As lovers of fun things to do in the cities, as you could check in 32 Fun things to do in Rome, we have come up with a selection of 23 fun things to do in Madrid that will allow you to discover the city, in a very madrileño style.
With millions of visitors every year, you’d think that the capital city of Spain would have become a gigantic amusement park by now. And though some landmarks like Museo del Prado o Plaza del Sol, although definitely worth the detour, are extremely famous and to avoid if you are more an off-the-beaten-tracks kind of gal (or guy), all hope is not to be lost.
1. Breakfast for champions “Chocolate con churros”
The 122-years old chocolatería San Ginés offers 24/7 decadent churros dipped in chocolate. Definitely a Madrid breakfast specialty, this treat could even be more appealing (if that’s even possible) to some after a long night out right before bed as the sun rises, or as a nice little afternoon break or dessert. Or all of them.
Who said there was a time not to eat churros dipped in hot chocolate?
2. A city view from above
Visiting a city is always a thrilling experience but more often than not, we stay on the ground. Built in 1969, the teleférico or cable car takes you from the north side of the city to Casa Campo, offering stunning views on the city and a different perspective: yes, Madrid really is that big!
3. Flamenco at a bohemian Bar, ARTEBAR
This is probably one of the coolest bars in Madrid. You will not find this place in tourist guides and I’ve searched and searched, they don’t even seem to have a current website or a Facebook page. How cool is that?
Artebar offers cheap flamenco concerts and is the ultimate bohemian Madrid experience.
4. Rooftop terrace on a fine Arts Museum
Instead of spending your weight in Euros for a five-star hotel rooftop view, get a 3 Euro ticket at the Circulo de Bellas Artes Museum and enjoy a cocktail and a sunset. And one of the most mind-blowing views of the city, from the azotea (rooftop terrace) of the museum.
5. A break from the craziness of Madrid
I’m sure you know that at some point in history, Spain was conquered by the moors.
This led to breath-taking architecture and the opportunity for you to enjoy a break from the craziness of the city in the secret Hammam Al Andalus. Believe it or not, not a lot of people know about this place.
6. Buy secret cookies from cloistered Spanish nuns
Although you might not see any of the nuns of the Corpus Christi convent when you purchase the cookies, it is still a pretty interesting experience to get these cookies knowing that the nuns have made a vow to stay away from the world.
They are also to die for. (The cookies, not the nuns).
7.Relax at a magical palace
While this might not be the most alternative thing to see in Madrid since the park “Parque del retiro” is considered to be Madrid’s Central Park, the Crystal Palace is still worth the detour. Go there at sunset, sit back, relax, and enjoy. The place is magical.
8. Discover a hidden Garden
It looks like it’s closed, but Palacio del Príncipe Anglona Garden is only waiting for you to push that little door and spend some time in that idyllic green area in the heart of the city.
Located in the trendiest neighborhood of Madrid, La Latina, it is a perfect spot for you to digest all these tapas and gather energy so you can go back out there and get the party started.
9. Discover the second face of Madrid
The Puerta de Alcalá might look like just another monument of a big city (and a pretty beautiful one, if you ask me) and so famous that songs have even been written about it. At first sight it seem like it doesn’t have its place in an alternative things to do in Madrid list, but fun fact: it is actually a two-faced monument and looks different according to where you look at it from.
Legend has it that king Carlos III actually approved two different designs without realizing it, and since his advisors were scared to let him know that he had made a mistake, they decided to merge the two projects.
10. A matinee at the cinema
No dubbing available in this typical movie-theatre of 13 rooms and stain-glass windows.
In Cine Ideal all movies are screened in their original version. And the early shows on Saturday and Sunday are cheaper.
11. Desperate literature
This is the place for you all bookworms roaming the streets of Madrid. Home to the very best collection of used English books in the city, a naughty cat named Wednesday and a vintage typewriter destined to bursts of inspiration and not selfies.
Desperate Literature strives to be a space where good literature serves as a vehicle for dynamic cultural, linguistic and social exchange between madrileños, extranjeros and travelers from around the world. In this spirit they look forward to host readings, meetings, gallery shows, lectures, and more. This says it all.
12. Café in a hidden university rooftop
Guau&Café is a hidden Café on the rooftop of an old university (Escuela Pías) and if no one had tipped you off, you wouldn’t realize it existed.
It’s quirky and beautiful. An excellent opportunity for you to escape from all the tourists and enjoy a drink in the fresh Madrid evening breeze overlooking the city.
13. Art Gallery in an idyllic location
Located only 20 minutes away from downtown Madrid in the fancy neighborhood of La Florida, the Javier Lopez Art Gallery is still only really known by some art aficionados of Madrid art scene.
Not only the quality of the art on display will provide you with some essential insight into the work of some major contemporary artists, but the idyllic location and futuristic building will also offer you a well deserved breath of fresh air after the hustle and bustle of the city.
14. Time travel at a 1920’s cinema
Have you always wanted to try time travel?
Then you might want to check Cine Doré out. Jump back in time in this 1920’s cinema. Where if you are lucky, you will get seats to a silent movie showing with live piano music. How very chaplinesque!
15. Be delighted by acoustic Spanish music
For a change from digitalized music and a real sense of true Spanish traditional art, go take a look at this 19th Century theatre. In Teatro de la Zarzuela, dozens of musicians play acoustic music in a theatre only known by madrileños. It will surely give you a sense of authenticity.
16. Alternative Theatre
Prostitutes used to work in this former brothel, now turned into an alternative theatre where five 15-minute long plays are held simultaneously, engaging the public to interact with the actors.
The hip little theatre, Microteatro Madid, is packed on weekend so you might want to get there early for a chance to grab a good seat and a glass of vino.
17. Sunset at a Second Century Temple
Your idea of a good time in Madrid doesn’t necessarily involve going to the temple. You might however, enjoy an out of this world sunset in this 2200-year-old Egyptian temple, which was a gift to Spain in 1968.
What about a little picnic there while you’re at Debod Temple? Oh! Perfect plan.
18. Bucolic park with a Spanish Civil War Bunker
Don’t get put off by all the restrictions to access this park: this bucolic park looks like the gardens of Eden and is the only place in Madrid where you will find a temple dedicated to Bacchus, the wine god.
Never crowded, always clean, Capricho Park is a real oasis right in the heart of the Spanish capital.
19. Dark legends and tapas!
How often do you get to discover a city’s dark secret, legends and mysteries, without spending hours researching censored volumes in a shady library?
With mysteries in a tapas Madrid tour you have the chance to discover Madrid’s darkest secrets, and of course, enjoy tapas in the process and have pub crawl while you’re at it. Spooky!
20. Capture your best side at a private photo session
Let’s face it: we all take a dozen of selfies when we travel, which all end up looking the same and quite frankly don’t convey the thrill and emotion we were feeling while we were traveling.
Quite disappointing once you look at them back home, right? This is your chance to get amazing travel pictures of you that you will cherish for a lifetime! Get a professional photoshoot in Madrid and capture your best side.
21. Escape from Zombies!
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to stop the thread of a zombie virus threatening to poison humanity.
In Zombie lab you got sixty minutes. And a team of fellow scientists. You are in a secret underground lab in a basement downtown Madrid. Are you in?
22. Ghost Metro Station
Part of the Madrilenian subway line that opened in 1919. Estación Chamberí was closed in the sixties when the metro company decided to increase the traffic on this line, and it was impossible to enlarge this station. Abandoning it until 2008, when they reopened it to turned it into a museum. In Anden 0 you can immerse yourself in the history of the actual city of Madrid.
23. Tapas at a local Market
Last but not least. What is Spain famous for aside from its unique architecture and the warmth of its people? Tapas it is, tíos. Now is the time to get hungry and take a stroll at San Miguel Tapas Market, and marvel at the buzz of this quaint market.
The historical building, isconsidered one of the 13 most beautiful market halls in Europe. Let yourself get carried away by the smells and tastes of this experience. ¡Olé!
Summary for having fun in Madrid
What! Not enough fun? Then check out these other articles we collected for you:
- Free things to do in Madrid by TimeOut
- 26 local sights in Madrid by likealocalguide
- 7 Best Things to do at Night in Madrid by elitetraveler
Did you find any other cool recommendation for some entertainment in Madrid? Share your thoughts in the comments below.