From Parque del Retiro to the Prado Museum, here are the indispensable things to see and do in Madrid, those corners that visit without fail in your escape to the capital of Spain.
The capital of Spain is known for its great cultural and nocturnal life, for its bustle, its squares, its history, its gastronomy and its markets. Perfect for a weekend getaway or to stay many more days, you will not be bored. Been there or not, take note of these ten things to see and do in Madrid.
1. The Prado Museum
The Prado Museum is the most important of all the country, and you should not miss it. What to see? Everything is impossible in a few hours, as it houses more than 7,600 paintings, 1,000 sculptures and more. So if you need advice, we recommend that you do not miss your collection of Spanish painting, which is the best in the world and among which are the works of Goya or Velázquez, such as the famous “Girls”. The Prado Museum, a visit that never disappoints, one of those things to do in Madrid yes or yes.
Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday (10 am – 8 pm), Sundays and public holidays (10 am – 7 pm).
Price: € 14 (general), € 7 (reduced) and Free from Monday to Saturday from 6 pm to 8 pm and on Sundays and holidays from 5 pm to 7 pm.
2. Plaza Mayor
In the heart of the Madrid of the Austrians, the Plaza Mayor of Madrid was created in 1619 and is a perfect example of the architecture of the Golden Age. Of rectangular plan, the square is completely closed by buildings of dwellings of three plants, with 237 balconies that look at the square. One of the most famous buildings is the beautiful Casa de la Panadería, one of those little great architectural secrets that must be seen in Madrid. In the centre, there is an equestrian statue of King Philip III. The Plaza Mayor in Madrid, as well as beautiful, is the perfect place to have a drink in one of its terraces while enjoying the sun. And if you’re hungry (and you do not mind spending some money) eat something in the restaurant casa Botín, the oldest in the world (was founded in 1725).
3. Gran Via
Being in Madrid and not going through Gran Vía is something like being in New York and not wandering around Times Square. It may not be the most relaxing ride in the world, but it is not one of the places to visit. It begins in the street of Alcalá and ends in the Plaza de España and was built at the beginning of the 20th century to communicate the northwest and the centre of the city. Today is an important area for shopping, tourism and leisure, since in the stretch from the Plaza de Callao there are many musical theatres, becoming the “Broadway Madrid”. Day or night, take a walk and enjoy the neon lights, the people and the architecture. If you fancy a cocktail at one of Hemingway’s favourite venues, head over to the Chicote Museum. If you do not know what to do in Madrid, drop by the Gran Via and improvise. Surely you will not get bored!
4. Reina Sofía Museum
The National Museum of Reina Sofia Art Center is very close to the Prado and is its perfect complement. After a dose of classical art, it is the turn of contemporary art. This old neoclassical hospital of the XVIII century is the southern apex of the “Art Triangle of Madrid”. In his permanent collection, there are many things to see, works of great 20th century Spanish artists such as Picasso (see Gernika in person is an experience), Dalí, Miró or Gargallo. Highly recommended, from those museums that are well worth seeing in Madrid.
Hours: Monday – Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday (10-21h), Sunday (10-14.30h). Tuesday closed
Price: € 4 (temporary exhibitions), € 8 (collection and temporary exhibitions). Free from Monday to Saturday from 19 a.m. to 9 p.m., and on Sundays from 3 a.m. to 7 p.m.
5. Shopping at the Rastro Market
If you are in Madrid on a Sunday or holiday morning, come to the Rastro, the most important outdoor market in Madrid and one of the most typical places to visit. This market was born in the middle of the eighteenth century and has been riding and dismantling for more than 250 years on the slope of Ribera de Curtidores, in the district of Lavapiés. Here you can find a little bit of everything from secondhand clothes to all kinds of collectables. As you go, take the opportunity to take a bite of wine or a beer cane accompanied by tapas at one of the nearby bars. El Mercado del Rastro is a classic, another of those things to do in Madrid.
6. Retiro Park
The Retiro Park (or simply El Retiro, as you prefer) is another place to visit in Madrid. With its 118 hectares, it was created at the beginning of the 17th century and is perfect for strolling, enjoying the good weather, taking a boat trip or having a picnic with your friends. We love the Paseo de las Estatuas, where you can see some sculptures dedicated to several kings and queens of Spain, but still more the Fountain of the Fallen Angel, dedicated to the devil. La Rosaleda, the Cristal Palace (with its contemporary art exhibitions) and the artificial lake next to the Monument to Alfonso XII are also essential, so take your time.
7. Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum
The Thyssen Museum is the third in discord in the Art Triangle of Paseo del Prado, the museum area of Madrid that concentrates one of the most important collections of painting in Spain and another thing to do in Madrid without fail during your getaway. This gallery features more than 700 pieces from the private collection of the Thyssen-Bornemisza family and more than 240 paintings by Carmen Cervera, widow of Baron Thyssen. Although all works are worthwhile, if you like Impressionism and Post-Impressionism , do not miss it because you can see works by Manet, Renoir, Monet, Degas, Pissarro, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne or Toulouse-Lautrec.
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday (10-19h), Monday (12-16h)
Price: € 7 (reduced entrance fee), € 10 (general); Free on Mondays from 12 a.m. to 4 p.m.
8. Puerta del Sol
Possibly the most famous square in all of Spain, the Puerta del Sol is the nerve centre of Madrid, a place of meeting, of demonstrations and, of course, where the ringing of the clock that crowns the Casa de Correos is fired every year. Here is kilometre 0, in addition to the Statue of the Bear and the Madroño, the favourite place of the locals to stay. Oh, if you go at night do not miss the neon lights of the mythical wine poster Tio Pepe, another thing to see in Madrid. It is a great building that you must visit in Madrid.
9. Royal Palace
The Royal Palace of Madrid is the official residence of the King, although it does not live there and is used for state ceremonies. With 135,000 square meters and 3,418 rooms, it is the largest Royal Palace in Western Europe. It was built by order of King Philip V on the site where the Royal Alcazar was in the 18th century and is truly impressive, a perfect example of baroque architecture.
Schedule: Every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (from October to March), and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (from April to September)
Price: € 5 (reduced), € 10 (basic); Free every day from 16 a.m. to 6 p.m. (October to March) and from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. (April to September).
10. Santiago Bernabéu
Whether you like football or not, the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium is one of the places to visit in Madrid. Its capacity is more than 81,000 people and was inaugurated in 1947. It has been the scene of many victories of Real Madrid Club Football, and if you are going you can maybe see a life … But if your visit to Madrid does not match any party, take the opportunity to do the tour: you can see the trophy exhibition, the stadium and The costumes in which Cristiano Ronaldo and company prepare for the match.