We are far from saying that a single weekend is enough for Madrid – Prado alone, a worthy rival of the Louvre, requires an entire day. However, if you are planning a trip to the Spanish capital, you will find this list of key attractions in Madrid useful and will then be able to find your own favorite spots.
Prado Museum (Museo Nacional Del Prado) – This is one of the largest fine art museums in the world. You will see paintings by Goya, including the outstanding “Nude Maja”, “The Three Graces” by Rubens, as well as the world-known works of Van Dyck, Raphael, Titian, Velazquez, Durer. You can tour the museum for free Tuesday to Saturday from 6 PM to 8 PM, as well as on Sunday from 5 PM to 8 PM. It is located in the central area of Madrid. Here you can find information on visiting hours and ticket prices.
Reina Sofia Museum – A great display of contemporary art pieces. You will be able to marvel at paintings by Picasso, Miro, Dali, and many more Spanish artists. The museum is situated in an old hospital building. It is equipped with a huge library, with over 100 000 books, dedicated to the world of arts. Reina Sofia Museum is located in close proximity to the Prado museum in the center of Madrid. Information on visiting hours and ticket prices can be found here.
Royal Palace of Madrid (Palacio Real) – This is the largest palace in Western Europe. Built in 1764, today it is a museum. You can visit all of its beautifully furnished rooms and halls, with enormous fireplaces and paintings by famous Spanish artists. In the armory, you will find armors, just like the ones knights used to wear, spears, shields, all sorts of swords and firearms. Don t forget to visit the beautiful gardens as well. You can see all of this for free every Wednesday. It is located in central Madrid, close to the Plaza Espana Square. Information about the opening hours and ticket prices can be found here.
Almudena Cathedral (Santa María la Real de la Almudena) – This catholic cathedral has been crafted in a blend of neoclassical style, with a contemporary touch. Intricate frescos and stained-glass windows can be seen inside. The altar is beyond large, and is decorated with a statue of the Virgin Mary and Jesus. Next to the main entrance is a statue of Pope John Paul II. Under the cathedral is a crypt. The Almudena Cathedral is located in close proximity to the Royal Palace.
Plaza Mayor – This is the main square of Madrid. Its current name was chosen as the Civil War in Spain came to an end. At the center of the square is a statue of Philip III. During the weekend, the square is filled with street vendors, selling all sorts of antique knickknacks, such as coins, stamps, books, record players, and all kinds of other things. In the past, this was the location of executions, bullfighting, and celebrations. Even today, the square is still guarded by a mounted police patrol, as is the tradition.
Plaza Puerta del Sol – This is the liveliest square in Madrid, with plenty of shops, restaurants, cafes, and bars, for every taste and style. It is also the location of the famous bronze statue, which is the symbol of Madrid and depicts a bear, eating out of a strawberry tree. The town clock, a traditional New Year s celebration spot, is also here. The square is in close proximity to Plaza Mayor.
Plaza de Cibeles – Its beautiful fountains are now one of the symbols of Madrid. Among them is the statue of the goddess Cybele, riding a carriage, pulled by two lions. Behind the fountains is the impressive telecommunications building. This is where “Real Madrid” football fans celebrate their team s victories.
St. Michael s Basilica (Basílica San Miguel) – A baroque, Roman Catholic church in the central part of Madrid, next to Plaza Mayor. It is easily noticeable that its design has been heavily influenced by Italian baroque. The protruding façade is uncommon for Spanish architecture from that period, and is the only one of its kind in Madrid. The church, which was built between 1739 and 1745, has a heavily decorated interior, with wooden details, marble and frescos.
Retiro Park (Parque del Buen Retiro) – This is the largest park in town, as the territory it covers is 1.4 km2. Among the greenery and flowers emerge the statues of Spanish artists and historically significant individuals, as well as a charming lake, where you can hop in a paddle boat or take a romantic stroll. The park is located on the outskirts of the central Madrid area.
Alcala Gate (Puerta de Alcalá) – One of the five gates in Madrid. It was crafted by the Italian architect Sabatini, who was inspired by the Roman triumphal arches. The gate is a neoclassical landmark, located in close proximity to the center of Madrid, meters away from the Retiro Park s main entrance. The gate s construction was completed in 1778.
Temple of Debod (El templo egipcio de Debod) – This Egyptian temple is dedicated to the gods Amon and Isis. It was gifted to Madrid, by Egypt, in 1968, as a sign of gratitude towards the Spanish architects that helped restore important Ancient Egyptian monuments. Its halls are decorated with frescos and stone sculptures. The temple is located in a park, near the Royal Palace.
Las Ventas Square – The largest bullfighting square in Spain, with 25 000 seats. Every year, from March until October, is the official bullfighting season, which attracts thousands of tourists. You too can experience the rush from seeing the extreme battles between bulls and bullfighters.
Zoo Aquarium Madrid – The park is spread over an area of 20 hectares and is home to over 6000 animal species. You will see pandas, giraffes, crocodiles, parrots, fish, dolphins, sharks, and many more. Whatever your age, you will certainly have a good time here. And, if you need a rest, the park has restaurants, cafes and even a hotel. It is located in the western part of the city. Information on visiting hours and tickets can be found here.
Cuatro Torres Business Area – Apart from examples of classical architecture, Madrid has many modern buildings as well. The modern side of the city is perhaps best represented by four glass sky-scrapers in the business district. Torre Caja Madrid is the tallest structure in the city, with its 250 meters. Its last floor offers an amazing view of the city.
Santiago Bernabeu Stadium – Home to the famous Spanish football team “Real Madrid”. Over 85 000 spectators can fit in the stadium s benches and enjoy a five-star experience. There are tourist walks as well. You can visit the changing rooms, as well as a hall dedicated to the team s history and successes. If you d like to feel like a real soccer star, there is the option of walking out of the tunnels and onto the stadium, just like the players do before their games. Here you can find information on the visiting hours.
With a Cable Car over Madrid – Teleferico is the surest way to see the city, in its entirety, in just 10 minutes. You will descend over the Manzanares River, the sky-scraper towers, the Egyptian temple, the cathedrals, the gardens of the palace, and many more landmarks. Here you can find more information on the cable car.
Take a nap during the Siesta time: After your delicious lunch, it is time to take a nap, which can start at noon and end at 2 PM or as late as you d like. That s the time when the heat is most scorching, so what better way to protect yourself from the harsh sunrays, than taking a nice break?
Shopping in Madrid – The main shopping street, Gran Via, has many shops and boutiques waiting for you. The same is true for the shopping malls in the business district. Every Sunday, on the other hand, you ll find the Rastro marketplace, where you can buy anything, as long as you are able to hackle the price.
Nightlife in Madrid – Madrid s central area has enough bars, restaurants and clubs, to satisfy every taste. The Malasana neighborhood is also famous for its nighttime adventures in pubs and clubs, but if you prefer more refined sources of entertainment, Madrid has plenty of great theatres and opera houses.