Where do you want to travel?

Hotel Advance Search

Madrid Attractions You Need to Visit Before You Die

Madrid Attractions You Need to Visit Before You Die

One of the best photo spots in Madrid is where Calle de Alcala meets the Gran Via

One of the best photo spots in Madrid is where Calle de Alcala meets the Gran Via | © LucVi / Getty Images

Madrid might not have the status of Rome or Paris in terms of sights, but the capital of Spain is a pleasure to explore. From historical gems and world-class art, to an incredible food scene and picturesque parks, Culture Trip takes a look at the top attractions in Madrid to visit.

Did you know that Culture Trip now does premium bookable trips? Not only that, but they’re packed with authentic local experiences, unique activities and one-off accommodations. You’ll love them.

Plaza Mayor

Contents hide
20 San Gines
20.1 Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel – and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Historical Landmark, Architectural Landmark

Empty tables and blurry figures walking through Plaza Mayor in Madrid, Spain, at dusk

© Benedek/Getty Images

Madrid’s main square holds centuries of history in its cobbles, and has been the scene of everything from coronations to bullfights and beheadings. These days it’s a nice place in which to stroll and sample one of the city’s famous foods: calamari bocadillo (a calamari sandwich) from one of the bars surrounding the square.

Royal Palace of Madrid

Building, Historical Landmark

The impressive columned facade of the Royal Palace of Madrid, with gardens and trees out front

© LunaMarina/Getty Images

The official residence of Spain’s royal family is these days used for official ceremonies only (King Felipe and Queen Letizia live in the more modest Zarzuela Palace just outside Madrid). Members of the public can visit the palace and check out centuries worth of paintings, furniture and armour.

Retiro Park


People rowing in the pond next to the Monument to Alfonso XII of Spain, in the Retiro Park (Parque del Retiro) in Madrid

© Mauro Repossini / Getty Images

Madrid’s most beautiful park is the ideal place to spend a lazy afternoon enjoying a picnic and messing about in a rowing boat on the lake.

Temple of Debod

Archaeological site

The ancient Egyptian Temple of Debod, surrounded by water, in Madrid

© Sergeyryzhov / iStock

Madrid’s very own Egyptian temple was bestowed on the country by Egypt and moved, piece by piece, in the early 1970s. It is one of the best places to watch the sun set in Madrid.

KIO Towers

Architectural Landmark

Leaning towers of Madrid (Puerta de Europa), two modern towers of glass and steel, and one of stone in the middle

© Ljupco / iStock

The seemingly gravity defying KIO towers in Madrid’s Financial District lean at a 15-degree angle, and were the first leaning skyscrapers in the world.

Gran Via

Architectural Landmark

Cars and people along Gran Via lit up at night at sunset in Madrid

© Basiczto/Getty Images

Madrid’s most famous street has a cinematic scope that has seen it star in Abre Los Ojos (the original Spanish-language movie of the 2001 Tom Cruise remake, VAnilla Sky). Head to the top of the Corte Ingles Gourmet Experience for a great view of the street’s famous Schweppes sign.

Spain is read with unmissable cities – and after you’ve ticked off Madrid, Seville should be next on your list. Our four day Minitrip to the city takes in a visit to the stunning Royal Alcázar, and the Santa Cruz neighborhood.

Rooftop bars in Madrid

Bars, Cocktails

Tables and chairs on the rooftop terrace of Circulo Bellas Artes, overlooking the city

Courtesy of Circulo Bellas Artes

Head to one of Madrid’s rooftop bars for an unforgettable view over the city’s rooftops. We recommend Circle of Bellas Artes for the best panoramic view of the capital.

Puerto del Sol

Historical Landmark

Crowds walking around Puerta del Sol in Madrid

© LucVi / Getty Images

All roads in Spain lead to the Puerta del Sol, known as kilometer zero and the very center of the country. It is also home to the famous statue of the bear and the strawberry tree, the official symbol of Madrid.

The Golden Triangle of Art

Art Gallery, Museum

The exterior of the Museo del Prado, with columns and statues along the facade, and green lawns

© Jorg Greuel / Getty Images

Madrid is home to a collection of the world’s best art galleries, and the three most famous are handily located close to each other in a triangle. The Prado (classical paintings), The Reina Sofia (modern art) and the Thyssen-Bornemisza (a little bit of everything) are full of artistic riches well worth exploring.

If Barcelona is an architectural feast for the eyes, our private four-day Mini Trip is an all-you-can-see buffet. From the brilliant madness of Gaudi’s constructions, to wandering the Gothic Quarter with our Local Insider, it’s all served up on a platter for you.

Palace of Cibeles

Architectural Landmark

The fountain with a statue of a chariot at Plaza de Cibeles in Madrid, lit up at night

© Kasto80 / Getty Images

This grand building was, amazingly, the headquarters of Madrid’s post office until 2011. Today it is the home of Madrid City Council and a visitor attraction because of the incredible views from its observation deck.

Calle De Cava Baja

Bar, Restaurant, Tapas

A tapas bar, La Chata, heavily decorated with tiles in the calle de la Cava Baja in Madrid

© Peter Eastland / Alamy

The ideal spot for a tapas crawl, Cava Baja is Madrid’s famous ‘tapas street’ and on an evening is teeming with people enjoying a drink and a bite. Highly recommended are The PerijilaTxakolina and El Tempranillo.

Sobrino de Botin


The wood-paneled exterior of Sobrino De Botin, the oldest restaurant in the world

© Samuel de Roman/Getty Images

Madrid is home to what is officially the oldest restaurant in the world – it has the Guinness World Record certificate in the window to prove it. Sobrino de Botin was founded in 1725 and has been going strong ever since. Its specialty is roast suckling pig and it appears in Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises.

Cine Dore

Building, Cinema, Movie Theater

The peach and beige ornate exterior of Cine Dore Cinema, with elaborate columns at the entrance

© iStock Editorial / Getty Images Plus

This old cinema shows classic Hollywood and modern films from around the world for a bargain €2.50. Its tumultuous history saw it bombed during the Spanish Civil War, but today it is home to the Filmoteca Española, which restores and preserves old films as part of Spain’s Ministry of Culture. It appears in Pedro Almodóvar’s Hable con Ella (Talk to Her).

Plaza Dos de Mayo

Historical Landmark

Monument to Luis Daoiz and Pedro Velarde, heroes of the Spanish war of independence, in Plaza dos de Mayo

© Peter Eastland / Alamy

This square is in the heart of the trendy neighborhood of Malasaña and is surrounded by a host of excellent bars, restaurants and shops – a great location for nightlife in Madrid.

El Rastro


People at the famous El Rastro market in the La Latina / La Ribera neighborhood in Madrid

© Page Light Studios / Getty Images

Madrid’s famous flea market is held every Sunday morning, when the streets come to life with stalls, bars open out onto the streets and locals and tourists alike enjoy the fiesta atmosphere around the area of ​​Lavapies.

Almudena Cathedral


People walking around the square in front of the majestic Cathedral of Madrid at sunset

© LucVi / Getty Images

Madrid’s cathedral was consecrated by Pope John Paul on its opening in 1993. Its Baroque exterior matches the older Royal Palace next door, and it was where King Felipe and Queen Letizia married.

Barrio de Las Letras

Historical Landmark

The colourful, tiled exterior of Viva Madrid restaurant, with outdoor seating at the entrance

© Wiskerke / Alamy

Barrio de Las Letras (Literary Quarter) is one of Madrid’s most beautiful and coolest neighbourhoods. It was the home of Spanish literary giant and Don Quixote author, Miguel de Cervantes, and these days is full of eccentric bars and restaurants. Make sure to look down once in a while; the streets are peppered with famous literary quotes.

Atocha Train Station

Monastery, Train Station

Palm trees and other plants in the station hall at Atocha train station in Madrid

© Eloi Omella/Getty Images

Madrid’s main train has a very unusual feature – its very own indoor rainforest, home to dozens of turtles.


Art Gallery

A woman walking along the street outside Matadero Arts Center

© Alberto Manuel Urosa Toledano / Getty Images

This form matadero(slaughterhouse) – situated along the River Manzanares – was converted into an arts center in the early 2000s. It has its own cinema and exhibition spaces and holds regular performances and food markets.

San Gines

Bar, Cafe, Restaurant, Dessert Shop, Candy Store, Spanish, Dessert

Tables and chairs, with customers, outside Chocolateria San Gines with its neon sign in Madrid

© Serge Yatunin / Getty Images

You cannot possibly leave Madrid without trying chocolate churros (sugar-drenched deep-fried dough sticks with hot chocolate) from San Gineswhich has been serving since 1894. It is open all night long, so is a great pitstop on the way home from a night on the town.

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel – and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travelers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Epic Trips, Mini Trips and Sailing Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers and friends who want to explore the world together.

Epic Trips are deeply immersive 8 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and enough down time to really relax and soak it all in. Our Mini Trips are small and mighty – they squeeze all the excitement and authenticity of our longer Epic Trips into a manageable 3-5 day window. Our Sailing Trips invite you to spend a week experiencing the best of the sea and land in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm – and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset – and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Explore Latest Hotel Deals

Westin ExcelsiorWestin Excelsior $282Rome, Italy
The BayleafThe Bayleaf $93Manila, Philippines
Hotel Nikko PrincessHotel Nikko Princess $126Kyoto, Japan
Mandalay Bay ResortMandalay Bay Resort $249Las Vegas Strip, Las Vegas
%d bloggers like this: