21 BEST Places to Visit in Madrid (December 2019)

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From the lavish facades of the royal palaces to the lush, tranquil gardens dotted throughout the city, Madrid is a fascinating, cultural destination in Spain. With a seemingly endless amount of attractions and activities, something is happening in around every corner, and in every plaza around the city.

Each neighborhood has its own distinct personality, including the quirky La Latina, the lively Literary Quarter, and the lavish boulevard of the Gran Via. It’s these neighborhoods that make Madrid a historic, melting pot of culture and diversity.

Not to mention that Madrid is a food lover’s paradise. You can spend the evening pincho hopping from one tapas bar to the next or sitting out in the sun drinking a glass of Sangria at one of the sun-filled cafes. The cuisine here is almost as famous as the iconic attractions and landmarks themselves.

There’s so much of Madrid to explore, and if you’re short on time, you might not know which places to check off your bucket list first. So we’ve put together this list of the best places to see in Madrid so that you can make the most of your trip!

 

Best Places to Stay in Madrid

Madrid is brimming with hotels for every type of style and budget. You can find a quirky boutique hotel in the La Latina neighborhood, or spend a few nights in a glitzy resort overlooking the Gran Via, and everything in between! There are tons of places to choose from, so we’ve narrowed down our favorite accommodations in Madrid for you.

Wondering where to stay in Madrid? Check out our EPIC Madrid neighborhood guide.

 

Best Hostel in Madrid: Sungate One

best hostel in madrid

You can’t beat the location of this trendy and clean hostel. Located next to the central train station in Centro, Sungate One is close to Madrid’s top sights and attractions. And unlike most hostels, Sungate One’s dorms are bunk-bed free! You don’t have to worry about climbing over strangers to reach your bed. And with a fully stocked kitchen, you can enjoy a cold beer or hot tapas with your new hostel friends any time of the day.

View on HostelWorld

 

Best Airbnb in Madrid: Centrally located with 3 beds

Centrally located with 3 beds, MadridThis spectacular apartment located on the fifth floor of a historical building, has an amazing patio view that opens up to Plaza Mayor. The apartment can accommodate up to six guests and comes with amenities like wifi, a fully equipped kitchen, and air conditioning.

View on Airbnb

 

 

Best Budget Hotel in Madrid: Posada del Dragón Boutique Hotel

best budget hotel in madrid

If you’re looking for a clean, boutique hotel that’s also wallet-friendly, look no further than the Posada del Dragón Boutique Hotel. Each room in the hotel is modern, colorful, and best of all, air-conditioned! Which is something you’ll desperately desire in the middle of those humid Madrid summers. And since you’re just a few steps away from Plaza Mayor and San Miguel Market, you’re right in the middle of all the action!

View on Booking.com    View on HotelsCombined

 

Best Luxury Hotel in Madrid: Gran Hotel Inglés

best luxury hotel in madrid

Located in the middle of the bustling Barrio de las Letras, the Gran Hotel Inglés is close to Puerta del Sol and the Golden Triangle of Museums. The hotel is inside a breathtaking 19th-century building and offers modern and stylish rooms. Best of all, the rooms are large, spacious, and each one is fitted with a sitting area. So if you’re looking to live a life of luxury during your visit to Madrid, stay a few nights at the opulent Gran Hotel Inglés!

View on Booking.com    View on HotelsCombined

 

Need a place quick? Here’s the best neighbourhood in Madrid:

Check Top HostelCheck Top Hotel

Centro
Centro Madrid is the heart of the city. This downtown neighbourhood is where you’ll find grand avenues, stunning architecture, delicious restaurants, and a constant buzz of excitement and activity.
Places to Visit:
  • Stand at the centre of the expansive Plaza Mayor.
  • Take a tour of the Palacio Real and the Spanish Royal Palace, one of the most beautiful buildings in the city.
  • Snack on delectable and delicious churros and chocolate at Chocolatería San Ginés.

 

These are the BEST Places to Visit in Madrid!

#1 – Retiro Park

An awesome place to visit in Madrid for half a day!

Retiro Park

Beautiful oasis in the heart of the city.

 

  • Gardens, ponds, and fountains
  • Home to the Crystal Palace
  • Take a boat ride on the Retiro Pond
  • 350 acres of beauty

 

Why it’s Awesome: Madrid is one of Europe’s busiest cities, but you can’t tell once you step foot on the grounds of Retiro Park! Filled with grassy fields, blooming gardens, and forested areas, Retiro Park is the perfect escape from the crowds. It once belonged to the Spanish monarchy, which is evident from the pristinely manicured and luxurious grounds. But now as a public park, it’s one of the most relaxing places in all of Madrid.

What to do there: On a clear day, there are plenty of outdoor activities to do in the park. Come for an afternoon stroll with a picnic lunch or a quiet boat ride on the Retiro Pond. However, one of the biggest attractions is the stunning Crystal Palace. This glass conservatory stands over 22-meters high and overlooks one of the park’s glistening ponds and fountains. And due to the park’s size, make sure to come prepared with comfortable shoes!

 

#2 – Plaza Mayor

One of the most incredible free places to visit in Madrid!

Plaza Mayor, Madrid

Sit at a table and enjoy a sangria! You’re in Spain after all.

 

  • Madrid’s largest public square
  • Home to bullfights, soccer events, and beheadings
  • Many restaurants and bars
  • Perfect for people watching!

 

Why it’s awesome: During your trip to Madrid, you’ll inedibly visit the bustling, main square of Plaza Mayor. And while it’s now a lively place to visit, Plaza Mayor’s history has a dark and complicated past hosting a variety of bullfights and even executions. But don’t let it’s past influence your judgment! Plaza Mayor is now one of the most popular places to visit, whether you’re coming to watch one of the street performers, dine at an outdoor cafe, or simply relaxing and watching people go about their day.

What to do there: Plaza Mayor is one of the cultural centers of Spanish life, which means there is always something happening day and night. During the day, you’ll find locals and tourists admiring the art vendors or enjoying the variety of live entertainment. At night, the square remains a popular destination for happy hour enthusiasts and diners. And due to its central location, there are also plenty of bars and nightclubs keeping visitors entertain long into the night.

 

#3 – Templo de Debod

One of the more unique places in Madrid!

Templo de Debod, Madrid

Yes, Egyptian temple… In Madrid.

 

  • 2nd century BC Egyptian temple
  • One of the only Egyptian remains in Europe
  • Reconstructed in the 1960s in Madrid
  • Honors the Egyptian god, Amun

 

Why it’s awesome: Did you know there are Egyptian remains right in the middle of Madrid’s city center? This stone shrine was initially built in the 2nd century BC right along the coast of the Nile. But in the 1960s, the temple was dismantled and brought to Madrid where it stands today. It’s located in the middle of Parque del Oeste, and remains one of the only ancient Egyptian monuments in all of Madrid!

What to do there: The main chapel of the temple was initially built for the Egyptian god, Amun. This chapel is situated behind a long processional way with three smaller stone gateways leading up to it. Inside, you can see the offering table, which was used for religious sacrifices, and a staircase that leads to the room of the shrine. Although the materials and structure of the sanctuary is authentic, the positioning of the gates is different. They are placed in a different order compared to where they stood in Egypt.

 

#4 – MadrEAT

MadrEAT

YUM. | image source: Vida de Madrid

 

  • Traveling food truck festival in Madrid
  • Try international and Spanish foods
  • Innovative dishes and menu
  • Varying monthly schedule

 

Why it’s awesome: In such a big culinary city, there is definitely no shortage of food options in Madrid. But if you’re looking to try something different than your typical tapas restaurant, check out MadrEAT. This conceptual food market brings together the most innovative and delicious food trucks and stalls around the city. Their goal is to celebrate the gastronomy using fresh, creative, and new ingredients, and to bring these dishes to locals as well as visitors from around the world.

What to do there: Eat, eat, and eat! At MadrEAT, you’ll want to come with an empty stomach and a passion for food. But don’t just expect your run of the mill Spanish food. Here, you’ll sample international cuisine, unique ingredients, and dishes that you can’t find anywhere else in the world. Even the traditional Spanish dishes are crafted with a different flare! The location and times for each festival vary and change each month, so it’s always best to consult their website for an up-to-date schedule.

 

#5 – The Golden Triangle

A must visit place in Madrid!

The Golden Triangle, Madrid

Culture-lovers, don’t miss this out. | image source: || UggBoy?UggGirl || PHOTO || WORLD || TRAVEL || (flickr)

 

  • Includes the Prado Museum for classic art
  • Home to the Reina Sofia Museum for modern art
  • Contains the Thyssen Museum for international and 20th-century art
  • Located all next to each other

 

Why it’s awesome: Comprised if not one, or two, but three world-famous art galleries, the Golden Triangle is sure to delight every type of art lover. Each museum is located close by each other, which means you can easily spend an entire day hopping between each one. They are all located on Paseo del Prado, which is right in the middle of Madrid’s city center. Besides housing some of the most prominent works from around the world, the museums in the Golden Triangle each focus on a different time period of art.

What to do there: First, you have the Prado Museum, one of Madrid’s more prestigious art galleries. It houses a vast collection of classical, pre-20th century works from Goya, Bosch, El Greco, and Titian. The Reina Sofia Museum is next and contains Spain’s most extensive collection of modern art. Here, you’ll find paintings and drawings from some of the world’s most talented contemporary artists, including Picasso and Dali. Completing the trifecta is the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, which has artwork that doesn’t quite fit into the other two galleries. You’ll see paintings from Italian, American, German, and Dutch impressionists and expressionists from the 20th century onwards.

 

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#6 – Palacio de Cibeles

A great place to see in Madrid for architecture lovers!

Templo de Debod, Madrid

One of the stunning pieces of architecture in Madrid!

 

  • Original home of Madrid’s postal system
  • Stunning architecture and glass ceiling
  • Free entry to visit the interior
  • Don’t miss the observation deck

 

Why it’s awesome: From the outside, you might think this opulent building was home to the Spanish royalty. But quite the contrary! Until 2011, the Palacio de Cibeles was actually the headquarters of Madrid postal system! But this 1907 building is a beautiful piece of Spanish architecture. With its tall white spires and rectangular column windows, Palacio de Cibeles is one of the earliest examples of modern Neoplasteresque design. Although it’s no longer a post office, the Palacio de Cibeles is now the home of Madrid’s City Council.

What to do there: This imposing building sits on the corner of Plaza Cibeles, and can be seen from miles away! You can enter the building and walk around, admiring the white stone columns and arches from the inside. The stained glass ceiling is also a sight to see. During different times of the year, Palacio de Cibeles hosts a variety of art or photography exhibitions, that can visit for free. But the highlight is to purchase a ticket to the top of the observation deck, for sweeping views over Madrid.

 

#7 – Mercado de los Motores

A great place in Madrid if you like to shop!

Mercado de los Motores

Shop ’til you drop. | image source: Plantastic – Ticketea

 

  • Located in an antique train museum
  • Occurs once a month
  • High-quality vintage and antique items
  • Food trucks and live music too

 

Why it’s awesome: For those die-hard shoppers looking to score a deal or two, head down to Mercado de los Motores, Madrid’s most famous vintage flea market. And while the main attraction is to shop, the building of the market is actually worth visiting on its own. And that’s because the market takes place in the Train Museum of Madrid! Hundreds of stalls and booths are nestled in between dozens of enormous, antique locomotive trains.

What to do there: Selling everything from crafts, furniture, jewelry, and clothing, the Mercado de los Motores has every sort of knick-knack that you can imagine. And we’re not talking cheap goods! Only the highest quality items can be sold here, and for a reasonable price if you can bargain! The market spills onto the streets outside, where there are several food trucks, coffee stands (some that sell out of the old train carriages), and plenty of live music and entertainment. The event only happens once a month, so check their website to find out the next scheduled date.

 

Quick Note – Staying Safe in Madrid

Madrid is a relatively safe city in Spain and Europe as a whole. But just like any other city in the world, it’s not immune to crime. However, violence is quite rare and is usually not targeted towards visitors or tourists.

The biggest threat in Madrid is petty theft. Due to a large number of tourists, pickpocketing and theft can happen. For this reason, you should always keep your valuables stored in your hotel, and your personal belongings close by you at all time. And while the larger touristy areas like Gran Via and Puerta del Sol are prime targets for pickpockets, theft can happen anywhere in the city.

But generally speaking, tourists do not have to worry about their safety while traveling in Madrid. As long as you are aware of your surroundings and take standard precautions, you can protect yourself against pickpockets and thieves in the area.

Read our safety guide for Spain and make sure that you know all of the hazards of traveling beforehand.

Don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.

Retiro Park

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#8 – Calle de Cava Baja

Calle de Cava Baja, Madrid

This street is very instagrammable. | image source: Juan Antonio Segal (wikicommons)

 

  • Colorful, lively street in the city center
  • Dozens of tapas restaurants
  • Perfect for bar and restaurant hopping
  • Several coffee shops in the day

 

Why it’s awesome: Located in the bustling La Latina district, the winding, narrow street of Calle de Cava Baja is the perfect place for tapas hopping! The road dates back over 1,000 years, where Moorish people hid in the dark taverns and bars away from the Castilian Kingdom of Toledo. As you walk down the street, you can see row after row of colorful buildings, each with a different tapas bar and restaurant underneath.

What to do there: Busy at all hours of the day, Calle de Cava Baja is your one-stop shop for dining on delicious Spanish snacks. Many locals and tourists flock to the street to sample a small pincho and glass of sangria at one of the restaurants before continuing down the road to their next destination. And if you happen to get your fill of taps for the evening, know that you’ll also find coffee shops, wine bars, and even a pharmacy on Calle de Cava Baja.

 

#9 – Plaza Dos de Mayo

Plaza Dos de Mayo, Madrid

The heart of the Malasaña neighborhood. | image source: Marta Nimeva Nimeviene (flickr)

 

  • The initial site of the Monteleón Artillery 
  • Iconic arch dedicated to the battle
  • Now a bustling nightlife meetup spot
  • Several restaurants and bars close by

 

Why it’s awesome: If you’re eager to check out Madrid’s infamous nightlife scene, start out at Plaza Dos de Mayo, located in the Malasaña neighborhood. Starting from the early evening, you’ll find students, locals, and partygoers congregating in the square having a glass of wine or beer. However, the square has a rich history and was the original site where the Monteleón Artillery barracks were in 1808. It was transformed into a landscaped park and garden 60 years later.

What to do there: In the evening, grab a couple of friends and some ice cold beers to enjoy a lively night out on Plaza Dos de Mayo. There are also a variety of bars, restaurants, and shops surrounding the plaza. But besides being a favorite meetup spot for young locals, Plaza Dos de Mayo also has several great sights within its iron gates. The most impressive is the grand arch, which is dedicated to Daoíz and Valarde, two soldiers who died in the battle against the French army in the early 1800s.

 

Wonder how to spend a weekend in Madrid? Head over to our insider’s Weekend in Madrid guide!

 

#10 – Santiago Bernabéu Stadium

Santiago Bernabéu Stadium

‘Hala Madrid y nada mas’ (hail Madrid and nothing more)

 

  • Home to Real Madrid Football Club 
  • Seating for over 81,000 people
  • Book a tour of the stadium and rooms
  • Visit the Real Madrid Museum

 

Why it’s awesome: The iconic Santiago Bernabéu Stadium is home to one of Europe’s most successful football (soccer) team, Real Madrid. And regardless of if you’re a Real Madrid supporter, you can still marvel at the gigantic stadium. Seating around 81,000 screaming fans, Santiago Bernabéu Stadium has been wowing sports fanatics for over 70 years. And since it’s hosted the European Cup, World Cup, and Copa Libertadores Final, it’s almost as famous as the football team itself!

What to do there: The best way to see Santiago Bernabéu Stadium in action is by attending a Real Madrid game. But if you’re not in Madrid during one of their home games, you can still book a tour of the stadium and neighboring Museum of Real Madrid. On the tour, you’ll be taken through the team locker rooms, dugouts, presidential box, and even on to the pitch! For an extra fee, you can also enjoy an interactive audio guidebook that dives into even more detail of this impressive building.

 

#11 – National Archaeological Museum

A fascinating educational place in Madrid!

National Archaeological Museum, Madrid

Travel in time! | image source: Carole Raddato (flickr)

 

  • Thousands of Iberian archeological findings
  • Prehistory to Modern Age
  • Exhibits for Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece
  • Must see the Treasure of Guarrazar

 

Why it’s awesome: Travel through years of Spanish history with a visit to the National Archaeological Museum of Madrid. Founded in 1867, the museum contains a vast collection of artifacts, paintings, and objects collected all around the country, some of which dates back before the Romans! But unlike most museums, the National Archaeological Museum focuses on the archeological influence and importance of its findings and aims to educate the public rather than acting purely as a decorative museum.

What to do there: With tickets to the National Archaeological Museum, you can see thousands of pieces dating from Prehistory to the Early Modern Age. And while many of the artifacts come from Spain and the Iberian Peninsula, there are also exhibits from Ancient Greece, Ancient Egypt, and the Near East. Don’t miss the Roman mosaic room from Hispania, the 500 BC Mausoleum of Pozo Moro, and the 7th century Treasure of Guarrazar. And after your visit, you can hop over to the National Library which is located in the same building as the National Archaeological Museum.

 

#12 – Gran Vía

Gran Vía

Lights errr’where.

 

  • One of the busiest shopping and entertainment streets
  • Movie theaters and nightclubs
  • Diverse architecture styles
  • See Madrid’s first skyscraper, the Telefónica Building

 

Why it’s awesome: Sitting at the center of Madrid’s heart is the Gran Vía, an exciting street filled with shops, restaurants, and entertainment. Leading from Calle de Alcalá to Plaza de España, Gran Vía was once the home to many luxurious hotels and movie theaters, which explains it’s nickname as the “Spanish Broadway.” But throughout the years, it’s transformed into a bustling hub of shopping malls, nightclubs, and high-end brands.

What to do there: Gran Vía has something for every type of taste. Whether you’re spending the afternoon shopping or heading out to dinner and movie in the evening, Gran Vía has it all. And as one of the busiest streets in Madrid, you can also find a variety of restaurants, cafes, and bars here too. The buildings lining the street are also stunning, with many various buildings built in Secession, Plateresque, and Art Deco architecture. Some notable buildings include the Beaux-Art Edificio Metrópolis office, the upscale Edificio Grassy, and the 88-meter high Telefónica Building.

 

#13 – Mercado San Miguel

A must-see for foodies!

Mercado San Miguel

Wolf food down at Mercado San Miguel! | image source: wamdé (flickr)

 

  • Largest food market in Madrid
  • Dates back to 1916
  • Produce, hot foods, and boozy beverages
  • Beautiful glass, art nouveau building

 

Why it’s awesome: Calling all foodies! You won’t want to miss a mouth-watering afternoon at Madrid’s most famous market, the Mercado San Miguel. Situated inside a glamorous 1916 art nouveau building, the Mercado San Miguel has some of the freshest produce and foods available in all of Madrid. Due to its central location, it’s more touristy than other markets but still worth a visit for some delicious snacks. And with over 200 stalls, it’s also one of Europe’s largest public markets, so you’re guaranteed to find something delicious to eat!

What to do there: You need to come to the Mercado San Miguel with an empty stomach, because you’ll want to devour everything in sight! Act like a local and purchase your fresh produce and groceries at one of the stalls, or come to unwind with a glass of cava and a couple of hot tapas. There are several international foods available, but you can’t miss the traditional Spanish favorite like patatas bravas, croquettes, boquerones, and gambas al ajillo.

 

#14 – Almudena Cathedral

Almudena Cathedral

BOOM. Stunning.

 

  • Modern Catholic cathedral
  • Filled with modern and contemporary art
  • Opened in 2003 and consecrated by Pope John Paul
  • Site of King Felipe and Queen Letizia’s wedding

 

Why it’s awesome: As the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdioceses of Madrid, the Almudena Cathedral is a beautiful Baroque cathedral that is sure to delight any architecture lover. Although parts of the cathedral were built in the mid-1800s, it was surprisingly not completed until 1993, when Pope John Paul consecrated it. And in 2004, King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain were married right here in the Almudena Cathedral.

What to do there: Unlike most Spanish cathedrals, the Almudena Cathedral has a uniquely modern Neo-Gothic interior. Contemporary artists designed most of the art and sculptures inside the temple. Almudena Cathedral might be one of the only places where you can find pop-art in a religious cathedral! Inside, you can also see a stunning pipe organ, grand nave, and brightly colored square cupola. And as you venture beneath the surface of the cathedral, you’ll find a Neo-Romanesque crypt with a 16th-century image of the Virgen de la Almudena.

 

#15 – Barrio de Las Letras

Cool place to see in Madrid with friends!

Barrio de Las Letras, Madrid

One of the coolest districts in Madrid. | image source: FEDERICO JORDÁ (flickr)

 

  • Bustling neighborhood in Madrid’s center
  • Tons of bars, restaurants, and shops
  • Home to the Golden Triangle of Museums
  • Quirky literary quotes everywhere

 

Why it’s awesome: As one of Madrid’s most vibrant neighborhoods, the Barrio de Las Letras is teeming with life from the early morning until late in the evening. Its name translates to the Literary Quarter, which is made clear from the literary quotes that are plastered on the walls of the buildings and on the street grounds. Most notably, the Barrio de Las Letras was home to Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote. But besides the funky quotes and artwork, you’ll also find plenty of charming restaurants, quirky boutiques, and coffee houses.

What to do there: Not only are there tons of restaurants and bars, but Barrio de Las Letras is also home to Madrid’s most prestigious museums. Here, you’ll find the Golden Triangle, which includes the Prado, Reina Sofia, and Thyssen-Bornemisza Museums. There is also Plaza Santa Ana, and the outdoor square filled with dozens of popular outdoor cafes, perfect for a light snack or for people watching. But the best way to explore the area is by wanding down the winding alleys and getting lost. You never know what you charming shop or bar awaits you around the corner!

 

#16 – Atocha train station

Quite the quirky place in Madrid!

Atocha train station, Madrid

Disclaimer: you might get lost.

 

  • The biggest train station in Madrid
  • Peaceful rainforest in the middle!
  • Palm trees, lush foliage, and plants
  • Perfect for a rest before your train ride

 

Why it’s awesome: This is not your average train station! And although it’s the largest station in Madrid, it has one unique feature that stands out from the rest. Standing in the middle of the industrial, glass building is a tropical oasis of lush palm trees and green foliage. This mini rainforest is a breath of fresh air for travelers coming back from work or jetting off on vacation. So if you’re heading to Barcelona, Alicante, or even Marseille in France, stop for a minute and enjoy the peaceful garden hidden inside the Atocha train station.

What to do there: Most train stations are not known for being peaceful. The booming intercom, the loud chatter of voices, and the roar of the locomotives can be overwhelming. But at the mini rainforest, you can spend a moment in tranquillity before the noise takes you back to reality. The rainforest was also home to hundreds of adorable turtles, many of whom were donated to the train station after their owners couldn’t care for them anymore. But unfortunately, these turtles were moved to a rescue center in May 2018.

 

#17 – Palacio Real

Palacio Real

Just another stunning Spanish building.

 

  • Official home of the Spanish monarchy
  • Museum of opulent art and artifacts
  • Over 3,000 individual rooms
  • The largest palace in Europe

 

Why it’s awesome: This lavish building was once the residence of the Spanish monarchy, including Carlos III and Alfonso XIII. And although it is still considered the official home of Royalty, the current King Felipe does not live there. Instead, it opened to the public as a museum and is filled with luxurious riches, artifacts, and paintings. And with almost 3,500 individual rooms, it’s the largest palace in all of Europe!

What to do there: Each of the rooms has been decorated and designed to fit the different taste of the monarchs that ruled in Spain. The interior has some of the finest (and most expensive) porcelains, furniture, silverware in the country. And the artwork comes from prominent artists including Caravaggio, Tiepolo, Giaquinto, and Mengs. And while you aren’t able to visit all the rooms inside Palacio Real, you can still admire the iconic facade and lush gardens from the outside.

 

#18 – Puerta de Alcalá

Puerta de Alcalá

Aaaaand another one.

 

  • One of the five gates to Madrid
  • First non-Roman arch in Europe
  • At the entrance to Retiro Park
  • Bring your camera for pictures!

 

Why it’s awesome: Not only is the Puerta de Alcalá the first modern arch in Europe, but it also serves as the passageway and entrance to Madrid. And although the architecture looks Roman, it was actually designed by the Italian architect Francesco Sabatini in 1778. Since then, it’s seen several refurbishments and restoration on its structure and columns. It’s now considered a Spanish Property of Cultural Interest and remains one of the biggest tourist attractions in all of Madrid, so make sure you add it to your Madrid itinerary!

What to do there: As one of Madrid’s most iconic monuments, the Puerta de Alcalá should be visited at least once during your trip to Madrid. The intricate stonework and sculpture are impressive, and many compare it’s designed to the Arch de Triumph in Paris. And although it’s in the middle of a busy road, you can still admire its beauty from afar (or from the top deck of a tour bus)! And the Puerta de Alcalá also sits at the entrance to Retiro Park, so you can easily combine a visit to both attractions in one day.

 

#19 – Puerta del Sol

A great place to visit in Madrid if you’re traveling solo

Puerta del Sol

This square is known to be the busiest one in the city!

 

  • One of the five gates to Madrid
  • First non-Roman arch in Europe
  • At the entrance to Retiro Park
  • Bring your camera for pictures!

 

Why it’s awesome: Similar to the impressive Puerta de Alcalá, the Puerta del Sol is another 16th-century gate to the city of Madrid. Historically, the square of Puerta del Sol was used as a trader market, where locals did business with the many travelers and visitors who entered through the gate. You might recognize this famous square from TV, as it’s the location for Spain’s main New Year’s Eve celebration.

What to do there: As one of the busiest places in Madrid, there’s always a bustle of activity happening on Puerta del Sol. It’s home to some of the city’s most famous attractions, including the House of the Post Office (the office of the President), the statue of Charles III of Spain, and the illuminated Tio Pepe sign. But the most famous landmark is the Bear and the Strawberry Tree statue, which symbolizes the Madrid coat of arms. The Bear and the Strawberry Tree is a prominent landmark for tourists, who come from all over the world to photograph the bronze statue.

 

#20 – Casa del Campo

Casa del Campo, Madrid

Take a stroll around the largest public park in Madrid! | image source: ra_fus (flickr)

 

  • Over 1,700-hectares in size
  • Amusement park, zoo, and aquarium inside
  • Lots of wildlife in the park
  • Trails for walking and cycling

 

Why it’s awesome: Often overlooked for the beautiful Retiro Park, Casa del Campo is another slice of green paradise you can’t miss during your visit to Madrid. Which is surprising because it’s actually the largest park in all of Madrid and five times larger than New York’s Central Park! Located next to Madrid Rio and the Manzanares River, there are plenty of activities to do in Casa del Campo throughout the year.

What to do there: Although you can spend an afternoon strolling through the lush gardens and fields of Casa del Campo, there are actually tons of fun attractions to participate in! There are several trails that run through the hills and valleys which are perfect for running, walking, and cycling. The park is home to an amusement park, an aquarium, and even a zoo! But if you’re trying to stick to a budget, then you can see animals without booking a ticket. Casa del Campo is teeming with wildlife, and it’s not uncommon to see hawks, rabbits, and deer running around the park.

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#21 – Real Jardin Botanico

One of the nicer places in Madrid to sightsee!

Real Jardin Botanico, Madrid

Nice break from the busy city. | image source: Jan S0L0 (flickr)

 

  • Herbs, flowers, and trees
  • Five on-site greenhouses
  • English style fountain and ponds
  • Largest herbarium in all of Europe

 

Why it’s awesome: This historical, botanical garden was initially opened by King Ferdinand VI in 1755 and continues to please visitors with its vibrant roses and landscaped fields for centuries. Situated next to Paseo del Prado, Real Jardin Botanico is 8-hectares of peaceful, serene gardens. But it’s more than just a slice of beauty in the middle of the city. Real Jardin Botanico was actually funded in order to educate the public on botany, in order to sponsor future expeditions to collect new species.

What to do there: The garden is divided into seven sections, and contains over 90,000 plants and flowers and over 1,500 types of trees. Visi the Terraza de los Cuadros to see the garden’s collection of medicinal and herbal plants. Or stop by the Terraza del Plano de la Flor, which contains an English garden complete with ponds and greenhouses. The on-site herbarium is also the largest in Europe, and is overflowing with over a million specimens collected from the 18th century!

Don’t forget to pack a good book!

Rick Steves Snapshot Madrid & Toledo: This is our top recommendation for an awesome and inspiring read on this magical city.

 

Get insured for your trip to Madrid!

Remember, when you are traveling you need insurance! World Nomads is our highest recommendation for travel insurance. Fill out the form below to get a quote.

 

Final Thoughts

As you wander through the streets of Madrid, you’ll want to soak in the lively atmosphere that makes the city so unique. From the vibrant markets and plaza squares to the historic palaces and 16th-century buildings, Madrid is a city full of natural beauty.

And while there are tons of attractions to see during the day, Madrid becomes even more colorful at night. Locals and visitors spill out into the streets while sipping wine, snacking on tapas, and listening to live entertainment. There really is something happening at every hour of the day in Madrid!

And while this list tells you the highlights and main attractions you must visit when in Madrid, feel free to venture and explore on your own. There’s nothing like getting off the beaten path and seeing the city for what it really is!

 

Yay for transparency! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you book your accommodation through the site, The Broke Backpacker will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Your support helps me keep the site going.


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Looking for the COOLEST places to visit in Madrid? Our insider guide shows you Madrid’s hidden gems, so you can see it all!

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