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Emily in Madrid: An Insider's Guide

Emily in Madrid: An Insider's Guide

Viator's team of travel insiders is obsessed with finding the best things to do everywhere we travel (and live). From traditional tours to once-in-a-lifetime experiences, we scour the options and find the coolest activities—which is fun for us, and helpful for you! See below for tips, insights, and hand-selected things to do from one of our travel experts.

**The Traveler:**Emily Kellner, Marketing Copywriter 

Describe your time in Madrid.

I lived there for two years and worked as an English teacher, blogger, and translator.

What are three things a first-time visitor can't miss?

1. The art.

Madrid boasts three major museums that make up the so-called Art Triangle: the Prado, the Reina Sofia, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza. If you only have time for one, I'd pick The Prado, the largest of the three and an impressive tribute to Spanish art through the ages. The city also has many smaller collections worth visiting, but don't make the same mistake I once did: Museo del Jamón is a restaurant chain, not a ham museum.

2. The food.

Eating and drinking are central to Spanish culture, and for good reason: the cuisine is delicious. My favorite of the many food markets is the Chueca district's Mercado de San Antón, which combines fresh produce stalls and food court-style tapas vendors with a trendy sit-down restaurant and a popular rooftop bar. Beyond the markets, you'll definitely want to eat lots of tapas, and I strongly recommend booking a tour so you can find the best spots and easily navigate Spanish bar culture.

3. The history.

Whenever a friend visited me in Madrid, I sent them on a walking tour while I was at work. Every time, they came back gushing about the city's amazing history, from 400-year-old Plaza Mayor to the sprawling Royal Palace. Whether you explore by bus, Segway, or on foot, you'll definitely appreciate the sites more with insights from a guide.

What is the best day trip destination from Madrid?

Madrid is a unique mix of old and new, but if you want a little more of the old, visit Toledo. In less than an hour, you can be transported from the capital to the winding cobblestone streets of medieval Toledo. The city is a well-preserved peek into Spain's multicultural past, complete with a 12th-century synagogue, a Gothic cathedral, and a fortress with 10th-century Moorish roots. You could easily spend a whole day there (be sure to try the famous marzipan!), or combine it with nearby destinations such as Segovia, El Escorial, and Valley of the Fallen.

What's the best Insider Tip you can offer future visitors to Madrid?

Make time for Malasaña, my former stomping grounds. In the late '70s and early '80s, the neighborhood was home to the Movida movement, a countercultural "coming out" of Madrid's youth after the repressive Franco era ended. With its bohemian vibe and quirky bars and boutiques, it's a great place to wander, shop, or grab a drink.

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9 Tours and Activities

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Toledo and Segovia Tour with Alcazar Entrance from Madrid

Toledo and Segovia Tour with Alcazar Entrance from Madrid

star-4.5
1094
Immerse yourself in the medieval majesty of Toledo, a UNESCO-listed site replete with historical monuments, and Segovia on a full-day tour from Madrid. With a knowledgeable guide, witness the arresting landmarks of each city while discovering fascinating historical facts. Admire the Primada Cathedral in Toledo, marvel at the ancient aqueduct and regal Alcazar in Segovia, and gain valuable insight into the history and culture of each city from your expert guide. Enjoy the convenience of comfortable round-trip transportation on this tour.
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  • 11 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$59.00
From
$59.00
Taking safety measures

Madrid Tapas and Wine Tasting Tour

Madrid Tapas and Wine Tasting Tour

star-5
884
Discover Madrid’s vibrant culinary scene on a delicious tapas tour. Stroll through the evening-lit streets with a guide and sample delicious tapas dishes at popular restaurants while learning about the local ingredients. Treat your palette to delicious Spanish wines complemented by items like Iberian ham, salted cod, rich chickpea stew and more. To keep this experience intimate, group size is limited to 12 people.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$88.87
From
$88.87
Taking safety measures

Royal Palace of Madrid Early Access in a Small Group

Royal Palace of Madrid Early Access in a Small Group

star-4.5
240
Beat the crowds with this tour of the Royal Palace of Madrid before public opening hours. Breeze in and follow your guide through parts of the "Palacio de Oriente" that most visitors don't get to see. Marvel at the collection of weapons in the Royal Armory, take in the Throne Room, and more. Along the way, learn about the history of the Spanish royal family through your guide's engaging narrative.
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  • 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$34.00
From
$34.00
Taking safety measures

Madrid Tapas Night Walking Tour

Madrid Tapas Night Walking Tour

star-5
1468
Enjoy Spain's legendary nightlife and mouth-watering tapas culture during this small-group walking tour in Madrid. Follow your expert foodie guide as you trace the typical evening rituals of your average Madrileno, stopping along Madrid's hard-to-find side streets for snacking at some of the city's incredible array of tapas bars. Come away from your evening with a renewed appreciation for the lively people and tantalizing food and drink on offer in the Spanish capital. This small-group walking tour, limited to just 10 guests, also includes visits to multiple bars, a drink and tapas at the first bar and language assistance and advice when ordering.
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$69.86
From
$69.86
Taking safety measures

Madrid City Sightseeing and Skip the Line Royal Palace Guided Tour

Madrid City Sightseeing and Skip the Line Royal Palace Guided Tour

star-3.5
239
Immerse yourself in Madrid's history as you explore the city's most important sites and Royal Palace. Get the story behind the city's architectural history, following its evolution from "Moorish Madrid" into the Habsburg and Bourbon periods. Then skip the long lines and visit the Spanish Royal Palace, seeing the royal collections and admiring its Baroque details. This Madrid sightseeing tour includes all entrance fees
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$54.51
From
$54.51
Taking safety measures

Prado Museum with Reina Sofia Museum Guided Tour
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out

Prado Museum with Reina Sofia Museum Guided Tour

star-4
196
The Prado Museum is one of Madrid’s top cultural attractions and draws crowds that pay testament to its popularity. Admire highlights by the likes of El Greco, Bosch, and Velazquez with your guide. You will visit Reina Sofia, home to masterpieces by Picasso and Dali.
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$58.50
From
$58.50
Taking safety measures

Old Town Madrid Gourmet Tapas and Wine Tasting Walking Tour

Old Town Madrid Gourmet Tapas and Wine Tasting Walking Tour

star-5
144
Indulge your taste buds on this gourmet walking tour of Madrid’s old town. Follow your guide, a local food and wine expert, to some of the best and most atmospheric eateries in the city center, including an 18th-century mansion and a historic tavern. Taste authentic tapas and regional specialties like Iberian ham, valdeon cheese and the Spanish omelette, accompanied by fine Spanish wines that are all rated between 95 and 100 points. It’s a great way to learn to eat like a true Madrileño!
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  • 2 to 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$78.39
From
$78.39

Private Tour: Reina Sofia Museum with Skip-the-Line Access

Private Tour: Reina Sofia Museum with Skip-the-Line Access

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1
Be inspired by artists like Picasso, Joan Miró and Dalí as you browse one of Madrid’s most impressive collections of modern art at the Reina Sofía Museum. This 1.5-hour private tour includes skip-the-line entrance, so you can dodge the queues and make the most of your time with your private guide. Learn about Spain’s most important 20th-century artists, discover local artists like Juan Gris and see Picasso’s masterpiece Guernica.
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  • 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$174.78
Price varies by group size
From
$174.78
Price varies by group size
Taking safety measures

Madrid Guided Private Tour: Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza or Reina Sofia Museum

Madrid Guided Private Tour: Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza or Reina Sofia Museum

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2
Add some culture to your Madrid visit during this 3-hour guided private tour of one of the Spanish capital’s legendary art museums. Pick between the world-famous Prado, the modern-focused Reina Sofia or the eclectic Thyssen-Bornemisza, learning to about the masterworks of iconic Spanish greats like El Greco, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Joan Miro and many more. Best of all, your itinerary is customizable, allowing you to focus on the paintings and periods that most suit your interests. Your private guide and admission to one museum are included.
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  • 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$188.41
Price varies by group size
From
$188.41
Price varies by group size
Taking safety measures