Tips on What To Do in Madrid
Although Barcelona is widely accepted as the Spanish destination, Madrid is not short on things to do. From flamenco to bullfights and soccer games to museums, and the largest European market, too, Madrid has plenty of attractions and activities to keep its visitors engaged.
- Go see -- and it must be in this order -- El Escorial, then the Valley of the Fallen, and finally the Reina Sofía National Museum. And then, at the end of a long day, stop by the Café Comercial for a glass -- or three -- of fino, the bone-dry sherry, and take time to think about what these monuments represent." -- Condé Nast Traveler
- While Madrid is small enough to walk in a day, its sights are enough to keep you for weeks. … Soak it all in, strolling from Sol to Cibeles and Pl. Mayor to the Palacio Real." -- Let's Go Madrid
- Madrid is a city that becomes truly great once you get to know its unique barrios. There you'll discover that Madrid is an idea, a diverse city whose contradictory impulses are legion." -- Lonely Planet
Madrid's triumvirate of amazing museums includes the Prado Museum, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum and the Queen Sofia Arts Center. Commissioned in 1785, the Prado is the most famous and contains many works by the Spanish artists Francisco Goya, Diego Velazquez and El Greco. But there are a number of other museums, too: The Museum of Clothing (Museo del Traje) features Spanish dress throughout history, and the Sorolla Museum hangs the paintings of Spanish impressionist, Joaquín Sorolla.
- If you're here for the major art galleries and museums, avoid Mondays when many are closed; the Centro de Arte Reina Sofía is a notable exception, closing on Tuesdays." -- Lonely Planet
- Save a chunk of change on admission fees to Madrid's three major museums with this discount card, valid for a single entry to each of the trio and available at any of them." -- Sherman's Travel
Whether its boutique goods, found on the streets of Argüelles or upscale finds in the Salamanca district, Madrid has a surplus of commodities to satisfy most every consumer.
- The sheer diversity of shops in Madrid's center is staggering. Their densest concentration lies immediately north of the Puerta del Sol, radiating out from Calle del Carmen, Calle Montera, and Calle Preciados." -- Frommer's
- For upscale shopping, throw on your oversized Gucci sunglasses and sashay down the swanky Calle Serrano and Calle Velázquez in the famous Salamanca district (near Pl. de Colón), where fine boutiques and specialty stores like Pedro del Hierro line the streets next to stores like Mango, Zara, and Armani. Most major department stores can be found between Puerta del Sol and Callao, with smaller clothing stores scattered along Gran Vía." -- Let's Go Madrid
El Rastro Market
The market at El Rastro, which means 'the blood trail,' gets its name from the dragging of animals to and from the slaughterhouse. Today, however, a vibrant bazaar-like atmosphere fills Sunday mornings at El Rastro, where market-goers can find everything from clothing to antiques and much more.
- For hundreds of years, El Rastro has been a Sunday-morning tradition in Madrid. The market begins in La Latina at Pl. Cascorro off C. Toledo and ends at the bottom of C. Ribera de Cortidores. El Rastro sells everything from zebra hides to jeans to antique tools to pet birds. As crazy as the market seems, it is actually thematically organized, and for many, a weekly ritual." -- Let's Go Madrid
- Hold on to your valuables on the wander through El Rastro, infamous for its well-versed pickpockets." -- Sherman's Travel
Sports & Leisure
Sports, and especially fútbol (or soccer), are huge in Madrid. Real Madrid is arguably the city's favorite team -- with athletes on par with celebrities -- but Atlético Madrid runs a close second. See them play at either Bernabéu Stadium or Estadio Vicente Calderon.
- Bullfight tickets. Most tickets are sold out a year in advance, but a small percentage is released a few weeks before each corrida. Get them through www.taquillatoros.com or www.las-ventas.com." -- Sherman's Travel
- If you're a fan of English-style football, then the place to go is Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid's largest stadium: total capacity 75,000 spectators. This is the home of Spain's most successful team Real Madrid, regarded by diehard fanatics as even more important than the Prado or Palacio Real." -- Frommer's
In addition to your usual entertainment options -- opera, concerts, theater -- Madrid also offers sizzling-hot flamenco performances, feisty salsa dancing and the sultry Spanish guitar. Check the Guía del Ocio for weekly updates on Madrid's entertainment.
- In summer, Madrid sponsors free concerts, ranging from classical and jazz to bolero and salsa, at Pl. Mayor, Lavapiés, Oriente, and Villa de París; check the Guía del Ocio for the current schedule. The city is undergoing a live music explosion in all genres, with a relatively cheap consumición (cover) giving you access to the music in an intimate venue." -- Let's Go Madrid
- A night at a tablao (flamenco club) is one of Madrid's musts; this upscale institution, often hosting big-name performers, is a great spot to experience the fiery music and dance from southern Spain." -- Sherman's Travel
Nightlife is this town's middle name. Cafés, bars and nightclubs pervade most all of Madrid's barrios, so finding something to do after the sun goes down won't be difficult. And you might need to adjust your internal clocks because for madrileños, the party doesn't begin until about 10 p.m.
- When other cities turn off their lights, madrileños swarm to the bars of the liveliest neighborhoods -- Malasaña, Chueca, Lavapiés, and more -- and stretch the party out until dawn." -- Fodor's
- If you're only here for a short stay, consider making it a weekend (ie Thursday to Sunday) when Madrid's nightclubs will have you dancing till dawn." -- Lonely Planet
- Because dinner is served late in Spain, nightlife doesn't really get under way until after 11pm, and it generally lasts until around 3am -- Madrileños are so fond of prowling about at night that they're known around Spain as gatos (cats). In fact, if you arrive at 9:30pm at a club, you'll have the place all to yourself, if it's even open." -- Frommer's