Some of you may already know this, but Madrid is my favorite city I have visited in Spain. The rich culture and history of the city, the beautiful architecture and the world class museums really spoke to be when I visited. Unlike my terrible experience in Barcelona, I have nothing by fond memories of my time in Madrid. There are so many amazing ways to fill your time in the city. I was lucky enough to visit while a friend was studying abroad in Madrid and it was an amazing experience. If you are planning a trip soon, be sure you don’t miss these experiences in Madrid!
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Visit the Museo Nacional del Prado
With one of the most extensive art collections in Spain, the Museo del Prado was at the top of my must-see list when I visited Madrid. Home to the largest collection of Spanish Art, the Prado museum surpassed my expectations. As a lover of art and museums in general, I loved exploring the extensive halls of Spanish masters and getting to enjoy some pieces by other artists I love as well. Notable artists featured include Goya, Bosch, El Greco and Rubens. If you can only make it to one museum on your visit, I highly recommend you visit the Museo del Prado!
Wander around the Plaza Mayor
The Plaza Mayor is the historic center of the city of Madrid. With over 400 years of history, this is absolute a can’t miss experience in Madrid! The portico lined square if full of great shops and charming cafes to spend your afternoon at. If I had more time on my visit, I would have grabbed a cup of coffee from one of the cafes and just sat and watched all the talented street performers and admired the architecture of the surrounding buildings. Be sure you pass through at some point on your trip to Madrid!
Learn some History at the Royal Palace of Madrid
The Royal Palace, or Palacio Real is one of the most aesthetically pleasing buildings I have ever seen. The architecture is beautiful and the inside is even more breathtaking. The tour takes you through about 50 of the palaces over 3,000 rooms and it showcases the richness of Spanish History and Culture. I have been lucky enough to see some really cool palaces in my travels–like Catherine’s Summer Palace in St. Petersburg–but the Palacio Real is still one of my favorites. Don’t miss it on your trip to Madrid!
See a masterpiece at the Museo Reina Sofia
As you may have discovered at this point, I am a huge nerd that loves museums. I even wrote a guide to London’s museums because I love them so much. On top of seeing the Museo del prado, I was really excited to visit the Reina Sofia museum. This museum is home to some amazing art, but I went for one piece in particular: La Guernica. La Guernica is considered Picasso’s masterpiece and is just as magnificent as I imagined. The museum collection is extensive and awe-inspiring, but be sure you make it here at least to see La Guernica!
Catch a Match at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium
One thing many people are suprised to learn is that I really love Soccer(or football depending on where in the world you are). I grew up playing soccer and all my siblings did too. I think the game is fun to play and more fun to watch. There are a few different teams I support, one of which happens to be Real Madrid. I didn’t personally get the chance to visit the stadium and see a match, but its on my bucket list! Friends of mine have been lucky enough to go and say the stadium is electric during games! If you are going, be sure you pick up a jersey to support Real Madrid or you might get yourself in trouble with the fans! If you are a sports fan this should be at the top of your can’t miss list!
Eat some Tapas
Food! I really love sampling local food when I travel and in spain, the food did not disppoint! One of my favorite parts of Madrid was going out for Tapas with my friend Kaylee. Tapas is usually a selection of finger foods served with your drinks at a bar. I loved that we could just walk into a Tapas place, order drinks and a plate of food would appear with our drinks. I was never quite sure what each thing was, but it was all delicious and I try not to be picky when I travel. If you find yourself in Madrid, getting Tapas should be a priority on your list of experiences you want to have!
Enjoy some art at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum
I know, I know. You are asking yourself, “Another museum?” but I promise the Thyssen is worth it! The building it is housed in is a former palace and the extensive collection is worth a wander. I loved the collection of expressionist works, but the museum also includes styles such as cubism, pop art, and surrealism. While I prefered the Museo del Prado, I did really love the Thyssen and think its an experience worth having, especially for art lovers!
Take a Day Trip to El Escorial
San Lorenzo de El Escorial, more commonly just called El Escorial, is a historyial residence of the King of Spain. Its located just an hour outside the city with buses between the two running frequently. The complex itself includes a monastery, a basilica, a massive library, a palace, and a beautiful pantheon. Drawn by my love for history, I made the trek out on my own(my friend had class that day) and it was well worth the trip! The complex is beautiful and the buildings are architectural wonders. Even in the cold November weather, I loved exploring the palace and its grounds. El Escorial is well worth the trip out of the city!
Dance the Night away at El Kapital
In a deviation from my usual list of museums, I had to throw this one on my list. When I visited Madrid, we spent our last night on a super fun bar crawl and ended our evening at El Kapital. I had friends tell me about it beforehand and I was not prepared. El Kapital is 7 levels of dancing with each level being a bit different. Highlights for me including the rooftop deck and the giant first floor disco. Be sure you pack a cute outfit for this because everyone was dressed in their club best! Dancing the night away at El Kapital was one of my favorite experiences in Madrid and I highly recommend it for a night out!
Relax a bit at Parque del Retiro
I am a sucker for a beautiful park and Retiro Park did not disappoint. The park is a breath of fresh air and a great escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. I love being able to just take an afternoon and spend it wandering a park finding hidden gems and Parque del Retiro is perfect for that. The park is beautiful and full of color and is a great place to visit, especially in the spring and summer months! Be sure you wear good walking shoes though because the park is quite extensive!
I truly loved my time in Madrid and actually considered moving there to teach English after grad school. Madrid is full of rich history and I loved the vibrant culture of the city. I can’t wait to go back and I hope you too can enjoy some of these can’t miss experiences in Madrid!
From one Misguided Millennial to the world, I hope you love Madrid as much as I did!