Is Madrid worth visiting? If you are wondering, this post will give you 17 reasons why Madrid is a vibrant city that’s definitely worth your time.
Spain is one of the most popular destinations in Europe that many people want to visit for various reasons, including the beautiful Spanish capital, Madrid.
I spent 5 days in Madrid and although I would have stayed longer and visited some of its surrounding pretty towns, I had enough time to enjoy the vibrant city, its artsy neighborhood, the gorgeous architecture, the food, and rooftop bars with stunning views.
In this post, I will give you all the good reasons why you would include Madrid in your Europe Bucket list.
Is Madrid worth visiting?
Before continuing with all the 17 reasons why you should visit Madrid, let’s see a summary of Madrid, the reason is a must-visit destination, and what makes it popular.
Firstly, as you may already know, Madrid is Spain’s capital and the largest city, with a population of about 6.6 million.
Like most capital cities in the world, Madrid is Spain’s center of politics, economy, innovation, and art.
Therefore, it is the ideal city to explore countless museums that showcase Spain’s history and evolution.
Similarly, Madrid is home to diverse cultural experiences.
So, you can explore exceptional art galleries, taste delicious traditional cuisine, get lost in beautiful neighborhoods with striking architecture, and browse at plenty of high-end stores or flea markets with unique vintage clothes and trinkets.
Furthermore, Madrid is undoubtedly one of the safest cities in Spain and Europe.
So, it is an ideal destination for everyone, including solo travelers.
Specifically, it is a city where you can have quiet and relaxing holidays while enjoying traditional flamenco performances, a place for wild, crazy nights at a nightclub with friends and strangers, or a fun evening watching football at a local bar.
So, if you are a bit more convinced that Madrid is worth visiting, let’s see the 17 reasons that will make you want to visit tomorrow!
17 Reasons Why You Should Visit Madrid
1. Authentic Spanish experience
When thinking of Spain, a summer holiday at the beach is the first thing that comes to your mind.
But there is a lot more to Spain than the Mediterranean Sea. And Madrid is the ideal destination for an authentic Spanish experience.
As you explore Madrid, you will get immersed in exciting vibes, bustling streets with high-energy locals, street food vendors, flea markets with vintage art, and busking musicians and other performers.
And even if Madrid is often overshadowed by other cities, it has the perfect combination of old and new, as well as urban and nature, to experience everything Spain has to offer.
2. Amazing Architecture
Generally, Spain is home to numerous architectural wonders and is a fantastic destination to explore Europe’s architecture and artistic evolution.
So, as Spain’s largest city, Madrid is definitely a city with incredible architecture at every corner, square, and neighborhood.
Furthermore, Madrid is a pedestrian-friendly city, meaning you can easily find yourself in picturesque backgrounds and admire gorgeous buildings.
One of the most famous spots to experience this is the Plaza Mayor, an open area surrounded by stunning buildings.
Another beautiful landmark showcasing neoclassical design is Palacio de Cibeles, which acts as the city’s City Council, city hall, and public cultural center.
Also, a must-visit landmark is the Palacio Real, an 18th-century building and the royal family’s official residence.
But it’s not just the famous monuments that feature Madrid’s architectural importance.
In fact, everywhere you look, there is something beautiful to see, from intricate balconies to colorful murals that reflect the city’s rich history from the medieval era.
3. Diverse culture: Traditional & Modern
One thing that attracts people to Madrid is the city’s diverse and rich culture and the perfect blend of tradition and modernity.
For instance, you can explore the maze of narrow medieval streets in the historic neighborhoods La Latina and Los Austrias.
Then, dine at traditional taverns and tapas bars near centuries-old attractions like the Almudena Cathedral.
And visit some of the world’s most renowned museums like the Prado and the Reina Sofia, to admire art masterpieces by Spanish artists like Goya, and Picasso.
Alternatively, you can enjoy the lively and youthful vibe of the districts Chueca and Malasaña, grab a bite or drinks at trendy and fancy restaurants and bars, or join the locals for a dip in a rooftop pool or an exciting local rave night.
Furthermore, you can also experience other fantastic cultural activities, including flamenco music and dance, bullfighting, and traditional festivals like San Isidro.
4. Beautiful art scenes & museums
As mentioned above, Madrid has some of the best museums in the world, exhibiting significant art masterpieces and historical artifacts.
In fact, if you love exploring cultures, history, science, and art through museums in Madrid, you can easily create an itinerary filled with only museums and still have an exciting and satisfying trip.
Although there are plenty of worth-visiting museums, the best that can give you a taste of Madrid’s excellency are Museo del Prado, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, and Palacio de Cristal.
👉🏽 Museo del Prado
Museo del Prado is a must-visit museum whether you are an art enthusiast or not.
Established in 1819, it has gained thousands of mesmerizing paintings and sculptures over the years by well-known Spanish and other international artists.
Some of the most famous masterpieces you can admire at the museum are Velazquez’s “Las Meninas” and Goya’s “Third of May 1808.”
👉🏽 Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía
The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía is another fantastic spot for marveling and exploring famous artworks by renowned painters like Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso.
The museum opened in the 20th century and today contains 21,000 works of art. Furthermore, admission is free, allowing everyone to admire extraordinary masterpieces.
👉🏽 Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum
Hosted within the Villahermosa Palace, Thyssen-Bornemisza is a rather newer museum.
It opened its doors in 1993, but it has a large collection of 1000 works by famous artists like Van Gogh, Renoir, Rembrandt, and Hopper.
👉🏽 Palacio de Cristal
Modeled after London’s famous Crystal Palace, Palacio de Cristal was constructed in 1887 and is within El Retiro Park.
The palace is in the shape of a Greek cross and is made up almost entirely of glass, giving it a majestic exterior look.
It features rotating art exhibits, and it is free to the public.
5. Buzzing Nightlife
Commonly, Mediterranean countries have a buzzing and lively nightlife that lasts until the early morning hours.
Similarly, Madrid has many exciting and eclectic nightlife venues that can accommodate every age and budget.
Firstly, the local dinnertime is usually around 9 pm or 10 pm, so you can start your night outing with delicious local food, tapas, and wine.
Then you can choose from plenty of elegant or cozy bars around the city.
Some great options are the trendy rooftop cocktail bars that offer spectacular city views.
Additionally, Madrid is famous for its music scene and has numerous live music venues, flamenco performances, as well as great clubs where you can dance all night long to popular Spanish and international hits.
Alternatively, you can opt for pub crawls along a local guide to discover the best night venues in Madrid and taste the city’s most popular local cocktails, beers, wines, and tapas.
6. Awesome food
One fascinating way to connect with the local culture is through food. And unsurprisingly, the culinary scene in Madrid is absolutely delicious.
The city has many eateries to indulge in delectable local culinary delights, including pastries, traditional tapas, local brunch options, street food, and exceptional dishes in Michelin-star restaurants.
So, in other words, if you are a foodie, Madrid will definitely not disappoint you.
Some wonderfully rich and unique food you must try are tapas, tortillas, paellas, bocadillos, banderillas, and churros.
Also, a fun fact about Madrid is that its home to the world’s oldest continuously running restaurant, Sobrino de Botin, which first opened its doors in 1725.
7. Beautiful green spaces and parks
Spain has a laid-back culture and is known for its siesta time.
So, you might notice many locals taking a much-needed nap in a park.
Also, this means Spain is full of beautiful green spaces to relax, take a morning or afternoon stroll, and avoid bustling cities.
Personally, I love cities with abundant green spaces and parks, so if you are like me, you will surely love Madrid because it has the highest number of trees and green surfaces per inhabitant in Europe.
The most famous and must-visit park is the UNESCO-listed Retiro Park, where the iconic Crystal Palace is located.
Another one is Casa de Campo, Madrid’s biggest park, which boasts many outdoor activities and attractions such as its lakeside amusement park, zoo, and sprawling gardens.
Other parks you can find tranquillity in are Parque del Oeste, Parque Quinta de los Molinos, and secret little gardens like The Garden of the Prince of Anglona and El Huerto de las Monjas.
8. Football madness
You might already be aware that football in Spain is a big deal.
After all, many Spanish football clubs have international fans who cheer for them from across the world.
So, if you are a football fanatic, Madrid should definitely be on your bucket list.
Specifically, you should tour the Santiago Bernabeu stadium and explore the history of one of the world’s most successful teams.
Also, if you really want to experience football in Madrid, be sure to schedule your trip around a home game to watch the players’ talent live and feel the fans’ passion while they chant “Madrid” loudly.
9. Nice all-year-round weather
Madrid is one of the sunniest and warmest capital cities in Europe, so even if there are also rainy and snowy days, it has perfect weather all year round for comfortable and unforgettable holidays.
Generally, there is very little rain or cloud cover.
Commonly, it mostly rains in November and December, while the coldest month is January, with average temperatures around 3 to 10 degrees Celsius.
In the summertime, the hottest month is July, with average temperatures around 19 to 32 degrees Celsius.
So, the dry summers are perfect for exploring the city’s beautiful landmarks and green spaces, as well as joining the various music festivals.
Similarly, the mild winters in Madrid are ideal for strolling around the many colorful Christmas markets and vibrant, bustling streets.
10. Attractive neighborhoods
As mentioned earlier, Madrid is a place where the old and new blend perfectly together.
So, the city’s neighborhoods are extremely attractive, with many beautiful and colorful streets, traditional and modern buildings, street art, and other architectural wonders.
Some notable neighborhoods we already discussed are Los Austrias, Madrid’s oldest district, and the beautiful La Latina area, known for its old-town charm.
Other must-visit districts are the hipster-bohemian Malasaña neighborhood, with excellent coffee shops, bakeries, and vintage clothing stores.
Next is the Barrio de las Letras which was once home to famous 17th-century writers and today keeps its classical character through cultural activities like classic plays at Teatro Español and live flamenco at tablao dinner theaters.
But generally, by just wandering freely around Madrid, you realize that it is truly beautiful and charming, with majestic neighborhoods.
11. Excellent location for side trips
Sometimes when traveling to a new country, if it is possible, it is preferable to visit many new places and cities.
Ideally, a city break itinerary should have one to two-day trips.
Thankfully, Madrid is surrounded by beautiful cities, incredible sights, and mesmerizing nature.
For instance, you can easily visit the charming UNESCO cities Segovia and Toledo by train.
Or, you can experience Spain’s Renaissance history by visiting the royal palace and gardens of Aranjuez and Miguel de Cervantes’ birthplace, Alcalá de Henares.
If you are a wine enthusiast, then Madrid’s wine regions, Navalcarnero, Arganda, San Martín, and El Molar, are perfect for a day trip.
Otherwise, if you are more of a nature lover and adventurer, the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park is a fantastic spot for a day trip.
12. Perfect for solo travelers
Solo traveling is one of the most rewarding types of traveling.
It allows travelers to create their own unique itineraries and explore new places as well as themselves!
Of course, to be able to travel alone in a new place, you need to feel safe and have abundant choices in accommodation, activities, food, and transportation.
And that is why Madrid is an excellent destination for solo travelers.
Madrid may have petty crimes such as pickpocketing that are common to most touristy cities, but it is generally safe.
Furthermore, it has an excellent and convenient metro system taking you to all the city’s corners. And lastly, Madrid will not let you get bored.
13. Ideal for every budget
Often a concern for travelers is the budget a city will require to enjoy it fully.
Thankfully, Madrid can be enjoyed with any budget. And that’s why it is a fantastic place for a holiday where you won’t miss anything.
First of all, Madrid is a diverse city with activities catering to all types of travelers and age groups.
Furthermore, Madrid can offer elegant nights at luxurious Michelin-star restaurants, a stay in grand 5-star hotels, or exciting days at budget-friendly hostels.
Last but not least, Madrid offers many affordable activities, including free entrance to various museums and attractions.
14. Welcoming & friendly atmosphere
Mediterranean hospitality is well-known worldwide, and Madrid is proof of the locals inviting culture. In fact, the locals’ friendliness will make you feel at home.
Overall Madrid’s atmosphere is welcoming, friendly, laid-back, and lively.
Furthermore, Spanish people always tend to accommodate travelers in many ways, from simple things like helping with directions to recommending places to offering food and drinks.
Madrid’s hospitality is embedded in its culture. It is described with the phrase “Te Invito,” meaning “I invite you,” and although it originally meant opening your home to others, today is mainly used when others want to treat you to food or drinks.
15. High fashion galore
Fashion in Madrid is as diverse as its culture, with great stores with classic, modern, vintage, and high-end clothing.
In other words, expect to find unique boutiques that can satisfy everyone’s preferences and needs in fashion.
If you are looking for luxury and designer stores, explore Goya or Velazquez streets in the Salamanca area.
But generally, be sure to stroll around the neighborhood for hidden gems of fashion brands.
Alternatively, try the stores on Fuencarral Street to browse through popular clothing stores and brands.
16. Plenty of flea markets
Madrid is definitely home to many high-end brands and shops and has an elegant image in style.
But it is also home to alternative fashion that you can explore through the city’s flea markets.
Although there are many flea markets, the most famous has to be El Rastro.
Located along Plaza de Cascorro and Ribera de Curtidores, it is an open-air market that has been around for centuries.
In fact, some stores still have their original storefronts and signages.
17. Easy to get around
Madrid may seem enormous and impossible to explore everything within a few days, but getting around the city is easy as a breeze!
The transportation system, the metro, and buses, is excellent, affordable, and within minutes you can be anywhere you want in the city.
Furthermore, Madrid is super walkable, so you can easily move around while strolling to discover the city’s beauty.
Alternatively, you can take taxis or even rent a car if you plan to venture further than the city.
Things to do in Madrid
Now that we’ve seen why you should visit Madrid, let’s have a look at the best things to do in this beautiful city.
✔️ Visit the Royal Palace
The Royal Palace is the official residence of Spain’s royal family, who lived here from the mid-18th century to the early 20th century.
It is one of Europe’s largest and most beautiful palaces, with more than 3000 rooms making it an excellent place to visit.
Some rooms open to the public are the armory room, the throne room, and the royal pharmacy.
If you prefer a thorough exploration of the palace, you can follow the guided tour for a small fee.
✔️ Stroll at El Retiro Park
As we already established, Retiro Park is a magnificent green space loved both by locals and travelers.
So, if you want to take a break from Madrid’s busy streets and relax, this is the perfect park.
Retiro Park has over 300 acres and more than 15,000 trees.
Furthermore, the park features formal gardens, cafes, playgrounds, lakes, rose gardens, and jogging paths.
✔️ Explore Puerta del Sol
Puerta del Sol is a public square in the heart of the city with beautiful fountains, souvenir shops, street performers, and restaurants that perfectly showcase the vibrancy of Madrid.
Furthermore, Puerta del Sol features the famous clock whose bells mark the traditional eating of the twelve grapes and the beginning of the new year.
✔️ See different Art Galleries & Museums
Often, visiting museums is an ideal way to explore a city’s history, culture, and evolution through time.
Surely, the Golden Triangle of Art, which includes Prado Museums, Reina Sofia Museum, and Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, is an excellent way to admire some of Spain’s famous artists’ works.
However, there are plenty of other museums with incredible exhibitions.
Some of these are the Sorolla Museum, the National Archaeological Museum, and the Museum of the Americas.
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A must-do activity in Madrid is tasting the delicious local cuisine.
Of course, there are plenty of local dishes you should try, but after wandering around the city, the best way to relax with a delicious meal is to try tapas along with a sweet wine.
You could either go for an authentic Spanish gastronomic tour and wine tasting with a local guide or to a local tavern and market to try delicious tapas and wine.
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Flamenco is the most famous Spanish dance in the world due to its unique rhythm, style, and outfits.
Originally, Flamenco was from southern Spain, but today it became part of Spain’s culture.
Madrid is home to the oldest flamenco house. Specifically, Corral de la Morería opened in 1956, where you can watch a flashy show.
✔️ Go Shopping
Madrid is home to many shopping streets, shopping centers, and famous high fashion brands like Desigual, Balenciaga, and Zara.
However, Madrid has a diverse fashion scene with many great stores with classic and modern clothing choices.
Let’s see the most prominent places for a shopping spree!
👉🏻 Gran Via
The Gran Via translates into “Great Way” and is indeed a great street with plenty of shopping, restaurants, and ornate buildings.
Formed in the early 20th century, Gran Via is a street in Madrid’s heart, mostly known for its elegance, neoclassical buildings, and high-end ambiance.
👉🏻 Calle Serrano
Located in the famous high-end area of Salamanca, Calle de Serrano features popular luxury stores and brands.
The street was the result of the city’s urbanization in the 19th and 20th centuries, so it is surrounded by neoclassical, ornate buildings.
👉🏻 Calle Preciados
Calle Preciados is a centrally pedestrian street near the Puerta del Sol and is one of the busiest streets in Europe!
It is a prominent shopping street with clothing and footwear stores, as well as restaurants and cafes.
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Generally, tours are better for exploring a city’s attractions due to expert guides and easy accessibility.
The best tour in Madrid is the Madrid City Tour, the official Hop on Hop off bus tour.
It includes double-decker buses from which you can get off and on as many times as you want. It has two routes, Historical Madrid and Modern Madrid.
✔️ Hang out at the Manzanares River
Manzanares River is within the urban Rio Park and offers many activities to indulge in after a tiring day wandering around Madrid’s many beautiful attractions.
For instance, you can discover its many historic and modern bridges, rent a bike and explore the park, picnic at the urban beaches, and enjoy a pint on a terrace.
Is Madrid safe?
Madrid is one of the safest capital cities to live and travel to, even as a solo female traveler.
Perhaps, this is due to its active nightlife, meaning there are always people hanging around the streets, making you feel safe to walk alone.
Of course, there are still crimes, especially pickpocketing. But if you are always cautious and aware of your surroundings, it is unlikely you will fall victim to theft.
How many days do you need in Madrid?
Madrid is a considerably big city with many attractions to visit and activities to experience.
Therefore, the ideal amount of days to spend in Madrid is four to one week.
Less than four won’t allow you to experience everything the city offers.
Surely even within a weekend, you might be able to visit enough attractions and museums, but with a four-day itinerary, you can also include a day trip and activities such as attending a flamenco performance and enjoying Madrid’s fun nightlife.
When is the best time to visit Madrid?
The climate in Madrid is perfect all year round for a holiday.
However, spring and fall are the best seasons if you prefer mild temperatures.
Furthermore, during these periods, the crowd is considerably less, and the prices of accommodation and other hospitality and tourism establishments are lower.
Is Madrid expensive?
Although Madrid can be very expensive, it can also be very affordable.
First, public transportation, which includes buses, metro lines, and suburban trains, is quite cheap, allowing you to move around the city easily.
Furthermore, there are many free walking tours and attractions, so you don’t need to spend much to explore Spain’s history and culture.
Lastly, there are many affordable accommodations and restaurants, so even if you are on a budget, Madrid can still be enjoyed fully.
Where to stay in Madrid
Since Madrid is affordable and is ideal for every budget, let’s see the best accommodations for three different budgets:
🛏 Budget: Sungate ONE
Located just a short walking distance from Puerta del Sol, Sungate Hostel is an affordable accommodation in Madrid’s center.
The hostel organizes many activities and tours and provides common areas such as a shared kitchen and TV lounge, allowing you to meet other travelers and spend a fun and exciting holiday with people from different backgrounds.
🛏 Mid-range: Hostal Central Palace Madrid
Hostal Central Palace Madrid is an elegant guest house overlooking the Royal Palace and Sabatini Gardens in Plaza de Oriente.
Many rooms offer beautiful views and feature wooden floors and classic décor, creating an elegant ambiance.
Due to its central location, the guest house is close to many shops, bars, restaurants, and other popular tourist attractions.
🛏 Luxury: Mandarin Oriental, Ritz Madrid
Mandarin Oriental, Ritz Madrid is a historic 5-star hotel offering a lavish and first-class stay.
It has 100 rooms and 53 spacious suites decorated with opulent decor and a classic-contemporary design that blends seamlessly with its iconic structure.
Furthermore, the hotel features a wellness center with an indoor swimming pool, a vitality pool, and a fully-equipped fitness center.
Also, it is home to five restaurants and bars.
Is it better to visit Madrid or Barcelona?
Frankly, both Barcelona and Madrid are fantastic tourist destinations worth visiting.
However, they do have some differences. Generally, Barcelona is more touristy, so it can get very crowded, especially in summertime because it is a top destination for a beach holiday.
So, if you are more of a beach person, perhaps Barcelona should be your destination.
But if you prefer quieter places but are still cosmopolitan and historical, Madrid should be your destination.
Also, Barcelona may be the second largest city in Spain, but it is Catalonia’s capital and offers traditional Catalan experiences and unique architecture, such as Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia.
So, if you prefer to experience authentic Spanish culture, Madrid should be your top destination.
Is Madrid worth it? Frequently asked questions
What is Madrid famous for?
Madrid is known for its incredible art scene.
It is home to many amazing art museums and galleries that house artworks from famous artists such as Pablo Picasso, Slavor Dali, Van Gogh, Renoir, Rembrandt, and Hopper.
How many days in Madrid is enough?
Four days in Madrid are enough to explore the city’s various tourist attractions, enjoy the lively nightlife and delicious food, as well as go for a day trip to one of the many historic cities near the city.
Are 2 days in Madrid enough?
Two days in Madrid are enough to explore the city’s prominent tourist attractions and museums or stroll around the vibrant streets or parks.
However, they are not enough to fully experience Madrid’s rich culture.
Is Madrid a walkable city?
Madrid is very walkable and, in fact, the best way to explore the city.
Also, most of the city’s iconic sites are within walking distance of each other, while the main roads and plazas are easy to navigate creating an easy and comfortable way to tour the city.
Final Thoughts: Is Madrid worth visiting?
So, is Madrid worth visiting? Absolutely!
Madrid is a beautiful city with rich history and culture and many things to do, see, taste, and experience.
It has a friendly and vibrant ambiance, and no matter how long you decide to stay or how to spend your Madrid holiday, you will surely love everything the city has.
So, I would say Madrid should definitely be on your bucket list!
About the Author, Founder & Editor
Hello there! This is Isabella, the author of this blog, and a cat lover. I am an Italian expatriate with a Mexican permanent Residence. After 7 years of living in Cancun, I have decided to leave my job and explore my beloved Mexico and the rest of this beautiful world, starting from South America, while sharing my travel stories and offering useful travel tips about traveling as a solo female traveler and digital nomad.