20 Madrid Attractions You Need To Visit Before You Die

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Madrid might not have the status of Rome or Paris in terms of sights, but the Spanish capital 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.

Plaza Mayor

Plaza Mayor in Madrid Spain

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 famed foods: bocadillo de calamares (a calamari sandwich) from one of the bars surrounding the square.

Royal Palace of Madrid

Madrid Palacio de Oriente monument

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) at Madrid city, Spain.

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

Ancient Egyptian temple of Debod in Madrid

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

Leaning towers of Madrid (Puerta de Europa)

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

Madrid city skyline gran via street twilight , Spain

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 Inglés Gourmet Experience for a great view of the street’s famous Schweppes sign.

Rooftop Bars in Madrid

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

Puerta del Sol

La Puerta del Sol from Above

All roads in Spain lead to the Puerta del Sol, known as kilometre zero and the very centre 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

Museo del Prado

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.

Palacio de Cibeles

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.Looks like it’s closed Hours or services may be impacted due to Covid-19

Calle De Cava Baja

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

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 La Perejila, Txakolina and El Tempranillo.

Sobrino de Botin

'Sobrino De Botin', The Oldest Restaurant In The World

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 Botín was founded in 1725 and has been going strong ever since. Its speciality is roast suckling pig and it appears in Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises.

Cine Dore

Cine Dore Cinema

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

Monument to Luis Daoiz and Pedro Velarde, heros of the Spanish war of independence, in the Plaza dos de Mayo in the heart of the Malasana disrict, cen

This square is in the heart of the trendy neighbourhood 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

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 Lavapiés.

Almudena Cathedral

The Cathedral of Madrid

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

Famous restaurant Viva Madrid in the Barrio de las Letras or Literary Quarter. Dating back to 1856 it's also a tapas and cocktail bar. Madrid Spain.

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

estacion de atocha train station horizontal inside hall

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

Matadero

Spain, Madrid, Matadero Arts Center Theaters

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

San Gines

Chocolateria San Gines in Madrid, Spain

You cannot possibly leave Madrid without trying churros con chocolate (sugar-drenched deep-fried dough sticks with hot chocolate) from San Ginés, which 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.

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