Madrid Travel Guide
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.
The windows are filled with candy and shaded under a wide, striped awning at Caramelos Paco, which opened as a grocery shop in 1934. Two years on, owner D. Francisco Moreno Redondo started specializing in chocolates and candies.
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.
The designer is known for playing with volume—her clothing is like sculpture.
On Sunday, as the hordes weave their way through the Rastro Flea Market, the savviest of shoppers flock instead to Alonso Ojeda for the collection of antique lithographs and maps, but especially for the frame-worthy hand-painted 1930s–1950s antique advertisements (35 euros, or about $45, each).
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.
Situated across the Plaza de Oriente from the Palacio Real, the Teatro Real Madrid is a center for opera and ballet performances. Antonio López Aguado designed the theater for Queen Isabel II in 1818, but construction on the hexagonal building was postponed.
Knock on the unsigned door and the bouncer will look you over.
These three sculptural bronze busts, created by internationally known Valencian artist Manolo Valdés, manage to seem both stately and playful.
Just a two-minute walk from the Museo Reina Sofía (Queen Sofia Museum), this three-room art gallery stages contemporary photography, video, and installation exhibits with an emphasis on the avant-garde.
The shop is known for its colorful leather purses, designed by one of the owners.