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Read: the best hostels in Madrid – a comparison
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With millions of visitors every year, you’d think that the capital city of Spain would have become a gigantic amusement park by now.
And though some landmarks like Museo del Prado o Plaza del Sol, although definitely worth the detour, are extremely famous and to avoid if you are more an off-the-beaten-tracks kind of gal (or guy), all hope is not to be lost.
Sure, Madrid is the all-time competitor of Barcelona. Here is our guide to spending One Week In Barcelona.
Together, both cities are the perfect One Week in Spain.
List of FUN Things to do in Madrid
(last updated in 2021)
Without any further blah blah. Here is our selection of 25 fun things to do in Madrid. It will allow you to discover the city, in a very madrileño style.
We added all activities and neighborhoods on a map.
VAMOS and let us start with a delicious breakfast:
1. Breakfast for champions “Chocolate con churros”
The 122-years old Chocolatería San Ginés offers 24/7 decadent churros dipped in chocolate.
Definitely a Madrid breakfast specialty! This treat could even be more appealing (if that’s even possible) to some after a long night out right before bed as the sun rises. Or as a nice little afternoon break or dessert. Or all of them.
Nevertheless, there are Food Tours in Madrid as well. A cool idea to get an introduction to Churros, Tapas and more.
Who said there was a time not to eat churros dipped in hot chocolate?
Your Madrid trip wouldn’t be complete without passing through Chocolatería San Ginés. This is definitely a MUST for your visit.
And the great thing about it? You can enjoy these wonderful churros at any time of the day so there’s no reason to miss it.
Long story short: Eat some churros in Madrid, they are delicious.
2. Go VIP in a walking tour
Enter the Madrid Royal Palace an hour ahead of everybody in a VIP Walking Tour.
This means you get the Royal Palace all by yourself, away from the crowd. Do you hear that? All by yourself only. How special is that?
And that’s not it. You also get to enjoy a full Madrid Walking Tour with an expert tour guide that will share with you the beautiful history of each landmark you will visit.
Plus, the tour includes wine, cheese, and olive oils tasting in the Food Market. Price is $59 per person, and the tour takes 4:30 hours.
3. Madrid from above
Visiting a new city is always a thrilling experience. But more often than not, we stay on the ground. So this is one is quite a new experience!
Being built in 1969, the Teleférico or Cable Car takes you from the north side of the city to Casa Campo.
It offers two stations. The motor station – Rosales and the tensor station – Casa de Campo. And it gives you access to stunning views of the city and a different perspective 627 and 651 meters above sea level perspectively.
So if you’re up for something different and relaxing to spend your time, ride the Cable Car. Not only do you enjoy the view of Madrid above, but you also miss the traffic in the city.
4. Flamenco at a bohemian Bar
This is one of the coolest bars in Madrid: ARTEBAR.
You will not find this place in tourist guides. I’ve searched and searched. They don’t even seem to have a current website or a Facebook page. How cool is that?
I only found their small Blog Spot: Artebar
So, what’s the fuzz about?
Artebar offers cheap flamenco concerts! It is the ultimate bohemian Madrid experience.
Sad update: Seems like this bar is closed 🙁
You can find many other Flamenco Dances here.
See yourself the most important flamenco show in the world at the historical Torres Bermejas tablao. Witness the remarkable performance of the Cuadro Flamenco teamed with the best singers, guitarists, clappers, and dancers of the flamenco tradition.
5. The rooftop terrace on a Fine Arts Museum
Yes, I know you… You wanted as well some rooftop terrace. No shame here, I love rooftop terraces as well!
Instead of spending your weight in Euros for a five-star hotel rooftop view, get a 3 Euro ticket at the Circulo de Bellas Artes Museum.
Not only do you get the perfect chance to enjoy a cocktail here but you also get the chance to witness the beautiful Madrid sunset.
Plus, see yourself one of the most mind-blowing views of the city, from the Azotea (rooftop terrace) of the museum. Very Instagram-worthy that deserves to be shared with the world.
Believe it or not: not a lot of people know about this place.
Furthermore, I’m sure you know that at some point in history, Spain was conquered by the moors.
Already knew that? If not, have a read here: History of Spain.
(Here is an animated movie of the History of Spain.)
However, this unique part of European history led to breath-taking architecture.
From the South of Spain to Madrid. It also led to the opportunity for you to enjoy a break from the craziness of the city in the secret Hammam Al Andalus.
7. Relax at a magical palace
While this might not be the most alternative thing to see in Madrid since the park “Parque del Retiro” is considered to be Madrid’s Central Park, the Crystal Palace is still worth the detour.
The place is magical. This is one of Madrid’s perfect examples of iron architecture which was built in 1887.
Although you may visit the Crystal Palace at any time and still get the best of it, I suggest you go there at sunset. Take your time, sit back, relax, and enjoy the moment.
Insider Tip: The Cyrstal Palace is quite impressive during the Fall. Have leaves falling from the trees as your background with the autumnal lights shining through.
8. Discover a hidden Garden
It looks like it’s closed, but Palacio del Príncipe Anglona Garden is only waiting for you to push that little door and spend some time in that idyllic green area in the heart of the city.
A simple garden that encompasses a brick path flooring and low boxwood hedges. You can also find several plants that surround the garden like roses.
Head over the walls and you’ll be amazed to see the overlooking view of Segovia Street.
Located in the trendiest neighborhood of Madrid, La Latina, it is a perfect spot for you to digest all these tapas and gather energy so you can go back out there and get the party started.
Or if you have plenty of time, this is the perfect peaceful hiding place to relax, edit your Instagram photos and plan your next destination.
9. Discover the second face of Madrid
The Puerta de Alcalá might look like just another monument of a big city (and a pretty beautiful one, if you ask me) and so famous that songs have even been written about it.
At first sight, it seems like it doesn’t have its place in alternative things to do in the Madrid list.
The arch is nestled in Plaza de la Independencia (Independence Square), near one of the park entrance at El Retiro.
But, the fun fact: it is actually a two-faced monument and looks different according to where you look at it from.
It was also called “Puerta” or Gate since it once gave access to the city of Madrid in one of the five royal gates. It was later on turned into a plaza in 1989.
Legend has it that King Carlos III actually approved two different designs without realizing it, and since his advisors were scared to let him know that he had made a mistake, they decided to merge the two projects.
10. A matinee at the cinema
No dubbing available in this typical movie-theatre of 13 rooms and stain-glass windows.
It may not be the biggest theater but it is the oldest in Madrid, and don’t you worry. They always release the biggest films from Hollywood and other film festivals all year round.
In Yelmo Cines Ideal all movies are screened in their original version. And the early shows on Saturday and Sunday are cheaper. They also sell tickets at a reduced price every “Movie Wednesdays”.
11. Desperate literature
This is the place for you all bookworms roaming the streets of Madrid.
Home to the very best collection of used English books in the city, a naughty cat named Wednesday and a vintage typewriter destined to bursts of inspiration and not selfies.
They also have this awesome old-style phone where you don’t receive calls. Instead, you get to hear poems, songs or book lines from the other end.
Desperate Literature strives to be a space where good literature serves as a vehicle for dynamic cultural, linguistic and social exchange between madrileños, extranjeros, and travelers from around the world.
In this spirit, they look forward to hosting readings, meetings, gallery shows, lectures, and more.
So if you’re up for some book readings or poem recitals, here’s a good place to catch it. Plus, choose among the many books available at the store.
This says it all.
12. Café in a hidden university rooftop
Guau&Café is a hidden Café on the rooftop of an old university (Escuela Pías) and if no one had tipped you off, you wouldn’t realize it existed.
It’s quirky and beautiful. Plus, you can have a taste of Madrid’s tapas in the cafe, too. It’s both having a wonderful food trip and an amazing time with the perfect view of the city.
They also have a great variety on the menu that you’ll have a hard time deciding what to get.
The cafe is an excellent opportunity for you to escape from all the tourists and enjoy a drink in the fresh Madrid evening breeze overlooking the city.
Insider Tip: The cafe can be crowded during the summer and it might be hard to get a table whether you’re there for a beer or for lunch.
Sad update: Seems like this bar is closed 🙁
13. Art Gallery in an idyllic location
Located only 20 minutes away from downtown Madrid in the fancy neighborhood of La Florida, is the Javier Lopez Art Gallery, right at the edge of El Pardo national park.
The gallery is still only really known by some art aficionados of the Madrid art scene.
Also, the quality of the art on display will provide you with some essential insight into the work of some major contemporary artists.
Aside from this, the gallery aims to present both the famous and recognized with those emerging artists as well. Making sure that all of them represent the latest trend in contemporary art through exceptional work.
Plus, the idyllic location and futuristic building will also offer you a well-deserved breath of fresh air after the hustle and bustle of the city.
14. Time travel at the 1920’s cinema
Have you always wanted to try time travel?
Then you might want to check out Cine Doré.
Jump back in time in this 1920’s cinema decorated with a red-orange facade, detailed with white columns.
Cine Doré renders support for the use of records related to the art of cinematography.
And if you are lucky enough, you will get seats to a silent movie showing with live piano music.
How very Chaplinesque!
15. Be delighted by acoustic Spanish music
For a change from digitalized music and a real sense of true Spanish traditional art, go take a look at this 19th Century theater.
It is the one and only theatre built specifically for La Zarzuela, the Spanish operetta.
Teatro de la Zarzuela is the representative par excellence of the musical legacy of Spain which embodies its principle of a “Theatre fit for a genre… and a genre fit for a Theatre”.
In this theater, you will see dozens of musicians play acoustic music in a theater only known by Madrileños.
So if you’re looking for a sense of authenticity, visit Teatro de La Zarzuela.
16. Alternative Theater
Would you believe that prostitutes used to work in this former brothel? Yes, they have.
However, now it is turned into an alternative theatre, Microteatro Madrid.
Here, five 15-minute long plays are held simultaneously with different themes of money, love, and the future every month. Engaging the public to interact with the actors.
Plus, it also offers a bar-restaurant that makes it a perfect avenue to meet artists and locals.
With more than 900 works and actors who have gone by this theater, it’s popularity has continued to make a noise in the Madrid scene.
It has turned into a new genre that represents a theatrical movement.
Insider Tip: This hip little theater is packed on the weekend so you might want to get there early for a chance to grab a good seat and a glass of vino.
17. Sunset at a Second Century Temple
Your idea of a good time in Madrid doesn’t necessarily involve going to the temple.
You might, however, enjoy an out of this world sunset in this 2200-year-old Egyptian temple, which was a gift to Spain in 1968.
It was during the construction of the Great Dam of Aswan in Egypt that the UNESCO made an international call to save this rich historical legacy.
As a sign of gratitude in helping them save the temples of Abu Simbel, the Egyptian government donated it to Spain.
What about a little picnic there while you’re at Debod Temple?
Oh! Sounds like a perfect plan.
Or you can join a Scenic Madrid City Cycling Tour which starts at Debod Temple.
18. Bucolic park with a Spanish Civil War Bunker
Never crowded, always clean, Capricho Park is a real oasis right in the heart of the Spanish capital.
Don’t get put off by all the restrictions to access this park: this bucolic park looks like the gardens of Eden and is the only place in the city where you will find a temple dedicated to Bacchus, the wine god.
Also, it is the only park in Madrid that is created in a Spanish romantic style an only a few numbers of people know this area.
There are three major parts of the park for you to discover. You have “Jardin à la française”, an area of fountains and statues, and an area full of flowers and plants.
19. Dark legends and tapas!
How often do you get to discover a city’s dark secret, legends, and mysteries, without spending hours researching censored volumes in a shady library?
With Mysteries in a Tapas Madrid Tour you’ll have the chance to discover Madrid’s darkest secrets, legends, and mysteries of people from lovers, to criminals and victims that will fire-up your imagination.
Any goosebumps yet? Spooky, right?
But that’s only a portion of the tour.
Of course, get to enjoy traditional tapas from different regions of Spain in the process. Plus, the highlight of the night, have a pub crawl with free entrance to all of the bars and the club. You also get welcome shots at every bar as you dance all night long.
Find more food tours in Madrid here.
20. Learn the Real Madrid football history
If you love football, this is the perfect time to visit Bernabéu Stadium.
Witness the panoramic view of the big stadium. Walk around the pitch and experience the place where every game happens.
You will also have access to their Trophy room where you will see cups won by Real Madrid throughout their history. Plus, you also get to visit the museum where you will find different memorabilia used by the team over the years.
There are also videos played to show the greatest achievements of the team.
21. Buy secret cookies from cloistered Spanish Nuns
Ok ok, let me explain this.
The nuns of the Corpus Christi have been doing this tradition for centuries to support their convent’s finances. These cloistered nuns have been baking these amazing cookies which are very famous among the tourists.
You may not see them personally but through the lazy susan turnstile, you will be able to communicate with them for your purchases. The lazy susan is divided into three chambers and spins for your items.
There’s a menu posted right on the wall. And when you have decided what to get, you can place your money on the lazy susan, it will spin and then your purchase will be placed on another chamber.
This is an interesting experience not to be missed when you come to Madrid. It’s like doing a treasure hunt to find these cookie goodies made by nuns who have dedicated their lives secluded from the world.
How amazing is that?
22. Capture your best side at a private photo session
Let’s face it: We all take a dozen selfies when we travel. And eventually, all end up looking the same. Quite frankly don’t convey the thrill and emotion we were feeling while we were traveling.
Therefore, this is your perfect chance to get amazing travel pictures that you will cherish for a lifetime!
Get a professional photo shoot in Madrid and capture your best side delivered in high-resolution images suitable for posters
Take home astounding pictures that will all be social-media ready and Instagram-worthy.
23. Escape Room (escape from Zombies!)
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to stop the threat of a zombie virus to poison humanity.
You got sixty minutes and a team of fellow scientists to solve the problem and to escape.
Location? A secret underground lab in a basement downtown Madrid.
So are you in? Or are you out?
Decide now and let your adventure begin.
You can find prices and schedule at the website roomescapeadventure.es
This is obviously not recommended for families, it’s more for a group of friends!
24. Ghost Metro Station
Part of the Madrilenian subway line that opened in 1919 is te Ghost Metro Station.
Estación Chamberí was closed in the sixties when the metro company decided to increase the traffic on this line, and it was impossible to enlarge this station.
Abandoning it until 2008, when they reopened it to turned it into a museum. It’s completely a unique museum experience.
In Anden 0 you can immerse yourself in the history of the actual city of Madrid.
Insider tip: It is FREE to the public, and is open Thursdays to Sundays at varying hours so make sure you check the website before going.
25. Tapas at a local Market
Last but not least: What is Spain famous for aside from its unique architecture and the warmth of its people?
Tapas it is, tíos.
Now is the time to get hungry, take a stroll at San Miguel Tapas Market, and marvel at the buzz of this quaint market.
The historical building is considered one of the 13 most beautiful market halls in Europe.
Not only does it give you a great place for tapas but it also gives you amazing choices for ALL kinds of food including drinks.
Let yourself get carried away by the smells and tastes of this experience. ¡Olé!
All Activities and Sights on a Map
We did the leg work for you and added all sights and activities on this handy map. You can zoom in as well. You can also activate and deactivate different layers in the left sidebar.
Summary for having fun in Madrid
You see, there is numerous of entertainment. You just to keep an eye on it.
Did you find any other cool recommendation for some entertainment in Madrid? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Remember to check our full itinerary for Madrid here.
Besides these amazing activities, we also took care of your accommodation; kind of. All you need to do, is reading our big guide to where to stay in Madrid for first-time visitors.
Traveling more in Spain? Then check our guide to one week in Spain.
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