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The 55 best things to do in Madrid

Get the lowdown on the best things to do in Madrid right now – including museums, clubs, markets, restaurants and more

By A. Martín Larios, Marta Bac and Jan Fleischer |
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The Do list imagen inglés

NOVEMBER 2019: Our annual DO List is the place to come to find out all the latest, greatest things to do in Madrid. This time around, the Prado Museum is back up to number one, because it’s the most important art museum in all of Spain, and it’d be silly to feature it anywhere else, to be quite honest. New additions this year include kids’ cultural centre the Espacio Abierto in Quinta de los Molinos park, and immersive theatre Tacones Manoli, which opened this autumn in the city centre. We’ve also added new restaurants Gofio and 99 KO Sushi Bar, both awarded a Michelin star this month, as well as a cocktail bar, the fab Salmón Gurú. We’ve also brought back a Madrid classic, Toni2, which has seen us at our worst and for some reason still loves us.

Madrid is a welcoming, vivacious, hard-partying city – so a fantastic holiday choice. Madrileños, or those of us who call the city our home, love going out in the evening for a few beers, but we also get a thrill from going to the theatre and we try to never miss an art exhibition (or, when we’re on a budget, any of these brilliant free things to do). It’s true that sometimes the sheer amount the city has to offer can get a bit overwhelming, so that’s why we’re here to lend you a hand. Whether you live in the city or you’re just passing through, this list will help you discover the absolute best things to do in Madrid right now. You’ll find the restaurants that drive us wild, hidden gems that are totally worth tracking down and cultural goings-on for all budgets. Dig in!

Done something on this list and loved it? Share it with the hashtag #TimeOutDoList and tag @TimeOutEverywhere. You can also find out more about how Time Out selects the very best things to do all over the world.

Best things to do in Madrid

1
Museo del Prado
Museums, Art and design

Spend hours in the Prado Museum

Retiro

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.

2
El Retiro
Things to do, Heaths, meadows and fields

Have fun and relax in El Retiro Park

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).

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3
Museo Reina Sofía
Photo: Museo Reina Sofía
Museums

See a Picasso masterpiece at the Reina Sofía

Lavapiés

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 Sofía 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.

4
Matadero Madrid
Art

Enjoy art and markets at Matadero Madrid

Legazpi

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.

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5
Tripea - Roberto Martínez
Photo: Alfredo Arias
Things to do, Markets and fairs

Eat your way round the world at Vallehermoso Market

Chamberí

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.

6
Sala Equis
Photo: LuciaM
Things to do

Grab a drink at Sala Equis, a former adult cinema

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.

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7
99 KO Sushi Bar

Dine at Madrid's newest Michelin-star restaurants, Gofio & 99 KO Sushi Bar

What is it? Gofio and 99 KO Sushi Bar are the latest Madrid restaurants to earn a Michelin star in Madrid.

Why go? Gofio is a showcase of the best cuisine from the Canary Islands. Almogrote spread, 'choquitos' (little cuttlefish), 'papas arrugadas' potatoes with their 'mojo' sauces... Chefs Safe Cruz and Aida González have elevated traditional flavours and products from the islands to haute cuisine. And the mastermind behind 99 KO Sushi Bar is Chef David Arauz. The lucky 16 diners who get to sit for each service enjoy a massive meal where top raw materials are the star in both of the two tasting menus: the Kaiseki, with 20 dishes, and the Omakase, with 14.

Don't miss: This is your chance to discover the world of Michelin restaurants in Madrid outside of the three-star DiverXO.

8
El Rastro
Shopping, Markets and fairs

Get bargains at El Rastro, Madrid's oldest street market

La Latina

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.

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9
Chocolate con churros en San Ginés
Photo: Eduardo
Bars and pubs, Café bars

Gobble up world-famous churros with chocolate at San Ginés

Sol

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.

10
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza
Museums

Admire amazing art at the Thyssen-Bornemisza museum

Centro

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.

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11
Tacones Manoli
Theatre

Immerse yourself in theatre at Tacones Manoli

Madrid

What is it? This immersive theatre show is the latest venture from LETGO, the producers behind Medias Puri and Uñas Chung Lee, two of the hottest clubs in Madrid right now.

Why go? To experience immersive theatre, the likes of the New York's uber successful 'Sleep No More'. You form part of the show as you share spaces with the actors walking through hallways, stairways and rooms of a three-storey palace in the centre of Madrid that once housed the stock exchange.

Don't miss: Try on the mask, follow instructions, but go with your own flow, as no two participants will have the exact same experience.

12
Mercado de San Fernando
Shopping, Markets and fairs

Eat well and swing dance at the San Fernando Market

Lavapiés

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.

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13
Capricho de la Alameda de Osuna
Photo: Parque de El Capricho
Attractions, Parks and gardens

Stroll through the romantic El Capricho park

Alameda de Osuna

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.

14
Salmón Gurú
Bars and pubs, Cocktail bars

Sip a cocktail at Salmón Gurú

Centro

What is it? One of the best cocktail bars in the world. Really.

Why go? This project from Argentinian bartender Diego Cabrera is ranked number 19 on the list of the World's 50 Best Bars that came in early October 2019. The decor of psychedelic neons combines perfectly with a menu boasting stupendously imaginative cocktails that employ the most unusual ingredients and cutting-edge techniques and are served original receptacles. Cabrera's latest creations take you on a trip to the Amazon.

Don't miss: Pair your cocktail of choice with one (or more) of the gastro offerings by Estanis Carenzo.

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15
Templo de Debod
Photo: Templo de Debod
Attractions, Historic buildings and sites

Discover Debod, Spain's only Egyptian temple

Argüelles

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.

16
Medias Puri
Photo: Lighuen Desanto
Nightlife, Clubs

Get in on the secret behind the Medias Puri shopfront

Madrid

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.

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17
Santiago Bernabéu
Photo: Kordas
Sport and fitness, Football

Support Real Madrid at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu

Santiago Bernabéu

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.

18
Círculo de Bellas Artes
Círculo de Bellas Artes
Attractions, Historic buildings and sites

See the best views from Círculo de Bellas Artes

Centro

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.

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19
Teatros del Canal
Photo: Teatros del Canal
Theatre

Catch top theatre and dance at Teatros del Canal

Arapiles

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.

20
La Casa Encendida
Museums

Don't miss free art shows at La Casa Encendida

Lavapiés

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.

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21
Ayuntamiento de Madrid
Museums

Visit City Hall and the vista point at CentroCentro

Centro

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.

Don't miss: The impressive views from the Terraza Cibeles on the sixth floor and from the Mirador Madrid on the eighth.

22
Mercado Antón Martín
Shopping, Corner shops

Stop by the stalls at the Antón Martín Market

Lavapiés

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.

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23
Cerro del Tío Pío
Attractions, Parks and gardens

Watch the sunset from Cerro del Tío Pío

Puente de Vallecas

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.

24
CaixaForum
Art

Take in quality exhibitions at the CaixaForum

Barrio de las Letras

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.

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25
Espacio Abierto Quinta Molinos
Kids

Spend a day with the kids at Espacio Abierto

Canillejas

What is it? Espacio Abierto ('Open Space') is exclusively for children to relax, have fun and learn.

Why go? You'll find Espacio Abierto inside the gorgeous Quinta de los Molinos park, and it's a great place to bring babies and for kids up to 16 years old to hang out. There are games, puppet shows, music, workshops, and loads of things to do, even if what the kids want to do is just relax on a sofa and read a good book.

Don't miss: Check the calendar to see what's on, as the programme is full of creative endeavors that stimulate the imagination.

26
Sala El Sol

Let it all hang out in El Sol

Sol

What is it? A place to be during the times of the Movida counterculture movement in post-Franco Madrid, El Sol, which turned 40 in 2019, is still one of the city's most emblematic nightclubs.

Why go? The venue itself isn't much to look at, but the programming makes up for it: rock, R&B, punk, soul, and hip hop from Spanish bands and international acts. Plus the smaller size means you're always close enough to see your favourite artists sweat. El Sol stays open after concerts at weekends, so you can keep the fun going.

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27
La Tabacalera
Museums

Discover the best urban art at La Tabacalera

Lavapiés

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.

28
The Hat Madrid
Photo: Booking.com
Hotels, Hostels

Have a drink and enjoy the vistas from The Hat Madrid

Centro

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 or a warm coffee (depending on the season) 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.

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29
Fundación Mapfre
Museums

Admire artworks at the Mapfre Foundation

Chueca

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.

30
Wanda Metropolitano
Sport and fitness

Cheer for Atlétitco de Madrid at Wanda Metropolitano

Canillejas

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.

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31
Toni2
Photo: Plantastic
Bars and pubs

Sing your heart out at Toni2

Chueca

What is it? The most famous piano bar in Madrid.

Why go? To go back in time just a bit to a world with carpeted floors, waiters in white jackets and bow ties, red velvet sofas and an eclectic clientele giving it their all around Toni2's amazing grand piano. The nights last until the wee hours in this legendary space with a classic look that's been around since 1979. Lose track of time with ballads by Frank Sinatra or rancheras by Chavela Vargas ring out.

Don't miss: If you can sing, or if you've had enough liquid courage, ask for the microphone and belt out a number for the crowd.

32
Fundación Canal de Isabel II
Photo: Fundación Canal de Isabel II
Attractions, Towers and viewpoints

Take in a free exhibition at the Canal de Isabel II Foundation

Plaza de Castilla

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.

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33
Casa de América
Photo: Casa de América
Cinemas

Spend a spooky afternoon at Casa de América

Recoletos

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.

34
Teatro Real
Photo: Teatro Real
Theatre

Be moved by opera at the Teatro Real

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.

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35
Fundación Juan March
Photo: Fundación Juan March
Attractions

Enjoy the free exhibitions at the Juan March Foundation

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.

36
Marlborough
Photo: Marlborough
Art

Visit the reputable Marlborough art gallery

Alonso Martínez

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.

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37
Colegio Oficial de Arquitectos de Madrid
Things to do

Admire design at the Official College of Architects

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.

38
La Neomudéjar
Art, Performance art

Discover trailblazing art among the rails at La Neomudéjar

Pacífico

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.

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39
Sala But
Nightlife

Get into the groove at Sala But

Malasaña

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 as well as international artists, such as Lady Gaga, Franz Ferdinand and Arctic Monkeys, have played here.

Don't miss: Midweek concerts and special weekend sessions.

40
DSTAgE
Restaurants, Haute cuisine

Thrill your senses over a meal at DSTAgE

Chueca

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.

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La Fábrica
Photo: La Fábrica
Art

Have a coffee and see art at La Fábrica

Barrio de las Letras

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.

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Teatro María Guerrero
Photo: Teatro María Guerrero
Theatre

Discover María Guerrero, one of the loveliest theatres

Chueca

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.

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43
Joy Eslava

Have a wild night out at Joy Eslava

Sol

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.

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Teatro Circo Price
Theatre, Circuses

Revisit your childhood at the Teatro Circo Price

Embajadores

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.

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Jaume Plensa
Art

Find the Jaume Plensa statue at the Masaveu Foundation

Madrid

What is it? The Masaveu Foundation is one of the biggest private art collections in Spain.

Why go? To check out this impressive art centre located in a Neoclassical palace. The 2,000m2 space shows off the catalogue of the Fundación María Cristina Masaveu Peterson, including religious triptychs and medieval sculptures to more recent works by some of the most sought-after contemporary artists. There's also an impressive programme of temporary exhibitions.

Don't miss: In the Patio of Silence there's an impressive relief by Catalan artist Jaume Plensa.

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Mision Cafe
Photo: Elena Maier
Bars and pubs, Café bars

Recharge and energize in Misión Café

Malasaña

What is it? Misión Café is a speciality café in Malasaña and one of the best coffee houses in Madrid.

Why go? Cosy and minimalist, Misión serves one of the best damn speciality coffees in the city thanks in part to its modular coffee maker, the only one of its kind around. With simplicity as its banner, Misión Café is a spot where you will find excellent dark brew, expert and friendly service, and tasty bites. Get something to eat with your cuppa, whether it’s toast with home-made jam, creamy porridge or raspberry cake, or even marinated trout on toast or a peanut butter sandwich.

Don't miss: Clearly you’re going for the coffee, but just in case you’re in the mood for something a bit different, try the tea-based home-made kombucha with just the right bit of fizz.

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T club

Go out for a party at Teatro Barceló

Malasaña

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.

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Mercado de San Miguel
Photo: Mercado de San Miguel
Shopping, Delis

Fill your boots at the San Miguel Market

Austrias

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.

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Kapital

Let it all hang out with a night at Kapital

Barrio de las Letras

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.

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Art

Attend a free workshop at the Telefónica Foundation Space

Malasaña

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.

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51
Calle Santiago
Photo: Alfredo Arias-Horas
Restaurants, Barbecue

Get away from the city and dine at La Taberna del Alamillo

What is it? A traditional Spanish restaurant near the town of Rascafría in the Sierra de Guadarrama.

Why go? If you fancy a day trip, take advantage of a trip to the mountains to get in a hearty meal as well. The way from Rascafría to Alameda del Valle is full of incredible beauty, and once you're surrounded by nature and breathing in all that fresh, crisp air, you'll really work up an appetite. La Taberna del Alamillo is a cosy, woody restaurant, complete with gingham tablecloths, where you can warm up and eat a proper leg of lamb.

Don't miss: Ask what's in season, as you might be surprised with a plate of wild mushrooms or seasonal meats. And when you're feeling especially chilly, ask for a table near the fireplace.

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Centro Cultural Conde Duque
Attractions, Historic buildings and sites

Find free things to do at the Conde Duque cultural centre

Conde Duque

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.

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Teatro Pavón
Photo: Teatro Pavón
Theatre

Get dramatic at the Pavón Teatro Kamikaze

Embajadores

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.

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Cine Doré Filmoteca española
Photo: Roberto de Baltasar
Cinemas

See classic films at the Cine Doré Filmoteca Española

Lavapiés

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.

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Instituto Cervantes
Photo: Luis Garcia
Attractions, Libraries, archives and foundations

Learn more about the Spanish language at the Cervantes Institute

Centro

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.

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Things to do

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Going out and doing things satisfies our need to explore, to learn and to grow (and then to brag about it on social media). Our hope is that the DO List becomes not just your bucket list, but your inspiration to experience and appreciate the corners of magic in the world.

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