Things to do in Madrid
Full of culture, history, architecture, shopping and outdoor spaces, Madrid has something for everyone. There’s no shortage of museums to visit starting with the ‘museum triangle’ of Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia and Museo Thyssen – Bornemisza. Fashionistas won’t want to miss the Museo del Traje (Museum of Clothing) with over 160,000 garments, while the Real Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales (Royal Convent of the Barefoot Nuns) is an opportunity to see the artistic treasures of the cloistered community.
When you’ve had enough time indoors, head to the parks, markets and barrios of Madrid. Parque El Retiro is the main park of Madrid and a popular local spot to catch the afternoon rays. Puerta del Sol is the city’s heart and a favourite meeting spot in the Old City and a good place to orient yourself being kilómetro cero from where all distances in Madrid are measured. From gay centre Chueca to multicultural Lavapiés, the barrios of the Old City offer all your entertainment, dining and shopping needs.
Don’t miss El Rastro – Madrid’s famous flea market that’s been trading in all kinds of wares for 5 centuries, or hit up Spanish high-street brands like Zara and Mango in the Sol-Salamanca area to stock up on on-trend fashion bargains. Madrid is also renowned as the place to go to purchase high-quality leather footwear.
And no visit to Madrid is complete without seeing a flamenco show. Go to venues like Casa Patas, Corral de la Pacheca or Cardamomo to see this stirring mix of dance and song. Another Spanish pastime is bull-fighting and Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas is the birthplace of this tradition. The Las Ventas bullring dates back to 1929 and can accommodate over 22,000 people during a corrida in the bullfighting season of May. For our fave places to go in Madrid, read on.
If there’s one museum you should see on your trip to Madrid it’s this one. One of the world’s top art museums, Museo del Prado has Madrid’s best collection of classical fine art with works from Rubens, Tintoretto and Velázquez among the many highlights of this significant edifice.
Heard of a little football team called Real Madrid? Yep, the local premier soccer side is the proud owner of a not-too-shabby 32 La Liga championships and 9-time European Cup champs. Santiago Bernabéu is their home stadium where football fanatics can take in a match or a tour.
While Madrid boasts many fragrant and verdant gardens, not all of them have a cable car! Spanning over 1,700 hectares of various terrains, Casa de Campo is a city park with many attractions including the Madrid Zoo Aquarium, a funfair and a cable car for a great view of the cityscape.
Madrid’s modern art museum, Reina Sofia, boasts a futuristic glass elevator façade and artworks from some of Spain’s and the world’s best-known 20th century artists including Picasso, Miró, Dalí and Buñuel. It’s one of the top 3 art museums that make up Madrid’s ‘museum triangle’.
For a peek at the royal palace, Madrid’s Palacio Real is a study in opulence and an insight into the Italian-loving Bourbon kings of Spain from the mid-18th century onwards. Most of the 3,000 rooms are open to the public including the Royal Armoury and Royal Pharmacy.