Is first time visiting Madrid? We will tell you what to see in Madrid and the essential places you must see when visiting Spain’s capital.
To begin with, there are many things to watch and do in Madrid! But, of course, one weekend is not enough, but in today´s article, I have prepared a journey through Madrid so that you can know more about their most important museums and the best views.
How many days are you coming to Madrid? Here you have more articles to complete your visit to Madrid.
What to do and see in Madrid. Essential places
Is it the first time coming to Madrid? These are the 10 places you can not miss in Madrid if it is your first time. If you like taking your time, you can do all of the places by walk.
- Check Out: Quick Travel Guide about Madrid
La Puerta del Sol (Sun Gate)
Puerta del Sol is one of the most famous and crowded squares of Madrid. You will find 3 well-known places, like the Post Office, which is the oldest building in the park and the most famous mainly because they ring the bells every 31st of December, every year.
The Bear and the Madroño: it is the symbol of Madrid; at the moment, it is on the corner with Alcalá street.
The Kilometer zero: it is the point where the radial roads of Spain begin; the typical thing is to take a picture on top of it.
Poster of Tío Pepe: it has been restored, and it has been moved to another building; in 2009, it was declared the historical heritage of the people of Madrid.
If you want to know more about the most antique places in Madrid, click on the link below.
Live a flamenco show
After visiting Sala Cardamomo, the tablao flamenco of Madrid has become an indispensable place that I would like to recommend to you. A couple of steps along Puerta del Sol, you will find this particular tablao with more than 25 years of experience.
A place that brings the elite artists of every corner of Spain. Also, you will live an authentic flamenco experience beyond dinner and the enjoyment of the cuisine.
You can make a reservation through this link. More times than not, some discounts apply when you book 48 hours in advance.
Plaza Mayor (Main Square)
Pretty close to Puerta del Sol, the Main Square began to be built around the XV century. It is rectangular in shape and highlights the uniformity of the architecture.
237 balconies are present on the three-story residential buildings that face inward towards the Plaza. To enter or exit Plaza Mayor, there are ten entrances to choose from. However, there are nine gates. The most famous gate is Arco de Cuchilleros.
It is a must that you try the calamari at the Main Square! Many spots assure you they have the best calamari, so you can try a few of them and decide for yourself.
Royal Palace and Cathedral of Almudena
Following the Main Street (Calle Mayor), you will meet with the Royal Palace and the Cathedral of Almudena. The Royal Palace was built where there used to be a Muslim fortress from the 9th century. Unfortunately, it was destroyed due to a fire in 1734.
Although he does not live there, it is the King’s official residence, and it is used for official acts. The Almudena Cathedral was built between the 19th and 20th centuries, and admission is free.
If you want to know more about the oldest part of Madrid, follow the link!
La Latina, where Madrilenians and tourists go for tapas
I believe this is my favorite neighborhood of Madrid, with medieval origin. It is in the middle. If you’re in Plaza Mayor and you go down the stairs of the Arco de Cuchilleros, you can get there by walking for 2 minutes.
Locals and tourists mix in this area since it is full of bars, pubs, and traditional taverns. You must not leave Madrid without eating or drinking something at Cava Baja. It is very close to where the Rastro is made on Sundays.
Rastro de Madrid
El Rastro is an outdoor market that is held on Sundays. It is located around the Ribera de Curtidores and has more than 400 years of history. You can find everything from antiques, clothes, and music to furniture.
If you like flea markets, this is the flea market per excellence. It is ideal to go in the morning and then take an appetizer at La Latina. It is two minutes from the cellar walking down. The trail officially begins at 9 a.m. and closes at 3 p.m.
Puerta de Alcalá
It is the most famous door in Madrid. It is inside Plaza de la Independencia, although everyone refers to this square as the Puerta de Alcalá.
Carlos III sent Francesco Sabatini, an arquitect form the Royal House, to get it built. It was designed and built between 1774 and 1778. It is just opposite one of the main entrances of Parque del Retiro.
It is the first triumph arch built in Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire, even before Paris or that one of Brandenburg in Berlin.
Parque del Retiro
Its full name is Parque del Buen Retiro. It is the main and largest park in the center of Madrid. There are many things to see: the lake where you can take a boat ride, the crystal palace, the monument to King Alfonso XII, the former Royal Ceramic Factory, the army museum, the Paseo de la Argentina more.
It is an ideal place to walk, relax, have a drink… It is worth every minute. Ideal if you have children.
The Prado Museum is one of the most important and well-known museums in the world, not only for the works it has exhibited but also for the immense amount of works that it has in deposit and can not exhibit due to lack of space.
A few years ago, it had to be expanded, taking advantage of the space of the cloister of the Jeronimos Church. You can find the itineraries on its website depending on how you want to manage your time there.
Plaza de Cibeles
It is in the center of the city, at the intersection of Calle Alcalá, Paseo de Recoletos and Paseo del Prado. In the center of the square is the Fuente de la Cibeles; it is one of the most important symbols of Madrid; it was built in 1777 and 1782.
At the corners of the square, there is the Palacio Cibeles, the most beautiful building from my perspective, which is now the City Council’s headquarters. They recently opened on the 6th floor a restaurant and a rooftop, where you can enjoy a drink at a fair price.
The Banco de España building (the Buena Vista Palace), which is the Army headquarters, and the Linares Palace was built in 1873, and in its gardens, there is the Casa de América.
Gran Vía. Plaza de España. Temple of Debod
The Gran Vía should be the most famous street in Madrid. It offers many shops, and there are three cinemas. If you fancy seeing a movie, I recommend any of the three theaters with a great variety of musicals.
Buildings to be highlighted:
- Metropolis Building
- Telefónica Building. It was the first European skyscraper with 89 meters high
- Matesans House
- Press Palace
If you continue along the Gran Vía, you will arrive at the Plaza de España, which is at the western end. At the center of the square, there is a monument to Miguel de Cervantes with bronze sculptures of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.
Around here, there are many sites of interest, but if you do not have too much time, I will not miss the Templo de Debod. It is next to Parque del Oeste, a 2200 years old Egyptian monument, and it was opened in 1972.
These are the 10 places you can not miss in Madrid. The first 5 you can see in one day except for the Rastro because it is open only Sundays and holidays. I recommend that you combine them according to your interests.
If you have any questions or want to recommend an itinerary, do not hesitate to write me!
Where to sleep in Madrid?
Are you spending a night in Madrid? Then, I recommend that you stay near downtown. This way you will have all the essential places near, and you can walk to every one of them. In addition, you can look at the different hotel options that you can find in Madrid.
I hope that you enjoy your visit to Madrid and tell me about it!
If you have any questions or want to recommend an itinerary, do not hesitate to write me!
Prepare Your Trip To Madrid
- Flamenco Show at Cardamomo
- A Walk for the old Madrid
- What to see: El Rastro, Lavapiés y Sol
- Visit Lavapiés and El Rastro
Book Your Trip
Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner.
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel, hotel, or apartments on Booking.com.
Best companies for activities
Check out Civitatis.com and find the best tours in English (French, Spanish and Italian)
Are you looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel – and I think will help you too! (Is in Spanish yet)
We are not native English speakers, but we have decided to translate our post into English to share it with the whole world. So if you see any spelling mistake or something, please let us know; it is important to us. If you do so, we can improve our post and also our English knowledge! Thanks in advance!!!
Last Updated on 5 July, 2021 by Veronica