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  • Writer's pictureIne Vandenwyngaert

Madrid, Spain: A Short Travel Guide

Madrid is the vibrant capital of Spain, located in the center of the country. Brimming with art, history, and culture, Madrid has a mix of world-renowned museums, elegant parks, and culinary experiences. In this travel guide, we share our top things to do in Madrid as well as great places to stay, eat, and drink.

View of Royal Palace & Almudena Cathedral from RIU Hotel Rooftop madrid spain
View of Royal Palace & Almudena Cathedral from RIU Hotel Rooftop


Check out our video about Madrid to see the best things to do through our camera!

Best Things To Do In Madrid

  • Check out Plaza Mayor

  • Stroll around the different barrios (Malasaña, La Latina, Lavapies, Barrio de las Letras & Chueca)

  • Eat at a food market

    • Mercado San Miguel (touristic market with gourmet tapas)

    • Mercado de Tirso de Molina (local market near Casa de Campo with fresh produce stalls at affordable prices and variety of places to taste Greek, Mexican or Spanish dishes)

    • Mercado San Antón (three-story market in the heart of Chueca)

    • Mercado Antón Martín (three floors, the first two consisting of over 60 food stalls, with plenty of local vendors and dishes from all around the world)

    • Mercado de San Ildefonso (three-story food market in Malasaña, with two terraces, 20 stands and a bar on each floor! Attracting younger crowds)

    • Mercado de la Cebada (more traditional market but with exceptional prices in La Latina)

    • Platea Market (Previously a movie theater, this market has been transformed into one of the most chic and glamorous, more expensive spots)

  • Discover Almudena Cathedral

  • Explore one of the museums (CHECK DAYS & TIMES FOR FREE MUSEUM ACCESS HERE)

    • Prado Museum (classical European art from the sixth century BC until the late 19th century)

    • Reina Sofía Museum (contemporary art)

    • Museum of Romanticism (collection of 19th-century paintings, furniture and decorative art)

    • National Archaeological Museum (Spanish culture)

    • Naval Museum (Spanish naval history)

    • Thyssen-Bornemisza museum (art)

    • Madrid History Museum (History of Madrid from 1561 to present day)

    • IKONO (interactive art displays)

  • Day trip to Toledo (or combine Toledo with Segovia and Ávila)

  • Walk around Casa de Campo

  • Explore the historic center (do a free walking tour!)

  • Get a view from a rooftop bar (RIU Hotel or Circulo de Bellas Artes)

  • Admire the Royal Palace (don't wait in line by pre-booking your tickets online)

  • Go on a food tour (Tipsy Tapas Tour)

  • Relax at El Retiro Park

View from rooftop Circulo de Bellas Artes madrid spain
View from rooftop Circulo de Bellas Artes

Places To Stay In Madrid

  • Casa Lemus ($): great value guest house with double and twin rooms near Gran Via Metro Station. Some rooms have air conditioning and private bathrooms, while other rooms have shared bathrooms.

  • Apartment in Carabanchel ($$ - where we stayed): modern and spacious apartment with 2 separate bedrooms, bathroom, a fully equipped kitchenette with a dining area and dishwasher, and a living room with a flat-screen TV. Close to Oporto and Vista Alegre Metro Stations.

  • ICON Wipton ($$$): stylish boutique hotel with comfy rooms and private bathroom within 250m from El Retiro Park. Guests can enjoy a buffet breakfast every day.

malaga spain casa de campo park
Casa de Campo park

Places To Eat And Drink In Madrid

Bocadillo de Calamares / Calamari sandwich:

  • La Campana: has the “the most traditional one”

Tapas and Tortilla:

  • Pez Tortilla

  • La Casa del Abuelo

  • La Musa Latina

  • La Paradita Tapas Bar

  • El Tigre: free plate of tapas with a drink, good quantity and budget-friendly

  • Taberna Elcano Lagasca

  • Taberna La Concha

  • Taberna La Buha La Latina: the best tortilla


  • Marina Ventura

  • La Paella Real

  • La Paella de la Reina

Traditional food and taverns:

  • Restaurante Botín

  • Casa Lucio

  • Posada de la Villa: 1 Michelin Star

Cocido Madrileño (most traditional Spanish stew):

  • Malacatín

  • Taberna de la Daniela

  • La Cocina De Frente

Vegetarian / Vegan:

  • La Oveja Negra

  • Mad Mad Vegan: The best vegan burger!

  • Vega

Madroño´s Liqueur:

  • La Rebelión de los Mandiles

  • El Madroño

Breakfast and Brunch:

  • Brunch it

  • Eat My Trip

  • Adorado Bar

Churros and chocolate:

  • Chocolatería 1902

  • Chocolatería San Ginés: gets very busy - best to come later in the evening for less crowds


  • Empanadas Malvón

Rooftop Bars:

  • El Círculo de Bellas Artes

  • RIU Hotel

Night Life:

  • Bad Company 1920: speakeasy cocktail bar

  • Clandestino Cocktail Bar: This is a hidden/clandestine bar. To get in you have to enter Casa Suecia and ask for the bar (there’s a secret door in the toilet!)

  • La Reserva Club: late night dancing with Latin vibes

  • LL Bar: Drag Queen Shows every night. Really good fun!

  • Sala Barco: Live music. Really cool bands every night!

  • Sala La Riviera: It’s a big venue that has different events and nightclub parties during the weekends.

  • Samsara: for late night dancing - more house music (expensive drinks)

  • Teatro Kapital: One of the biggest nightclubs in Madrid!

  • Teresa Club: for late night dancing with Latin vibes

pintxos madrid spain

Map Madrid Spain

Find all the places to go, eat, drink, and stay in Madrid on Google Maps. To follow and save the list, do the following:

  1. Tap on the link to open it (click button below)

  2. Tap Follow. This list will now be added to the group of lists you follow.

  3. Optional: To unfollow a list someone shared with you, tap the list Saved.

If you follow the list we made, all our saved places of Madrid will show up in Your Places. The places will also appear as suggested locations in Google Maps.

map madrid spain


Use These Websites To Save Money On Your Trip To Madrid


Are you having a hard time planning your trip to Madrid? Get our Interactive Travel Planner to keep it all organized.

travel planner for madrid spain trip

Need more travel inspiration? Check out our other destinations and articles about Spain:

World Wild Hearts

Hi! We are Ine & Zac. An international travel couple from Belgium and the US. We created World Wild Hearts to inspire new adventures and help you plan your next trip. Use these tips, stories, and guides to inspire your next adventure of a lifetime!


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