10 (or more!) Things to Do During a Weekend in Madrid

Travel tips

by Ben Curtis

This post originally appeared on our sister site notesfromspain.com.

Recommendations for 10 things to do in Madrid

1. The Do or Die Arty No-Brainer
Visit at least one of the big three art museums, the Prado, the Reina Sofia or the Thyssen. If in doubt pick the Reina Sofia and see Guernica.

2. Tapas Grazing
Start on Cava Baja, stopping at will on this bar-packed street, then head into the depths of La Latina for more.

3. Something Different
Take a trip on the Teleférico, out into the depths of the Casa de Campo.

4. A Walk
Go to Plaza de la Villa and take one of the small alleys on the left-hand side or at the back of the square. Wander aimlessly, follow your nose, change course at will, check out the churches – it’s the best way to see Madrid de los Austrias, the ancient city centre.

5. Everyone misses
Malasaña – a really charming barrio centered around Plaza Dos de Mayo. Check out the lovely tiled shop fronts, ignore the graffiti, and have a drink at Manuela Café, on Calle San Vicente Ferrer 29.

6. A Park
The Retiro: for people-watching, romance, rowing, and relative peace and quiet.

7. A Shop
Antigua Casa Talavera, an incredible ceramics shop on Calle Isabel la Católica, 2.

8. A trip out of the city
El Escorial or Toledo. It’s a toss up as to which is best. If you really can’t decide, try Chinchón instead.

9. A reasonable restaurant
Taberna Miranda, at Plaza del Conde Miranda, 4, is local, cheap, has amazing food, and is generally very Spanish. Our favourite in Madrid. Arrive 9ish at weekends if you don’t have a reservation. Otherwise do snacks at the lively bar.

10. Hidden Culture
El Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales, at Plaza de las Descalzas Reales, 3. A closed order of nuns still live in the private quarters of this monastery. Amazing treasures lie within.

10+1. Last thing at night
Ward off a hangover with chocolate con churros at Chocolatería San Ginés, on Pasadizo de San Ginés. Things liven up after 3 a.m., when locals gather to dip thick battery churros sticks into gloopy hot chocolate.

Add more Madrid recommendations in the comments below!

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Comment from Richardksa
Date: April 22, 2008, 6:41 pm

You could spend half a day discoveing the delights of the Parque Juan Carlos. VERY different from the Retiro, but full of interesting corners of unexpected surprises. Hire a bike; it’s twice the size of the retiro and not level, but well worth the experience.

Comment from José Miguel
Date: April 25, 2008, 8:14 am

The changing of the guard ceremony held every Wednesday outside the Royal Palace. Four members of the Royal Guard take part in the ceremony at the Puerta del Príncipe entrance to the Palace. Two foot soldiers will change guard every half hour, and two horseback soldiers once an hour. Each change lasts seven minutes, and will involve 27 guardsmen and six horses throughout the morning until 2 pm. A larger ceremony takes place affair on the first Wednesday of the month – the Relevo Solemne, a 40-minute ceremony involving more than 400 men and 100 horses.

Comment from José Miguel
Date: April 25, 2008, 8:18 am

Wednesday is not in the week-end (yet). The changing of the guard post is for the ‘get it for free’ thread.

Comment from Cyril
Date: May 6, 2008, 5:29 pm

Thank you for the really nice tips!

Many people often stay in the turistic places which is a pity because there are several nice places outside of the city center.

Another tip: try to see a Real Madrid match, this is really great!!! (even if you are not a Real Madrid supporter)