Must-See Attractions in Madrid
In addition to the Top 5 Madrid Attractions, Alpha Flight Guru reviews 5 more of Madrid’s must-see attractions. Make sure to add them to your itinerary when you book a cheap business class flight to Madrid or discounted first class flight to Madrid via our gurus.
Plaza de Cibeles – Located at the intersection of Calle de Alcala and Paseo del Prado, this plaza is home to the Fountain of Cibeles, a symbol of Madrid that portrays the Roman goddess on a chariot pulled by two lions. On the southeast corner of the plaza, you’ll find the Palacio de Cibeles, an impressive city hall with a spectacular façade. Inside, there’s a cultural center with varying art exhibits, as well as information about Madrid. You can also go to the upper floors for excellent city views. The southwest corner of the square features the Bank of Spain (Banco de España), and the northeast corner is home to the Palacio de Linares where the Casa de América cultural center is located.
Mercado de San Miguel – This indoor market near Plaza Mayor is one of Madrid’s oldest and most beautiful markets, recognizable by its ornate iron posts. Built in the early 1900s, it features a wide variety of topnotch food. Whether you’re shopping or just browsing, it’s worth a visit for the sights and smells of tapas, fish, dried ham, fine wine, olives, caviar, chocolate, freshly baked goods, and other delicacies on display by over 30 vendors. This market is the most popular market in Madrid among tourists because of its central location. It is not a traditional grocery market but rather a gourmet tapas market. You can order tapas and occasionally more substantial meals at most of the counter-bars. All the stalls are outstanding.
El Retiro Park – This is the main park in Madrid, featuring marble monuments, landscaped lawns, elegant buildings like the Palacio de Cristal, and lavish greenery. It’s the perfect place to relax and have a picnic during the week. It comes to life on the weekends when locals and tourists flock here to take a stroll, read in the shade, run, bike, rollerblade, take a boat ride, or enjoy a cool drink at the numerous open-air cafes. During the summer on Sundays, people gather to play bongos and dance. The park was opened to the public in 1868. The focal point of the park is the artificial lake (estanque). You can rent a row boat from the lake’s northern shore. South of the lake, you’ll find the Palacio de Cristal hidden among the trees. It is a metal and glass structure that many consider as El Retiro’s most beautiful architectural monument. It is used for temporary art exhibitions. Also at the southern end of the park, La Rosaleda (Rose Garden) features over 4,000 roses. Look for the statue of El Ángel Caído and a carved mural of Dante’s Inferno nearby. The park is home to what is believed to be Madrid’s oldest tree, a Mexican conifer planted in 1633. There are special events at the park throughout the year, such as concerts, firework shows, and holiday/cultural events. Around the lake, you’ll see many puppet shows, street performers, and fortune tellers. Horse-drawn carriages are also available. El Retiro provides several different sporting and exercise opportunities for children and adults. Exclusively for children, there are multiple playground areas and ponds with ducks you can feed throughout the park.
Templo de Debod – Near the Royal Palace and Plaza de España, this Egyptian temple is located in one of Madrid′s most beautiful parks downtown. It was a gift given by Egypt to Spain as a gesture of gratitude for Spain’s help in saving the temples of Abu Simbel. It took many centuries to complete the construction of this temple. It was dedicated to the god Amon of Thebes in southern Egypt. In 1960, due to the construction of the Aswan High Dam and the threat its reservoir posed to numerous monuments and archeological sites, UNESCO made an international call to save its historical legacy. The temple was dismantled and donated to Spain in 1968 where it was then rebuilt in Madrid. It opened to the public in 1972. The reassembled gateways were placed in a different order than the original structure. This temple represents one of the few works of ancient Egyptian architecture that can be seen outside Egypt. It is the only one of its kind in Spain.
Basílica de San Francisco El Grande – In the southwestern corner of La Latina, this recently restored baroque basilica is one of Madrid’s grandest old churches. Its frescoed dome is the largest in Spain and the fourth largest in the world. The basilica was designed in a Neoclassic style. The chapels are guarded by marble statues of the 12 apostles, and each chapel is decorated according to a different historical style. Most people go to the Capilla de San Bernardino first because the central mural was painted by Goya. Behind the high altar, a series of corridors features artwork from the 17th to 19th centuries, but only accessible during a guided visit. Entry is free during morning Masses, but during that time, there is no access to the museum and the Capilla de San Bernardino is dark and without a spotlight on the Goya painting. At all other times, visit is by Spanish-language guided tour, which is included in the admission price.
If you missed our previous posts about Madrid, catch up now with Visit Madrid: Top Neighborhoods to See, Madrid’s Top Luxury Hotels, Top 5 Madrid Attractions, Top Spanish Dishes to Expect in Madrid, and Madrid’s Golden Triangle of Art: Top 3 Museums.