Europe Travel Advice

You Gotta Do This: Madrid, Spain

After taking several trips to Madrid, I’ve been able to narrow down some of my favourite things that I can never get sick of. This city is filled with history, great food, and culture, so although these are some of my must-do things, this definitely isn’t an only-do list. Madrid has a lot to offer, and the people in this city are some of the friendliest you’ll meet. Madrid definitely holds a special place in my heart, so here are some of my must-do things for your first (or next) visit.

Have a picnic at Retiro Park

Retiro Park is the largest park in the city of Madrid and is a great place for a little bit of peacefulness from the city chaos. Pack a picnic with a nice bottle of wine, and find the ultimate spot to lay back and enjoy nature in the middle of the city. There are also several events and activities that happen in this park. From May to October you can catch free concerts every Sunday afternoon, around the lake you’ll find puppet show performances, street performers and fortune tellers. You can also rent a rowboat and paddle around the lake, or take a horse-drawn carriage through the park.

Retiro Park

Enjoy free tapas as you sip sangria

One of the best parts about Spain is that you can bar hop around and order a few glasses of sangria, and you’ll get free food. Yes, you heard me correctly. In most countries you’ll be lucky if you get a little bowl of bar nuts, but in Spain, they put bar nuts to shame with the plates and plates of tapas you’ll get when you order a simple drink! What more could you need?


Shop till you drop on Gran Via

Gran Via is wicked for nightlife, but during the day it is the place to be for shopaholics. Located in central Madrid, this street is lined with all the stores and shops you can possible need. There is lots to see and do on Gran Via, so even if you don’t plan on thinning out your wallet, make sure to take a stroll down this street at some point.

Gran Via

 Eat way too much ham at the Museo del Jamon

If there is one thing you can’t leave Spain without trying, it’s their ham. They seriously love ham in this country. You’ll find ham everywhere, and on everything, but once you give it a taste you’ll know why.  Museo del Jamon is a chain that is scattered throughout Madrid and has been around since the late 70’s. When you first stumble across this place you’ll probably think, “Wow they love ham so much they have a museum dedicated to it?” but the truth is, this is one of the greatest spots to pop in, grab a sandwich to go, and indulge in the delicious Spanish ham.

Museo del Jamon

Act like royalty at the Royal Palace

The Royal Palace in Madrid is the official residence of the Spanish royal family but it is currently only used for state ceremonies, instead the royal family chooses to live in another palace outside of Madrid (apparently this palace isn’t good enough for them), but that doesn’t mean this isn’t a must-do stop on your list. Constructed started on this palace in 1738 and even if you aren’t interested in touring the Royal Palace, just seeing the outside of it will leave you in awe.

The Royal Palace Madrid
People watch in Plaza Mayor

You can’t leave a city without people watching at least once, and Plaza Mayor is the spot in Madrid to do just that. This plaza was built in the late 1500’s and is the most central plaza in Madrid. The plaza is home to several cafes, restaurants, shops, and also some of the best (and most interesting) street performers in the city.

Cheer on Real Madrid in a game of football

Whether you are a football (soccer) fan or not, catching a European professional football match isn’t like a football game you’ll experience anywhere else. The Spanish LOVE their football, and Real Madrid is obviously the team to cheer for when visiting the city. Tickets usually start around 30 euros a game, and can be purchased the day of the event, provided it’s not a big tournament, or they aren’t playing a very popular team. The atmosphere outside and inside the stadium is one that will knock your socks off.

Real Madrid

What are some of your must-do’s in Madrid? Share below in the comments! 

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  • Reply
    May 18, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    Great tips for Madrid! We flew into Madrid without any planning and felt so overwhelmed by the abundance of things to do that we just left on an impromptu road trip! I will bookmark this for our new visit. I still feel bad that we did nothing while there!

  • Reply
    Holly @bravecheesehead
    May 18, 2015 at 3:27 pm

    I loved Retiro Park! We rented those paddle boats, which was super fun. I forget what it’s called, but there’s a section of the park that reminded me so much of the Red Queen’s gardens in Alice in Wonderland. All of the shrubbery was impeccably shaped like whimsical creatures and designs. So much fun!

  • Reply
    kanika kalia
    May 19, 2015 at 9:14 pm

    Cheering real Madrid… wow seems so much fun.. Can feel the energy from your picture 🙂

  • Reply
    May 27, 2015 at 1:21 am

    We spent a week in Madrid with our family of six and had so much fun–day trips to Toledo and El Escorial…Retiro Park and the Royal Palace…as well as the Bull-fighting ring and the Reina Sofia modern art museum. You can see our photos at

    • Reply
      May 27, 2015 at 11:14 am

      Thanks so much for sharing Tami! Sounds and looks like an amazing trip.

  • Reply
    June 16, 2015 at 3:05 am

    I’ll be going to Madrid in the fall. I’ll definitely keep things in mind for things to do.

    • Reply
      June 16, 2015 at 12:29 pm

      That’s great Alouise! It’s an amazing city, I’m sure you’ll love it!

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