Madrid is a thousand cities in one; there is a Madrid for each and every one of us, for tourists and locals alike. The variety of leisure, culture and gastronomy options the city has to offer is almost infinite. A day or week in Madrid, at any time of the year, can easily be the perfect holiday.
Steeped in history and at the forefront of the latest trends, you could say that Madrid has something for every visitor. From those who come to the city to visit its exhibitions or who plan to eat out at its newest Michelin star restaurant, to those who come to see the latest musicals and snap photographs of themselves on Gran Vía with its lights shining in the background.
Madrid can be enjoyed on foot or on a BiciMAD bike – the city’s public cycle scheme – savouring each and every “instagrammable” moment its streets have to offer: the Changing of the Guard at the Royal Palace, a boat ride at El Retiro Park, the sun-drenched outdoor eating areas in Plaza Mayor, sunset at the Temple of Debod, a rooftop terrace overlooking Gran Vía avenue, the lush grass of the Bernabéu Stadium…
Historical yet contemporary, Madrid’s spirit is brimming with life. Here the latest trends are grown and nurtured, from alternative fashion to art at the most cutting-edge cultural centres, harmoniously combined with age-old traditions. It’s not uncommon for the city’s August street parties to be alive with young people with a classic parpusa flat cap on their heads or dancing to live music with carnations pinned to their breast pocket.
Madrid is that feeling of standing before a city with no limits!
Atocha and Chamartín are Madrid’s two main train stations, with all long-distance trains stopping at one of the two. What’s more, Atocha Station is the main departure and arrival point of the AVE (Spain’s high-speed train), and currently includes the destinations of Córdoba, Seville, Toledo, Zaragoza, Lleida, Tarragona, Barcelona, Huesca, Malaga, Cuenca, Ciudad Real, Albacete, and Valencia. High-speed trains to Segovia and Valladolid leave from Chamartín Station.
Madrid also boasts one of the largest metro networks in the world, making getting around the city a breeze. Other ways of travelling around the capital include urban buses and the city’s public cycle scheme, BiciMAD.
TOURIST INFORMATION POINTS
Discover everything you need to know about the city as soon as you arrive by dropping into the Tourist Information Point by the Reina Sofía Museum, a stone’s throw away from Atocha Station. There are other points scattered around the city at key tourist sites, including the Plaza Major Tourist Information Centre, in the heart of the city, and the Foreign Tourist Assistance Service just off Gran Vía avenue.
Creation is at the heart of Madrid’s cultural scene, with artists from all fields choosing Madrid as their place to think outside the box. The work of Madrid’s creators and many other artists from around the world can be enjoyed at cultural centres such as Matadero Madrid, Tabacalera, La Casa Encendida and la Neomudéjar. These venues, together with an array of smaller spaces, showcase the most avant-garde of various disciplines, with programmes that include emerging talent and seasoned creators in the fields of visual art, performance art, urban art, music, and the best experimental cinema. The Cineteca Madrid, a primarily non-fiction film archive, and the Cine Doré (Spanish Film Archive), an exhibition space for some of the most outstanding pieces in the history of cinema, are examples of the city’s support for underground culture, which is much-admired and enjoyed by the public in huge numbers.
Being the great cosmopolitan city that it is, the performing arts also hold a prominent place in Madrid. Its rich theatre scene also includes smaller theatres and independently run playhouses, known as the alternative or “off theatre” scene. Discover what’s on offer at the Microteatro Por Dinero, Teatro del Barrio, Teatro Tribueñe, Teatro Pradillo, and the Teatro De Las Aguas, to name just a few.
The Malasaña district is synonymous with the city’s alternative side. Its streets are a true multi-coloured delight, where an endless plethora of styles and the bravest ideas in fashion, culture and leisure come together. From second-hand clothes stores and artisan shoe workshops, to tattoo parlours and places to enjoy the city’s nightlife, above all its independent music scene.
FOOD & DRINK
Madrid has forever been the intersection where local cuisine meets recipes from all over Spain. This has enriched our city’s endless and varied options for gastronomy, where alongside typical dishes such as cocido madrileño (meat and chickpea stew), soldaditos de Pavía (fried cod sticks) or the popular battered calamari sandwich, you can also find Asturian cachopo (breaded veal fillets with Iberian ham and cheese), Murcian caldero (a seafood rice dish traditionally cooked in a cauldron), and Cordoba’s salmorejo (cold soup made with blended tomatoes and breadcrumbs). What’s more, for many years now, Madrid has been home to a plethora of restaurants serving food from around the globe, with a huge Latin American presence.
Nothing demonstrates the city’s commitment to cutting-edge gastronomy better than its twenty restaurants boasting one or more Michelin stars. From DiverXO with its three stars to Saddle – which recently gained its first star – some of the best names in the culinary world secure Madrid’s status as a top-class gastronomic destination.
Fancy eating like a local? Madrid boasts an infinite selection of restaurants and bars, many centuries old, serving a range of delicious homemade dishes and the latest in avant-garde cooking. Discover set menus and á la carte options, and tapas in the districts of Ibiza and Ponzano. One of the capital’s most deep-rooted traditions is grabbing a bite to eat at its local markets. Choose from the Vallehermoso, San Fernando or San Antón markets for a journey of the senses!
Each of Madrid’s districts has its own unique personality, and in order to really get to know the city you must step out onto its streets. Discover the historic quarter known as Hapsburg Madrid where the very origins of the city and its vestiges are located, from the Arab Walls to the Royal Palace. Stroll through its Literary Quarter, or the Barrio de Las Letras, where the remains of Miguel de Cervantes and Lope de Vega. There you will also find the latter playwright’s house museum and the building which once housed the press that printed the pages of The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha.
The opulent district of Salamanca is also well worth a visit. It is one of Europe’s most elegant expansion districts, and behind its stunning façades are some of the city’s most exclusive boutiques and exquisite restaurants. And although the quaint streets of La Latina are sometimes mistaken for a quiet village, they are also one of Madrid’s most popular meeting points at weekends, especially on Sundays when the city’s flea market El Rastro is held.
Close by lies the multicultural district of Lavapiés – a must-see for all those who seek to experience a side of the city that is traditional yet divergent, and the place to be both during the day and at night. In the same vein, everyone’s eyes are on the always-buzzing Malasaña when it comes to alternative shopping and independent nightlife.
Creating and fostering culture is at the very essence of the city’s DNA. Madrid is a city of museums: the Prado Museum, the Reina Sofía Museum and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum all line the capital’s Paseo del Arte, which is also home to institutions such as CaixaForum Madrid, the Naval Museum, the National Library, the Archeological Museum, and the Mapfre Foundation exhibition halls. On the Art Walk, as the stretch is known in English, you can enjoy an incredible selection of treasured pieces of art, including such gems as Picasso’s Guernica and Velázquez’s Las Meninas.
To these we can add many more spaces, like house museums, exhibition halls and art galleries, that make Madrid’s art scene almost impossible to keep track of. The Sorolla Museum located in the former abode of the Valencian painter, the private collection housed at the Lázaro Galdiano Museum, the Cerralbo Museum that transports its visitors back in time to the aristocracy at the end of the 19th century, and the Museum of Romanticism that showcases the traditions of the haute bourgeoisie of the same century are just a few examples. Also worth mentioning are Liria Palace and the María Cristina Masaveu Peterson Foundation, both of which have recently opened their doors to the public.
The start of the year sees fairs such as ARCOmadrid and other smaller events held throughout what’s known as Madrid Art Week, and September brings with it Apertura to mark the start of Madrid’s art exhibition season – two great examples of the thriving art scene the city has to offer.
Some of the best pieces of Spanish literature were written in Madrid. The Barrio de las Letras (Literary Quarter) – once home to Cervantes, Lope de Vega (both buried here), Quevedo, and many more writers – pays homage to these great works. Not forgetting Galdós, the great 19th-century chronicler of Madrid originally from the Canary Islands, who made the city his home. Marking one hundred years since his death, 2020 was named the Year of Galdós.
Home to every brand and style you can possibly imagine, Madrid is a first-rate shopping destination: from stores belonging to multiple clothing companies and national and international chains, to the studios of Spain’s most important designers.
The Fuencarral district is the place to be when it comes to alternative shopping, while the area surrounding Gran Vía and Sol is home to the main fashion chains. In the Salamanca district you’ll find the Milla de Oro (Golden Mile) lined with the most exclusive global brands selling premium items, and districts such as Salesas brimming with numerous boutiques and ateliers. Not forgetting the most exciting outlets on the outskirts of the city for the best deals in luxury shopping!
MADE IN MADRID
Aditionally, the city’s extensive tapestry of artisans who craft and manufacture high quality products offers visitors to Madrid superb examples of tradition and design. From guitars and leather accessories, to designer jewellery and hand-painted dinnerware, these exquisite pieces showcase excellence in artisanship passed down from one generation to the next.
ENTERTAINMENT & LEISURE
Like the great city it is, the leisure and entertainment on offer in the capital is immensely rich. When it comes to theatre, concerts and cinema, it’s practically impossible to see and do it all, without even mentioning the city’s renowned nightlife: from Castellana to Lavapiés, Chamberí, Malasaña and Chueca – there are few cities in the world that boast as an impressive selection of bars and nightlife venues as Madrid.
Canopies announcing the names of musicals in bright lights have become emblematic of Gran Vía. From El Rey León (The Lion King) – which has been showning in Madrid for a decade – and world premiers such as El Médico (The Physician), every year these musicals attract thousands of people who come to the capital of Spanish musicals for an unforgettable evening.
As for lovers of flamenco, they will find in Madrid one of the genre’s main locations. Our tablaos are world-famous flamenco venues where both seasoned artists and emerging talent come to perform. In fact one of these spaces – Corral de la Morería – is the first to be awarded a Michelin star for its restaurant. Additionally, Madrid is also home to the Teatro Flamenco Madrid – the only theatre dedicated exclusively to the world of flamenco.
When it comes to the biggest events on the city’s cultural calendar, in Madrid there’s something for everyone from January to December. We kick off the year with the Three Kings Parade, the Arco art fair and Gastrofestival, and welcome spring with Carnival, Easter, the San Isidro celebrations and the Madrid Book Fair. Summer brings with it the multidisciplinary Veranos de la Villa festival and the celebrated photography event PHotoESPAÑA, held from July to August. What’s more, August gives us Madrid Pride parade and many a street party, as we return to our roots in one of the most exciting months of the year. Autumn gets underway with art and music, as the Month of Architecture showcases our most original and emblematic buildings and JazzMadrid brings us the best jazz artists on the national and international scene. The year comes to a close in a spectacular coalescence of lights, markets and eager anticipation as we celebrate Christmas in Madrid.
Musical festivals such as Inverfest and Flamenco Madrid deserve a special mention, as do the leading summer festivals MadCool and DCode. The EDP Rock’n’Roll Madrid Marathon & ½ and the Mutua Madrid Open in spring, in addition to the final leg of La Vuelta bike race through the city’s streets and the Mutuactivos Open golf tournament in autumn are events on the sporting calendar that can’t be missed.
Madrid is a city that lives and breathes football, and its two biggest teams are famous around the globe: Real Madrid, whose stadium is one of the most visited sights in the city, and Atlético de Madrid’s, whose new Wanda Metropolitano Stadium has also become another popular tourist attraction.