Madrid is an amazing city! Honestly, it is one of my favorite large cities I have been to due to its cleanliness, easy navigation, friendly people and amazing culture. So, what is there to do? These are the top 10 things we did while in Madrid!
View of fountain from Ayuntamiento de Madrid
1. Do a "Tapa hop"
Obviously you’ve heard of bar hopping, but have you heard of tapa hopping? It is custom in Spain to receive free tapas, the Spanish version of American appetizers, prior to meals. They usually accompany your drink order. And, my recommended drink order is Sangria. It’s amazingggg in Spain. So, one of our favorite things to do was a taste tour of sangria and tapas 😍
We did our own tapa tour, but you can take guided tours as well, if that is something you are interested in!
2. Take a free walking tour
We enjoyed our walking tour in Madrid! We learned more about the history of the city, the culture, got recommendations for places to eat and learned the lay of the city a little better. Don’t forget, walking tours are free, but tour guides depend on tips to make money. Ours accepted cash app, but I recommend having some cash to tip at the end!
3. Visit the Oldest shop in Madrid
Cliche’? Maybe. But I think its amazing that Farmacia de la Reina Madre opened in 1578 and is still running to this day 🤯 We also learned a bit more about the building during our walking tour. For instance, there is a tunnel from the pharmacy to the palace they used to deliver medicines (no, you can not walk through it haha). Address here!
4. Visit the Royal Palace of Madrid
The palace in Madrid is the largest in Europe. It is home to 3, 418 rooms and 135,000 square meters of floor space, making it basically double the size of Buckingham Palace and the Palace of Versailles! So, even if you don’t decide to tour through the palace, at least stop and look at the massive size of the palace.
5. Visit the Almudena Cathedral
Since you are in the area, view the cathedral from the hilltop and then take a quick, free walk through the cathedral. Honestly, it looks like many of the other cathedrals in Europe, only a little more modern looking. I will say, though, that the stain glass in this cathedral is beautiful!
You can climb to the dome of the cathedral to get a view of the palace from above. HOWEVER, to do this, you have to purchase tickets to the museum of the cathedral. We didn’t know this, of course, and spent too much time looking for the access to the dome 🙃 So, to save you time and grief, here is the website with information on the museum and where you can purchase tickets!
For a great view of the cathedral AND the palace, go to the dirt path up a grassy hill to the East (or right) of the palace and cathedral. The path starts near the El Anciano Rey de los Vinos and takes you all the way to Jardines de Lepanto.
6. Go to a Flamenco Show
The flamenco show was super neat! Traditional music and dancing with amazing rhythm and choreography; it really was great entertainment!
However, not all Flamenco shows are equal. Some, like what we opted for, are in theaters with seating in rows of chairs with just the show. Others come with dinner and drinks and are set up with tables. I personally wish we had chosen the latter option and at least purchased the drink package. Our show lasted about an hour, but most shows that include dinner can be up to 3 hours long.
Click here for tickets that include ticket only, ticket with drinks, ticket with tapas, etc!
7. Go to the Observation Deck of Palacio de Cibeles
Have you seen the pictures like the one below, overlooking the circular fountain? Well, this view is found at the top of Palacio de Cibeles! It is accessible by elevator and is free to go about halfway up and view the city through a window. Or, you can purchase tickets to visit a patio bar (aka Mirador Madrid) and watch the sunset from there! Tickets are about 3 euros to access the observation deck.
8. Visit Plaza Mayor
Plaza Mayor is part of the older portion of Madrid and is a beautiful square. Is it a little touristy? Maybe. But it is beautiful and has a lot of restaurants. We found great food and sangria for rather affordable prices. Our favorite restaurant in Plaza Mayor was Gustos. It has a beautiful downstairs, great food and the pitcher of sangria was delicious and affordable! Fair warning, there are vendors there trying to sell glow lights at night. However, they weren’t too pushy and you can easily say no.
9. Go to Parque de El Retiro
Parque de El Retiro is a beautiful park in eastern Madrid. With a beautiful lake to paddle in, beautiful cypress trees, a garden, fountains, monuments, cafes and vendors, it really does have it all! Also, it’s free to enter. Don’t forget to stop at the Puerta de Alcalá for a photo op, especially wen the flowers are in bloom!
10. Stop in the Oldest restaurant in the world
That’s right; the oldest restaurant in the WORLD. It holds the Guinness World Record for being open the longest of any restaurant in the world. Fair warning, its usually busy and its a bit pricey. Is it a tourist trap? Maybe. But is there another oldest restaurant in the entire world? No. So thats pretty neat. So, just make it a “splurge” night or at least go for dessert. If not, walk by and say hi.
Something that we wanted to do, but didn’t because we waited too late to book tickets and they were $$: go to a football game! We really wanted to do this and I am kind of kicking myself for not buying tickets earlier. So, if you are in town, I’d recommend it! And, I’d recommend buying tickets in advance 😉
Things to do in Madrid Recap!
Madrid is a beautiful and clean city and half the fun is walking around just enjoying the architecture and culture. These are just some of the things we enjoyed doing in Madrid! Did we miss anything?!