7 Reasons to visit Madrid, the gorgeous capital city of Spain.
The first place I ever visited in Spain was Madrid, the country’s capital. This city offers so much history and culture, as well as entertainment and fun.
Whether you are a budget traveler backpacking through Europe, or just visiting Spain for a quick vacation, Madrid is one of the best places to see in the country.
I visited Madrid for four days with my cousin, and we spent our days exploring the city streets, eating tapas and churros, drinking wine, socializing at our amazing hostel, admiring the art museums, watching a flamenco show, and absorbing the overall vibrant feel of the city.
So for anyone wondering where to go in Spain, I hope this article inspires you to visit Madrid.
(And for anyone looking to explore the beautiful Spanish towns around Madrid, check out The 6 Best Day Trips from Madrid for inspiration!)
7 Reasons To Visit Madrid, Spain
1. The Food
The food in Madrid is hearty and delicious.
Many of the classic dishes of Madrid revolve around meat, so being a vegetarian I was always on the lookout for meat-free local foods.
Vegetarian or seafood paella, cold gazpacho soup, Spanish omelette, and patatas bravas are just a handful of yummy dishes I tried.
I also ate lots of fresh bread, cheese, fruit, and desserts.
Two of the best places we ate in Madrid include:
Chocolatería San Ginés: Home of the best churros in Madrid. Crispy fried dough sticks dipped in thick melted chocolate. You can’t leave Madrid without trying them.
- Location: Pasadizo de San Ginés, 5, 28013 Madrid, Spain
- Hours: Open 12 pm to 12 am
Sidrería El Tigre: An amazing place to eat in Madrid for budget travelers. You get a massive plate of free tapas whenever you order a drink.
- Location: Justicia, 28004 Madrid, Spain
- Hours: 11:30 am to 1:30 am
2. The Drinks
You’re going to need some local beverages to accompany all that delicious Spanish food.
Luckily, drinks in Madrid are high quality and super cheap.
I’m a wine lover myself, so I was in heaven here. Local wines in a restaurant or bar only cost a couple Euros for a glass. A bottle of wine from the store also only costs a couple of Euros. Safe to say my cousin and I drank too many bottles of wine to count.
Beer is similarly priced to wine, maybe even a bit cheaper.
Spaniards also love to grab a 1-Euro cafe con leche in the morning, which is an espresso with hot milk. Order the same, sit at an outdoor cafe, and people-watch like the locals do.
Another local favorite in Madrid is sangria. Authentic Spanish sangria is refreshing and fruity, and a glass only costs around 1-2 Euros. A pitcher can be around 10-15 Euros.
My cousin and I briefly took a break from our thrifty college habits and bought tickets to a Flamenco Show, which turned out to be absolutely worth it.
After being welcomed into a tiny, intimate showroom and given a glass of wine, we spent the next hour in awe as we watched the performers sing, dance, and play guitar flawlessly.
Having never seen real Flamenco before, I was amazed at the precision and speed of the dancer’s feet and the intense passion in the singer’s voice. The amount of talent displayed on the small stage was unbelievable, and the whole performance was incredibly moving.
Here is the link to the Flamenco Show we booked. I highly recommend it!
Those looking for an even more fun experience can take a Flamenco class and learn the moves themselves. This Flamenco class from Get Your Guide also includes wine-tasting and pub crawl.
4. The Parks and Gardens
One thing I’ve learned in my European travels: every big city needs a green space.
The best green space in Madrid was Parque Retiro, a massive and peaceful getaway from the loudness of the packed streets.
It has plenty of monuments, trees, and a large pond where you can rent little paddle boats. Be sure to visit the Palacio de Cristal, a huge, domed structure made out of glass.
Parque del Oeste and Parque de El Capricho are two other lovely parks in Madrid.
5. The Art Museums
Madrid is home to some of the world’s most famous art museums, so art and history lovers will be entertained for hours.
Museo Nacional del Prado was my favorite museum in Madrid because I’ve studied a lot of the paintings in that museum in some of my university history classes. I even wrote an entire essay on Fransisco Goya, so to see his paintings in real life was quite surreal.
If you’re a student, many of Madrid’s art museums are completely free to enter, so make sure you have your ID card!
Here are some of Madrid’s top museums:
Museo Nacional del Prado
- Location: Calle de Ruiz de Alarcón, 23, 28014 Madrid, Spain
- Cost: 7-15 Euros (Free for students)
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía
- Location: Calle de Santa Isabel, 52, 28012 Madrid, Spain
- Cost: 8-10 Euros (Free for students)
Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum
- Location: Paseo del Prado, 8, 28014 Madrid, Spain
- Cost: 9-13 Euros (Free for students)
Lázaro Galdiano Museum
- Location: Calle de Serrano, 122, 28006 Madrid, Spain
- Cost: 6 Euros (3 Euros for students)
6. Celebrating New Year’s Eve
New Year’s Eve is a massive holiday in Madrid. If you can visit the city during this time, do it!!
The Spaniards love to party. Clubs, bars, and the streets of Madrid all become packed with people celebrating and drinking Cava, a Spanish sparkling wine.
A Spanish tradition on New Year’s Eve is to eat one grape at every chime of the clock at midnight. This superstition is meant to bring good luck and prosperity for the coming year.
We were staying at Sungate One Hostel, which threw a super fun New Year’s Party and gave everyone free drinks and grapes to eat at midnight.
7. The Architecture
Spanish architecture is regal and captivating.
The Palacio De Cibeles is one of the most majestic buildings in Madrid, though you can find just as much beauty in the quiet, deserted alleyways and residential buildings.
An architectural highlight of Madrid is the Royal Palace. The outside is quite simple, and the inside is extremely elegant. Click here to book your skip-the-line tickets, which are worth it if you’re short on time and don’t want to wait in line for hours.
So those are my top 7 reasons to visit Madrid.
Madrid instigated my newfound love for Spain, and this love only grew stronger the more I traveled around the country.
Thanks for reading!
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For more of my travel articles from Spain, check out these links: