The Best Things to do in Madrid
Visiting a city as huge as Madrid and managing to see and do everything it has to offer is not an easy task, but it’s totally doable. From world-famous museums and awe-inspiring art galleries to scenic city parks and incredible nightlife, this cosmopolitan metropolis has something to keep everyone entertained from dusk ‘til dawn.
Whether you prefer to explore on your own and get lost in Madrid’s sprawling streets at your pace or sign up for a guided tour and have an expert local take you to all the best off-the-beaten-track places, here are the best things to do in Madrid we 100% recommend to everyone.
The best things to do in Madrid – Cultural highlights
Centro de Arte Reina Sofía Home to some of the most famous works by Picasso, Dalí and Miró, this art gallery showcases a grand collection of the city’s premier contemporary art. The stunning displays span from the beginning of the 20th century up until the 1980s, with the occasional appearance of work from a non-Spanish artist, such as Lying Figure by Francis Bacon.
Teatro Real A distinguished opera house, the Teatro Real was inaugurated in 1850 and continues to host some of Europe’s biggest names in singing, musical direction and dance today. La Rotonda (the only floor devoted to the general public) encircles the building and features four large halls, each lavishly decorated in different colors with beautiful artwork from the Museo del Prado.
Museo del Prado Housed in a magnificent neo-classical building, this stunning art gallery is Madrid’s most popular attraction and the star of the Paso del Arte itinerary. The gallery’s walls are adorned with over 8,600 paintings from Spanish, Italian and Flemish artists, while display cases house more than 700 spectacular sculptures, making it an absolute necessity to plan what you want to see before you go!
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza This relatively modern art museum features the private collection of the late Baron Hans-Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, considered to be one of the most important in the world. The vastly extensive and varied nature of the art lets you immerse yourself in a world of different styles, from medieval artwork from the 13th and 14th centuries, to pop art and cubism from the 20th century.
The best things to do in Madrid – Outdoor attractions
Parque del Buen Retiro One of Madrid’s best-known and biggest parks, here you can enjoy a well-deserved siesta on a shady grassy spot or hire a boat and row across the lake. The green oasis covers more than 125 hectares and is home to over 15,000 trees, giving you more than enough room to find the perfect spot to relax.
Cercedilla Walking Trails The mountainside village of Cercedilla boasts several hiking trails of varying difficulty and length, making them ideal for everyone from weekend ramblers in the mood for a pleasant stroll to experienced hikers up for a challenging trek. All the trails take in gorgeous scenes that include Instagram-worthy views of things like gushing waterfalls, mountain goats and countryside panoramas.
Outdoor Gym in Parque de Las Avenidas Featuring incline boards, parallel bars, high steppers, dip bars and roman rings, as well as a jogging trail, tennis courts and a soccer field nearby, this gym is ideal for anyone who wants to keep up their fitness routine on vacation without being stuck inside.
Royal Botanical Garden One of Madrid most beautiful green spaces that dates back to 1755. This garden was originally moved from the banks of the Manzanares River to its current location and today is comprised of three terraces, two greenhouses and a herbarium which together showcase over 30,000 plants and flowers, 1,500 trees and one million herbs.
The best things to do in Madrid – Top tours
Spanish Cooking Class Learn to cook deliciously authentic Spanish cuisine under the guidance of professional chefs during this four-hour cooking class. You’ll discover all the tips and tricks you need to choose the best ingredients to make amazing paellas and delicious tapas, before getting stuck in and enjoying everything you’ve made! At the end of the day, you’ll get copies of the recipes to take home with you so you can share your newly-learned eats with friends and family back home.
City Sightseeing and Skip the Line Prado Museum Combine two of Madrid’s most popular excursions on this half-day trip without waiting a second in line! You’ll get to explore Plaza Mayor, Santiago Bernabeau Stadium and the buzzing Los Austrias neighborhood before embarking on your guided tour of Museo Prado. At the end of your tour, you’ll be treated to a complimentary drink at the local Hard Rock Café where you can reflect on your day with the others in your group.
Private Custom Tour: Madrid in a Day See Madrid your way on this full- or half-day walking tour that lets you customize the itinerary to satisfy all your cultural cravings. If you want the real Madrid experience, leave it up to your guide to take you to all the best places only locals know about, such as the bustling El Rastro market and the fascinating underground concert halls.
Madrid by Night Segway Tour A whole new way to see the city, this one-hour tour will send you past illuminated landmarks, lively nighttime hotspots and alluring attractions on a speedy modern Segway. You’ll glide around buzzing Los Austrias, explore charismatic squares like Plaza de la Villa and see famous attractions including the Royal Palace of Madrid in a totally different way as they’re lit up against the dark night sky.
Check out this post on the best Spain tours for even more amazing days out in Madrid!