Best Must Do and See Things in Madrid, Spain

Plaza Mayor, Madrid at night - copyright alecea, Creative Commons


Madrid is not just the capital of Spain. In many people’s eyes, Madrid is the most fascinating city in Spain. It’s also full of so many interesting places to see, unusual things to do, and packed with culture, history, art, music and, yes, passion – it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

If you’ll be heading to Madrid, whether it’s a first trip or your 100th, these five things are still the best must do and see things in Madrid, and a great way to start exploring this incredible city. If you haven’t seen them yet, you’re missing something quite spectacular.

Open Top Bus Tour – Before you do anything else in Madrid, take an open top bus tour.  There are two possible routes around the city, and we recommend you take both as you learn so much about Madrid and where everything is in relation to everything else.  You can also get on and off the bus at different places, so it’s a good (and cheap!) way to visit a few places but still not get lost.

Tours take about an hour and 15 minutes and go from early morning till late at night (midnight in the summer months!). At only 20 € per person or 24€ for two days, and 50 € for a family for the day, there’s no better deal in Madrid. You can book tickets here.

Gran Via and the Paseo de La Castellana – If you’re looking for the center of everything in Madrid, you might want to start here. Two of the most popular, and major, streets in Madrid the Gran Via and Paseo de La Castellana are home to some of the city’s best shops, cafes and restaurants. If you want to experience true Madrid culture, albeit a quite high-end one, then these two streets are must sees.

Museo del Prado – One of the most famous museums in Spain and the best in Madrid, the Museo del Prado is also one of the world’s best art museums.  It’s also on Madrid’s ‘Museum Mile’ so a couple of days spent wandering around this incredible area is highly recommended. Museo del Prado is open from Tuesday through Sunday. Closed on Mondays. General admission, currently, is 10 € per person.

The Plaza Mayor – Just about the best place in Madrid to sit and people watch, head to a cafe or restaurant, pull up a chair, order some tapas and a bottle of wine and relax. Part of the fun of being in Madrid is just sitting and watching Spanish life evolve around you. The Plaza Mayor is the piece de resistance of that voyeur’s delight.

Botín – Botín is actually the oldest operating restaurant in the world, having opened in 1725 and never really closed.  Famous for its Castillian cooking, and for being one of the favorite restaurants of Ernest Hemingway during his long-stay in Europe,  try the lamb, suckling pig, chicken and ham croquettas, and the Segovian mushrooms.

Ernest Hemingway in The Sun Also Rises said about Botín – “We lunched upstairs at Botín´s. It is one of the best restaurants in the world. We had roast young suckling pig and drank rioja alta. Brett did not eat much. She never ate much. I ate a very big meal and drank three bottles of rioja alta.”

You’ll find Botín at Calle Cuchilleros 17 (Metro: La Latina), +34 913664217.