, you can sample every bit.
El Gourmet Experience: this is THE spot for foodies located on Serrano Street. Take a trip at sunset and choose from one of the many featured restaurant options. You simply cannot make a wrong choice.
El Botin: take a deep dive into Spanish culture and fully immerse yourself. Rumored to be one of the oldest restaurants in the world, they serve traditional Spanish dishes. I think it’s pretty neat to be able to dine in the same establishment as Ernest Hemingway, don’t you?
Cebo: looking for a Chef’s Table experience? This is your spot. Go for the tasting menu and try all of the chef’s recommendations. You won’t be disappointed.
Emma Cocina: a cute and accommodating neighborhood spot. Empanadas, potatoes, chicken and cod are the staples. For the healthy traveler, Emma Cocina offers a great salad!
La Mallorquina Bakery: a sweet spot for a sweet treat. Don’t you dare pass up a chocolate croissant.
Atocha: Estación de Madrid Atocha (Atocha Station) is the largest railway station in Madrid, servicing regional, intercity, and AVE high speed trains. Spain awaits you!
Puerta del Sol: a busy, bustling square in the heart of Madrid. It contains many key monuments such as the post office that anchors the city and the statue of the bear. This makes the list of best things to do in Madrid because you can spin around in every direction to find a new and exciting street.
Royal Palace: although the royals no longer live here, it is a beautiful, ornate palace used for state dinners and ceremonies. One can only dream…
Plaza Mayor: the plazas in European countries always make big cities seem smaller. Grab some tapas and a glass of Sangria, people watch, take your time. Plaza Mayor is especially beautiful at sunset when the Madrid sky decides to put on a show.
Gran Via: the most lively street in Madrid that showcases upscale shopping, Spanish broadway and exciting nightlife. Note – spaniards don’t typically hit the clubs until past midnight. You might be a tad early if you go out on typical US time.
Buen Retiro Park: direct translation = Park of the Pleasant Retreat. Take a paddle boat around the lake or buy a bocadillo (sandwich) to make a picnic on the grass. Better yet, take a full Segway tour around the park. To my surprise, this is one of my favorite things I’ve done in Madrid.
The Prado Museum: Highly regarded as one of the best museums in the world, The Prado contains works by El Greco, Velázquez, Goya, Bosch, Van Dyck and Rembrandt. My personal favorite is Velazquez’s “Las Mininas”. The painting changes shape and meaning as you perceive it from three different angles around the room.
Reina Sofia: Located in the old General Hospital and home to highly esteemed permanent modern art collections. Here, you can admire works by Picasso and Dalí. Perhaps the most famous of the bunch is Picasso’s Guernica, a painting that can be pulled apart with meaning for hours.
Soccer Match: the very best things to do in Madrid is see a fútbol (soccer) match while in Spain. It is a cultural staple and more energized than any American football game. Depending on who Real Madrid is playing, it shouldn’t be too difficult to get tickets.
Plaza de Cibeles: this plaza has become a central point in Madrid and the monument remains an icon. After a Real Madrid win, the players will head to the plaza to be greeted by thousands of cheering fans.