Updated: Nov 2, 2021
I visited Madrid on a school trip in 2017 and I split my time between a language school and being a tourist. Madrid instantly caught my eye with its busy streets, beautiful parks and diversity. I knew from day one that I could live in Madrid when I’m older, the vibe just felt comfortable and I almost felt at home there. There is so much to see and do in Spain’s capital and I’m going to tell you about five of them.
1. Visit the Royal Palace
The Spanish Royal Family’s official residence is the Royal Palace in Madrid although nowadays it is largely used for state ceremonies. The palace is grand and elegant with 135,000 square metres of floor space and 3418 rooms. This makes it the largest functioning royal palace in Europe which is one of the main reasons it attracts so many tourists. The palace itself is located on Calle de Bailén in downtown Madrid and it can be accessed from the Ópera and Plaza de España metro stations. If you’re planning a visit to the palace, then I’d recommend visiting during the Changing of the Guard. This iconic and historical event takes place on Wednesdays and Saturdays (weather dependent). There are also many bus routes that take you to the palace which can be found on the official palace website. If you are a fan of the royals or appreciate the historical significance of the Royal Palace, I’d highly recommend a visit.
2. Visit the Reina Sofia
The Reina Sofia is one of the most famous art galleries in the world known for its 20thcentury artwork. The museum opened in 1992 and is named after Queen Sofía. The museum is most well-known for having collections from Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí with Picasso’s masterpiece Guernica taking centre stage in the gallery. The Reina Sofia is also one of the world’s largest museums for modern and contemporary art and it often holds temporary national and international exhibitions which draws art lovers from around the world to Madrid. In 2019 the number of visitors to the museum hit almost four and a half million which shows the huge impact that art has on tourism in Madrid. The opening hours are 10am-9pm Monday-Saturday (closed on Tuesdays) and 10am-2:30pm on Sundays. The admission fee is five euros but from Monday-Saturday from 7pm-9pm the admission is free.
3. Take a walk around Plaza Mayor
You can’t visit Madrid without taking a walk around Plaza Mayor. The Plaza Mayor is the main square located in the heart of Madrid. It is very popular for leisure activities amongst tourists and locals such as shopping and dining. It is one of Madrid’s most charming locations and forms a strong part of Madrid’s identity. The Plaza Mayor can be accessed from the Ópera, Sol and Tirso de Molina metro stations as well as several bus routes. If you find yourself in Madrid during the Christmas period, I’d highly recommend visiting the Plaza Mayor Christmas Market. With 104 different stands there is plenty to see, do and buy at the Christmas Market and it is a special place to share the Christmas joy and cheer.
4. Stroll around El Retiro Park
Retiro Park is one of Madrid’s biggest public parks and is a perfect spot to step away from the hustle and bustle of life in Spain’s capital. It’s a great place to go for a walk, run or cycle ride or even just sit on the grass and relax. Within the park itself you can find many monuments and gardens including the Jardín de Vivaces and Jardines de Cecilio. There is also a large lake where you can rent a boat and cruise around the lake, taking in the surroundings and catching some rays. If you’re visiting Madrid in the summer, I’d highly recommend taking a trip to go and explore the park.
5. Take a tour around the Santiago Bernabéu
The Santiago Bernabéu is the home of one of the world’s all time most successful football teams, Real Madrid. I’ve been a huge football fan since I was a kid so when I got to the opportunity to visit the stadium and take a tour, I said yes with no hesitation! The capacity of the stadium is 80,000 so standing pitch side and looking up around the stadium was breath-taking. In 2019 more than 1,300,000 people visited the Santiago Bernabéu and its museum was the third most visited museum in Madrid. The tour includes lots of interactive aspects too and you even get the opportunity to sit in the press room and experience what the manager and players do when they have a press conference. The stadium is open every day apart from Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. The cost of the tour is 25 euros for an adult ticket and 18 euros for a child ticket. The nearest metro station to access the stadium is the Santiago Bernabéu L10 metro station.