Although tourists seeking a peaceful getaway are drawn to Spain’s beautiful summers, the country’s largest and capital city, Madrid, is anything from easy back. It would be a shame to miss out on Madrid‘s many tourist attractions, such as its world-class art museums, architectural wonders best viewed from a sidewalk café with a cup of café con leche in hand, and the late-night revelry at bars and cafes lining the Gran Va.
Around a fortunate turn of events, Madrid’s most visited sites are conveniently clustered in the city’s historic center. Puerta del Sol, the city’s central plaza, is where many of the city’s buses and trams originate and end their routes. It is also the site of many of the city’s festivals and other notable meetings.
While seeing the city’s fascinating museums and expansive verdant parks, you’ll walk through the city’s lovely wide avenues, passing by exquisite architecture along the way. Madrid is a modern town with a rich history and a plethora of cultural attractions, not to mention one of the most recognizable sports teams in the world as well!
Top 15 tourist attractions in Madrid
Here’s a list of Madrid’s top attractions. Have fun!
- Museo Nacional del Prado
- El Retiro Park
- Madrid Río Park
- Puerta de Alcala
- Plaza Mayor
- Temple of Debod
- Royal Palace of Madrid
- Puerta del Sol
- Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía
- Gran Via
- Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza
- Bernabeu Stadium
- Museo Sorolla
- National Archaeological Museum
- Almudena Cathedral
Museo Nacional del Prado
The Museo del Prado is a must-see for any visitor to the city as it is one of Madrid’s top attractions. It is housed in a building by the renowned 18th-century architect Juan de Villanueva and features some of the world’s most renowned works of art. The famous museum’s layout was simplified after an expansion in 2007.
However, it’s difficult to see everything in a single visit, with more than 7,000 works of art spanning culture and history from the 12th century to the early 19th century. The museum has perhaps the world’s finest collection of Spanish paintings, which includes works by such masters as Goya, El Greco, da Ribera, and Velázquez, and which may be of particular interest to visitors.
- Address: C. de Ruiz de Alarcón, 23, 28014 Madrid, Spain.
- Timings: every day from 10 AM to 8 PM.
El Retiro Park
You can’t possibly talk about Madrid’s top attractions and not mention El Retiro Park. The park, often called El Retiro or the Parque del Buen Retiro is a 350-acre expanse of gardens, fountains, and buildings on the outskirts of the city. The original structure in what is now known as Retiro Park was a monastery dating back to the 1500s.
When Phillip II of Spain relocated his court to Madrid in 1561, the area was transformed into a royal park. Since 1868, it has been fully available to the public. The park is popular with both visitors and residents because of its big artificial pond, where watercraft like kayaks and canoes may be rented.
The Monument to Alfonso XII is a colonnaded edifice with an arcing design that stands on the eastern coast. To decorate the Royal Palace’s Paseo de la Argentina, sometimes called the Statue Walk, artists cast bronze statues of past Spanish monarchs.
- Address: 28009 Madrid, Spain.
- Timings: every day from 6 AM to 10 PM.
Madrid Río Park
Madrid Rio Park is a large public park located on the banks of the River Manzanares, and it’s a sight to behold thanks to the abundance of flora and animals found there. The park’s 17 playgrounds make it a popular gathering place for city residents of all ages, but especially families. Make sure to visit this picturesque park on your trip to the city, as it is one of the best tourist attractions in Madrid.
- Address: P.º de la Ermita del Santo, 14, 16, 28011 Madrid, Spain.
- Timings: open 24/7.
Puerta de Alcala
King Charles III of Spain had this magnificent Neoclassical triumphal arch built to mark the arrival of the Spanish monarchy to Madrid. Francesco Sabatini was responsible for the design of this landmark, which was constructed between 1769 and 1778.
The nearly 30-meter-tall granite entry gate is an impressive sight. Sculptures, capitals, and ornamental reliefs dot the exterior. Puerta de Alcala is, without a doubt, one of the best attractions in Madrid.
The best cakes, cookies, pastries, chocolate sweets, and hot chocolate in Madrid can be found at VAIT Pasteleras, which is located just below the monument at 54 Calle Alcalá.
- Address: Pl. de la Independencia, s/n, 28001 Madrid, Spain.
- Timings: open 24/7.
The Plaza Mayor is the most well-known of Madrid’s numerous elegant plazas, and it is one of the best attractions in Madrid. It was originally constructed in 1619 when it was still outside the city’s boundaries and was used for bullfights.
Many people who were falsely convicted of being heretics were executed during the Spanish Inquisition. Long rows of three-story residences built in the late 18th-century line three sides of the rectangular cobblestone square. Each building features intricate paintings, wrought-iron fences, and gorgeous slate spires.
In the center of the plaza is a statue of Philip III mounted on a horse. The Casa de la Panadera, which looks out over the square, now functions as a visitor center.
- Address: Pl. Mayor, 28012 Madrid, Spain.
Temple of Debod
Parque del Oeste, a park not far from the Royal Palace, is home to a number of interesting and odd structures, including the Temple of Debod. The ancient Egyptian temple dedicated to the goddess Isis was located on the Nile. The great story behind how this temple was brought to Madrid and its roots are the reasons that made this temple one of Madrid’s top attractions.
During the Great Dam of Aswan’s construction in Egypt, some historical sites had to be relocated to higher ground. In 1968, as a token of appreciation for Spain’s help, the government of Egypt presented the Spanish monarchy with the Temple of Debod. The gods Ammon and Isis are seen in the bas-reliefs carved into the walls of the 4,000-year-old structure.
- Address: C. de Ferraz, 1, 28008 Madrid, Spain.
- Tuesday to Sunday from 10 AM to 7 PM.
- Closed on Mondays.
Royal Palace of Madrid
The Palacio Real is the most imposing structure in the city due to its enormous size. This palace is also one of the best attractions to visit in Madrid. There are almost two thousand and five hundred rooms at the Royal Palace in Madrid, and each one is lavishly furnished.
Once Carlos III moved in, the palace (built in 1764) would serve as his official home. The last members of the royal family to call it home were Alfonso XIII and Victoria Eugenie, who did so in the early twentieth century.
In addition to its continued usage for formal functions, the public now has access to fifty of the palace’s most luxurious rooms, including the throne room (known as the “Salón del Trono”), which boasts a ceiling painted by the Baroque artist Tiepolo.
- Address: C. de Bailén, s/n, 28071 Madrid, Spain.
- Timings: every day from 10 AM to 6 PM.
Puerta del Sol
The historic city gate that once existed here was given the name Puerta del Sol after its sun emblem. This large public plaza faces east, where the sun will be rising. The Puerta del Sol is not only the starting point for all distances traveled on Spain’s national road network but also a major transit hub (with several bus stops and Metro entrances). This part of the city is one of Madrid’s top attractions.
The May 2, 1808 uprising against Napoleon and the proclamation of the Second Spanish Republic in 1931 both took place in the Puerta del Sol, making it a key location for Spanish history.
The square has evolved into a gathering spot for locals and visitors alike. The Puerta del Sol, which is surrounded by businesses and cafes, remains one of Madrid’s busiest public spaces.
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía
The Reina Sofa National Museum of Art was built to be a contemporary counterpart to the ancient Prado Museum. In 1992, Queen Sofia presided over its formal opening ceremony. In 2005, a section designed by French architect Jean Nouvel was added to the museum, which had formerly functioned as a hospital. This museum is among Madrid’s top attractions to visit.
The Museo Reina Sofia houses a wide variety of Spanish art, including significant holdings of pieces by Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali. Worth the price of entry only to see Picasso’s masterwork El Guernica, which depicts the atrocities of the Spanish Civil War.
- Address: C. de Sta. Isabel, 52, 28012 Madrid, Spain.
- Wednesday to Saturday plus Mondays from 10 AM to 9 PM.
- Sundays from 10 AM to 2:30 PM.
- Closed on Tuesdays.
Often referred to as “the street that never sleeps,” Gran Va is like Madrid’s “Broadway.” From the Plaza de Espaa to the Calle de Alcalá, this enormous avenue spans the heart of Madrid.
The roadway may now appear permanent to the busy capital, but it is actually rather new. After its completion in 1910, the Gran Via quickly became a bustling commercial district.
The Telefónica Skyscraper, the most recognizable structure on the street, was the highest building in Europe when it was finished in 1929. The towering clock atop the Baroque-American building serves as a familiar symbol of the area. All of these amazing features and structures on this avenue have made it one of the best attractions in Madrid.
Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza
The Thyssen-Bornemisza is another world-class museum in Madrid, right up there with the Prado. Not just that; this museum is one of Madrid’s top attractions. It is located in Madrid’s Golden Triangle of Art and showcases works by German and English masters. Enjoy the paintings of such masters as Han Holbein and Albrecht Durer.
After you’ve finished there, the Renaissance greats will satisfy your art cravings. Browse the works of such artists as Rembrandt, Veronese, and Van Dyck. In addition to the impressionist paintings by Monet, Degas, and Renoir, the North American collection of abstract expressionism is going to complete your trip.
- Address: P.º del Prado, 8, 28014 Madrid, Spain.
- Tuesday to Sunday from 10 AM to 7 PM.
- Mondays from 12 PM to 4 PM.
There is the art of the Renaissance, and then there is the art of sports. The latter is particularly well served by a visit to Bernabeu Stadium. Seeing a football game in the vast stadium that serves as home to Real Madrid, Europe’s most successful football team, is on the agenda of many sports fans. Approximately 85,000 people can fit inside the stadium. This stadium is one of Madrid’s top attractions and signature structures.
El Clasico, the annual epic encounter between bitter rivals Barcelona, sells out swiftly at Bernabeu Stadium. Even if you can’t make it to a game, you can still take in the stadium’s magnificent architecture and great museum. Examine the locker rooms, bullpens, and media rooms. Visit the museum and examine relics, awards, and other interesting displays up close.
- Address: Av. de Concha Espina, 1, 28036 Madrid, Spain.
In this delightful museum, you can learn more about the life and work of Joaqun Sorolla y Bastida, the most well-known Spanish Impressionist artist. The home and workshop of the artist Sorolla, which has been preserved in its original state, currently houses over 1,200 works by the artist. There is a wide variety of Sorolla’s artworks in this massive collection.
The museum’s garden terrace should not be missed by guests. This beautiful outdoor area, designed by Sorolla, features a bubbling fountain and colorful tile work in the manner of Andalusia. This museum is, without a doubt, one of the best tourist attractions in Madrid.
- Address: P.º del Gral. Martínez Campos, 37, 28010 Madrid, Spain.
- Tuesday to Saturday from 9:30 AM to 8 PM.
- Sundays from 10 AM to 3 PM.
- Closed on Mondays.
National Archaeological Museum
The National Museum of Archaeology is a must-see when in Madrid as it is one of the top attractions in Madrid. The museum includes items and artwork that span the Mediterranean region’s history from antiquity to the nineteenth century.
The Lady of Elche, a magnificent bust that continues to spark historical discussion, is one of the museum’s attractions. Examples of Visigoth goldwork, Greek vases, and Zamoraian ivory vessels are also on display.
- Address: Calle de Serrano, 13, 28001 Madrid, Spain.
- Tuesday to Sunday from 9:30 AM to 8 PM.
- Closed on Mondays.
The Almudena Cathedral has been the seat of famous families for centuries. In most cases, for the wrong reasons! In the 1500s, people in Madrid first started discussing the possibility of building a cathedral. Construction of the cathedral finally got underway in 1879, but not before the “new world” had been discovered and developed.
The beautiful cathedral wasn’t finished until 1993 because of delays related to the civil war. The inside of the Almudena Cathedral is as elaborately designed as its two towering bell towers.
As the largest crypt in the country, it is the final resting place of many important people, including Cardinals, members of the royal family, and the cathedral’s architect, Francisco de Cubas. This cathedral is one of Madrid’s top attractions that you can miss out on your itinerary to the city.
- Address: C. de Bailén, 10, 28013 Madrid, Spain.
- Timings: every day from 10 AM to 8:30 PM.