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Visitor tips

Madrid - What to see? Where to go? What to do?

Madrid is one of the great centers of world culture. On this page you will find some suggestions on ways one could enjoy the rich variety of leisure, major museums, emblematic buildings and monuments, dining, nightlife and shops that the city has to offer. We recommend that you visit the Madrid tourism site for more detailed information and to learn more about what the city has to offer.

Furthermore, the cities attractions go beyond its borders. Just two hours away are nine sites classified as World Heritage by UNESCO: Alcalá de Henares, Toledo, Cuenca, Segovia, Avila, Salamanca, Córdoba, the Royal Monastery and Site of San Lorenzo de El Escorial and Aranjuez Cultural Landscape.

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Museums and cultural centres

The Prado Museum
From its privileged location surrounded by trees and some of Madrid´s greatest monuments, the National Museum of the Prado is one of the most visited attractions in the capital. The museum is home to the most important Spanish painting collection in the world.  

Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum 
The Thyssen-Bornemisza, with almost 1,000 works, is located in a cultural and artistic itinerary that is unique in the world. Come to the museum and enjoy a privileged tour of seven centuries of European painting, from its origins in the 13th century to the end of the 20th century.

Reina Sofía Museum 
Works by Dali, Miró and Juan Gris join Picasso's Guernica on a fascinating journey through the history of contemporary art. The new scheme that commenced in 2009 contrasts works from different painters, origins, periods and subjects, thus illustrating different facets of the avant-garde.

Major arts centres
As well as the major museums, the Art Walk, stretching from north to south along the Paseo de la Castellana, is home to important exhibition halls, foundations and institutes, which play a fundamental part in the country's cultural life. Matadero Madrid, Centro Cultural Conde Duque and Círculo de Bellas Artes are just some of the most important ones.

Caixaforum Madrid
It emerges as a live space opening its doors to old, modern and contemporary art, to music and poetry, to multimedia art, to debates, and to social and educational activities. The spectacular building housing it, located on Paseo del Prado in the former Mediodía Electric Power Station, is already one of the new landmarks in the city.

Teatro Real
When Queen Isabel II founded the theatre she intended to turn it into one of the most prestigious opera houses in the world. Since reopening in 1997, it has welcomed to its vast stage both its own productions and artists from around the globe. A must visit for lovers of opera.

Spanish National Library
This library works to identify, preserve, conserve and disseminate the written heritage of Spain. The museum, which houses over 30,000 manuscripts, around 3,000 incunabula and some 500,000 examples of printed matter, is a fascinating journey through the history of the book.

Buildings and monuments

Royal Palace and Royal Armoury  
Home to the Kings of Spain from Carlos III all the way through to Alfonso XIII, Madrid´s Royal Palace is now open to anyone who wants to take a trip through Spanish history. Visitors can wander through the many rooms, enjoying the beautiful architecture and the art collection still housed here.

Temple of Debod 
Renowned among people from Madrid as an ideal place to watch stunning sunsets, this incredible monument, which is over two thousand years old, was brought over from Egypt and built stone by stone in the heart of Madrid. After taking a delightful walk around the park, step into the temple's interior for a very interesting visit.

Heritage
If you are interested in learning more about the architecture of Madrid, you have to visit the official historical heritage website for Madrid. There are a selection of 220 buildings which reflect all the styles and types which make up the image that is Madrid, which seeks to highlight the city's architectural wealth.

Monumental Madrid
The great city which is now Madrid began as a small fortress that Mohammed I, Emir of Córdoba, built in the ninth century for defensive purposes.

The ages of Madrid
One century, one building. You can travel through history visiting places that, due to their architectural value, best represent the essence of Madrid: the Chapel of Santa María de la Antigua, Casa de los Lujanes, the Monastery of the Descalzas Reales, Plaza Mayor, El Prado museum, the Bank of Spain, etc.

The Royal Monastery of Descalzas
This XVI century building is a royal monastery where the royals Charles I and Isabella of Portugal resided; it was later converted into a convent for Franciscan nuns. The walls retain a historical and artistic legacy which is worth visiting. But the visit has to be quiet so as to not disturb the silence of the place.

Gastronomy

Madrid's gastronomy 
Discover the most typical dishes from Madrid, cocido, besugo and callos, but also traditionnal pastries such as torrijas, barquillos and huesos de santo. Don't forget to taste on your culinary tour the well-known tapas and the wines from the Madrid Community region.

Michelin star restaurants
Madrid is home to around 3,100 eateries but only Santceloni, La Terraza del Casino, Sergi Arola Gastro and Ramón Freixa Madrid -with 2 stars- and Zalacaín, El Club Allard, La Broche, Diverxo, Kabuki Wellington and Kabuki -with one- are the chosen few by the Michelin Guide. Enjoy exquisite cuisine and fantastic service in these venues.

Gastrobars
The culture of tapas, as seen by nouvelle cuisine and the most innovative design trends, finds a home in modern bars, where you can try out some truly creative recipes. These little dishes are brought up to date with the latest ingredients and techniques, and are served in venues that are just as modern, imaginative and chic.  

Restaurants which love art
At the Thyssen Bornemisza Museum, the Teatro Real (Opera House), the Museo del Traje and the Reina Sofía Museum, visitors can enjoy more than the artistic collections, since they can also discover another type of art: gastronomy.

Mercado (market) de San Miguel
Built in 1916, this market is the finest example of cast-iron architecture in Madrid. Today it is a temple to gastronomy, home to 33 stalls selling mouth-watering products and select ingredients, offering food to take home or to consume right there on the premises.  

Centennial restaurants
These restaurants, for over a century have been cooking stews which are typical of Madrid cuisine in the same tradition from years ago. Stews served in clay pots, pork and lamb roasted in a wooden oven, tripe and chicken fricassee are some of the dishes offered by these restaurants, which are very present throughout the various historical stages of the city.

Nightlife

Madrid for you: Nightlife 
The nightlife in Madrid is undoubtedly one of the city's main attractions. Tapas bars, cocktail bars, clubs, jazz lounges, live music venues, flamenco theatres and establishments of all kinds cater for all tastes and ages.

A designer's night out
Madrid has always been a meeting point for very different people. New venues are continuously opening up with new offers to spice up the night. Live music, elaborate décor and lighting, signature cocktails or resident DJs are some of the proposals served by the most ‘chic' venues in the capital.

Flamenco in Madrid
One thing is for sure: Madrid is the world capital of Flamenco. So that you can see for yourself, we suggest a tour to get a taste of the most authentic atmosphere. Tablaos and bars with live performances in which you can enjoy the best dance and the best music while sampling some delicious tapas.

Live music
Every night, venues pertaining to the Live Music Venues Association La Noche en Vivo, host a wide range of live music shows. Everything from acclaimed to up-and-coming artists, singer-songwriters to rock bands, jazz concerts or electronic music sessions to enjoy music at its best.

Shopping

Madrid Shop 
The Tourism Information Centre at Casa de la Panadería in Plaza Mayor sells items related to the city under the brand ¡Madrid!. It features books on the history of the city, its architecture and museums as well as t-shirts and CD's with tunes inspired by the capital.

Commercial lines
The Madrid Shop, the museum shops, markets and malls, antique stores, historical stores, fairs and, of course, the various shopping areas of the city… Anywhere in the city you will be able to find the perfect gift: classic, old, new, old, modern, alternative, independent, luxurious, elegant… In Madrid there are no limits.

Traditional shops and taverns
The streets of Madrid city centre hide some stores which have been there for more than a century. These are chemist's, taverns, patisseries and other establishments which form part of the capital's history, and still continue to run their business in the 21st century Madrid. You can experience these traditional shops and taverns for yourself.

Las Salesas district
Since the 1970s, the area surrounding the old Salesas Reales has been accommodating original and unique shops, art galleries, restaurants and cafés. They are chic and trendy, elegant and fun; and Las Salesas has become one of the most exclusive areas in the city.

Parks and gardens

El Retiro park
Watch a puppet show, receive a soothing massage using millenary techniques from the Far East, listen to live music, play some sport, row a boat or, simply, relax under a tree reading your favourite book. Everything is possible in the centre of Madrid, in El Retiro park, a favourite of Madrid's citizens and tourists.

Royal Botanical Garden 
Designed 250 years ago, this garden invites visitors to enjoy a pleasant stroll surrounded by thousands of live plant species. Among its collections there is a herbarium with over one million specimens, a library and an archive with almost 10,000 drawings, as well as an exhibition of 5,000 live plant species. It’s greenhouse keeps plants from other latitudes, from foreign orchids to carnivorous plants.

El Capricho park
With a romantic air and a slight French flavour, the gardens El Capricho were, in past times, owned by the Duchess of Osuna. A labyrinth, a palace or a pond are some of the most surprising and unexpected spots of the park.The perfect place for a walk on weekends and public holidays, the only days it opens. 

Secret Gardens 
Rarely visited by locals, these gardens are the city's best kept secret. Discover the Garden of the Príncipe de Anglona, the old wall or the cemetery of St. Sebastian.

Casa de Campo
Ride a bike, go canoeing, free fall, meet a panda, observe the city from up high, treat yourself to rice with lobster, see an exhibition or stroll along the Meaques Stream, are some of the options this park has to offer. One thing you will never do there is get bored.

One-day trips

World Heritage sites
There are nine UNESCO World Heritage locations situated just two hours away from the city: Alcalá de Henares, Toledo, Cuenca, Segovia, Ávila, Salamanca, Córdoba, the Monastery and Site of San Lorenzo de El Escorial and the Aranjuez Cultural Landscape.

Monte del Pardo
This place is just about 8 kilometers from the Puerta del Sol and is one of the best preserved Mediterranean forests in Europe. El Palacio Real del Pardo, La Casita del Príncipe and the Quinta del Duque de Arco are located within the heart of the forest, which was utilized by kings for their hunting expeditions.

Medieval Train
Madrid offers a special service called the Medieval Train, which can transport you to a city as wonderful as Sigüenza, and also can to take you on a journey back in time to the Middle Ages.