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What to see in Madrid: the city’s top attractions

Madrid is a top destination for out-of-towners and foreign tourists alike. Cosmopolitan, beautiful, fun and friendly, there is something around every corner to discover – both day and night. Come explore this vibrant city with family, friends or on your own. Madrid will welcome you with open arms and immerse you in its hospitality and warmth. Read on to discover the most iconic attractions of a city steeped in history.

1. THE TOP 11 SIGHTS OF MADRID

Museo del Prado

The Museo del Prado was the first museum ever to be inaugurated in Spain and some say in the world. More than 8,000 works of art from some of the greatest artists in history are housed in this architectural jewel, including the not-to-be-missed Velázquez and Goya collections. Paseo del Prado.

Museo del Prado Museo del Prado

Parque del Retiro

This immense, lush, green oasis is tucked right in the city centre and is one of the most beautiful parks to enjoy a leisurely walk. On Sundays, the Parque del Retiro becomes a lively jamboree of street musicians and puppet shows, and families gather for bike rides and strolls. Why not rent a rowing boat and glide over the waters of the pond under the monumental statue of Alfonso XII? The park also houses the impression 19th-century exhibition venues of Palacio de Velázquez and Palacio de Cristal.

Parque del Retiro Parque del Retiro

Puerta del Sol

The geographical centre of Madrid is identified by a small stone slab that marks the exact point of Kilometre Zero, the starting point for all the motorways of Spain. The oval-shaped Puerta del Sol square is the most vibrant and bustling area in the city and is presided by the grandiose 18th-century Casa de Correos, the city’s former main post office. The square is even more fervent on New Year’s Eve when the building’s emblematic clock counts down to the New Year.

Puerta del Sol Puerta del Sol

Gran Vía

The origins of Madrid’s transformation into a modern capital began with the inauguration of the Gran Via in the early 20th century. The grand boulevard set the cityscape for the construction of some of the city’s most iconic landmarks, such as the towering Telefónica Building and the stunning Art Deco Capitol building. Today, the beautiful boulevard is a top entertainment destination, lined with theatres, movie theatres, restaurants, hotels and shops.

Gran Vía Gran Vía

Plaza Mayor

The beautiful Plaza Mayor has hosted a whole host of different events, from bullfights to festivals, and even executions, since it was inaugurated in 1620. There is a statue of Felipe III of Spain on horseback in the middle of the cobble-stoned square. The buildings around the square house flats and the historical landmarks of the Casa de la Panadería and the Casa de la Carnicería.

Plaza Mayor Plaza Mayor

Palacio Real

The bright-white stone and granite Palacio Real de Madrid is the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family. The building is as lavish inside as it is outside. Come discover this testament of Spain’s past imperial grandiosity. The spectacular main stairway is made entirely of marble and was designed by the Italian architect, Francesco Sabatini. The ceilings of the Salón de Guardias (the Guards’ Quarters) and the Salón del Trono (the Thone Room) are adorned with frescos by Giambattista Tiépolo, while the gala dining room is lined with an impressive collection of paintings, frescos and tapestries by the likes of Anton Raphael Mengs, González Velázquez and Francisco Bayeu. Be sure to visit the Real Armería, the Museo de Carruajes Reales and the expansive, French-style Sabatini Gardens. Calle Bailén.

Palacio Real Palacio Real

Estadio Santiago Bernabéu

The Santiago Bernabéu Stadium is the iconic home ground of the Real Madrid Football Club. It first opened its doors in 1941and has undergone several refurbishments since, including the addition of access ramps. It currently has a seating capacity of 81,000. This is a not-to-be-missed attraction for football fans. Book a Bernabéu Tour to discover this historical building and the incredible legacy of one of the greatest football teams of all times. Avenida Concha Espina, 1

Santiago Bernabeu Santiago Bernabeu

Templo de Debod

Discover the spectacular architecture of an ancient Egyptian temple from 200 BC right in the centre of Madrid. The Egyptian state donated the building to Spain as a sign of gratitude for the help Spain provided in saving the Nubia Temples. The Temple of Debod was opened to the public in 1972 and is one of the city’s most popular attractions.

Templo de Debod Templo de Debod

Catedral de la Almudena

The Catedral de la Almudena is adjacent to the Palacio Real and was built on the site where once stood a mosque. The construction of the stoic cathedral began in 1897 and ended almost 100 years later, in 1992, and is dedicated to the Virgen of Almudena, the patroness of Madrid. It was consecrated by Pope John Paul II in 1993. The Royal Monarchs, King Felipe IV and Queen Letizia, were married here in 2004. Calle Bailén, 10

Catedral de la Almudena Catedral de la Almudena

Puerta de Alcalá

The neo-classical triumphal arch is one of the five royal gates that gave access to the city in the 18th century and a key landmark of the Madrid cityscape. It is regarded as the first modern post-Roman triumphal arch built in Europe, older than the Arc of Triomphe (Paris) and the Brandenburg Gate (Berlin). Francisco Sabatini was commissioned by King Carlos III to build this white stone and granite monumental gate to replace the then-existing dreary-looking gate. Puerta de Alcalá was inaugurated in 1778 and is located just opposite the main entrance to the Parque del Retiro. Plaza de la Independencia.

Puerta de Alcalá Puerta de Alcalá

Plaza de Toros de las Ventas

Plaza de Toros de las Ventas is the most prestigious bullring in the world. It is also largest bullring in Spain and the third largest in the world, right after Mexico City and Valencia (Venezuela).  It has a seating capacity of 23,798 and was declared a historical-artistic cultural heritage monument thanks to the incredible architecture and ceramic representations. A must-see attraction. Calle Alcalá, 237

Las Ventas Las Ventas

2. MADRID MUSEUMS

Art lovers will be spoilt by the calibre of the incredible museums in Madrid. The Museo del Prado may be No.1 on your list but the exceptionally curated collections at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, the Museo Reina Sofía or the Museo de Sorolla are all worth a visit.

Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza

The Museo Thyssen is part of the ‘Golden Triangle of Art’, alongside the Museo del Prado and Reina Sofia, and is housed in the Palacio de Villahermosa.  The art collection was initially private before being acquired by the Spanish government in 1993. It includes works of art by Manet, Renoir, Cézanne, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Hopper, among others. Visitors can also admire over 200 works of art from the Baroness Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza’s private art collection. Paseo del Prado, 8

Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza

Museo Reina Sofía

The central building of the Museo Reina Sofía was originally an 18th-century hospital designed by Sabatini. The 2005 extension was created by the French architect Jean Nouvel. The museum is home to some of the most important modernist and contemporary works of art from the 20th and 21st century, including Picasso’s Guernica, and other masterpieces from Dalí, Miró, Julio González and Chillida. Calle de Santa Isabel, 58.

Museo Reina Sofía Museo Reina Sofía

Museo Sorolla

The Museo Sorolla is an ode to the great Impressionist Valencian painter, Joaquin Sorolla. Located in what was once his studio and home, it became a museum upon his widow’s death. Everything was left as-is and visitors can visit his studio and workshop, where there are several of his personal belongings on display. The museum also features some of the artist’s most significant works of art. Discover the gorgeous gardens surrounding the mansion, which includes a beautiful marble fountain and pergola. Paseo del General Martínez Campos, 37.

Museo Sorolla Museo Sorolla

3. PARKS AND GARDENS

The Parque del Retiro is not the only green space in Madrid where you can enjoy a leisurely stroll among nature. There are many other lush parks and gardens such as the Casa de Campo, the Jardines de Sabatini, the Campo del Moro, Madrid Río, and the Parque del Capricho de la Alameda or the 18th-century Real Jardín Botánico.

Casa de Campo

The Casa de Campo is the largest public park in Madrid, spanning more than 1,500 hectares. The amusement park, the Parque de Atracciones de Madrid, the Madrid Zoo, a cable car, a lake, and many other sports recreational buildings are located in the park.

Casa de Campo Casa de Campo

Jardines de Sabatini

The perfectly landscaped Jardines de Sabatini are nestled between the Palacio Real and the Temple of Debod, right in the old quarters of Madrid. The gardens were named after the 18th-century Italian architect, Giambattista Sabatini, who designed several royal landmarks in the city. The royal stables were located in the garden grounds before they were torn down to make way for the Neoclassical gardens, comprised of geometrical hedges and adorned with a pool, fountains and the statues of Spanish kings. The peaceful enclave is a great spot to view the majestic palace. Bailén, 2.

Jardines de Sabatini Jardines de Sabatini

Campo del Moro

The 19th-centry, English-style Campo del Moro was spearheaded by Queen Maria Cristina, and is one of the three beautiful gardens surrounding the Palacio Real. The 20 hectares of gardens feature two incredible fountains: the Fuente de los Tritones (Fountain of Tritons) and the Fuente de las Conchas (Fountain of Conch Shells). The latter was designed by the architectural genius, Ventura Rodríguez. Paseo de la Virgen del Puerto.

Campo del moro Campo del moro

Madrid Río

Madrid Río is an expansive city park located along the Manzanares River, offering ample recreational and cultural facilities and gorgeous views of the Palacio Real and the Catedral de la Almudena. There are 17 playground areas, featuring eco-swings, and the Playa de Madrid Río, where you can go for a refreshing dip or splash around the water jets on a hot summer day.

Madrid Rio Madrid Rio

El Capricho de la Alameda

Founded in 1784 by the culturally minded Dukes of Osuna, the Parque del Capricho de la Alameda de Osuna in another example of Madrid’s stunning parks. It blends Italian, French and English landscaping influences to create a unique, romantic space, dotted with temples, shrines, fountains, little squares and even a palace, where the Dukes lived.

Parque del Capricho Parque del Capricho

Jardín Botánico

The Jardín Botánico is located in a prime area, right next to the Paseo del Prado and the Glorieta de Atocha, and dates back to 1755. Peace reigns in this tiny haven of nature, with more than 30,000 types of exotic plants, flowers and trees from all over the world. Come discover the fascinating collection and maybe learn a thing or two about botany. Plaza de Murillo, 2.

Jardín Botánico Jardín Botánico

4. THE NEIGHBOURHOODS OF MADRID

Sol-Gran Vía

The area around Puerta del Sol and Gran Vía is where you’ll discover the essence of Madrid. The heart of Madrid houses the city’s highest concentration of traditional shops, historical landmarks, unique theatres, and bustling streets. There is no better place to soak up the vibrant energy of this dazzling city.

Sol Gran Vía Gran Vía

La Latina

La Latina, also known as ´Madrid de los Asturias´, is the most historic and authentic neighbourhood of Madrid, together with Lavapiés. Narrow, cobblestoned streets and majestic squares make up the quaint, medieval quarters. These streets are lined with shops, restaurants, terraces, music venues and theatres. Grab a drink and tapa at any of the fabulous bars and restaurants lining the boisterous streets of La Cava Alta and la Cava Baja. Or, head to Plaza de Plaza and sit down at any of the terraces. There are also beautiful, historical landmarks, such as Puerta de Toledo, Puerta Cerrada and Los Jardines de las Vistillas. The Rastro is the city’s most popular open-air flea market and is held every Sunday.

La latina La Latina

Las Letras

This neighbourhood owes its name to the great writers of the Spanish Golden Age who called this area home. The Barrio de las Letras is nestled between Paseo del Prado and Plaza Santa Ana. It is almost entirely pedestrian friendly, making it a fun destination to meander and discover the small shops and restaurants. Be sure to visit Casa-Museo de Lope de Vega and Iglesia de San Sebastián, where Cervantes is buried

Las Letras Plaza de Santa Ana, en el barrio de Las Letras

Barrio de Salamanca

Dubbed the Golden Mile, Barrio de Salamanca is by far the most glamourous and elegant neighbourhood of all Madrid. The boutiques of high-end designers line the boulevards of José Ortega y Gasset, Goya and Serrano. Squeeze in some culture between your shopping by visiting the Museo Arqueológico Nacional, the Museo Lázaro Galdiano or the Fundación Juan March. This area also has some top restaurants and markets you can enjoy day and night.

Barrio de Salamanca Barrio de Salamanca

Chueca

The hip and trendy neighbourhood of Chueca is filled with unique shops, art galleries, restaurants and bars. It has a buzzing nightlife scene and is the epicentre of Gay Pride festivities held every July.

Chueca

Chamberí

The stately neighbourhood of Chamberí is dotted with beautiful modernist palaces, home to aristocrats and gentry of Madrid during the 19th and 20th centuries. Today, many of these building house embassies, boutique hotels, theatres and restaurants. This area also boasts one of the cities ‘Golden Culinary Miles’, Calle Ponzano, and a vast selection of cultural attractions, including Museo Sorolla and Teatros del Canal.

Chamberí Barrio de Chamberí

Malasaña

Malasaña may be Madrid’s party destination per excellence but it’s a great place to discover during the day, too. There are cute, little shops and restaurants, markets and museums. Come night time, hundreds of bars swing their doors open, inviting passer-by’s to discover what going out in Madrid is all about. The neighbourhood is bounded by Fuencarral, Carranza, Alberto Aguilera, Princesa and Gran Vía.

Barrio de Malasaña Barrio de Malasaña

Barrio de Lavapiés

Lavapiés is a multicultural melting pot where traditional Spanish coexists with foreign cultures. You can enjoy typical Spanish food, such as churros or torreznos (pork crackling), or opt for some more-exotic Indian food. There are also two excellent cultural centres: La Casa Encendida and Tabacalera.

Lavapies Barrio de Lavapies

5. THE SQUARES OF MADRID

There are hundreds of beautiful squares all around the city, including the iconic Plaza de España, Cibeles, Colón, Oriente, Santa Ana and Callao. Which one will be your favourite?

Plaza de España

Plaza de España is a symbol of post war Spain with the emblematic landmarks of Torre de Madrid and Edificio España. These two buildings were designed by Otamendi brothers in the 1940s and 1950s. There is a monumental statue of Miguel de Cervantes in the centre of the square, which was erected in 1916 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the death of the author of Don Quixote.

Plaza de España Plaza de España

Cibeles

Located in the epicentre of Madrid, right where the streets of Alcalá and Paseo de Recoletos intersect sits the stunning Plaza de Cibeles. The grandiose fountain was designed in 1782 by Ventura Rodríguez, a renowned architect from Madrid. The square is bounded by Palacio de Buenavista, Palacio de Linares, Banco de España and Palacio de Comunicaciones – today the head office of Madrid City Council.

Plaza de Cibeles Plaza de Cibeles

Colón

Plaza de Colón and its statue commemorate the explorer Christopher Columbus. The square sits at the intersection between Paseo de la Castellana and Recoletos. There is also the gourmet food hall Platea located at one end of the square, and to the side, the twin towers of Torres Colón and lovely gardens of Jardines del Descubrimiento. It’s impossible to miss the square, just look for the colossal flag of Spain waving in the wind.

Colón Plaza de Colón

Plaza de Oriente

This charming square joins the Palacio Real and the Teatro Real de Madrid, and is completely pedestrian friendly. Plaza de Oriente was designed in 1844 during the reign of Queen Isabel II. Twenty statues of Spanish monarchs line the square, including a fountain with a statue of King Felipe IV on horseback.

Plaza de Oriente Plaza de Oriente

Santa Ana

Located in Barrio de las Letras, Plaza de Santa Ana is an ideal destination if you are looking for a place to enjoy a lazy meal at one of its inviting restaurants. The square also houses the Teatro Español, which dates back to medieval times when it was an open-air theatre, and two iconic statues of the poet Federico García Lorca and the playwright of the Spanish Golden Age, Calderón de la Barca.

Plaza de Santa Ana Plaza de Santa Ana

Callao

Plaza de Callao sits adjacent to one of the busiest commercial areas in the world. The streets of Preciados and del Carmen and the century-old Gran Vía branch off this lively square that more than 113 million people cross every year. It makes for the perfect meeting point before venturing into the heart of Madrid. The square is flanked by the following landmarks: Edificio Carrión, Palacio de la Prensa, FNAC Building and Callao Movie Theatre.

Plaza de Callao Vistas desde la Plaza de Callao

6. ATTRACTIONS IN AND AROUND MADRID

There is simply so much to see and do in Madrid that is impossible to cram them all into one getaway. Nevertheless, if you would like to discover what else the city has to offer, read on to discover our favourite destinations! They include a visit to the Warner Bros. Park, the Madrid Zoo, the premium outlet Las Rozas Village, the gourmet food hall Mercado San Miguel, the city’s incredible theatre and musical scene and, last but not least, the hottest restaurants everyone is talking about.

Parque Warner

Why not make it a day with the family or Friends at Warner Bros. Park? This is a destination that is loved by both children and adults. The theme park is divided into five themed areas based on DC Comic and Looney Tunes characters. There are 42 different rides for you to choose from, including the world’s fourth tallest drop tower. It is located just outside the city, in the municipality of San Martín de la Vega. Motorway A4, Exit 22. San Martín de la Vega

Parque Warner Parque Warner

Zoo Aquarium

The 22,000 hectare Zoo Aquarium de Madrid is a wonderful destination for getting up close and personal with 4,000 animals from 500 different species from across the world. Lions, zebras, elephants, dolphins, condors and panda bears are just some of the animals waiting to join your Instagram feed. Casa de Campo

Zoo Aquarium Zoo Aquarium

Las Rozas Village

If your idea of a perfect day is a day of shopping, then Las Rozas Village is your next stop! Come discover high-end brands at incredible prices – up to 60% off!  You can find everything you need: clothing, accessories, shoes, and leather goods from top designers. There are more than 100 different boutiques for you to discover. Truly, a shopper’s paradise. Carretera A6, salida 19. Las Rozas

Las Rozas Village Pareja comprando en Las Rozas Village

Teatro y musicales

Madrid has its very own Broadway with Gran Vía, where the highest concentration of theatres is located. However, it’s not the only place where you can catch a musical, play or show. The city has a vibrant performing arts scene so check out what’s on during your stay.

Teatros y musicales Teatros y musicales

Mercado de San Miguel

Located right by Plaza Mayor, the iron-wrought and glass Mercado de San Miguel is one of the grand monuments of the Spanish culinary scene. This century-old food market was refurbished to create a gourmet food hall where visitors can savour typical dishes from Madrid and other Spanish regions: from jamón ibérico to paella, as well as gourmet tapas and products prepared by renowned Spanish chefs. The place is a popular destination so be ready to bump some elbows. Plaza de San Miguel

Mercado de San Miguel Mercado de San Miguel

Restaurantes de moda en Madrid

Madrid is one of the great culinary destinations in the world, and it has an abundance of above-par restaurants that won’t leave you out of pocket. The range of restaurants means there is something for every palate and wallet. If you can, head to a restaurant with rooftop views – it’s an experience guaranteed to spoil all of your senses.

Restaurantes en Madrid Encontrarás fantásticos restaurantes en Madrid

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