Wondering what the best things to do in Madrid are? Imagine a city where every street and square offers something exciting. Madrid isn’t just the capital of Spain; it’s a place where history and modern life blend beautifully. If you love exploring new places, Madrid will definitely capture your heart with its old charm and lively culture.
I may not travel all the time, but Madrid is a special place for me. It’s a city where you can wander through markets, enjoy tasty tapas late at night, or just relax in a café and watch the world go by. Each part of Madrid has its own story to tell, with beautiful sunsets and a rich history.
Planning a trip can be overwhelming with so many travel blogs out there. But don’t worry, in this article, I’ll share my favourite spots and tips, especially for Australians, to make sure you have the best time in Madrid. We’ll look at over 50 great things to do in this amazing city.
Ready to find out more? Let’s dive into the exciting activities and experiences that await you in Madrid!
Table of Contents
This article is about the best things to do in Madrid. For essential trip planning be sure to check out our detailed guide Travelling to Spain from Australia, covering visas, entry requirements, and insider advice. If considering other cities and regions, consult Best Places to Visit in Spain.
Puerta del Sol: The Center of Madrid
Puerta del Sol is right in the middle of Madrid and it’s a great place to include in your travel guide. It’s a famous spot that’s full of life and history.
A Square Full of Life
Puerta del Sol is a great place to visit in Madrid with the family. It has history, art, and a unique Madrid feel. As you walk around, you’ll feel the history and the energy of today.
Meet the Bear and the Strawberry Tree
One of the main things to see here is the “El Oso y El Madroño” statue – the Bear and the Strawberry Tree. It’s a famous symbol of Madrid and a popular place for people to meet. The statue is important to Madrid because it represents the city’s growth and success.
But why a bear and a tree, you ask? Well, legend says this duo represents the growth and prosperity of the city, with the bear symbolising strength and the strawberry tree its abundance. Snap a picture, or maybe a selfie – it’s a top thing to do when you’re in Madrid with the family.
Royal Connections and Beautiful Sights
Close by, you’ll see a big, 9-metre tall statue of a man on a horse. This is Charles III, who was really important in Madrid’s history. He made a lot of good changes for the city and it’s often referred to by Madrileños (Madrid locals) as the “best mayor of Madrid” . The statue is a way of remembering him.
As you walk around, also look for the Mariblanca statue. It’s a white marble statue that shows off Madrid’s history in art. It’s a copy of an old statue and tells many stories about the city.
The Starting Point of Spain’s Roads
Here’s something interesting: In Puerta del Sol, there’s a special marker called “Kilómetro Cero.” It’s a point where all the main roads in Spain start. It’s a small but important spot in the square. When you visit with your family, it’s one of those cool things to see in Madrid.
Snack Time Tip
Hungry from all your exploring? Try La Mallorquina bakery, close by. It’s been a favourite since the 1800s for delicious treats. They have everything from tasty croissants to special Madrid pastries. It’s a great place for a real Madrid snack, and perfect when you’re out and about in the city.
One more thing, I’ve found that going to Puerta del Sol early in the morning or late in the evening is really nice. It’s quieter, but still full of life. It’s also a great place to see what everyday life in Madrid is like, making it one of the best places to visit in Madrid with the family.
Find it on the map: https://maps.app.goo.gl/2vxfS4SsD3Sk9V4w7
La Plaza Mayor: Must-Visit for Families in Madrid
La Plaza Mayor is a top place to visit in Madrid, especially with family. It’s a historic square that captures the heart of Madrid’s culture.
A Historic Square
La Plaza Mayor is special. Around the square, there are buildings with lots of balconies facing the plaza. They’re painted red and have pretty designs, showing Madrid’s love for art. This square has been an important part of Madrid for over 400 years, so it’s a great place to visit whether you’re in Madrid for a day or longer.
King Philip III’s Statue
In the centre of the plaza is a statue of King Philip III, a reminder of Spain’s powerful history. The statue was once located in another part of the city but was moved here in the 19th century – a testament to the importance of Plaza Mayor in Madrid’s heart and soul. This statue is a great piece of history to see when visiting places in Madrid with the family.
Cafés and Eateries for Family Snacks
The square is encircled by traditional cafés and places to eat. It’s a great place for families to try traditional Madrid snacks like ‘bocadillo de calamares’ (squid sandwich) or a sip of Spanish coffee, making Plaza Mayor an undeniable hotspot in Madrid for culinary explorers.
And here’s a little secret from your friendly Madrid guide: Step into one of the side streets leading out of the plaza. Don’t miss the chance to explore the small streets leading out of the plaza. These side alleys sometimes offer more authentic experiences than the main square itself.
Tourist Information Office and Family-Friendly Tips for Visiting Plaza Mayor in Madrid
For the best photos of Plaza Mayor without the crowds, try visiting at sunrise. The early light gives the plaza a beautiful, quiet look, perfect for memorable family pictures.
And while you are exploring Plaza Mayor with your family, if you need local tips or information, check out the tourism information office right in the plaza. It’s a handy place for visitors, filled with useful advice to enhance your family’s experience in Madrid.
Find it on the map: https://maps.app.goo.gl/UJDEMMnhyBzCvg5y9
The Royal Palace: A Majestic Dive into Spanish Royalty
Madrid isn’t just about its squares. Close to the city centre is the Royal Palace, a huge and beautiful building showing Spain’s royal history.
The Royal Palace of Madrid is really big and impressive. It’s one of the largest royal palaces in Western Europe, with more than 3,000 rooms. The building’s style and the beautiful gardens around it are amazing to see.
Inside the Palace
The inside of the palace is even more stunning than the outside. It has fancy lights, beautiful wall hangings, and lots of art that make it look like a luxurious place from the past. Don’t miss the Throne Room with its fancy decorations and the Royal Armory with a big collection of old weapons.
The Royal Chapel
There’s also a special church inside the palace. It has beautiful paintings on the ceiling and some very old and famous stringed instruments. It’s a peaceful place that looks and sounds wonderful.
After exploring the palace, take a walk in the Sabatini Gardens. They’re well-kept and peaceful, a nice break from the city’s noise. It’s a great place for families to relax and enjoy some quiet time.
Even if history and royalty aren’t really your jam, the changing of the guard ceremony is a spectacle you wouldn’t want to miss, a vibrant display of tradition and discipline. This happens on Wednesdays and Saturdays, but here’s the catch – they cancel it if there is any chance of rain (this happened to me!!!).
Also, a heads up: the timing can vary depending on the season, so maybe check ahead on their website before you head out. Trust me, it’s one of those moments that’ll make your Madrid trip extra special.
Find it on the map: https://maps.app.goo.gl/q8ZzDAw2WXkUERPC7
Almudena Cathedral: A Slice of Madrid’s Soul
Next on your list of family places to visit in Madrid should be the Almudena Cathedral. It’s more than just a sightseeing spot; it’s a key part of Madrid’s spirit.
A Stunning Cathedral
Right next to the Royal Palace, you’ll find the Almudena Cathedral. It’s a beautiful building with a mix of different styles, showing how Madrid has changed over the years.
Explore Inside the Cathedral
Inside the cathedral, you’ll see colourful stained glass and detailed artwork on the ceiling. Every part of this church has a story, making it a great place for families to explore.
Now, here’s a bit of local wisdom for you. While you’re immersed in the beauty around, especially in crowded spots or waiting at crossing lights, always be alert. Some sneaky pickpockets work in the area. I’ve seen one using an umbrella as a distraction for their partner to unzip backpacks. This is a common trick in tourist spots. Always keep your bag zipped and be aware. Believe me, you’ll want to enjoy your memories without the trouble of losing your wallet or phone.
Tapas Near the Cathedral
Feeling hungry? Close to the cathedral is La Carmen, a great place for tapas. It’s one of my favourite food spots in Madrid. Whether you want traditional Spanish snacks or just something quick, this place is perfect.
Find it on the map: https://maps.app.goo.gl/nUHPfZEt62C61i2v5
Templo de Debod: An Egyptian Treasure in Madrid (Perfect for Sunsets)
Looking for unique things to do in Madrid with your family? Visit the Templo de Debod, an actual ancient Egyptian temple in the middle of Madrid!
A Special Gift
The Templo de Debod is over 2,000 years old and originally from Egypt. Spain got it as a gift in the 1960s for helping save important places in Egypt from flooding. It’s now a top spot in Madrid travel guides.
Visit the Temple for Free
Good news for families: it’s free to go inside! There might be a line, but it’s worth it. Inside, you’ll learn a lot about the temple’s history and ancient Egypt.
Best Time to Visit: Sunset
Try to visit around sunset. The view of the temple with the Madrid sunset is stunning. It’s a great time for photos that look like they’re straight out of a postcard.
Be Mindful of Crowds
This place is popular, especially during sunset, so it can get crowded. It attracts both tourists and locals. Just keep an eye on your things while you soak in the peaceful atmosphere.
Find it on the map: https://maps.app.goo.gl/o1TV6f4s4uYzZLUb7
El Prado Museum: Madrid’s Crown Jewel of Art
When planning family activities in Madrid, the El Prado Museum should definitely be on your list.
A visit to Madrid without stepping into this iconic space? Well, that’s like visiting the beach and not dipping your toes in the water.
A Place Full of Famous Art
El Prado isn’t just any museum. It’s filled with famous art from artists like Goya, Velázquez, and Titian. It’s perfect for anyone who likes art or just wants to see something amazing. It’s one of the best things to see in Madrid.
Tips for Visiting
Good news: El Prado Museum has free entry times! It’s free Monday to Saturday from 6 PM to 8 PM and Sundays and holidays from 5 PM to 7 PM.
But remember, these free times are really popular, so it gets crowded. If you want to go during these times, try to get there an hour early to get in line. Waiting a bit is worth it for all the great art you’ll see inside.
Official website: https://www.museodelprado.es/en
Find it on the map: https://maps.app.goo.gl/JvNAFYGVPFQubtzm7
El Retiro Park: A Great Green Space in Madrid
El Retiro Park is a fantastic place to visit with your family in Madrid. If you’re looking for a green space in the city, this park is the top choice. It’s more than just a park – it’s a place full of things to do and see.
Lots of Space to Relax
El Retiro is big – over 125 hectares – and it’s right in the middle of Madrid. You can have a picnic, go for a boat ride on the big pond, or just enjoy the sunshine. It’s a must-visit spot for anyone exploring Madrid.
Art and Interesting Sights
The park isn’t just trees and grass. It has the Crystal Palace, a really cool building, and lots of statues and fountains with interesting stories. You could spend a whole day here and not get bored.
Places to Eat and Relax – One of my favourite things to do in Madrid!
You won’t go hungry in El Retiro. There are small cafés where you can grab a coffee or a snack while enjoying the park.
Find it on the map: https://maps.app.goo.gl/W9PsAXxiLP6pjk2z6
San Miguel Market: A Family-Friendly Food Experience in Madrid
When looking for places to visit in Madrid with your family, make sure to include San Miguel Market. It’s more than just a market; it’s a place where you can taste lots of different Spanish foods.
A World of Tasty Foods
Right in the old part of Madrid, San Miguel Market has over 30 stalls with all kinds of Spanish food. You can try things like olives with spices and fresh seafood tapas. It’s a great spot for anyone who loves to eat.
See Madrid’s Everyday Life
This market isn’t just about food. It’s a real part of Madrid where you can see and hear the local people. You can watch them buying traditional foods like jamón (ham) and enjoy the lively feel of the place.
Visiting Tips for Families
If you’re visiting Madrid with your family, here’s a tip: the market can be really busy in the evenings and on weekends. It might be too crowded for a comfortable family meal. For a more relaxed visit, try going in the late morning or early afternoon. That way, you still get the fun atmosphere but with more space.
Find it on the map: https://maps.app.goo.gl/rzZF1oxknwwGMLW7A
San Isidro Museum: A Family Journey to Madrid’s History
When planning things to do in Madrid with your family, don’t miss the San Isidro Museum. It’s a great place to learn about Madrid’s past, and it’s free, which is great for budget-friendly trips.
Explore Madrid’s History
The museum is in an old, pretty building and has lots of things to see, from old artefacts to art. It tells the story of Madrid from long ago until now. If you’re interested in going back in time, this museum is perfect.
Fun for Everyone
The San Isidro Museum isn’t just for people who love history. It has interactive exhibits and models that are interesting for all ages. Sometimes they even have guided tours.
Tips for Visiting
It’s free to get into the museum, but it’s a good idea to check their website before you go. They might have special events or temporary exhibits that are extra fun.
Find it on the map: https://maps.app.goo.gl/ru77FHQSL5hLhSEh7
San Ginés Chocolatería: Madrid’s Famous Spot for Churros
Looking for family-friendly places to visit in Madrid? Don’t miss the ‘Churros con Chocolate’ at Chocolatería San Ginés, a famous café known for its delicious treats. It’s a must-visit for anyone who loves sweets and is a big part of Madrid’s food culture.
A Place Full of History and Churros
San Ginés has been serving churros since 1894. It’s more than just a café; it’s a part of Madrid’s history. Every churro here is a piece of the city’s story.
Delicious Churros and Chocolate
Their churros are crispy outside, soft inside, and perfect for dipping in thick Spanish chocolate. It’s a great snack for a relaxed day in Madrid or even for a late-night treat.
Tips for Visiting San Ginés
If San Ginés is on your list of things to do in Madrid, here are some tips:
- Order First: Go to the counter to order your churros before finding a seat.
- Choose Where to Sit: You can sit inside or outside. If you want to sit outside, join the specific queue for outdoor tables. They’ll ask for your order number before you sit.
- Quick Seating Tip: If you don’t mind sitting inside, you might get a seat quicker. There’s also an underground level, but it’s a bit small. The ground level has more space and a nicer atmosphere, so it might be worth waiting for a table there.
Find it on the map: https://maps.app.goo.gl/qBTASTVasMxNNAFJA
Can’t wait to try churros? Make them at home with this simple churros recipe.
La Gran Vía: A Must-See Street in Madrid for Families
La Gran Vía is the heart of Madrid. It’s a street you have to see and it’s full of life, making it a perfect addition to your list of family-friendly places to visit in Madrid. You’ll find historic buildings, shops, and lots of activity here.
Great for Shopping
For those who love shopping, La Gran Vía is like a playground. You’ll find all the big stores like Zara, Primark, and H&M. It’s a great place for browsing or buying lots of stuff.
Fun for Kids and Handy Breaks
In the middle of all the shops, there’s a big bookstore called Casa del Libro. It has a great kids’ section with lots of books for reading. It’s a fun stop for families with children. Plus, it’s a good place for a quick bathroom break when you’re out and about in Madrid.
Best Time to Visit
La Gran Vía can be really busy, but here’s a tip: go early in the morning before the shops open. It’s a nice time to see the buildings and feel the calm side of Madrid. It’s a special experience to see the city wake up.
Find it on the map: https://maps.app.goo.gl/JRJfYA2VLMoxiBkA6
Quick and Tasty Bites in Madrid for Families
Looking for family-friendly places to eat in Madrid? I’ve got two great spots for you. These are perfect for quick, affordable meals that everyone, especially kids, will enjoy.
El Museo del Jamón – More Than Meets the Eye
Near Plaza Mayor, there’s El Museo del Jamón. It looks like a regular tapas bar from outside, but there’s more to it. When you’re in Madrid with your family, check out the upstairs area. It’s quieter and more relaxed, great for sitting down and having lunch or dinner with the family.
It’s a fun place to discover in Madrid. With multiple locations scattered throughout the city—be sure to find a convenient venue nearby.
Los 100 Montaditos: Small Sandwiches, Big Flavors
All around Madrid, you’ll find Los 100 Montaditos. They serve small sandwiches that are about 3 inches long. They might be small, but they’re packed with flavour. With lots of choices, everyone can try different kinds. It’s an affordable and fun way to enjoy a meal.
Extra Tip: Try their ‘tinto de verano’ drink – it’s really good. And if you go during happy hour, you’ll find great deals on sandwiches, nachos, and fries. It’s a great stop for families exploring Madrid.
Wrapping Up: Madrid Awaits You
So, that’s a little look at what Madrid has to offer! This city is full of history, delicious food, and exciting places to explore.
Keep in mind, even though this guide gives you some ideas, the best way to experience Madrid is by exploring it yourself.
Remember to enjoy every moment, taste all the different foods, and let the city’s lively spirit fill you with joy. See you soon in Madrid!
Is 3 days enough to visit Madrid?
While 3 days allows you to see many of Madrid’s main attractions, a longer stay would let you truly immerse yourself in the city’s culture, take day trips, and discover hidden gems around Madrid.
What is Madrid famous for?
Madrid is renowned for its rich history, world-class museums like the Prado and Reina Sofia, vibrant nightlife, beautiful parks such as El Retiro, and traditional Spanish cuisine.
Is Madrid worth visiting as a tourist?
Absolutely! Madrid offers a unique blend of historic sites, cultural events, shopping avenues, and gastronomic delights, making it a must-visit for any traveller.
Should I go to Madrid or Barcelona?
Both cities have their own charm. Madrid boasts a rich cultural scene and traditional Spanish vibe, while Barcelona offers seaside beauty and Gaudí’s iconic architecture. Ideally, try to visit both!
Why is Madrid Spain so popular?
Madrid is a melting pot of Spanish culture, history, art, and food. Its central location, world-renowned museums, and events like the San Isidro Festival contribute to its popularity.
Why do people love Madrid?
From its lively plazas and historic quarters to its modern boulevards and green spaces, Madrid offers a variety of experiences, making it beloved by both locals and tourists.
Is Madrid a walkable city?
Yes, many of Madrid’s key attractions are located close to each other, especially in the city centre, making it convenient for walking tours.
What is the best month to visit Madrid, Spain?
Spring (April to June) and autumn (September to November) are ideal times to visit Madrid due to pleasant temperatures and fewer tourists.
How safe is Madrid for tourists?
Madrid is generally safe for tourists. However, like any major city, it’s essential to be cautious of pickpockets, especially in crowded areas.
What food is Madrid most famous for?
Madrid is known for dishes like Cocido Madrileño (a hearty stew), Churros with chocolate, Bocadillo de Calamares (squid sandwich), and Tapas.
Is it safe to walk in Madrid early morning?
Yes, walking in Madrid during the early morning is generally safe. Still, always be aware of your surroundings and stick to well-lit areas.
Is it OK to wear shorts in Madrid?
Absolutely! In the warm summer months, many locals and tourists wear shorts. Just ensure you dress modestly when visiting religious sites.
How do people greet in Madrid?
A common greeting is a kiss on both cheeks, especially among friends and acquaintances. A handshake is standard for formal occasions.
Do people wear flip flops (thongs) in Spain?
While flip flops are common at the beach or resort areas, they’re less suitable for city walking in Madrid due to the cobblestone streets.
How do you dress in Madrid?
Madrid’s style is smart-casual. While comfortable walking shoes are a must for sightseeing, locals tend to dress a bit more formally than in some other European cities.