Things to do in Madrid

Madrid is a thriving place that offers vacationers the big-city attractions common to most European capitals. While things to do in Madrid sometimes come in a close second to those of the city’s great rival of Barcelona, there are plenty of Madrid attractions to warrant an extended stay in this delightful Spanish city. Activities in Madrid inevitably focus on the excellent Spanish museums found here, while for those traveling on a budget, the list of free things to do in Madrid incorporates the excellent Buen Retiro Park and the Plaza Mayor. Any suggested itinerary of the top ten things to do in Madrid will likely include some or all of the following.

Museo del Prado

The Museo del Prado (Prado Museum) is a world-renowned art museum that forms one part of Madrid’s so-called Golden Art Triangle, along with the Reina Sofia and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum of Art. The collection here is simply stunning, including works by such masters as El Greco, Caravaggio, Goya, and Velazquez.

Reina Sofia

The Reina Sofia is effectively the Prado’s younger sister; its collection is just as impressive, though the focus here is upon contemporary, rather than classical, work. One of the things to do in Madrid that shouldn't be missed is the Guernica room, which showcases Picasso’s famous portrayal of the bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War.

Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum of Art

The final member of the Golden Triangle is the Thyssen Bornesmisza Museum of Art. Its role is to fill the gap between the Prado and the Reina Sofia, tracing the evolution of Western art from the thirteenth century to today.

Rastro Antiques Market

Madrid attractions don’t come any more evocative than this. A flea market held every Sunday, the Rastro Antiques Market is a place where visitors can peruse the random collection of items up for grabs and watch the business conducted at the market. Alternatively, if you’re in the buying mood, one of the best activities in Madrid is to barter viciously with a vendor over that special souvenir.

Santiago Bernabeu Stadium

In terms of most popular activities in Madrid, it’s hard to find something that tops watching the famous Real Madrid soccer team play at their home field, the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. Getting a ticket can be difficult, but you can still see the stadium even if you can't make it to the game—one of the interesting things to do in Madrid is to tour the stadium when the team is not playing. The atmosphere may not be the same, but the architecture is still amazing, and at least you can say you’ve been inside the Santiago Bernabeu.

Buen Retiro Park

The Buen Retiro is Madrid’s answer to New York’s Central Park or London’s Hyde Park—a great retreat from the bustle of this lively city.


One of the top Madrid attractions is flamenco, one of Spain’s defining characteristics. The city is dotted with flamenco clubs, where you can have dinner, snack on tapas, enjoy some wine, and watch as various artists take the stage. Activities in Madrid include flamenco lessons, if you're interested in trying the dancing or music.

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