The Ultimate Madrid Travel Guide for an Amazing Vacation (2020)

Madrid, the largest city in Spain, also happens to be the capital city.

Spanning a total of 233.3 mi², Madrid is the third most populated municipality in the EU following Great Britain and Berlin, with its metropolitan area population being approximately 6 million. 

Madrid serves as the political center for Spain, and its standard of living, economic output, and market size makes it a prominent financial center for Southern Europe and the Iberian Peninsula. 

It combines the conveniences of modern infrastructure with historic streets and neighborhoods, numerous landmarks, and cultural wonders that will ensure you have the vacation of a lifetime. 

The options in Madrid are plentiful, and we’ll cover as much as we can in this Madrid travel guide.

Read on to learn more about where to stay, what to eat, and what to do when traveling in Madrid.  

Things to do

Gasping in awe at the medieval and contemporary Spanish architecture. Admiring the masterpieces of Picasso or Salvador Dalí. Indulging in delectable tapas and wine tastings. Exploring the city after-dark for cocktails and dancing until dawn. 

Madrid never runs out of places, food, and activities for visitors to fill their day with. 

Don’t let your vacation come to an end without ticking off these experiences.

Palacio Real

Royal Palace (Palacio Real) Madrid

The Palacio Real (Royal Palace) is the largest and most beautiful building in the city. It’s located next to the Plaza de Oriente square on the site of the Moorish Alcázar fortress-palace which had burned in 1734. 

It also happens to be the largest royal palace in Western Europe.

Filippo Juvarra first designed the palace for Felipe V’s court with more than 3000 courtiers. The project was initiated by Juan Bautista Sacchetti in 1737 and terminated by Ventura Rodríguez.

The palace has ceramics, furniture, paintings, and tapestries, along with artwork and frescos by Tiépolo, Velázquez, Mengs, Goya, and Giordano, making it one of the most notable museums in Europe. It exhibits neoclassical and baroque artwork styles.

Campo del Moro (the palace gardens) is also a must-visit.

Purchasing a ticket will give you access to certain areas of the palace. These are open all year, except when official receptions and ceremonies are being hosted. 

The entrance fee is included if you have the Madrid Card, and you can even choose to go on a guided tour of the palace for an additional fee.  

Retiro Park

Crystal Palace (Palacio de cristal) in Retiro Park, Madrid
Crystal Palace in Retiro Park

Retiro Park, El Retiro, or Parque de Madrid, is the major park in Madrid. It covers 350 acres.

Planned in the 1550s, it was redesigned as per instructions from Gaspar de Guzmán, who included a palace and theatre which saw the production of comedies of the Spanish playwright, Lope de Vega. 

Sadly, both were burned in 1734. 

Although King Ferdinand VI ordered that the palace be rebuilt, it was razed during the Peninsular War, with its remains now serving as the War Museum.

Major attractions of the park include:

 • The lake: Once used to host water shows, such as mock naval battles, this lake can usually be seen full of couples and families taking rowboat rides. 

 • Casita del Pescador: A small house that has bright colors, resembling a dollhouse and is situated on a pond, next to a tiny mountain and waterfall.

 • Palacio de Cristal: The Crystal Palace is made almost completely with glass, and you get to see sunlight coming in through the glass panes while appreciating the art exhibitions that are changed seasonally.

 • Rose Garden: Features more than 4000 roses in bloom in numerous colors, sizes, and shapes, with fountains and benches to make you feel like you’re in the middle of a fairy tale.

 • Paseo de las Estatuas (Statue Walk): A path decorated with 18th-century statues of Spain’s royalty.

El Prado

El Prado Museum - one of the top things to do in Madrid

The Prado Museum, also called Museo Nacional del Prado, is the main art museum in Madrid.

It has one of the finest European art collections in the world, with works dating between the 12th and early 20th century. 

In 1819, it was founded as a museum of sculpture and paintings. Highlights of the collection displayed at the Prado Museum include works of Francisco Goya, El Greco, Hieronymus Bosch, Peter Paul Rubens, Diego Velázquez, and Titian. 

Some of the must-see paintings in the museum include Las Meninas, Saturn Devouring His Son, and The Garden of Earthly Delights.

Where to stay

Madrid has numerous hotels, hostels, apartments, and Airbnbs that you can stay in depending on your budget and the kind of experience you’re looking for. 

Three great places to stay that can make your vacation a memorable one include:

Only You Hotel Atocha

Only You Atocha Hotel Lobby - Madrid
Credit: Only You Hotel Atocha/Palladium Hotel Group

Located between Retiro Park and the Atocha train station, this hotel is a 19th-century building sporting themed artwork.

A massive bookcase adorns the lobby’s center, and personal trainers are available at the 24-hour gym. There’s also room service, parking facilities, a bar, laundry services, Wi-Fi, and restaurants to satisfy your taste buds. 

Seven floors have 205 rooms suited for your comfort with wooden floors, wall-mounted TVs, huge rain showers, and hairdryers. There are also seven adapted rooms for guests with disabilities. 

Palacio Plaza Conde de Miranda

Palacio Plaza Conde de Miranda is  located in the heart of Madrid de Los Austrias, the oldest area of Madrid. It will give you easy access to the most beautiful and atmospheric section of the city. 

Sleek and modern, the apartments feature themed décor inspired by couples and duos from history, films, cartoons, and books. 

There is Wi-Fi, laundry services, parking facility, car rental assistance, as well as assistance with restaurant bookings and excursions. There are 1 and 2 bedroom units. All units include a kitchen and are brightly lit. 

The ground floor is adapted for people with disabilities, and the family-friendly property has elevators. 

The hardest decision you will have to make is whether you want to stay in the Han and Leia apartment or the Thelma and Louise apartment.

Room Mate Alba

This 4-star hotel offers the right balance between classic and contemporary characteristics. You won’t find bland beige walls here. 

This centrally located hotel takes great pride in its decoration as well as its proximity to the Barrio de las Letras.

On the streets of the Barrio de las Letras, or Madrid’s Literary Quarter, you’ll see golden quotes in the pavement from writers such as Cervantes and Lope de Vega.

The hotel also has a fitness center where you can stay active, as well as laundry and room services, parking, and Wi-Fi. 

Eighty rooms are available in the hotel with two lavish suite options. Some rooms have balconies that overlook the streets and feature bathrooms with ornate tiling. 

The hotel is family-friendly and has two accessible rooms. 

Neighborhoods in Madrid

Mural in the Lavapies neighborhood of Madrid
Mural in Lavapiés

It’s no secret that Madrid is an energetic and beautiful city.

It’s teeming with so much diverse culture, art, and gastronomic escapades that there’s bound to be a neighborhood or two that matches the vibe you’re looking for during your vacation. 

Some of the best barrios to stay in Madrid include:

For sightseeing: Centro and Retiro

For nightlife: La Latina, Malasaña, Lavapiés, Chueca, and Huertas

For family trips: Centro, Argüelles, and Retiro

For a local vibe: Malasaña

For first-time visitors: Centro and Retiro.

With most of Madrid’s attractions like the Royal Palace, Plaza Mayor, Retiro Park, and three world-renowned art museums in Centro and Retiro, you’ll want to stay here if it’s your first visit to Madrid. 

The two neighborhoods are also well-connected to the metro line and are a 20-minute walk from each other. 

Safety in Madrid neighborhoods

Areas like Salamanca and Retiro are the safest neighborhoods in Madrid. 

Centro, Lavapiés, La Latina, Chueca, Huertas, Argüelles, Malasaña, and Moncloa are also safe. 

Sections of La Latina, Malasaña, Chueca, Lavapiés, and Huertas can get sketchy at night, so make sure you stick to streets that are well lit. 

Always be aware of pickpockets, especially in La Latina’s Rastro flea market and Lavapiés.

What to eat

Dinner is eaten around 9:00 or 10:00 pm in Madrid. Pretty late by American standards.

So, this is something you should prepare for and keep in mind as you are planning your trip since some restaurants aren’t open during what you might think of as “regular” dining hours. 

All this is worth the effort though, as Spain has some seriously delicious food. 

Some dishes that we recommend you try are:   

  • Croquetas
  • Churros y chocolate
  • Cocido madrileño
  • Tortilla de patatas
  • Jamón ibérico 
  • Buñuelos de bacalao
  • Patatas bravas
  • Gambas al ajillo
  • Bocadillo de calamares

Looking for something less traditional? Check out our review of Takos al Pastor.

Best Madrid neighborhoods for food

Best Madrid neighborhoods for food

Some popular neighborhoods with the best food in Madrid are:

  • La Latina: Cava Baja is La Latina’s most famous food street, offering many reasonably priced traditional dishes.

  • Chueca: You’ll find restaurants serving food from across the globe to satisfy your taste buds in Chueca.

  • Malasaña: A youthful and trendy neighborhood that is home to Casa Julio, known for having the best croquetas in Madrid.

  • Chamberí: From traditional eats and food markets to Texas BBQ, Chamberí has a little bit of everything.

  • Lavapiés: Head to this neighborhood to get a taste of international food, whether it’s African, Asian, or Mexican cuisine. 

How to get around using public transportation 

Exploring Madrid is made easy thanks to its efficient and extensive public transport system.

You can conveniently get to almost anywhere in the city using the following services:

Madrid Metro

Getting around Madrid using public transportation

This is the quickest and best means to get around the city and runs daily from 6:00 am – 1:30 am. To pay the fare for your destination, you will need to buy and load up a Multi card.

You can purchase these at any Metro station or authorized sales outlets for €2.50. The Multi card is valid for 10 years. Metro fares start at €1.50, one way.

Bus

A public bus in Madrid
Credit: Kevin.B / CC BY-SA

There are around 2,000 buses in Madrid that connect to almost everywhere in the city. They operate from 6:00 am – 11:30 am on weekdays and 7:00 am – 11:00 pm on the weekends. 

Special night buses locally known as “búhos” (owls) run from Sunday to Friday from 11:55 pm – 6:00 am. 

A single one-way ticket costs €1.50. You also have the option to buy a 10-Trip Metrobus ticket for €12.20 or 10 Trips with transfer for €18.30.

Cercanías

Cercanias suburban trains in Madrid
Credit: I, Mdiagom / CC BY-SA

Cercanías is Madrid’s local train service that takes you to the suburbs and other nearby provinces. The trains run every day, with service starting between 5:00 am and 6:00 am and ending around midnight. 

Fare prices depend on which zone you are heading to and range from €1.75 – €5.55 for a single ticket and €10.10 – €38.30 for a 10-journey Train pass. 

The single ticket is valid for the next two hours while the train pass should be used within one month. 

BiciMAD

BiciMad bikes for rent
Credit: Microsiervos Geek Crew / CC BY 2.0

BiciMAD is a public bike rental service in Madrid. It’s made up of 2,028 eco-friendly electric bikes that can be used to tour around the city, especially for short rides within central Madrid. 

To use the bikes, go to any bike station near you and register either as an annual subscriber or an occasional user. 

Occasional users are issued BiciMAD travel cards that either have a 1, 3, or 5-day validity. 

Although the BiciMAD travel card is free, a hold amount of €150 will be placed on your credit card. This hold will be released once the validity period has ended and the BiciMAD travel card has been returned. 

Occasional user rates are €2 for the first hour and €4 for the second hour. These rates are charged separately from the €150 hold. 

Annual subscribers are required to pay an annual rate before they are issued a BiciMAD annual subscriber card.

The annual rate is €25, but if the subscriber is also a Madrid Tourist Travel Pass Holder, the annual rate is discounted to €15. 

To use the annual subscriber card to pay for your rides, you must first load a balance onto the card.

The first 30 minutes are charged at €0.50. After that, the rate changes to €0.60 per every 30 minutes. The total amount, based on how long you used the bike for, is charged to the available balance on the annual subscriber card.

Renting a car in Madrid

Renting a car in Madrid

Although renting a car will give you more flexibility when getting around, this may not be the cheapest or most convenient alternative. 

Unless you’re traveling with a fairly large group, the rates will cost more than using the bus or metro. You’ll also need to pay for gas and toll fees. 

Aside from that, looking for parking spaces can be expensive and difficult in Madrid. 

Traffic jams in the city can start as early as 5:00 am. Thus, taking the bus and metro might be a better idea if you want to stay within your budget and not have the stress of dealing with traffic. 

Nevertheless, renting a car might be the best option depending on your situation and how you prefer to travel. 

The major rental car companies have offices in the city or airports where you can book a car, but it’s best to reserve a car before arriving in Madrid. 

To rent a car in Madrid, you’ll need to be at least 21 years old. You must present a valid driver’s license, an international driver’s permit, passport for the main driver, and a credit card matching the name on the rental contract. 

Taxi and ridesharing

Woman waiting for a taxi in Madrid

Hailing a taxi in Madrid is fairly easy and is also a suitable option when you’re roaming the city at night or if you’re carrying a lot of bags. 

Official taxis are white with a red diagonal stripe across the driver and front passenger-side doors and carry the city’s emblem. 

Some drivers may not speak English so it would be best to take note of the address beforehand.

It’s also advised to make sure the taximeters are turned on to avoid possible unfair pricing by the driver. 

The minimum fare from Monday through Friday between 6:00 am – 9:00 pm is €2.50, and is priced at €1.10 per kilometer. On Saturdays, the minimum fare is also €2.50 from 6:00 am – 9:00 pm but the per kilometer rate is €1.35. On Sundays, the minimum fare is €3.15 and the price per kilometer is €1.35. 

The Sunday pricing structure also applies to all the other days of the week from 9:00 pm – 6:00 am.

You can also use ridesharing services if you find it more comfortable than taxis and other public transportation. 

These offer the convenience of being able to book from your phone and might help you navigate the language barrier. However, ridesharing services are not as widespread as taxis so you may experience longer wait times. 

Uber and Cabify are two of the available ridesharing services in Madrid. 

Overall, we recommend using taxis instead of ridesharing services to get around Madrid. 

Getting to Madrid from the airport

Interior of Madrid-Barajas Adolfo Suárez Airport

Madrid’s airport is located in Barajas, 8 miles northeast of the city center. 

To get to the city center, here are the easiest and fastest ways:

Metro

It only takes you about 30 minutes to get to the city center via the Metro. You will need to purchase a single journey transport ticket for €1.50 and pay €4.50 for the airport supplement charge. 

24-hour Airport Express Bus

A bus line called the Exprés Aeropuerto can take you from the airport to Atocha Railway Station between 6:00 am – 11:30 pm or Plaza Cibeles if traveling beyond 11:30 pm. 

The journey takes approximately 30 minutes and costs €5.00. This service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Airport Transfer Service

The most relaxing way to travel to the city is by booking an airport transfer service.

A chauffeur will pick you up at the airport in a comfortable air-conditioned car and drop you off at your hotel or any specific destination.

 Rates start at €39.00 for a sedan seating three passengers with two pieces of luggage. 

Taxi

A fixed-rate fare of €30.00 ($33.40) is now implemented for taxis taking passengers from the airport to any central location within the M-30 ring road. 

This rate is applicable 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Additional tips on getting around

You may want to consider buying the Madrid Tourist Travel Pass to save money if your itinerary involves a lot of bus or train rides to and from museums and attractions. 

The travel pass will allow you to have unlimited use of Madrid’s transportation network for 1 to 7 days depending on the length of your stay. 

Prices start at €8.40 for a 1-day pass and go up to €35.40 for the 7-day pass. 

Day trips from Madrid

Madrid’s location makes it perfect for taking day trips to other nearby cities. 

Popular day trips that you can take from Madrid include:

Toledo

The medieval town of Toledo, Spain

Toledo, a medieval town that looks like something out of Game of Thrones, has many artisanal, architectural, and artistic attractions that you should definitely include in your itinerary. 

The city is enclosed by the Tajo River on three sides and is best known for the following attractions:

Toledo Cathedral

The Santa Iglesia Catedral Primada de Toledo showcases the best representation of the Gothic style in Spain with its flying buttresses, spiral towers, pointed arches, and soaring dark interiors. 

The Cathedral is awe-inspiring both inside and out and is well worth the price of admission. An audio guide is included with every admission.

Islamic Gates and Mezquita del Cristo de la Luz

Mezquita del Cristo de la Luz is a mosque that was built in 999AD; it serves as the city’s best maintained Islamic monument. 

Nearby, you can find Toledo’s oldest gate, Puerta de Valmardón, which is 1600 years old.

Iglesia de Santo Tomé

The Iglesia de Santo Tomé is home to El entierro del conde de Orgaz, El Greco’s most famous artwork. This painting was inspired by a local legend from the 14th century. 

The legend states that when the Count of Orgaz was murdered, a man known for his philanthropy and piousness, Saint Augustine and Saint Stephen descended from the heavens to give him a proper burial.  

Alcázar

This spot had Visigoth and Muslim fortresses but was reconstructed by Charles V in the 16th century as the Spanish base. It now has a military museum and library.   

The Jewish Quarter

Out of 11 synagogues that existed in the area before the Inquisition, two remain in Toledo. The Jewish Quarter, El Tránsito, has a Sephardic museum you can visit. 

Accessibility in Toledo

If you have any mobility issues, please note that many of the streets in Toledo are steep and narrow. 

While there is a hop-on hop-off bus service, many of Toledo’s attractions cannot be accessed by this bus. 

If you or someone in your party is a wheelchair user and you would like extra guidance, we recommend booking a tour to Toledo through Accessible Madrid or a similar service. 

Salamanca

Cloister of las Dueñas in Salamanca, Spain

Salamanca lies approximately 120 miles west of Madrid and 50 miles east of the Portuguese border. It dates back to pre-ancient Rome, making it over 2000 years. 

It’s famous for having its Old City declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988 and for the University of Salamanca that has wonderful Renaissance baroque-style architecture. 

The university is also known for providing premium Spanish language lessons thus attracting thousands of foreign students wanting to learn Spanish. 

Salamanca’s main attractions include:

Salamanca University

This is considered one of the world’s most beautiful universities. Its facade is adorned with Plateresque style carvings added by Catholic kings in 1592. 

Plaza Mayor

Located in the heart of Salamanca, the Plaza Mayor is one of Spain’s largest squares and was completed in 1755. It features baroque architecture with intricate decorations and is considered a National Monument.

Casa de las Conchas

This historical building was built by Rodrigo Arias de Maldonado, a knight from the Order of Santiago de Compostela, with the work having been completed in 1517.

Primarily Gothic architecture is mixed with Renaissance and Mudejar features, but the real standout here are the over 300 shells that decorate the building. In fact, its name translates to “House of Shells”.

Museo Art Nouveau y Art Deco Casa Lis

Housed in the ancient city walls of Salamanca, this decorative arts museum displays works from the late 19th century until World War II.

Although the museum also displays sculptures and paintings, the majority of its collection consists of highly decorative utilitarian objects.

Convento de San Esteban

Built as a convent in the 16th and 17th centuries for the Order of the Dominicans, this features characteristics from the Baroque and Renaissance architectural styles.

Segovia

Segovia is a hot-summer Mediterranean province 42 miles north of Madrid that’s easily accessible by high-speed train. Its city center is also a World Heritage Site. 

Segovia is full of awe-inspiring Romanesque architecture. The squares and cobblestone streets in the Old Town are medieval and somewhat romantic.

Some of Segovia’s main attractions are:

Aqueduct of Segovia

This is the main highlight and the foremost symbol of Segovia. It was built nearly two millennia ago to transport drinking water from La Acebeda to the Alcázar. 

About 25,000 granite blocks were used to build this structure without any kind of mortar holding it together. Thus, making it one of the “extraordinary engineering accomplishments” existing in the country to date. 

Alcázar of Segovia

Originally built as a military fortress, the Alcázar of Segovia is said to be one of the inspirations for Disney’s Cinderella Castle. Its fairytale-like silhouette and exquisite architecture attract many visitors. 

Segovia Cathedral

Located in the main square of Segovia, the cathedral features paintings, sculptures, and other artwork. It was constructed in the late Gothic style. 

Mirador de la Pradera de San Marcos

This park serves as the grounds of the San Marcos church and is great when visited during springtime. It offers beautiful views of the Alcázar of Segovia.

Museo de Segovia

This fortified building features over 1,500 pieces spanning many years, including Renaissance paintings, Roman mosaics, coins from different eras, and religious sculptures.

Weather and best times to visit

Rainy fall weather in Madrid

Madrid weather overall tends to be dry and sunny, but there are extremes. 

Travel seasons are as follows:

July and August (High season)

This happens to be the hottest season of the year when most tourists visit. Locals are usually on vacation in August, resulting in closed businesses and high accommodation costs.

March-May, September and October (Shoulder season)

This is the ideal time of the year to visit Madrid, especially in the second half of May and September. You can walk around the city with the right temperatures, and the streets won’t be overcrowded with tourists.

November-February, except during Christmas holidays (Low season)

Apart from Christmas, the winter season is a low season in Madrid, marked by very few tourists. The chilly weather does not reach below freezing, and the still shining sun makes it feel warmer than it actually is. 

A mini high season exists around Christmas from mid-December until the week of January 1st when the city is busy, so if you’re planning a trip at this time, make sure to book well in advance.

What to wear

What to wear in Madrid

First and foremost, dress according to the weather. 

In springtime, you’ll want to wear trousers, skirts, lightweight tops, and a jacket that can be taken off quickly if it gets too hot. 

Sandals usually come in handy in May, but wear them with jeans, not shorts, and don’t ever put your socks on before your sandals.   

Scarves are also hugely popular in Madrid, irrespective of the time of year. 

They can add a European flair to your look while giving you something to cover your shoulders with if you are visiting churches. Scarves in different colors and tones are perfect to pair with your wardrobe when on the streets of Madrid. 

Hats and sunglasses can be a great way to keep yourself protected and stylish as you take a walk in Madrid’s attractions. 

This sophisticated city requires you to dress up; a sweatpants culture just won’t cut it here. For women, it’s a good idea to pack a dress or two for some nights out. 

Blending in is important because it can show the locals that you’ve taken the time to understand their culture and customs, paving the way for friendlier interactions.

 It also helps by protecting you from thieves and being the victim of other petty crimes by making you look less like a tourist.

Currency and language

Madrid’s currency is the Euro. At the time of publishing, the conversion rate was 1.00 EUR = 1.12 USD. Conversion rates change frequently, so make sure to check them closer to your departure date. 

Spanish is Madrid’s official language, but English is also spoken and understood by many people. Other languages spoken in some areas of Spain include Basque, Galician, and Catalan. 

We recommend learning some key phrases in Spanish before heading to Madrid. Putting in the effort to learn a bit of the local language is always taken positively and will lead to smoother interactions. 

Tips for traveling in Madrid with limited mobility

Traveling in Madrid with limited mobility

 Your adventures shouldn’t be halted by limited mobility. Madrid has well-connected transport facilities that make it easy for those with limited mobility to still enjoy their trip.

Metro and Cercanías

Madrid’s metro facility has 50% stops that are accessible for those in a wheelchair. Information services and metro maps available at each station mention which stations offer elevators and disability access. 

As part of the national train company, RENFE, the Cercanías suburban trains have been adapted to accommodate disabled travelers. 

Taxi

A specialized taxi company called Eurotaxi caters to the disabled in Madrid and operates 24 hours a day, with wheelchair ramps and interiors that are spacious. They also have an app you can download and use to request a taxi.

Bus 

The Madrid EMT (Empresa Municipal de Transportes) bus service caters to those with limited mobility. You can visit the EMT site here for more information about using the bus system if you use a wheelchair or other mobility aids.

Additional information 

While you will find some steep hills in Madrid, most streets are fairly flat and the majority of crossings have ramps to make getting around in a wheelchair possible. 

Most attractions in Madrid are also equipped for those with limited mobility, and renting a wheelchair is made easy through companies like Accessible Madrid.

Nightlife

Nightlife in Madrid

Madrid Party Culture

From pub crawls, to trendy nightclubs and dancing until the break of dawn, Madrid’s nightlife will make your trip a truly memorable one. 

Here are the most happening hotspots to head to when the sun goes down:

Teatro Kapital

This is the city’s most famous and iconic nightclub, and it’s sure to give you a rocking good time. Teatro Kapital is the largest club in Madrid. 

It has 7 floors offering different kinds of music from hip hop and house to reggaeton. It has a karaoke area, cocktail bars, big movie screens, and so much more. 

It’s a one-stop party place you certainly don’t want to miss out on!

Bling Bling

 Located in the heart of downtown Madrid, Bling Bling is a selective and glamorous nightclub and is the first choice for the city’s upper class and younger crowds.

It has two floors and three rooms. Each has its own bar, VIP areas, and music system that plays house, disco, and techno music. 

The club is also well known for its “La Casa” parties. “Go big or go home” while dancing to some funk, R&B, or reggaeton music. 

Medias Puri

Accessed via the basement of what appears to be a typical neighborhood haberdashery, Medias Puri is a clandestine club with three dance floors that can house 1,000 people. 

The establishment offers live shows about Dante’s Inferno and plays a variety of dance music from electronic to 1980s disco. They also serve signature cocktails and gourmet food. 

Joy Eslava

This nightclub has been operating 365 days a year since 1981. Aside from parties, it houses various events such as concerts and movie premieres. 

The establishment has four rooms with varying music genres enjoyed by a mixed crowd of tourists, locals, and occasional celebrities. 

Discoteca El Son

If you’re less into house and more into Latin beats, head to Discoteca El Son for some good old fashioned salsa dancing. 

Also located in the heart of the city, this club hosts salsa, bachata, and merengue dance classes. The real party doesn’t start until midnight so be prepared to do a lot of dancing until the wee hours of the morning. 

Chillin’ like a madrileño

Late night churros at Chocolateria San Gines in Plaza Mayor
Late night churros at Chocolateria San Ginés in Plaza Mayor

Although Madrid’s nightclubs can throw some pretty awesome parties and serve you top-notch cocktails all night, the city also has other activities to offer for the more laidback night owl. 

Here are some of the equally fun and interesting things to check out in Madrid besides the party scene:  

Churros at Plaza Mayor

Churros are traditional snacks in Spain that can be eaten at any time of the day, from breakfast until late in the evening. 

Visit Plaza Mayor to get these delicious fried pastry goodies from Chocolateria San Ginés. This renowned churrería is open 24 hours a day and has been serving churros since 1894. 

You simply can’t leave Madrid without trying out this iconic treat! 

Watch a flamenco show

Another interesting thing to do in Madrid is to go out and watch an authentic flamenco show. 

Head on to one of the best tablaos in the city such as Las Carboneras or Corral de la Moreria and enjoy a night of rhythmic and phenomenal dancing by the city’s top flamenco dance performers.

Visit the Reina Sofia Museum

Admission to the Reina Sofía Museum is free from 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm every day except Tuesdays and Sundays. 

Enjoy two hours of marveling at magnificent works of art and don’t miss Picasso’s “Guernica” and Salvador Dalí’s “Figure at the Window”.

You can also join guided tours and other activities.

Segway city tour

A segway is a self-balancing scooter powered by lithium-ion batteries and is a fun personal transportation device to use while exploring Madrid. 

You can choose from a 1-hour to 3-hour tour led by a knowledgeable local guide who will provide the basics on operating a segway before starting the tour. No prior experience needed. 

 Eat at renowned restaurants

Great food is easy to find anywhere in Madrid. But the city is also home to two notable and outstanding restaurants.

DiverXO by David Munoz is a 3 Michelin star restaurant and Sobrino de Botín is the oldest restaurant in the world that’s still in operation. 

The restaurants are very popular among tourists so make sure you make reservations in advance.

If you can’t snag a reservation for DiverXO, we highly recommend its sister restaurant, StreetXO.

Things to do with kids

Things to do with kids in Madrid

With such a rich culture, fantastic food, friendly people, exquisite architecture and works of art, there’s no denying that Madrid is indeed such an impressive city. 

One of the best things about Spain’s capital is that it is extremely child-friendly as well. 

Here are some fun things to do for parents and kids to enjoy their time together in the bustling metropolis:

Parque Warner Madrid Theme Park

A theme park featuring Looney Tunes mascots and superhero-themed rides is a sure-fire way to get your kids all excited.

Located in San Martín de la Vega, Parque Warner Madrid is packed full of exhilarating roller coasters, water rides, and a kindergarten play area. 

Ticket prices range from €19.50 – €39.90. Opening times and days vary, so check their official website for the complete schedules.

Retiro Park

Retiro Park is the most popular park in Madrid and offers a lot of activities for the whole family to enjoy. 

Bond with your kids by renting bikes and rollerblades, playing ball games, or take a rowboat ride on the lake. 

You can also visit the park during the weekend to catch entertaining musicians and watch a puppet show.

Faunia Zoo and Garden

Kids will love this 35-acre part-zoo, part-theme park. It’s filled with amazing wildlife in their carefully preserved natural habitat. 

Made up of four ecosystems and 13 thematic areas, Faunia is home to some very popular animals. These include king penguins, Komodo dragons, and West Indian manatees to name a few. 

The zoo also allows visitors to interact with the animals. Expect your kids to want to feed and pet some goats or sea lions when you’re there. 

Ludoteca Veo Veo

At Ludoteca Veo Veo your child can take part in lots of activities and games aimed towards developing their emotional intelligence. 

Since it opened in 2013, Ludoteca Veo Veo has provided supervised workshops, massages for babies and infants, fun dance classes, and much more. The play center is open daily from 9:30 am – 2:00 pm and 4:30 pm – 7:00 pm. 

Things to do for senior visitors  

As a city closely linked to the Old World, Madrid is an ideal travel spot for seniors and older travelers. 

Here are a few ways for seniors to maximize their travel in Madrid:

Putting on your walking shoes

Plaza Mayor in Madrid, Spain

Unlike some Spanish cities, Madrid is mostly flat-landed, which means it’s easy for older travelers to go around the city. There’s no need to worry about their joints taking the extra stress that comes with walking up hills. 

The most popular walking spot we recommend is Plaza Mayor, the historic public square of Madrid. Near it is Puerta del Sol, the storied “gate” to Madrid during the olden times. 

The latter, in particular, is still a popular meeting spot among locals. Head there if you’re interested in glimpsing Spanish urban life in action.          

Experiencing culture

Flamenco performance in Madrid

It’s a no-brainer to visit a museum while in Europe. 

Madrid, of course, is no different, as it has a few cultural attractions that will give France and Italy a run for their money. 

The Museo del Prado should be at the top of your list for good reason: it houses the most extensive collection of classic European art anywhere. Best of all, the museum offers free public admission during the peak hours of around 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a night out on the town that involves more than just wining and dining, you can do no better than going to a tablao.

Flamenco performances are the highlight at these halls. 

Conclusion

Madrid is a top-notch travel destination that deserves to be on everyone’s bucket list. It’s got history, amazing museums, and delicious food. 

If there’s anything we didn’t address in this Madrid travel guide that you’d like more information about, leave a comment and let us know.

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