A city of contrasts, where classic monuments meet a modern lifestyle. From royal palaces to famous museums and vibrant neighbourhoods, Madrid is the perfect destination for a city break. Sample Spanish cuisine and immerse yourself in the cultural hustle and bustle. Want to discover the Spanish capital’s authentic side? Find out the five unmissable spots as recommended by Madrid residents and experience the local way of life!

Why visit Madrid?

The Spanish capital guarantees good weather, delicious food and interesting monuments. So what is Madrid famous for? The list of must-visit sights includes the Royal Palace and the Prado Museum. Sports enthusiasts will also enjoy visiting Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid’s football stadiums. The most popular places in the city are Puerta del Sol and Plaza Mayor – typical tourist squares filled with restaurants where you can feast until late at night. However, as is often the case, places that are popular with tourists do not necessarily offer the best quality, so do your research.

Plaza de Mayor, Madrid
Plaza de Mayor, Madrid © iStock

1. Eat where the locals eat

Wondering where’s the best place to enjoy a leisurely breakfast in Madrid? Try a typical local suggestion and start your morning the sweet way – with churros dipped in thick, warm chocolate. The best of this delicious treat can be found at Chocolatería de San Ginés, near Puerta del Sol. Prefer a quick coffee? You’ll find the most aromatic blends, brewed from the finest beans at Toma Café. Enjoy your cup of joe with a light breakfast of toast with a selection of toppings.

Where to eat tapas in Madrid?

Onto lunch, and you’ll find the locals at El Tigre. The decor may not be five-star, but the food is plentiful, tasty and cheap – perfect for visitors on a budget. In general, look for eateries with long queues of Madridians locals outside for the best indicator of quality and good service. This is certainly the case for the tapas bars on Ponzano Street in the Chamberi neighbourhood.

Tapas on the table
Tapas on the table © shutterstock

Madrid’s best restaurants

Again, we say eat where the locals eat. The restaurants in Plaza Mayor and Puerta de Sol cater to large groups of tourists, so are often best avoided . Traditional Spanish cuisine, made with the best quality ingredients, can be found at Sobrino de Botín. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, it is the world’s oldest restaurant, having been in operation since 1725. This longevity translates to excellent quality, particularly for the signature dishes of suckling pig and lamb. For a delicious chickpea stew, try La Bola in the city centre, while Casa Lucio in the La Latina neighbourhood serves tasty traditional cuisine.

2. Feel the atmosphere of the city at the local market!

If you enjoy wandering stalls and sampling local delicacies, follow in the footsteps of Madridians with a trip to one of the city’s excellent markets. Here are our two favourites for fresh produce and traditional dishes, along with a flea market for antique lovers.

Mercado de La Paz

In operation since 1882, this market is one of Madrid’s most popular places. The building’s interior combines traditional and modern design, creating a place that has a unique atmosphere all of its own. You can buy anything here – fruit, vegetables, fish or meat. And the market is also moving with the times, offering online shopping for those who can’t browse the stalls in person.

Mercado de Antón Martín

This three-storey building houses a variety of stalls selling fish, meat, vegetables and fruit. Here you will find traditional flavours, as well as street food and international cuisine. Take a break from shopping to relax in one of the cafes or, for more active pursuits, head up one floor to the on-site dance school!

El Rastro Flea Market

There’s more to your visit than just food! For unique keepsakes with soul, be sure to visit the El Rastro flea market, which opens every Sunday and during public holidays. The streets of La Latina fill with stalls selling clothes, ceramics, art and even electronics. This is the ultimate spot to pick up some authentic and original Madrid souvenirs! And speaking of art, it’s time to move on to our next suggestion…

Street art in La Latina disctrict, Madrid
Street art in La Latina disctrict, Madrid © Zhiyuan Sun na unsplash

3. Free art on the streets of Madrid

If you’re visiting on a budget and are wondering what you can do for free in Madrid, you’ll be pleased to hear that the city has a vibrant arts scene to explore free of charge. Steer clear of the usual museums and art galleries, and instead enjoy Madrid’s more unusual attractions that will steal the hearts of cinephiles and street art lovers, while also offering a great opportunity to chat and have fun with the locals.

La Tabacalera

Located in the Lavapiés neighbourhood, this old tobacco factory is enjoying a second lease of life. The 18th-century building was originally earmarked for restoration, but was handed over to the local residents. Its walls are now adorned with graffiti art, adding an interesting contemporary twist to the original unrestored architecture. Various types of free art workshops, debates and exhibitions are organised here and it is one of the city’s most interesting local hangouts.

Plaza Dos de Mayo in Malasana district
Plaza Dos de Mayo in Malasana district © iStock

Cine Dore and Sala Equis

The orange façade of the Cine Doré building stands out from a distance. Inside is a small cinema screening old classics and modern independent films. The cinema’s programme changes monthly and tickets cost just a few euros, making it a great spot to visit when the weather makes it difficult to explore Madrid. Sala Equisis. a bar housed within a former adult cinema. Sitting on comfortable deck chairs and sipping a beer, you can experience a film, an acoustic concert or a theatre performance.


Madrid’s art district, full of students and hipsters, is full of street art, galleries and vintage shops where you can find preloved gems.Similar to La Latina, it’s also the perfect destination for a night out.

View from the Cerro del Tio Pio
View from the Cerro del Tio Pio © iStock

4. See the city from a different perspective

Cerro del Tío Pío

The people of Madrid love to admire the city’s panorama at sunset. To do this, they take a walk south to the Puente de Vallecas neighbourhood. The hill inCerro del Tío Pío Park offers Madrid’s best vantage point, along with sports facilities and cycle paths.

Bary na dachu

Madrid’s many trendy rooftop bars also offer great views of the city . The most popular are those that overlook the Gran Vía, such as the Circulo de Bellas Artes. For something more intimate, head to Atico 11. Another of Madrid’s rooftop bars popular with locals is Azotea Forus Barceló.

Cable car

An interesting Madridian attraction is its funicular railway, which runs between Rosales and Casa de Campo stations. The journey takes about 11 minutes in six-person carriages. Children under the age of four travel free.

Buy tickets for Madrid attractions before you travel!

5. Take the kids to the park!

Casa de Campo and El Retiro

These are the Madrid’s most popular parks and the ideal spot in which to stretch your legs and let little ones roam free. Casa de Campo is home to an amusement park and a zoo and, depsite the large numbers of tourists here, it’s also a popular spot for locals. Meanwhile, El Retiro hosts charming puppet shows every weekend and you can also rent bicycles or take a boat ride on the park’s lake.

Capricho Park and Dehesa de la Villa Park

Capricho Park is a peaceful oasis just outside the city, first created in the 18th century. During your walk you can admire English, Italian and French-style gardens along with an unusual attraction. The park contains a bunker dating back to the Spanish Civil War and it’s well worth taking a look inside! Dehesa de la Villa Park is also located a few kilometres from the centre of Madrid and is an ideal option for lovers of peace, space and dense woodland. It is a good place to find your calm after a busy day sightseeing in Madrid.

Check flights and accommodation in Madrid



Looking for a specific place?