Watching an exciting flamenco dance is a must-do fun activity in Madrid!
(Photo by: Prayitno)
How to Have the Most Fun in Madrid
One of the most popular tourist destinations in the world is Madrid, Spain. This is largely in part due to Madrid being one of the most fun cities in the world. Madrid has something for all ages and all tastes, and I’m not just talking food. The city is rich in arts, culture, history, and live entertainment. When people think of visiting Spain, they think of Madrid. You need to see it; trust me, you do! And you know what? I’m going to tell you how to have the most fun during your visit to fabulous Madrid, so keep reading!
Most Popular Tourist Attractions
The first fun thing we’re going to do while we’re in Madrid is visit the city’s most popular tourist attractions. There’s good reason why these sites attract millions of visitors annually: they’re spectacular! Prime Madrid tourist spots include:
Palacio Real – Madrid’s Royal Palace was home to Spanish royalty from 1764 until the early 1900s. This 2,500-room structure, the largest royal palace in Western Europe, is now home to official ceremonies and a major tourist destination. You can visit 50 of the palace’s beautifully decorated rooms, including the palace’s throne room, and enjoy lavish artwork from some of history’s greatest artists.
Plaza Mayor – Madrid is filled with plazas that are must-sees, but the most famous of these people-watching places is the Plaza Mayor. Originally constructed in 1619, this historic plaza has seen its share of events, including bullfights and a few untimely deaths of Spanish Inquisition heretics. The Plaza is beautiful, with cobblestone groundwork bordered by ornate 18th century apartment buildings.
Puerta del Sol – Speaking of plazas, let me tell you about another amazing one located smack dab in the center of Madrid. The Puerta del Sol is the place where New Year’s Eve revelers gather each year to ring in the coming year. It is also home to some beautiful architecture, statue works, and the city government headquarters, which boasts the towering clock that chimes in each New Year.
Gran Via – Known as the “Broadway” of Madrid, the Gran Via is the centralized street that never sleeps. The Gran Via might not be as historic as some of Madrid’s other sites – it wasn’t built until 1910 – but it does have plenty of fun for those who explore it. The Gran Via is lined on each side with enough shopping to make you drop, fantastic restaurants, and local businesses.
Temple de Debod – This one might seem a little strange in Spain, but the Temple de Debod brings Egypt to the Spanish capital. The Egyptian government gifted the Temple de Debod in 1968 to Spain for its help in preserving many ancient monuments during the construction of the Great Dam of Aswan. That’s right, an actual Egyptian temple complete with etchings of Amon and Isis sits in Madrid.
Another fun and amazing thing about Madrid is the food. This city is home to cuisine from around the world and a ton of the Spanish specialty everyone is talking about: tapas! You’ve spent your day wandering some of Madrid’s most popular sites, now it’s time to refuel your body and eat at some of Madrid’s most popular restaurants:
El Sobrino de Botin – Hailed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest restaurant in the world, the El Sobrino de Botin – or simply Botin – is must-visit restaurant serving traditional Spanish fare. The restaurant itself dates back 300-plus years, and it serves many Spanish favorites, including pig and lamb. Relatives to Spanish royalty and Ernest Hemingway have called Botin a prime Madrid eatery.
Restaurante La Barraca – Another Spanish dish that you simply must try while having fun in Madrid is paella. Originating in Valencia, paella is a simple yet tasty dish that combines rice, vegetables, and meat or seafood. The Restaurante La Barraca is well-known throughout Madrid to serve the largest and best variety of paella and some fantastic wine to wash down your food.
Casa Marta – If you’re a Don Quixote fan (and who isn’t a fan of this legendary hero?), you need to visit Madrid’s Casa Marta. Why? Duelos y quebrantes is believed to be Don Quixote’s favorite meal. What is it? Well, it’s a simple protein-packed concoction of scrambled eggs, ham, bacon, chorizo, and brains… hold on! Don’t worry! Brains aren’t included in Casa Marta’s duelos y quebrantes!
Vi Cool – Another traditional Spanish food is tapas, and you will find many tapas bars from which to choose while you’re wandering Madrid’s beautiful streets. One tapas bar of note is Vi Cool, which is a cool play on the Spanish word “vino” for wine and, well, cool! Vi Cool is a popular tapas bar for those looking for an innovative, yet tasteful twist on this Spanish favorite.
San Gines – If you have a sweet tooth, San Gines will not disappoint. This Madrid chocolaterie has been around since 1894, and serves up some of the world’s best hot chocolate and churros – the Madrid breakfast of champions! But you don’t have to go there for breakfast. San Gines is open 24 hours a day, so you can top off a delicious traditional Spanish dinner with a delicious Spanish dessert!
Madrid is famous for its nightlife, and tourists flock to the city to have a legendary late-night experience. The great thing is Madrid won’t disappoint. If part of having fun in Madrid includes dancing and drinking until you drop, you’ll have plenty of clubs in which to engage in your nightlife activities. Some of the best are:
Kapital – Let’s start with one of the most popular nightclubs in Madrid: Kapital. There’s plenty of space in this hot and trendy nightclub to dance the night away. Kapital boasts seven floors of entertainment for its patrons, including a dance floor filled with fog, karaoke, and some super cool “chilling out” space. No matter what you’re looking for in your nightlife, Kapital will deliver.
Ocho y Medio – This bar serves up an edgy, Goth feel to its patrons. You’ll have plenty of hipster music to “mosh” to on the dance floor. If you’d prefer to observe rather than thrash, the bar provides wooden benches scattered throughout the venue for patrons preferring to simply drink and people-watch. If you’ve danced until you’re ready to drop, head upstairs and relax on an anteroom couch.
Pacha – Pacha is a fashionable Madrid nightclub that many of the city’s “hottest” crowds frequent. The bouncers think Pacha is a throwback to Studio 54, and you might not get in if you don’t fit the club’s stylish bill. The club has a Studio 54 feel to it as well, with disco balls and lasers providing a disco ambience to the hip-hop music.
Vanila – If you want to hobnob with Madrid celebrities and sports stars, head on over to Vanila for a socialite nightclub experience. You can dance the night away with famous Spaniards on the L-shaped dance floor, or relax and get social on some comfy velvet furniture. Pink and blue lighting excites the crowds and you’re sure to have a good time and good drink at Vanila.
Moma 56 – Frustrated, tired, young Madrid professionals like to unwind and blow off some steam on the Moma 56 dance floor. This nightclub boasts two unique features. First, its decor includes steel walls, steel pillars, and marble flooring. Second, it’s Madrid residents’ last stop of the evening. In other words, don’t bother showing up before 3 a.m.
Fun Things to Do Generally
Okay! You’ve eaten, drank, and danced your way through Madrid. You’ve checked out some historic landmarks worth seeing. How much more fun can you possibly have? A ton! There are some other things you simply must do when in Spain, and Madrid offers additional fun in the following ways:
Flamenco – You know me, I always say “when in Rome…” Well, when in Madrid check out the flamenco dancing. Come on! You learned about flamenco dancing in grade school; now is the time to see it live and in color! Your best bet is a flamenco restaurant where you can enjoy great food and the show. Plan on staying late, however – the best dancers tend to perform after midnight!
Ride the Teleferico – If you want to see Madrid from up above then take a ride on its only cable car, the Teleferico. Not only will you get to see all the attractions you’ve already visited from a completely different angle, you’ll also get to relax and enjoy some amazing panoramic views of Madrid and its River Manzanares. If you aren’t afraid of heights, this is a fun Madrid activity the whole family can enjoy.
Visit Museums – If you’ve been following my blog, you knew I’d get to museums eventually! You might be surprised to find out that Madrid is considered one of the world’s greatest art capitals. Prado is a premier art museum and a must-see; the Reina Sofia offers visitors some Picasso originals; and the Thyssen-Bornemisza houses the world’s greatest private art collection, but you can still see it too!
Buy Some Shoes – Do you have a shoe fetish? (And who doesn’t?) If so, Madrid is the perfect tourist destination for you. Madrid is one of the world’s largest producers of footwear and if you head down to the Chueca district of Madrid, you’ll find tons of shoe outlets. Salamanca offers fine leather shoes, and the store Antigua Casa Crespo will give your tired feet the traditional espadrilles it craves.
Enjoy Madrid Sunrises and Sunsets – Yes, I’m serious. If you’ve been having too much fun in Madrid, or you simply love to relax and watch beautiful sunrises and sunsets, this Spanish capital will not disappoint. You can enjoy a Madrid sunrise after partying at Moma 56 from numerous breakfast joints. Madrid’s sunsets are also stunning from one of the city’s numerous terraces. I can’t think of a better way to end your fun day in Madrid!