Local’s Guide to The Best of Madrid
Arts & Culture
Food & Wine
Madrid is full of life, with its streets always buzzing and the laughter flowing throughout. I've spent lots of time wandering the streets of Madrid while living here and taking a Spanish immersion course. The Madrileños are kind and welcoming, and their attitude toward life is contagious. Madrid is more of a local city as there aren't as many touristy attractions as in a city like Barcelona. But the longer you are in Madrid, the more it will pull you in as you discover everything it has to offer.
The Fora Difference
Book with Jessica to access exclusive perks and experiences on your trip.
Free upgrades, spa credits and more—we got you
Customized travel planning for your style
Expert advice from people who’ve actually been there
Where to stay around Madrid, Spain
Four Seasons Hotel Madrid
Seven historic Madrid buildings converted into a bustling hub marrying the past and present with a touch of luxury so true to the Four Seasons name.
When you book Four Seasons through Fora, you will enjoy exclusive Four Seasons Preferred Partner benefits. Your advisor will be pleased to give you more details.
Palacio de los Duques Gran Meliá
Elizabethan-style palace offering timeless luxury next to the Royal Palace, the Royal Theatre and the Almudena Cathedral in Madrid.
$100 hotel / resort credit.
Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.
The Madrid EDITION
Stylish hotel in the middle of Madrid with a state-of-the-art gym and spa as well as an outdoor rooftop pool.
$100 hotel / resort credit.
Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.
Unlock perks by contacting Jessica to book your trip.
Things to do around Madrid, Spain
Madrid, Spain, is an exciting city with plenty of historical, cultural, artistic and contemporary sights to cross off the list. Start with choosing a central hotel and bring a comfortable pair of shoes as it's a mainly walking city.
Tour the Royal Palace
The Royal Palace of Madrid is absolutely stunning inside and out. (Take the tour, and you won’t regret it!) The most interesting thing about this palace is it's still home to the King of Spain and continues to be used for official State events. Afterward, relax outside the Plaza de Oriente, a beautiful garden with a palace view.
Visit Museo Nacional del Prado
The beautiful Prado Museum could rival the Louvre Museum in Paris. However, my favorite part about this museum is the Real Jardín Botánico (Royal Botanical Garden), located next to the museum. It's a stunning green space with shady pathways, benches, sculptures, greenhouses, a kitchen garden planted with vegetables and a rose garden that blooms through May and June. It's a great place to zen out.
Leisure in Retiro Park
Parque del Retiro is an oasis in the heart of Madrid. It's so beautifully manicured and offers an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. There is a small lake in the center park's center where you can rent boats and paddle around. There are a few cafes to stop at, they will be slightly more touristy, but you can't go wrong grabbing a tinto de verano (summer red, a refreshing well-known drink in Spain).
The Crystal Palace is a stunning glass structure located inside the Retiro Park. The building itself bears a surprising resemblance to a greenhouse. It's made with all glass walls and a cast-iron framework. (My favorite view is from across the small pond with the fountain in front).
Visit the Templo De Debod
A gift from Egypt in 1968, the Templo de Debod is located in La Montaña Park (near the Plaza de España). Visit at sunset for an incredible view of the palace and reflection on the water.
People watch & shop on the Plaza Mayor
Plaza Mayor is a stunning giant plaza surrounded by outdoor cafés and cute restaurants shaded by its arches. It is a great place to sit and people-watch as you enjoy the architecture. In the evenings, the square is a lively hangout spot.
Puerta del Sol
The Puerta del Sol (sun gate) is located in the city's center. This is where most tourists will find shopping and souvenirs on every street. It also sits very close to the Plaza Mayor. The square is a place to hang out and enjoy life, especially come nighttime. It is one of the most happening squares in Madrid. My advice is to avoid eating many meals nearby since many restaurants are more touristy.
Palacio and Fuente de Cibeles
Cybele Fountain and palace in the background is probably a picture you've seen before since Madrid's fountain is highly emblematic. The Centro Palacio de Cibeles has two restaurants: the Colección Cibeles Café and the Restaurante del Palacio de Cibeles on the sixth floor featuring fancy dining with a spectacular city view. You can also catch an incredible panoramic view from the mirador observation deck on the eighth floor.
Malasaña neighborhood walking tour
One of the most happening barrios in Madrid, Malasaña, is the place to be! You will find the streets filled with coffee shops, bakeries and vintage clothing stores. The Plaza del 2 de Mayo is a historic square with many lively bars and market stalls on the weekend. It is always a popular meeting spot.
Become a Real Madrid fan
Estadio Santiago Bernabéu is the home to the world-famous soccer team Real Madrid. So if you’re a sports fanatic, you cannot miss the chance to see a fútbol, soccer, game here or maybe even tour the stadium.
The Madrid Cable Car is a fun way to get a different view of the city. It will take you over Casa DeCampo, one of the biggest green spaces just outside the city.
Cine Doré Cinema
The Cine Doré is a beautiful little cinema that plays old, old movies. Each month has a different schedule, and each viewing goes for about €3 a ticket!
A note from Jessica
A historic city northwest of Madrid, Segovia is located in Central Spain's Castile and León region. An ancient city including medieval walls, Romanesque churches, a former royal palace, and a Gothic cathedral is an excellent destination for a day trip. Its iconic ancient Roman aqueduct has more than 160 arches and stands above Plaza Azoguejo in the city's heart.
About 30 minutes away on the train from Madrid, Toledo is an ancient city set on a hill above the plains of Castilla-La Mancha.
Places to Eat & drink around Madrid, Spain
Coffee & Breakfast
Hanso Cafe: One of the best places to get good coffee and a great avocado toast. This is a quaint little cafe in one of my favorite neighborhoods: Malasaña.
Plantate Cafe: Great place to get good coffee and plant-based bites.
La Bicicleta: A super hip cafe in Malasaña known for its coffee and coworking-friendly spaces. They also have a fresh seasonal menu, crafty cocktails and unforgettable brunch.
Café de la Luz: A long-time café located on a quiet side street in Malasaña. This homey vintage spot is a great place to cozy up with a coffee and enjoy some delicious brunch.
Mercado San Miguel: Not only is this Mercado housed in a beautiful building, but it is also a food lover's dream! There's so much variety of food that makes this the perfect place to sample a little bit of everything. You can start with Jamon, pair it with delicious cheese or tapas, buy fresh fruit and even enjoy a glass of sangria. It has anything and everything you can want.
San Ildefonso: A modern take on the traditional Spanish food market, this three-story hip market offers a variety of international Spanish food and a great atmosphere. (Come back on a weekend night for some music and buzzing energy)!
Taberna La Concha: Famous for its vermút and exceptional food.
La Perejila: Awesome drink and vibes with some of the best tapas on the block.
Taberna Malaspina: One of the most fun and lively tapas bars.
Habanera: Cuban-style food served amid hip Havana decor. Try the mussels! Stay late for it to turn into a club after dinner hours.
La Casa del Abuelo: Famous for their Gambas al Ajillo, shrimp sauteed in garlic butter.
Ojala: Two-story gastronomic concept restaurant. Enjoy a beautiful hanging garden, shared wooden tables and a sand beach in the basement with a beach bar.
Botín: The oldest restaurant in Madrid with unbeatable traditional Spanish cuisine.
Macera Taller Bar: This lovely bar serves infused alcohol and great cocktails in-house.
Vacaciones Cocktail Bar: Looking for a fun cocktail bar with a lively spirit? Enjoy the fruity tropical drinks at this tiki institution.
Azotea del Circulo: Come here for a swanky drink with the best rooftop view in the city.
El Tigre: Cheap beers as big as your head and a plate of tapas to go along with it.
Del Diego Cocktail Bar: A sleek bar for a suite-and-tie type of evening. So, would you like that stirred or shaken?
Bar Cock: A good time bar serving classics, like gimlets, old-fashioneds and margaritas, as well as Spanish-style gin and tonics. You can’t go wrong here!
Viva Madrid: Come here for excellent mixology to catch up with friends and/or hang out with cool locals.
La Coquette: Blues music bar with a hopping vibe.
Salmon Guru: A neon-posted bar with highly Instagrammable drinks.
Cafe Berlin: Best live music bar with entertainment ranging from DJs to jazz. Check the schedule and see if something catches your eye.
BarCo: Fun bar to dive into after 2 am to continue the night going.
Get in touch with Jessica
Did you like this guide? Reach out to customize and book your own experience. Or, just to chat about travel in general.