This Guide To Madrid Will Help You Navigate Spain's Coolest City In Style

It’s a bucket list must for a reason.

by Rachel Dube
madrid travel guide

While there is an abundance of cities to visit in Europe (London, Paris, Amsterdam, to name a few), the Spanish capital of Madrid is relatively under the radar. Historic architecture, delicious bites, amazing museums, and cool bars and restaurants are some of its many draws. With each passing year, more and more establishments and hot spots have been opening in the city, including a new wave of luxury hotels. Moreover, it’s one of the best destinations for shopping, with streets like the iconic Gran Via filled with independent boutiques, international brands, and luxury Spanish designers.

Madrid doesn’t get much snow, if any, and its mild winters, bright fall foliage, beautiful spring flowers, and warm summers make it a perfect year-round destination. That said, warm weather enthusiasts will be tickled to know that the city truly hits full bloom in the spring and summer, with the city’s florals adding stunning pops of color and aromatic scents to cultural hub. Given its proximity to Barcelona, a day trip may sound tempting. However, it’s best to spend at least three days in Madrid to get a good sense of Spain’s cultural capital.

Keep reading for all the can’t miss spots to hit on your next trip to Madrid.

Where To Stay


Built within seven historic buildings, the Four Seasons Madrid is the city’s chicest stay. The property’s 19th-century facade was expertly preserved and seamlessly merged with the modern neutral interiors of each room. The best part of the hotel? Its central location, which makes it easy to walk just about anywhere. Also, it has the largest wellness center in Madrid that spans four floors and includes an indoor pool, outdoor terrace, and much more.

With views of the Royal Palace, the Almudena Cathedral, and Gran Via, The Madrid Edition also makes it easy to immerse yourself in some of Spain’s most iconic sites from the comfort of your plush bed. It’s located in Puerta de Sol, which is in the heart of the capital and is within walking distance of the Golden Triangle of Art (the location of three of the city’s most prestigious art museums). Plus, the rooftop pool, five onsite restaurants, spa, and terrace make for a fabulous stay, too.

Other newly opened properties that are worth the hype include the Thompson Madrid and Rosewood Villa Magna, a pick approved by the tastemakers at travel club Mr. And Mrs. Smith.

Where To Eat & Drink


Madrid’s food scene is bustling with new spots opening all the time. That said, a few staples have become local institutions — and for good reason — including Chocolateria San Gines, a chocolate and churros spot, and La Mallorquina, a bakery with the most delicious pastries. Both have been open since 1894. For tapas, a glass of wine, or both, a stop at Mercado de San Miguel is necessary. The market is open daily with shops offering everything from cheeses to meats at an affordable price. There isn’t any seating here, but there are tons of tables to stand around with friends while you snack.

Isa Restaurant & Cocktail Bar is a great place to grab a luxe, more formal dinner. With a location in the aforementioned Four Seasons Madrid, this chic restaurant is beloved for its Asian and Mediterranean fusion cuisine. Truthfully, you can’t go wrong with anything you order, but the Spanish Angus Bone-In Short Rib or Whole Crunchy Sea Bass are standouts. Bel Mondo, an Italian restaurant with whimsical decor and delicious plates of pastas, is another great option.

A post-dinner cocktail at Salmon Guru shouldn’t be missed. The cocktail bar has drinks with names like Tequila Al Pastor and Coffee Break, which taste exactly how they sound. It’s been named one of the best cocktail bars in the world by 50 Best Bars and is beloved by locals and visitors alike.

What To Do

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A good place to start if you’re visiting the Spanish capital for the first time? The Art Triangle, which comprises the Museo del Prado, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, and Museo Reina Sofía. All three are some of the most popular in Spain, displaying beautiful art. Flamenco, a style of art through dance, originated in Spain. No trip is complete without an afternoon or evening spent watching a Flamenco show.

During a free morning or afternoon, stroll around the El Retiro Park. It’s famous for its Crystal Palace, a glass pavilion and conservatory with art galleries. On a sunny day, you could easily spend a few hours strolling through the gorgeous grounds. The Royal Palace of Madrid is another important landmark to check out. It’s a magnificent architectural structure and showcases the Spanish capital’s royal history and heritage.

Of course, a visit to the Spanish cultural capital isn’t complete without shopping. El Corte Ingles is the biggest department store brand in Europe, featuring everything you could need from fashion and home good to electronics and even supermarket essentials. The nearby Calle Gran Vía is a fashion-lovers dream, featuring has every designer store you could think of. The street is more than 100 years old and includes everything from Villagallo, a local Spanish brand, to Chanel and Hermès.