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Things to do in Madrid
Photograph: Time Out Madrid

The 49 best things to do in Madrid

From cutting-edge culture to chocolate-dipped churros: we've got everything you need to know to plan the perfect trip to Madrid

Written by
Jan Fleischer
,
Marta Bac
&
A. Martín Larios
Contributor
Rosemary Waugh
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AUGUST 2021: Time Out’s annual DO List showcases the biggest, brightest and best things to do in the world’s greatest cities. When putting together this one, we kept in mind the restrictions that have been in place over the past 18 months, and the ones which are still present. We’ve tried to keep everything as up-to-date as possible, but we still recommend checking websites and calling ahead before visiting specific venues and attractions. In many cases, you’ll find that safety measures are still in place, like restricted visitor numbers, social distancing rules and mask-wearing. But don’t let any of that put you off – there’s still plenty of opportunities to have all the fun in the Spanish capital.

Answering the question ‘What should I do in Madrid?’ is tough – and not because it’s hard to find activities to occupy a passing-through traveller, a repeat tourist or an ever-curious local. Quite the opposite, in fact. The Spanish capital is a rare beast: a thriving city packed with achingly cool culture and nightlife that’s also wonderfully friendly. Make like the naturalised Madrileños and spend your days circling the latest art exhibition and your nights dining at one of our new favourite restaurants. And when the purse is a little more empty towards the end of the month, it’s time to make good use of all the excellent free things to do and a few of the city’s hidden gems. Have fun!

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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

Spend hours in the Prado Museum
  • Museums
  • Art and design
  • Retiro

What is it? Spain’s world-famous museum of art

Why go? Acquaint yourself with some of the best artists to have ever worked in Spain, plus a huge number of other masters from across Europe. El Greco, Goya and Velázquez are all on the must-see list, including the latter’s stunning 'Las Meninas'. Frankly, that would be enough to satisfy most artistic appetites for an entire week, but if you’ve got the stamina, it’s also well-worth seeing Dürer's extraordinary 1498 'Self-Portrait' and the unparalleled collection of paintings by Hieronymus Bosch and… and… and… the list goes on, really. This is the big daddy of all the art galleries in the city and, in our opinion, it’s unmissable.

Don't miss: All of the above.

Have fun and relax in El Retiro Park
  • Things to do

What is it? Madrid’s green lung (and heart).

Why go? Unlike Barcelona, Madrid can’t offer a quick trip to the city beach as an alternative to city life. But what it lacks in sand it makes up for in cool, green spaces and beautiful rose gardens. Dating back to the time of Queen Isabela I and King Ferdinand, El Retiro Park is the place to be for exercise (dogs and humans), sunbathing, strolling and general all-out relaxing. If you’re never one to stop sightseeing, check out the monument to Alfonso XII or the Casón del Buen Retiro, a large and very beautiful ballroom. Or, if you prefer some downtime, wander slowly down the pathways, stopping only to admire a fountain or two.

Don't miss: El Retiro might feel like heaven on a hot day, but it’s actually home to Ángel Caído, a famous statue dedicated to el diablo.

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  • Museums
  • Lavapi√©s

What is it? The city’s world-class contemporary and modern art museum.

Why go? Some paintings are so good they’re worth getting on a plane for just to see once. Others, not so much (cf. George Stubbs’ horse in the National Gallery of London). Pablo Picasso’s ‘Guernica’ is very, very much in the former category. This stunning anti-war image is even better when seen in the flesh, which is what you can do at the Reina Sofia. Be warned: it’s incredibly moving. However, once you’ve paid that masterpiece suitable homage, we also thoroughly recommend checking out the wider permanent collection and the top-notch temporary exhibitions found at this former hospital.

Don't miss: Go for ‘Guernica’ and stay for ‘Guernica’, along with many of the excellent temporary exhibitions on throughout the year.

Enjoy art and markets at Matadero Madrid
  • Art
  • Legazpi

What is it? A buzzing modern cultural centre in a former slaughterhouse.

Why go? Matadero Madrid started life as an abattoir before being left empty and abandoned for many years. In 2007, however, the Neo-Mudejar building was transformed into a multidisciplinary arts space. Keep an eye on their ever-changing programme and catch plays, films, markets and live music, all at one venue.

Don't miss: The weekend markets are always a hit. We also like to visit their free exhibitions.

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  • Museums
  • Madrid

What is it? A super fun museum dedicated to optical illusions which will make you feel like a little kid again.

Why go? Since 2020, the Museum of Illusions has been one of the best-loved visitor attractions in Madrid. Locals and tourists adore its vast array of weird and wonderful mind-bending tricks, from the Rubin vase to the 3D stereogram and onto some lesser-known and very strange new ones. If you’ve got little ones, we guarantee they will love it here.

Don’t miss: Capture your favourite tricks on your phone camera and see if your friends can also figure them out.

  • Restaurants
  • Madrid

What is it? Chef Dani García’s latest restaurant in the city, located on the rooftop of the luxury Four Seasons Hotel Madrid.

Why go? Accessible luxury is what you get with this latest from this latest leap from a chef who decided to leave behind his glittering Michelin stars to democratize gastronomy. Enjoy lavish views and a relaxed ambience, with interior design by the prestigious Swedish studio Martin Brudnizki, throughout a meal that balances sophistication with an informality that usually doesn’t go hand in hand with haute cuisine.    

Don’t miss: The cheflegendary dishes won’t disappoint, including the nitro tomato with green gazpacho and shrimp tartare.

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  • Things to do
  • Madrid

What is it? A type of experiential art gallery where you can touch, feel and of course, snap photos of everything around you.

Why go? To take a dip into a pool of blue balls, explore a room with infinite mirrors, enjoy another full of coloured confetti, visit another with luminescent neon lights, and even pop into one with pink bubbles. All of these abstract spaces are set up to spark your imagination, and your skill with your camera lens (or smartphone) takes care of the rest.

Don’t miss: You can also purchase tickets as gifts for others to enjoy the immersive experience.

Book a table (if you can) in one of Madrid’s new Italian restaurants
Bel Mondo

8. Book a table (if you can) in one of Madrid‚Äôs new Italian restaurants

What is it? Fokacha and Bel Mondo are the latest openings in the world of Italian gastronomy in Madrid, each one with its own style.

Why go? Fokacha comes to us from César Martín and the Lakasa team, which is already more than enough reason for you to reserve a table as soon as possible. The Italian signature cuisine here takes the form of porchetta pizzas, vitello tonnato, lampredotto ... the menu features the greatest hits of the transalpine country brought to you with experience and creativity. For its part, Bel Mondo, at 900 square metres, is one of the biggies to open in 2020, and the debut of restaurant group Big Mamma in Madrid. There’s a fireplace, an open kitchen, home-made dishes and a decor that will keep you going on Instagram for weeks.

Don’t miss: If you’re a true lover of Italian cuisine who just can’t get enough, definitely sink your teeth into the pizzas at the spectacular MO de Movimiento

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  • Things to do
  • 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.

  • Things to do
  • Markets and fairs
  • Chamber√≠

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.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Caf√© bars
  • Sol
  • price 1 of 4

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.

  • Museums
  • Centro

What is it? A collection of 775 paintings, including ones by Van Gogh, Caravaggio, Hopper and more.

Why go? This bumper collection of artworks was once the private collection of Baron Hans-Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza. Luckily for the city of Madrid and the Spanish government (who signed a purchase agreement for all of it in 1993), old Thyssen-Bornemisza had pretty good taste. See a mixture of big-name Europeans and 20th-century American artists in one of the city’s slightly less well-known galleries.

Don't miss: 'Woman in Bath' by Roy Lichtenstein is an iconic pop art image that’s lost none of its original charm.

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Try the raciest desserts in town
Photograph: La Co√Īer√≠a

13. Try the raciest desserts in town

What is it? Waffles in the form of genitalia? Yep, that’s the latest craze in Chueca.

Why go? La Pollería, a small spot in the middle of the Chueca neighbourhood, had to move almost as soon as it set up in order to supply the demand from customers queuing up to try their waffles in the shape of penises. They were so successful that they came up with a female version at La Coñería, and were greeted with similar success. What’s next for them? We can’t wait to find out.

Don’t miss: Maybe they’re not the most gourmet waffles in the world, but your Instagram followers will be suitably scandalized.

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • 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.

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Eat well and swing dance at the San Fernando Market
  • Shopping
  • Markets and fairs
  • Lavapi√©s

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.

Sip a cocktail at Salm√≥n Gur√ļ
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • 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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  • Attractions
  • Historic buildings and sites
  • Arg√ľelles

What is it? The best – and only - Egyptian temple in Spain.

Why go? You don’t have to travel to Cairo to see Ancient Egyptian artefacts. Strangely enough, Madrid has one too. The Templo de Debod dates back more than 2,200 years and honours the gods Amun and Isis. But wait, the history boys all shout, when did the Egyptians come to Madrid to build a temple? Well, they didn’t. But in 1968 the Egyptian government sent each and every historic brick of this place to Spain as a thank you for helping to preserve monuments that could have been destroyed by the Aswan Dam. Which, in a way, is almost a cool a story as if it had been in Madrid for thousands of years.

Don't miss: Time your trip to the viewpoint perfectly so you can snap the sunset on your phone.

  • Nightlife
  • Clubs
  • 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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  • Attractions
  • Historic buildings and sites
  • Centro

What is it? A cultural centre in a stunning building.

Why go? The Círculo de Bellas Artes is the place to be if you love high-quality culture including concerts, plays and a changing schedule of exhibitions. Or, it’s the place to be if you want to take in beautiful vistas across Madrid. Personally, we love doing a bit of both, while making sure never to leave the building without at least a quick trip up to the rooftop terrace.

Don't miss: Those rooftop views never get old.

  • Theatre
  • 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.

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Don't miss free art shows at La Casa Encendida
  • Museums
  • Lavapi√©s

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.

Visit City Hall and the vista point at CentroCentro
  • Museums
  • Centro

What is it? One of Madrid’s most interesting buildings where you’ll discover a fascinating array of cultural and social events.

Why go? Madrid’s City Hall (the Ayuntamiento de Madrid) is found along the south side of Cibeles Square – and it's hard to miss. This striking building was once the Palacio de Telecomunicaciones and is now a great place to see interesting exhibitions on city life, live music and the handiwork of contemporary artists.

Don't miss: If you want to flood your own Instagram feed with beautiful views, head to Terraza Cibeles on the sixth floor and Mirador Madrid on the eighth.

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Stop by the stalls at the Antón Martín Market
  • Shopping
  • Corner shops
  • Lavapi√©s

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.

  • Attractions
  • 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.

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Take in quality exhibitions at the CaixaForum
  • Art
  • 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.

Spend a day with the kids at Espacio Abierto
  • Kids
  • 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.

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Discover the best urban art at La Tabacalera
  • Museums
  • Lavapi√©s

What is it? Once a tobacco factory, this indie-friendly cultural centre is now an uber-cool destination

Why go? Before it became the innovative cultural hub it is today, La Tabacalera was a large urban factory producing tobacco. It’s now a forward-thinking, multipurpose space that combines exhibitions and talks with catering to its local community. Go here if you’re if you like to keep your finger on the pulse of current affairs and want to discover new names in contemporary art.

Don't miss: Get your geek on (in a good way) with talks on everything from feminism to the economy, and more.

  • Hotels
  • Hostels
  • 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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Admire artworks at the Mapfre Foundation
  • Museums
  • 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.

  • Attractions
  • Towers and viewpoints
  • 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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  • Cinemas
  • 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.

  • Theatre

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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  • Attractions

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.

  • Art
  • Alonso Mart√≠nez

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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Admire design at the Official College of Architects
  • Things to do
  • 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.

Discover trailblazing art among the rails at La Neomudéjar
  • Art
  • Performance art
  • Pac√≠fico

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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Thrill your senses over a meal at DSTAgE
  • Restaurants
  • Haute cuisine
  • 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.

  • Art
  • 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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  • Theatre
  • 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.

Revisit your childhood at the Teatro Circo Price
  • Theatre
  • Circuses
  • 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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Find the Jaume Plensa statue at the Masaveu Foundation
  • Art
  • 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.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Caf√© bars
  • Malasa√Īa
  • price 2 of 4

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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  • Shopping
  • Delis
  • 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.

Attend a free workshop at the Telefónica Foundation Space
  • Art
  • Malasa√Īa

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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  • Restaurants
  • Barbecue

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.

Find free things to do at the Conde Duque cultural centre
  • Attractions
  • Historic buildings and sites
  • 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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  • Theatre
  • 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.

  • Cinemas
  • Lavapi√©s

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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  • Attractions
  • Libraries, archives and foundations
  • 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.

More great things to do across the globe

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