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Things to do in Madrid

4.072 contributors

The top 1.851 attractions in Madrid

Markets in Madrid
Mercado San Antón
One of the new places that stroke me the most in Madrid is without a doubt San Antón Market. Yes, a market. It sounds weird but it is true. The Boquería Market in Barcelona is definitely responsible for the tendency of transforming the traditional markets. In Madrid, the first one was the fantastic San Miguel Market, and now San Antón. They do have differences however. One can say San Miguel is more of a "gourmet" place, of buying something and having a snack. San Antón, in the renovated neighborhood of Chueca, is something more "complete", if you like. It is divided in various floors. On the first one, the visitor will find the usual market: stands with products to buy. But the stands are amazing. From a huge burgers one to the traditional butcher's, baker's or fish shop, they are all beautiful. On the second floor, places to have a snack, quite cheap and fast. And upstairs, on the terrace roof, a restaurant. This is what the place is amazing for. First, because the cocktails are very good. Second, and most importantly, because in the restaurant (where you can book in advance by the way), you can eat what you have just bought downstairs. And this is what we did, we ordered a hamburger downstairs, took it upstairs in a paper bag and gave it to the waiter so that they could cook it for us. Excellent. A real "must".
Zoos in Madrid
Zoo Aquarium of Madrid
Undoubtedly Madrid Zoo is a great place to go at the weekend with friends or family. With a variety of species that can be seen up close. From classic elephants, giraffes, lions and some adorable pandas are now in a controlled environment with high summer temperatures. In certain hours of the day there are dolphin or bird shows that are phenomenal. Don't miss out on the snakes and the aquarium are a show by themselves. I recommend doing this tour with children, they'll have a great time. You should bring food or drinks because prices are inflated in the Zoo.
Museums in Madrid
Museo Nacional Reina Sofía
The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía is a peculiar museum. It is one of the great international Contemporary Art museums but it has two basic slogans: quality in the choice of the exhibited works and being a communication motor between the artist and the viewer. To get there I prefer the subway (line 1) even though there are a few parking lots nearby and you can use any of the many bus lines stopping in front of it. It is located in a privileged place, near other great museums like the Thyssen or the Prado. It was officially inaugurated in 1990 even though the collection was begun by the Bourbon Kings. A museum with such characteristics runs the risk of becoming a warehouse of absurd works. The "breakdown" of art started at the end of the 19th century. With the loss of its colonial power, pessimism started invading Europe and the artists called everything into question. Destroy the ways that had led to chaos was necessary, in the way of essence rediscovery. This is how the Impressionist movement and then Surrealism were born. Many artists currently keep with this line, believing that the visual impact and surprise is the key to success. The museum avoided this temptation and only exhibits quality works, in which the artists make futurist offers. But what I like the most in the Reina Sofía is that it is to live an experience: you can attend some of the various activities to learn and understand art from the inside. This is why when I spend some days in Madrid I look up the program and I sign up for one of the workshops. It is not a museum to admire contemporary works but to learn how to live art. It opens every day, except Tuesday, between 10 am and 9 pm. On Sunday it closes in the afternoon. Even though you do not go to the museum, anyone can go in the cafeteria, library, terrace, gardens, etc.
4 activities
Squares in Madrid
Plaza de España
Plaza de España in Madrid is one of the entrance gates to the historical center. From there, one can quickly access one of the main arteries of the city: Gran Vía, Princesa street, Ferraz street... It is a charming place thanks to the park that looks like an oasis in the middle of an always lively and busy city, with people, cars, life... Very well communicated and another great meeting point of locals and tourists.
2 activities
Of Touristic Interest in Madrid
Teleférico de Madrid
Last weekend I went to Teleférico de Madrid, the cable railway of the city, with a friend from Palma who was visiting and doesn't know much about the capital yet. I thought it was an ideal way to enjoy the city and it was the opportunity for me to do something different without leaving home. Since I was a child I wanted to go there, so at 12, the opening time, we were standing in front of the door. They opened on time and we entered. The first detail I loved is that they respect groups (if you go with partner or family) to place you in the cabin. In other similar attractions they fill the cabin up without considering who you came with. We went from Pintor Rosales to Casa de Campo, the was was awesome, I was explaining what we could see to my friend: San Francisco el Grande, la Almudena, El Palacio Real... even the M-30 road, the amusement park and even my house! When we arrived at Casa de Campo, we had a drink on the terrace of the cafe while we could see the rest of the cable railway passing by, then we had a walk in Casa de Campo before taking the cable railway back. The truth is it was a very nice evening... even being from Madrid, I think I will go again more often.
Of Touristic Interest in Madrid
Cuatro Torres Business Area
Every time I visit my family in Madrid I enjoy some enviable views of the Madrid "skyline" from my sister's house. Over the past few years, I've followed the constant evolution of my city. One day I decided to go with my camera and see those incredible buildings for real, standing out on the horizon from far away. From close up, the image is tremendous, it is a futurist image. I chose a lonely day to go, which made the impression even stranger. The buildings look like dominos waiting for the magical touch of fingers to start falling down in a chain reaction. The weird thing is the incredible mix of the area. You look on one side and the buildings of the working-class neighborhood contrast a lot with the "mega-towers" of exquisite design. The business and hotel complex are flanked with some lovely gardens of "zen" design, making the place a little more human. Interesting, very interesting... I will keep scanning the horizon from my sister's balcony to look at the changes and transformations of my beloved city.
1 activity
Gardens in Madrid
Royal Botanic Garden (Real Jardín Botánico)
A good place to have a walk surrounded by vegetation from so many different places in the world like the United States or the Canary Islands. What strikes one most is, without a doubt, the green house, for the great variety of cactus and tropical plants: some of them are very tiny others reach the roof, including some very lovely blue ones standing out from the uniform green color of the rest. Once outside you go on on the paths surrounded by centuries old trees, until you bump into the oldest cypress in the garden, almost 250 years old. On Saturday and Sunday there is a guided visit at 12 pm, in order to find out about all the secrets of the garden. The entrance fee is 2€ and 1€ with discount. You do not have to pay extra for the guided visit. Taking into account how beautiful it is I think they should be a little more careful with some of the visual aspects, it sometimes looks neglected.
1 activity
Squares in Madrid
Plaza de Callao
Plaza de Callao or Callao Square is one of the most central and busiest squares in the entire city of Madrid since it is crossed by Gran Vía. Personally, it is one of my favorite squares in the capital, since the buildings have a great personality and are influenced by American architecture, more precisely Chicago and New York. A good example is the Cinema Building Callao, of 1929, copying the style of the American school of Chicago. One of my favorite buildings in Madrid is on this square, the Capitol building, better known as the "Schweppes Logo" building, since it has on its facade a huge neon with the drink brand, which also appears in some Spanish movies scenes like the famous "El Día de la Bestia". The building was created by the architect Luis Martínez-Felduchi and Vicente Eced. There is also the front facade of la FNAC, chain of huge stores specialized in technology, movies, music and books.
1 activity
Of Cultural Interest in Madrid
Metropoli Building
A well-known, highly photographed, and greatly admired building by practically each and every tourist that visits Madrid, as well as a silhouette recognized by those who have never stepped foot in Madrid. The Metropolis’s 45 meters in height located at the foot of Madrid’s busy Gran Via doesn’t go unnoticed. The insurance company Metropolis has occupied the building since 1972 and has been in charge of restoring its façade and taking care of this iconic work of art ever since. Some time ago, I posted several night photos of the building, but today strolling down Gran Via, I realized that its dome wasn’t the only thing worth seeing, rather that there are other details of the building that usually fall under the radar that deserve a closer look. For example, the delicately-made wrought-iron entrance doors and the sculptures standing on both sides of the entrance are sights not to miss. I recommend that you take time to look at the entire building, instead of just paying attention to its famous dome. I’ll put a few pictures up so you can judge for yourself. I wasn’t able to photograph the entire building, though :). Famous building, pictured and admired by each one of the tourists visiting Madrid, a silhouette people recognize even if they have never come to Madrid. It makes one with the Gran Vía, the height of 45 meters does not go unnoticed. One day I was walking on Gran Vía and I realized that not only the dome was worth it but also other details one usually does not notice and that are also valuable and curious details to see, like the entrance door, with finely wrought iron, or the sculptures on the sides, a real beauty. So I recommend to spend some time to watch beyond the dome if you pass by.
Squares in Madrid
Cibeles Square
A place where culture and beautiful buildings meet.
Squares in Madrid
Las Ventas Bullring
Beyond the debate of being pro or against bullfighting, no one can deny going to Las Ventas is an unforgettable experience. The building of this amazing bullring started in 1922 and it was inaugurated in 1931 in the outskirts of Madrid, surrounded by miserable houses at the time. Now, everything around has radically changed, and it is only a short subway trip in away from the the center of the capital. The great bullfight of Las Ventas is on San Isidro, on May 15th. A few days before and after Las Ventas is all dressed up to receive the best matadors and animals. The bullfight, especially if you are not a Spaniard like me, leaves you flabbergasted. The grades packed with people, the men smoking cigars, observing and giving their opinion on a bull game impossible to understand, the matador with his bullfighter's costume performing wonderful passes, the bull charging furious, the nodding of the people waving white handkerchiefs. A must if you go to Madrid.
4 activities
Squares in Madrid
Plaza de Santa Ana
It is without a doubt one of the places with the most opportunities you can find in Madrid. It is full of terraces, and good pubs for those who like beer. You can find it in the Huertas area, very close to Puerta del Sol, very centric. It has an interesting cultural element: it is dominated by the statue of the poet Fedrico García Lorca and, in front of him, there is the Teatro Español of neoclassical style. Talking about genius, in the back of the square you can view the statue of Calderón de la Barca, and just behind there is the Victoria Hotel, of art deco style. It has something special because it is an area with a lot of people, both during the day with the terraces as at night with the pubs and bars. There will always people you can at least chat with.
Museums in Madrid
CaixaForum Madrid
The optic effect of this building really makes one think that it is floating. In spite of its solid form, one thinks that invisible threads hold in the air the CaixaForum in Madrid. I simply loved this place. I walked around its exterior many times observing the architectural work and design and trying to figure out from where it’s held. It is an interesting way of recovering and reusing another building (an old electric station) and of bettering and taking advantage of useless spaces. The building is already impressive from outside, but the real treat is the vertical garden inside. At the end, one doesn’t know if one came to enjoy an exhibit or just the building. In my case it was a combination of both. It is worth it, if your legs allow you, to wander through each floor along its interior staircase, which looks like a spiral staircase but with a modern touch. The metallic staircase that gives way to the building is also impressive, with a geometrical effect that makes you feel in a labyrinth. The auditorium is also worthwhile. I don’t know how much time I spent observing and enjoying this architectural marvel that completes the cultural and artistic offer of the Las Letras neighborhood and of the famous “Eje del Arte” (Art Axis) of Madrid. Oh, and don’t miss the fountains and small waterfalls in the ground floor. Really, enjoy this building without rushing and take time to digest each one of its details. It is definitely one of my favorite places in Madrid!
Gardens in Madrid
Cerro del Tío Pío Park - Las Tetas de Madrid
This park is 15 minutes away from Sol by subway, the name of the stop is Portazgo. When I came to live in Madrid I looked for a place where I could see Madrid from far away to think, disconnect, relax, etc. This park also called "the 7 boobs" because it has 7 hills, it defied all I had imagined before! I try to go once a month, and if I can once a week, and I invite all my friends, it is also perfect to go on your own, with your family or with your partner for a romantic date, to run or go with your dog. And if you are a photographer this is orgasmic: there is always something new, wonderful compositions. They also say cinema students usually shoot their short movies in the park. I could write forever about this place but the best it to visit it. The experience is worth more than a thousand words.
Exhibitions in Madrid
Matadero Madrid
Matadero Madrid is one of the places that surprise you. Located in the south of the city (Metro Legazpi, line 3), this industrial building that used to be the municipal slaughterhouse of Madrid has been redesigned (respecting the existing facades and structures) and adapted to house various forms of art and culture like painting, photography, theater, sculpture, reading areas, conferences, documentary and movie showings, etc., as a cultural center open to the public. The building of all the rooms still not finished, since the renovation project is going on until 2012. There is a lot of space left to create all types of project, since the piece of land has 148,000 square meters. The industrial plants are well-lit, equipped with metal, huge windows and doors that are also transparent. The preservation of the old structure is the most appealing of this place, since it is a mix between the new design and the large industrial structures. The building dates back from the beginning of 1910 and the project was created by the municipal architect Luis Bellido. It is worth going just to see how light enters through the windows. If you are a fan of photography, this is your place! The extension of the Prado Museum looks quite small compared to this.
Zoos in Madrid
Another theme park in Madrid. It is divided into themed areas, such as: "Ecosystem Poles" (which is the largest polar ecosystem in Europe), "The African forest" with African birds, "Jurassic" and ....... many more. Children can go to the "Farm" and feed the animals, under park staff supervision. "Theatre Lake" is another interesting area that can't be missed, there are marine animals displays, and children especially love to see the sea lions or jumping seals guided by a man. In the "Butterfly House" (which is another area of ​​the park) there are butterflies of all types, sizes and from all over the world, from the most beautiful to the most unpleasant. Faunia is a park especially designed to teach you about the animal life, there's a botanical garden to observe ecosystems around the world.
Squares in Madrid
Plaza de Oriente
It is hard to find a place in Madrid where dusk is more spectacular than Plaza de Oriente. At that time of the day, the off-white stone of the Royal Palace gets silver or sand like, according to the season of the year, and the horizon looks like the sea. After walking in the narrow and winding Madrid de los Austrias, the Madrid de los Borbones is elegant and open, and makes one breathe deeply and fill their lungs with air. Above the invisible Manzanares river, where in the 9th century there was a Muslim castle, there is now the great palace, the biggest in Western Europe, finished in 1764 under the reign of Carlos III. The place, apart from its history and magnificence, offers something not very common in Madrid: a view of sky. Nothing better than seeing how it progressively disappears while the lights are lit up on the terrace of Café de Oriente.
Gardens in Madrid
Sabatini Gardens
Who doesn't like walking between nature right in a capital like Madrid? Thanks to these gardens we have this opportunity, they are ideal for their location and the beauty. The Sabatini Gardens are located in front of the Northern facade of Royal Palace, in between Bailén street and Cuesta de San Vicente. These gardens were built in the 30s, after the proclamation of the Second Republic, at the place where there used to be the stables built by the Italian architect Francesco Sabatini, next to the Royal Palace. Enjoy!