18 places to visit in Madrid
Madrid is a city with many sights worth visiting. If you plan to travel to Madrid check out this list of recommended places. Make sure to spend a few days in the city, as it´s really big and visiting all the sights will take more than one day.
1. Royal Palace of Madrid
The Royal Palace is located in the city center near the Spain Square (Plaza de Espagna), a few minutes walk from Gran Via. During the tourist season (from april till september) it is open between 10:00 - 20:00. During the off-season, it is open between 10:00 – 18:00. In the morning, the queue of visitors is long.
Unless you buy your ticket in advance, our suggestion is to arrive by noon or later in the afternoon, when there are less visitors. The palace hosts official receptions too. On those days it is closed for the public.
2. Almudena Cathedral
Opposite the Royal Palace is the Almudena Cathedral, a neo-Gothic catholic church with a baroque exterior finished in 1993. The square cupola, the ceiling and the pipe organ are unique. The entrance is free of charge (donations are welcome) and it´s open from Monday to Sunday between 10:00 – 21:00.
3. Sabatini Gardens
On the northern side of the palace are the Sabatini Gardens shaped in neoclassic style, named after Francesco Sabatini, the Italian designer of the garden.
The entrance is free of charge and it´s open between 9:00 – 22:00 (from May until September) and between 9:00 – 21:00 (from October until April).
4. Spanish Square
The square is located between the Sabatini Gardens and the Gran Via. Here is the Monument of Cervantes, Edificio Espagna and the Tower of Madrid. The Spanish RIU Hotels chain bought Edificio Espagna and plans to open it as a hotel in 2019.
The Tower of Madrid functions as an office and residential building.
5. The Temple of Debod
North-west to the Spanish Square are the Rosaleda Gardens (Rosaleda del Parque del Oeste) with the Temple of Debod. This is an Egyptian temple donated to Spain in 1968. The entrance is free of charge and it is open from Tuesday till Sunday between 10:00 – 20:00.
6. The Royal Basilica of San Francisco el Grande
Situated to the south from the Almudena Cathderal, the Roman Catholic church designed in neoclassic style is worth visiting not only for its beautiful interior, but also for the famous Goya and Zurbaran paitings that are exhibited here.
According the official website of Madrid (the Basilica doesn´t have its own web page), it is open from 10:30 – 12:30 and 16:00 – 18:00 from October till June. In July, August and September it is open from 10:30 – 12:30 and 17:00 – 19:00.
7. Main Square (Plaza Major)
Surrounded by many churches, Plaza Major is a beautiful square with many souvenir shops and coffee shops.
The Bakery House (Casa de la Panadería) is also located here, and today functions as the city´s Tourism Center.
The square is hidden behind buildings and can be entered through the arcades of the surrounding buildings.
8. Royal Theatre
Important place for the cultural life of Madrid, the Royal Theatre is a modern building reopened in 1997.
Audio guide tours are available in 5 languages (Spanish, English, French, Chinese and Italian) and it is open everyday between 9:30 – 15:30 (last admission at 14:30). There is a General guided tour everyday between 10:30 – 13:00. On holidays the schedule might change.
9. Gate of the Sun
Contrary to what the name suggests, the Gate of the Sun is the main square of Madrid, the ˝Spanish Time Square˝ as it is still called. The statue of Philip III and The Bear and the Strawberry Tree can be found here. The place is surrounded by shops, residential and office buildings and is crowded throughout the day.
10. The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum
One of the ˝Golden Triangle of Art˝, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum is the famous art museum hosting more than 1600 paintings by painters like Jan van Eyck, Albrecht Dürer , Rembrandt, Tiepolo, Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Camille Pissarro , Paul Gauguin, Francis Bacon, just to mention a few of them.
The entrance is free on Mondays for the permanent collection and it is open between 12:00 – 16:00. From Tuesday to Sunday the museum is open between 10:00 – 19:00.
11. Prado Museum
The ˝2nd member˝ of the Golden Triangle of Art is the Prado Museum which has a rich collection of several thousands of paintings, including works by Goya, Bosch, El Greco and Velazquez just to mention a few of them covering a period between the 12th and the 19th century.
The museum is open from Monday to Saturday between 10:00 – 20:00, on Sundays and holidays between 10:00 – 19:00.
The entrance is free every day between 18:00 – 20:00, respectively 17:00 – 19:00.
12. Reina Sofia Museum
The Reina Sofia Museum is the third member of the ˝Golden Triangle of Art˝ and has a large collection of Spanish and international artists from the 20th century, such as Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Pablo Serrano, Francis Bacon, Yves Tanguy, Donald Judd and many others.
The museum is closed on Tuesdays. On Mondays and from Wednesday till Saturday it is open between 10:00 – 19:00. On Sundays it has special opening hours.
13. Cibeles Square
The Cybele Palace, the City Hall of Madrid and the Fountain of Cybele is located in this square. The palace houses CentroCentro cultural center, which is open from Tuesday till Sunday between 10:00 – 20:00.
The tower offers an amazing view of the city and can be visited from Tuesday till Sunday between 10:30 – 13:30 and 16:00 – 19:00.
14. Neptune Fountain
Located in front of the Hotel Ritz, between The Prado Museum and The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, the Fountain of Neptune is considered one of the most sumptuous fountains in Madrid.
Its creation was ordered by the King Charles the Third and today the football team Atletico de Madrid uses it to celebrate its victory here.
15. Buen Retiro Park
Buen Retiro Park is one of the largest parks in Madrid. It used to be compared to the Central Park in New York. The Crystal Palace, the Velazquez Palace and the Retiro Pond are a few special features of the park.
From April until September the park is open between 6:00 – 24:00 and from October until March between 6:00 -22:00.
16. Santiago Bernabeu Stadium
Visit the home of the football team Real Madrid. It is open not only during the football matches, but also on weekdays from Monday to Saturday between 10:00 – 19:00 and on Sundays and holidays between 10:30 – 18:30. The opening hour is different on game days.
17. Gran Via
Gran Via is the most famous shopping street of Madrid and is also called the Spanish Broadway.
It begins in the Spanish Square and ends at the Metropolis Building. It is always crowded and is often referred to as ˝the street that never sleeps˝.
The AZCA center located on the northern side of the city consists of several skyscrapers and business centers. Torre Picasso (157m), Torre Europa, BBVA Tower and the Gate of Europe are a few of them. They can be visited with the city tour bus if you choose the extended route of Modern Madrid.
We were advised by the driver upon buying our ticket, that the validity is not 24 hours from the time you bought the ticket as advertised on the home page, but the ticket is rather only valid for the day of purchase until end of service.
The 48 hour ticket is valid the next day also.
Madrid cityscape is embellished by other modern architecture such as the Castelar Building constructed upon the design of Rafael de La-Hoz, the Columbus Towers designed by the architect Antonio Lamela or the BBVA Tower designed by the architect Francisco Javier Saenz de Oiza.
This guide is not exhaustive, you might still discover many interesting places in Madrid. We meant to offer you an idea where to start your city tour. The rest is up to you to find and discover for yourself. Enjoy your trip and take a lot of pictures.