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15 Best Things to Do in Madrid (Spain)

Madrid is a city so full of life and culture that it’s hard to do justice to it in a few paragraphs. Artistically the city holds its own against any in Europe, with the of the best art museums on the continent where renaissance masterworks and seminal 20th-century pieces are waiting to captivate you.

Take in all the historic sights and get the background on the Spanish Empire that spanned the globe in the 16th and 17th-centuries. There are also countless little things that make Madrid memorable, whether that’s a café con leche in a stately square, drinks at a rooftop bar or a wander through the Retiro or Casa de Campo on a sunny day.

Let’s explore the best things to do in Madrid :

1. The Prado

Museo del Prado

Absolutely essential, the Prado is one of the best and most popular art museums in the world.

There’s an overwhelming collection of masterpieces by renaissance and baroque masters.

Spain is represented by Velázquez and El Greco, the low countries by Rembrandt, Brueghel, van Dyck and Rubens, while Titian, Caravaggio, Botticelli and Tintoretto form the Italian contingent.

Of the many must-see works are Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights and David with Head of Goliath by Caravaggio.

The artist with most works hanging at the Prado is the Spanish Romantic Goya, whose 14 Black Paintings are a Spanish cultural reference point.

2. Retiro Park

Retiro Park

Madrid’s green heart and full of elegant gardens, the Retiro is just a few steps east from the Prado and was a royal property up to the end of the 19th century when it was opened to the public.

If you’re visiting with little ones, paddling on the Grand Pond next to the monument of Alfonso XII is a fun option on a sunny afternoon.

The iron and glass pavilion built to house the Philippine Exhibition in 1887 is magnificent and growing in the pond in front of it are bald cypresses, strange swamp trees that turn  a lovely golden brown in summer.

The oldest tree in the city is close by: It’s a Montezuma Cypress planted in 1633 and ringed by an iron fence.

Available tour : Retiro Park Segway Tour

3. Royal Palace

Royal Palace of Madrid

Built in the mid-1700s for King Philip V the Royal Palace is on the site of Madrid’s Moorish Alcázar fortress-palace, which burned down in 1734. It’s the largest royal palace in western Europe, and has a blend of baroque and neoclassical styles.

You have to go inside for the full experience because the royal collections and frescoes are sublime.

There are works by Goya, Caravaggio and Velázquez, as well as stunning displays of watches, tapestries, porcelain and silverware.

You can see the only string quartet of Stradivarius instruments in the world, and the Royal Armoury that includes the personal weapons used by Charles V in the 16th Century.

Available tour : Royal Palace of Madrid Skip-the-Line Guided Tour

4. Santiago Bernabéu Stadium

Santiago Bernabéu Stadium

Whether you’re a supporter of the club or not, the truth remains that Real Madrid are Europe’s most successful football team with a record-breaking 11 European Cups to their name.

So any fan of the game should consider a pilgrimage to their gargantuan 85,000-seater stadium, where history has been made many times down the seasons.

A tour will grant you panoramic views of the stadium, you’ll step inside the dressing room, visit the dugouts and see all sorts of interesting bits including the trophy collection, press room and presidential box

Available tour : Bernabeu Stadium and Panoramic Tour With Tapas

5. National Archaeological Museum

National Archaeological Museum of Madrid

With invaluable pieces gathered from across Spain, this museum is a trip through Spain’s rich history.

What may surprise you is the wealth of magnificent items that predate the Roman period.

The best of these Iberian treasures and sculptures look almost new, despite being at least 2,500 years-old.

The Lady of Elche is a bust of a woman with an incredibly detailed headdress and coils over her ears.

Much later but no less impressive is the Treasure of Guarrazar a Visigothic  set of crosses and votive crowns dating to the 600s.

6. Puerta del Sol

Puerta del Sol

This grand square next to the Casa de Correos (Post Office Building) is a popular meeting place, suffused with meaning for  both city and country.

Nearly every Spanish person will recognise the clock at the top of the Casa de Correos, as this marks the televised countdown on New Year’s Eve.

There’s a tricky ritual involved too: With every chime you’re supposed to eat a grape for good luck (12 in total). Also in the square the is El Oso y El Madroño statue, a symbol for Madrid since the Middle Ages.

7. Gran Vía

Gran Vía

If you’d like to get a sense of the city,  a walk along the Gran Vía is a superb place to start.

It’s Madrid’s entertainment, shopping and cultural nerve centre, a buzzing avenue often full of life until dawn.

By day it throngs with shoppers stopping by the many malls, high-street stores like H&M and Zara and luxury boutiques.

In the evenings there are couples arm-in-arm, stepping out to the cinema or a musical.

And after dark the street pulses with many of Madrid’s top nightclubs.

Sights to spot as you stroll include the vast Telefónica Building, built in 1928 and an early example of a skyscraper.

8. Plaza Mayor

Plaza Mayor

Another of Madrid’s “musts”, Plaza Mayor is a handsome renaissance square, laid out in the early-1600s and completely sequestered by historic three-storey-high residential buildings.

There are nine entrances to the square and within the porticoes at the bottom of the buildings are several cafes.

Order a coffee (overpriced but necessary because of the location!) at an outdoor table and watch Madrid in action for a few minutes.

After that you could wander up to the 400-year-old bronze statue of King Philip III, who was in power at the height of the Spanish empire.

9. Mercado San Miguel

Mercado San Miguel

An easy walk from Plaza Mayor is this gorgeous art nouveau marketplace that dates to 1916.

It’s less of a fresh produce market (although there are grocery stalls) and more of a gastronomic destination to purchase the best that Spain has to offer, like cava, pimenton (parprika) and saffron.

There’s a host of tapas bars here serving all the favourites like patatas bravas, gambas al ajillo and boquerones, with a glass of beer, rioja or vermouth.

To do your food shopping like a real Madrileño head to the vast Mercado de Maravillas in Cuatro Caminos.

It’s Europe’s largest municipal market with 200 stalls.

10. El Rastro

El Rastro

On Sundays it will seem like the entire city has descended on Ribera de Coritodores and Plaza de Cascorro.

This is when some 3,500 stalls are open, hawking pretty much anything you can think of, whether used or new.

It’s the largest flea market in Madrid and gets pretty hectic, so it’s always a good idea to show up early.

Even though it’s a Sunday the antique shops on the streets branching off Ribera de Cortidores will be open, and there are also cafes if you’re in need of a pick-me-up after wading through the crowds.

11. Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum of Art

Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum of Art

If you still have an appetite for art after the Prado, amble over to this museum, which is also part of Madrid’s “Golden Triangle of Art”. You shouldn’t get bogged down, because the attractions in the Triangle are complementary, each covering schools and periods that the others do not.

So at Thyssen-Bornemisza you can see works from the English and German schools by artists like Hans Holbein, Hans Baldung Grien and Albrecht Dürer.

These are accompanied by pieces from other renaissance masters like Tintoretto, Veronese, Rembrandt, van Dyck and many more.

There’s also a big collection of American abstract expressionism, and a host of impressionist and post-expressionist pieces by the likes of Monet, Renoir and Degas.

12. Reina Sofia Museum

Reina Sofia Museum

Round off your journey through Madrid’s art collections with the third museum on the Golden Triangle.

This museum focuses mainly on Spanish art, and is more modern in scope than the others.

The best reason to come is to the many works by the 20th-century artists Picasso and Dalí.

Just to show that isn’t overkill: Picasso’s epoch-making Guernica is on display, so it’s an opportunity you really shouldn’t miss.

Among the other Spanish greats represented at Reina Sofía are Joan Miró, Juan Gris and the important abstract sculptor Eduardo Chillida.

13. Churros at San Ginés

Chocolatería San Ginés

Perfect in winter, Spanish hot chocolate is one of the most luxurious things you’ll ever taste.

It can be so rich and thick you sometimes need a spoon to drink it.

And the perfect pairing is a sugary churro, which if you don’t know, is piped dough, deep-fried.

Just off the Puerta del Sol, visit the Chocolatería San Ginés, which has been serving churros and hot chocolate since the 19th century and does it as well as any joint in the city.

If you can’t make it to San Ginés there are loads of stalls on the streets in the cooler months of the year.

14. Beer at a bar terrace

Terrace in Madrid

In the summer many of Madrid’s bars and restaurants spill out onto the city’s pavements and squares.

This an essential part of going out and socialising in the city.

On Plaza de la Cebada on balmy summer evenings it can even be difficult to work your way through the throng.

On the rooftops are terraces of a different kind.

These bars enjoy jaw-dropping views of the city and are a fine way to usher in the sunset.

Close to Plaza Mayor is The Hat, which like many of these bars doesn’t give you much of an indication of what you’ll find on the rooftop, where tables sit beneath a glass canopy and you can feast your eyes on Madrid’s cityscape.

Experience the nightlife of Madrid with this 5-hour Pub Crawl

15. Flamenco tablaos

Flamenco Dancers in Madrid

Flamenco is a dance that originated in Andalusia, Murcia and Extremadura, and even if it’s not strictly native to Madrid the city has some of the most famous tablaos in the country.

These are special halls that cropped up in the 1960s, and here you see a show over a candlelit meal with sangria.

It’s a fine way of killing two birds with one stone: Tucking into Spanish specialities like jamón ibérico, migas (fried bread seasoned with paprika) or roast suckling pig, while seeing one of the country’s most famous art-forms expressed by some of the best dancers in the flamenco world.

Further reading: The best locations to visit in Spain

15 Best Things to Do in Madrid (Spain):

  • Retiro Park
  • Royal Palace
  • Santiago Bernabéu Stadium
  • National Archaeological Museum
  • Puerta del Sol
  • Plaza Mayor
  • Mercado San Miguel
  • Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum of Art
  • Reina Sofia Museum
  • Churros at San Ginés
  • Beer at a bar terrace
  • Flamenco tablaos

The 12 best things to do in Madrid

Jun 20, 2023 • 8 min read

madrid tourism reddit

From traditional tapas bars to frenzied flamenco shows, Madrid has so much to offer © RgStudio / Getty Images

Madrid is a fascinating city with a storied history that spans nearly a millennium and a thriving nightlife that will have you still dancing as the sun rises.

With architectural wonders, world-class gastronomy, famed art museums and even an Egyptian temple within the city limits, the Spanish capital offers sights and attractions to satisfy all visitors. Here are 12 experiences not to be missed in Madrid .

1. Visit the Golden Triangle of Art

Madrid’s "Golden Triangle of Art" consists of three renowned museums, the Museo del Prado , Reina Sofía and the Thyssen-Bornemisza , which are home to some of the world’s most valuable art collections. Even if you’re not typically the gallery type, a stop at one of these venues is an essential Madrid experience.

The Prado houses several masterpieces by Spanish artists Diego Velázquez, Francisco Goya and Francisco Zurbarán. Arguably the most famous work people flock to see is Velázquez’s Las Meninas , an oil on canvas considered among the most important paintings in Western art.

The Reina Sofía is the Spanish national museum dedicated to 20th-century art, exhibiting impressive collections of Surrealist and Cubist masters Salvador Dalí and Pablo Picasso, including Picasso’s huge anti-war oil painting Guernica .

Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, once the private art collection of Baron Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza and his son Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, showcases nearly 1000 paintings of the world’s most celebrated European and American artists from the 13th to the 20th century. It’s a real feast for art fans.

Guests chatting at the bar in 'Casa Alberto' tapas bar in Madrid, Spain

2. Get a taste of Spain on a traditional tapas crawl

Tapas hopping, or ir de tapas , is a national pastime and a satisfying prelude to dinner, which in Spain is typically eaten between 9pm and midnight. A tapa is a small plate of food usually paired with a glass of wine, caña  (a small glass of beer) or vermút , Madrid’s popular aperitif. 

You can join locals after work any day of the week, hopping from one tapas bar to the next to sample a selection of Iberian hams, charcuterie and cheeses.

Planning tip: Sunday afternoons are the best time to visit Cava Baja, a popular street in the historic La Latina neighborhood with vibrant little bars, taverns and restaurants that are perfect for a laid-back tapas crawl.

3. Shop at El Rastro flea market 

Every Sunday and on public holidays, you can take part in a 400-year-old shopping tradition at  El Rastro flea market . Open from 9am to 4pm, El Rastro stretches along the La Latina neighborhood’s Plaza de Cascorro, La Ribera de Curtidores and Ronda de Toledo and features a labyrinth of open-air stalls peddling clothes, souvenirs, handicrafts, antiques and all the bric-a-brac you can imagine. 

Planning tip: Many of the vendors only accept efectivo  (cash), so it's best to take money out before heading to the market, or you’ll be left hunting for an elusive cash machine.

4. Ride the Teleférico

For the best bird's-eye views of the Spanish capital, hop on the Teleférico  (cable car) in Parque del Oeste, which connects to Casa de Campo , the city’s green lung. 

The dual cable transport system features 80 cabins, each of which seats six people, and it travels a distance of nearly 2.5km (1.5 miles). If you can brave the vertigo, the Teleférico reaches a maximum height of 40m (131ft) and offers spectacular vistas of the city and the Casa de Campo parkland below.

People dining in the curved stone interior of El Sobrino de Botín, the oldest restaurant in the world, in Madrid

5. Follow Hemingway’s footsteps

"Hemingway did not drink here" is a popular joke written on signs hanging in some Madrid establishments. It’s no secret that the American literary giant, fondly called "Don Ernesto," was Madrid’s adopted sybarite who loved to drink, eat, write and watch bullfights while he was covering the Spanish Civil War as a foreign journalist. 

Fans of Hemingway can retrace his footsteps and enjoy some of his favorite haunts that still exist today, including El Sobrino de Botín , the world’s oldest restaurant, which houses a 16th-century cellar cradling dust-covered wine bottles.

Hemingway also used to frequent La Venencia , a dimly lit sherry bar that is virtually frozen in time with its massive molasses-stained wooden barrels, antique cash register and fading sepia-hued posters.

Planning tip: Don’t bother whipping out your camera phone at La Venencia – snapping photos is still strictly prohibited, just as it was in the 1930s when the bar was wary of fascist spies.

6. Watch a flamenco show

While Andalucía in southern Spain is the birthplace of flamenco, you don’t need to venture far from Madrid to watch live shows of the Spanish dance. Dinner, tapas and drinks are usually served during the performance, providing a full evening’s entertainment.

You can watch the frenetic spectacle in big touristy venues such as Cardamomo and Teatro Flamenco or smaller cozy venues like Las Tablas , which make up for their size with the big flamenco artists they attract.

Planning tip: For a truly luxurious experience, the Corral de la Moreria is an intimate space that also features a Michelin-starred restaurant.

Transform your visit to the flamenco show by  booking with GetYourGuide.

A young woman with an afro takes a selfie in the sun drenched Retiro Park in Spain

7. Explore Retiro Park

Parque del Buen Retiro , Madrid’s most famous park, is an expansive 118-hectare (292-acre) area that was once reserved for Spanish royalty and aristocracy until it was opened to the public at the end of the 19th century. "El Retiro" is adorned with ornate fountains, statues of Spanish writers and heroes, gazebos and open-air cafes.

Different areas of the park reveal various landscaping styles, from French-inspired manicured lawns to craggy tree-lined pathways and the romantic La Rosaleda  rose garden with more than 4000 roses that are in full bloom in May and June.

The park's grounds have several landmarks, including the grand Monument to Alfonso XII depicting the former Spanish king atop his horse, the  "Fallen Angel" statue  (one of the only public statues of Lucifer in the world) and the oldest tree in Madrid, planted in 1633.

Planning tip: Don’t miss Palacio de Cristal , an architectural marvel of iron and glass that occasionally hosts events and reflects magnificently on the waters of the surrounding lake.

8. Stand in the center of Spain

Translated to "Gate of the Sun," Puerta del Sol , or simply "Sol," is Madrid’s busy central public square and main crossroads. A clock sits atop the plaza’s main building, the old Casa de Correos (post office) – now the headquarters of the Madrid regional government – and every New Year’s Eve, thousands of revelers gather here to eat the traditional 12 grapes right before the clock strikes midnight. 

All roads (quite literally) lead to Sol, as it is the symbolic center of Spain, marked by the Kilometer Zero plaque at the footstep of the Casa de Correos. At the plaza’s center is the equestrian statue of King Charles III, though his popularity is overshadowed by a more famous character on the east side of the square – the Bear by the Madroño tree sculpture that represents Madrid’s coat of arms.

Explore Puerta del Sol effortlessly with GetYourGuide.  Book your tour today .

Aerial view of Estadio Santiago Bernabéu during the Primera Liga match between Real Madrid and Racing Santander

9. Tour Madrid’s iconic soccer stadiums

Spain is a soccer powerhouse , with the men’s international team winning both the World Cup and European Championships and its regional teams dominating European football.

Madrid has two teams, and soccer fans can enjoy a tour around both world-renowned stadiums – the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu  for Real Madrid and the Wanda Metropolitano for Atlético de Madrid. Guided tours to the museums display the teams’ trophies, jerseys throughout the years and memorabilia narrating their long, illustrious histories.

10. Pull up a chair in Plaza Mayor

At the heart of old Madrid, the beautiful, expansive Plaza Mayor  has been the stage for everything from royal crowning ceremonies and soccer games to outdoor markets, bullfights and public executions during the Spanish Inquisition. 

Today, 237 balconies peer out from a three-story residential compound embracing the plaza. While it’s easy to get distracted by the buskers, it’s worth taking a seat at one of the buzzing (albeit overpriced) cafes and taking time to admire the magnificent frescoes painted between the balconies.

Planning tip: The square also plays host to the city’s annual Christmas market, which has taken place since 1860.

Three stone arches of Templo de Debod on a stone platform over a reflecting pool surrounded by trees with yellowing leaves in Madrid

11. Check out an Egyptian temple 

Few people know that Madrid is home to an ancient Egyptian temple from the 2nd century BCE. Dedicated to the goddess Isis and the god Amun,  Templo de Debod was the Egyptian government’s token of gratitude to Spain for helping restore the temples of Abu Simbel in southern Egypt. Templo de Debod was transported and rebuilt stone by stone in Madrid’s Cuartel de la Montaña Park, near Plaza España . 

Planning tip: The temple boasts some of the best panoramic views of western Madrid, particularly at sunset when the temple’s walls are reflected off the surrounding pools, making for incredible photos.

12. See the changing of the guard at the Royal Palace of Madrid

Although you won’t find the Spanish king and queen living in  Palacio Real  anymore, it is still the official residence of the Spanish monarchy. Inspired by the Italian sculptor Bernini’s sketches for the construction of the Louvre in Paris, the palace faces a large central courtyard and contains 3418 rooms, making it the largest functioning royal palace in Europe. 

The biweekly changing of the guard happens every Wednesday and Saturday, but the grander spectacle is the Solemn Changing of the Guard that takes place every first Wednesday of the month, showcasing a parade of horses and the Spanish Royal Guard, as performed during the time of King Alfonso XII.

This article was first published March 2020 and updated June 2023

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Home » Europe » Spain » Madrid

MUST READ – Where to stay in Madrid (2024)

The Spanish capital and largest city in Spain, Madrid is a vibrant metropolis, full of significant art and architecture that’s changed the face of the modern world. Cultural and artistic heritage, restaurants that make saliva run embarrassingly from your mouth, and some of the liveliest nightlife in Europe mix together to create a blur of a memory, bringing a tear to your eye for the rest of your life. 

The grandeur that creates the green spaces within the city is refreshing – allowing you breathing space away from anything that may deem overwhelming all at once. Museums open our tiny minds, packed with world-famous masterpieces.

I swayed through bustling outdoor markets, and somehow found myself with varying cervezas and tinto veranos after dark. I’m still, to this day… not toooo sure how. It’s pretty magical. 

Madrid has enough to keep anyone busy for years! Although, with 128 distinct neighborhoods, it can be overwhelming to decide where to stay in Madrid.

Fear not. In this neighborhood guide on where to stay in Madrid I will break up my 5 FAVORITE neighborhoods by interest, and include the top things to do in each area.

Vamos chicos! Let’s find you the best place to stay in Europe’s sweetheart. 

Best Places to Stay in Madrid

Madrid neighborhood guide – places to stay in madrid, madrid’s 5 best neighborhoods to stay in, faqs about finding a place to stay in madrid, what to pack for madrid, don’t forget travel insurance for madrid, final thoughts on where to stay in madrid.

Looking for a specific place to stay? These are my top recommendations for places to stay in Madrid!

madrid tourism reddit

Best Hotel in Madrid: Europa Hotel Madrid

madrid tourism reddit

This boutique hotel is perfect for first-time visitors to Madrid. While staying close to all of Madrid’s top

tourist attractions and top tapas bars, this centrally located little beauty is my top recommendation for where to stay in Madrid, with a skyline view of the Spanish Capital from a rooftop terrace.

Best Hostel in Madrid: Ok Hostel Madrid

madrid tourism reddit

Ok Hostel Madrid is a fun and social hostel located at the heart of Lavapies, and located in one of the best areas to stay in Madrid. A short walk from Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol, this is my favorite hostel in Madrid. It has an outdoor terrace, a book exchange, a small kitchen and a common room. If you ask me, it’s one of the best hostels in Madrid .

Best Airbnb in Madrid: Sun Door Studio

madrid tourism reddit

This spectacular apartment located on the fifth floor of a 19th century historical building, has sun clashing through the doors with an amazing balcony view close to Plaza Mayor. The apartment can accommodate up to three guests but it’s really perfect for two to get to know Madrid. It has all the modern amenities to give you the feeling of home in this fantastic location.

Centro, Madrid

Centro Madrid is the heart of the city making it the best area to stay in Madrid for first-timers. This downtown neighbourhood is where you’ll find grand avenues, stunning architecture, delicious restaurants, and a constant buzz of excitement and activity.

Lavapiés, Madrid

Lavapies is one of the most diverse neighbourhoods in the city. An enclave for artists and creatives, this central neighbourhood is home to a myriad of international cuisines, hip street art, trendy bars and rustic cafes.

Chueca is where to stay in Madrid for all-night fun!

For the hottest party in the city, look no further than the Chueca neighbourhood. Located east of the city centre, Chueca is home to trendy bars, lively clubs, charming pubs and funky cafes, making it one of the best places to stay in Madrid for nightlife.

Malasaña, Madrid

Gran Via has played a role in developing modern-day Madrid’s diverse history. It connects you to many of the best places in Madrid as well as the cool Chuleca and Malasaña neighborhoods, so it’s great for a short weekend trip.

Paseo del Prado, Madrid

Barrio De Las Letras

Barrio De Las Letras is one of the best places to stay in Madrid for families. Here, you’ll find a great number of attractions, from the city’s important art museums to the lush and expansive El Retiro Park just a few blocks away. This downtown neighbourhood is packed with activities that the whole family will love.

One of the biggest and most cosmopolitan cities in Europe, Madrid is divided into 21 districts, which are further divided into 128 distinct neighborhoods or barrios . I always recommend Madrid anyone’s traveling to Spain but within each different neighborhood, you can also change your experience completely.

From sampling traditional Spanish foods to dancing the night away on Madrid’s busy streets to exploring its history and heritage at one of its many brilliant museums, I’ll help you plan your trip to Madrid with this guide that breaks down the “must-sees” by area. There’s  plenty to see and do in Madrid – in Madrid, you want to base yourself in the perfect place.

Centro is the neighborhood at the heart of Madrid. My top pick for where to stay in Madrid for the first time, Centro is where you’ll find a myriad of historic and cultural attractions, including Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol.

North of the city center is the lively and exciting neighborhoods of Malasana and Chueca . Both are the best areas to stay in Madrid for vibrant nightlife. Famous for their exciting bars and wild clubs, these two districts are where you’ll find a good deal of fun after the sun goes down.

Continuing north you’ll pass through the charming and residential neighborhoods of Chamberi and Salamanca . Filled with tree-lined streets and expansive boulevards, these neighborhoods are perfect for shopping, relaxing and enjoying a slower pace of life.

South of the city center is the Huertas , La Latina, Lavapies , and Paseo del Padro neighborhoods. Some of the oldest areas of the city, these central neighborhoods are packed with cultural activities, exquisite museums, lush parks, and bustling bars. All four are among the best places to stay in Madrid.

Still not sure where to stay in Madrid? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered!

Madrid is a sprawling city that boasts a robust public transportation network – one of the best in Europe. Comprised of efficient and inexpensive buses and subways, it’s relatively easy to move throughout the city.

However, if you’re travelling to Madrid for a specific purpose, some areas might be better suited to you. Do you want to dance the night away at the city’s hottest clubs?

Maybe you want to enjoy the historic and cultural sights. Or, perhaps you want to be within walking distance of the trendiest district. All of these things are possible if you stay in the right area.

Here are the best places to stay in Madrid, broken down by interest.

1. Puerta Del Sol Neighborhood – Best Place in Madrid for First Timers

Centro Madrid – Puerta Del Sol is the heart of the city. This downtown neighborhood is where you’ll find grand avenues, stunning architecture, delicious restaurants, and a constant capital city of Europe buzz as life flies past everyone. Thanks to its great location, Centro is the perfect jumping-off point for exploring the city and beyond.

This colorful and vibrant neighborhood is my top choice for where to stay in Madrid for the first time. Experience everything from expansive squares and detailed buildings to charming street performers and upscale shopping in this downtown Madrid barrio. There are a lot of Madrid Airbnbs in and around centro if you fancy an apartment.

madrid tourism reddit

Best Hotel in Puerta Del Sol: Europa Hotel Madrid

This boutique hotel is perfect for first-time visitors to Madrid. While staying close to all of Madrid’s top tourist attractions and top tapas bars, this centrally located little beauty is my top recommendation for where to stay in Puerta Del Sol, with a skyline view of the Spanish Capital from a rooftop terrace.

Best Hostel in Puerta Del Sol: Sungate One

madrid tourism reddit

Bright and airy and full of life – this hostel is also one of Spain’s best hostels ! Easily accessible by public transit, this hostel is close to all Madrid’s top attractions, best shopping, and trendiest nightlife spots.

It has a full kitchen, spacious common room, a book exchange for travellers, and best of all, no bunk beds!

Best Airbnb in Puerta Del Sol: Sun Door Studio

This spectacular apartment located on the fifth floor of a 19th century historical building, has sun clashing through the doors with an amazing balcony view close to Plaza Mayor. The apartment can accommodate up to three guests but it’s really perfect for two traveling together to get to know Madrid’s city center. It has all the modern amenities to give you the feeling of home in this fantastic location.

Top Things to See and Do in Puerta Del Sol

madrid tourism reddit

  • Tour the iconic Museo Del Prado .
  • Walk over to the Literary district, Barrio de Las Letras, and check out Lope de Vega house (now a museum) to learn about Spanish literature.
  • Take in stunning views of the city from the terrace of the El Corte Ingles Gourmet Experience in Callao.
  • Savour delicious Spanish fare at Sobrino de Botin, the oldest restaurant in the world.
  • Take a tour of the Palacio Real and the Spanish Royal Palace, one of the most beautiful buildings in the city, and the nearby Plaza de España.
  • Explore the maze of bushes, flowers and trees at the Jardines de Sabatini.
  • Snack on delectable and delicious churros and chocolate at Chocolatería San Ginés.
  • Visit the Cathedral de la Almudena and stare up at the stunning and detailed square cupola.

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2.  Lavapiés Neighborhood – For those Visiting Madrid on a Budget

Lavapies is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the city. An enclave for artists and creatives, this central neighborhood is home to a myriad of international cuisines, hip street art, trendy bars and rustic cafes.

In addition to great sights and cultural attractions, Lavapies has a high concentration of good value accommodations . From cosy hostels to quaint boutique hotels and budget hotels, this neighborhood is overflowing with comfortable and modern accommodation options at affordable prices.

It should be noted that some of Lavapies smaller side streets can be a little seedy at night. When picking accommodations, stick to the main streets and squares to ensure a safe and enjoyable stay.

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Best Hotel in Lavapiés: Artrip Hotel

madrid tourism reddit

Airtrip Hotel is a modern and luxurious boutique hotel – and one of my top picks for Lavapies. Its central location makes it a great base for exploring Madrid. 

It has spacious modern rooms and minimalist décor with a lobby splashing out onto the stunning Madrid streets. Relax in the library or grab a drink at the stylish bar. Within walking distance of Puerta del Sol and the centre of Madrid, this is one of the best hostels in Madrid for its location, close to Lavapies top attractions.

Best Hostel in Lavapiés: Ok Hostel Madrid

Ok Hostel Madrid is a fun and social hostel located at the heart of the city. A short walk from Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol, this hostel is my top pick for where to stay in Lavapies. It has an outdoor terrace, a book exchange, a small kitchen and a common room.

Best Airbnb in Lavapiés: Stylish Spacious Loft

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This spacious apartment is stylishly furnished and has two beautiful balconies with a precious view of the charming streets. Hang out with friends, with every amenity you could need including a full kitchen.

With a Metro station and Atocha train station close by, this is great if you’re not staying too long in Madrid. You can easily get to Plaza Major and La Latina.

Top Things to See and Do in Lavapiés

madrid tourism reddit

  • Visit La Tabacalera de Lavapies for an off-the-beaten-path afternoon of art, culture, music, and underground style.
  • Hunt for treasures at El Rastro, a weekly open-air flea market that’s one of the most popular markets in Spain.
  • Admire the architecture and exquisite décor at Palacio de Fernan Nunez.
  • Experience an authentic Spanish market at Mercado de San Antón.
  • Wander throughout the bustling Plaza Lavapies, the city’s largest flea market.
  • Try typical tapas at Bar La Mina, where the food is good and the prices are even better!
  • Take a tour of the Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas , Madrid’s iconic bull ring.

3.  Chueca Neighborhood – Best places to stay in Madrid for Nightlife

For the hottest party in the city, look no further than the Chueca neighborhood. Located east of the city centre, Chueca is home to trendy bars, lively clubs, charming pubs and funky cafes, making it one of the best places to stay in Madrid for nightlife.

It is the epicentre of Madrid’s LGBTQ community and a magnet for Madrileños of all ages. Chueca is colourful and exciting and known for its fun atmosphere both day and night.

Cheuca is also a great destination for those who like to shop. Lining the small and narrow streets are everything from independent shops to upscale boutiques and big brand-name stores.

A highly decorated traditional bar in Madrid

Best Hotel in Chueca: Hotel Sardinero Madrid

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This modern hotel seamlessly blends historic charm and modern cool within a central location – which is why it’s one of my top choices for where to stay in Chueca. A short walk to the city centre, Madrid’s best shopping and hottest bars are just steps away, located right in the heart of Madrid’s entertainment district.

It’s a four-star hotel with spacious rooms, modern décor, and a fitness centre for guests. Some rooms even come with a private rooftop terrace!

Best Hostel in Chueca: Room007 Chueca Hostel

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This hostel is my top choice for where to stay in Chueca. Located at the heart of this fabulous and fashionable neighborhood, this hostel is within walking distance of the hottest bars and trendiest nightclubs. It has an attic lounge, open terrace, and large self-service kitchen.

Best Airbnb in Chueca: Autumn Boho Chueca

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This beautiful apartment is has the bohemian interior that perfectly matched the chic neighborhood it lives in. Whether you want a base to head off to trendy tapas bars or play house in a dreamy Spanish home, you can soak in the colours of Chueca from here. 

It is within walking distance to attractions like Sol neighborhood, Plaza Mayor, Thyssen Bornemisza Museum, Prado Museum, and Museo Reina Sofia Museum. Drop into Atocha train station and see for yourself. 

Top Things to See and Do in Chueca

madrid tourism reddit

  • Sip sophisticated cocktails and enjoy the view from the rooftop bar at Mercado San Anton.
  • Sample sweet treats at Mama Framboise.
  • Dance the night away finally watching a Flamenco show .
  • Dance, drink, and laugh the night away at Black and White, a large and lively club known for its fun and raucous drag show.
  • Explore the bustling Calle de Hortaleza, a hotbed of upscale shopping, dining and nightlife options.
  • Be thoroughly entertained and listen to great music at Toni 2 Piano Bar.
  • Dance until dawn (and even beyond) at the Thundercat Club.

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4.  Gran Vía Neighborhood – Coolest Place to Stay in Madrid

Gran Via has played a role in developing modern-day Madrid’s diverse history. It connects you to many of the best places in Madrid as well as the cool Chuleca and Malasaña neighborhoods, so it’s great for a short weekend trip .

In the mid-20th-century, Malasaña was the centre of the counterculture democracy movement that Movida Madrilena helped usher in following the death of dictator Franco. It was a little rough around the edges then, but it’s now best known for its bar hopping and bad boy reputation.

Today, Gran Via is by far the coolest neighborhood in Madrid. Revamped and rejuvenated in recent decades, you get the most diverse view of Madrid starting from cool boutiques, rustic bars, vintage shops, and hipster hideaways, then working your way up.

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Best Hotel in Gran Vía: Espahotel Gran Via

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Espahotel Gran Via is perfectly situated for exploring the city. It’s close to Malasaña, Centro, and well connected to the rest of the city. Close by are hip bars, trendy restaurants, and cultural and historic tourist attractions.

Charming and comfortable, this three-star hotel has a coffee bar, a lounge bar, and an on-site tour and ticket desk. You can head back and enjoy food served in the on-site restaurant at this delightful Madrid hotel.

Best Hostel in Gran Vía: MuchoMadrid

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Sitting right next to Plaza De España is my best recommendation for where to stay in Gran Via for budget travelers . The friendly staff members, fantastic location, and super clean service make MuchoMadrid one of the highest-rated hostels in the central neighborhoods.

Safe and secure with round-the-clock security, lockers, and female-only dorms. More, there’s a lounge where you can meet other travellers, a kitchen to get cookin’, and laundry facilities so you can stay a while longer.

Best Airbnb in Gran Vía: Striking Simplicity in Spain

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This bright and cozy Airbnb is located in a trendy neighborhood just off Gran Vía. With lots of light inside this 19th-century building, you get one of the best glimpses into Madrid life.

Wake up next to the city’s top attractions – or head out into the amazing nightlife scene! You’re close enough to all the action but perfectly placed to rest.

Top Things to See and Do in Gran Vía

madrid tourism reddit

  • Delight your senses by dining at La Musa, a great restaurant that serves up awesome Spanish fusion fare.
  • Explore the historic Plaza del Dos de Mayo.
  • Sip on an afternoon vermouth at Bodega la Ardosa, one of the best and oldest bars in the city.
  • See great works of art at the ABC Museum of Drawing and Illustration.
  • Enjoy good beer and a great atmosphere at La Via Láctea, a rock’n’roll bar with pool tables and great people-watching.
  • Take the Urban Safari tour with the Madrid Street Art Project and see amazing murals and works of art by Spanish street artists.
  • Visit the best tapas bars in the city such as El Puerto de Cabreira.

5.  Barrio De Las Letras – Best Area to stay in Madrid for Families

The literary quarter of Madrid is today an elegant and picturesque neighbourhood in the centre of Madrid. Located east of Centro, this neighbourhood is well-connected via public transit and is a great base for exploring the city.

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Best Hotel in Barrio De Las Letras: Room Mate Alba

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You won’t forget this – one of the best hotels in Madrid is easily Room Mate Alba. This stunningly decorated hotel is close to restaurants, parks, and top tourist attractions. Enjoy a day out at world-class museums then come back to live like the royal family. Its luxury, with extra comfy beds and beautiful rooms. So rest up then head downstairs to the cocktail bar!

Best Hostel in Barrio De Las Letras: Barbieri Sol Hostel

madrid tourism reddit

Located in the city centre, it’s easy to walk to major attractions from one of Madrid’s best affordable hostels. You’ve got Plaza Mayor, Prado, Reina Sofia Museum, El Retiro Park, the amazing neighborhoods of La Latina, Lavapies, and Malasaña, ALL within a few minutes. You get to enjoy nights on their rooftop terrace and enjoy a drink in true Spanish style with and new traveler friends to explore Madrid with.

Best Airbnb in Barrio De Las Letras: LIVE IN MADRID

madrid tourism reddit

While you’re here, you may as well enjoy yourself. Experiences like this beat out all the best hotels in Madrid. This Airbnb takes your trip to Madrid and turns it up with skyline views from your rooftop terrace. Take in some Spanish sun, treat yourself at all the tapas bars, then come back and get cosy.

Top Things to See and Do in Barrio De Las Letras

Paseo del Prado ttd Madrid

  • See works of art by Velasquez, Goya, El Greco and more at the Prado National Museum. Visit after work when admission is free.
  • Climb to the top of Palacio de Cibeles and enjoy an amazing view over Madrid.
  • Browse an extensive collection of 20th-century modern art at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia .
  • See nearly 1,000 pieces of art from the 13th- through 20th-century at the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza.
  • Explore Spain’s naval history at the Naval Museum.
  • Visit the Palacio de Cristal , located deep in the heart of El Retiro Park.
  • Drink a cold beer in Plaza Santa Ana.
  • People-watch on Calle Huertas.

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Here’s what people usually ask us about the areas of Madrid and where to stay.

Where should I stay for my first time in Madrid?

Centro Neighborhood is the best place to stay for your first time! It is right at the heart of the city so you can easily explore what’s on offer! Plus there are great hostels like Sungate One that you can stay in and meet other travellers.

Where should I stay for nightlife in Madrid?

You should stay in the Chueca neighbourhood for its trendy bars and lively clubs! Epic hostels like Room007 Chueca Hostel are great to stay at if you’re looking for someone to explore the nightlife with!

What is the coolest neighborhood to stay in Madrid?

It’s hard to go past Malsana neighbourhood – once a counterculture hotspot, it is now dotted with rustic bars and cosy Airbnbs ! But Chuleca is a really cool place too, and Gran Via connects them both really nicely.

Is there a good quiet place to stay in Madrid?

Barrio De Las Letras is ideal for those looking for a quieter place to base themselves. It’s also the best neighborhood for families. As well as being scenically beautiful, it’s pretty safe.

Pants, socks, underwear, soap?! Take it from me, packing for a hostel stay is not always quite as straightforward as it seems. Working out what to bring and what to leave at home is an art I have perfected over many years.

Earplugs

Snoring dorm-mates can ruin your nights rest and seriously damage the hostel experience. This is why I always travel with a pack of decent ear plugs.

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Sea To Summit Micro Towel

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Madrid is a sprawling metropolis teeming with a buzzing atmosphere. There is so much to do in Madrid surrounding its art, architecture, cultural events, cozy cafés, and awesome restaurants and nightlife.

I created this neighborhood guide to help you choose the best places to stay in Madrid based on your travel interests, whether you’re visiting Madrid with family, friends, or on a solo trip!

If you’re still unsure about where to stay in Madrid, I recommend  Ok Hostel Madrid  for my top hostel pick, and my top hotel pick is  Europa Hotel Madrid !

Did I miss anything? Let us know in the comments below.

  • Check out our ultimate guide backpacking around Madrid .
  • Figured out where you wanna stay? Now it’s time to pick the perfect hostel in Madrid .
  • Or… maybe you want to check out some Airbnbs in Madrid instead.
  • Next up you’re gonna need to know all the best places to visit in Madrid to plan your trip.
  • Planning out an itinerary for Madrid is a great way to maximise your time.
  • Save yourself hassle and money and get an international sim card for Spain . 
  • Swing by our super epic backpacking packing list to prep for your trip.
  • Our in-depth Europe backpacking guide will help you plan the rest of your adventure.

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And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links . That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!

Mathilde Magnier

Mathilde Magnier

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Madrid   Travel Guide

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madrid tourism reddit

23 Top-Rated Things to Do in Madrid

The Spanish capital has its own brand of hustle and bustle, providing visitors with an authentic experience across an urban landscape of green spaces and fortress-palaces. Madrid can be enjoyed across tastes and budgets, whether it's dining at

  • All Things To Do
  • 1-Day Itinerary
  • 2-Day Itinerary
  • 3-Day Itinerary

madrid tourism reddit

El Retiro Park (Parque del Buen Retiro) El Retiro Park (Parque del Buen Retiro) free

To the east of central Madrid,  Parque del Buen Retiro (El Retiro Park) can be translated as "Garden of the Pleasant Retreat," and that's what it is – a sprawling swath of lush greenery filled with formal gardens, lakes, cafes, playgrounds and more. This 300-acre park previously housed Felipe IV's palace and gardens, and wasn't open to the public until the late 19th century. In 2021, it was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site along with Paseo del Prado as "a landscape of arts and sciences."

Today, you can still rent a rowboat before heading to the  Palacio de Cristal  (Crystal Palace), which holds regular art exhibitions. You can also stop and smell the roses in the  Rosaleda (Rose Garden), which boasts more than 4,000 roses; May and June are the best months to see them in full bloom. Plus, for those traveling with little ones, the Teatro de Titeres hosts puppet shows most weekends. To the south lies a fountain where uncannily, the angel Lucifer stands before his fall from grace. Madrileños claim that the Ángel Caído (Fallen Angel) statue is the only one in the world depicting the Prince of Darkness before his transformation.

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Prado Museum (Museo Nacional del Prado) Prado Museum (Museo Nacional del Prado)

U.S. News Insider Tip: The Paseo del Arte Pass allows you to visit the Prado, Reina Sofia and Thyssen- Bornemisza museums for 32 euros (about $35), saving 20% of the three tickets' combined prices. You can buy it online or at any of the three museums and it's valid for one year. – Julienne C. Raboca

One of Madrid's most famous museums, the elegant Museo Nacional del Prado, is consistently touted by travelers as a must-see. Opened in 1819 at the encouragement of Queen Maria Isabel de Braganza (King Ferdinand VII's wife), the museum contains more than 7,600 paintings and 1,000 sculptures featuring Spanish, Italian and Flemish styles of art. Among the most famous works featured include Velazquez's "Las Meninas," Bosch's "The Garden of Earthly Delights”, and El Greco's "The Nobleman with his hand on his Chest." Travelers note that sometimes it can be difficult to get close to the most famous paintings, recommending that visitors come during off-peak hours for the best chance of seeing these works without hordes of others.

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Royal Palace of Madrid (Palacio Real) Royal Palace of Madrid (Palacio Real)

U.S. News Insider Tip: Time your visit with the changing of the guard ceremony on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Every first Wednesday of most months, the Solemn Changing of the Guard is staged by 400 people and 100 horses as it was done in the 19th century. – Julienne C. Raboca

One of the largest palaces in the world, this royal residence housed the kings of Spain from the mid-1700s to the early 1900s. Although the royal family does not currently live in the palace, it is still considered their official residence. It is also thought to be the largest royal palace in Western Europe with a total of 3,418 rooms, only some of which are open to the public, including the popular armory room and royal pharmacy.

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Three Cities in One Day: Segovia, Ávila & Toledo from Madrid

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Full Day Tour Ávila and Segovia from Madrid with Tickets to Monuments Included

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Madrid Tapas and Wine Tasting Tour

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Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum

The Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum is named for the family from which the collection was acquired by the Spanish state in 1993. Housed in the intimate Villahermosa Palace, the museum has nearly 1,000 works of art gathered from the 1920s to the 1980s by a Swiss baron and his father. Before being persuaded by his Spanish wife to accept her country's $350 million offer, Thyssen was reportedly courted by heads of state for the $2 billion private collection, which at the time was surpassed only by that of Queen Elizabeth II's. The collection traces the history of Western art with examples from every important movement, from German Expressionism to Russian Constructivism and 19th-century American art. Artists featured include Dürer, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Rubens, Van Gogh and more. 

Recent visitors offer rave reviews of Thyssen-Bornemisza, praising its easily navigable layout, as well as the all-encompassing history of Western European art presented in the buildings. Travelers also commend the museum's gallery cafe for lunch. Mixed opinions were offered on which museum was superior – this one or the Prado – but many noted a more pleasant experience at Thyssen-Bornemisza due to fewer crowds, friendly staff and better natural light from which to see the more colorful artwork.

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Gran Vía Gran Vía free

Madrid's bustling Gran Vía is at the heart of the city, a prime spot for shoppers and architecture buffs. Built in the early 1900s in an effort to decongest the city, Gran Vía spans nearly a mile and is packed with shops and restaurants. The avenue was home to Spain's first skyscrapers and marked the beginning of modernization in Madrid. Try a traditional bocadillo de calamares (calamari sandwich), buy a new outfit from the five-story Primark flagship store or catch a show at Teatro Lope de Vega. 

Start your journey where the street intersects Calle de Alcalá. There you'll find Círculo de Bellas Artes, a cultural center best known for its sweeping rooftop views. You'll have to pay 5 euros (about $5.50) to get to the top, but once there, you can enjoy a drink while soaking in the sunset. From this viewpoint, you can't miss the iconic Metrópolis Building presiding over the beginning of Gran Vía with a dome on which a winged Victoria statue rises. You may have to wait in line, but previous visitors agreed the views are worth it.

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Plaza Mayor Plaza Mayor free

U.S. News Insider Tip:  Take a breather from all the walking at Hammam Al Ándalus, an Arabic-style bathhouse a few steps from Plaza Mayor where you can dip into pools of varying temperatures, book a massage or get stretched on a hot stone bed. –  Julienne C. Raboca

This square, located in the heart of Madrid, is more a must-experience attraction than a must-see one. Surrounded by cafes and bars, Plaza Mayor practically begs passersby to take a seat, order a coffee or glass of wine (depending on the time of day) and people-watch. Not only do throngs of tourists pass through, but multiple street performers plant their feet here to entertain. The square starts getting busy around 2 p.m. and will grow increasingly lively as night falls.

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Mercado de San Miguel Mercado de San Miguel free

U.S. News Insider Tip: For alternatives to the upmarket Mercado de San Miguel, visit Mercado San Antón or Mercado de San Ildefonso. These innovative food markets are popular social spaces in Madrid's Malasaña and Chueca neighborhoods. – Julienne C. Raboca

Mercado de San Miguel, a market built of beautifully ornate glass and cast iron, is a popular stop for tourists to Madrid, especially since it is located right outside of Plaza Mayor . Opened in May 1916 as a local food market, Mercado de San Miguel became the city's first gourmet market in 2009. Here, visitors can purchase wine, grab a cocktail, juice or coffee, snack on a variety of ready-to-eat tapas, or pick up ingredients for lunch or dinner from the fruit, seafood and meat stalls. San Miguel Market's most famous stands include Michelin-starred chef Jordi Roca's homemade and natural ice creams at Rocambolesc, and the traditional tapas at Madrí by Arzabal.

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Lavapiés Lavapiés free

The neighborhood of Lavapiés boasts a rich historical and cultural heritage. It is believed that Lavapiés was once the Jewish neighborhood of Madrid, with remnants of a Jewish cemetery on Salitre Street. After 1492, the area continued to attract waves of immigrants, becoming a popular district known for its corralas , small affordable houses that accommodated new residents. Today, Lavapiés showcases architectural gems, such as the Corrala de Sombrerete, and is home to the largest second-hand market in Madrid, the Rastro . The neighborhood is also adorned with historic buildings, like the Pías de San Fernando Schools and the old Inquisition Prison, alongside significant cultural centers like the Reina Sofía National Museum of Contemporary Art .

Lavapiés embraces its multicultural character, reflected in its diverse festivals, international influences, and support for emerging art, exemplified by the C.A.L.L.E. urban art festival. In the second week of August, the streets are adorned to celebrate the traditional Verbena de San Lorenzo, honoring the patron saint of the basilica located in the district. Another notable event in Lavapiés is Tapapiés, a food festival that showcases tapas and music and usually takes place during the month of June.

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Flamenco Show & Special Menu at Torres Bermejas in Madrid

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Prado Museum & Madrid Royal Palace Guided Tour with Skip the Line

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Full-Day Toledo Tour with Cathedral from Madrid

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Temple of Debod Temple of Debod free

The Temple of Debod, located in Parque de la Montaña, just behind the newly renovated Plaza de España, is a must-see attraction known for its historical significance and unique setting. Gifted to Spain from the Egyptian government, the temple dates back to the second century B.C. and was transported stone by stone to Madrid. Its preservation is a result of Spain's assistance in protecting the ancient sites of Abu Simbel from flooding caused by the construction of the Aswan Dam in Egypt. The temple's decorative motifs and projections help tell its fascinating story, and it is particularly enchanting when illuminated after sunset. Reconstructed on the hill of with its original orientation from east to west, visitors will be able to see scale models, videos and audiovisual material inside to enhance their understanding of its significance.

Reviews from travelers proffer mixed opinions. Some visitors mention long wait times to enter the temple, with only a few people allowed inside at a time. However, others acknowledge that the wait (and uphill climb) is worthwhile, admiring the hieroglyphics and mummy exhibits. Others, hesitant to endure the wait, chose to admire the temple from the outside, still appreciating the site's historical value, convivial atmosphere and beautiful views of the city. With luck, the moat around the temple will be filled with water when you go, creating a reflection pool that photographers love to capture.

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Reina Sofía Museum Reina Sofía Museum

The  Museo Nacional   Centro de Arte Reina Sofía or Reina Sofia Museum is Madrid's modern, contemporary art gallery and – along with the Prado and the Thyssen-Bornemisza – makes up the city's "Golden Triangle of Art." The Reina Sofia displays almost 2,000 pieces from its vast collection, including art by Salvador Dalí and Joan Miró. However, probably the most famous work is found on the second floor: Pablo Picasso's "Guernica" is the museum's crowning jewel.

Reina Sofia Museum's main building, in front of the Atocha train station, is composed of two connected buildings. Located on the site of the former Hospital de San Carlos, the 18th-century Sabatini Building has been declared one of Spain's Historic-Artistic Monuments of National Interest. Opened in 2005, the Nouvel Building is a contemporary annex designed by renowned French architect Jean Nouvel, who also designed Louvre Abu Dhabi.

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Barrio de Salamanca Barrio de Salamanca free

If you find yourself surrounded by designer stores and elegant restaurants, you've probably stumbled into Madrid's Salamanca neighborhood. Salamanca is one of the fanciest areas of the city, and its main streets – Calle de Serrano, Calle de Goya and Calle de Velázquez – are some of the most expensive. Often compared to New York City's Fifth Avenue or London's Bond Street, Calle Ortega y Gasset has been nicknamed the "Golden Mile" because it's studded with posh brands like Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Cartier. The equally famous Calle de Serrano begins near the corner of Buen Retiro Park next to the Puerta de Alcalá monument and ends in Plaza de la República Argentina.

Even if you have no plans to purchase, Salamanca is a great place to spend a sunny afternoon strolling and window-shopping, according to previous visitors. There are many upscale hotels  in the area as well as unique dining experiences and museums. The National Archaeological Museum is Salamanca district's cultural gem, displaying artifacts from Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome along with a collection of Iberian sculptures. In the summer, its spacious terrace is open to enjoy.

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Matadero Madrid Matadero Madrid free

U.S. News Insider Tip: Explore Madrid Río Park, a recreational area along the Manzanares River that has transformed this part of the city. Hop on a bicycle and discover the revitalized riverside admiring the newly built Arganzuela and Perrault bridges. – Julienne C. Raboca

What was once an old slaughterhouse is now a hub of art and culture in Madrid's Arganzuela neighborhood. Along the banks of Manzanares River, Matadero Madrid offers travelers a chance to see many creative facets of the city all in one place, including a theater complex, a film archive, citizens' laboratory and two restaurants.

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Malasaña Malasaña free

U.S. News Insider Tip: Discover the hidden gem of Iglesia de los Alemanes. This Baroque church, founded by Felipe III in the 17th century, is like a lesser-known Sistine Chapel . Admire its unique elliptical design and breathtaking frescoes; guided tours are available. – Julienne C. Raboca

Malasaña, a vibrant district in Madrid, is bordered by Gran Vía , Calle Fuencarral, Calle Carranza, and Calle de San Bernardo. Named after Manuela Malasaña, a key figure in the events of the Dos de Mayo Uprising in 1808, the district holds historical significance. Plaza del Dos de Mayo, located at the heart of Malasaña, commemorates the rebellion against Napoleon's occupation and pays tribute to brave captains Luis Daoíz and Pedro Velarde.

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Santiago Bernabéu Stadium (Estadio Santiago Bernabéu) Santiago Bernabéu Stadium (Estadio Santiago Bernabéu)

The Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, located north of central Madrid, is the city's main  fútbol  (soccer) stadium and the domain of the world's most successful club: Real Madrid. It was named after the legendary Madrid manager, who presided over the club for 35 years. After its opening in 1947, the stadium was completely refurbished leading up to the 1982 World Cup, which it hosted.  Fútbol  is an integral part of Spanish life, and the stadium's sheer size is an example of this (it can accommodate more than 80,000 fans).

In 2019, Real Madrid began remodeling Santiago Bernabéu. Among its new features are a retractable roof and a removable pitch that can be reassembled, which allows the stadium to be used for other events like concerts, conventions and other sports.

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Casa de Campo Casa de Campo free

While Buen Retiro Park may be more famous, Casa de Campo is Madrid's largest public park and boasts almost 7 square miles of natural space. Originally used as hunting ground by the Spanish royal family, it was opened to the public in the 1930s and is now loved by outdoor enthusiasts as a more natural escape compared to the manicured lawns of El Retiro.

Many people enjoy simply strolling around the park or having picnics on the grass, but there are also plenty of activities in the sprawling grounds. In the southeast corner of Casa de Campo, there's a large lake with boat and kayak rentals available. When you work up an appetite from boating, there are restaurants located around the lake. The park also features a large outdoor pool perfect if you need to escape Spain's summer heat.

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Sample tapas in Barrio de La Latina Sample tapas in Barrio de La Latina

U.S. News Insider Tip:  Immerse yourself in the tradition of Galician-inspired pintxos and beer by visiting La Latina's top restaurants. Sample  carrilleras  (beef cheeks) at La Musa Latina near Basilica de San Miguel, or freshly-made Spanish-style brie tortillas and craft beer at Pez Tortilla. –  Julienne C. Raboca

Famous for its tapas scene, Barrio de La Latina is a vibrant neighborhood in the heart of Madrid that offers a mix of history, tapas culture and lively atmosphere. With its narrow, winding streets dating back to the Middle Ages, this small area packs a punch when it comes to experiencing the city's essence. The neighborhood gets its name from Beatriz Galindo, a renowned writer and humanist known as "La Latina" due to her grasp of the Latin language. The area is steeped in history, with buildings that reflect its medieval origins. Plaza de la Cebada (Barley Square) and Plaza de la Paja (Straw Square), once bustling markets, still bear witness to the neighborhood's commercial heritage.

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Gateway of the Sun (Puerta del Sol) Gateway of the Sun (Puerta del Sol) free

U.S. News Insider Tip: On a cooler day, head to one of the city's most historic restaurants, Lhardy. The place will take you back in time with its elegant decor; try Madrid's best cocido madrileño , a traditional stew of chickpeas, vegetables, pork and lamb. – Julienne C. Raboca

The true center of Madrid, Puerta del Sol has been the heart of Madrid since the 17th century. During King Felipe V’s reign in the early 18th century, six roads were built from the city, referenced by a brass plaque on the south side of Sol. The plaza's most recognizable feature is thus called "kilometer zero," the point from which all distances in Spain are measured. The renowned plaque is undergoing a 21st-century visual update, replacing its square tile with a compass rose design featuring metallic embellishments and border indications pointing toward major Spanish cities.

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Segovia Segovia free

U.S. News Insider Tip: Rent bicycles from Segovia's Plaza Mayor to discover the city's green belt or to visit the small market that sets up on the square every Thursday morning. – Julienne C. Raboca

Accessible via an approximately 30-minute high-speed train ride is the UNESCO-listed Old Town of Segovia – a perfect daytrip from Madrid. The city's star attraction is the remarkably preserved Roman aqueduct, a stunning architectural feat dating back to A.D. 50. Explore the historic center, which showcases impressive landmarks like the Alcázar fortress, a 16th-century Gothic cathedral and several Romanesque churches. Wander through Plaza del Azoguejo to marvel at the aqueduct's majestic tiers of arches, and don't miss the chance to climb the tower of the Alcázar for breathtaking views; this 11th-century royal palace is rumored to have inspired Walt Disney's Cinderella castle. Charming restaurants near Plaza Mayor offer local specialties like roast suckling pig ( cochinillo ) or milk-fed lamb ( lechazo ). Segovia is also home to a green belt that will lead you to a leisurely stroll along the scenic riverbank. To learn more, stop by the visitor center, which offers guided tours and night walks to uncover Segovia's legends.

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Plaza de Cibeles (Cibeles Plaza) Plaza de Cibeles (Cibeles Plaza) free

U.S. News Insider Tip: If you're in Madrid for the holidays and want to get into the winter wonderland spirit, head to the palace's magical Glass Gallery, which transforms into a 3,200-square-foot ice rink from December to January. – Julienne C. Raboca

Cibeles Plaza together with Cibeles Palace are in the heart of Madrid's tourist map. Declared a Cultural Heritage Monument in 1993, Palacio de Cibeles (or Cibeles Palace) was formerly the city's main post office, but now serves as Madrid's City Hall. Located at the intersection of Calle de Alcalá (which leads into Sol ) and adjacent to Paseo del Prado/Paseo de Recoletos, Plaza de Cibeles draws tourists for its stunning architecture. The plaza's fountain features the Roman goddess Cybele ("the Great Mother"), who represents fertility, driven in a chariot being pulled by two lions. The goddess has unofficially been adopted by the city's fútbol (soccer) team, Real Madrid. When Real Madrid, or the Spanish national team, win a title, the city holds a parade that ends in Plaza de Cibeles with one of the players fastening the team's flag to the goddess.

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Take a daytrip to Toledo Take a daytrip to Toledo

U.S. News Insider Tip: For a breath of fresh air, hike the 4.4-mile El Tajo trail. It will take around two hours to complete this moderately challenging route, but it offers mountain views, historical landmarks, the Alcántara Bridge and panoramic vistas of Toledo along the Tagus River. – Julienne C. Raboca

Once you've soaked up Madrid's sights, consider escaping the bustling city with a daytrip to nearby Toledo. It takes just 30 minutes by train to reach the "City of Three Cultures" from downtown Madrid, and it's a worthwhile visit for anyone looking for history, world-renowned architecture or riverside hikes with views of heritage sites.

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Catch a flamenco performance Catch a flamenco performance

An art form born in Andalucía around the 15th century, flamenco expresses the emotions of life through dance, guitar-playing and song. The rhythm of this classic Spanish dance pulses through the streets of Madrid and provides great entertainment for tourists and locals alike. Although flamenco originated in southern Spain, dancers from far and wide come to the capital city to showcase their talents. When you're visiting Madrid, you would be remiss if you didn't set aside time for a flamenco show.

The toughest part is deciding which Madrid tablao – or flamenco venue – to choose for your flamenco experience. The city is home to one of the oldest and most famous flamenco houses in the world, Corral de la Morería, which has held shows at its city center location since 1956. It's highly regarded as the best place to watch performances, and it's not rare to see celebrities, politicians and even the king of Spain in the audience. What's more, it's home to a Michelin-starred restaurant.

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Chocolatería San Ginés Chocolatería San Ginés

Chocolatería San Ginés, located in a passageway within walking distance of Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol , is a renowned chocolate shop that has been serving hot chocolate with churros since its establishment in 1894. Steeped in history, it offers a glimpse into the tradition of enjoying chocolate as a restorative drink, a custom that dates back to the discovery of cacao in America. In the past, street chocolatiers in Madrid sold this beloved beverage, particularly in Puerta del Sol, where late-night revelers and early morning walkers would partake in hot chocolate to ward off the chill. Chocolatería San Ginés preserves this culinary heritage and continues to entice visitors with its delightful combination of crispy churros and rich hot chocolate.

Travelers' reviews of Chocolatería San Ginés highlight its popularity, which often leads to queues. However, visitors are impressed by the efficient and speedy service despite the crowd. The quality of the chocolate and churros receives praise, even from those who aren't typically chocolate lovers. The suggestion to try the fresh Spanish orange juice is also a recurring recommendation. While the seating inside the shop can be tight, many suggest opting for a takeaway order to enjoy the experience outside. During peak times, such as summer, visitors may need to wait for 15 to 20 minutes to secure a table to dining inside.

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El Rastro Market El Rastro Market free

U.S. News Insider Tip: Head to nearby San Fernando Market for lunch afterward. The newly refurbished, covered market has craft beer and authentic Latin American eats alongside an excellent vermouth stall and the unique La Casquería, a bookstore selling books by weight.  – Julienne C. Raboca

Exit the La Latina metro station on a Sunday and wander down Calle de las Maldonadas to one of Spain's most popular open-air flea markets, El Rastro. Dating back to the 15th century, the market starts at Plaza de Cascorro and is primarily concentrated on Calle de la Ribera de Curtidores, ending at Ronda de Toledo. The streets, also including Calle San Cayetano, are lined with hundreds of merchants selling everything from leather goods and ceramics to art and antiques and even everyday household items.

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 Tapas, Taverns & History Tour Madrid

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Things Tourists Should Never Do in Madrid

Madrid is full of charming streets │

Seeing Madrid as a tourist is amazing, thanks to the city’s towering monuments, impressive museums and its vibrant energy. However, if you want to fit in like a local and have a safe and comfortable experience, follow these tips. Here are things tourists should never do in Madrid, the capital of Spain .

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Don’t disrupt the siesta

It’s fine if you don’t want to join in and take a midday nap, but don’t be loud or disruptive during the hours of 3-5pm. Waking people up is simply not cool.

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Madrid is a city where people are mindful of their appearance. Generally, people don’t wear yoga pants unless they are going to yoga or wear flip flops unless they are at the beach or pool. Walking around in the busy city in flip flops isn’t the best idea anyway – someone could stomp on your toes in a crowded place or it’s likely you feet will get dusty or dirty. If you want to wear sandals, pick up a sturdy and stylish pair that are better suited for city living.

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Don’t wear shorts before June or July

The temperature will commonly shoot up in April or May for a few days, which may leave tourists wanting to pull out those shorts! Resist the urge if you want to fit in. Typically Madrid locals won’t unveil their shorts until it’s actually summer, despite soaring temperatures. Instead, wear pants and a tank top and carry a handheld fan if needed.

Don’t eat lunch before 1pm

Any restaurant that’s worth dining at won’t serve lunch before 1pm, and that’s still quite early by Spanish standards. When in Spain, do as the Spanish do, and eat lunch later.

Don’t eat dinner before 9pm

Remember, dinner in Spain is light and late. So enjoy some tapas or a light salad, but remember – never before 9pm!

Don’t order eggs for breakfast

You’ll realise that eggs aren’t even offered for breakfast in Spain unless you stumble upon an international brunch spot. They are considered a dinner food here in Spain and not typically served in the morning, so order a tosta con tomate for breakfast instead – a slice of baguette bread with blended tomato, olive oil and salt.

Don’t eat in the Plaza Mayor

It’s understandable that you might want to have a drink outside in one of the lovely cafes in the Plaza Mayor while admiring the scenery. But don’t fall into the tourist trap of dining there. The food tends to be overpriced and not competitive, so just have a beer or coffee there and then head elsewhere to dine.

Outdoor drinks in the Plaza Mayor in Madrid

Don’t be careless with your belongings

Madrid is a very safe city, but tourists can be easy prey for pickpockets, as visitors are often distracted with their surroundings and may be carrying expensive phones and cameras. Keep a close on your belongings – be sure to use a purse that zips and carry your wallet in your front pocket on the subway, or when visiting crowded tourist attractions.

Don’t carry your passport around

We’ve already established Madrid is safe but that pickpocketing is common. Leave your passport in the hotel safe so you won’t have to spend your holiday at your embassy getting a new one if yours gets lost or stolen.

Don’t be angry if a Spanish person calls you a guiri

Guiri is the colloquial name the Spanish use for foreigners. But don’t be upset if someone calls you this, as it’s typically done in an endearing way. Madrileños love welcoming tourists and enjoy the opportunity to practise their English, so don’t be offended if you hear the word tossed around in your presence.

Don’t say you are embarazada if you are embarrassed

Sometimes the Spanish language may seem easy, as many words are similar to the same words in English. But the dreaded false cognate situation can occur when you say a word that you think means the same thing but it actually doesn’t. So don’t say you are embarazada if you are embarrassed, because what you’re really saying is that you are pregnant!

Don’t be worried about drinking alcohol at any time of day

The Spanish drink whenever they feel like it. It’s not unusual to see a businessman on a break at 11am sipping a vermouth, or a group of giggling co-workers having wine or beer on their lunch break. If they can do it, so can you.

Madrid is all about eating, drinking and enjoying life in the sunshine

Just don’t get super drunk

The reason it’s socially acceptable in Spain to drink at any hour of the day is because the Spanish don’t typically binge drink or get out of control. Follow their lead – have drinks when you feel like it, but don’t go too far. Plus, it’s never a good idea to risk losing control, especially if you are traveling alone .

Don’t just order one thing – share!

The concept of tapas and raciones is all about sharing. Spanish food is meant to be ordered in a group setting and everyone shares. This way, you get to sample so much more!

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The World Was Here First

9 Best Areas to Stay in Madrid For Tourists

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As one of the largest cities in Europe, finding the best area to stay in Madrid can seem a bit daunting.

There are countless distinct neighbourhoods – barrios in Spanish –in the Spanish capital that all bring something a little different to the table (sometimes literally, when you consider all of the great bars and restaurants in the city) that finding the best neighbourhood for you and your travel style can really make or break your trip to Madrid .

So whether you’re looking to be within spitting distance of all of the top sites, whether you want to be in the best area for food or nightlife or you’re looking for a truly local Madrileño experience in a barrio where few tourists venture, this is the guide for you.

We’ve outlined a number of different neighbourhoods to stay in that are great for first-timers and return visitors alike.

Table of Contents

9 Best Neighbourhoods to Stay in Madrid

Sol – best area for sightseeing.

If you’re looking for the best area to stay in Madrid for sightseeing and first-time visitors to the city, then staying in the Madrid Centro or Sol neighbourhood is an excellent option.

So-called because of its proximity to the Puerta del Sol, this is the absolute centre of the Spanish capital and is within easy walking distance to the vast majority of the top tourist sites.

Though this is an area that is going to be fairly packed with tourists and visitors, Sol’s location is unbeatable if you want to be very close to sites like the Plaza Mayor and the Mercado de San Miguel and within a 10-15 minute walk from places like the Palacio Real and the famed Prado Museum.

Even the famed Chocolatería de San Gines (the most well-known place for churros and chocolate in the city) is located in this neighbourhood.

For those after one of the most central places to stay in Madrid for tourists, then you absolutely cannot go wrong with Sol.

Plaza Mayor in Sol, Madrid

Where to Stay in Sol

Ii Castillas Madrid – For mid-range travellers in the Spanish capital, this boutique hotel is a fantastic option. Located close to the Plaza Callao, it is within walking distance of a number of Madrid’s top sites. They have a range of clean and comfortable rooms on offer and daily breakfast is available. Click here to see their availability

Pestana Plaza Mayor Madrid – Those looking for luxury in central Madrid will love this plush hotel. Located right off Plaza Mayor, it is as central a location as you can get. They have a number of beautiful rooms available and plenty of amenities to ensure you have a great stay. Click here to see their availability

MH Apartments Central  – If you’re after the convenience of your own flat with the amenities of a hotel during your time in Madrid, then this aparthotel is a great choice. Situated only 500 metres from Puerta del Sol, they have a range of apartments available to suit plenty of group sizes. Click here to see their availability

The Hat Madrid – As one of the top-rated hostels in Madrid, this is a great place to stay for those travelling solo or on a tight budget. Located off of Plaza Mayor, it’s perfectly situated for exploring the city and makes it easy to meet other travellers. They offer both dorms and private rooms. Click  here to see their availability

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Sol!

Lavapiés – Best Area for Market Culture

If you want to be in one of Madrid’s coolest neighbourhoods, and get a real local feel but still be in easy walking distance of the city’s top sites, then multicultural Lavapiés is a great choice for you.

Located just south of central Madrid, the neighbourhood is within a stone’s throw of all of the city’s top sites, however, it has a far more “local” feel than somewhere just a bit closer to Plaza Mayor.

Lavapiés was named by Time Out to be the coolest neighbourhood in the world in 2018 and there is a lot to like about this hip area. There is lots of street art, there are fantastic bars and restaurants — both of the traditional and innovative ilk — and it is also a multicultural hub in Madrid.

Because of its location so close to the top tourist sites, Lavapiés makes for an excellent base in Madrid if you do want a more “neighbourhood-y” feel while still being within walking distance of many of the best things to do in Madrid.

Lavapiés is also a great neighbourhood to explore proper Spanish market culture, with markets like the Mercado Antón Martín and the Mercado de San Fernando offering a much more “authentic” experience than the tourist-centric Mercado de San Miguel.

Lavapies Street Art

Where to Stay in Lavapiés

Catalonia Atocha – This is an excellent hotel to base yourself when exploring Lavapiés. Located close to Madrid’s Puerta de Atocha train station, it’s also a great choice if you have a day trip to Toledo in your itinerary. They have a range of lovely rooms to choose from and there is even a swimming pool on site. Click here to see their availability

Artrip Hotel – This boutique hotel in Madrid is an excellent choice in Lavapiés if you’re after something a bit more upmarket. They have a number of clean and comfortable rooms on offer (all are air-conditioned) and it’s located in the heart of Lavapiés is fantastic for exploring both the barrio and Madrid as a whole. Click here to see their availability

Limehome Madrid  – This aparthotel is an excellent choice for those wanting to experience Lavapiés like a local. They have a range of fully furnished flats available that can suit lots of group sizes and a perfect location for seeing the city. Click here to see their availability

The Central House Lavapiés – If you’re travelling solo or on a budget, this highly-rated hostel is an excellent option. Located in the heart of Lavapiés, they have both private rooms and dorms available along with excellent common areas and self-catering facilities. Click here to see their availability

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Lavapies!

La Latina – Best Area for Tapas

Another Madrid neighbourhood in the centre of the city and a neighbour to Lavapiés is bohemian La Latina. In fact, if you’re looking for the best area in Madrid for tapas, you really cannot go wrong with this fantastic neighbourhood.

Known for being home to the famed Calle de la Cava Baja (a street with no fewer than 50 bars in a 300-metre stretch), there is more than just this one (incredibly busy) street.

In fact, if you’re looking to do a tapas crawl in La Latina, check out bars like La Paloma for seafood, Las Caracoles for snails or Taberna Sanlúcar for Cádiz -style home cooking.

La Latina is also centrally located to explore all of the sites Madrid has to offer, is quite walkable and tourist-friendly without being packed with visitors, allowing for a more “local” feel not far from the tourist centre.

Cava Baja in La Latina

Where to Stay in La Latina

Posada del León de Oro Boutique Hotel – Located in the heart of La Latina, this boutique hotel is an excellent place in Madrid to base yourself in this dynamic barrio. They have a number of bright and comfortable rooms on offer and plenty of great amenities to ensure you have a great stay. Click here to see their availability

L&H La Latina Selection – This lovely hotel in La Latina offers both comfortable rooms and suites and fully-furnished apartments, should that be something you’re after. Well-located for exploring the city (or crawling between tapas bars), all rooms are air-conditioned, they have a 24-hour desk and even offer an airport shuttle. Click here to see their availability

Ok Madrid Hostel – For those looking for a hostel in La Latina, then this is a great option. Offering both dorm beds and private rooms, they also organise social events daily making it easy to meet other travellers and have an excellent time exploring Madrid. Click here to see their availability

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in La Latina!

Malasaña – Best Area for a Local Feel

Situated just north of the centre of Madrid, hip Malasaña is a very sought-after neighbourhood in Madrid and it makes for an excellent base for tourists. Though there aren’t a lot of tourist sites in this barrio itself, it is very well-located for exploring the sites of the city while still having a nice atmosphere around you.

The streets of Malasaña are incredibly picturesque and are lined with countless cool bars, cafes and shops to enjoy. This is a great neighbourhood to simply wander through and get lost, as it is one of the prettiest in the city.

Malasaña also has a lot of fantastic tapas bars to enjoy that have a more local focus (and, therefore, better prices) than a lot of similar bars closer to the city centre. Though it’s not a neighbourhood typically known for its bars, this is Madrid, after all, and there are always great places to eat.

Street in Malasaña

Where to Stay in Malasaña

7 Islas Hotel – This bright, swish hotel is an excellent base in hip Malasaña. They have an excellent location within the neighbourhood for exploring all the top sites in Madrid and they have a number of wonderful rooms to choose from. There is also an on-site restaurant & bar and they offer an airport shuttle. Click here to see their availability

Hostal Foster – Those travelling on a budget in Madrid but who want some privacy and comfort will love this quaint guesthouse. They have a handful of clean and comfortable en suite rooms available (all with air conditioning) and an excellent location just of Gran Vía. Click here to see their availability

Sonder Malasaña – This aparthotel is the perfect choice for those who want the comfort and convenience of their own flat while in the Malasaña neighbourhood. Boasting a great location and plenty of different apartments to choose from, they have a number of amenities that can make your trip a great one. Click here to see their availability

MuchoMadrid – With both dorm beds and private rooms available, this highly rated hostel is an excellent choice for budget travellers or those looking for a social atmosphere. They also have great common areas, self-catering facilities and an excellent location in Malasaña. Click here to see their availability

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Malasaña!

Chueca – Best Area for Nightlife

Located right next to Malasaña, cool Chueca is arguably the best area to stay in Madrid for nightlife and for LGBTQ+ visitors. Reminiscent of the Castro neighbourhood in San Francisco, this hip barrio is one of the best in the city.

Incredibly gay-friendly, you will notice rainbows all over the place in this inclusive neighbourhood – even on the sign of the metro. However, this barrio is accommodating to all communities and it is packed with cool cafes, restaurants, shops and bars to enjoy.

This is also a wonderful neighbourhood to go out in at night, as there are lots of bars and clubs open until the wee hours of the morning and you will have no problem finding a great place to party the night away in Chueca, should that be what you’re after.

Chueca Metro Sign

Where to Stay in Chueca

Petit Palace Chueca – This pet-friendly 3-star hotel is an excellent choice in the happening Chueca barrio . They have a number of lovely rooms available, an unbeatable location, an on-site bar and a 24-hour front desk. Click here to see their availability

Only YOU Boutique Hotel – This boutique option is one of the best hotels in Madrid for those looking for a luxury choice in the Spanish capital. Located in the cool Chueca neighbourhood, they have a ton of great rooms available and a perfect location for seeing all Madrid has to offer. Click here to see their availability

Room007 Chueca Hostel – This boutique hostel is a good option for budget travellers in Chueca. They have a number of both dorms and private rooms available and a fantastic location for exploring the Spanish capital. Click here to see their availability

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Chueca!

Salamanca – Best Area for Luxury Travellers

For the upscale among us, look no further than finding a base in posh Salamanca. Located north of Retiro Park, Salamanca is not in central Madrid, but the tourist centre is very easily reached by bus or metro in only a few minutes.

As one of the fanciest and most exclusive neighbourhoods in the city, the streets of Salamanca are lined with designer shops and upmarket cafes and bars.

People are noticeably better dressed in this barrio – you will see lots of power suits – and it is the perfect place to stay for those who love a little bit of luxury.

You can still get an authentic Madrileño experience in this neighbourhood, however, especially if you want to explore a local market – make sure to head to the Mercado de La Paz.

Salamanca can also be one of the best neighbourhoods in Madrid for families, because of its quieter vibes and proximity to the lush and beautiful Retiro Park.

Retiro Park near Salamanca

Where to Stay in Salamanca

Hotel Serrano – This 3-star hotel in Salamanca is an excellent choice in this posh neighbourhood. Located within easy reach of Retiro Park, they have a number of clean and comfortable rooms available and a buffet breakfast is available each morning. Click here to see their availability

Wellington Hotel & Spa  – If you’re looking for luxury in one of Madrid’s most luxurious neighbourhoods, then this 5-star hotel is the perfect choice. They have countless gorgeous rooms available, an on-site spa and plenty of other amenities to ensure you have the perfect stay. Click here to see their availability

Feelathome Goya Apartments – For those who want to pretend they live in this swish neighbourhood, these fully-furnished apartments are a good choice. They have a range of apartments available and a great location in the heart of Salamanca. They even have a seasonal outdoor swimming pool for guests to enjoy. Click here to see their availability

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Salamanca!

Atocha – Best Area for Transport Links

Another central Madrid barrio, Atocha is one of the best neighbourhoods to stay in Madrid for those looking to go on some day trips from the city – especially to nearby Toledo !

Atocha is so-called because of its proximity to the Puerta de Atocha train station, one of the main train stations in the city. It is rare that I would recommend staying close to the train station in many European cities, however, Atocha doesn’t have the seedy vibes that many cities have close to their transport hubs.

The neighbourhood is very central and well-connected to sightseeing in Madrid, however, it is also far enough away from the top tourist sites that you can get a more local feel of the city, as well.

Like countless other barrios in Madrid, there are a number of wonderful bars and restaurants to enjoy and a great energy on the streets.

Inside Atocha Train Station

Where to Stay in Atocha

Hotel Mediodia – Located only 100 metres from Madrid’s Atocha station, this hotel is perfect for mid-range travellers in the Spanish capital. They have a number of great rooms to choose from (including family rooms available) and a continental breakfast is on offer in the mornings. Click here to see their availability

Only YOU Hotel Atocha – This hip, 4-star hotel is a great option in the Atocha neighbourhood of Madrid. Located very close to the train station and also within easy reach of Madrid’s top sites, they have a number of lovely rooms available and there is even a café/bakery on site! Click here to see their availability

Genteel Home Reina Sofía – If you’d like your own holiday home in the Atocha neighbourhood, then these apartments are a good option. They have a great location (within easy reach of a number of Madrid’s top attractions) and a number of different apartments — ranging in size — to choose from. Click here to see their availability

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Atocha!

Huertas (Barrio de las Letras) – Best Alternative Central Area

Moving back into central Madrid, if you want to stay very close to all of the action but are after a bit of peace and quiet then Huertas is a great option – in fact, this is an excellent contender for the best place to stay in Madrid for sightseeing.

More properly known as the Barrio de las Letras or the Literary quarter, this barrio is colloquially known as Huertas because of its eponymous main thoroughfare, Calle de Huertas. Centring around the tranquil Plaza Santa Ana, it is only about five minutes walk away from the Puerta del Sol but feels miles away.

Huertas is known for being home to some Spanish literary greats – most notably, Miguel de Cervantes, author of the famed novel Don Quixote . In fact, you can see the house in which Cervantes died in this very neighbourhood.

And, like other Madrid barrios, there is no shortage of fantastic bars and restaurants to enjoy in this fab neighbourhood, either.

Plaza Santa Ana

Where to Stay in Huertas

Casual del Teatro Madrid – Located just off Plaza de Santa Ana, this is a great place to base yourself in Barrio de las Letras. They have a number of cosy and quaint rooms available, an unbeatable location in Central Madrid and plenty of other great things on offer. Click here to see their availability

Vincci Soho – This beautiful luxury hotel is the perfect option if you’re looking to stay in Huertas. They have countless lovely rooms available, a hearty breakfast on offer each morning and a gorgeous terrace and on-site bar to enjoy. Click here to see their availability

Oboe Madrid Santa Ana – These apartments overlooking Plaza Santa Ana are a great option in the Huertas neighbourhood. They have a range of flats to choose from that can accommodate all kinds of group sizes and they all come fully furnished with everything you may need. Click here to see their availability

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Huertas!

Chamberí – Best Area for a Residential Stay

Though this is certainly not the best contender for where to stay in Madrid for the first time, the swish Chamberí neighbourhood can be a good option for those who’ve been to the Spanish capital before and are looking to see a more residential side of the city.

Located to the north of the city centre, Chamberí is one of the best places to stay in the Spanish capital for tapas, being home to the famous Calle de Ponzano. A more local alternative to La Latina’s Cava Baja, there are countless bars on this street – though some of the more experimental and high-end sort.

Though this is a more local neighbourhood, this is also a relatively upscale place to stay (and live) in Madrid and it definitely shows. Though it’s not quite as posh as Salamanca, it is a fancier neighbourhood and it’s a great place to base yourself if you want to be a bit further out from the city centre.

Chamberi District

Where to Stay in Chamberí

Leonardo Boutique Hotel – This boutique hotel is an excellent choice for mid-range travellers looking to stay in Chamberí. They have a range of nice rooms available and a good location for exploring a quieter and more residential area of Madrid. Click here to see their availability

NH Collection Madrid Abascal – For those after a luxury option in upmarket Chamberí, you can’t go wrong with this lovely hotel. They have countless plush rooms available, a number of swanky amenities, and a wonderful location for exploring the neighbourhood and the city at large. Click here to see their availability

Bonavista Apartments – These apartments are a great option for those who want to “live like a local” while staying in the Chamberí neighbourhood in Madrid. There are a number of flats available and they all come fully furnished with everything you need to make your trip a great one. Click here to see their availability

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Chamberi!

With so many different barrios to choose from, finding the best area in Madrid can be an overwhelming task. Hopefully, this guide has helped you choose the best neighbourhood for your wants and travel style. No matter where you choose to base yourself, there is no doubt that Madrid is one of Europe’s most interesting and dynamic cities!

Are you wondering which neighbourhood to stay in Madrid? Have any questions? Let us know in the comments!

madrid tourism reddit

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About Maggie Turansky

Maggie is a co-founder and writer for The World Was Here First. Originally from the US, she has lived in five different countries and has travelled to dozens more, both solo and with her partner, Michael. She particularly loves exploring Spain and spending time in the Caucasus and the Baltics. Read more about Maggie

Hey Maggie,

Thank you so much for your travel blogs. This will be our first trip to Spain (from Australia) and your guides are awesome and so helpful. Kind regards, John

Thanks, John! Hope you have a wonderful trip 🙂

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Madrid Traveling

What is the best time to visit Madrid?

Wondering when is the best time to visit Madrid Spain? You are in the right place to find out with this comprehensive month-by-month guide.

The good news is that the best time to visit Madrid is pretty much anytime. In fact, Madrid has always something to offer to visitors, and every season is special.

In my opinion, spring and autumn are the best seasons to visit Madrid as you will be rewarded with really nice weather, moderate temperatures, and colorful trees and flowers.

But the best time to go to Madrid depends on your preferences, availability, and budget. Therefore, I have put together this overview to help you learn more about the best time to visit Madrid.

Keep on reading to discover when to visit Madrid.

Table of contents

Weather in Madrid

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Are you looking for spending your vacations somewhere peacefully and stay on budget as well?

Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain and one of the best spots in Europe for vacations.

Like any trip, planning your trip to Madrid starts with a series of questions: when to go, where to stay, and what to do.

In order to conclude when is the best time to visit Madrid, the weather is a key variable. Keep on reading to discover how is the climate in Madrid.

Family packing for the trip to Madrid

Madrid is located in the community which is the central part of the country, at an altitude of nearly 600 meters above sea level.

Madrid enjoys a mix of Mediterranean and Continental climates. Temperatures are not that extreme so it is possible to visit the city all year round .

Every season is different and unique and I’m sure that you will fall in love with Madrid no matter when you go.

However, in my opinion, spring and autumn are the best seasons to visit Madrid as you will be rewarded with really nice weather, moderate temperatures , and colorful trees and flowers in Madrid`s beautiful parks and gardens.

Spring and fall are very pleasant seasons, they don’t last long though. Summer usually overlaps spring, and winter does the same with autumn.

The best Madrid bike tours are a great opportunity to meet people

Visit Madrid in Spring

Spring in Madrid is usually warm and pleasant, with mild temperatures and lots of sunshine. Summer brings high temperatures but with low humidity levels.

Visit Madrid in Summer

Summer in Madrid is warm and dry, especially from mid-July until mid-August when the temperatures could reach 95-104ºF.

Days are very long so you can plan your outdoor activities for the earlier and later hours and do the indoor activities in the midday when the sun is hottest.

You can also enjoy the Spanish siesta and take a nap after lunch.

El Retiro is one of the best parks in Madrid and one of the most popular attractions in Spain for locals and tourists alike

Visit Madrid in Autumn

Fall is the best time for tourism as the weather is not too hot or cold.

Besides, most days are sunny and the thermal sensation goes up with the daylight, this will help you to enjoy all the outdoor things to do in Madrid.

You need to take into account that the highest and lowest temperatures don’t seem as bad due to the low humidity in Madrid.

Visit Madrid in Winter

Deep winter in Madrid downtown is cold but not extreme. Rainy days are not usual and the city center rarely receives snow.

As thermometers don’t usually go down from 32ºF, you should be fine with just a coat. It’s only during January that travelers may get a glimpse of 25ºF nights.

This important green area is one of the best parks in Madrid

Besides, most days are sunny and the thermal sensation goes up with the daylight, this will help you to enjoy all the outdoor things to do in Madrid .

You need to take into account that, as in fall, the highest and lowest temperatures don’t seem as bad due to the low humidity.

As you can see in the chart below, the weather in Madrid is excellent throughout the whole year.

Maximum temperatures in July and August can be a little bit high, so you could plan some indoor activities at the hottest parts of the day or just relax at your hotel until then goes down a little.

Compared to other main capital cities such as Paris or London, the weather in Madrid is awesome .

madrid tourism reddit

But it is not just the temperature but also the high level of sunshine .

Looking at the chart below, the percentage of sunshine is over 50% throughout the whole year and 80% in July and August. No matter the time you decide to visit Madrid, sunny days are guaranteed .

This way, you will find the days are incredibly long and you will find plenty of time for sightseeing, enjoying terraces, and spending some awesome vacations in Madrid.

And, comparing again with London and Paris, well…, Madrid beats them all time.

madrid tourism reddit

Finally, in order to discover when is the best time to visit Madrid, it is convenient to take a look at the average number of rainy days .

In the chart below you can see that the rainy days in Madrid are an exception . As a general rule, no matter the season, rain boots and an umbrella should not be a priority in your luggage.

Again, compared to London and Paris, you will conclude that if you prefer nice weather on your vacations you need to come to Madrid.

madrid tourism reddit

Although July and August are peak season months in Madrid, the number of tourists is quite stable throughout the year.

It just usually decreases a little from November until February, excluding the Christmas holidays.

Nevertheless, crowds are never so intense even in Summer as during the school holidays most of the residents in Madrid leave the city and head to the seaside.

Therefore, especially in August, you could find some stores closed and some attractions will have reduced their opening hours.

In Summer, Madrid is particularly packed with both domestic and international visitors checking out the sights.

As a result, you can expect longer lines at the most popular attractions in Madrid and higher rates for accommodation.

El Retiro Park in Madrid with kids

If you are searching for saving money on your trip to Madrid, then the post-Christmas period (January and February) is a good bet.

Generally speaking, accommodation prices in Madrid are pretty affordable at all times, especially compared with other major European cities. After Christmas, there is more availability and you could find even lower prices.

It is the best time to visit Madrid for shopping too, as the most popular brands like Zara are on sale in this period of the year.

Weather is not that bad in winter, and temperatures don’t usually go down from 32ºF even at night. It’s only during January that travelers may get a glimpse of 25ºF nights.

Rain and snow are not usual in the city center.

Snow in Madrid

Anyway, most people cannot choose the best time to go to Madrid. People usually depend on work, the school calendar, and other daily responsibilities, which force them to travel when they can.

As a result, most people can travel just during the summer or winter holidays. Easter is usually quite busy too.

Family at Madrid airport

It obviously depends on many other factors but I usually notice a significant increase in the prices of flights and accommodation during these peak seasons in Spain.

Therefore, I would recommend you fly off-season to Madrid if you want to save some money.

If you can´t, and your only available time is in high season, you can follow these tips to find cheap flights to Madrid .

Best time to visit Madrid by month

Best time to visit Madrid

In my opinion, spring and fall are the best seasons to visit Madrid as you will be rewarded with really nice weather, moderate temperatures, and colorful trees and flowers.

However, the best time to visit Madrid usually depends on your interests, what weather suits you best, and whether there are any special events you’d like to attend.

But there are some periods when sightseeing in Madrid becomes more interesting and enjoyable than usual. So, let’s get into this.

January is usually a quiet month to visit Madrid , especially after the Christmas holidays. Therefore, you can often find some deals on accommodation and some of the most popular tourist attractions.

Although it is not freezing, January is the coldest month in Madrid and the temperature range from 38º to 50ºF. Snow is not usual in the city center.

10 Best Things to do in Madrid in Winter (including Christmas and NYE)

Besides, the lowest temperatures don’t seem as bad due to the low humidity . However, a winter jacket, a wool hat, and gloves should be probably a must in your baggage.

Days are not long, that is why it is the perfect time to enjoy indoor activities like visiting the best museums in Madrid .

In January visitors will also find the best sales in the most popular stores like Zara.

January can be the best time to visit Madrid if you are searching for bargains and sales.

madrid tourism reddit

February in Madrid remains cold and the days are still short .

You can expect daytime temperatures to stay around 45 to 60°F and lows to be around 35 to 40°F during the month.

Cold is not so extreme to avoid you to enjoy the outdoor activities in Madrid.

Besides, the wide offer of indoor activities will allow you to spend some great vacations in Spain.

February is the low season in Madrid and this means lower prices for accommodation and more space and availability to visit the most popular landmarks.

Kids in Snozone Madrid

As spring comes closer, nature awakens from its sleep. That’s why this period is considered the best time to go to Madrid by these tourists who like outdoor activities like hiking or cycling.

You can expect daytime temperatures to stay around 60 to 70°F and lows to be around 40 to 45°F in March.

Locals are also emerging from their homes to take to the streets for the fun opportunities the warmer weather brings .

Easter usually takes place at the end of March and with the usual nice weather most locals get away from the city.

Temperatures are higher than in February and, without locals, Easter can be the best time to visit Madrid.

Bike tours are a healthy activity in Madrid with family

This is the period when you can enjoy a nice spring and beautiful mild weather . Many people visit Madrid during this period because it’s neither too hot nor too cold.

If you do not know when to visit Madrid, April is your month if you love seeing flowers blooming and green grass. This is also a good time to enjoy live music, festivals, and other outdoor celebrations .

April marks the beginning of springtime in Madrid and this month typically delivers mild weather with average daytime highs that range from 64 to 75º F.

Renting a boat with children in Retiro Park

Due to the excellent temperature and weather, this is a good time if you plan on spending plenty of time outdoors .

It is true that, while springtime is a beautiful time to visit Madrid, it’s not the perfect time to get the cheapest hotels.

In fact, the prices for accommodations in Madrid start to rise during this time. If you’re hoping to save money on your hotel during this season, you may want to look into visiting in late fall or early winter instead.

It is safe to say that May is the perfect time to visit Madrid.

Winter finished a long time ago, and the heat of the summer has not yet arrived, and neither have most of the tourists.

May is one of the most charming moments to go to Spain. Spring continues, and temperatures continue to warm up more in May.

The average temperature ranges from 70-80°F, so it is perfectly warm to enjoy some Spanish tapas, wines, and beers on a terrace .

A couple enjoying some Spanish tapas and beers

May is a perfect month to walk around Madrid, and locals are enjoying outside activities. It is the best time to visit Madrid´s best parks and green areas .

Spring rain showers could appear but, in general, you will wear T-shirts during the day and a sweater at night.

June days in Madrid grow warmer and longer as summer approaches.

Daytime temperatures are still mild, but in the last days of the month you could find some days reaching 85°F.

If you are traveling to Madrid in June, you should pack light prioritizing shorts and T-shirts . June is the best time to visit Madrid and enjoy outdoor activities, especially if you travel with kids .

The Royal Botanical Garden is beautiful at Christmas.

Sunny days in June are great for sightseeing and, as there is plenty of daylight, you will have enough time to relax in a park or have lunch on a terrace . You will just need some sun protection.

The tourist peak season in Madrid starts at the end of June so prices will be a little bit higher. But you should not expect crowds when visiting the most popular attractions in Madrid .

July is the hottest month of the year and most locals are already starting their vacations and running away to milder areas at the seaside.

You will find higher temperatures ranging from 86-95°F and the locals remaining will be trying to cool off in parks and swimming pools.

Girl having fun in a swimming pool

The more you get closer to August, the fewer locals you will find and the city will be quieter.

However, August is usually the best time to visit Madrid for tourists and it is peak season. Therefore, you could find some lines to enter some tourist attractions.

For sightseeing, it is a good idea to plan indoor activities like museums for the hours when the sun is hottest.

Museo del Prado view in Madrid from the front gardens

Due to the high temperatures, make sure to stay hydrated for outdoor activities , wear light clothes, don´t forget sunscreen and a sun hat, and consider if buying attraction tickets in advance and paying for a skip-the-line ticket could be convenient.

Swimming pools or water parks like Aquopolis are just some of the fun activities you can experience in Madrid, especially when traveling to Spain with kids.

August is a popular time to visit Madrid for tourists due to the good weather and school holidays.

If you go to Madrid in August, you will find sunny weather where you can make the most of Madrid´s parks and green areas, terraces, and rooftop bars .

in Madrid you drive on the right and safety belts are compulsory in both the front and back seats

Many locals have already left the city, which means that Madrid can feel less crowded even while tourism is high. You should expect temperatures ranging from 86-95°F.

Due to the high temperatures, I suggest buying the tickets for the best attractions in advance and visiting museums during the mid-day hours.

I believe that walking is the best way to experience any city in the world firsthand.

But if you visit Madrid in August you should benefit from the fast, comfortable, safe, and affordable Madrid´s public transport , with convenient air conditioning.

Subway is one of the best options to get around Madrid

August is still peak season in Madrid for tourists. Although prices are, in general, more affordable than in other European capitals, you will not probably find bargains.

If you have flexibility to travel, Spring and Autumn could be more convenient months to go to Madrid with lower prices and avoid such high temperatures.

The busy high season comes to an end in the first week of September, and almost everyone is returning home after the summer holidays.

But September is a great month to visit Madrid, as temperatures are excellent, days are long with sunny skies, and most tourists have already left the city .

Temperatures range from 70-80°F, with cooler nights as October approaches.

September is a great month to visit Madrid

As the extreme heat of summer has already gone, even September’s warmest days are perfect for outdoor activities and visiting Madrid on foot. Most of the best landmarks are in the city center and within walking distance.

City tours are a fun and sustainable option to discover Madrid. There is a wide offer and some of them are free of charge.

You will forget about planning as all you have to do is turn up at the meeting point on time, ready to spend a nice time with an expert local guide.

October is one of my favorite months to visit Madrid.

Temperatures start to drop as November approaches, but they are still gorgeous during the day ranging from 60-70ºF.

At night, things cool off for amazing walks , most times with nothing else than a sweater most times. However, a light jacket should be on your packing list.

Madrid Río is one of the best parks in Madrid to admire the Royal Palace and the Almudena Cathedral

Out of the peak season, accommodation prices should be more affordable than in previous months and tourist attractions will be less crowded.

October is the perfect time for enjoying the city by bike . It is a fun, healthy, and sustainable way to discover the hidden gems of the capital of Spain. In case you prefer a guided tour, the offer is wide and the prices are pretty affordable.

If you are thinking about when to Visit Madrid November is a good option.

While I experienced what many people think and even say that fall is a great season to visit cities like Madrid, the flight prices are not still the lowest during this time of the year.

However, there are more budget-friendly hotels available during this period because fewer travelers typically travel during this season.

Autumn is one of the best seasons to visit Madrid

This is also a great time of year for those who enjoy exploring outdoor activities and events since the weather is still pretty good.

Daytime temperatures remain moderate (50-60ºF) and the days are still long enough to take full advantage of a sightseeing session. This makes it a great time to visit Madrid and see the attractions.

As December approaches, days are getting shorter and chillier , and some winter clothes should be packed in your baggage. A jacket is essential, but a hat and gloves should not be necessary until December or January.

Madrid at Christmas time is especially beautiful , you can breathe the magic.

It’s a time for family and traditions. I love wandering through the streets of Madrid with the Christmas lights shining and the smell of roasted chestnuts .

Madrid at Chrsitmas is wonderful

Temperatures are low but reasonable, with 38-50ºF during the day. Days are much shorter though, so your available time for sightseeing will be reduced.

December is a popular month to visit Madrid and many people working abroad come back home at Christmas. That is why flight and accommodation prices are not the lowest.

In case you decide that December is the best time to visit Madrid for you, my advice is to use the morning light to sightsee the best monuments.

After lunch, the sun will be quite low so you can have some time to enjoy one of the best sunsets in the capital.

Then take a stroll and enjoy the Christmas lights and the magic of this time of the year.

Puerta del Sol at Christmas

Final words

The peak season in Madrid extends over two periods, from late June to August, and then again in December. Many international tourists come to Madrid in summer due to the school holidays, while locals run away to the seaside. Christmas is a popular time for tourists in Madrid too, and flight and accommodation prices tend to be higher.

In my opinion, spring and autumn are the best seasons to visit Madrid as you will be rewarded with really nice weather, moderate temperatures, and colorful trees and flowers. Besides, you can often find some deals on accommodation and some of the most popular tourist attractions.

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Should You Visit Madrid or Barcelona? A City to City Comparison

TripSavvy / Lisa Fasol 

As Spain 's two premier cities, you can't go wrong whichever you choose. But if you had to ​select one, which should it be: Madrid or Barcelona ? Of course, you should visit both. And with the high-speed AVE train now serving a direct route between Madrid and Barcelona, the journey is quicker and easier than ever. But if you really have to choose, we compared what each city has to offer in this handy guide.

Here's what to know about value, location, architecture, food, language, weather, and more before you decide which of the two Spanish cities to visit.

Value for Money

Lonely Planet/Getty Images

Barcelona is a much more touristy city than Madrid . And tourists bring prices up. It's not that Barcelona doesn't have cheap things to do, it's just that there are much more of them in Madrid.

In Madrid, you can get cod tapas thirty seconds from Sol (Madrid's main square) at Casa Labra for a euro or a great meal for 10 euros just off Gran Via (Madrid's main street) at Con Dos Fogones. The equivalent restaurants in Barcelona are too busy doing paella and sangria 'deals' to offer real value for money.

Meanwhile, Madrid's two best museums (the Reina Sofia and the Prado) have a free entry every night of the week, something you'd never see in Barcelona.

Winner: Madrid

Access to the Rest of Spain

Michael Reeve/Moment/Getty Images

Heard of Toledo and Segovia ? They're both near Madrid. The satellite cities around Madrid are some of Spain's most interesting and diverse. Barcelona also has some good day trips, including Figueres (for the Dali museum) and Sitges (for the beach), but Madrid's day trips are unbeatable.

When it comes to exploring the rest of Spain, Madrid's central location makes it far superior to the north-eastern Barcelona. The AVE train can get you to many Spanish cities incredibly quickly, while normal trains and buses will get you everywhere else.

Architecture

Patrice_Audet/Pixabay

Architecture is the main reason tourists visit Barcelona . Most of Gaudi's madcap modernist buildings are in Barcelona and it is in these designs that the city's reputation is hinged. Madrid has some attractive buildings, especially along Gran Via, but it can't compete with Barcelona.

Winner: Barcelona

Grant Faint/Getty Images

Catalan cuisine is well respected throughout Spain. Not far from the touristy areas of Barcelona you'll find some great food , but it takes more effort than in Madrid , and you'll always end up paying more. A good tour company, such as Food Lovers Company, can ensure you're not disappointed.

Eating out in Madrid is less difficult. The restaurant scene in the capital takes in all the regions of Spain and countries of the world and it isn't spoiled by the kind of tourist-focussed eateries that plague Barcelona.

Learning Spanish

TripSavvy / Paula Galindo Valle

Though both cities have an abundance of language schools, language exchange evenings, and people looking to meet and practice their language skills, the important thing to remember is that the main language in Barcelona is Catalan, not (Castilian) Spanish .

For this reason, alone, Madrid wins.

Winner : Madrid 

Bruce Yuanyue Bi/Getty Images

Madrid has three of Spain's most famous art museums : the Prado (which ranks up there with the Louvre for pre-20th century art), the modern art of the Reina Sofia (featuring Picasso's masterpiece, the Guernica), and the Thyssen-Bornemisza, said to be one of the best private art collections in the world.

Barcelona is not short of art museums, with the Picasso museum being the most famous, Madrid is a clear winner here.

SteveAllenPhoto/Twenty20

Barcelona has a beach , Madrid doesn't. Or at least not a real one. But in 2011, Madrid council unveiled Madrid Rio , a new complex by the Manzanares river publicized as having its own beach, but it doesn't really—just a place to sunbathe (the Retiro Park as just as good for this). But if you want a real beach, you need a coast. There are plenty of beaches in Barcelonas , as well as just outside its borders, making this city a good destination for catching some rays.

Alexander Spatari/Getty Images

It would be difficult to argue anything other than Barcelona for this one. Barcelona's proximity to the Mediterranean gives it slightly cooler summers than Madrid, but milder winters and springs . Madrid has great springs and falls, but winter and summer can be a little on the extreme side.

Jordi Vidal/Redferns/Getty Images

Both cities have packed event calendars.

Barcelona has both the Primavera Sound and Sonar music festivals, as well as the neighborhood celebrations of Gracia and Merce. Meanwhile, Madrid's gay district, Chueca, gives Spain one of its most flamboyant carnival seasons (not to mention Gay Pride).

Enrique Pellejer/Getty Images

Kids are well looked after in both Madrid and Barcelona . There are some good science museums in both cities. Kids will appreciate the modern art of Picasso and Dali (perhaps more than most adults), and there's plenty of them in both cities. But it is Barcelona's modernist art that, like with their parents, will capture the children's imagination the most.

Damian Corrigan

Two of the best nightclubs are in Barcelona (Sidecar and Razzmatazz). However, while Barcelona has some great individual bars and clubs, Madrid has whole streets of cool nightspots. Whatever your age or taste in music, Madrid will have somewhere for you.

Allan Baxter/Getty Images

Madrid's appeal is a little more subtle; it takes much longer to get a real feel for the capital than for Barcelona . You could find several reasons for this - the architecture of Barcelona is an obvious point in its favor, as is its setting between the mountains of Montjuic and Tibidabo and its more obvious 'center'. If you only had a weekend in Spain, you'd feel like you 'got' Barcelona much faster than you would Madrid.

On the other hand, the longer you stay in Madrid, the more you'll appreciate it.

Final Score: Tie

Jorg Greuel/Getty Images

Gaudi has a lot to answer for. Through his weird and wacky architecture, Barcelona has become the city that captures the imagination of most visitors to Spain. If you have only a brief time in the city, you cannot fail to be impressed by Barcelona.

But take a little more time and Madrid's charms become apparent. Cheaper, with more variety, better food, and generally more to do than Barcelona, Madrid gets the top prize for a longer trip.

If you're in the south of France and want a quick weekend in Spain and to experience Gaudi's architecture, Barcelona is the one for you. But if you have a week to spare to explore a bit more and you like art, go to Madrid.

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Madrid residents fight against evictions with musical protest

Artists perform during a protest action, in a balcony facing a building whose residents fear they will be evicted in the event of its purchase by a real estate investment fund, in Madrid

Reporting by Catarina Demony, David Latona and Violeta Santos Moura in Madrid Additional reporting by Corina Pons in Madrid Editing by Charlie Devereux and Matthew Lewis

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Madrid-raised German-American breaking news in Spain and Portugal. Previously covered markets in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, with a special focus on chemical companies and regular contributions to Reuters' German-language service. Worked at Spanish news agency EFE (Madrid/Bangkok) and the European Pressphoto Agency (Frankfurt).

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A giant statue of Emperor Constantine looks out over Rome again with help from 3D technology

Visitors admire a massive, 13-meter (yard) replica of the statue Roman Emperor Constantine commissioned for himself after 312 AD that was built using 3D technology from scans of the nine giant original marble body parts that remain, as it was unveiled in Rome, Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024. The imposing figure of a seated emperor, draped in a gilded tunic and holding a scepter and orb, gazing out over his Rome, is located in a side garden of the Capitoline Museums, just around the corner from the courtyard where the original fragments of Constantine’s giant feet, hands and head are prime tourist attractions. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

People admire the surviving portions of the statue of Roman Emperor Constantine the Great (c. 280–337) commissioned for himself after 312 AD, on display in a courtyard of the Capitoline Museums, in Rome, Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024. The museum unveiled in one of its side gardens a massive, 13-meter (yard) replica of the statue built using 3D technology from scans of the nine giant original marble body parts that remain. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

People admire the surviving portions of the statue of Roman emperor Constantine the Great (c. 280–337) commissioned for himself after 312 AD, on display in a courtyard of the Capitoline Museums, in Rome, Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024. The museum unveiled in one of its side gardens a massive, 13-meter (yard) replica of the statue built using 3D technology from scans of the nine giant original marble body parts that remain. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

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ROME (AP) — Emperor Constantine, the 4th century ruler whose embrace of Christianity helped spread the faith throughout the Roman Empire, now has a reconstructed statue befitting his larger-than-life role in history.

Rome authorities on Tuesday unveiled a massive, 13-meter (42.6 feet) replica of the statue Constantine commissioned for himself after 312 AD. It was imagined using 3D modelling technology from scans of the nine giant original marble body parts that remain.

Visitors admire a massive, 13-meter (yard) replica of the statue Roman Emperor Constantine commissioned for himself after 312 AD that was built using 3D technology from scans of the nine giant original marble body parts that remain, as it was unveiled in Rome, Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024. The imposing figure of a seated emperor, draped in a gilded tunic and holding a scepter and orb, gazing out over his Rome, is located in a side garden of the Capitoline Museums, just around the corner from the courtyard where the original fragments of Constantine's giant feet, hands and head are prime tourist attractions. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

The result: An imposing figure of a seated emperor, draped in a gilded tunic and holding a scepter and orb, gazing over his Rome from a side garden of the Capitoline Museums. The reconstructed statue is just around the corner from the museum courtyard where the original fragments of Constantine’s giant feet, hands and head are prime tourist attractions.

Reconstituted into its original whole, the statue inspires awe in the smaller viewers below – just as Constantine originally intended for his subjects, officials said at the unveiling.

“In this statue there’s not just beauty, there’s the violence of power,” said Salvatore Settis, an archaeologist and art historian who is on the steering committee of the Fondazione Prada, the cultural and educational arm of the Milan-based fashion house which financed the project.

Officials declined to say how much the initiative cost, but the replica was made by the Factum Foundation, a Madrid-based nonprofit that creates high-resolution digital replicas of the world’s cultural patrimony.

Pakistan's former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, center, and his daughter Maryam Nawaz, right, waves to their supporters as they arrive to address an election campaign rally in Hafizabad, Pakistan, Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024. More than 120 million voters in Pakistan get to elect a new parliament on Thursday. The elections are the twelfth in the country's 76-year history, which has been marred by economic crises, military takeovers and martial law, militancy, political upheavals and wars with India. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)

“This whole dynamic about how you use technology to transform our understanding of and the importance of cultural heritage is the core mission of Factum Foundation,” said the group’s founder Adam Lowe.

The statue itself is made from resin, polyurethane and marble powder for the body, and gold leaf and plaster for the gilded tunic that drapes over it.

A second version of the statue is to be installed in northeast England, where Constantine guarded the Hadrian’s Wall fortification before being crowned emperor in Rome.

madrid tourism reddit

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COMMENTS

  1. Just got back from a great trip to Madrid

    r/Madrid • 2 yr. ago Flickerdart Just got back from a great trip to Madrid - these were our highlights First off, let me say that we are fairly frequent travelers, and Madrid is easily within the top 5 places I have been in the world.

  2. Recent trip to Madrid. I loved the city! If you're ...

    If you can stay in Toledo do it! We took the 7am train from Madrid and spent the whole day exploring. I got a deal at our hotel that included a free bracelet that lets you explore a lot of attractions for free as much as you want and you can keep it on for a couple of days and keep using it, lots of El Greco one of my fave artists, including a free museum in the Jewish quarter.

  3. Advice for Traveling to Madrid : r/travel

    r/travel • 2 yr. ago jarcart Advice for Traveling to Madrid Question I'll be studying abroad in Madrid for two months this summer starting in late May/early June and am seeking tips, precautions, and any other information that may be helpful.

  4. Common Tourist Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them) : r/Madrid

    r/Madrid • 5 yr. ago PeleMaradona Common Tourist Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them) Will be visiting Madrid in a few weeks. What in your opinion are some common tourist mistakes? And, how should one avoid them? Thanks. 15 Sort by: Add a Comment [deleted] • 5 yr. ago leaving your bags unattended in popular areas

  5. What should a tourist do in Madrid? : r/spain

    10 comments Best Add a Comment [deleted] • 8 yr. ago Tourist? Check out our Madrid Tourism Wiki! http://www.reddit.com/r/Madrid/wiki/index 4 DesiGuy82 • 8 yr. ago Thank you, Wiki was amazing, I have printed it out, so I can study it in detail. Toledo via the fast train is on the list of must do!

  6. Visiting Madrid for 4.5 days

    Visiting Madrid for 4.5 days - where to stay? Hello redditors, We are two New Yorkers traveling to Madrid in early October, and we can't seem to decide which area to stay in. So I'm hoping you will be able to help me out!

  7. Public Transport in Madrid for Tourists? : r/Madrid

    Public Transport in Madrid for Tourists? : r/Madrid r/Madrid • 1 yr. ago thunderbirdsetup Public Transport in Madrid for Tourists? Hey! I will be coming to Madrid in 2 days, and I would like to ask what the best way to get around using public transport is. I assume it's some combination of buses and metro/train. How exactly is this carried out?

  8. Madrid vs Barcelona, which is better for a solo female traveller?

    Madrid! If you want a more authentic Spanish experience, Madrid is the way to go. It feels more like a real city than a tourist destination and the museums are incredible. El Prado is enormous and you could easily spend 7-8 hours there.

  9. Is it worth visiting the royal palace?

    7 reviews 7 helpful votes Is it worth visiting the royal palace? Apr 6, 2023, 5:33 AM Save Is it worth to visit the royal palace inside the building or it's waste of time aka tourist trap? Reply Report inappropriate content 11 replies to this topic 1-10 of 11 replies Sorted by « 1 2 » davidblades Rutland, United... Level Contributor 9,689 posts

  10. 26 UNIQUE Things to Do in Madrid [in 2024]

    26 Top Things to Do in Madrid on ANY Budget (2024) With state-of-the-art museums and historic landmarks, Madrid is a city that comfortably straddles both its past and its present! It's so full of interactive classes, walking tours and precious art that you may find it difficult deciding how to spend your time.

  11. 20 Essential Tips for Visiting Madrid Like a Total Pro

    Tip #2. The daily visits to the Royal Palace, one of Spain's biggest landmarks, are limited. The palace also offers free admission at certain times, but guided tours are not included, and it only applies to some people (like EU citizens). See the full terms here.

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  13. 15 Best Things to Do in Madrid (Spain)

    1. The Prado Source: ItzaVU / shutterstock Museo del Prado Absolutely essential, the Prado is one of the best and most popular art museums in the world. There's an overwhelming collection of masterpieces by renaissance and baroque masters.

  14. 12 best things to do in Madrid

    1. Visit the Golden Triangle of Art Madrid's "Golden Triangle of Art" consists of three renowned museums, the Museo del Prado, Reina Sofía and the Thyssen-Bornemisza, which are home to some of the world's most valuable art collections. Even if you're not typically the gallery type, a stop at one of these venues is an essential Madrid experience.

  15. Madrid Forum, Travel Discussion for Madrid, Spain

    Jan 07, 2024. by like2roam. 3 nights in Madrid with 13 year old daughter. by LouWatts. 2. Jan 06, 2024. by Revulgo. Bag storage MAD airport and a. by FindingJoyMiddleAge.

  16. Where to Stay in Madrid: The BEST Areas in 2024

    1. Puerta Del Sol Neighborhood - Best Place in Madrid for First Timers. Centro Madrid - Puerta Del Sol is the heart of the city. This downtown neighborhood is where you'll find grand avenues, stunning architecture, delicious restaurants, and a constant capital city of Europe buzz as life flies past everyone.

  17. 23 Top-Rated Things to Do in Madrid

    Last updated on July 19, 2023 The Spanish capital has its own brand of hustle and bustle, providing visitors with an authentic experience across an urban landscape of green spaces and...

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  19. Things Tourists Should Never Do In Madrid

    Lori Zaino 14 November 2023 Seeing Madrid as a tourist is amazing, thanks to the city's towering monuments, impressive museums and its vibrant energy. However, if you want to fit in like a local and have a safe and comfortable experience, follow these tips. Here are things tourists should never do in Madrid, the capital of Spain.

  20. 9 Best Areas to Stay in Madrid For Tourists

    Sol - Best Area for Sightseeing. If you're looking for the best area to stay in Madrid for sightseeing and first-time visitors to the city, then staying in the Madrid Centro or Sol neighbourhood is an excellent option. So-called because of its proximity to the Puerta del Sol, this is the absolute centre of the Spanish capital and is within ...

  21. What is the best time to visit Madrid?

    The tourist peak season in Madrid starts at the end of June so prices will be a little bit higher. But you should not expect crowds when visiting the most popular attractions in Madrid. Visit Madrid in July. July is the hottest month of the year and most locals are already starting their vacations and running away to milder areas at the seaside.

  22. THE 15 BEST Things to Do in Madrid

    Things to Do in Madrid Book a cultural tour for access to museums, the Royal Palace of Madrid, and day trips to Toledo. Fuel up on food (tapas, anyone?) before checking out the nightlife. Explore popular experiences See what other travelers like to do, based on ratings and number of bookings. Bus Tours (379) Cultural Tours (523)

  23. Should You Visit Madrid or Barcelona? A City to City Comparison

    01 of 13 Value for Money Lonely Planet/Getty Images Barcelona is a much more touristy city than Madrid. And tourists bring prices up. It's not that Barcelona doesn't have cheap things to do, it's just that there are much more of them in Madrid.

  24. Madrid residents fight against evictions with musical protest

    Madrid-raised German-American breaking news in Spain and Portugal. Previously covered markets in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, with a special focus on chemical companies and regular ...

  25. A giant statue of Emperor Constantine looks over Rome again

    Rome authorities on Tuesday unveiled a massive, 13-meter (42.6 feet) replica of the statue Constantine commissioned for himself after 312 AD. It was imagined using 3D modelling technology from scans of the nine giant original marble body parts that remain. Visitors admire a massive, 13-meter (yard) replica of the statue Roman Emperor ...