Culture Lover’s Guide to Madrid
From the masterpieces of the Prado to vibrant flamenco bars, Madrid is packed with cultural attractions and diversions. Here are some ways to experience the cultural side of Spain’s capital, whether it’s experiencing its great art museums or the everyday buzz of its hidden neighborhoods.
Visit Madrid’s Art Museums
Madrid’s Prado is one of Europe’s greatest art galleries and home to works by Goya, Titian, and Velazquez. Alongside the Reina Sofia Museum and Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum, it forms the “Golden Triangle”—a must-see for art lovers. Long lines are frequent at each, so consider prebooking admission and skip-the-line tickets to speed up your visits. The museums line Madrid’s Paseo del Prado, and their collections warrant an in-depth look, so consider a tour that covers all three and features a guide’s insight on their art.
Escape to Retiro Park
Unwind in Retiro Park, the locals’ favorite relaxation spot and inextricably entwined with Madrid’s culture and history. Head here independently to enjoy the woodlands, lawns, and boating lake; or book a tour to ensure you view all the must-sees, including the stunning Glass Pavilion, and hear the stories behind them.
Explore the Bernabeu
Madrid is crazy for football (soccer), and its Bernabeu stadium—home to Real Madrid—is one of Europe’s most hallowed. Experience the arena’s atmosphere and key areas on a tour, and feel the pulse of the city’s diehard football culture.
Catch Madrid’s Flamenco and Nightlife
Madrid is known for its high-qualitytablaos (flamenco bars), which showcase this exhilarating dance form. Be sure to prebook—tickets go fast—and consider tours that include transport for a hassle-free outing. Or, discover another side of Madrid’s renowned nightlife by booking a party-oriented pub or bar tour.
Take a Food Tour
A love of food and wine runs through the veins of Madrilenos, and no visitor should miss these pleasures. Make the most of the city’s tapas and wine scenes on a tasting tour around Santa Ana Square; join a paella-cooking class, or follow a guide to buzzing local food markets.
Go Beyond the Tourist Sights
Look beyond Madrid’s tourist sights to discover the daily rituals of local life and some of the city’s hidden locales. Explore the vibrant multicultural Lavapies neighborhood on a guided walk, view the gritty street art of La Neomudejar, roam the arty Literary Quarter, or experience the rhythms of everyday life in hip and happening Masalana and Chueco.