Top things to do in Madrid
What is it? Previously the city's old slaughterhouse, Matadero Madrid is now a modern cultural centre.
Why go? Built in the early 20th century in the Neo-Mudejar style, the old abattoir was brought back to life in 2007 (after years of having been left abandoned) as a large, multidisciplinary space devoted to culture and entertainment. Theatre, cinema, literature, concerts, festivals and markets all converge on the bank of the Manzanares in Matadero Madrid's Cineteca, Sala del Lector reading room, and Central del Diseño design centre.
Don't miss: Free exhibitions, weekend markets and other activities they programme.
What is it? Another great example of how traditional markets have been reinvented and have blossomed to serve up international cuisine.
Why go? It’s said that hunger sharpens our ability to create and innovate. And it seems that’s what happened to a group of shopkeepers at the Mercado de Vallehermoso, who, after a nearly two-decade period of decline, decided to give new life to their workplace and opened their doors to restaurants and bars like Prost Chamberí, Graciana and Craft 19. These days, the once-empty stalls are thriving thanks to the Galería de Productores initiative, made up of 22 local suppliers who sell ‘100% authentic foods’ produced in an area no larger than 120 km², and using artisan and sustainable processes.
Don't miss: Tripea is one of the best market stalls to fill up on fusion cuisine in the whole of Madrid.
What is it? The last X-rated cinema ('sala x') in the city converted into a cocktail bar, though they kept the projector for special screenings.
Why go? In a short time, Sala Equis has become wildly popular in Madrid. The 700 m² space is dedicated to film, music and all types of cultural and gastronomic goodness. It's divided into three zones: the terrace at the entrance; the epicentre of the space, Sala Plaza, with its big screen, a bar with a variety of different eats, and an area where you can relax on wooden benches or lounge chairs, or even have a go on the swings; and finally the 55-seat cinema for their film cycles.
Don't miss: The fab Saturday night ambience, and the fun cinema cycles.
What is it? The only restaurant in Madrid with three Michelin stars.
Why go? With three Michelin stars and under the name of eccentric chef David Muñoz, DiverXO is one of the hottest restaurants in town. Nestled in the Hotel NH Collection Eurobuilding, You may have to dig into your pockets to enjoy either of the tasting menus: the more affordable is €195, and the other, featuring more dishes, will set you back €250. Sorry, did we say more dishes? The restaurant prefers the term 'lienzos', or 'paintings' in English, because food has never been closer to art than at DiverXO.
Don't miss: As well as the tantalizing menus, the striking decor will also wow you.
What is it? One of the most complete cultural centres in the city, inside a spectacular building.
Why go?Another classic Madrid building that tops the must-visit lists. The Círculo de Bellas Artes plays a key part in the city's artistic life, offering an array of classes, exhibitions, conferences, plays and concerts. Its famous rooftop terrace has become a favourite hang-out for locals and visitors, especially on summer evenings, when you're perfectly positioned to admire a gorgeous sunset.
Don't miss: The temporary exhibitions, film cycles, and of course, incredible views from the rooftop.
What is it? One of the most modern theatres in Madrid, whose programme features contemporary dance and theatre.
Why go? Despite having been around for less than a decade, the Teatros de Canal has managed to establish itself as one of the most appealing stages in Madrid. The modern facilities are home to two theatres, which welcome plays, zarzuelas, cabaret shows, dance performances, opera, and concerts for all tastes. Around 1.5 million spectators have enjoyed some 700 shows since 2009. There are also guided tours available if you want to uncover backstage secrets and perhaps run into that ghost that lives in the building.
Don't miss: The contemporary dance cycles, which are among the best in the city.
What is it? A market where traditional butchers' and fishmongers' stalls live happily alongside those offering international cuisine, and where you can find activities for all ages.
Why go? It may not be as popular as some of the other markets in Madrid, but it's still a place to discover and enjoy, especially as it's in a neighbourhood as lively as Lavapiés, which embraces the Mercado de San Fernando as one of its most symbolic landmarks. Built after the Spanish Civil War, the market has been modernised over the years, both in appearance and its stock. Today it's a great place to get high-quality produce, discover what its shops have to offer, and relax at one of its bars or cafés.
Don't miss: The pay-by-weight bookshop, and the craft beer stalls.
What is it? In Alameda de Osuna in the district of Barajas, you'll find El Capricho (literally, 'The Whim'), a garden that is a jewel of Romanticism and a monument to 18th-century taste.
Why go? In Alameda de Osuna in the district of Barajas, you'll find El Capricho (literally, 'The Whim'), a garden that is a jewel of Romanticism and a monument to 18th-century taste. Within its 14 hectares lie an artificial river, lakes, woods, gardens, simulations of temples and other surprising nooks. The park's principal architect was Jean-Baptiste Mulot, a French gardener who had worked for Marie Antoinette, yet a large part of El Capricho is in the style of English gardens.
Don't miss: The romantic temples and statues dotted around the park.
What is it? One of the newest and most highly regarded theatres in Madrid.
Why go? The Teatro Pavón kicked off a new era in summer 2016, when four key members of the Kamikaze Producciones company took the reins of the theatre in order to offer their fresh, quality product to all audiences. It didn't take long for what these four kamikazes came up to win over the public as well as critics, nor for their efforts to be recognised with the 2017 National Theatre Award and the 2017 Time Out Madrid Award.
Don't miss: Their exquisite, quality programming.
What is it? The only intact Egyptian temple in Spain.
Why go? Head to the Parque del Oeste to take a leap back in time and space back to Ancient Egypt. The Templo de Debod is an Egyptian structure that's more than 2,200 years old and dedicated to the gods Amon and Isis. It was sent, brick by brick, by the Egyptian government in 1968, as a thank you for Spain's help in preserving monuments threatened by the Aswan Dam. Admire the exterior and the views from the site, but bear in mind you can visit the inside of the temple as well.
Don't miss: The spectacular sunset as seen from the temple's viewpoint.
What is it? One of the most innovative and modern cultural centres in Madrid.
Why go? Some of the most avant-garde and exciting art comes together in La Casa Encendida. Set inside a neo-Mudéjar-style building, its four floors are home to emerging new artists of all genres, as well as concerts, theatre, performances, film, and activities for children. On top of all this, there's also a charity shop, a library, a café, and a terrace which, in summer, is a great spot to take in a good concert or watch a film in an outdoor setting.
Don't miss: The summertime open-air cinema and concerts, the 'Puwerty' festival for teenagers, and the She Makes Noise women's electronic music festival, among plenty of other plans on the programme.
What is it? One of the city's main traditional markets with stalls selling fresh produce, craft beer and prepared deli-style food.
Why go? The Mercado de Antón Martin is one of the prime examples of the trend of gastro markets in Madrid. Centrally located just a few metres from the square of the same name, the market is filled with traditional stalls dedicated to the sale of fresh products, as well as small stands offering cuisine from all over the world, be it Japanese, Italian, Mexican, Colombian or Taiwanese.
Don't miss: The mouth-wateringly good Japanese food at Yokaloka.
What is it? One of the best theatres in Madrid, built in 1895 and publicly owned.
Why go? Presiding over Plaza de Santa Ana, this grand theatre was originally a medieval animal pen where pieces were premiered and performed that would eventually become classics. Far from old-fashioned, the theatre's programming these days couldn't be more current, thanks to renovation that has incorporated working together with Naves del Español, in the Matadero Madrid. If what goes on backstage thrills you, you can get a guided tour that takes you behind the scenes and spills some of the theatre's secrets throughout history.
Don't miss: The shows that revisit theatre classics as well as new national productions.
What is it? The most central park in the city.
Why go? The origins of the 118-hectare park date back to the construction of the Monasterio de los Jerónimos by Queen Isabela I and King Ferdinand. Nowadays, it’s one of the most popular green areas for people to go jogging, boating, picnicking and walking the dog. It’s worth checking out the monument to Alfonso XII, a large colonnade by José Grases Riera overlooking the pond; the Casón del Buen Retiro, a majestic ballroom that currently belongs to the Museo del Prado; and the Palacio de Cristal, built for the 1887 Philippine Exposition. But the gardens of the Retiro have plenty of other attractive features, like a rose garden, the Casa de Vacas cultural centre, and numerous fountains and statues.
Don't miss: One of the few statues dedicated to the devil, the famous Fallen Angel (Ángel Caído).
What is it? A former military headquarters converted into a modern and important cultural centre.
Why go? The old military base has become one of the most dynamic and lively cultural centres in Madrid. The distinctive pink building is home to a very versatile indoor space, which plays host to shows, exhibitions, talks, workshops, and the series of summer outdoor concerts and plays that are part of the annual Veranos de la Villa festival and feature top artists and shows every season. Several important city institutions also have their headquarters here.
Don't miss: The outdoor cinema series every July and August, and JazzMadrid in November – one of the biggest draws on the centre's busy calendar.
What is it? An old power plant converted into a cultural centre.
Why go? Located in Madrid's Art Triangle, the CaixaForum welcomes visitors with an impressive 24-metre-high vertical garden at its entrance, which features 15,000 plants and 250 different species. The centre's schedule of events is suitable for all ages, and it boasts an extensive cultural and educational programme featuring exhibitions, workshops, conferences, courses and concerts. During summer, the programme includes night-time concerts, films, and various other activities.
Don't miss: The spectacular vertical garden, and the diverse exhibitions you can enjoy for less than a fiver.
What is it? This cultural centre hosts all types of events that have to do with culture and creative management of public spaces.
Why go? The historic Palacio de Cibeles, formerly the Palacio de Telecomunicaciones and now home to the Ayuntamiento de Madrid (City Hall), also houses this multicultural space. If the Palace itself isn't enough to tickle your fancy, there are plenty of events that unfold inside to bring you in. The programme is based on emerging and collaborative artistic practices aimed at promoting reflection on urban culture, and featuring exhibitions, workshops, conferences and concerts. The centre's large main hall gives way to a colourful lounge where you can take a break to read the papers or connect to the WiFi.
Don't miss: The impressive views from the Terraza Cibeles on the sixth floor and from the Mirador Madrid on the eighth.
What is it? A park with one of the best panoramic views of Madrid.
Why go? This park, charmingly known as the one with 'Seven Tits' because of its hills, is in Puente de Vallecas and is one of the best places in town to watch day turn into evening. It used to be a dump site, and thus the uneven terrain.
Don't miss: The spectacular sunsets.
What is it? The most important contemporary art museum in Madrid.
Why go? With 3.8 million visitors in 2017, the museum is the biggest tourist attraction in Madrid, mainly because on one of the walls in room 206 hangs the most famous Spanish painting of the 20th century. But the Reina Sofia isn't all about Pablo Picasso's 'Guernica': its permanent collection deserves a visit so you can get to know contemporary Spanish art that spans the last 100 years. Temporary exhibitions are also some of the biggest in the country year after year. The museum was inaugurated in 1992 in a space that was formerly Madrid's General Hospital, and in 2005, it grew with the addition of the modern Nouvel building.
Don't miss: The many temporary exhibitions, as well as 'Guernica', of course.
What is it? An alternative, partly self-managed cultural centre, located in an old tobacco factory.
Why go? The old Fábrica de Tabacos became a page in the history books in order to move on to its current incarnation as a cultural centre, which accommodates for both art and a space for reflection on current issues. The 30,000-square-metre building is partly managed by the Minister of Culture and is dedicated to exhibitions, whereas the other is managed by the centre itself, which brings together various social collectives that develop all kinds of activities with two clear purposes: to promote free culture and to be a space to meet up for the residents of Lavapiés.
Don't miss: The free exhibitions, and talks on topics such as feminism, the economy, and much more.
What is it? One of the top exhibition halls in Madrid.
Why go? Inside number 23 in Paseo de Recoletos stands a space completely dedicated to art that definitely deserves more recognition. Sometimes forgotten about by the locals, the Fundación Mapfre's permanent exhibition is that of the amazing Joan Miró, and on display is a collection that's regarded as one of the artist's most important and influential, made up of over 60 pieces. In addition to this, the Fundación Mapfre also organises other temporary exhibitions dedicated to photography, painting, and sculpture.
Don't miss: The space in C/Bárbara de Braganza with two independent floors of free temporary photography exhibitions.
What is it? Atlético Madrid's football stadium.
Why go? After being passed into the hands of Atlético Madrid, the stadium was almost completely remodelled, and for sponsorship reasons, renamed Wanda Metropolitano. With a capacity of 67,829, the new stadium seats nearly 13,000 more fans than Atlético's former home, the Vicente Calderón. Thanks to its increased capacity, the stadium is now also a great venue for concerts and other events.
Don't miss: Aside from going to see a football match here, which is a must, check the schedule and catch a concert with some of the biggest acts to play Madrid.
What is it? A cultural space located in the Telefónica building, right on Gran Vía.
Why go? With one of the most complete cultural programmes you'll find in Madrid, the Espacio Fundación Telefónica has a lot to offer – exhibitions, workshops, conferences, guided tours and activities for all age groups. The four floors that make up the Espacio are chock-full of culture. Over the years, it has become a vital space for fans of photographic art or those interested in technology of the past, present and future. The Foundation has also managed to collect and analyse the latest communication trends and attract personalities and experts of all kinds, who have brought their ideas to the people of Madrid.
Don't miss: The free exhibitions and workshops for all ages.
What is it? A theatre located in an old church.
Why go? Founded in 1995, the Teatro de la Abadía is now a driving force in the revitalisation of the Chamberí district. As well as being a theatre, it also serves as a learning and training centre for performance and artistic creation, under the management of José Luis Gómez, who has brought to Madrid the tradition of European theatres open to any aficionados of the performing arts. Its location inside the old Sagrada Familia church gives it a singular character, setting the Abadía aside from the other theatres in the city, and its two main halls bring the audience close to the performers in a way that few other theatres can.
Don't miss: Enjoy a performance in the most unique of settings.
What is it? One of the exhibition halls at the buzzing cultural venue that is the Fundación Canal de Isabel II.
Why go? Exhibitions, concert series, debates, guided tours and workshops are just some of the varied activities, dedicated to all types of artistic genres, on the programme. The Foundation's main priority is to offer a space for visitors to reflect on the environment and the problems we face today, with particular focus on the importance of water as a vital resource for our planet. The venue is also well-known for its photography competitions, which attract hundreds of fans every year.
Don't miss: The free, quality art exhibitions, which bring in thousands of locals and visitors to Madrid.
What is it? The headquarters of Madrid architects boasts a lovely interior patio and a delicious restaurant (Bosco de Lobos).
Why go? If you're looking for architecture, there's no better place in Madrid than the Colegio Oficial de Arquitectos, which, in addition to working for the interests of the union, over the years has managed to create a cultural agenda focused on the art of constructing singular buildings. You'll find exhibitions, conferences, and guided tours throughout the year, not to mention the library with works that span more than 50 years of history.
Don't miss: 'Architecture Week', organised by the Colegio every autumn, features dozens of events related to architecture and city planning.
What is it? The headquarters of the public institution created to teach the Spanish language and to promote Hispanic American cultures.
Why go? At over a quarter of a century old, the Instituto Cervantes is killing it in the goal-achieving department. With delegations arond the world, this central headquarters in Madrid is housed in a monumental building that stands out at the top of C/ Alcalá. They organise plenty of cultural activities like art exhibitions, seminars and conferences, and Spanish courses in-situ and online. It's only natural that the seat of the Cervantes Institute is in the city where the classic Spanish writer himself was born.
Don't miss: The exhibitions and Spanish classes for all levels.
What is it? A family restaurant that's become one of the best spots to eat in Madrid.
Why go? More than 40 years, three generations and two Michelin stars are evidence of the vast know-how the Sandoval brothers demonstrate in the kitchen. In 2017, they decided to embark on a new stage in their legendary restaurant, leaving their original location in Humanes to move to the centre of Madrid. In the building that once housed the Archy nightclub, the Sandovals have managed to create a gastronomic journey through four spaces – the cocktail bar, the wine cellar, the kitchen and the dining room – where you can savour the result of Mario's creative mind, a true fusion between tradition and innovation.
Don't miss: The innovative cuisine and the extensive wine list.
What is it? A cultural centre that aims to strengthen ties between Spain and Ibero-America, and which just happens to be housed in a hunted palace.
Why go? Casa de América, set in the exceptional Palacio de Linares, a building with extraordinary history and full of legends, is a great place to enjoy many different cultural activities in the centre of Madrid. As well as offering some of the best art and photography exhibitions and film screenings, the Casa de América also hosts conferences that cover topics such as the environment, the economy, politics and literature. You can also catch stage plays and live music performances.
Don't miss: The free temporary exhibitions and film screenings.
What is it? One of the most prestigious cultural foundations in Madrid.
Why go? The museum always offers something different than the rest, managing to introduce visitors to lesser-known artists and alternative art you might not otherwise see. It never fails to surprise, as it constantly takes on different styles, whether that's painting, architecture, drawing or beyond. Still, the Fundación Juan March is more than a museum, as evidenced by its series of concerts and conferences. You can also challenge your brain in the library, and then relax it in the café.
Don't miss: The free exhibitions and classical music cycles.
What is it? An institute dedicated to French culture and the learning of the French language.
Why go? There's no better place in Madrid to immerse yourself in French culture than the Instituto Francés. As well as being a place where you can learn the language of love, the institute offers monthly programmes to help you completely dive into French culture, be it cinema, theatre, concerts, dance, lectures, roundtables or exhibitions. The institute also organises language stays for kids, teenagers and adults, as well as summer camps.
Don't miss: The charming interior patio is a stellar spot for a snack or to enjoy an outdoor film in the summer.
What is it? The hottest hotspot in Madrid, which won our Time Out Award for Best Club in 2017.
Why go? What appears to be an everyday haberdashery with a great location next to the Apolo theatre in Plaza de Tirso de Molina is really a thriving nightclub with three dance floors that can hold a thousand party people. They play all kinds of music, serve top-notch cocktails, and even offer gourmet food in this 'secret' spot that's been uncovered thanks to word of mouth that's made it so well-deservedly popular.
Don't miss: The wild weekend sessions.
What is it? The most famous market in Chueca, with gourmet food stalls and a restaurant on its rooftop terrace.
Why go? With over a century of history, this city market is full of variety, and each of its three storeys provides a unique space. The first floor is where you can buy all kinds of fresh produce and gourmet foods, whilst the second focuses more on wine, foreign delicacies, such as Greek and Japanese food, tapas and desserts. The third floor is home to La Cocina de San Antón, a restaurant with its own menu, but which also offers the option to prepare dishes with produce from the market itself. And if all this isn't enough, the market also has a little space for modern art in its 'Espacio trapezio'.
Don't miss: Grab a bite in the restaurant, with views over the rooftops of Madrid's renowned LGBTI neighbourhood.
What is it? The most important art museum in Spain.
Why go? For the huge concentration of masterpieces, among them earlier paintings and sculptures such as stunning Spanish Romanesque murals and Gothic altarpieces; classical and Renaissance sculptures; works from the Italian Renaissance; 15th-century Flemish paintings, with the world's greatest collection of works by Hieronymus Bosch; plus El Greco, and German paintings such as Dürer's extraordinary 1498 'Self-Portrait'. One of the Prado's greatest attractions are the Velázquez Rooms featuring the artist's massive state portraits of Felipe IV and his court, with pride of place taken by 'Las Meninas', often described as the greatest painting in the world because of its complex interplay of perspectives and realities. The rooms devoted to Goya are the most numerous dedicated to any one artist in the museum.
Don't miss: Masterpieces by greats such as Velázquez, Goya, Durero, El Greco, Rembrandt, and so many more.
What is it? A leading arts centre in an old train car storage building.
Why go? La Neomudéjar defines itself as a centre for art, experimentation and creativity, and it's another good example of a forgotten space that, under self-management, has come back to life to become a valuable part of the Pacífico neighbourhood. The calendar features exhibitions, performances, film series and workshops, and there's space carved out for new shows by innovative creators.
Don't miss: Performances on here are some of the most avant-garde in the city.
What is it? The Madrid location of one of the world's most prestigious art galleries.
Why go? Founded in London in 1946, Marlborough now has galleries in New York, Tokyo and Barcelona. This one in Madrid opened in 1989, and ever since, it's been able to prove it's got the Marlborough stuff by acquiring and selling art from the 19th and 20th centuries, and putting on public exhibitions of contemporary art from all corners of the planet.
Don't miss: Fresh and modern art exhibitions.
What is it? A classic theatre dedicated mainly to the most iconic operas in the country.
Why go? Plaza de Oriente is home to one of the most beautiful and emblematic buildings in Madrid. As well as being a temple for opera, zarzuela and ballet, the Teatro Real has been a hugely symbolic building for the city's culture ever since its construction over two centuries ago. Every season the biggest national and international stars take to the stage, which is also open to the public for guided tours that let you explore the auditoriums and even dressing rooms.
Don't miss: The last-minute box-office ticket deals to impressive shows.
What is it? One of the most popular nightclubs and concert venues in the city.
Why go? Sala But is one of the hottest spots for nightlife in Madrid. One of the biggest dance floors in the city, three bars, and a spectacular stage where some of the best DJs come to play are the main claims to fame that make Sala But a must when planning a big night out on the town. At the weekend, the two-floor venue hosts Ochoymedio, the club session that's been shaking the walls to the beats of pop, rock and indie for years. Bands from around Spain such as Los Punsetes, Delorean, Russian Red, and Love of Lesbian have played here, as well as international artists such as Lady Gaga, Franz Ferdinand and Arctic Monkeys.
Don't miss: Midweek concerts and special weekend sessions.
What is it? A museum that exhibits the private collection of the late Baron Hans-Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza.
Why go? Thyssen-Bornemisza's collection is widely considered among the most important in the world. Consisting of 775 paintings, it initially arrived in Madrid on loan, but in 1993 a purchase agreement was signed with the Spanish government. Among this magnificent collection you'll find works by Van Gogh, Durero, Hopper, Caravaggio and more.
Don't miss: Roy Lichtenstein's 'Woman in Bath', one of the most famous works in the museum.
What is it? A typically Spanish theatre located in one of the most typically Spanish neighbourhoods in town.
Why go? The old Sala Olimpia was always a landmark in the daily life of Lavapiés, and its name change in February 2006 did nothing to take that away, and in fact marked the beginning of a new stage paying homage to one of the most important Spanish writers of the 20th century. The Teatro Valle-Inclána, a base for the Centro Dramático Nacional, is one of the most modern theatres in Madrid, and it's also the cultural heart of Lavapiés thanks to its extensive programme.
Don't miss: Highly prestigious national and international productions.
What is it? Real Madrid's football stadium.
Why go? The most famous stadium in Madrid is on Paseo de la Castellana, in the heart of the city, and is home to Real Madrid CF. It currently has a capacity for 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.
Don't miss: The museum, which, with its vast trophy cabinet, makes it one of the most visited in town.
What is it? A public space for exhibitions and theatre productions.
Why go? Named after one of Spain's most important actors, directors and writers, the Fernán Gómez Centro has much in the way of the arts to offer. The space is made up of three parts, with the Sala Guirau being the big draw; its capacity of nearly 700 allows for large-format plays, concerts, dance performances, and all other kinds of events organised by businesses and institutions. The Sala Jardiel Poncela is smaller and so perfect for more intimate productions and events. Finally, the Sala de Exposiciones is where you can see all types of temporary exhibitions, usually leaning to the historical or educational.
Don't miss: The classical theatre productions.
What is it? With two Michelin stars, DSTAgE is one of the best restaurants in Madrid.
Why go? The DSTAgE concept is one of an industrial and urban aesthetic, but it's also a learning space with cooking workshops for kids and adults. Under the guiding hand of chef Diego Guerrero, DSTAgE has broken its share of rules to become one of the best restaurants in the city. Guerrero has earned his Michelin stars thanks to his ability to fuse Spanish, Japanese and Mexican flavours. The restaurant offers three set menus, with 12, 14 and 17 dishes to try, respectively, and prices that start where you might expect and go up accordingly. And yes, you'll want to book well in advance.
Don't miss: The incredible and elaborate tasting menus.
What is it? A space that's got a bit of everything: books, exhibitions, good food, and more.
Why go? Nestled next to the Paseo del Prado stands a little hidden cultural gem, a great promoter of all kinds of contemporary art projects, including photography, music, film and fine arts. If you're looking for a cultural surprise, you're sure to find it here. Plus, with the café open from breakfast time, La Fábrica also makes for a pleasant break if you’re visiting the nearby museums.
Don't miss: The incredible photography exhibitions.
What is it? Another base for the Centro Dramático Nacional, so gorgeous it's been declared a Bien de Interés Cultural on the Spanish heritage registry.
Why go? As well as being a home for the CDN, the theatre's interior boasts a classic beauty others can only envy. The María Guerrero was inaugurated in 1885 as the Teatro de la Princesa; in 1931 its name was changed to honour the legendary actress from Madrid. Years of productions have come and go through the theatre, and under the umbrella of the CDN there's a complete programme that's always got something on for all audiences.
Don't miss: Quality productions brought to you by the Centro Dramático Nacional.
What is it? Madrid's most famous gastro market.
Why go? Here's a classic example of how a historic building in its later years bounced back to life, in this case to become one of the most outstanding gastronomic stops and tourist attractions in Madrid. In 2009 the Mercado de San Miguel was resurrected, with its original 1916 iron structure intact, and since then its interior has housed a heady mixture of aromas, flavours and sensations for all tastes. This is buzzing life in the heart of the Spanish capital where you can always get an unforgettable meal.
Don't miss: Stroll among the tempting stalls and select from some of the best dishes in town.
What is it? One of the most famous nightclubs in Madrid, it's also an old theatre.
Why go? A classic even among the classics on the Madrid nightlife scene, Joy Eslava has been boogieing on down for more than 35 years. Its enormous dance floor is packed with hundreds of revellers every day of the year, from visitors to the city to some of the most well-known faces straight from the local gossip pages. The venue, which still retains some of its original decor from its previous life as a 19th-century theatre, also hosts concerts and comedy nights.
Don't miss: Hopping midweek concerts.
What is it? The only permanent circus in the city.
Why go? In 2002 the Madrid City Council started the construction of a permanent circus, following a road previously paved by European cities such as Paris, Brussels, Munich and Amsterdam. Thus the Circo Price was born, and baptised with the name of the circus formed in the mid-19th century by Irish acrobat Thomas Price in Paseo de Recoletos. Now part of an avant-garde hub – together with the neighbouring Casa Encendida – the space welcomes circus performances, festivals, concerts, improv workshops, musicals and more.
Don't miss: The circus and acrobatic performances.
What is it? The hub of Spanish film archives.
Why go? This chic art nouveau national film theatre was founded more than 50 years ago, and now it's a spot where you can enjoy its eclectic seasons of films from the Spanish National Archive and world cinema, auter, classical and experimental productions. Auditorium 1 is an especially marvellous place to see silent movies, sometimes accompanied by live music. And in summer you can't pass up the bar and outdoor cinema on the rooftop.
Don't miss: The heavyweight film cycles, most of which are shown in their original language with subtitles.
What is it? This tiny theatre is a jewel that shines in Malasaña.
Why go? For many, this is the most charming theatre in Madrid. This treasure is nearly 140 years old, and houses two different spaces. The larger one seats 500 and stages the bigger shows, whilst the second, with just 120 seats, is where you can catch more unconventional performances. A big plus in the theatre's favour is the dramatised tours, where you can explore and learn about the space from famous fictional characters.
Don't miss: The small-format pieces that are sometimes even performed in the theatre's lobby.
What is it? Madrid’s oldest and most iconic street market.
Why go? Every Sunday, starting from 7am, C/Ribera de Curtidores becomes a hub of shopping activity as locals and visitors arrive in throngs to do some treasure hunting at this market that's some five centuries old. You won't want to miss a browse through the hundreds of stalls selling new and second-hand clothes, costume jewellery, decorative items, vinyl records, band T-shirts, souvenirs of Madrid, prints and drawings.
Don't miss: Be sure to do your best haggling so you can come away with just what you've been looking for at a great price.
What is it? On the grounds where the legendary Pachá once stood, a new club is born...
Why go? Built in the 1930s to house a cinema and theatre, this building would eventually become a large part of the Movida Madrileña countercultural movement. Getting back to its roots, the venue that for years was the Pachá nightclub is now the Teatro Barceló, one of the most exclusive spots in Madrid. Every weekend the city's beautiful people show off their finest threads – a house rule is to be well-dressed – as they drink and dance among the three areas that each play a different kind of music.
Don't miss: The big weekend parties.
What is it? One of the loveliest rooftop terraces in central Madrid.
Why go? In the middle of La Latina, just some 150 metres away from Plaza Mayor, The Hat is one of the most attractive and best valued places to stay in the Spanish capital. The owners describe it as having the freedom of a hostel and the service of a hotel. But the main attraction here has got to be the rooftop terrace – a fabulous spot to take in the sunset with a cold beer and a good variety of snacks without having to spend three weeks worth of wages.
Don't miss: Watching the sun set over the tiled rooftops of La Latina.
What is it? The oldest restaurant in the world.
Why go? The world's oldest restaurant (with a signed Norris McWhirter certificate to prove it) is still coming up with the goods after nearly 300 years For all its popularity as a tourist destination, its nooks and crannies add up to an atmospheric – if cramped – dining spot. Botín turns out great roasts, including that old Spanish favourite, 'cochinillo' (suckling pig). The 'cordero' (lamb) is also superb, as are the house-named 'almejas' (clams). And, yes, Hemingway was here.
Don't miss: The tender cochinillo paired with a good bottle of wine.
What is it? The most famous place to get 'churros con chocolate' in Madrid.
Why go? San Ginés has been serving chocolate and churros 24 hours a day since 1894. It makes use of a prepaid ticket system to accommodate 5am queues of late-night revellers and chipper old ladies. If you fall into the former category, be warned: this place is very well-lit. At least there are tables outside.
Don't miss: Churros and the similar 'porras' make the perfect companions to a cup of thick dipping chocolate.
What is it? Madrid's macro nightclub par excellence.
Why go? Spread over seven floors (the top floor is an outdoor terrace), Kapital is a guaranteed good time. It’s paradise for anyone out to spend a night losing themselves to the beat of house music, R&B, hip hop and more.
Don't miss: Sessions by some of the best DJs from Spain and around the world.