The "Must sees" in Madrid probably can be seen in two days.

If you want more complete information about each sight, go to the "Things to Do" list or questions about "Top/best Sights in Madrid". This is a companion piece.  "Must sees" have ***. The list is organized by geographic area.


“Must see” museums in the historic center (nearby museums or places are below…but only “must sees" are starred):

***1. Prado museum (=Museo Nacional del Prado)

A large museum with many, many paintings and sculpture from the masters. At the very least, make a quick trip during the “free of charge” opening time.

Nearby: Retiro Park*** (Casón del Buen Retiro) and Real Jardin Botanico (Royal Botanical Gardens)  

***2. Reina Sofia (Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia) (Queen Sofia Arts Centre)

Has modern art including temporary exhibitions. At the very least, make a quick trip during the “free of charge” opening time to see Picasso’s masterpiece, “Guernica”. 

Nearby: Atocha Railway station

***3. Palacio Real (Royal Palace)

Although a palace in which the Spanish Royal family lived in until 1931, it does appear more like a museum – which is probably why the current royalty live elsewhere. Includes an armoury exhibition.

Nearby: Catedral de la Almudena (Cathedral) and Royal Convent of La Encarnación (Convent/church)

“Must see” places and plazas:

***1.      Plaza de Cibeles

A square with a fountain in the middle of busy roads/roundabout

Nearby buildings: City Hall and the Bank of Spain 

***2.       Puerta del Sol (=Gate of the Sun)

A square noted for its meeting of the roads (centre) in Spain, find the 'Kilometro 0' marker on the pavement and 'El Oso y El Madrono' (the statue of a standing bear eating from a strawberry tree) – the official symbol of Madrid

***3.       Plaza Mayor (Main Square)

Attractive central square, dating from about 1600

***4.       Retiro Park

A vast park with coffee shops, a boating lake, monuments, an empty glass house and plenty of green space

***5.      Gran Vía

A lively street with shops; Metropolis Building

***6.       Plaza de España ('Square of Spain')

Statues: Miguel de Cervantes; bronze scuptures of the fictional Don Quixote and Sancho Panza

Nearby buildings:  Torre de Madrid (=Madrid Tower)