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.
In 1798 Francisco José de Goya painted the frescos in the Church of San Antonio de la Florida. The painter was later buried here, his remains moved from a grave in Bordeaux, France. The 1792 church is the third built on the site.
This capacious corner bar is named for Spain’s famous black-hoofed pigs, so don’t miss a crunchy, salty, and delicious toasted sandwich of jamón serrano, fresh tomato, and anchovy ($2.95), accompanied by Bodegas Bretón Dominio de Conte 2001.
The biggest of the airport’s nine VIP lounges (it sprawls over 21,000 square feet) is also the biggest in Spain.
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.
Located on a traffic-heavy street that’s a main thoroughfare through central Madrid, this Cortefiel location sells women’s and men's apparel, including classically tailored suits.
Housed in a 1926 Art Deco building, the Círculo de Bellas Artes (Circle of Fine Arts) is a cultural center that hosts a wide variety of lectures, film screenings, dance and theater performances, classical and contemporary concerts, and art exhibitions showcasing the work of both well-known and em
Opened in 2009 on Picasso’s 128th birthday, this contemporary art gallery presents temporary exhibitions of work by masters like Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí.
At Madrid’s best cocktail bar, tuxedoed bartenders wield wooden batons to crack the ice that chills your martini glass, and the devilishly sweet vodka fizz veritably buzzes in your hand.
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.
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.
From Spanish monarchs and popes to sports stars and bullfighters, the Wax Museum displays more than 450 life-sized figures. Many are dressed in original clothing, including the likenesses of Cuba's Fidel Castro and Spanish dictator General Franco.
This storefront-size bar has a formidable list of wines on a chalkboard. The hearty semi-spicy pepper stuffed with beef and béchamel ($1.50) is a standout.