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Plan Your Trip to Madrid: Best of Madrid Tourism

About Madrid
Smack dab in the middle of Spain lies vibrant Madrid—the country's storybook capital. Each of its eclectic neighborhoods has its own distinct charm: You'll find hipster vibes in Malasaña, where quaint shops make way for club crowds after dark; upscale eats and top-tier boutiques in Salamanca; and steep, maze-like streets lined with authentic restaurants and great people-watching in Lavapies. And don't miss Madrid's popular landmarks. A few favorites: The great bear statue in the central Puerta del Sol, the Reina Sofia and Prado museums, and Plaza Mayor. Finish things off with 10 p.m. tapas (it's how the locals do it), then hit the bars and clubs if that's your thing. Find even more Madrid recs below.

Travel Advice

Essential Madrid

How to do Madrid in 3 days

From art galleries to tapas to music festivals
Read on

Best tapas in Madrid

As a wine writer who frequently visits Madrid, I've discovered this elegant capital is also one of the world's best food cities. Despite its regal flair, Madrid gets fewer tourists than other major European cities, making dining out much more affordable. Though several regions claim to be the origin of tapas, this appetizer tradition is firmly ingrained in Madrid culture. Must-eats include ribbons of salty-sweet Jamón Ibérico, crispy patatas bravas, blistered padrón peppers, and cod-stuffed croquetas; all washed down with delicious, affordable wine.
Lauren Mowery, Charleston, SC
  • La Venencia
    No photos, no reservations, and wait service as creaky as the century-old floorboards, the charms of La Venencia are inarguable. It's one of Madrid's best sherry and tapas bars for evoking the vibe of a traditional tabanco (tavern). Sometimes, it's jam-packed; on other occasions, a spindly wooden table, a plate of manchego and chorizo, and a carafe of wine are easy to come by.
  • Bar La Paloma
    I never let the brightly lit utilitarian space dissuade me from entering Bar La Paloma. If anything, these signs point to La Paloma's singular focus—fresh, affordable shellfish and cheap draft beer. When I wander the La Latina neighborhood, I'll pop in for shrimp on the grill (gambas plancha), a plate of clams (almejas), and a glass of white vermouth. I do as the Spanish do and eat standing at the bar.
  • Mercado de San Antón
    I love markets, especially in Madrid, where I can tapas crawl between stalls while sipping a glass of Rioja. This upmarket food hall in the festive Chueca neighborhood has a traditional market on the ground floor and vendors on the second floor offering a range of snackable classics from salty-sweet jamón, crunchy croquetas, and Spanish cheeses. There's abundant seating for those with families or diners who want to rest their feet.
  • Mercado de San Miguel
    First opened in 1916 and then renovated in 2009, this market attracts hordes of tourists, which raises the prices. Yet, the festive ambiance, twenty food stalls, and plentiful seating make up for it. My New York flights often land earlier than hotel check-in, so I'll pass the morning at San Miguel—-when it's least crowded—with a glass of Cava, jamón bocadillo (sandwich), and a fried seafood cone.
  • Bodega de la Ardosa
    I don't go here for friendly service, though a little Spanish goes a long way with the brusque, busy staff. Instead, I make a beeline for Madrid's best Tortilla Española, a fluffy succulent sensation of eggs and potatoes served in a pie wedge. When in season, I also order the artichokes. Steeped in olive oil until soft, then crisped on a hot plancha, they changed my mind about this thorny vegetable. The place gets busy, so always check the back room for tables.
  • La Perejila
    Everyone should wander down Cava Baja on an empty stomach at least once. This is the street for tapas, and La Perejila stands out from the crowd. I know I've arrived when I spy the forest green doors trimmed in holiday red. The whimsical ambiance continues inside with twinkling chandeliers and a mural of flamenco dancers. If I'm on a tapas crawl, I'll order lighter dishes like juicy gazpacho and octopus dusted in sweet paprika with a carafe of sangria.
  • Vi Cool
    Madrid is chock-full of old-school tapas bars. While fun, sometimes I crave a contemporary twist in a seated restaurant. For that, I head to Vi Cool. The menu changes regularly and weaves international flavors into Spanish dishes like fried prawns with curry and mint or kimchi chicken wings. While the wine list is short, Vi Cool offers an excellent range from Albariño to Tempranillo for an incredible 5-6 dollars a glass.

Explore Madrid by interest

Feel the rhythm

Flamenco experiences that’ll move you

Worth the splurge

Priceless once-in-a-lifetime experiences

Madrid after dark

Bars and clubs that come alive at night

Big pours and small plates

Wine and tapas tastings for food lovers

Do it in a day

Quick trips for every type of traveler
Madrid Travel Guide

Travelers' pro tips for experiencing Madrid

Madrileños eat lunch around 2 p.m. and dinner roughly at 10 p.m. As such, don't expect restaurant kitchens to be open before 1:30 p.m. and 9 p.m., respectively.
Most museums in Madrid have time slots when you can visit for free. Check it out.
The ‘Bocata de Calamares’ (calamari sandwich) is both a Madrid speciality and local favorite.
Inés R
Walking is the best way to enjoy the city centre, but for places outside that area, you can buy a 10-trip pass for the metro.
Savvy shoppers know that the best time to hit the stores in Madrid is during "Rebajas". These huge end-of-season sales take place in winter (usually January-February) and summer (July-August).

In the words of those who've been there before ...

Inés R
The city is a melting pot for people from different Spanish provinces and all over the world.
The Spanish capital has much to offer to the curious traveler.
Madrid is always on our "let's go there again, I miss it" list.
Inés R
Cozy coffee shops, excellent cuisine, beautiful parks and stunning sunsets make Madrid the perfect place to enjoy a romantic weekend that you and your partner will never forget.

What is the best way to get there?


International flights land at Madrid Barajas Airport (Adolfo Suarez), from where you can hop on the metro or take a shuttle or taxi into the city.


Madrid has two main railway stations—Chamartin and Atocha. AVE (Alta Velocidad Española) runs high-speed trains to Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, and many other cities around Spain.

Do I need a visa?

If you’re visiting Madrid from overseas, use Schengen Visa info to see if you need a visa.

When is the best time to visit?

Summer temperatures can reach more than 86°F (30°C) in the city and many locals head out to the provinces in July and August. Many local bars, restaurants, and shops close down during this period. Spring and fall offer more pleasant weather for sightseeing, as well as festivals such as the San Isidro festival (May), Flamenco Madrid festival (June), and the European White Nights Festival (Sept.).


Bicimad is a bikeshare system with over 100 bicycle stations located across Madrid.

Visitors can purchase hourly, daily, or multi-day subscriptions either at the docking stations or online.


Madrid’s metro is the fastest way to get around, with 13 lines linking all corners of the city. Trains run daily from 6 a.m. to 1:30 a.m.

For more information about the network and fares, see here.


EMT operates Madrid’s local bus system daily from 6 a.m. till 11:30 p.m. (10 a.m. till 11 p.m. on weekends).

For more information about the network and fares, see here.


Madrid taxis are white with a red band on the front door. Although it’s possible to hail one on the street in Madrid, it’s generally easier to go to an official taxi stand, located by all the main streets and plazas.

You can also book a taxi online or on your smartphone by downloading the Madrid TXMAD or Free Now apps.


Uber is available in Madrid, but most locals use Cabify.

On the ground
What is the timezone?
Central European Standard Time
What are the voltage/plug types?
The standard voltage in Spain is 230V and the standard frequency is 50Hz. The plug has two round pins.
What is the currency?
The Euro
Are ATMs readily accessible?
Are credit cards widely accepted?
How much do I tip?
Tipping is not obligatory in Madrid, however, a 10-15% tip for exceptional service is always appreciated.

Are there local customs I should know?

The federal legal age for buying and drinking alcohol is 18 years old.
Public transport
Allow others to disembark before boarding, don’t take up more than one seat, and stand to offer seating to pregnant women or someone with a disability.
Try to speak the language
Most locals will speak some English, but mastering a few basic Spanish phrases will be appreciated.
Watch where you sit
Be aware that prices often vary in bars and restaurants depending where you sit—the cheapest seats are at the bar or indoors, while a terrace table is typically about 10% more expensive than dining inside.
Prepare for some late nights
Many locals dine as late as 10 p.m. Nightclubs in Madrid don’t start getting busy until midnight and often stay open until 6 a.m.
Take a siesta
Many shops close from 2-5 p.m., especially during the hottest months of the year.
Don’t expect speedy service
Spanish culture is laid-back, and service is equally leisurely. You will need to ask for the bill when you have finished your meal—it won’t automatically be brought to you.
Frequently Asked Questions about Madrid

Madrid is known for some of its popular attractions, which include:

If you're a more budget-conscious traveler, then you may want to consider traveling to Madrid between June and August, when hotel prices are generally the lowest. Peak hotel prices generally start between December and February.