Things to Do in Madrid

Puerta del Sol Madrid

Landmarks

Once upon a time, a bear stood next to a strawberry tree – and an icon was born. The statue "El Oso y El Madroño" stands in this large square and is Madrid’s official symbol. The area is renowned for its clock tower attached to the royal post office, and the various shops, hotels and restaurants. New Year’s celebrations are also held here. According to tradition, the locals eat one grape each time the bell tolls.

Accommodations near Puerta del Sol Madrid
Plaza Mayor

Landmarks

Although Plaza Mayor has a dark history—once a center for executions and violent bullfights—today it’s chic and vibrantly cosmopolitan. The 400-year-old equestrian statue of King Philip III watches over the restaurants, artisan shops and street artists that occupy the square. Explore the side streets and you'll find specialty calamari sandwich shops.

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Gran Vía

Popular Areas

Don’t let the lack of can-can girls stop you from visiting Gran Vía. Known as the "Broadway" of Madrid, this long avenue is lined with luxury shops and theaters – all built in a variety of styles that appear to be an architectural guide to art history. The Goddess of Victory watches over the street from the top of the Metropolis Building, at the center of Gran Via.

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Royal Palace of Madrid

Monuments

Once you see this grand palace, you’ll be dying to take a look inside. Renaissance paintings, enormous chandeliers and beautiful frescoes decorate the rooms, along with the world’s only complete Stradivarius string quartet. Take a tour—although it’s the official residence of the royal family, they no longer live there—or just admire it from the nearby Sabatini Gardens.

Accommodations near Royal Palace of Madrid
Plaza de Cibeles

Landmarks

Sometimes, a lion-drawn chariot is the only way to see a city. Just ask Cybele, Madrid’s mythological protector whose statue sits on top of Cibeles Fountain. The area around the fountain attracts locals, especially when Real Madrid C.F. wins a game. Plaza de Cibeles is bordered by four iconic buildings: The Bank of Spain, Buenavista Palace, Linares Palace and City Hall.

Accommodations near Plaza de Cibeles
  • Plaza de Cibeles, 1
  • Open every day
Golden Triangle of Art

Museums

Visit this golden triangle of art galleries and museums, with some of the world’s most iconic images, including Fra Angelico’s "Annunciation." El Prado has paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings from Europe’s masters. Wander the mile-long "art walk" with Reina Sofía and Thyssen-Bornemisza galleries, the National Library, and Archaeological Museum all within 10 minutes of each other.

Accommodations near Golden Triangle of Art
  • Calle de Atocha, 123
Puerta de Alcalá

Landmarks

Back in 1774, Carlos III realized that Madrid wasn’t complete without an elaborate gate. This monument to Madrid’s fierceness was created in the 18th century, destroyed in the early 20th century, and then rebuilt to its former glory. It’s even the subject of a kitschy song by Spanish singers Ana Belén and Victor Manuel, popular throughout the Spanish-speaking world.

Accommodations near Puerta de Alcalá
Retiro Park

Parks

When you’re a royal, you’re always in competition for the biggest backyard. Once owned by the Spanish Royal Family, Retiro Park’s extensive gardens are filled with elegant fountains, statues and the spectacular architecture of centuries past. Its marvels, including the amazing Crystal Palace and equestrian statue of King Alfonso XII, are open to public viewing year-round.

Accommodations near Retiro Park
Temple of Debod

Museums

You didn’t take a wrong turn and end up in Egypt. This 2,000-year-old temple once stood on the banks of the Nile in Aswan, but was given to Spain in 1968 to prevent its submersion after the construction of a dam. The temple is free to visit and guided tours can also be arranged.

Accommodations near Temple of Debod
Santiago Bernabéu Stadium

Stadiums or Arenas

For sports fans, nothing beats the wild atmosphere of soccer season at Santiago Bernabéu. Madrid has some of the most die-hard soccer fans in the world, and the streets are usually filled with people celebrating after winning a game. With a capacity of 81,000, the stadium has hosted four European Cup and Champions League soccer finals.

Accommodations near Santiago Bernabéu Stadium

Accommodations and Hotels in Madrid

Catalonia Las Cortes

9.3 Wonderful

Score from 1859 reviews

$121

Average price per night
  • Del Prado, 6, Madrid City Center, Madrid
Petit Palace Savoy Alfonso XII

8.9 Excellent

Score from 2043 reviews

$99

Average price per night
  • Alfonso XII, 18, Retiro, Madrid
Hotel Liabeny

8.8 Excellent

Score from 4994 reviews

$85

Average price per night
  • Salud, 3, Madrid City Center, Madrid
Catalonia Plaza Mayor

8.9 Excellent

Score from 2760 reviews

$99

Average price per night
  • Atocha, 36, Madrid City Center, Madrid
Intur Palacio San Martin

8.6 Excellent

Score from 3628 reviews

$92

Average price per night
  • Plaza San Martín, 5, Madrid City Center, Madrid
Emperador

8.2 Very good

Score from 3118 reviews

$128

Average price per night
  • Gran Vía, 53, Madrid City Center, Madrid
Preciados

9 Wonderful

Score from 3526 reviews

$97

Average price per night
  • Preciados, 37, Madrid City Center, Madrid
Catalonia Atocha

8.7 Excellent

Score from 3984 reviews

$93

Average price per night
  • Atocha, 81, Madrid City Center, Madrid
Vincci Soho

8.4 Very good

Score from 3237 reviews

$85

Average price per night
  • Calle del Prado, 18, Madrid City Center, Madrid
Discover Madrid

Popular Neighborhoods in Madrid

Madrid City Center

982 properties

Start your adventure at Madrid’s crown jewel, Palacio Real de Madrid, the royal palace and the adjacent Sabatini Gardens. Madrid’s oldest district includes the popular landmarks of Plaza Mayor, Gran Vía and Plaza Cibeles, or the popular area of Lavapies in Embajadores.

Barrio de las Letras

223 properties

This neighborhood is a popular cultural hub throughout the year. Students congregate at the nightclubs around Santa Ana Square. The neighborhood’s bohemian atmosphere is partly due to its literary foundations. Spanish Golden Age authors like Cervantes, Lope de Vega, Quevedo and Góngora wrote their great works here.

Chueca

136 properties

A central neighborhood that’s abuzz with numerous street cafes and a mix of reasonably-priced and gourmet restaurants. Enjoy shopping at plenty of boutiques for clothes from avant-garde design to popular labels. The area’s vibrant nightlife has something for everyone.

Lavapies

98 properties

Lavapiés is a multicultural, cosmopolitan area that is popular with young people. The area is decorated with street art and has an eclectic mix of trendy shops and restaurants to enjoy. Every Sunday Lavapiés is filled with people heading to El Rastro market, Madrid’s largest traditional flea market.

Salamanca

75 properties

Serrano and José Ortega y Gasset (in Lista) are great for shopping and are lined with luxury and designer shops. The residential neighborhoods of Recoletos, Lista, Goya and Castellana feature some of Europe’s most expensive real estate, and the area itself is one of Madrid’s most important commercial zones.

Chamberí

67 properties

This small, historic residential district is becoming gentrified as young professionals move to the area. Spread over 6 neighborhoods, it’s a lively district to visit for some local flavor and has a village-like atmosphere. Filled with Modernist, Gothic and neo-Mudejar architecture, its streets are best explored by foot.

Retiro

38 properties

This historic district can’t be missed. Loop around Retiro Park – once the royal family’s private garden, it’s full of lavish monuments and tree-lined avenues. People-watch on Paseo del Prado boulevard, filled with joggers, street vendors and locals, then spend a few hours exploring El Prado Museum’s important collection of paintings.

Chamartín

31 properties

Full of skyscrapers, Chamartín mainly functions as a business district. The district features two of Madrid’s treasures: Santiago Bernabéu Football Stadium, home to Real Madrid soccer team; for music fans, the National Auditorium of Music (Madrid’s main concert hall) hosts the Spanish National Orchestra.

Milla de Oro

27 properties

Madrid’s "Golden Mile" is a shopping area featuring local designers and international brands. You’ll find luxury brands at luxury prices, including prestigious jewelry stores like Suarez, Bulgari, Cartier and Tiffany’s. Take your pick from a wide range of mid-range to indulgent gourmet restaurants.

Barajas

26 properties

Barajas is a hotel-filled area around Madrid-Barajas International Airport. After developing into a full-fledged municipality in the late '40s, Barajas expanded to include the area of Alameda de Osuna. Chances are that if you’re in town for a conference, it'll be hosted at the IFEMA convention center.

Local Tips for Madrid

La Casa Encendida
Nieves by Nieves

Nieves loves traveling, partying and tapas – not necessarily in that order.

Since 2002, La Casa Encendida or "The Lit House" has been a social and cultural center. The cultural program features everything from performing arts to cinema, exhibitions to concerts, and workshops to courses. It’s open to anybody and includes a library, newspapers, radio lab, photography, and multimedia.

Guided Tour of Madrid
Victoria by Victoria

Victoria loves taking new people around Madrid and showing them up-and-coming and unique things.

A guided free tour is one of the best ways to get to know central Madrid, with 3 hours spent exploring medieval streets and squares. The starting point is in Plaza Mayor Square, a great place to try one of Madrid’s famous “bocadillos de calamares,” a crispy baguette filled with fried squid.

  • Plaza Mayor (across from the tourist office)
  • Open every day 11 am – 2 pm
Madrid Río
Joanna by Joanna

Polish Joanna has lived in Spain for 9 years and loves the vintage cafes in Malasaña.

Madrid Rio is a new park area that is not very well known, even among local “Madrileños.” There are routes for joggers and walkers, cycle paths, and room for sports or just to relax in the open air. It’s also known as the "city beach."

  • Paseo Virgen del Puerto, 3
El Rastro
Jorge by Jorge

Jorge loves diversity and his greatest passion is traveling and experiencing other cultures.

El Rastro occurs every Sunday of the year. It is a popular flea market where you can find all manner of things. After strolling through the market, join the locals in a typical treat, eating some tapas in and around the Embajadores area.

Parque de El Capricho (El Capricho Park)
Elvira by Elvira

Curious Elvira loves traveling and enjoying parks and all kinds of outdoor activities.

One of the most beautiful spots in the city, this charming park really is a “capricho” (treat). While you’re taking a walk around the park, you’ll come across delightful buildings like the Casino Ballroom and Beehives. The park’s beauty really makes it worth a visit.

  • Paseo de la Alameda de Osuna
  • www.esmadrid.com
  • Open weekends 9 am – 6:30 pm, changes seasonally – check website for details
Local Fairs
Raquel by Raquel

Raquel likes the outdoors and traveling, and she loves sunny days chatting with friends on a terrace.

It’s easy to see Madrid’s character when the city celebrates. Among the most popular festivals are San Isidro at the start of May and La Virgen de la Paloma in mid-August. The streets are filled with traditional activities and lots of music; the buzzing atmosphere is infectious!

  • La Virgen de la Paloma Festival: Plaza de la Cebada, 2 - 28005, Madrid
Teatro Kapital (Kapital Theater)
Marcos by Marcos

Friendly Marcos loves soccer, cars, travel and going out for tapas and cañas (beer) with friends.

Kapital is a club in one of the most upscale areas of the city. It has 7 independent floors, each with different types of music, spaces, theme and décor. Kapital always offers the best national and international DJs, which makes every night a unique musical event.

1. Explore Las Rizas Village (Calle Juan Ramón Jiménez, 3, 28232, Las Tozas, Madrid) It is a Disigner Stores Outlet Village. Get your Disigner clothes for fraction of the price 2. Most hotels give discount card for El Corte Ingles. The card offers 10% off (for non-EU residents), plus it accumulates cash, that can be used toward other purchases in the store. Plus you get Tax-Free - it all adds up to a very nice saving. 3. If you are looking for upscale shopping experience (Gucci, Ferragamo, etc), explore Calle de Serrano. It is a very long street with an abundance of beautiful stores, so I suggest research google first if you are interested in particular brands.

Museo de Sorrolla near the plaza de la Olavide, monasterio de las descalzas reales is a real hidden gem in the middle of Madrid, the park Madridrio and a little bit further at the north east side near the station principe pio the tiny chapels decorated by Goya.

Thyssen museum is in a class of it's own. The unique chronological ordering of art makes innovators stand out amongst there peers. Oh yeah Reina Sofia and Pardo is nothing to sneeze at either. Amazing collection of art in this city!

You will find something nice for your pocket ! What ever is your budget, there will be something nice to wear that night, or a beautiful memory to hang on your wall. Shopping here is gooood !

Get a ticket at the airport for 26 euro, for 5 days, and you can travel unlimited on train, bus and metro. This also includes to and from the airport, excellent value for money.

Go by Merto to the center of the city (Sol) and walk from there to Parque del Retiro, to Museo del Prado, Plaza Mayor, and so on. You will experience how this vibrant city moves.

Booking.com asked travelers...

Why do you recommend Madrid for food?

Loads of tapas bars, cafes, restaurants plus food from other cultures. No problem finding something and somewhere to eat in all price ranges from small tapas to full meals.

Look at where the locals are eating, usually a street back from the main tourist area..there are plenty which are cheaper and have great food,

Good shoes, cash/coin and a city/metro map for finding your way back is my recommendation. The rest is just keep walking.

Transportation

Madrid Transportation

Air

There are many connections from Barajas Airport to the city. The train to Puerta de Atocha takes 25 minutes and departs every 30 minutes (5:59 am to 12:15 am, 7 days). Taxis are readily available – the 7-mile journey takes 20 minutes (usually a 30 EUR flat rate). The express bus to Atocha-RENFE transportation hub takes 40 minutes and departs every 15 minutes during the day and 35 minutes at night, 24 hours a day.

Train

Unless you’re heading to the airport or the outskirts of Madrid, the best way to get around the city is by metro. Puerta de Atocha is the main station and local trains ("cercanías") depart from here. Tickets can be purchased at machines. If you’re traveling on to other destinations, visit the service desk to buy a ticket. The center of the city is 20 minutes away by foot.

Metro

Madrid’s extensive metro system connects the entire city and is the easiest way to get around. Tickets can be purchased at machines or service desks. Tourist passes are also available from stations or tobacco shops, which allow you to travel with one ticket throughout the city. Consult the website for more details.

Bus

Buses get you close to various sites of interest throughout the city, but aren't as convenient as the metro. Catch buses from the designated stops throughout Madrid or from the main train station. Tickets can be purchased in advance in groups of 10 at stations; otherwise you can buy a ticket on board.

Taxi

Madrid’s taxis are usually cheap in comparison to other European cities. Official taxis are white with a red stripe and a coat of arms on the door. Journeys are usually paid in cash, but credit cards are becoming more widely used. Private companies operate throughout the city too; they usually accept credit cards but you need to reserve in advance. There’s no official website, so it's best to catch one from the street or taxi stand.

Car

Driving in the city can be difficult – keep in mind that there are lots of traffic jams and parking can be expensive. If you do drive, there are plenty of parking garages (look for the blue "P" sign). There's an hourly charge for on-street parking and there are green and blue parking zones – the ground is painted in green or blue and prices are displayed at the machines.

Food in Madrid

Top Restaurants in Madrid

Upscale Dining
Spanish
La Capilla de La Bolsa

Serving elegant Mediterranean food, the sumptuous dining room is more like a chapel than a restaurant, with its domed ceilings, frescoes and ornate baroque swirls. The bon viveur atmosphere is taken a step further with live opera, operetta or chamber music during the evening meal. Private dining rooms are available.

Mid-Range Fare
Spanish
La Tercera

Le Tercera is a small and rustic tavern. They serve tapas, salads and a huge variety of wines. The décor is vintage and there’s a distinctly lived-in feel about the place. Popular with the young and trendy, it’s a great local restaurant to discover.

Cheap Eats
Spanish
San Ginés

Madrid's most famous "churrería" where the speciality of the house is thick Spanish doughnuts – or “churros” – served with lashings of hot, liquid chocolate. For those with willpower, there is also a wide variety of coffees and teas. A must after partying in Madrid, it is usually packed throughout the night.

Cheap Eats
Italian
Trattoria Malatesta

The traditional wood-burning pizza oven is the heart of this classic Italian restaurant. Generous portions and value for money ensure a constant stream of orders for chef Lucio Fracassi’s pizzas, pastas and salads. It’s popular with just about everyone, from families to work colleagues, so book in advance.

Mid-Range Fare
Japanese
19 Sushi Bar

The fish is really fresh in this Japanese restaurant and every dish is a work of art, Japanese style. Nice atmosphere, simple décor, medium prices and popular with couples, groups of friends and business groups.

Cheap Eats
Spanish
Lateral

Lateral is a large and minimally decorated restaurant with a wonderfully bright covered outdoor terrace. It’s popular with locals for their traditional Spanish menu, including ‘pinchos’. Great for young couples or friends, Lateral has affordable prices and is great for all occasions.

Upscale Dining
Spanish
Villa Rosa

Looking for a truly authentic Spanish evening? Villa Rosa is one of Madrid’s oldest ‘tablao flamenco’ restaurants that offers a delicious set-priced meal complemented with flamenco dancing. The menu is expensive in comparison to others in the area, but it’s fantastic for visitors looking for a local experience.

Mid-Range Fare
Spanish
Casa Parrondo

Traditional Asturian restaurant specialising in the famous "Fabada" or Asturian stew. The décor is rustic Asturian, but the most striking feature in the room is the goat’s head mounted on the wall – it's kind of a restaurant mascot though, and most diners grow to like it over the course of the evening.

Mid-Range Fare
Italian
Ristorante La Piperna

Italian doesn’t get much better than this! Ristorante La Piperna have a huge a range of traditional Italian dishes that have been given a contemporary twist. Don’t come here expecting pizza – their modern menu is pasta-based. It’s stylish and contemporary and suitable for all occasions.

  • Relatores, 20
  • Open Monday–Saturday 13:30–16:00 and 20:30–23:30
  • 0034 913 89 65 46
Mid-Range Fare
Spanish
Fonda La Lechuga

Fonda La Lechuga is a restaurant that serves fine Spanish tapas, as well as a range of traditional dishes. Located down a small side street, this restaurant is small but popular. It has a homely feel and is great for a casual and low-cost meal.

Mid-Range Fare
Middle Eastern
El Califa
Cheap Eats
Spanish
Mercado de San Miguel

Nirvana for gourmets. This traditional market is both a piece of Madrid history and a food paradise. Some 33 specialist stalls serve a range of the freshest food – from organic Spanish tapas and tortillas to sushi! Shop here, eat here, taste some of the best Spanish wines, from early till late.

  • Plaza de San Miguel, s/n
  • Open weekdays 10:00–00:00 and weekends 10:00–14:00
  • 0034 915 42 49 36
Upscale Dining
Spanish
Botín

Founded in 1725, The Guinness Book of Records lists Botín as the world’s oldest restaurant. Guests over the centuries have included Goya, Ernest Hemmingway and an assortment of Europe’s royalty. Still popular with Madrid’s politicians and rainmakers, book in advance if you want a table.

Upscale Dining
Spanish
Mercado de la Reina

Mercado serves traditional Mediterranean cuisine in a stylish and contemporary environment. The kitchen is open all day long, so you can stop by whenever you’re peckish. The restaurant has a hip and trendy vibe that makes it a place to be seen.

Upscale Dining
Spanish
La Barraca

La Barraca is an elegant restaurant that specializes in traditional paella in Levantine style. They pride themselves on using fresh locally-sourced ingredients. The restaurant itself is brightly and tastefully decorated and suitable for all occasions. A reservation is recommended, as it tends to get quite busy.

Cheap Eats
Spanish
Casa González

This traditional tapas bar has been in business since 1931. They offer a large menu to chose from, including tostas (toast topped with various ingredients), cured ham, national and international cheese, and wines. The place is small and cosy and filled with local products available for purchase.

Upscale Dining
Spanish
Ático de Las Letras

Located on the 7th floor of Hotel de Las Letras, this attic bar is very chic and trendy. They offer inexpensive salads and snacks, complemented with slightly expensive cocktails. It’s a small venue and they don’t accept advance bookings. Great for all occasions.

  • Gran Vía, 11
  • Open Sunday to Wednesday 13:00–00:30, Thursday to Saturday 13:00–03:00
  • 0034 915 23 79 80
Mid-Range Fare
Spanish
Asador Arizmendi

If you’re looking for contemporary Basque cuisine, you’ve come to the right place! They specialise in grilled and roast meats, including juicy steaks and ox. There’s also a degustation menu if you’re feeling adventurous. Great for all occasions, especially for small groups.

Upscale Dining
Spanish
Casa Patas

Casa Platas is Madrid’s most traditional ‘tablao flamenco’ and offers typical Spanish wines and cuisine, all accompanied by live flamenco shows. If you want to experience the passion of this dance, you'd better book in advance, as it's a very popular place.

  • Canizares, 10
  • Open Monday to Thursday 12:30–16:00 and 20:30–00:00, Friday 12:30–16:00 and 19:30–00:00, Saturday 19:30–00:00
  • www.casapatas.com
  • 0034 913 690 496
Upscale Dining
French
Le Petit Bistrot

For French-style cuisine in a slightly Parisian environment, this is a fantastic choice. They serve a set priced meal for lunch and dinner, but it’s most popular for Sunday brunch. It’s slightly north of Lavapiés, so it can be a trek to get there. Great for all occasions.

  • Plaza Matute, 5
  • Open Tuesday to Sunday 13:00–16:00 and 20:30–23:30
  • 0034 914 29 62 65
Upscale Dining
Spanish
O'pulpo

O'pulpo is a traditional Galician restaurant. They specialise in octopus-based dishes and designer desserts, including olive oil and violet ice cream. It’s a family-run establishment that is very warm and welcoming to all visitors. Great for all occasions.

Mid-Range Fare
Indian
Himalaya
Upscale Dining
French
Ágora

Specialising in French cuisine, this chic restaurant is located on the sixth floor of the four-star Hotel Ada Palace, with spectacular views of the iconic Metropolis building, Gran Via and the Fine Arts Circle. It’s perfect for a romantic evening for two.

Cheap Eats
Spanish
El Tigre

If there’s one sure way of attracting business in Madrid, it’s by serving free tapas. And that’s exactly what this bar does every time you order a beer. There’s no skimping either. The portions are generous, and as a result the place is always packed, with a great atmosphere.

  • Infantas, 30
  • Open Monday to Saturday 11:00–00:00
  • 915 32 00 72
Cheap Eats
Spanish
Horno de San Onofre

In a city of excellent bakeries, this is one of the oldest and the best. Pretty much everything is good, but the "palmeras de chocolate" are legendary, and at Christmas the seasonal "roscón de reyes" walk out the door. The ideal place to stop for a coffee.

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