Madrid: Top 25+ Best Things to See & Do

This list took way too long to post. I wrote most of it over two year ago for a friend who was taking his family to Madrid, and I have shared it a gazillion times on message boards and groups, copying and pasting it from my Notes. But for some reason, it never made it to my blog, until now. Anyway! If you don’t already know, I live part of the year in Madrid in a cute little flat close to Atocha. And because I have plenty of time on my hands while I’m there, I’m able to explore my absolute most favorite city on the globe. This list is broken into two parts: MUST SEE and DEEPER CUTS. If you’ve never been to Madrid, or you’re only there for a short time, the MUST SEE list is, well, a must. Three days should give you enough time to check most of these off your list, although, technically, you could probably do everything on this list in 24 hours. That would so Spanish of you!


  1. The Plaza Mayor: I know, I know, while technically “Puerta del Sol” is the geographic center of Madrid (for the most part), and where most people can and will end up via public transportation to get to the center, I’ve put the Plaza Mayor at the top of the list for its structural, historical and cultural significance. It is, after all, Madrid’s most iconic square. And besides, it’s right around the corner from Sol anyway. Most importantly, when we think of Madrid, I believe this is the most quintessential structure that embodies our ideal vision of the city. With its solid arches, umbrella’ed terrazas and old shops along the arcade how can you not feel like you’re in España. For more details, read Madrid’s official tourism site.
  2. Drink: Have a late afternoon caña con limón (lemon beer) or a tinto de verano (red wine with either La Casera or lemon-lime soda like Sprite) at an outside cafe in the Barrio Las Letras
  3. Meander through The Retiro: Though not its largest, the Retiro is definitely Madrid’s most popular park.
  4. Shop at Corte Inglés in Puerta del Sol
  5. Visit the Plaza Oriente and the Royal Palace
  6. Stroll around La Latina, and specifically calle Baja y Alta for tapas. Maybe even stop for carrot cake and coffee at Delic, in the Plaza de la Paja.
  7. If you’re there on a Sunday make sure to get up early and visit the Rastro, Spain’s largest outdoor flea market.
  8. Have a cocktail on any rooftop bar on a warm summer night. The Circulo de Belles Artes is a good start.
  9. Want to party on a rooftop? Try Radio atop the Hotel Ana la Santa.
  10. Prado and Reina Sofia museums are must sees.
  11. Visit Toledo. If you have a half day to spare, Toledo is worth the 40-minute train ride. Buy tickets the night before, especially in high season. It’s a gorgeous medieval town with a fabulous cathedral. Also check out botanical garden in Atocha station
  12. Have a chocolate con churros at Chocolatería San Ginés on Pasadizo San Ginés, 5
  13. Mercado San Miguel (close to the Plaza Mayor) a huge open air market for a large array of tapas and drinks


  1. Joaquín Sorolla museum
  2. Alcala de Henares to visit the university and the birth home of Miguel de Cervantes
  3. A stroll around Malasaña to check out the hip cafes and vintage stores
  4. Matadero: a renovated meat processing plant that’s now an art gallery along the Manzanares River
  5. Bathe in the Al Andaluz Hammam
  6. Shop or watch a show at Mercado de los Motores, Museo del Ferrocarril, Paseo de las Delicias, 61, 28045 Madrid
  7. Go to new Oasiz beach
  8. Treat yourself to dinner at Bodegas de los Secretos
  9. Do a personalized food, history or shopping tour or my fav,
  10. Do lunch at Villa Verbena in the Casa de Campo
  11. Visit the Caixa Forum exhibits or at least their green wall
  12. Velazquez tech experience if you’re into Las Meninas
  13. Stroll around the Templo de Debod and check out the awesome overlook in the adjacent park.
  14. Walk the glass catwalk at the RIU Plaza España hotel. It’s 28 stories up!
  15. Check out Chueca. Madrid’s renown 🏳️‍🌈 LGBTQ+ neighborhood is packed with stylish places to eat, drink and shop. Just a hop off at the Chueca Metro line will put you right in the center of its buzzing plaza.

Hammam Al Ándalus Madrid

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