|Best Things to do in Madrid|
Best Things to do in Madrid.
Madrid is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, one of the world's best cities for having fun and so choosing the best thing's to do in Madrid can be quite a task but with careful planning or maybe it's better to just venture out there and enjoy the city. Madrileños don't tend to go out on the town until after midnight and rarely arrive at clubs before three in the morning. However, even if your entertainment tastes are rather more sedate, you won't be disappointed (unless you were planning on having dinner at half past six!).
Some cinemas like the Filmoteca, the Renoir Plaza España and the Alphaville show foreign language films regularly.
Lots of bars and clubs put on a traditional tablao where you can watch flamenco dancing in its different forms. Mainstream venues like the Teatro de la Zarzuela and the Centro Cultural de la Villa (under the waterfall in the centre of the Plaza de Colón) host national and international companies performing ballet and contemporary dance.
The three most important collections of art in Spain are all within walking distance of each other in what's known as Madrid's "Golden Triangle".
The Museo del Prado is the most famous and exhibits El Greco, Velázquez and Goya.
The Thyssen Bornemizsa is relatively new and shows Van Dyck, Van Gogh, Dégas, Dalí, Carpaccio and Kandinsky.
The Centro de Arte Reina Sofía specializes in contemporary Spanish art, such as Picasso's Guernica and work by Miró and Dalí.
You're sure to find something of interest among the many smaller, quirkier museums such as the Museo de los Bomberos (Firemen's Museum) and the Museo Angel Nieto, dedicated to the motorcyclist.
The Chueca district has mainly gay clubs. The Malasaña district offers plenty of rock, grunge, indie and alternative clubs, and the Huertas district is the place for latin and jazz clubs. Your first drink is usually included if you pay a cover charge. Beware of the expensive drink prices in some of these clubs.
Madrileños love their nightlife, and they're willing to pay for it!
La Castellana is best in summertime when the tree-lined avenues are crowded with outdoor terrazas (sidewalk cafés) that remain busy until very late with trendy, well-dressed young professionals. Some of Madrid's oldest literary cafés like the Café Gijón are here, and you can still see tertulias (discussion groups) taking place today.
Address: Paseo del Prado, s/n
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in MadridThe Thyssen-Bornemisza family collected what became one of the world's finest private art collection over a number of generations. The Spanish state bought it from them in 1993 for $350m and converted the early-19th-century neoclassical Villahermosa Palace into a fabulous art gallery. You will see masterpieces by Van Dyck, Durer, Caravaggio, Rubens, Picasso, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Matisse and Kandinsky among others. The collection follows a chronological order running from the 13th to the 20th century. There is a cafeteria-restaurant, free cloakroom and a conference room. Admission: EUR4.80; students, senior citizens: EUR3; under-12s: free. Temporary Exhibitions: EUR3.60; students, senior citizens: EUR2.40. Combined Admission: EUR6.61; students, senior citizens: EUR3.60. Group bookings: firstname.lastname@example.org, or call +34 91 369 0151.
Address: Paseo del Prado, 8
Palacio de Villahermosa
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in MadridThis gallery of modern art features work by some of the 20th-century's most outstanding artists, including Picasso—Guernica has its own special space—Dalí, Tàpies, Chillida, Miró, Gris, Bacon, Le Cobursier, Lipchitz, Schnabel, Numan, and Roberto Matta. There is a library, research centre, bookshop, café, souvenir shop, and restaurant. Admissin: EUR3; students with ID: EUR1.50. Under-18s & over-65s: free. Sat (2.30-9pm), Sun (10-2:30), Dec 6, Oct 12, and May 18: free.
Address: Santa Isabel, 52
Populart in MadridTalented jazz and blues musicians of all ages perform on the tiny stage for a sophisticated and appreciative audience. Whether there's a concert on or not, there's always a good atmosphere and it's worth dropping in if you're out on the town in the area of Huertas and Plaza de Santa Ana. You're charged a supplement on drinks (EUR 1.50-6.01 depending on the performer), which is reasonable given the quality of the performers.
Address: Huertas, 24
Casa Patas in MadridWith five different shows on per week, this is undoubtedly one of the capital´s most important flamenco clubs. It attracts first-class performers and true aficionados. All the most famous stars of today have passed through here at one time or another. Performances start around midnight and you can make a real night out of it by coming for dinner as well. The restaurant specializes in wholesome Spanish home-cooking with dishes like rabo de toro (oxtail stew). Address: Cañizares, 10
Suristán in MadridYou´ll hear music from all over the world - including flamenco - and mix with a clientele to match. Most of the people are trendy alternative types.
The venue is split into two parts. The first room is well-lit and has some tables where you can sit and chat. The larger next room is where you find the bars and the stage that can be used as a dance floor or for live concerts, depending on the night. The cover charge depends on what group is playing, and includes a drink. Highly recommended.
Address: Cruz, 7
Teatro Real in MadridMadrid's Opera House has one of the largest stages in the world and seats up to 1630 spectators. Its annual programme features the whole range of operatic styles and genre from the baroque to the contemporary, including the ever-popular work of composers like Mozart, Rossini, Verdi and Wagner. It also hosts lyric concerts and dance performances. You'll find it close to the Palacio Real (Royal Palace). Tickets are hard to come by, so book early.
Advance ticket sales at the box office or by telephone, on +34 902 488 488.
Address: Plaza de Oriente, s/n
Teatro La Abadía in MadridIts resident theatre company has made a niche for itself in Madrid's theatre world by presenting plays by major international playwrights (mainly English) along with classical Spanish drama and occasional alternative pieces. The company is directed by José Luis Gómez who has brought together a group of talented young actors and actresses and led them to great success. The building stands on the remains of a church and abbey, hence the name. In fact, what is now the auditorium roof was the church's original domed ceiling.
Advance ticket sales: at the box office and by telephone, on 902 101 212.
Address: Fernández de los Ríos, 42
28015 Sala Cuarta Pared in MadridAn alternative theatre space that stages contemporary drama and comedy, it also acts as headquarters to the company of the same name, who have won the Premio Ojo Crítico, a prize awarded to promising young Spanish performers. It holds 172 spectators and you'll find it in the south of the city. At weekends, the company put on special children's shows (5.30pm Sat & Sun) for which it was nominated twice for the Premios Max de las Artes Escénicas (Set Design) prize in 1997.
Advance tickets sales at the box office and by telephone, on +902 400 222 (within Spain) or +34 902 488 488 (from abroad).
Address: Ercilla, 17
Café Gijón in Madrid regular meeting place for intellectuals and writers since it opened in 1888, this café still attracts a loyal clientele made up of journalists and literary types. Famous poets and novelists like Federico García Lorca, Antonio Machado, Rubén Darío and Pérez Galdós all have spent time here. The restaurant specializes in international cuisine with an emphasis on meats. However, you can also choose from a range of regional Spanish dishes. The Asturian varieties are the best. Try hake cooked in cider, for example, or grilled sea bass or sole. The wine list features fine wines from Rioja and Ribera del Duero.
Address: Paseo de Recoletos, 21
28001 Bravas (Las) in MadridA chain of bars that specialises in patatas bravas (fried potatoes with a spicy paprika sauce), it has actually taken the trouble to patent its own spicy sauce. It's normally full of youngsters and tourists as is always the case in Puerta del Sol. All of the chain's bars are decorated with wood-panelled walls and mirrors: some have tables and chairs, some are standing room only. A portion of their famous potatoes sells at (EUR 1.98). If don't like potatoes, you can order other items from the menu like fried squid, Spanish omelette or chicken wings.
Address: Álvarez de Gato, 3
28013 Black & White in Madrid
Legendary in Madrid's gay scene, this club attracts a wide mix of men of all ages and styles. There are two separate scenes. Older men in their 30s head upstairs to the semi-circular bar with its good lighting and soft music. Younger men in their 20s haunt the dance floor downstairs and move to sounds of techno and house in semi-darkness. The dance floor also serves as a stage for drag shows and striptease acts.
Address: Libertad, 34
28004 The Best Things to do in Madrid Royal Palace GardensCalle Bailén, (Royal Palace Gardens), Madrid, Spain 28013 · 91-454-8803
This pleasure garden was first created at the request of the Duke and Duchess of Osuna at the end of the 18th century. The beautiful and peaceful setting of this garden has earned it the name "The Caprice." The garden also has additional historic significance, as it was used as a hideout for a soldier of Napoleon's in the War of Independence and the Spanish Civil War. METRO: Canillejas Calle AlcaláCalle Alcalá, Near Plaza de Independencia, Madrid, Spain
This historic gate was built by King Carlos III in 1778 and represents the triumphs of Spain. Damaged during the Spanish Civil War, this site marks the greatness that was Spain in the 18th century. Metro: Retiro
Avenida de la Dehesa, s/n Villanueva de la Cañada, Carretera De El Escorial, Spain 28691 · 91-815-6933
If it is a hot day in Madrid and you are looking for some entertainment for the kids, Aquápolis is sure to please any water-loving child! Children can slide down water slides or create waves in a wave pool. They can even venture to the top of a tall slide that will send them plummeting to the pool below! A fun-filled day for all.
Museo de Cera de Madrid (Wax Museum)
Paseo de Recoletos, 41, Madrid, Spain 28004 · 91-329-46-29
. Come explore the 450 figures of the wax museum. The structures are detailed and lifelike and sure to please both young people and adults. People such as Columbus and Jackie Kennedy Onassis are portrayed, as well as some of World War II's heroes and villains. See pieces of Spanish history depicted in wax sculptures. METRO: Nuñez de Balboa
Parque de Atracciones
Casa de Campo, Madrid, Spain 28011 · 91-463-2900
Play all day on the rides at this fun park! Find a day full of excitement as you try out all the rides here. There are pony rides, a carousel, a maze, and adventures to "space" and the "jungle." Two of the most famous rides are the pair of roller coasters that will take your breath away! Other new features include indoor paintball and a 4D cinema. METRO: Batán
Planetariio de Madrid
Parque Tierno Galván, Legazpi, Madrid, Spain 28045 · 91-467-38-98/91-467
Have you ever been able to identify any constellations other than the Big Dipper? You can learn all about the stars and the galaxies at the Planetarium. The Planetarium is built to imitate a realistic picture of outer space. Not only is the show enjoyable, but it is also educational. METRO: Méndez Alvaro
Paseo del Pintor Rosales, Madrid, Spain 28008 · 91-541-11-18
See Madrid from a bird's eye view. This cable car will carry you high above the parks and buildings of the city. You can see two parks and the Manzanares River from the sky above. If the sky is clear, you can even get an arial view of the Royal Palace. Don't forget to take your cameras! METRO: Argüelles
Zoo Aquarium de la Casa de Campo
Casa de Campo, Madrid, Spain 28011 · 91-512-37-70
CHAMBERI. Animal lovers, this zoo is for you! There are over 3,000 animals from five different continents on display. Take your kids on the zoo train or to the petting zoo so they can get up close and personal with a group of friendly animals. There is a 520,000 gallon aquarium filled with tropical fish, as well as a tank of dolphins and a house for parrots. METRO: Batán
Address: Claudio Coello, 19
28001 Galería de Arte Estiarte in Madrid
This gallery promotes, edits and exhibits exclusively graphic art by famous names such as Bacon, Barceló, Delaunay, Guinovart, Miró, Palazuelo, Saura, Chillida, Ernst and Picasso. Major exhibitions of work by Picasso, Chillida, Ernst, Henry Moore, Kounellis and André Derain have been organised here. The gallery has also edited the work of G. Rueda, Navarro Baldeweg, J. Teixidor and Juan Uslé.
Address: Almagro, 44
Galería del Cisne in MadridThis gallery specialises in showing work by Catalan artists or those who trained in Catalonia. You'll see contemporary representational and impressionist work by painters like Julian Grau Santos, Rafael Durán, Bosco Martí, Ortuño, Moscardó, Javier Blanch, Pichot and Gloria Muñoz. It opened in 1960 as an off-shoot of Barcelona's early 20th-century Sala Parés gallery. In honour of its precursor, it also shows some 19th-century paintings.
Address: Eduardo Dato, 17
Plaza de España in Madrid You just have to look at the number of people lying on the grass verges alongside the fountains or resting on the park benches to know this is a popular spot. The most prominent feature is the statue dedicated to Spain's most famous writer, Miguel de Cervantes, that depicts his two principal characters - Don Quijote and Sancho Panza. At Christmas time, the area towards Calle Princesa fills with stalls selling all types of gifts and decorative objects. You can't help but notice the two enormous mid-20th century skyscrapers here: El Edificio España and La Torre de Madrid.
Address: Calle Princessa
Filmoteca Española in MadridIt shows film series organized by theme (director, country of origin, etc.) that you would never now get to see in a commercial cinema. Most of them are shown in their original language with Spanish subtitles. Its two comfortable screening rooms hold 318 and 119 spectators. There are three daily showings in screen one (starting at 5.30pm) and screen two offers one showing (6pm). No eating or drinking is allowed in the screening rooms. It's housed in a lovely modernist building dating from 1929 that also has a bookshop and bar-restaurant.
Address: Cine Doré
Santa Isabel, 3
Renoir Plaza de España in MadridIt concentrates on Spanish, North American independent and European art house films with the occasional movie from other parts of the world. Most are shown in their original language version although some of them are dubbed. There are five screens with three to four showings daily, plus late-night films on Friday and Saturday. The first showing begins around 4pm. You're assigned a numbered seat Mon-Thu and Sun except for the first showing.
Address: Martín de los Heros, 12
Alphaville in MadridAfter the Filmoteca, this is Madrid's purest art house cinema. It never shows mainstream commercial films and only shows films in their original language version with Spanish subtitles. Movies by Almodóvar, Tarantino and Godard always pull in the biggest crowds here. There are four screens and normally four daily showings, the first starting at 4.30pm. Friday and Saturday late-night shows start at 12.30 or 12.45. No eating or drinking is allowed inside the screening rooms. There's a cafe and bookshop.
Address: Martín de los Heros, 14
Teatro de la Zarzuela in MadridBuilt in 1856 in the same style as La Scala in Milan, this grand theatre is dedicated to a particularly Spanish form of 17th-century light opera called zarzuela that includes spoken as well as sung parts. It's also used for performances of classical opera, dance and concerts. At Christmas time the Spanish National Ballet Company present their new work here to expectant audiences. The traditional semicircular seating area has three galleries with private boxes and holds up to 1259 spectators.
Tickets can be bought in advance from any national theatre box office or by telephone, on +34 902 488 488.
Address: Jovellanos, 4
Centro Cultural de la Villa in MadridThe main stage is used for a wide variety of shows including drama (especially contemporary Spanish), ballet, zarzuela (Spanish opera) and live flamenco and folk concerts. One of the other stages is used for the Children's Puppet Theatre season that runs from autumn to spring with shows every Sunday at 4.45pm. It also has a prestigious exhibition space and is considered one of the city's major cultural centres. It's surrounded by impressive fountains, monuments and gardens opposite the Wax Museum.
Advance sales: at the box office and by telephone, on +34 902 101 212.
Address: Plaza de Colón, s/n
Plaza de Colón in MadridTwo modern sculptures commemorate the discovery of the Americas in this central square. You see Joaquín Vaquero Turcios' chunky cement blocks decorated with inscriptions by philosophers and indigenous leaders on the Calle Serrano side, while there's a more traditional sculpture of Columbus himself on a pedestal surrounded by historical characters involved in the conquest on the Paseo de la Castellana side. The arts centre - Centro Cultural de la Villa - is hidden beneath the noisy cascading waterfall. The shuttle bus to the airport leaves from the garage below the square. On the other side of the road you'll find the Museo de Cera (Wax Museum).
Address: Calle Serrano
Museo de Cera in MadridAll the most famous people and events in Spanish history are displayed here in remarkably life-like wax models. The crime section shows gory scenes representing the Expreso de Andalucía train murders. The section devoted to monarchs and heads of state also contains a frightening reproduction of a torture chamber and all the methods of inflicting pain used during the Spanish Inquisition. You'll see scenes from life during the Roman, Visigoth and Arab periods of settlement on the peninsula. And of course, no waxworks would be complete without famous figures from the worlds of art, literature, sports and science. Bullfighters make a special appearance here, because it's Spain.
Address: Paseo de Recoletos, 41
28004 Museo de los Bomberos in Madrid
This museum traces the history of organised fire-fighting in Spain since it began. You'll see examples of old horse-drawn carriages (1898) and the first motor-drawn fire engines (1911) as well as a wide selection of pumps and water-propulsion systems that have been used to extinguish fires through the years. Children can achieve their dreams of joining the Fire Brigade by bringing along a photograph and filling in a form. Their details will be registered in the Service List and they'll receive an official ID card.
Address: Boada, 4
Café Central in Madrid It's fast becoming a very fashionable venue for live jazz music. There's a performance every night of the week at 10.30pm. You can enjoy the music in a relaxed atmosphere surrounded by elegant decor. Jazz greats like clarinetist Ken Peplowski, Grant Stewart and Wynton Marsalis have all played here. Admission prices vary, but tend to cost around (EUR 9.01) including a complementary drink. It's a good place to come for a quiet drink in the afternoons as well.
Address: Plaza del Angel, 10
Candela in MadridA favourite haunt of flamenco's star performers, you'll hear nothing here but flamenco music, old and new, traditional and progressive. Dancers of the stature of Antonio Canales and bands as famous as Ketama have been known to come here to try out new work.
Its two floors are decorated in pure, colourful, typical Andalusian style, with ceramic tiles, photos of famous performers, paintings by flamenco artists like Bonifacio Alfonso and Pepe Puente and even a poster of the Cumbre Flamenca (Flamenco Summit) signed by all the participants, including Camerón de la Isla, who used to come here a lot. Valet parking is available.
Address: Olmo, 2
Riviera (La) in Madrid In summer it's transformed into an outdoor disco and doubles as a live concert venue that attracts nationally and internationally famous bands like Blur. The decor is minimal, but the indoor and outdoor dance floors are huge. The outdoor terrace area - full of luscious plants and flowers - is particularly attractive during the hot summer months. It's a club for people in their early 30s, although younger folk come as well. Prices for entry to live gigs vary according to the group.
Address: Paseo Bajo de la Virgen del Puerto, s/n
Teatro Nuevo Apolo in MadridMadrid's musical theatre venue par excellence, this is where you'll see the most spectacular productions of shows like Les Miserables, Chicago and Jekyll & Hyde. It also stages comedies and dance. It stands on the same site as the original Teatro Apolo, which lasted from 1873 until 1929 showing a mixture of drama and zarzuela (Spanish opera). The new Apolo holds up to 1300 spectators and you'll find it close to El Rastro, the popular Sunday flea market.
Advance ticket sales at the box office and by telephone, on +34 902 488 488.
Address: Plaza Tirso de Molina, 1
28012 Teatro de la Comedia in MadridIts programme concentrates on classical drama produced by Spanish and foreign playwrights and it's also the headquarters of Spain's National Classical Theatre Company. The building was designed by Agustín Ruiz de Villajo with some beautiful Arabesque and wrought-iron interior features and it opened to the public in 1875. It's now managed by the Ministry of Culture.
Tickets can be bought in advance from any of the national theatre box offices or by telephone, on +34 902 488 488.
Address: Príncipe, 14
Sala El Canto de la Cabra in Madrid The company of the same name performs their own up-to-date, innovative and humorous work in this tiny theatre space that holds just 60 spectators. Other alternative groups stage their work here as well. In summer, the square outside is used for open-air performances, the only event of its kind in the city. You'll find it in the heart of Chueca's gay district, surrounded by lively late-night bars and clubs.
Advance ticket sales at the box office and by telephone, on +34 902 488 488.
Address: San Gregorio, 8
28004 Plaza de Santa Ana in MadridCome here any weekend night and you'll find the place buzzing. It's a popular meeting place for locals and tourists alike as it's close to Puerta del Sol and surrounded by nightlife venues. It has a statue of playwright Calderón de la Barca in the centre and garden areas round about. The neoclassical Teatro Español building and the art deco Hotel Victoria (a favourite with bullfighters) are both here. As for drinks, the Cervecería Alemana is a good place for a relaxing chat, and then there's the Villarosa (which featured in Pedro Almodóvar's movie High Heels), once a flamenco dance hall, it's now a trendy bar. The history of the square dates back to the times of Joseph Bonaparte who demolished Santa Ana Convent to open up this space.
Address: Puerta del Sol
28012 Naturbier in MadridOne of its main attractions is the chance to see a functioning microbrewery on-site with the vats and stills visible. Its outdoor terrace and downstairs basement fill up quickly on weekends. If you're hungry, try the platters of cold meats, cheeses and canapes.
The interior is an attractive combination of varnished wood on the ground floor and exposed brickwork in the basement. It's located in a popular square and attracts a varied clientele from all over the world.
Address: Plaza Santa Ana, 9
28014 Acuarela in Madrid Despite the fact that it's small and the tables are squeezed close together, this café has a unique and attractive interior decor that creates an ideal environment for a quiet chat. If you're on your own, you can just sit in the pecera (fish bowl) and watch the world go by through the huge window. The wooden sculpture of gay icon San Sebastián takes centre stage and there's always an exhibition of paintings on the walls. Most of the clientele are gay and lesbian. Plaza de Chueca, the heart of Madrid's gay scene, is just around the corner.
Address: Gravina, 10
28004 Plaza del Dos de Mayo in MadridThis popular square was the scene of glorious historical events during the War of Independence agaist France in the early 19th century. The central arch was the entrance to the Monteleón barracks where the city's defenders rose to arms. The two captains, Daoiz and Velarde, who led the troops are commemorated here with statues. Other heroes of the same war, like Ruiz and Manuela Malasaña, have nearby streets named after them. The square became famous again in the 1980s as part of the movida madrileña (the name given to the explosion of creativity in fashion, theatre, movies and nightlife at that time). Today, it's still full of lively bars, clubs and sidewalk cafés.
Address: El Arco
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