TOP 20 places to see in Madrid

The Spanish capital is a true treasure trove for any traveler. The Prado Museum, the Royal Palace, majestic cathedrals, and beautiful squares are just a small part of Madrid's splendor. We've taken the trouble out of your hands and compiled a list of 20 must-visit places in Madrid to ensure you don't miss out on the most interesting sights.
14 september 2021
11 min

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1. Museo Nacional del Prado

Start your visit to the Spanish capital by visiting one of the most famous museums not only in the country but in the world — the Prado. This treasure trove houses a colossal collection of over 6,000 paintings, more than 400 sculptures, and various jewelry pieces.

Museo Nacional del Prado
Photo author - Carlos Jiménez

In Madrid, at the Prado, you can see works by such renowned Spanish masters as Goya, Velázquez, and El Greco, as well as paintings by Italian and Dutch painters: Botticelli, Raphael, Titian, Rubens, Van Dyck, and others.

Address: Paseo del Prado

Opening hours: daily, except Sunday, from 10:00 to 20:00. On Sundays and holidays — from 10:00 to 19:00. Closed on January 1, May 1, and December 25. On December 24 and 31, as well as January 6, the museum is open from 10:00 to 14:00.

Ticket price: €14. For seniors over 65, members of large families, and youth cardholders — €7. Free entry for children under 18, students (18-25 years old), and people with disabilities free entry to the museum on Sundays and two hours before closing.

TIP: You can save significantly by purchasing the Paseo del Arte card: it allows you to visit Madrid's three largest museums — Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, and Reina Sofia Museum — with a 20% discount on tickets. Moreover, the card is valid for one year from the date of purchase.

2. Queen Sofía National Museum Art Centre

At Reina Sofia, unlike the pompous and traditional Prado, you can explore the history of art from the 20th century to the present day. The museum features an extensive collection of works by avant-garde artists (Juan Gris, Picasso) and surrealists (Dalí, Miró, Magritte). Here, you can see Picasso's famous "Guernica".

Queen Sofía National Museum Art Centre
Photo author - bibirinnae

Address: Santa Isabel Street, 52. The building is located near Atocha station (within walking distance). You can also get there by metro (lines 1 and 3, Atocha and Lavapiés stations, respectively) or by bus.

Opening hours: the arts center is open on Monday and from Wednesday to Saturday from 10:00 to 21:00.

Ticket price: €8, temporary exhibitions — €4.

3. The Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum

Along with the Prado and Reina Sofia Center, this museum is part of Madrid's so-called "Golden Triangle of Art" — a small area where the city's various museums are concentrated.

You can easily "get lost" for several hours exploring the collection of paintings gathered here, as it spans 800 years! You'll find paintings of all trends and styles: Picasso, Chagall, Kandinsky, and Dalí, as well as exquisite works by Italian masters of the 13th-14th centuries. Everyone will find something to their liking: Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Impressionism, and Post-Impressionism — the variety of the collection will leave no one indifferent.

Address: Paseo del Prado, 8 (near Banco de España metro station, line 2).

Ticket price: €10, for concessionary categories of visitors — €7.

Opening hours: permanent collection — from 12:00 to 16:00 on Monday and from 10:00 to 19:00 on other days. The opening hours of temporary exhibitions vary, so it's best to check the museum's website.

How to get there: in addition to the metro, you can reach the museum by bus (numbers 1, 2, 5, 9, 10, 14, 15, 20, 27, 34, 37, 41, 51-53, 74, 150).

4. Royal Palace of Madrid

Like many royal residences in Europe, the Royal Palace is now used only for official events, and at other times it is open to tourists and guests. The building is beautiful in itself, and inside it impresses with exquisite interiors and a rich collection of art. In addition, the palace houses a museum and an observation deck that offers a magnificent view of the city.

Royal Palace of Madrid
Photo author - Julio Rubio

Address: Calle de Bailén, s/n, 28071 Madrid.

Opening hours: see how the Spanish monarchs lived daily from 09:30 to 17:00 (October – March) and from 09:00 to 18:00 (April – September).

Ticket price: €10 (adult) and €5 (child).

5. Plaza Mayor

What to see in Madrid? Certainly the main city square. One of the most beautiful squares in Madrid and a starting point for sightseeing, Plaza Mayor attracts tourists for good reason. The square is surrounded by old houses with balconies, from where nobles and royalty used to watch performances. One such house, the former bakery Casa de la Panaderia in the northern part of the square, is open today for visitors to admire beautiful frescoes and medieval interiors. The house is open daily from 11:00 to 14:00 and from 17:00 to 20:00.

Main square of Madrid
Photo author - Sebastian

Plaza Mayor is especially beautiful in the evening when the lights of numerous cafes under the arches and the whimsical lanterns on the square are lit. The square is easily reachable on foot from Atocha station in 15-20 minutes.

6. Plaza de Cibeles

Another gem of Madrid that you simply must not miss. The square is named after the sculpture of the goddess Cybele that adorns the fountain here (literally, Plaza de Cibeles translates as "Cybele's Square").

Plaza de Cibeles
Photo author - Paul Alderson

The square features a stunning ensemble of beautiful buildings: the Bank of Spain, the Linares and Buenavista Palaces, but the brightest of all is the Palacio de Cibeles. Built in the Art Nouveau style, this white beauty with elegant towers looks like a sculpture made of ivory or pearl, especially if you come here in the evening when the palace is beautifully illuminated.

How to get there: from Atocha station, take bus No. 10 (towards "Cibeles") and get off at the stop of the same name. Or walk for 20-30 minutes (a good way to see the city "live" rather than from the window of transport).

7. El Escorial

If time allows, it's worth spending a day and heading to El Escorial. Tourists are mainly attracted not only by the palace itself but also by the magnificent 16th-century monastery — San Lorenzo de El Escorial.

El Escorial
Photo author - Terry Kearney

The palace impresses with its size and somewhat gloomy, restrained beauty, making it look more like a fortress than a traditional royal residence. El Escorial houses two museums: one dedicated to the history of the palace's construction and another showcasing works of art from the 15th-17th centuries collected by Spanish monarchs.

Address: Av Juan de Borbón y Battemberg

Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 18:00 (October – March) and from 10:00 to 20:00 (April – September).

Ticket price: €10 and €5 (concessions). Free entry for children under 5 and people with disabilities (with proof), as well as on May 18 (Museum Day) and October 12. Also free entry on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 15:00 to 18:00 (October–March) and from 17:00 to 20:00 (April–September) for those with a work permit in EU countries.

The easiest way to get to El Escorial from Madrid is by train, which takes about 1.5 hours. From Atocha station, take the C2 train (direction Chamartin) and get off at the final station. Then transfer to C8 (direction El Escorial) and go to the final stop. The round trip will cost €16.

8. The Cathedral of Saint Mary the Royal of the Almudena

The capital of Spain is famous not only for its majestic palaces and beautiful squares but also for its magnificent cathedrals. One of these is The Cathedral of Saint Mary the Royal of the Almudena.

Although the cathedral is relatively young (built in the 20th century), it is nonetheless as beautiful as the capital's "veterans" like the Cathedral of Saint Francis. The interior of the church is in the traditional Gothic style, with numerous arched windows and stained glass, filling the space with light.

Catedral de Santa María la Real de la Almudena
Photo author - Eric Titcombe

Address: Calle de Bailén, 10

Opening hours: July-August from 10:00 to 21:00, and the rest of the year from 09:00 to 20:30.

Free entry.

How to get there? You can reach the cathedral by bus No. 3, 39, and 148 from Opera metro station.

9. Glass Palace

This architectural marvel is located in Retiro Park, in the heart of Madrid. Built of metal and glass, the palace resembles a giant diamond shining in the sunlight. Inside, there is an artificial lake with stairs descending directly into the water, tropical plants, and flowers.

Photo author - Carlos Alberto Mejía Peralta

Address: Paseo República de Cuba, 4

Opening Hours: The palace is open from Monday to Saturday from 11:00 to 20:00. On Saturdays, it's open from 11:00 to 18:00. Free entry.

10. Buen Retiro Park

If Madrid's landmarks tire you out and you want to escape the hustle of streets and crowds in museums and palaces, welcome to Buen Retiro Park. Located in the center of Madrid, this green oasis is a perfect place to recharge and take a refreshing stroll.

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You can leisurely walk along winding chestnut alleys, sit in the shade by the pond, or admire the Glass Palace — in the evening lights, it's simply magical! You can also spend a whole day here and have a picnic (the park has specially equipped areas for this).

How to get there? Buen Retiro Park is located just behind the Prado Museum. You can take the red line No. 2 metro to the "Retiro" station.

11. The Convent of Las Descalzas Reales

This monastery, located on Plaza de las Descalzas, is a must-visit on any visitor's tour of Madrid.

The convent, whose name translates as "Barefoot Princesses Monastery," was founded in 1559 by Infanta Juana of Austria and is renowned not only for its impressive interior but also for its rich collection of art objects. You might ask, what does art have to do with it?

The point is that this institution mainly admitted women from noble Spanish families and even royal blood, each bringing her dowry as a gift to the monastery. Thus, over the years, a whole collection was gathered, and no wonder Descalzas Reales was once the richest monastery in Europe!

The Convent of Las Descalzas Reales
Photo author - Kees de Haan

Today, it resembles more of a museum where visitors can see works by Caravaggio, Rubens, Titian, and other masters, as well as astonishing tapestries, marble statues, and a collection of silver items.

You can walk here from Atocha Station in half an hour. This option is convenient not only because you save on transport but also because you can stop by Plaza Mayor, Puerta del Sol, Plaza Descalzas, and Plaza de San Martin along the way.

Address: Plaza de las Descalzas

Opening Hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 10:00 to 14:00 and from 16:00 to 18:30. Sundays and holidays from 10:00 to 15:00.

Ticket Price: €6 (children under 5 years old — free). Please note that the monastery offers guided tours only (groups of 20 people) and only in Spanish. The tour lasts about 45 minutes, so it's best to arrive early to see everything.

12. Royal Basilica of Saint Francis the Great

If you find visiting churches boring, a visit to the Royal Cathedral of Saint Francis will surely change your mind.

In addition to its rich decoration and majestic interior (after all, it is royal!), the cathedral is famous for its impressive dome: at 58 meters high and with a diameter of 33 meters, it is the largest in Spain. Another pride is its seven chapels, painted by great masters such as Goya and Zurbarán.

Royal Basilica of Saint Francis the Great
Photo author - Pablo Meilán

Opening Hours: Tuesday to Friday from 11:00 to 12:30 and from 16:00 to 18:30. On Saturdays, from 11:00 to 13:30.

Ticket Price: €3.

How to Get There? You can get there by metro (line 5, La Latina and Puerta de Toledo stations) or by bus (No. 3, 17, 18, 23, 31, 35, 36, 41, 50, 60, 65, 148, 749, C1, C2).

13. Temple of Debod

Did you know that in Madrid you can see a real ancient Egyptian temple? And you don't even have to step into another museum for it. The temple is located in Del Oste Park, so you can combine your visit with a stroll in nature. It was a gift to Spain from Egypt for its help in saving temples from flooding.

Photo author - fabioresti

Opening Hours: Visit the Egyptian sanctuary for free from 10:00 to 14:00 and from 16:00 to 20:00.

The temple and park are within walking distance from the Royal Palace and Almudena Cathedral.

Tip: The temple looks particularly beautiful in the evening when it is lit up.

14. Casa de Campo

Locals call this green giant the "lungs of Madrid." Formerly royal hunting grounds, today the park is a favorite place for residents and guests of the capital to relax. Here you can not only walk in the shade of alleys but also visit the zoo, ride the funicular or attractions, and even have a picnic by the lake. In short, it's a perfect place for a day of relaxation and leisure.

You can reach the park by metro (Lago station on line 10 or Alto de Extremadura on line 6).

15. Royal Botanical Garden

Right in the center of Madrid, there is an excellent place to relax and connect with nature. It's none other than the Royal Botanical Garden. Here you'll find specimens of flora from all over Spain, as well as from Europe and the islands of the Pacific Ocean, with greenhouses.

Royal Botanical Garden
Photo author - MADRID, LA CIUDAD QU

Visitors can confidently "disconnect" from the hustle and bustle of the big city and enjoy the silence and stunning beauty of the plants collected here: birches, cedars, palms, and a sea of various flowers of all sorts and colors! And on your way out, you can buy live flowers or seeds to bring a piece of Madrid home with you.

Address: Plaza de Murillo, 2, the garden is located near Retiro Park.

Ticket Price: €3.

16. Romanticism Museum

A must-see for all romantically inclined individuals to add an unusual detail to their image of the Spanish capital.

The museum's pride is its extensive collection of paintings and decor items from the 18th-19th centuries. Particularly impressive is the collection of miniatures from a very popular painting genre of that time, as well as furniture. And charming knick-knacks for decorating the interior will certainly not leave anyone indifferent.

Romanticism Museum
Photo author - Jose Javier Martin Espartosa

Address: Calle de San Mateo, 13

Opening Hours: From November 1 to April 1, Tuesday to Saturday from 09:30 to 18:30. On Sundays, from 10:00 to 15:00. From May 1 to October 1, the museum is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10:00 to 20:30 and on Sundays from 10:00 to 15:00.

Ticket Price: €3. Free admission every Saturday after 14:00 and every Sunday.

The nearest metro stations to the museum are Alonso Martinez and Tribunal.

17. Bullfighting Museum

Your impression of Madrid will be incomplete if you do not visit this museum. Bullfighting is a national pastime of Spaniards, originating here, so it's no wonder that the museum dedicated to it is located in the bullring of Las Ventas. You will learn how and where bullfighting originated, familiarize yourself with its rules, and also see the costumes of matadors and learn their history.

Address: Calle de Alcala, 237. The nearest metro stations are Ventas and El Carmen.

Museum opening hours: Tuesday to Friday from 09:30 to 14:30, Sunday and holidays - from 10:00 to 13:00. Paid entrance.

18. Royal Gobelins Manufactory

You can see how tapestries are woven and even purchase one as a souvenir at the Royal Tapestry Factory. Founded in 1721, it still holds the title of the country's most famous producer of high-quality, magnificent tapestries.

Royal Gobelins Manufactory
Photo author - IBERDROLA

Address: The factory is located near Atocha station, at Calle de Fuenterrabia, 2. You can reach it by bus No. 24, 14, 37, 54, 102, 141, and 26.

Opening Hours: Monday to Friday from 10:00 to 14:00.

Ticket Price: €4, children (6-12 years old) - €3.

19.Market of San Miguel

To feel the spirit of authentic Madrid, head to San Miguel Market, located at Plaza de San Miguel. Here you can not only taste delicious traditional tapas in one of the many eateries or buy local delicacies but also immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere of the city with its variety of colors, sounds, and, of course, divine aromas!

Market of San Miguel
Photo author - Context Travel

Address: Plaza de San Miguel.

Market Hours: Thursday to Saturday from 10:00 to 02:00, other days from 10:00 to 00:00.

You can get here by metro (lines 1, 2, 3, Puerta del Sol station or lines 2 and 5, Opera station), as well as by bus No. 3 and 16.

20. Chocolatería San Gines

To conclude your visit to the Spanish capital in the best traditions of the Madrilenians, have a cup of hot chocolate with churros, traditional Spanish doughnuts. And the best place for this in Madrid is Chocolatería San Gines.

Chocolatería San Gines
Photo author - David McLaughlin

Founded in 1894, the chocolatería is very popular among both locals and tourists. The interior is in a classic style of the late 19th century, with cozy green sofas and mirrors, and there's also a quiet courtyard with tables at your service.

Due to the large number of visitors, it's best to come here in the morning when there are available seats.

Address: Pasadizo de San Ginés, 5 (you can walk from Puerta del Sol).

Opening Hours: Open 24 hours (break from 13:30 to 17:00).

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