A passionate city at the very heart of Spain, Madrid is a must-see city for any curious traveller.
The Spanish capital may lack an icon – there is no modernist architecture of Barcelona, no Eiffel Tower of Paris, no Buckingham Palace of London – but it doesn’t need one. Its identity is its soul, and that’s something you have to experience for yourself. Home to glamorous nightlife, culinary hotspots and artistic masterpieces, are you ready to experience Madrid?
The official residence of the Royal Family, the Royal Palace of Madrid is now reserved for official state occasions allowing the public to marvel in its splendour all year round. Also, don’t miss the Museo del Prado, which houses what is widely regarded as one of the best collections of European Art, as well as the best collection of Spanish Art, anywhere in the world.
Speaking of museums, you could spend an entire week in the Spanish capital and still not have time to tick off everything on the list. To help you prioritise, we’ve pulled together this list of the best museums in Madrid. Whether you want to immerse yourself in European art or you prefer your museums more modern or quirky, there’s something here for you.
Get to know the neighbourhoods
To really get a feel for Madrid beyond the central zone, hop on the metro and discover some of the city’s diverse neighbourhoods. The central area Sol is where you’ll find El Oso y el Madroño, the bear statue which acts as a navigation aid and popular meeting point. The city’s most popular shops are located within walking distance from here, with plenty of restaurants to dine at.
Known as the gay neighbourhood, Chueca is a trendy nightlife destination and packed with restaurants and boutiques. To the north, Malasaña is an important historical area. Plaza de Dos de Mayo was home to the 1802 battle when the population rose against Napoleon, while the area was also home to Madrid’s experimental movement La Movida Madrileña.
Wander the small alleyways nestled between the 18th century buildings of La Latina, home to the city’s oldest architecture and some of the best restaurants. It’s a popular site on Sundays due to a bustling flea market, after which the restaurants and bars fill up with locals making the most of their weekend. The neighbourhood is a short 15-minute walk from Sol.
Festivals and events
With some advance planning you could visit the city to attend one of the big festivals in Madrid. Whether you want to experience the world’s best flamenco dancing or see world-famous bands in a sunnier setting, Madrid has an event for you. From a photography and visual arts festival at the height of summer to celebrating New Year’s Eve at the Puerta del Sol, our list rounds up the very best events.
A football holiday
As the home of not one but two of Spain’s best clubs, Madrid is the ideal destination for any football fan. Whichever club you fancy watching or whether you just want to tour the stadiums, our guide to a football holiday in Madrid will give you the lowdown to help you plan your trip.
Easy day trips
Some of Spain’s most intriguing sights are within easy reach of the city. Check out our recommendations for easy day trips from Madrid, including the stunning buildings of Segovia, historic Salamanca, or the mountainous Guadarrama National Park.
How to get to Madrid
Madrid is easy to reach from the UK and you have various options open to you. Flying, driving, sailing (at least part of the way!) and even taking the train are possibilities. Read our full guide on how to travel from the UK to Madrid to find the best option for you and your circumstances.
Getting around Madrid
Much of Madrid’s central area is pleasantly walkable, but sometimes time is of the essence. The city’s public transport system – especially the 300 stations of the Metro system – is quick and convenient for many of the big sights. To help plan your journeys and find out the latest prices for tickets and multi-day passes, check our complete guide to the Madrid Metro.