5 Things to See When You Visit Madrid

Alexandra Goodin, ’25, is a Psychology major and Spanish minor studying at Nebrija University in Madrid this Fall 2023.

Madrid is a city full of tourist attractions, hidden gems, and everything in between. Now that I’ve been here for almost two months, I feel as though I’ve gotten the opportunity to explore quite a bit and discover some very cool spots (although there’s ALWAYS more to see!). So, without further ado, here are my 5 top things to see when you visit Madrid (in no particular order)!

#1: Parque de El Retiro

If you read my very first blog post, you already know that I’m obsessed with Retiro. Retiro is a huge park in Madrid, complete with playgrounds, green space, fountains, historic buildings, and a pond. It’s a great place for a picnic, to go for a run, or to just sit and people watch. Retiro also takes part in a city-wide lights festival every year, which I attended last weekend! It’s a very community-centered place, and is busy no matter when I go – so you know it’s popular for a reason!

Casita del Pescador en El Retiro (Little house of the fisherman)
Scene from the lights festival!
Palacio de Cristal (The Crystal Palace)

#2: Museo Nacional del Prado

The Prado Museum is famous worldwide, and it certainly lives up to its reputation. I’ve only been once, but I will definitely be going back, especially since it’s free for students! The Prado has works from all different artists and time periods, spread out over three huge floors. My friend and I spent two hours there, and covered maybe a third of it – so it’s a place that can definitely keep you occupied for a while!

Exterior of El Prado (they don’t allow photography inside, unfortunately!)

#3: A Flamenco Show

I grew up dancing, so I may be a bit biased, but I still think that going to a flamenco show in Madrid is a MUST. It’s a very celebrated style of dance here in Spain, and carries a lot of tradition and culture. My university organizes a lot of activities and events to attend, and this was one of them. It was super fun to have this experience with my friends and classmates, but even if you go alone, I still think it would be an amazing time.

#4: El Palacio Real

Spain’s government has a constitutional monarchy, which, among many other things, means they have a very cool palace. Fun fact, it is actually the largest royal palace in Europe! I’ve been learning a lot about the history of the Spanish monarchy in one of my classes at Nebrija, so it was very cool for me to finally see in person this place that I’d learned so much about. The palace also has cheap tours of the interior, which I haven’t done yet, but will definitely be checking out before I leave!

#5: Puerta del Sol

Puerta del Sol is Madrid’s main city plaza. It has a ton of historical buildings and iconic landmarks, and also lots of shopping! Some recognizable sites include the famous statue of “El Oso y el Madroño,” or the Bear and the Strawberry Tree, as well as the clock by which Madrid marks the New Year (think of it as the ball drop in Times Square). Another fun fact is that in Madrid, it is customary to eat twelve grapes in front of the clock to ring in the New Year.

Do you see the clock?

I could go on and on about all the cool places in Madrid, but if I had to choose, I would say that these five are some of my favorites! Especially if you only have a limited time in Madrid, I recommend starting with some of these attractions. Let me know which sounds the best to you, and thanks for reading!