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Things to do in Madrid

This huge European city offers visitors the quintessential Spanish experience and memories that last a lifetime. Combining the hustle and bustle of a major city with leisurely but invigorating activities, Madrid has quickly established itself as one of the main tourist destinations of all time. Offering sightseeing, exotic cuisine and hospitable locals, Madrid is a tourist haven that will not disappoint.

Madrid Spain

The capital of Spain, Madrid is located in the south-west of Europe, and is counted as the third-largest European city. This cosmopolitan city is the fusion of modern architecture and cultural heritage. There are many things to do in Madrid, if you are traveling here for the first time. From museums to restaurants, bars, parks, and shopping outlets – tourists are offered a lot to explore here. Most of the buildings here look like castles. To learn about the history and facts of this city, one of the things to do in Madrid is visiting the variety of museums it has in store. Sorolla Museum, Prado National Museum, Museo Cerralbo, Naval Museum, Museo del Romanticismo, Museo de la Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Casa Museo Lope de Vega, Museo del Ferrocarril de Madrid, Museo Geominero, Museo Lazaro Galdiano, and Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, are some of them. These museums are based on science, culture, and artwork. Here you will find paintings of famous painters and many other interesting things. Other top things to do in Madrid comprise of a survey of all the parks in the city. There is a lot of greenery here, and the parks such as Casa de Campo, Madrid Arena and el Parque del Buen Retiro are quite famous.

Places to see in Madrid

If you are looking for a memorable night out, then the places to visit in Madrid are plentiful. Cardamomo Tablao Flamenco, Casa Patas, Flamenco en Vivo, The Madrid Wine Experience, The Madrid Pub Crawl, and El Burladero are a few of the bars and pubs here. You can have a drink or dance the night away at these places. Since the city is old, there are palaces situated here as well, such as Plaza Mayor, Palacio Real, and Plaza de Santa Ana. These palaces are delicately made, behind which many historical tales are hidden. Getting different kinds of tour is one of the interesting things to do in Madrid. Sandeman’s New Madrid Tours, Adventurous Appetites Tapas Tour, Segway Trip Tours, Bravo Bike - Day Tours, and Ogo Tours are a few you can benefit from, and make the most of your trip. Other top landmark places to visit in Madrid are Madrid Cathedral, Plaza de Orientes, Plaza de Cibele, Plaza de la Vill, and Templo de Debod. These are the churches, temples and palaces present in the city. As the day ends, one of many energizing things to do in Madrid is trying Chocolate Con Churros in any traditional Spanish restaurant such as Chocolatería de San Ginés.


Plaza de Cibele

Plaza de Cibele

Featuring Neo-classical style of stunning marble structures accentuated with a beautiful foundation, the Plaza de Cibeles has become the city’s icon. It is situated in the centre of Madrid. The foundation is named after the Greek goddess of fertility, Cybele.

It features Cybele on a chariot being pulled by two lions while holding a sceptre. The lions pulling the chariot symbolize the power of the goddess. This monument was sculpted in the year 1782 by Ventura Rodriguez.
The plaza is intersected by 2 major roads, the road on the north runs towards Paseo del Prado while the road to the west goes towards Calle de Alcalá. Since Plaza de Cibeles is square in shape, on each of the four corners of this plaza, you can find a historic building such as the Palacio de Buenavista which was constructed in the year 1777 that currently serves as the Spanish Army headquarters and the Palacio de Linares which is owned by the organization Casa de América. This building was built in 1877, and there are plenty of things to do in Plaza de Cibeles

However, the most prominent of all the buildings located at the Plaza de Cibeles is the Cybele Palace which resembles a cathedral. It was built by Antonio Palacios in 1909 and served as the postal service headquarters until 2007 when it became the City Hall of Madrid. It is still recommended amongst the many things to do in Madrid.


Plaza de España

Plaza de España

Situated on the west of the Gran Via Street in the centre of Madrid, Plaza de España, also known as the Spain Square, is a popular destination among tourists for sightseeing. The plaza features a stunning monument of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra who was a very famous and renowned Spanish poet, playwright and novelist known for his works like Don Quixote. For this reason, tourists from around the world, who also happen to be fans of Miguel de Cervante, make sure that they stop by, at the Plaza de España to view the monument of their favourite Spanish poet and novelist. This monument was built in five years between 1925 and 1930.

The Plaza is located in the middle of two of the most famous and prominent skyscrapers in Madrid. One is the Madrid Tower which was built in the year 1950 and is the tallest skyscraper in the city. The second skyscraper that is located near the Plaza de España is the España Building. Palacio Real, the Royal Palace is also located a few blocks away.
To reach the Plaza de España, use the subway Lines 3 to 10. It is a great place and one of the must-do things to do in Madrid.


Plaza Mayor

Plaza Mayor

If you are looking for things to do in Madrid, make sure that you visit Plaza Mayor. It is a popular place among locals and tourists alike. From the façade of this plaza to the construction work and interior, everything about this plaza is awe-inspiring.
Situated in the centre of Spain’s capital city, Madrid, the Plaza Mayor is a huge arcaded square boasting a uniform architecture with intricate detailing. This Plaza was constructed during the period of Habsburg and is located near the city’s another famous plaza called the Puerta del Sol.

Plaza Mayor measures 129 x 94 meters and is engulfed by 3 storey buildings having nearly 237 balconies that face the plaza directly. This is a huge plaza that has a total of 9 entrances. This magnificent structure is the work of art of the famous and high-skilled architect, Juan De Villanueva.

This plaza also features a stunning bronze statue of King Philip III. It is situated right in the centre of the square. This statue was created by Pietro Tacca and Jean Boulogne in the year 1616. The plaza presents a place for a variety of activities such as football games, Spanish Inquisitions, and bullfights. It also has a ring of traditional cafés and shops and is one of the most popular tourist attractions that the city of Madrid has to offer.


San Francisco el Grande Basilica

San Francisco el Grande Basilica

San Francisco El Grande Basilica is also known as the Royal Basílica de San Francisco El Grande. This is a breathtaking Roman-Catholic Church located in the heart of Spain’s capital city, Madrid. The Basilica is designed beautifully in Neo-classical style designed by Antonio Plo. For designing this architectural masterpiece, Antonio Plo took inspiration from a design created by Francisco Cabezas.

The building’s main façade faces the gorgeous San Francisco Plaza. The top of the building features a massive dome that measures about 108 feet in diameter and roughly 190 feet in height, bigger than the Saint Paul’s Cathedral located in London. The shape of the dome of this building is surprisingly more circular as compared to the domes that were normally built during the eighteenth century.

The San Francisco El Grande Basilica cathedral contains the finest collections of famous/legendary artists including masterpieces of legends like Francisco Goya, Alonso Cano and Zurbarán. It also features sculptures from Mariano Benlliure and Ricardo Bellver.

It is a beautiful place to visit. The buildings showcases flawless artistry and architectural brilliance that continue to awe-inspire whoever visits this place. You’ll truly enjoy your visit to San Francisco El Grande Basilica, especially if you love history and appreciate art, which is why it is one of the most recommended things to do in Madrid.


Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid

Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid

Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid is located at Plaza de Murillo in Madrid, Spain. The botanical garden is located on a 20-acre land adjacent to the Prado Museum. King Fernando VI of Spain gave orders for creation of the garden at the banks of River Manzanares in 1755. Then in 1781, the garden was moved to its current location at Plaza de Murillo on the order of King Carlos III.

Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid feels classic, historic, and well organized. Architect Francesco Sabatini drew up plans of the original garden that was later modified by Juan de Villanueva - the architect of the Prado Museum in Madrid.

The garden contains a variety of plants collected from all over the world and a large number of plants species belong to the region of South America. Visitors can enjoy looking at medicinal plants and herbs, neatly laid out plant beds, and different types of shrubs and trees at the garden. It is certainly worth a visit especially enjoying the sight of 'Bird of Paradise' section in bloom and it is considered amongst the must do things to do in Madrid. The garden is situated close the Atocha rail station. Individuals can easily access this place by the local buses.


Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía is well-situated near Atocha train along the Paseo del Prado in Madrid, Spain. The national museum of Spain is also called Queen Sofía Museum or simply The Sofia. The museum is named in honour of Queen Sofia of Spain. It functioned as an Art Centre initially but was established as a national art centre in 1998. Inauguration of this museum took place in 1992.

Art lovers will especially enjoy visiting this place. The main highlight of the museum is Pablo Picasso's great painting - the Guernica. This huge painting has been masterfully painted by the Spanish maestro. But it is not the only reason to visit the museum. It houses artistic works from various well-known artists of the 20th-century artists including Salvador Dali, Julio González, José Gutiérrez Solan, and others.

Apart from the spectacular collection of painting, the museum also hosts a mixture of international and local art exhibitions. A free-access library is also located inside the museum that contains an extensive collection of books on arts. Individuals can browse through 100,000 books and more than 1,000 videos, and 3,500 sound recordings of all things art, which is why it features prominently in the list of things to do in Madrid.


Buen Retiro Park

Buen Retiro Park

There are many great things to do in Madrid, including a visit to The Buen Retiro Park, or Park of the Pleasant Retreat, which is one of the largest parks in Madrid Spain. Access to the 350-acre park was restricted to the Spanish Royal Family until late 19th century after which it became a public park. El Buen Retiro is one of the most gorgeous parks in the world, containing a peaceful lake, art galleries, and monuments. Various events and exhibitions take place in the park throughout the year.

It all began in the 1630s when Count-Duke of Olivares commissioned work on the park. He gifted the Park to King Philip IV of Spain. The park underwent expansion during the reign of later monarchs of Spain.

Visitors can find various attractions at the park. Located close to the entrance is the Retiro Pond, which is a large artificial lake. Other attractions visitors can find at the park include Palacio de Cristal, Palacio de Velázquez, Casón del Buen Retiro, the Ejército Museum, and Paseo de la Argentina. The park is littered with landscaped lawns, marble monuments, elegant buildings, and museums. The park is quiet and calm during most of the weekdays, but it literally comes to life on the weekends.


Royal Palace of Madrid

Royal Palace of Madrid

The Royal Palace of Madrid, also known as Palacio Real de Madrid, is the official residence of the royal family. However, the palace is only used for state ceremonies. The palace was built during the 16th century. The square as it exists today was designed by architect Enrique María Repullés, the foundation laid out in 1892.

Spread over an area of 1.4 million sq. ft., the Royal Palace is the largest royal palace in Europe by the area containing 3,418 rooms, which earns it a place on our list of things to do in Madrid. Visitors are amazed by the variety of arts and decoration pieces in the palace. The palace contains paintings by various well-known artists including Velázquez, Caravaggio, and Francisco de Goya. There is also an extensive collection of frescoes done by artists such as Juan de Flandes, Corrado Giaquinto, Anton Raphael Mengs, and Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. There are various other collections of historic importance including porcelain, silverware, watches, furniture, and the world's only string quintet known as the Stradivarius.

An audio guide is available that provides a historical background of various pieces in the palace. Sabtani Garden is situated to the north of the Palace that extends to the cuesta de San Vicente and calle de Bailén. It is certainly worth a visit while in Spain.


Sorolla Museum

Sorolla Museum

The Sorolla Museum, Museo Sorolla, is situated in Madrid, Spain. The museum features works by the well known 20th-century Spanish maestro, Joaquín Sorolla. The museum originally served as the artist’s residence and was converted into a museum after his death in 1923.

The Spanish government declared the house as Bien de Interés Cultural, or Heritage of Cultural Interest, in 1962. The museum is furnished with almost all the works of the great painter. Most of the paintings are of Soralla's family that offers a glimpse of life during the early 20th century. The paintings provide a good perspective of the ways families lived during his time in Madrid.

The rooms are furnished in almost the same manner as they were during the lifetime of the artist. This includes the well-lit studio known as Sorolla's large whose walls are filled with various canvas paintings. Some of the rooms serve as galleries displaying the great painter's works.

Visitors can enter this place through the lushly landscaped courtyard that looks great even in the winters. Entry fee to the museum is quite modest, and the time spent here will be well worth it as visitors can learn a lot about the Spanish cultural heritage.


Temple of Debod

Temple of Debod

The Temple of Debod is an ancient Egyptian sanctuary that was taken apart and reassembled in Madrid, Spain in 1968. The temple was originally built during the early 2nd century BC and located about 15 km south of Aswan in Egypt. It underwent renovations during the reign of Potelmic and Roman emperors.

UNESCO had made an international appeal to save rich cultural heritage of Egypt due to the threat posed by the Aswan High Dam. Spain provided gracious financial and technical help for the restoration of the Abu Simbel temple in Egypt. As gratitude for the assistance, the Egyptian government donated the temple to Spain. The temple was reassembled at the Parque del Oeste located near the Royal Palace in Madrid.

The temple represents one of the very few displays of ancient Egyptian architecture that can be seen outside Egypt, and one of a kind in Spain. Entry to the temple is free. It contains two levels and the guard allows only a small group to enter the temple at one time. Inside the temple visitors can see depiction of Egyptian deities and religious ceremonies. There are also models that depict the location where the original temple was in Egypt.