How to Tackle Madrid as a First Timer
Visitors to Madrid have plenty to explore, from numerous public plazas and parks to the city’s renowned art museums. Whether you’re going to soak up the culture or the famous Spanish sunshine, here are our traveler-approved tips for your first experience in the capital of Spain.
Go on a Sightseeing Excursion
Madrid is a big city, so to get the lay of the land, a comprehensive sightseeing tour is the way to go. Hop-on hop-off bus tours and private city tours offer the most flexibility, or opt for a bike tour to take full advantage of a warm day.
Skip the Lines
Marvel at Spain’s most celebrated works of art at museums such as the Prado (Museo del Prado) and the Reina Sofia (Museo Reina Sofía). Purchase your tickets online in advance to skip the entry lines, or make the most of your visit with a docent-led tour.
Wander Toledo for the Day
Stroll medieval streets just a short ride from Madrid, in the city of Toledo. If you’re a history fan, check out the 13th-century cathedral and the Synagogue of Santa Maria la Blanca (Sinagoga de Santa María la Blanca). Enjoy the convenience of a half- or full-day tour, with round-trip transportation included.
Relax in the Park
Spend the day outdoors in Retiro Park (Parque del Retiro). Madrid’s beloved public space is known for its art, well-tended walkways, and beautiful rose garden. Cruise the lake in a rowboat, or zip around on a bike or Segway tour to see more of the park in less time.
Visit the Royal Palace
From its ornate rococo styling to its carefully curated gardens, the Royal Palace of Madrid (Palacio Real de Madrid) is one of the city’s top attractions. Don’t miss the throne room and the original ceiling frescoes. Book an early-access tour to avoid the crowds, and stop by the nearby Sabatini Gardens (Jardines de Sabatini) for a castle photo op.
Taste Local Food and Wine
Indulge your taste buds with a Spanish culinary experience. Head out into the countryside for a vineyard tour, or stay in Madrid, with its countless wine bars. Consider a wine tasting with a sommelier, a market tour, or a tapas tasting.