Tourts & Attractions
Madrid Super Saver: El Escorial Monastery and Toledo Day Trip from Madrid
Pay less and get more on this Madrid Super Saver tour, which combines a visit to El Escorial Monastery with a half-day tour of Toledo. Spend the morning at El Escorial monastery and the Valley of the Fallen monument, erected in memory of the millions who died in the Spanish Civil War.
Private Tour: Skip-the-Line Prado Museum Tour
Skip the line at the Prado Museum in Madrid, and see some of the most influential pieces of European artwork with your own private guide! Hear the history of the iconic building while walking around admiring masterpieces like Velazquez’s ‘Las Meninas,’ and learn about the different artistic movements that the museum represents.
Discover the rich history and culture of Madrid with your Madrid Card. Gain entry to over 50 museums, partake in a "Discover Madrid" walking tour or visit the Real Madrid Stadium Tour. With the choice of a 24 hour, 48 hour, 72 hour or 120 hour card, you can also enjoy discounts on shopping, restaurants and nightlife such as a flamenco show.
Commissioned by Philip V after the earlier Alcázar was lost to a fire in 1734, the Royal Palace is rarely used by the royal family, and many of its 3,000 rooms are open to view. The architects principally responsible for the final design, which reflects the taste of the Spanish Bourbons, were Italian - Giambattista Sacchetti and Francesco Sabatini - with contributions by the Spaniard Ventura Rodríguez. Filippo Juvarra, Philip V's first choice, had planned a palace four times as large, but after his death the project became a little less ambitious. Completed in 1764, the late-baroque palace is built almost entirely of granite and white Colmenar stone, and, surrounded as it is by majestic gardens, contributes greatly to the splendour of the city. Inside you must keep to a fixed route, but are free to set your own pace rather than follow a tour. The entrance into the palace is awe-inspiring: you pass up a truly vast main staircase and then through the main state rooms, the Hall of Halbardiers and Hall of Columns, all with soaring ceilings and frescoes by Corrado Giaquinto and Giambattista Tiepolo. In the grand Throne Room there are some fine 17th-century sculptures commissioned by Velázquez, which were saved from the earlier Alcázar. Other highlights are the extravagantly ornate private apartments of the palace's first resident, Charles III, again decorated by Italians. Particularly striking are the Gasparini Room, the king's dressing room, covered in mosaics and rococo stuccoe
This famous square is in the heart of the city's historic district, built on the site of the old Plaza del Arrabal, which was home to the most popular market in the late 15th century. It was Felipe II who in 1580 commissioned Juan de Herrera with the project to remodel the square, although it would be Juan Gómez de Mora who would finish the job in 1619. The first building that was erected in Plaza Mayor as we know it today was the Casa de la Panadería bakery, designed by Diego Sillero. These days the square is the headquarters of the Madrid Tourism Centre. The equestrian statue of Felipe III in the centre of the square was designed by Giambologna and completed by Pietro Tacca in 1616. Another important work in the area is the Arco de Cuchilleros, the most famous of the nine entrances to the square. The archway is the work of Juan Villanueva, who, after the devastating fire of 1790, decided to reduce the façades by two levels, close off the square, and raise the nine arches, so the largest in size with an enormous stairway would give passage to C/Cuchilleros.
The city's main tourist and shopping artery is 1.3 kilometres long, and starts in Calle Alcalá and ends at Plaza de España. Along its more than 100 years of history, it's had different names depending on the government at the time, including Avenida de la Unión Soviética during the Second Spanish Republic and Avenida de José Antonio, in honour of Primo de Rivera, founder of the Falange Española.During the Spanish Civil War it was popularly known as Avenida de los Obuses ('Avenue of the Shells'), because of the shells that ended up on the pavements and inside buildings. In 1981, during the Spanish Transition, the name Gran Vía stuck. The street became home to the first department store in the city, the Madrid-París, and for decades has been the most popular place to meet up and enjoy the city's entertainment offerings thanks to the large number of cinemas, theatres, hotels and shops that line the pavements.
Estadio Santiago Bernabéu
The most famous stadium in Madrid is located on Paseo de la Castellana, in the heart of the city, and is home to Real Madrid CF. It currently has a capacity of more than 80,000 spectators, and 8,000 additional places are now being planned in a renovation project that will see the construction of a hotel, a shopping centre and a complete makeover of the stadium. Its pitch has witnessed numerous battles with arch –rivals FC Barcelona.
Corral de la Morería
This long-standing tablao sports seemingly authentic Arab décor, dating from the 18th and 19th centuries, and an atmosphere to match. A relaxed mix of tourists, fans (Hemingway, Che Guevara and Picasso, and more recently Jennifer Aniston, Demi Moore, Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant, among others, have all paid a visit) and professionals enjoy a solid, expensive and sometimes exhilarating show. You must book (and pay) through the venue's website.
Madrid with kids
Parque de Atracciones
With over 30 attractions for both children and adults, the city's amusement park is one of the most popular weekend destinations for both locals and tourists. It's divided into different areas including tranquillity, nature and mechanization. In the children's area you can enjoy a leisurely boat ride through a truly 'living' jungle, get child-size thrills on a mini roller coaster, and even take a trip around the fun fair aboard a zeppelin. Thrill-seeking adults can try the famous vacuum drop on the Lanzadera shuttle, take your chances on the exciting Tornado ride, and have a go on the dizzying Máquina. In summer there are often long queues, especially for the water attractions.
The zoo and aquarium are located just a few metres from the amusement park in the Casa de Campo. You’ll see very few bars or wires here; instead the tigers, bears, lions and other wild animals are separated from the public by moats with or without water. It currently houses about 6,000 animals of 500 different species, some unique in Spain like the koala, the anteater and the panda, which is one of the stars of the zoo. Its aquarium is spectacular, and kids will have fun with the shows starring sea lions and dolphins.
This theme park on the outskirts of Madrid is where you can find all the Looney Tunes characters romping around posing for photos and signing autographs. Built with the aim of competing with other major leisure facilities including Port Aventura and Disneyland Paris, it has six dizzying roller coasters, dozens of children's attractions and some water rides, as well as numerous restaurants and shops. You’ll also find shows in its theatres, workshops and, above all, lots of fun.
In this large natural area, animals, including peacocks, run around loose over most of its 14 acres. With 4 ecosystems and 13 thematic areas adapted to each species, the zoo can be visited in four or five hours, if you stop to enjoy its carefully preserved natural surroundings, lakes and ponds and exhibits, like the flight of birds of prey. The penguin enclosure is one of the most popular exhibits and is great fun for children. Another crowd-pleasing attraction is the latest animals to arrive, the Komodo dragons. The best thing about Faunia is that visitors can interact with the animals. So children can stroke sea lions and feed goats and donkeys.
Hotel Ritz by Belmond
Located just a stone’s throw away from the Retiro, in the neighbourhood of the same name, this exclusive luxury hotel was built in 1910 on the orders of King Alfonso XIII. The facilities of the hotel, which is decorated in classical style, include a luxury spa, parking and free Wi-Fi. Its location makes it a handy base for visiting the Prado and Thyssen-Bornemisza museums.
Hotel Puerta América
The Puerta América will not be to all tastes, least of all, probably, those of the business travellers attracted by its proximity to the airport, but is a wonderland for design buffs. Each of its 12 floors and public spaces is designed by an all-star cast of architects, taking in Norman Foster, Richard Gluckman, Marc Jewson and Ron Arad. Guests can select the floor of their choice on arrival, but most popular tend to be Zaha Hadid's rooms (which appear to be sculpted from snowdrifts) or Arata Isozaki's studies in Japanese minimalism. The building itself (along with the pool and gym) was designed by Jean Nouvel.
Relais & Châteaux Orfila
This small mansion in a tranquil residential area has been transformed into a quietly elegant five-star hotel. Built in the 1880s as a private home for an artistic family, the Orfila also housed a theatre and a literary salon during the 1920s. Thankfully, the hotel has held on to its 19th-century decor, not to mention its façade, carriage entrance and dramatic main stairway. The bedrooms are wonderfully quiet – once installed it's hard to believe you're in the middle of a bustling city – and one of the four suites is intimately tucked away in the attic. The elegant restaurant looks on to the lovely garden patio, and guests take tea in the lobby in the afternoon.
Hotel Miguel Ángel
Near Paseo de la Castellana, bordering the Salamanca district, stands the Miguel Ángel hotel, with a total of 267 fully equipped guest rooms and a variety of five-star amenities. Its elegant facilities, spa service and fitness centre, along with world-class dining and attentive staff offer guests a more than comfortable stay.
More than half a century after it opened, the Wellington is still extremely graceful, with chandeliers, marble and murals, and groups of guests in formal eveningwear milling around the lobby. Polite staff are on hand to cater to guests' every need. The hotel is just a stone's throw from the city's most expensive shopping area, Salamanca, and has a summer pool with terrace – ideal for relaxing on after all that retail therapy. Rooms vary in size and are decorated in a conservative but classic style, and the hotel's main restaurant, Goizeko, serves Basque dishes in elegant surroundings.