12 Things to do in Madrid | Your Guide to the Big City

Although Madrid is the capital of Spain, it doesn’t really boast a capital feel. With no real iconic photo or place to visit in Madrid to put a picture with the city, it’s hard to know what to do upon arrival. Before you head to Spain’s capital, be sure to check out this list of twelve things to do in Madrid. Hopefully, these things to do in Madrid will give you an insight of what to expect during your visit to the big city!



1. Find a Bakery and Grab Some Treats

If you keep your eyes open, you can find bakeries down many of the side streets in Madrid. The macaroons and other baked treats at the bakeries are to die for!


2. Walk Along the River

Along both sides of Rio Manzanares, you’ll find hundreds of people running, walking, and cycling at any point of the day. Join in the fun, but be sure to stay off the bike path!


3. Visit the La Latina Neighborhood

A small neighborhood of Madrid known for tapas and a younger crowd. La Latina can’t be missed.


4. Eat as Much Freshly Cut Ham as Possible

Ham shops are everywhere in Madrid. Be sure pop into one of them as often as you can. You should never be hungry walking around this city!


5. Check Out the Mercado de San Miguel

Although extremely busy at night, this place can’t be missed. Grab some salted peppers, sangria, and other tasty treats and take in the atmosphere. Be sure to bring cash, as some places are cash only!


6. Admire the Cathedral de Santa Maria de Real de la Almudena

Sitting on top of a hill, this cathedral is hard to miss. With a mandatory donation, you can go inside the cathedral, however, the views from the outside are lovely enough to keep this a free visit.


7. Shop at the Rastro Sunday Market

Extremely busy and packed with goods you wouldn’t even know you could buy in Spain this place is an experience. You can find scarves from €1 and buy other clothing and shoes or Spanish goods for just as cheap!

8. Work in the Palace of Communications

If you’re traveling, but need to get some work done, the Palace of Communications is the place for you. With comfy couches and free wifi, this is the worker’s hub of the city. Even if you’re not needing to work, pay this place a visit for the rich history portrayed throughout, and the view of the city from the top (€2).


 9. Take Night Shots of Puerta de Alcala

If you’re into photography, the Puerta de Alcala can’t be missed. Found between the Palace of Communications and El Retiro Park, this arch is a standing beauty. Grab a hot chocolate or coffee from a nearby café and shoot the night away!


10. Indulge in Hot Chocolate and Churros at Los Artesanos 1902 Churreria y Chocolateria 

You can’t just visit any chocolatier and get the experience you can get at Los Artesanos 1902 Churreria y Chocolateria. Watch fresh churros be made right before your eyes, and then take a seat and enjoy your dish! Be sure to order before you sit down with the man in the front of the café, as they only come to your table after you have ordered from the main man!


11. Stroll Through the Parks

Madrid is full of parks. Instead of always walking on the busy sidewalks, take a few detours through any of the many parks throughout the city.

12. Go to the Royal Palace

More specifically, go to the area around The Royal Palace. Here you will find street performers, beautiful buildings, the backside of Cathedral de Santa Maria la Real de la Almudena, and a large plaza to people watch at.



There were a few places we would have liked to visit, however, always got distracted by something else so never got the chance to. They were all recommended to us by a couple different people, so we want to recommend them to you too. Maybe next time we’re in Madrid we’ll visit them and get to share photos of them with you!

El Retiro Park – In the same area as Puerta de Alcala and Palace of Communication.

Temple of Debod – Supposed to be gorgeous for sunset!

Museo Nacional del Prado – Well known museum in Madrid. If museums are your thing, check this one out.

We also highly recommend taking a day trip out of Madrid. If you have the time or are wanting a little escape from the big city, Toledo is an absolutely amazing getaway. It’s only a 30-minute train ride outside of Madrid making it quite the easy to access. You can learn more about Toledo here.



Recommended Gear for Visiting the Madrid, Spain

Travel Bag:

We always travel with this backpack. It doesn’t really look like a backpacker’s bag, has so many compartments to store and hide your belongings, and the zippers can connect to each other making it difficult for someone to just unzip the bag while you’re walking around.

Camera Set Up:

All photos in this post were taken with this camera using mainly this lens, and occasionally this one. You can check out a full list of our camera gear here.

Water Bottle:

It’s actually safe to drink the water in Spain, so just filling this water bottle each time you leave your accommodation will save you some cash! And the best part is, this bottle keeps liquids cold for 24 hours and hot for 6 hours – so your water will stay cold all day, or you could fill it with coffee to go!


Don’t forget any of these things to do in Madrid…Pin this post for your next trip to the city!


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