Madrid

Things to do in Madrid

In a city as culturally rich and undeniably exciting as Madrid, there is no shortage of fascinating things to do. If you’re interested in history and art, the Golden Triangle of Art is not to be missed. Located in roughly the same area, the Prado, Reina Sofia and Thyssen-Bornemisza Museums are the core of Spanish art. The Prado specializes in pre-20th century art (think Goya and El Greco) while the Reina Sofia features a wonderful collection of modern art from the 20th century and later (see: Picasso, Dali and Miró). Meanwhile, the Thyssen-Bornemisza displays a mixture of classical and modern artwork from classical artists like Van Eyck and Rubens as well as famed Impressionists like Van Gogh, Degas and Renoir. Outside these three museums, those looking for things to do in Madrid will also find that the city has a naval museum, a museum of natural history, a museum of the Americas and other fantastic galleries.

Another great way to experience the city and find things to do in Madrid is to simply walk around. The city is filled to the brim with wonderful classical architecture and well-manicured parks and plazas. On a Sunday, be sure to stroll through the neighborhood of Embajadores, home to El Rastro, a massive flea market featuring all kinds of goods. By night, head to Chueca, Madrid’s LGBT-friendly district, or the Malasaña neighborhood to experience Madrid’s raucous nightlife. And don’t leave Madrid without climbing to the top of the Circulo de Bellas Artes for an unrivaled view of Madrid’s skyline.

Housed in a 19th-century palace, the Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas (National Museum of Decorative Arts) is located within the bank of museums northwest of the Buen Retiro Park.

Can’t bear to leave Spain’s gustatory pleasures behind? Stop in at this gleaming gourmet deli to stock up on locally made cheeses, olive oils, tinned shellfish, Salamanca and Huelva hams, and other locally produced delicacies.

Insider Clout: For a client who was curious about the lives of Spanish nuns, Irurita arranged a visit with the abbess at Santa María Real de las Huelgas Monastery, in Burgos, the most prestigious convent in Spain.

Based in Madrid, Cellar Tours takes private groups on luxury food and wine tasting trips throughout Europe, including Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, and Ireland.

Occasionally, an urban renewal project gets things right. Such is the case with this 18th-century military barracks turned cultural center, now the heart of the Conde Duque neighborhood.

With its smart red awnings, the CH Carolina Herrera boutique is located in a seven-story stone building in the Recoletos neighborhood.

The property is a boutique, café, and theater all housed within a former brothel.

Designed by Ricardo Velázquez Bosco, the Palacio de Cristal (Crystal Palace) was built in the Buen Retiro Park in 1887 to house an exotic plant exhibit from the Philippines, then a Spanish colony.

The only Madrid outpost of the Royal Spanish Mint, this shop sells limited-edition commemorative coins, as well as stamps, engravings, and reproductions of artworks by famous Spanish painters like Diego de Silva y Velázquez. All purchases come with identity certification.

Native painter Joaquín Sorolla was a contemporary and friend of John Singer Sargent, and the parallels in their paintings are immediately apparent. (They are so clear, in fact, that two years ago the Thyssen-Bornemisza mounted an entire show around their commonalities).

In her compact shop, German expat Marie Jennings offers bold and breezy Margit Brandt silk dresses and vintage classics like 1980’s Givenchy, sourced from stylists across Europe.

Located on the site of a ninth-century Moorish fortress, the Palacio Real (Royal Palace) is the official residence of the Spanish royal family. Completely rebuilt after a 1734 fire, the present-day palace is a granite-and-stone Baroque structure with large Tuscan pillars.

A favorite of fashion designer Carolina Herrera, the Casa Florida flower shop is located in a two-story space within a 19th-century apartment building a block off Paseo de la Castellana.

The property is a boutique, café, and theater all housed within a former brothel.