The Spanish capital is known for its great cultural heritage, gastronomy, architecture, squares and markets. These 10 places are the most visited locations in Madrid. They are at small areas and you cannot miss them. At the end of this post you have a map of the route that you can follow in order to get to know them.
1. The Royal Palace, the most royal square
The Spanish monarch’s residence for many centuries. Today it is exclusively used for official acts and ceremonies. However, it is also preserved as a museum where the public can contemplate the wealth and delights of the Spanish crown. You will like to see the Change of Guard. The guided tour allows us to enter various rooms and official halls, to discover their meaning and the events that have taken place there, as well as it’s art, furniture and armor and shields used by the Royalty. It also holds the large laboratory of the Royal Pharmacy. The Royal Palace is an essential visit for history lovers.
2. Almudena Cathedral, the most important religious building
The Almudena Cathedral is the most important religious building in Madrid, built as an integral part of the Royal Palace complex, hence its great importance and beauty. It is the current venue for royal weddings. It represents a mixture of various styles: neoclassical, neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque. Its interior is capable of surprising any visitor, with chapels and statues by contemporary artists, and “pop-art” decoration. History lovers can visit the museum and also climb up to the dome. Visit its website for extensive information.
3. San Miguel Market, the most touristic market
There is no better place to taste typical products of the Spanish gastronomy. Known as the “gourmet” market, it is the point of attraction for national and international tourists. Those who value quality above all else will be delighted to take a long walk around it, since they will be able to find the best cheeses, seafood, cakes, among other delicacies, and taste them right there. San Miguel market’s prices are high but it could not be otherwise considering it’s superior quality products.
4. Main Square, the most visited square
Most of Spain’s old cities have their Plaza Mayor, but the one in Madrid is especially beautiful. Located in the heart of the city, it is a charismatic space that invites you to stroll through one of its narrow streets. Tourists usually come here to have a drink on one of its terraces and taste the squid sandwich, very typical of this square. On Christmas Eve, the square is transformed into a nativity scene market with an impressive festive atmosphere where one can find all kinds of decorations, hats, wigs and other details.
5. Puerta del Sol, the busy Madrid center
A visit to Madrid would not be completed without visiting one of its most representative squares, Puerta del Sol never rests, this place is also a place forrelaxation for those who stop, take a seat and simply spend a few minutes observing the others. Plaza in the shape of a half circle adorned by three statues; El Oso y el Madroño (Bear and the Strawberry-Tree), one of the symbols of the city, the equestrian statue of Carlos III, in the center of the square and the oldest, the Mariblanca, elevated on a column, a relic of the 17th century. Also noteworthy is the “Casa de Correos” Clock, to which thousands of people flock every year on the night of December 31 to celebrate the New Year, and the famous Kilometer Zero, of which they say that whoever steps on it always returns to Madrid.
6. Gran Vía, the popular street
It starts near the Fuente de Cibeles and it is one of the busiest streets in the entire city. This great commercial avenue is full of life 24 hours a day and full of restaurants, fashion stores, cinemas and theaters; its environment fascinates anyone. For this reason it received the nickname of the “Madrid Broadway” . To achieve its current appearance, this street has had to undergo an impressive metamorphosis: its construction lasted several decades, required the demolition of more than 300 houses, affecting more than 50 streets, and ended up becoming a landmark in Madrid.
7. Plaza de Cibeles, the best-known place
This beautiful fountain represents the Land, Agriculture and fertility goddess. At the crossroads between Paseo del Prado and Calle Alcalá (Madrid’s longest street) is another well-known and photographed space in Madrid, Plaza de Cibeles. It has a history full of mysteries, but it is not only appreciated for it, but also for being the place of highly important sports celebrations. The Plaza is flanked by imposing and majestic buildings, among which we can name the Cibeles Palace, the Bank of Spain and the “Palacio de Linares“. Due to its beauty it is considered a true wonder of Madrid.
8. Alcalá Gate, one of the five gates of Madrid
Built at the end of the 18th century by the Italian architect Francisco Sabatini, it is one of the most emblematic monuments in Madrid. It is one of the five historical gates of Madrid in neoclassical style and the first triumphal arch to be built in Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire. It is always in sight, as it is located in the heart of the city, next to the Retiro Park and the Cibeles fountain. Fun fact: a peculiarity that very few realize is that its two faces are different from each other.
9. The Retiro Park, the most visited park
The favorite place for many citizens to go for a run, for a bike ride or a boat ride, cool off in the grass or have a hot chocolate on one of its numerous terraces. Besides nature, here we can find several architectural gems, such as the Crystal Palace, a characteristic building of iron architecture, built with metal and glass for the Philippine Islands Exposition in 1887. The El Retiro pond is another place of interest and one of the points with a lot of vitality, dominated by the monument to Alfonso XII. The Retiro Park has much more to see. It is an ideal place to escape the noise and immerse yourself in the tranquility of nature.
10. Prado Museum, the most impressive museum
One of the largest art galleries in the world and a dream come true for lovers of fine arts. Every day thousands of people gather around to observe emblematic paintings such as Las Meninas by Velázquez, Maja Desnuda by Goya or Flemish works of art. Did you know there is a Mona Lisa in el Prado Museum?. The museum also treasures pieces of sculpture, porcelain, enamels and other decorative arts. It is worth mentioning the great architectural value of the neoclassical-style museum building, initially conceived as the museum of natural sciences but very soon becoming the perfect place to display the royal art collection to the public. It is one of the most visited museums in Europe.
More to see and do in Madrid
Here you have the map of the 10 most visited places in Madrid. It is an almost straight line, so it is an easy walk to do. You might also be interested in this plan to visit Madrid in 1 day, this tips for your first visit to Madrid or some of the places you should not miss on your second visit to Madrid.
Our accommodations in Madrid
We have apartments by months in the Centro area and in the Retiro area and as a quieter and less touristy area you can consider the apartments by months in the Salamanca district. For a short stay we have apartments by days next to Calle Serrano and Paseo de la Castellana, in the Escultor Building and accommodation by category such us a list of apartments for companies or our list of apartments for students.