When there are dozens of fantastic cities and charming towns to visit across Spain, it’s understandable some people wonder, is Madrid worth visiting?
As the capital of Spain and its largest city, Madrid doesn’t scream “dreamy Spanish vacation” like Mallorca, Sevilla, or Barcelona does. But I’m happy to report, that Madrid is without a doubt worth visiting.
I’ve visited Madrid four times over the last ten years and it continues to be one of my favorite cities in Spain. Each time I visit I discover new stuff to do in Madrid.
It somehow manages to blend local life in a vibrant, bustling metropolis while still catering to massive amounts of tourists each year. Not to mention, Madrid’s unique energy and diversity sets it apart all while staying true to its authentic Spanish charm.
If you’re planning a trip to Spain and wondering, is Madrid worth visiting, these 7 reasons should move Madrid, Spain to the top of your travel list!
7 reasons Madrid is worth visiting
1. World-class museums
If you’re an art lover like us you will love Madrid’s art scene. Madrid, Spain is home to several world-class art museums with some of the finest collections of art of the last five centuries.
The Prado Museum in Madrid is arguably the most famous because of its size and robust collection of artwork. Some notable artists featured in the Prado Madrid are Francisco Goya, Diego Velázquez, El Greco, and Hieronymus Bosch among countless others.
Be warned, the Prado Museum is huge! We spent 4 hours there and only saw a fraction of its collection.
If you want more, visit The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía. We visited the Reina Sofía Museum on our last trip and enjoyed getting to see more contemporary artists like Picasso and Gaudí.
If you’re looking for more cool things to do in Madrid check out these popular tours in the city.
2. Amazing food
As foodies, diving into local cuisine is at the top of our travel bucket list in every destination we visit. Thankfully, Madrid does not disappoint when it comes to amazing food. Of all the places we’ve visited in Spain, Madrid continues to be our top spot for dining.
There’s every type of restaurant imaginable in Madrid. From traditional tapas, gastronomic markets, fine dining, Michelin-rated restaurants, and international cuisine – Madrid food is sure to blow you away! We have an entire blog post about where and what to eat in Madrid, Spain that you can check out below.
- 20 Delicious Spanish Dishes You Have to Try in Spain
- The 15 Best Places to Eat in Madrid (Right Now)
3. Fantastic parks to relax in
One of my favorite things about Madrid, Spain is its fantastic parks! The city has several amazing green spaces to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and connect with nature. Its most famous park, Retiro Park is over 300 acres and was once the private gardens for the King of Spain in the 1600s.
Retiro Park is a must see in Madrid but make sure to visit one of the other amazing parks in the city, too. Principe Pio is behind the Royal Palace and the highest point in the city. At the top of the hill, there is an incredible pyramid gifted to Spain from Egypt and a lovely park to watch the sunset.
See more of these parks and other fun things to do in Madrid in our video below.
4. Loads of history
Madrid’s history dates back to 900 AD when the Moors took over the Iberian Peninsula. For over 1,000 years Madrid has served as one of Spain’s most important cities. As you walk around you’ll notice loads of incredible historic buildings, many of which date back to the 17th century and many even older than that.
The Plaza Mayor, the main square in the center of the town, was built in the 1600s by King Phillip III. For over four hundred years it has been the gathering place for festivals and concerts, to sell and buy goods, and even to watch executions. 😳
One of our favorite places to explore Madrid’s history is the Spanish Royal Palace. The Royal Palace was built in 1738 under the orders of King Philip V. It took 18 years to complete and is absolutely mind-blowing.
If I could describe the palace with only one word it would be opulence. You have to visit it yourself to truly understand. You can book a guided tour (like we did) by clicking here.
5. Hub for transportation to the rest of Spain
Another thing to love about Madrid is how well-connected it is to the rest of Spain and Europe. If your goal is to travel to other cities or villages in Spain, it’s almost guaranteed you will have a connecting flight or train in Madrid. If your travels take you beyond Spain, you can easily grab a plane from the Madrid airport.
Its airport is well thought out and easy and affordable to get to by Metro, Uber, or taxi. Madrid also has the Atocha Train Station, one of the largest in the country that has hundreds of train routes departing and arriving daily.
6. It’s one of the most authentic Spanish cities
The south of Spain is often revered for being one of the most culturally rich regions of Spain. It’s home to things like Flamenco dancing, gazpacho, and is the claimed birthplace of tapas.
Yet, Madrid is where the majority of Spanish people live today. What could be more authentically Spanish than that? Madrid has an heir of authenticity that I just didn’t feel in Barcelona and it is a big reason I love Madrid so much.
Once you visit the must see tourist sites in Madrid you can head to the local areas of the city and get an entirely new experience. We loved doing a tapa crawl on the local street of Calle Ponzano and spending time where the locals live.
7. There are tons of epic day trips from Madrid
The last thing that makes Madrid worth visiting is the numerous day trips from Madrid you can take. Since Madrid is located centrally in the country there are loads of great villages to visit nearby like Segovia, Toledo (the original capital city of Spain), and the second-largest Spanish wine country.
Segovia is a favorite of ours and a place I’ve been to several times. I also lived in Spanish wine country teaching English for a while and highly recommend visiting this wine region! Below are a few of the most popular day trips to take with Get Your Guide.
- ⛲️Toledo Half Day Tour: Explore Spain’s original capital city which is just 1 hour away from Madrid.
- 🏰 Segovia and Avila Day Tour: Get to know two of the most charming cities near Madrid and visit the Castle that inspired Disney’s Cinderella!
- 🍷 10 Amazing Wineries in Ribera del Duero to Visit (With a Map): This guide shares everything you need to know about a wine-tasting weekend in Ribera del Duero including the top wineries to visit.
When Madrid is not worth visiting
There are scenarios when Madrid is not worth visiting. If you aren’t big on cities and the things to do above have zero appeal to you, you’re better off visiting one of Spain’s other incredible cities or towns.
If you have less than 1 day in the city (like a long layover) we also don’t recommend visiting. Madrid is massive and there’s a lot to do, see, and eat. We personally enjoy slow travel and prefer to have at least two to three days to enjoy a new city at a minimum. If you are like us, having anything less than a day will just feel too rushed.
The time of year you visit can also make a big difference and whether you ultimately like Madrid or not.
The best time to visit Madrid
Spring and fall are the best times to visit Madrid. We spent a week exploring the city in late September and had the most incredible weather! We loved walking from spot to spot and even noticed the leaves changing in Retiro Park. April and May are also lovely months to visit as the flowers bloom and the days get a bit warmer.
Summer is one of the most popular times to travel to Spain, but it’s one of the worst times to visit as a tourist. The summer months (July and August) are the hottest in Spain. Temperatures in Madrid often reach 37 to 40 °C (100 – 105 °F). Trying to walk around the city when it’s that hot is miserable! Winter is also very cold making it a less than ideal time to visit.
🥵 If you can help it, do not visit Madrid in August. Most Spaniards get the month of August for vacation. The entire city flees the blazing heat and heads to smaller villages or coastal towns for fiestas and relaxation. This means many restaurants will be closed during your visit and you’ll be accompanied by mostly tourists.
With that being said, I truly believe Madrid is one of the best cities to visit in Spain. Its authenticity, charm, history, food, parks, and connectivity make it an ideal destination for those who want to get to know Spanish culture and cuisine.
If you’re ready to pack your bags and book your flights to Madrid, Spain now don’t forget to bring these things with you.
What to bring on a trip to Madrid, Spain
Here are a few things you should bring on a trip to Madrid, Spain.
- Travel Insurance: We always recommend having travel insurance to cover the “what-ifs”. While visiting Spain is considered safe, it’s nice to know you would be covered if there were any major medical emergencies or trip interruptions. Our go-to travel insurance is Safety Wing. You can get a free quote for coverage by clicking here.
- 🔌 European adapter: For anyone traveling outside of Europe, you will need a European adapter to charge things like your phone or computer. This is the adapter we chose which allows for items requiring up to 100W (like a laptop) for charging.⚡️ Be careful with high-wattage things like razors or straighteners. Electricity is stronger in Europe than in the US and certain gadgets have a hard time coping.
- 💳 Travel credit card with no international fees: Most places in Spain will take credit cards and debit cards, but most banks will charge an international fee! We always use this travel credit card when abroad because we earn points we can redeem for future travel and have no international fees.
I hope this post has helped answer the question, is Madrid worth visiting with a resounding yes! Now, you just have to discover its magic for yourself.