Villa y Corte, the capital of Spain, call it what you will, Madrid has a thousand places to show you and as many corners where you can lose yourself amidst the warmth of its people, the shade of its history and the richness of its gastronomy.
The next question is, where to start? There is so much to see and fall in love with in Madrid that it is difficult to know where to start. We'll try to give you a hand by giving you a list of the must-see places and stops on your visit.
These are the essentials on your getaway to the capital.
Madrid's main attractions
Parque del Retiro
We begin surrounded by nature, a place that will make you forget that you are in one of the most densely populated cities in Europe with a frenetic pace of life. Here you'll be able to breathe in the peace and quiet, but this won't stop you from visiting great monuments, as well as the park itself.
Its more than 15,000 trees are spread over its 125 hectares. They are a must-see:
- -Palacio de Cristal
- -Monument to Alfonso XII
- -Navigate around the pond
- -Fuente del Ángel Caído
- -Jardines del Parterre
- -Paseo de las Estatuas, although its official name is Paseo de Argentina
La Puerta del Sol
As well as being a place you must visit, it is a place that will make you feel at home. If you've never been to Madrid, you'll have the feeling that you've known it all your life, because you've seen everything around you before. The main reason for this is because you've been watching Madrid on the small and big screen, here we tell you how Madrid is cinema.
Kilometre zero, the Real Casa de Correos, where we welcome the new year, the Tío Pepe sign, the statue of the Bear and the Arbutus or the statue of Carlos III.
Puerta de Alcalá
"The Great", Carlos III, was in charge of ordering its construction, to become the oldest arch in Europe, which was not built by the Roman Empire; 1779.
It may be, after the Bear and the Strawberry Tree or Arbutus, the greatest symbol of Madrid. And just a few steps away, let's discover the next must-see stop.
Fuente de Cibeles
Iconic fountain, where, in addition to Real Madrid fans celebrating their titles, some of the capital's most majestic buildings converge.
Around it are the Palacio de Cibeles, an incredible building that today houses the city's town hall and regency, the Palacio de Linares, the Palacio de Buenavista and the Banco de España.
Of course, for Atlético de Madrid supporters, a visit to the Fuente de Neptuno, just a few metres away, is essential. And while we're on the subject of football, don't miss the opportunity to visit and tour some of the capital's football stadiums, the Santiago Bernabéu and the Cívitas Metropolitano being the most spectacular.
We continue to visit emblematic places, and this one has been so for more than 400 years, the Plaza Mayor. It has had multiple uses throughout its long life, from bullfights and markets to public executions.
Today, compared to those days, it is a much quieter place. It is an ideal place to stop and enjoy another great symbol of the city, this time culinary; the squid sandwich. Don't dare leave Madrid without trying this local delicacy, it's one of those things you can't leave without doing in the Spanish capital.
Museo del Prado
One of the most important and prestigious museums in the world; the Prado Museum. Within its walls are exhibited works belonging to the history of art by great legends such as Velázquez, Goya, Rembrandt, Rubens, Raphael, Titian, El Bosco and El Greco.
The importance of this institution on an international level is undeniable, but it is not the only centre you should visit, just a few steps away you will find the Reina Sofía National Art Centre Museum, the Thyseen-Bornemisza National Museum, the Naval Museum and cultural centres such as CaixaForum. To see them all, check out the best museums in Madrid.
Catedral de la Almudena
One of the most spectacular places in the capital. Completed at the end of the 20th century, it has received thousands of visitors who have been able to enjoy both its neoclassicist exterior and its neo-Gothic interior, a mixture of styles that is fascinating for both scholars and visitors.
Opposite the façade of the Almudena Cathedral, we find the magnificent Royal Palace. Magnificent in terms of beauty and size, it is a gigantic architectural work of art with more than three thousand rooms and 135,000 square metres.
Royal luxury that gives an imperial touch to the whole area, which also leads us to another obligatory stop; Plaza de Oriente and Jardines de Sabatini. These are must-sees, and it doesn't matter whether you visit Madrid for one afternoon, two days or three full days.
Templo de Debod
What would you say to a little trip to ancient Egypt? Yes, in Madrid. Well, you can do it if you visit the Temple of Debod. A gift made by the Egyptian government to Spain in 1969.
Its location gives it a special beauty that is emphasised if you wait until sunset, when the colours and atmosphere turn this time of day into something magical.
Plaza de España
Another stop that speaks for itself; the Plaza de España. Here we can see the homage paid to Don Quixote and the eternal master Miguel de Cervantes. And just as important is the place itself as its setting: the Gran Vía.
It is a unique place where it seems that everything happens there, everything shines, everything happens through and for the Gran Vía. Speaking of emblematic streets, don't forget Alcalá and Callao.
Don't forget to get lost in the streets of Madrid, Malasaña, Lavapiés, Chueca or the Austrias neighbourhood are waiting for you so you can enjoy their corners, their atmosphere and their secrets.