What to see and do in Madrid? My 10 must-haves

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Lluís Enric Mayans


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Often neglected in favor of Barcelona or Seville, the Spanish capital has nothing to envy its neighbors. It hides very precious treasures like the Paseo del Arte which offers us on a plate its most beautiful museums: the Prado, Reina Sofia, or places of interest like the Palacio Real and its former Sabbatini stables. In this article, so we will go over the must-see places to do while visiting Madrid

Visit Palacio Real

The Royal Palace of Madrid is the largest palace in Europe. Even if today, it no longer serves as the main residence of royalty, the 2800 pieces that compose it are a feast for the eyes. Its fun visit through a digital tablet allows you to retrace the history of this palace. After the fire of 1755, it was rebuilt on the ruins of the Moorish Alcazar. The building is incredible, the guards as well as the relief are essential for tourists coming with family.

The Royal Palace of Madrid

You will admire its full extent by going to the Campo del Moro gardens, where pans, ducks and other animals await you.

South Flâner Plaza Mayor

After visiting the Royal Palace, it remains logical to go up Calle Mayor which takes us directly to the Plaza Mayor! Real emblem of Madrid, main square has long served royalty. From its balconies, one could attend the royal ceremonies. In the center of this square square with flamboyant colors, sits the statue of Felipe III. If you take a guided tour, you can learn about its history and its setbacks.

La place centrale: Plaza Mayor

The narrow streets that make it up allow you to continue your visit to Madrid to all the other points of interest in the city. If you are wondering what to do near Plaza Mayor, you must stop by San Miguel Market. True gastronomic market, we go there especially to admire the architecture of the site and the atmosphere that reigns around 15 p.m. at lunchtime. However, I do not recommend you to eat there, the tapas are quite expensive for small amounts. 

It is cultivated in the neighborhood of letters

This district is little known and yet its literary history is incredible. How do you know if you are in the Barrio de las Letras? Look at the ground and read the quotes of the greatest authors of the time. Meet at the Plaza Santa-Ana, central point of a multitude of alleys in which certain authors of the literature of the golden century lived or worked. You can sit on the terrace and admire the view of the Teatro Espanol, the oldest theater in Madrid or the majestic Hotel Victoria.

The Plaza Santa-Ana dans the Barrio de las Letras

See Madrid's Puerta del Sol

Who does not know the Puerta Del Sol? In addition to the song of Mecano, we all know the tradition of grapes at the stroke of midnight. What is there to see in Puerta del Sol? Why is it a must? This semi-circular square is a popular place, it is a central point where tourists mingle with the locals. There is the emblem of Madrid with the bear and sea buckthorn.

The Puerta del Sol vue d'en haut

If you search a little, you will find a plaque on the ground called kilometer zero, the symbolic center of Madrid. 

Climb to the top of the Palacio de Cibeles

At the end of the Gran Via, the main street where big shopping brands mix with the biggest theaters of Madrid, reigns the Palacio de Cibeles. This imposing palace is today the town hall of the city. On the 6th floor, which we recommend going up on foot to admire the architecture of the building, you will find a belvedere which offers a beautiful panorama of the city as well as its beautiful fountain where sits Cybele, goddess of the Earth.

Madrid City Hall, Palacio de Cibeles

Chiller au rooftop by Circulo de Bellas Arte

If the previous rooftop does not satisfy you, then I suggest another unmissable address in Madrid: the rooftop of Circulo de Bellas Arte. Only 5 minutes walk from the Palacio de Cibeles, this rooftop is one of the highest in the city. You can go up only to admire the view but also to eat at the restaurant or sit in the lounge area dedicated to relaxation. Admission is chargeable (more info) as in many rooftops in Madrid.

Lounge du rooftop of Circulo de Bellas Arte

Breathe in Parque del Oeste

Looking for some greenery when visiting Madrid? So now is the time to go to Parque del Oeste, it is called that simply because it is located to the west of the city. This park is a place conducive to relaxation where many activities are possible.. Real place of interest if you come with children because it is here that you can board a cable car that will take you to the heart of Casa de Campo, the green lung of the capital.

Greenery in the heart of Parque del Oeste

Go boating in Retiro Park

If you are more in the east of Madrid, then the must-see of this part is obviously the Buen Retiro Park. This park is the favorite place of Madrilenians looking for shade to take a nap when the heat is in full swing! This 119-hectare park offers a multitude of activities: puppet theater, a rose garden, a botanical garden ,.

To do obviously, it's a boat trip on the lake, a must!

The lake of Retiro Park in Madrid

The Rétiro also hides cultural treasures with the extensions of the Reina Sofia Museum: the Palacio Velázquez and the Palacio de Cristal. The latter is recognized for its unique architecture. A veritable glass castle, you can sometimes find temporary contemporary exhibitions there. 

Visit one of the art museums 

Coming to Madrid without taking the time to visit a single museum is not possible! Whatever your taste in art, Madrid will offer you a museum in el Paseo del Arte. The Prado which hosts a copy of the Mona Lisa painted by one of his students, or the Reina Sofia museum, a must in contemporary art. Installed in a former convent, you can find a work by Picasso. Finally, the Thyssen Bornemisza collects works that cannot be found anywhere else, and which traces the history of European painting. One of these 3 museums is to be seen during your visit.

The Prado museum

Latin Quarter

To find a more festive atmosphere, head to the south of Madrid in the Latina district. It is accessed by the superb Calle Cava Baja with its colorful facades. La Latina is known for its festive atmosphere, Madrid residents go out from bar to bar until the early hours of the morning. 

Colorful street in La Latina district

The Latina district is also known for its famous flea market Sunday morning: Le rastro. If you are going for the weekend, I recommend you stop there! 

Madrid's must-sees, and more!

It's relatively difficult to summarize Madrid in just 10 places of interest. This city is full of activities and visits to do. I add an 11th essential which is more gourmet than cultural. You absolutely must comply with the tradition du Chocolate with churros ! To do this, go to one of the most famous cafes for this: the San Gines, open 24 hours a day! His churros are recognized to be the best in Madrid. Be careful, do not ask for a “chocolate caliente” if you want hot chocolate, you will be served the cream used to soak the churros. For a hot chocolate, ask for a “Cola-Cao”.

I hope that with this list you will know how to appreciate this beautiful city. And if these essentials have convinced you, do not hesitate to consult our article on the 10 things to know before visiting Madrid!

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