Explore Madrid: its monuments, museums, theatre and more!

At the heart of country, the Spanish capital Madrid is home to around three million inhabitants. From small beginnings, Madrid grew quickly to become an influential empire. From 1561 when Felipe II chose the city as his capital, by the 17th-century a swarm of spectacular churches, palaces, monasteries and squares arose.

The stunning Palacio Real (Royal Palace) typifies Madrid’s 17th-century exuberance. The vast palace was the home of the Royal Family right up until the 1930’s. The main attractions include the painted ceilings of the opulent Dining Room and the lavish Throne Room.

At the core of the city sits Plaza Mayor (main square), a beautiful 17th-century square that has witnessed many of Madrid’s historical political and sporting events. Visitors once came here to enjoy bull fights, theatre and executions. Today its arcades play host too many charming cafes and shops.

For more insight into the Spanish art of bullfighting, visit Plaza de Toros de las Ventas. This magnificent building is one of the most beautiful in the country. There is an adjacent museum (Museo Taurino) where you can learn about the ancient spectacle.

Just along from the Plaza Mayor, Puerta del Sol (Gateway of the Sun), is one of Madrid’s more lively neighbourhoods. This former castle gateway entrance bustles with visitors that flock to see a collection of historical landmarks such as the Casa de Correos - a former 18th-century post office and municipal building, the Kilometer Zero – the centre of Spain’s road network, and centrepiece statue of Carlos III.

Contemporary Madrid is best experienced at the Gran Via, the main avenue sweeping across the city’s central zone. Above the many modern hotels, shops and restaurants, sit some architectural wonders such as the 1930’s Art Deco Capitol cinema and Edificio La Estrella.

During your stay you are likely to spot one of Madrid’s tallest skyscrapers, the magnificent office block, Torre Picasso at Plaza Picasso, stretching 43 floors into the sky. Other noteworthy skyscrapers in the surrounding commercial area include the Torre Europa and Banco del Bilbao Tower.

Cultural Madrid is best enjoyed on the Paseo del Prado, home of the city’s best galleries and museums. The Museo del Prado and Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza house infamous art collections by Goya and Velazquez.

In the neighbourhood you’ll spot more of Madrid’s spectacular monuments, the Plaza de Cibeles, an impressive Romanesque fountain, the stunning Ritz Hotel and the dominating Banco de Espana.

El Rastro, Madrid’s famous open air flea market is popular with tourists and locals alike. Dating back to the 19th-centruy, here can buy anything from furniture items, antiques, vintage clothing and more. For more upmarket and designer shopping try the Salamanca District. Here you’ll also come across upscale restaurants and style bars.

Known for

Museums, Culture and Theatres

Explore map

Where to stay in Madrid

Chueca
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Chueca

Known for Cafés, Dining, Shopping

This avant-garde part of Madrid is known as the gay quarter because of its numerous LGBT shops and bars, a Gay Pride march and an open-minded populace.

Top hotels in Madrid

Estimated price for 1 night / 2 adults
Image for Hotel RIU Plaza España
Hotel RIU Plaza España
4 out of 5
C/ Gran Via, 84, Madrid
£96
per night
20 Oct-21 Oct
4.5/5Wonderful! (49 reviews)

"Other than front desk no one speaks English .took along time to check in"…"

Reviewed on 19 Sep 2019

Hotel RIU Plaza España
Image for Iberostar Las Letras Gran Via
Iberostar Las Letras Gran Via
4 out of 5
Gran Via 11, Madrid, Madrid
£137
per night
22 Sep-23 Sep
4.5/5Wonderful! (1,986 reviews)

"Very nice place, comfortable bedroom for 3. Love this hotel !"…"

Reviewed on 13 Sep 2019

Iberostar Las Letras Gran Via
Image for Hotel Nuevo Boston
Hotel Nuevo Boston
4 out of 5
Avenida de Aragon 332, Madrid, Madrid
£78
per night
17 Oct-18 Oct
4.3/5Excellent! (2,021 reviews)

"The hotel was nice and clean, but if you are looking to be in the center of Madrid, it is a little bit far. Its convenient because it is close to the airport. The staff is very and helpful. Overall, I would recommend it."…"

Reviewed on 19 Sep 2019

Hotel Nuevo Boston

Popular things to do in Madrid

Plaza Mayor
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Plaza Mayor

This square has seen everything from markets and public celebrations to bullfights and executions. Today you’ll find street performers, artists and plenty of shops.

Prado Museum
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Photo provided by National Tourist Office of Spain

Prado Museum

An art museum to rival the Louvre or the British National Gallery, this is the place to see some of the finest art Europe has to offer.

Plaza de España
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Plaza de España

See Madrid’s most iconic skyscrapers and admire the monument to Miguel de Cervantes in one of the city’s most important squares.

Royal Palace
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Royal Palace

Be spellbound by the scale and splendor of the Spanish Royal Family’s former official residence.

El Retiro Park
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El Retiro Park

Relax by the pond, walk through landscaped gardens, and admire the elegant statues and buildings in one of Madrid’s biggest and most popular parks.

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia
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Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia

With some of Spain’s foremost modern and contemporary artworks and a collection that ranks among the world’s finest, this is a museum art lovers won’t want to miss.

Top activities in Madrid

Madrid City Tour - Hop-On Hop-Off Bus
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Madrid City Tour - Hop-On Hop-Off Bus

£20

Get a lay of the land and soak in the sights of the Spanish capital on a double-decker bus, hopping on and off as you see fit to explore Madrid at your own pace. With unlimited rides on 2 routes, you can cruise easily between attractions like the world-famous Prado Museum, the Royal Palace, and the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

Day Tour of Toledo & Segovia with Alcazar Entrance
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Day Tour of Toledo & Segovia with Alcazar Entrance

£61

Step back in time as you explore Toledo and Segovia on this guided excursion with an experienced guide. Learn about Spanish history while strolling past medieval architecture, soaring cathedrals, and charming neighborhoods in 2 cities that bear beautiful traces of the region's past.

Real Madrid Bernabeu Tour - Open Date Ticket (Ticket Only)
Image for Real Madrid Bernabeu Tour - Open Date Ticket (Ticket Only)

Real Madrid Bernabeu Tour - Open Date Ticket (Ticket Only)

£22

Relive more than a hundred years of Real Madrid history. Welcome to the Bernabeu Tour, where you will see the stadium as you have never seen it before. Get ready to feel the excitement of being on the pitch itself, the thrill of pre-match tension, the glow of past glories and the long history that has molded one of the world’s best football teams.

Flamenco Show at Cardamomo Tablao
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Flamenco Show at Cardamomo Tablao

£35

Let the swirling skirts, fanciful footwork, stirring guitar rhythms, and powerful vocals of world-class singers whisk you away to the Spain of a bygone era. During a flamenco performance at the renowned Cadamomo, let yourself be captivated by an unforgettable performance in an inviting atmosphere.

Skip-the-Line Royal Palace Tour
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Skip-the-Line Royal Palace Tour

£26

Skip the lines and get inside one of the most memorable Royal Castles of Europe, the “Royal Palace of Madrid”, with this tour. Take a look inside one of the most memorable royal palaces in Europe with this tour to the official home of the Spanish monarchy.

Flamenco Show at Corral de la Moreria
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Flamenco Show at Corral de la Moreria

£81

Considered the “cathedral of flamenco,” the Corral de la Moreria is the oldest tablao (flamenco house) in the world. Sit back and prepare to be mesmerized by an original performance where music, dance, and colors revive the passion of this legendary Spanish dance.

Read travel guides and advice on visiting Madrid

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Image for Decadent Chocolate Tours Worth Planning Your Trip Around

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Road trip to Seville
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Road trip to Seville

Taking the slower route and enjoying the views of southern Spain

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