It’s no exaggeration to say that in Madrid, nights are hotter than days, and given the weather in Madrid, that’s quite a feat. Once the sun sets, parties take over the eateries, pubs and nightclubs all over the city, offering an unforgettable nightlife experience. However, Madrid is much more than clubs and parties – deep inside, it’s a highly artistic city with awe-inspiring architecture, wonderful museums and delightful cuisine. Eateries all over the city tempt tourists with Spanish delicacies, and everything from tapas to sit-down meals is just amazing. The museums of Madrid are no less impressive than its restaurants, with Museo del Prado offering one of the finest collections of European art. Intriguing art can be admired all over the city, including the works of Velázquez, Goya, Picasso, Dalí and many more. Due to its ability to cater to every taste and need, Madrid draws thousands of tourists on a yearly basis, and none of them come back home disappointed.
Top 10 Things to See and Do in Madrid
Madrid Hop-On-Hop-Off Tour
This tour allows you to discover the city of Madrid at your own pace, providing you with a means of transportation that is as crowded as public transport. There are two routes of buses provided by the tour, and you can select how many days you wish to have on your ticket to better customise the tour.
Madrid Prado Museum Entrance Ticket
Get a skip-the-line ticket to the most famous museum in Madrid, allowing you to alleviate the need to stay for hours in lengthy queues. The museum holds the national art collection of Spain, housing masterpieces of the most famous painters, including Bosch, Titian, El Greco, and Goya.
Madrid Tapas and Wine Tasting Tour
Taking a couple of hours of your time, this tour will show you through the streets of Madrid, stopping at well-known bars as well as some hidden gems, difficult to find otherwise, with tasting included. A local guide will give you tips and advice on where to eat and how to save some money while doing so.
Toledo and Segovia Tour with Alcazar Entrance
This tour will allow you to see some of the sights located outside of Madrid, including the UNESCO-listed Toledo and Segovia. You will be taken to these two famous cities by an air-conditioned bus, providing a comfortable journey, and a guide will show you such monuments as the Toledo Cathedral and Alcazar.
Bernabeu Stadium Tour
Not only will this tour provide you with a discount on the entry ticket to Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium, the home of Real Madrid football club, but you will meet a local guide who will show you along the stadium. You can go see both the pitch and the dressing rooms, as well as the displayed trophies.
Skip-the-Line Early Entrance Tour of the Royal Palace
The Royal Palace of Madrid is one of the most famous sightseeing spots in the city, and this tour will allow you to see it without having to wait in queues for hours. The tour takes place early in the morning, before the Royal Palace opens to tourists, providing a private experience with only a small group of visitors.
Flamenco Show at Corral de la Morería in Madrid
This tour will show you along the famous Corral de la Morería in Madrid, a renowned tablao (a place where flamenco shows are performed). Not only will a guide show you along the building, but you will get prime seats for a heated flamenco show, where you can see some of the best dancers of Spain perform.
Madrid Tapas Night Walking Tour
This tour will allow you to relax after a hard day of sightseeing as you unwind during a calm, evening walk through restaurants and bars of Madrid. A local guide will take you along four different tapas bars, favoured by the locals, where you can taste some of the local specialties for free.
Avila with Walls and Segovia Day Trip
Departing from the city centre of Madrid, this day trip will show you some of the sights located outside the city. Not only do you get a personal guide to show you along the journey, but an air-conditioned coach is provided for your comfort as you visit the Segovia Cathedral and the walls of Avila.
Three-hour Best of Madrid Bike Tour
If you are on a tight schedule and only have some hours to sightsee, this tour will show you the most important highlights of the city in just three hours. You can choose between a classic or electric bike as you book, allowing you to comfortably enjoy monuments such as Puerta del Sol or Retiro Park.
Other Things to See and Do
Palacio de Cristal
Made in the 1880s, this unique building was constructed for the Philippine Islands Exhibition. The building is made out of a combination of wrought-iron and glass, showing a unique architectural style, and is located in the middle of the Retiro park, surrounded by a lake and nature.
Bolsa de Madrid
Bolsa de Madrid is not only a place for business but is also an important landmark of the city. Holding Madrid’s stock exchange, Bolsa de Madrid is designed in a neo-classical style, made to mimic the Prado Museum which is located nearby. While the trading area is closed to the public, you can still see the exhibition on the market’s history.
Basilica de San Francisco el Grande
Presenting an enormous faced, this multi-tiered church is located between Puerta de Toledo and the Palacio Real, making it quite difficult not to find. The basilica hosts a monastery, founded by St Francis of Assisi, but it was destroyed in 1760. It now hosts a neo-classical church, which is a sight to see.
Congreso de los Diputados
Being the main building of Spain’s parliament, the Congreso de los Diputados, known more widely as the Cortes, was built during the 18th century in a place where a monastery once stood. You can enter the parliament’s house for free on Saturdays, and there are even free guided tours of the building.
Ermita de San Antonio de la Florida
Constructed in 1798 by Felipe Fontana, this neo-classical church was commissioned by Charles IV himself. The church is also famous for holding the grave of Goya, but there is also plenty of gorgeous architecture to admire, with sculptures and frescoes adorning the walls of the chapel.
Templo de Debod
This one is truly a unique sight to see. The Templo de Debod displays ancient Egyptian architecture, located on the outskirts of Parque del Oeste, and dates back more than two thousand years. The temple is dedicated to the gods Amun and Isis, and it was sent block-by-block by Egyptians in 1968.
San Jeronimo el Real
While Queen Isabella ordered the reconstruction of the church in 1503, it was originally built in 1464 near the Retiro. The church was one of the favourites among Spanish royals, and was often used as a place for state ceremonies, mostly religious, but also for the crowning ceremony of King Juan Carlos.
Museo del Prado
Holding the most important collection of paintings and sculptures in all of Spain, the Museo del Prado is not usually free to enter. However, as with most museums in Madrid, the Museo del Prado is also open to the tourists for free Monday to Saturday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and on Sundays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Museo Nacional Centro
If you are an art enthusiast, make sure to stop by the essential part of Madrid's Art Triangle. The Museo Nacional Centro is contained within an impressive, slab-sided building with a gorgeous façade and glass constructions, and the insides of the building house such precious masterpieces like Guernica by Picasso.
Hosting a private art collection of Baron Hans-Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, the museum is considered to hold one of the most important art collections in the world. While the admission usually costs €10, you can stop by on Mondays from noon to 4 p.m., as during that time you can enter for free.
La Casa Encendida
This art gallery is relatively new but is still an important part of Madrid’s cultural heritage. The multidisciplinary centre is located in a neo-Mudejar building and offers exhibitions arranged by aspiring artists, working in all genres of art, but there are also a library and classrooms which host free courses.
Centro Cultural Conde Duque
Placed in the former headquarters of the Royal Guard of King Philip V, the Conde Duque is one of the most prominent cultural centres of Madrid. The Conde Duque frequently hosts events and exhibitions, as well as book days and meet-ups with artists, some of which are free, so make sure to keep an eye on the schedule.
Fernán Gómez Centro Cultural de la Villa
Hidden behind the water cascade located in Plaza Colon, this building is a combination of a theatre, a puppet-show, an opera, and even hosts exhibitions of important Hispanic artists. Since the Centro Cultural was made by the city council as a cultural centre, it is open for free, but some events will require a ticket.
Being once a famous meeting spot of Madrid’s artists, the Moriarty gallery is still widely known for its gorgeous collection of contemporary art. Currently, an exhibit of famous photographers is shown, including Luis Bisbe, Nicolas Combarro, and Chema Madoz, along with other artists.
Established by Charles III himself, the observatory of Madrid was built in 1790, after he perished. The gorgeous proportions of the building are what makes the observatory a marvellous monument to look at, and you can even enter it to see for yourself the old telescope, which is still working to this day.
Centro de Arte Moderno
If you are looking for a place to gaze at marvellous modern art, take a walk to the Centro de Arte Moderno. Within its premises, the Centro combines a large art gallery, a bookshop with works of Hispanic authors, a publishing house, and a cultural centre above else.
Being one of the main spots where primarily Spanish art is shown, Marlborough is the place to go if you want to see some original art produced by the local artists. The gallery of Marlborough started its business in 1992 with an exhibition on Francis Bacon and nowadays shows a rotating exhibition of Spanish painters.
While buying drinks sure costs money, the Tupperware is a postmodern nightclub with no admission charge. The place is made in a style which displays overt kitsch, combining fake fur with Star Wars pictures to create a unique, almost psychedelic atmosphere.
A cosy café which also doubles as a place to come for live performances. If you are interested in participating in a DJ night or at a concert but do not want to pay for tickets, make sure to stop by in the evening, as many aspiring artists come here to try their best at entertaining the audience.
Made to resemble an interior of a train wagon, the Passenger is a unique café that is frequently visited by tourists. The café is furnished with wide, wooden seats, taken straight from a train, adorned with paintings and screens on the walls which resemble landscapes and create an illusion of travelling through Castile plains.