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Bucket List Events Guide to Madrid

Each Summer, the staff at Bucket List Events spends the month of July in Spain for the San Fermin Festival, also known as the Running of the Bulls. When we’re not experiencing the action in Pamplona, one of our favorite cities to visit is Madrid. As Spain’s capital, Madrid is full of incredible architecture, history, and tradition.

If you’re planning a trip to Madrid, here are our top recommendations for a great time:

Top Sights to See in Madrid

Madrid is the kind of city where you can find beautiful buildings, parks, and sights on every corner. Just walking around will give you plenty to look at. We recommend taking part in a bike tour, or renting a bike – you’ll see all the major sites in a leisurely afternoon this way!

The Royal Palace of Madrid

Insider's Guide to Madrid
If you only do one traditionally touristy thing in Madrid, make it the Palace! Not only are the views incredible, but the history is fascinating (even for those of you who aren’t history buffs).

Museo del Prado

Insider's Guide to Madrid
One of the most extensive art museums in Europe. Art buffs should dedicate at least one whole morning or afternoon to explore.

Parque del Retiro

Insider's Guide to Madrid
Grab some sandwiches and a bottle of wine, cause this is the perfect picnic spot. We recommend renting a bike so that you can see the whole park.

Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, Home of Real Madrid

Insider's Guide to Madrid
For soccer fans, hop on the metro and get an audio or guided tour right in front at the office. There are great display halls and even if Real Madrid is not your team, there is a lot of history worth seeing!

Museo Sorolla

sorolla museo madrid

Photo by Son of Groucho on Flickr.

The Museo Sorolla was once the home of famous Spanish painter Joaquin Sorolla. In addition to displaying many beautiful works of his and his contemporaries, the museum features a beautiful garden.

Flamenco at Corral de la Moreria

best flamenco in madrid

Photo by ©PromoMadrid, author Max Alexander.

The best Flamenco show in all of Madrid is located near the Palace. Make sure to make reservations ahead of time, as slots fill up quickly especially on the weekends and in the busiest seasons. The show is a dinner-theater experience, so make sure you bring your appetite.


Best Shopping in Madrid

From flea-markets to couture department stores, you’re sure to find a place to buy something to remind you of your travels in Madrid.

Gran Via

gran via shopping madrid

Photo by Nicolas Vigier on Flickr.

Gran Via is the central shopping district on Madrid, where you can find locations of a wide range of major retailers and designers.

Plaza Mayor

plaza mayor shopping madrid

Photo by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra on Flickr.

An awesome spot to enjoy lunch and a coffee al fresco. Plenty of neat shops can be found on the plaza, as well as great people watching.

Puerta del Sol

puerta del sol madrid shopping

Photo by Tomás Fano on Flickr.

One of the citys major public squares, Puerta del Sol is one of the busiest sites in Madrid. In addition to great shopping and cafes, lots of cultural events take place here. From Carnival parades, to the Christmas tree lighting, to political demonstrations, to artisan markets – there is bound to be something going on at Puerta del Sol. Head to Takos del Pastor on a Sunday – everything is just one euro!

El Rastro Fleamarket

el rastro fleamarket madrid

Photo by ©PromoMadrid, author Max Alexander.

This booming flea market happens every Sunday in the La Latina neighborhood, an area filled with old architecture and narrow, quaint streets.


Top Places in Madrid by Neighborhood

Each area of Madrid has its own unique personality. Here are our favorite neighborhood spots for three of Madrid’s coolest neighborhoods.


salamanca district madrid

Photo by Iberica on Flickr.

This upscale neighborhood is filled with high end shops, restaurants, clubs and lounges. Here’s our shortlist:

  • Lateral de la Castellana: Good for early drinks, especially their Oxtail!
  • Marieta: Open 24/7, and is as amazing for breakfast as it for weekend afternoon drinks and pre-gaming.
  • Tatel: Restaurant with a great bar and DJ for dancing.
  • La Cuchara: Venezuelan restaurant with amazing arepas, patacones, etc.
  • Ten Con Ten: Mind-blowing truffle risotto, good food and atmosphere.
  • La Maruca: Gourmet tapas. Try the avocado tartar, papas bravas, squid ink fideua.
  • Streetxo: A BLE staff favorite. This Michelin-Star restaurant is owned by celebrity chef David Munoz. Long waits, especially on weekends! Get a seat at the bar to watch the cooking.
  • Cascabel: Mexican gourmet. Try the drink called Cascabel (lleva chipotle, tamarind, and mango).
  • Platea: A theater converted into a gourmet market and event space. A DJ plays on busier evenings. 
  • Magasand: Cozy little spot for great sandwiches, soups, salads, and pizzas.
  • Vicool: Owned by celebrity chef Sergi Arola. The patatas bravas are good and so are the prices.
  • Paraguas: One of the priciest restaurants in Madrid, but worth it for foodies.
  • Álbora: Owned by Michelin-Star chef.  Pricey and long waits, but an excellent fine dining experience. 
  • Panaria: For a quality Mediterranean breakfast.
  • La Sota: Our favorite pre-game spot.



chamberi madrid

Photo by Felipe Gabaldón on Flickr.

Museo Sorolla is found in this quaint neighborhood, filled with ornate old homes and plenty of dining options.

  • Plaza de Chamberi: Excellent spot for coffee or dessert al fresco.
  • Plaza de Olavide: Another great place to dine outside and people watch.
  • Bar Tomate: Try their gin mojito!
  • Sala de Despiece: A BLE Staff favorite for fresh and creative cooking.
  • Nakeima: A tiny Japanese restaurant that makes all their own sauces (no soy sauce or sriracha to be found!). With only a 20 person capacity, show up early and ready to wait.



Malasaña Madrid

Photo by Nicolas Vigier on Flickr.

Malasaña is one of the hipper, more nightlife- and studentlife-centered parts of town. Walk through Calle de Pez (Pez Street) for many authentic restaurants, bars and cafes, bookstores, vintage stores, art galleries, etc.

  • Corazón: Great potato tortas.
  • Federal Café: Australian restaurant with incredible brunch.
  • Casa Julio: Best Croquetas in town.
  • La Bicicleta: Nice coffee shop for a mellow, quiet time and a tasty sandwich.
  • Zombie Bar: Amazing hamburgers that won’t disappoint Americans.
  • Toma Café: Great coffee and good vibes.
  • Hanso Café: More great coffee and good vibes. 


More Things to do in Madrid

But wait, there’s so much more to see and do! Don’t leave Madrid without paying a visit to some of these incredible establishments and sites:

Drinks and Partying

partying in madrid

Head to Macera for an unforgettable Gin & Tonic. Photo by Marta Marugán on Flickr.

Madrid has amazing nightlife for every crowd. Here are some of our top picks for a night out on the town:

  • Macera: Gin & Tonic bar. 
  • Bar Ojalá: Bottom part of this bar has a beach theme and is full of sand.
  • Areia: House music and an intimate vibe.
  • Makandé: Flamenco music in a small tavern for a very authentic experience. You have to go in through a restaurant called “Entre Amigos”, you’ll find the bar at the bottom of some steps.
  • El Junco: Jazz bar with amazing live acts.

Best Rooftop & Balcony Lounges

rooftop lounges madrid

View from the roof of the CBA building. Photo by Felipe Gabaldón on Flickr.

One of our favorite ways to experience a city is to see it from above. Madrid offers plenty of rooftop lounges and balconies. Make your way to the top of one of these:


Madrid is a must-see city for anyone on their way to the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona! Experience the rush of a lifetime and see some of Spain’s most beautiful cities with Bucket List Events.

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