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Best things to do in Madrid

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Where in the world: Europe  /  Spain  /  Community of Madrid  /  Madrid
With numerous historic places to explore, museums to dig into, and plazas and parks to stroll through, you'll find a long list of things to do in Madrid to satisfy your trip requirements. Whether you choose to nibble on tapas at Mercado San Miguel--part culinary attraction, part cultural center--or have a picnic by the artificial lake of Retiro Park, you'll get the unique taste of the Cultural Capital of Spain. Art lovers will enjoy the lavishly decorated rooms of the historic Royal Palace of Madrid, the official residence of Spanish monarchs, and masterpieces by Spain's famous painters El Greco, Goya, and Velasquez at Museo Nacional del Prado.

Madrid is best known for its Art Museums, Historic Sites, and Parks.

Top 15 things to do in Madrid

1. Prado National Museum

Housing one of the largest collections of fine art in the world, Prado National Museum is perhaps best known for works by El Greco, Goya, and Velasquez. One of the most visited cultural sites in the world, the museum includes an impressive collection of over 7,000 paintings, 1,000 sculptures, 5,000 prints, and 8,000 drawings. Though Goya is unquestionably the most extensively represented artist in this collection, other highlights include works by Titian, Rubens, Bosch, Caravaggio, Durer, and van Dyck. The main building was designed in 1785 and constructed during the reign of Carlos III, as part of a grand renewal plan meant to bestow upon the city a monumental urban space. Get the best out of your experience by booking a private tour with an expert art guide.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
Tours from $18 › Learn more about Prado National Museum

2. Parque del Retiro

Take a few moments out of your tour of the city to rest at Parque del Retiro, noted for its marble monuments, elegant buildings, abundant greenery, and landscaped lawns. Laid out in the 17th century, the park was originally meant to be a secluded space for kings and queens. Opened to the public in 1868, this site is an ideal place for a leisurely stroll, relaxing picnic, or an entertaining boat ride around the artificial lake, the focal point of the park. Art exhibitions and live music performances are frequently held here on the weekends, drawing hundreds of curious visitors from around the country. If you prefer a bit of peace and quiet, you can always find a lush secret corner far away from the noisy crowds.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Tours from $10 › Learn more about Parque del Retiro

3. Royal Palace of Madrid

Explore at least a few of the 2,000 lavishly decorated rooms of the historic Royal Palace of Madrid, considered one of the finest buildings in the city. Take the grand stairway to discover the state rooms, noted for their detailed tapestries, frescoes, porcelain, carvings, china, and silverware. The courtyard connects to both the old pharmacy, which holds hundreds of bottles of centuries-old medicines, and the royal armory, a two-level exhibit of medieval weapons and armor. Although the enormous palace is the official residence of the King, the royal family doesn’t actually live here; the site is generally used for state ceremonies. Avoid visiting on Wednesdays, when entry is free and the lines are extremely long.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
Tours from $19 › Learn more about Royal Palace of Madrid

4. Madrid Tapas Night Walking Tour

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Sample Spanish nightlife and Madrid's tasty tapas on an evening walking tour that will tantalize your taste buds! Led by an entertaining foodie guide, this walking tour is the best introduction to the laid back Madrileno lifestyle. In a small group, with an average maximum of 10 people, you'll visit Madrid's tucked-away corners and feast on tasty treats you would never discover on your own, leaving you with a lasting feeling for Madrid and its people, and an appetite for its fabulous food and drink! Our unique pay-as-you-go system allows us to personalize things to your tastes on the night. The tour price includes your first drink and tapas at the first bar you'll visit. You can then choose how much or how little you'd like to eat and drink at the other bars/restaurants you'll visit on the evening walking tour. For a satisfying night out you should expect to spend about 30 to 35 euros per person.
Suggested duration: 4 hours
Tours from $62 › More about this tour at viator.com ›
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5. Plaza Mayor

Once the beating heart of the city’s cultural life, Plaza Mayor has played host to bullfights, markets, symphonies, tournaments, and even executions. Originally built outside the city walls, the square is now ringed with trendy shops, restaurants, and alfresco cafes, ideal for soaking up the atmosphere and watching the buzzing street life. The enormous square, which at its center features an iconic equestrian statue of King Phillip III, is easily accessible by one of many walkways connected to the surrounding pedestrian streets. At its northern end, the square is enclosed by a two-towered municipal building, housing an informative visitor center where you can pick up maps of the city and arrange for sightseeing tours in and around the historic district.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Tours from $6 › Learn more about Plaza Mayor

6. Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza

Explore centuries of fine art at Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, which boasts masterpieces by Monet, Goya, Degas, Renoir, Picasso, and Van Gogh, to mention just a few notables. Today, the vast collection of over 1,600 paintings is spread over three floors, with a compact layout that makes this museum one of the most navigable sites in the city. The collection is organized chronologically, with the oldest works displayed on the top floor. You can arrange to join a thematic guided tour during or after business hours, or simply start on the top floor and work your way down at your own pace. Check online for ticket options and upcoming special events.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
Tours from $5 › Learn more about Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza

7. Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia

Take a journey through modern art at Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, which features some of contemporary art’s most revered works, including those from famous Spaniards Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí. The museum is mainly dedicated to Spanish art of the 20th century, but the extensive collection includes works by a number of international artists, including Max Ernst, Robert Delaunay, Richard Serra, and Francis Bacon, to name just a few. The museum’s many galleries often play host to a mixture of national and international temporary exhibits, while the on-site free-access library contains an impressive collection of over 100,000 art books. The galleries displaying the permanent collection are spread over two floors, so if you’re looking for a specific work, save time by picking up a copy of the museum’s floor plans from the information desk at the entrance.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Tours from $21 › Learn more about Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia

8. Madrid Tapas and Wine Tasting Tour

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In this all included tapas tour, discover Madrid’s vibrant tapas scene alongside a knowledgeable guide during a 3-hour evening tapas tour of the city. Stroll around the ambient streets of Madrid in the evening and visit at least four of its most popular eateries; sample up to 10 tantalizing tapas dishes while learning about the city’s rich culinary heritage. Sip refined wines and pleasure your palate on this excellent epicurean experience.  Numbers are limited to 12 on this small-group tour, ensuring personalized attention from your guide.
Suggested duration: 3 hours
Tours from $87 › More about this tour at viator.com ›

9. Puerta del Sol

Every visitor to Madrid passes through Puerta del Sol at some point during a stay. While the plaza’s center teems with people from all over the world, its outer edges are filled with souvenir shops, restaurants, cafes, and currency exchanges. Home to a famous clock that marks the beginning of each new year, the plaza also contains memorials and statues that reflect the city's history. With a major metro stop and a central location, it’s a popular meeting place for locals and visitors alike.
Suggested duration: 1 hour
Tours from $6 › Learn more about Puerta del Sol

10. Room Escape Games

Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
Learn more about Room Escape Games

11. Wine Tours & Tastings

Sink your teeth into local delicacies hidden among the streets of Madrid on a food and wine tour of the city. Accompanied by a knowledgeable foodie as your guide, you'll sample classic regional dishes, including Iberian ham and Manchego cheese. You'll also have a chance to learn about the culinary history of the capital, pairing tasty morsels with the region's finest wines. Tours last on average 3 hours (with full-day options also available).
Suggested duration: 4 hours
Tours from $20 › Learn more about Wine Tours & Tastings

12. Madrid City Tour Hop-On Hop-Off

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Visit Madrid at your own pace aboard one of our double-decker red buses. Hop-on and hop-off as many times as you wish through the day with a single ticket. Switch routes and discover the history of Madrid through an audio guide system. Now available in 14 different languages!
Suggested duration: 60 to 80 minutes
Tours from $31 › More about this tour at viator.com ›

13. Food Tours

Tickle your palate with some classic Spanish dishes on a guided food tour in Madrid. As you explore the capital's hard-to-find alleys, following your foodie guide to atmospheric bars and historic taverns, you'll sample numerous mouthwatering dishes accompanied by aromatic sangria, while taking part in the characteristic evening rituals of Madrilenos. Depending on a chosen tour, you may even get to cook paella with the helping hand of a local chef, delve into the city's craft beer scene, or visit a local market at the historic Literary Quarter. These tours usually last 3 to 4 hours, unless combined with some other activity, such as a flamenco show.
Suggested duration: 3h 30 min
Tours from $20 › Learn more about Food Tours

14. Walking tours

Suggested duration: 2 hours
Tours from $14 › Learn more about Walking tours

15. Highlights of Madrid by Bike

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The "Best of Madrid" guided bike tour offers you the oportunity to have a nice, paceful and easy ride along the city of Madrid with the company of other travellers and our expert local guide.In this 3 hours bike tour, we will visit the most iconic areas if Madrid and the beautiful hided places. We will have the chance to breath the admosphere in an authenic local market, having the oportunity to enjoy some real spanish tapas.You will feel like doing what locals do, with the company of a real local guide who knows the city like the back of his hand
Suggested duration: 3 hours
Tours from $31 › More about this tour at viator.com ›