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Best Things To Do in Madrid

This big European city has a distinctly Spanish flair, illustrated in its many things to do: The Prado Museum hangs works by some of Spain's most famed artists, including Velazquez and Goya. The Palacio Real (Royal Palace) arranges tours and the El Rastro market or the upscale shops in Salamanca provide hours of shopping. But if you're drained from a long day of sightseeing, you might want to rest at an open-air café, especially the ones that skirt Plaza Mayor. Once your energy is restored, enjoy sampling some choice specialties at a tapas bar before hitting the club.

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How We Rank Things to Do
#1
Mercado San Miguel Free attraction
Shopping | Map It

Overall Rating: Rating: 5.0

Why go: This Beaux-Arts market right outside of Plaza Mayor is one of recent travelers' favorite things to do in Spain. Visitors ... read more»

#2
Casa de Campo Free attraction
Hiking and Parks | Map It

Overall Rating: Rating: 4.5

Why go: A wide expanse of a park located west of central Madrid, Casa de Campo was once the hunting grounds of ... read more»

#3
Cybele's Fountain (Fuente de la Cibeles) Free attraction
Sightseeing | Map It

Overall Rating: Rating: 4.5

Why go: La Fuente de Cibeles, or the Cybeles Fountain, is centered in a square by the same name. Commissioned by King ... read more»

#4
Retiro Park (Parque del Retiro) Free attraction
Parks and Gardens | Map It

Overall Rating: Rating: 4.5

Why go: To the east of central Madrid, Parque del Buen Retiro (Retiro Park) can be translated as "The Retreat," and that ... read more»

#5
Plaza Mayor Free attraction
Neighborhood/Area | Map It

Overall Rating: Rating: 4.5

Why go: This square, located in the heart of Madrid, is more a must-experience attraction than a must-see one. Ringed ... read more»

#6
Gateway of the Sun (Puerta del Sol) Free attraction
Sightseeing | Map It

Overall Rating: Rating: 4.5

Why go: The true center of Madrid -- kilometer zero -- Puerta del Sol fills with spurting fountains, shops, restaurants and people. Multiple Yahoo ... read more»

#7
Royal Palace of Madrid (Palacio Real)
Castles/Palaces, Sightseeing | Map It

Overall Rating: Rating: 4.5

Why go: This former home of the Spanish royalty is an opulent palace with nearly 3,000 rooms — though only about 50 ... read more»

#8
Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum
Museums | Map It

Overall Rating: Rating: 4.5

Why go: The Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, named for the family from which the collection was bought (for $350 million USD), is housed in ... read more»

#9
Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial
Castles/Palaces, Churches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing | Map It

Overall Rating: Rating: 4.0

Why go: The Monasterio de El Escorial is located about an hour's train ride northwest of Madrid. Completed in the late ... read more»

#10
Royal Botanic Garden (Real Jardin Botanico)
Parks and Gardens, Sightseeing | Map It

Overall Rating: Rating: 4.0

Why go: Right next to the Prado Museum is the Real Jardín Botánico. For a small fee, you can walk amongst 30 ... read more»

#11
Prado Museum (Museo del Prado)
Museums | Map It

Overall Rating: Rating: 4.0

Why go: Of Madrid's three famous museums, the elegant Museo Nacional del Prado is the most celebrated. Eminent Spanish works include ... read more»

#12
Bernabeu Stadium (Estadio Santiago Bernabeu)
Sports | Map It

Overall Rating: Rating: 4.0

Why go: The Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, located north of central Madrid, is the city's main football (or soccer) stadium and the ... read more»

#13
El Rastro Market Free attraction
Shopping | Map It

Overall Rating: Rating: 4.0

Why go: Exit the La Latina metro station and wander over to the notorious flea market known as El Rastro, Spanish for ... read more»

#14
Queen Sofia Arts Center
Museums | Map It

Overall Rating: Rating: 3.5

Why go: The Centro de Arte Reina Sofía is Madrid's modern art gallery, and along with the Prado and the Thyssen-Bornemisza ... read more»

#15
Calle de Serrano Free attraction
Shopping, Neighborhood/Area | Map It

Overall Rating: Rating: 3.5

Why go: Head to up-market Calle de Serrano in the Salamanca neighborhood for some retail therapy. Strolling along the street, you'll ... read more»

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