If you’re looking to experience Madrid like a local, here are thirteen experiences you can’t miss! From sampling some of the best tapas in town to visiting world-famous art museums, these are some of Madrid’s most popular and quintessential activities.
These are a must-try when in Madrid – small dishes perfect for sharing with friends over drinks. Head to one of the many tapas bars in the city and order a few different plates to share. You’ll find everything from traditional Spanish dishes like patatas bravas (fried potatoes in a spicy tomato sauce) to more unique creations like foie gras with quince jelly. Nicelocal.es lists some of Madrid’s most popular and highly-rated tapas bars, and you should check it out!
2. Sample the Cuisine
Madrid is known for its food – from traditional Spanish dishes to more modern and innovative fare. There are many great restaurants to choose from, but a few local favorites include Zalacain, La Terraza del Casino, and DiverXO. If you’re looking for something a little lighter, many cafes also offer sandwiches, salads, and other small plates.
3. Tour the Wineries
This city is home to some of the best wineries in Spain. Many of them offer tours and tastings, so you can learn about the wine-making process while sampling some of the area’s best vintages. Some of the most famous wineries include Vivanco, Bodegas Osborne, and Dominio de Autauga. While at it, sample some of the world’s best Vermouth in one of Madrid’s many Vermouth bars.
4. See a Flamenco Show
Flamenco is one of Spain’s most iconic art forms, and there’s no better place to see it than Madrid. This traditional dance is characterized by its dynamic and expressive movements and is often accompanied by live music. There are plenty of great places to see a flamenco show in Madrid, but a few of our favorites include Casa Patas, Corral de la Morería, and tablao Flamenco Cardamomo.
5. Take a Walking Tour
One of the best ways to explore is by foot. There are plenty of walking tours available that will take you to all of the city’s significant landmarks and sights. Some of the most popular include the Royal Palace Tour, the Madrid of the Austrias Tour, and the La Latina & Rastro Walking Tour.
6. Museum Tours
Madrid is home to some of the world’s most famous art museums, like the Museo del Prado and the Reina Sofia. Even if you’re not a huge art lover, these museums are worth a visit – they’re stunning both inside and out. If you’re short on time, make sure to see the highlights of each museum. At the Prado, that means seeing masterpieces like Las Meninas by Diego Velazquez and The Third of May 1808 by Francisco Goya. And at the Reina Sofia, don’t miss Pablo Picasso’s Guernica.
Head to one of Madrid’s many shopping districts for some retail therapy. The most well-known is probably Gran Via, a street lined with high-end stores and department stores. If you’re looking for something a little more unique, check out the boutiques and vintage shops in the Salamanca neighborhood. Or, for the best deals, head to the El Rastro flea market on Sundays.
Madrid is known for its lively nightlife, and there’s something for everyone. If you want to experience a traditional Spanish bar, go to one of the many “tabernas” in the city center. For something a little more modern, check out the bars and clubs in the Chueca neighborhood. And, of course, no night out in Madrid is complete without some flamenco. Head to one of the many “tablaos” around town for an authentic performance.
9. Traditional Market
For a truly Madrid experience, head to the city’s traditional market – the Mercado de San Miguel. This beautiful Art Deco building is home to stalls selling everything from fresh produce to cured meats and cheeses. You can also find prepared foods like paella and tortillas, making it the perfect place to grab a quick bite. Be sure to try the famous churros con chocolate – a delicious fried pastry dipped in thick, rich chocolate.
Madrid is a city that loves its sport, and there are plenty of ways to get involved. If you’re a football fan, catch a match at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium – home of Real Madrid. Or, if you prefer something a little more low-key, go for a walk or run in one of the many parks in Madrid. The Retiro Park is especially popular, and it’s easy to see why – it’s huge, beautifully landscaped, and full of photo-worthy statues and monuments.
11. Walk The Plazas
One of the best things to do in Madrid is wandering around and exploring. Start at one of the city’s many plazas – Plaza Mayor, Puerta del Sol, and Plaza de Cibeles are some of the most popular. From there, you can stroll through the winding streets and discover hidden gems like charming cafes and quaint shops.
12. Enjoy Bullfighting
A trip to Madrid wouldn’t be complete without seeing a bullfight. This centuries-old tradition is still going strong in Spain, and there are several bullfighting arenas in Madrid. These include:
- Las Ventas: This is the most famous bullfighting arena in Madrid, and it’s also the largest. It was built in 1929 and can seat up to 23,000 people.
- Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza: This arena is located in central Madrid and dates back to 1785. It’s one of the oldest bullfighting arenas in Spain.
- Plaza de Toros Monumental de Las Ventas: This arena was built in 1966 and is the newest of the three. It’s also the smallest, with a capacity of just 12,000 people.
No matter which arena you choose, you’re sure to have an unforgettable experience. Just be warned – bullfights are not for the faint of heart.
13. Take a Day Trip
Madrid is an excellent base for exploring the rest of Spain. Just a short train ride away, you can visit Toledo, Segovia, or Avila – all of which make for great day trips. Or, if you’re looking to escape the city altogether, head to one of Spain’s many beaches. The Costa del Sol is just a few hours away, and it’s the perfect place to relax and soak up the sun.