- 1. Prado Museum
- 2. Plaza Mayor
- 3. Royal Palace
- 4. Reina Sofia Museum
- 5. Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum
- 6. Gran Via
- 7. Parque del Retiro
- 8. Chueca
- 9. Almudena Cathedral
- 10. El Escorial
One of the world’s great museums, this is where you can see the masterpieces of Spanish artists like Goya and Velazquez (whose “Las Meninas” is one of the museum’s treasures). The collection ranges from the 12th to the 19th centuries, and includes another impressive collection of foreign artists, mainly Flemish and Italian.
Tickets: Prado Museum
Official Website: www.museodelprado.es/en
Madrid’s main square is a majestic 17th-century creation, with an equestrian statue of King Felipe II in the center. Once used as a public arena for bullfights, it is now a place to relax with a drink at the many cafés that surround it.
Locate it on the map: Plaza Mayor
Thanks to Spain’s imperial wealth, this royal palace is lavishly decorated. Currently it is only used by the royal family for state occasions, leaving it for the enjoyment of tourists, who admire the exuberant décor of the several rooms, including the opulent Dining Room and Throne Room.
Tickets: Skip-the-Line Ticket of the Royal Palace
Locate it on the map: Royal Palace
A former hospital is, since 1986, one of Europe’s great museums. Behind its altered façade with panoramic elevators are rooms dedicated to Miró, Dali and Kandinsky, plus Picasso’s most iconic work, “Guernica.”
Tickets: Reina Sofia Museum
Official Website: www.museoreinasofia.es/en
Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza had the world’s second-largest private art collection when it was bought by the Spanish state in 1993. It’s now on display in this museum just a few feet from the Prado, and includes treasures by Old Masters, Impressionists, and big names like Picasso, Lichtenstein, and Pollock, among many others.
Tickets: Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum
Official Website: www.museothyssen.org/en
Lined with small skyscrapers and palatial architecture, this avenue was laid out in 1910 and is now Madrid’s grand boulevard. It’s home to a large number of hotels, theaters and shops, and leads to two of the city’s main squares, the Plaza del Callao and Plaza de España.
Locate it on the map: Gran Via
The perfect place to relax after visiting the must-see museums nearby, this romantic park features a boating lake faced by a half-moon colonnade, and the Crystal Palace, built in 1887 and once used as a greenhouse but now the venue for temporary art exhibits.
Locate it on the map: Parque del Retiro
For a night out on the town or simply a day of trendy shopping, head to the city’s coolest neighborhood, which is also known as a vibrant gay quarter. There are boutiques, bars and restaurants for every age, budget and sexual orientation.
Locate it on the map: Chueca
Although begun in 1879, this cathedral was only completed over a century later. Its neo-gothic façade faces the royal palace, but the highlight of a visit is accessed through the back of the building -- an attractive crypt which houses a beloved 16th-century image of the Virgin of Almudena.
Official Website: www.catedraldelaalmudena.es
This massive 16th-century palace-monastery outside Madrid is one of the world’s largest buildings, and can easily be visited on a day trip. It includes an impressive library, a basilica, the Royal Pantheon, and a museum with Spanish, Flemish and Italian paintings.
Tickets: El Escorial