Madrid is Spain’s capital and largest city. There are numerous things to see and do and it can be really hard to choose where to start on your first visit.
Culture, history and good food are literally everywhere and even after I spend almost a week there I feel there were so much to see!
To help you with your trip I’ve lined up the Top 15 places you have to visit on your first time in Madrid.
1. Gran Vía
As a place to start discovering Madrid I suggest a walk along the Gran Vía. It’s one of the most famous streets full of shopping, bars, restaurants and cultural attractions leading up to Plaza de España.
2. Plaza de España
On a walking distance from Gran Vía is Spain Square. Lots of skyscrapers surround this small square. You can stop here for to watch busy locals run to the many public transports around.
The beautiful fountain in the middle of the square with the statue of Don Quijote and Sancho Panza is an iconic scene.
3. Royal Palace
The official residence for the royal family in Madrid it’s nowadays just used for important royal ceremonies.
It was built for King Philip V and it’s the largest royal palace in Western Europe, double the size of Versailles Palace! A visit inside it’s a must as you will the able to be see all the rich decorated rooms, paintings and furniture.
Outside the palace the Sabatini Gardens are another place to stop. The labyrinth garden and the beautiful trees are the perfect place to stop for a snack and enjoy the sunshine.
4. El Retiro Park
The park also known as Parque del Buen Retiro it’s one of the most beautiful places in Madrid to stroll around at any time during the week!
With numerous gardens, fountains and statues, the large pond in the middle gives it a summer feeling throughout the year. There are many activities you can do in the park: picnic, grab a cup of coffee, do your jogging or just simply relax on the grass. You can even rent a rowboat!
I visited in January and felt like it was a proper summer day sitting down outside enjoying a delicious ice cream.
Don’t miss a visit to Crystal Palace inside the park. The iron and glass pavilion holds different exhibitions from time to time and you will see how gorgeous the effect that the rays of sun have on there.
5. Puerta del Sol
Puerta del Sol or Sun Gate is the most famous square in Madrid. It’s also a symbol and meeting point for tourists and locals as its very central located.
There are lots of crowds at any time of the day with multiple entertainers doing all sort of stunt performances. One of the most known symbols of this square is ‘El Oso y el Madroño’ or ‘The Bear and the Strawberry Tree’ statue and it marks 0Km of all the motorways in Spain.
6. Plaza Mayor
One of Madrid’s most iconic places that you will end up visiting is Plaza Mayor. Where nowadays hundreds of tourists and locals pass by was once the place for bullfights and even public executions.
The residential buildings with their characteristic red colour bricks, together with the many arcades, makes the square a unique architectural and historical place to visit.
I recommend you to stop there for a coffee and soak up the atmosphere while watching the crowds. Be careful with the restaurants and cafes as most are overpriced.
7. San Miguel Market
Not far from Plaza Mayor is this beautiful market that still preserves the early 20th century glass walls and iron building. Most people go just for a stroll around the many vendors but it’s also a great place to have lunch or dinner.
From any kind of tapas to larger meals you can enjoy a little bit of most Spanish traditional dishes. Olives, cheese, seafood, empanadas, fried croquetas, slices of the famous jamón ibérico and patatas bravas, fresh juices, burguers, fresh fruit you name it!
8. Chocolatería de San Ginés
Since 1894 San Ginés has been serving their original recipe of churros and porras (bigger churros) to tourists and locals on a large scale every day. They also serve together with churros a mug of warm dipping chocolate, also made there.
It’s located on a walking distance from Puerta del Sol and Plaza Mayor tucked in an alleyway and it’s definitely worth the stop as it’s so tasty!
9. Templo de Debod
This Egyptian temple was located originally in Egypt and was given to Spain in appreciation for the efforts that the Spanish archaeologists did to save it from being destroyed by the rising waters of Lake Nasser.
It’s located on a short distance from Plaza de España, where you can see one of the most beautiful sunsets ever and enjoy the views over the city.
10. Royal Botanical Garden
The Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid it’s located next to the Prado Museum and is home to more than 30,000 plants and flowers and 1,500 trees all divided in three major terraces and two greenhouses.⠀
Even if you don’t really understand a lot about plant species it’s still a place worth visiting as it feels like you’re in the middle of a tropical forest.
Discovering pretty places in Madrid 🍃🌸⠀ ⠀ The Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid it’s located next to the Prado Museum and is home to more than 30,000 plants and flowers and 1,500 trees all divided in three major terraces and two greenhouses.⠀ ⠀ Every time I visit a city and there is a Botanical Garden I always go and check it out as I think it’s really relaxing to walk around in the middle of such nature collection. Do you feel the same?⠀ ⠀ @visita_madrid ⠀ ⠀ •••••••••••••••••••••⠀ #madridspain #madridgram #madridcity #madridcapital #visitmadrid #spaintravel #visitspain #spain_gallery #littlefoottribe #adventureawaits #travelista #lovetheworld #femmetravel #traveltagged #traveldreamseekers #speechlessplaces #girlsthatwander #letsflyawayto #girlsmeetglobe #thewanderingtourist #dametraveler #thetravelwomen #digitalnomadgirls #travelcommunity #travelinladies #femaletravelbloggers #girlsabroad #nature #garden @spain
11. Cibeles Square
Plaza de Cibeles is located in between many remarkable places to see in Madrid across three important neighbourhoods: Centro, Retiro and Salamanca crossing the Alcalá Avenue, Recoletos and Prado Avenue.
In the middle of the square it’s the impressive Cybele Fountain with a Roman goddess driving a lion-drawn chariot.
12. Madrid’s Art Triangle
On Paseo del Prado you will find this triangle of three museums: Museu Del Prado, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza and Museo Nacional de Reina Sofia.
Museu Del Prado has some of the most recognizable works of art in the world while Thyssen-Bornemisza features the Thyssen’s collection which both classical and modern art. Museo Nacional de Reina Sofia is a modern art museum with both Spanish and world artists being represented. Don’t miss Pablo Picasso’s Guernica.
13. La Latina Neighbourhood
Venture yourself around Cava Baja Street with the many tapas bars and restaurants. Do it like the locals and head there at night time; the atmosphere is great and the prices for food and drink even better.
The popular neighbourhood of Chueca is popular for having lots of trendy restaurants and shops and also because it’s Madrid’s gay centre.
Most clubs, shops and bars focus on the gay community and it’s great to see such a lively area to walk around!
15. Casa de Campo
The largest park in Madrid, which is five times bigger than New York’s Central Park it’s a paradise to spend some quality time during warm days.
There is a large lake where small boats practice for competitions. Also, there are lots of green grass areas for picnics and other outdoor activities.
Unfortunately when I visited the pond was empty and they were doing some constructions but I really recommend a visit because it was a bit more calm and spacious then El Retiro Park.
Have you visited Madrid? What did you think of the city? Any other places you would add to this list? Let me know!
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