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.
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.
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.
Located near Columbus Square, the National Archaeological Museum of Spain was first built in the year 1867 by Isabella II. This museum houses a wealth of exhibits not only from Spain but valuable works from all over the world ranging from prehistoric and Renaissance times. The architecture of the building reflects a Neo-classical style.
The National Archaeological Museum shares its roof with the city’s National Library. This museum was built with the purpose to save the archaeological, decorative art, ethnographic and numismatics that Spanish monarchs had collected at the Royal-Cabinet-of-Natural-History.
The main highlights of this museum are the underground-replica of prehistoric cave-paintings that were discovered in Altamira northern Spain in the year 1868. These paintings give the new generation a good idea of how art looked back in the days. Most of the paintings feature horses, boars and bison.
Another highlight of this museum is the Lady-of-Elx from the 5th century. It is a beautiful sculpture of Iberian woman featuring an elaborated head gear.
Other interesting things that you might want to see here are the Roman mosaics, Greek vases, Spanish lusterware from Renaissance time, Andalusian glassware from the 17th century, and a variety of exhibits from Paestum, Rome and Ibiza. The museum also houses statues of Tiberius.
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.
Built in the year 1903, this museum was initially the residence of the famous Spanish journalist and art collector Jose Lazaro Galdiano who had one of the finest and largest Spanish art collections during that time. At the time of his death, Jose owned approximately 12,600 artworks, mostly from the Romantic and Old Master periods.
After Jose Lazaro Galdiano’s death, his residence was converted into a museum, hence the name. The museum features significant and valuable artworks collected by Lazaro Galdiano. It also includes great artistic works from the 19th century with Liberian focus.
Here, you can view masterpieces from legendary artists like Bosch, Lucas Cranach, Goya, John Constable, David Teniers, Giulio Clovio, Lorenzo Tiepolo, Joshua Reynolds, Federico de Madrazo and El Greco to name a few. Besides paintings, here, you can also see collections across categories like sculptures, jewelry, marble items, weapons and fabrics.
The Museum of Lazaro Galdiano is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 4:30pm and on Sunday from 10am to 3pm. However, it is closed on Monday. The entry is free for children but not for adults. You will have to get a ticket to see the amazing collection inside the museum.
Explore history and literature together by visiting the House-Museum of Lope de Vega. Dating back to the 16th century, this was the former house of the famous and legendary Spanish poet, playwright and novelist, Lope de Vega. He is recognized as one of the biggest contributors of Baroque Literature.
His literary works and poetic contributions earned him the titles such as ‘Prodigy-of-Nature’ and ‘The Phoenix-of-Wits’. Some people even called him the Shakespeare-of-Spanish-Literature.
Lope de Vega bought this place in the year 1610, hence the name. Now, this writer’s house-museum is conserved by the Real Academia-Espanola. It was opened to public visits in the year 1935 once it was restored as a museum. And the same year, it was classified as a national monument. The House-Museum of Lope de Vega is a 2 storey brick-town house located uphill from the Paseo-del-Prado.
A visit to this house-museum provides tourists with insights into the everyday life of people during the 17th century, Spain’s Golden-Age. A walk through this place can be best described as a trip back in time. It features several rooms showcasing furniture from the 17th century such as whale oil lamps and even pans that were used to heat bed sheets back in the days. The entrance features beautiful inscription in Latin. The Home-Museum of Lope de Vega is open from Tuesday to Saturday and closed on Sunday, Monday, public holidays and in August.
The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum is named after founders of the art museum and is located in Madrid, Spain. It forms part of the "Golden Triangle of Art" that includes Reina Sofa and Prado Museum. The museum is situated at one of the main boulevards of the city near the Prado Museum.
The museum houses over 1,600 collections of paintings. The artworks span a period of nearly a thousand years, from the late 20th century, dating back to the 13th century. Visitors can contemplate the major artistic period of western art including the Renaissance, Baroque, Mannerism, Romanticism, and the Pop Art of the 19th and 20th century. The paintings also offer a mixture of Expressionists and Impressionists art that was popular during the second half of the 20th century. Visitors can find works from various other movements in the museum as well including Fauvism, experimental avant-garde, and Cultural Revolution.
The collection housed in the museum represents tastes of the two principal founder of the museum: Baron Heinrich and Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza. The museum is one of the most frequently visited places in Spain that receives an average of about a million visitors per year. It is the perfect place to visit for art aficionados.
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.
When you come to Madrid, don’t forget to visit El Rastro. It is the perfect place to shop for household items, decoration pieces, clothes and Spanish souvenirs for your friends and family back home. And more importantly, here, you can get great stuff for half the price.
El Rastro is a popular open-air flea market located along Ribera-de-Curtidores and Plaza-de-Cascorro, in Madrid, between the Ronda-de-Toledo and Calle Embajadores. It is also said to be one of the largest flea markets across Europe with more than 3500 stalls scattered across several streets. The main street features stalls predominantly selling clothes. However, if you wish to buy souvenirs and antiques; then visit shops located on the side streets. They contain the real Spanish treasures. This flea market is held every Sunday all year round. The timings of this market are from 9am to 3pm. Besides this, it is also held on public holidays to attract busy locals who can come to shop only on either Sundays or public holidays.
At El Rastro Market, you can also find both new and second hand goods like jewelry, handbags and decoration pieces. After a fun yet an exhausting shopping spree, you can always rejoice and treat your taste buds to good food at the restaurants nearby.
Declared as a World-Heritage Site by UNESCO, El Escorial is a Spanish Royal Site, formerly the residence of the King of Spain. It is located in the scenic town of San Lorenzo, approximately 28 miles to the north west of Madrid. Currently, El Escorial functions as a royal palace, monastery, school and museum. It comprises of 2 architectural-complexes, the royal monastery and hunting lodge famously known as La-Granjilla-de-La-Fresenda.
This place has a rich history dating back to the 16th and 17th century which is one of the top reasons why this destination is a tourist favorite. The cornerstone of El Escorial building was laid in the year 1563. Besides this, it is also recognized as a royal site as most of the Spanish kings are buried here including Charles V, Philip I, Philip II, Louis I, Philip III, Ferdinand VII, Charles III, Isabella II, Charles IV, Philip V, King Amadeus, Ferdinand VI and Alfonso XII to name a few.
The building is divided into different sectioned courtyards of the Kings, Basilica, Palace of Philip II and the Hall of the Battles that feature Fresco paintings showcasing Spanish-military victories such as their medieval victory where they defeated the Moors. Other sections include an art gallery, library, Gardens-of-the-Friars, and an architectural museum.
Located in Moncloa Aravaca district on the west side of city central, the Casa de Campo is the largest and most beautiful urban park in Madrid. Formerly recognized as a royal-hunting estate, Casa de Campo covers an area widespread across 6.8 square miles, over 1,750 hectares.
Casa de Campo also houses a stunning amusement park by the name Parque-de-Atracciones-de-Madrid and also the Madrid Zoo. It’s a great place for people to visit with children. The amusement park inside Casa de Campo also has some of the most exciting attractions and rides for all age groups such as pony rides, a carousel, maze and roller coasters, taking fun to a whole new level. Casa de Campo is open to the public every day and all year round.
The Madrid Zoo inside Casa de Campo is a treat for animal lovers. Here, you can find nearly 3000 different species of animals from across the globe. It also has a large dolphin tank and aquarium.
Besides this, here, you can also indulge in a variety of sport activities such as tennis, trekking, football and canoeing. Casa de Campo presents tons of activities for people to enjoy and have a great time with friends and family.
If you wish to explore the culture and history of Spain, then CaixaForum in Madrid is the place to visit. This is both a cultural center and museum situated in Paseo-del-Prado 36. The building is an architectural marvel constructed in 2007 by two highly-skilled Swiss architects, de Mueron and Herzog.
The design of the building is very unique. It artfully combines an old electrical station and new floor construction encased with oxidized cast iron. Near the building is a green wall which was designed by Patrick Blanc, a popular French botanist. The red color of the building nicely contrasts with the green wall.
Although it is a contemporary/modern style building constructed only a few years ago, it is recognized as the tourist magnet largely because of the retrospective artist works from earlier-time periods that are housed inside CaixaForum. In fact, this place has evolved as one of the most sought after and visited tourist destination in Madrid, Spain.
The intricate detailing and creativity with which this building is made reflects architectural excellence that leaves many mesmerized before they enter it. And, what makes their day is the exotic and large collection of art work of renowned and legendary artists waiting to be explored.