If you can visit only one church in Madrid, go with the Basilica de San Francisco El Grande.The church, which dates from the 18th century, was built on the remains of a monastery founded by St. Francis. This Top 10 Madrid landmark contains sublime treasures such as paintings from Calleja, Velazquez, Zurbaran, and Goya, walls and ceilings decorated with breathtaking 19th century frescoes, and the masterpiece—a 33-meter-wide dome, more imposing that the Dome of Invalides.
Okay, bullfighting is not for everyone, so charging over to see the Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas sans bulls is definitely worth the effort! This is Top 10 Madrid landmark is a world famous bullring located in the suburb of Guindalera with a capacity of 25,000 visitors. Shade is a luxury at a bullring, so expect to pay more for “shade” tickets. Make sure to stuff yourself with delicious Spanish street food, sold both outside and inside the bullring. The best time to experience bullfighting in Madrid is during the months of May and June, as the San Isidro Fiesta will be taking place, transforming the Plaza de la Ventas into a carnival rivaling Mardi Gras in New Orleans! Open daily 10 AM - 6:30 PM.
Behold! An underground burrow of romance and luxury awaits, tired and achy travelers! Free your mind while you soak your body in this traditional Arabic bathhouse—truly a unique Top 10 Madrid experience! What’s on the menu for you? Sample an explosion of the senses when you step into the steamy and aromatic cellar, lit by flickering candles, and filled with the sounds of gently rushing waterfalls. So, best leave your parents at home! Other services include massages and herbal baths. Prices for services start at €31. Students get a 20% off discount! Open daily 10 AM - 10 PM.
Tired of the concrete jungle? Ready to ditch the crowds? Retiro Park is the perfect place to make your escape to! Sit down and take in the gorgeous scenery and maybe do a little people-watching while you’re at it—just remember that relaxation is the name of the game. At Retiro, which literally means, “The Park of the Pleasant Retreat,” you’ll find hiking, paddle boating, historical statues, the beautiful Crystal Palace, and more all waiting for you to enjoy at a leisurely pace at this Top 10 Madrid attraction.
Easeling its way onto our Top Ten Madrid attractions is the Reina Sofia Museum. You will be delighted as you make your way through this 5-story museum—which happens to be home to Picasso’s magnum opus, Guernica, among other famous works. Miro and Dali are included in the impressive list of famous and infamous artists. With a collection of artwork spanning the 20th century, this is a Madrid must-visit! Open daily, 10 AM – 9 PM.
The Royal Palace of Madrid is the official residence of the reigning Spanish Royal Family—but they don’t actually live there. Basically, this palace acts as the ‘Royal Entertaining Room’. That’s right; the entire place is used almost exclusively to host important events. With nearly 2,800 rooms, this enormous building is the largest in Madrid and certainly among the most beautiful. Explore the art, armory, gardens, and more... The Royal Palace is most definitely a crown jewel on our Top 10 Madrid attractions! Usually open daily 10 AM – 8 PM, but be sure to check their calendar before you go!
Plaza de Cibeles is undoubtedly the most iconic symbol of the city of Madrid and you guessed it—a must-see! It is located at the intersection of Paseo de Recoletos, Paseo del Prado, and Calle Alcala, which forms the boundary between the 3 districts of Salamanca, Retiro, and Center. The square, dominated by the famous eponymous fountain, is flanked by some of the most representative and imposing buildings of Madrid: Palacio de Cibeles, Palacio de Linares, Palacio de Buena Vista, and the Bank of Spain. Fun fact: The Plaza de Cibeles is not unique. Its twin sister resides in Mexico boasting an exact replica of the Cibeles Fountain located in Madrid. This was a gift from the community of Spanish residents in Mexico as a gesture of friendship between the two countries.
Rumor has it that the Spanish queen, Maria Isabel De Braganza, felt a little jealous after visiting the Louvre Museum in Paris. She decided a rivaling museum showcasing an enormous collection of Spanish artwork was needed for her own country. To her credit, this world-class Top 10 Madrid museum has no problem standing among its peers such as The Louvre and The Acropolis museums. Great Spanish artists such as Velazquez, Goya, and El Greco are among the masters whose pieces are displayed here. If you are an art enthusiast, put this on your list of ‘absolutely musts’ for Madrid. Top 10 Tip: Arrive early, especially on the “free days.” Closed Mondays. Otherwise, open 10 AM - 8 PM.
Imagine if Paris’ Latin Quarters and New Orleans’ Frenchmen Street had a Spanish baby—that’s La Latina! Making its way onto our Top Ten Madrid attractions, La Latina is a cluster of narrow medieval streets packed with street vendors, upscale tapas and wine bars, spontaneous picnics, and even drum circles! Remember that scene from The Hunchback of Notre Dame where the sidekick goat is dancing to Esmeralda’s tambourine? You can actually witness a similar scene in real life at La Latina!
Ah, the history this square has seen! Step back in time with a visit to Madrid’s grandest Main Square since the 16th century! Its red-colored blind arcades and worn cobblestones have witnessed history’s most outlandish: from the auto-de-fés rituals of public penance, corridas (bull fights), to royal weddings. Meander around Plaza Mayor, indulging in a perfect mélange of centuries-old Spanish architecture, roguish historical tales, and vibrant street life and you’ll understand how this plaza landed at the pinnacle of our Top 10 Madrid attractions.