Many argue that Madrid is Spain's most cultural city, as its central location draws people, gastronomy, traditions, and customs from around the country. In Madrid, you can dive deep into Spain's history and culture with walking tours of its diverse neighborhoods, evenings experiencing its distinct tavern culture, and tastes of staples like jamón Ibérico and padrón peppers. Then, peruse the world-renowned Prado Museum, enjoy dinner in the world's oldest restaurant, learn all about Spanish royalty, or take a day trip to one of the nearby historic cities and villages.

Getting Oriented

Aerial view of Madrid's historic quarter and the city's Plaza Mayor.

Madrid is Spain's vibrant capital city, the perfect place to learn all about the country's fascinating and lengthy history. Many travelers go back and forth trying to decide between visiting Madrid or Barcelona, with the latter often winning. But many residents of the country claim that Madrid is the most cultural city in Spain, as its history and central location make it home to a diverse range of customs and traditions dating back generations. Call it a hub or a melting pot, there's much to see, do, and enjoy in buzzy Madrid.

To experience the city's unique cultural blend, consider walking through its different neighborhoods. (Residents will confirm that each district has its own unique personality.) Along the way, get a true sense of the city's gastronomic culture by tavern hopping—stand at the bar and feel free to throw your napkins on the ground! Or, visit sites like the Prado Museum or Royal Palace. And one of the best parts about Madrid? It's endless options for fascinating day trips, like to the villages of the Sierra Nevada mountains or legendary cities like Toledo or Segovia.

History, Culture & Gastronomy

Experience the heart and history of Madrid with walking tours, tavern experiences, a bit of traditional gastronomy.

Walking Tour of Madrid

A look toward Madrid's famous street, Gran Vía.

Explore the historic core of Spain's capital city with a walking tour of Madrid. With a knowledgeable local guide leading the way, you'll start in Plaza Mayor and Plaza de Oriente, Madrid's historical and cultural heart. Other highlights include the Egyptian Templo de Debod, the San Antonio de la Florida Chapel, and the beautiful Jardines del Moro. End the tour by resting your feet and chatting with your guide over a drink and round of tapas. Read More

Jamón Ibérico Workshop

Learn a bit about its history and get a taste of Spain's famous jamón ibérico.

Whether you're a foodie or not, you've probably heard of Spain's renowned jamón Ibérico. Experience this famous thinly sliced cured meat with an Ibérico ham workshop in Madrid. You'll learn how to differentiate various types of meat, plus how to properly carve it, the curing process, and the pricing structure. Take home your own freshly carved packet and enjoy a delicious lunch featuring, of course, jamón Ibérico. Read More

Street Art & Graffiti Tour of Lavapies

Enjoy the vibrant and artistic neighborhood of Lavapies.

Step away from the center of Madrid and its grand monuments and explore one of the city's most beloved neighborhoods with a graffiti and street art tour of Lavapies. As one of the most multicultured districts of Madrid, Lavapies is bursting with life. From the best international food in the city to vibrant street art, enjoy exploring this young and trendy district. Along the way, you'll learn about how Spain's dictatorship ended in 1975, giving freedom of speech a chance to take hold in the form of street art. Read More

Tapas, Taverns & History Tour

Dive into Madrid's history with tapas and traditional taverns.

As many long-time residents of Madrid argue, you can't truly experience the history of the city without tasting its food. A local guide will take you through the historic streets of Madrid, stopping at four family-owned tapas bars. Learn how Spain's history is just as much kings and wars as it is garlic shrimp and crusty bread. Sip local wine, vermouth, and other drinks while tasting staples like grilled mushrooms, padrón peppers, and gambas al ajillo (garlic shrimp). In between bites, you'll learn about Spain's storied past. Read More

Plan your trip to Spain
Customize your trip with help from a local travel specialist.

Museums & Palaces

There's no shortage of historical sites in Madrid, with two of the most popular being the city's famed Prado Museum and its royal palace.

Prado Museum Visit & Lunch at Botín

Peruse the halls of the Prado.

Combine art, history, and gastronomy with a tour of the Prado Museum and lunch at Botín, the world's oldest restaurant. An art historian will lead you through the Prado, stopping to learn about 20 of the museum's most important masterpieces. You'll find world-renowned artists here, including Diego Velázquez, Francisco Goya, Titian (Tiziano Vecellio), Bosch, Rembrandt, and Peter Paul Rubens. Afterward, stroll through Madrid's Literary Quarter as you make your way to Sobrino de Botín for lunch. Read More

Madrid’s Royal Palace

Learn about Spain's royal history at the palace.

Be a royal for the day and dive deep into Madrid's history. A tour of Madrid's Royal Palace starts with a stroll through the city, making your way to the 18th-century fortress, which was built atop medieval Moorish Alcázar. This grand structure was home to the Bourbon dynasty until 1931, so you'll find lavish furnishings, beautiful tapestries, frescoes, and elegant furniture inside, plus many historical tidbits and anecdotes as told by your guide. Read More

Day Trip to Toledo

Toledo is known for its history of medieval Arab, Jewish, and Christian cultures.

Enjoy a day trip to Toledo, a beautiful and historic city just south of Madrid, and once the capital of Spain in the 16th century. Known as the "City of the Three Cultures," Christian, Muslim, and Jewish communities allegedly coexisted peacefully in Toledo during the Middle Ages, which you'll learn all about while visiting monuments such as the Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes, the Alcázar de Toledo, and the Moorish Synagogue of Santa María la Blanca. Read More

How to Craft the Perfect Madrid Itinerary

Madrid's Called Gran Vía at dusk.

How many days to spend in Madrid depends on how much you'd like to see and do. You only need a few days to visit the city's highlights, but give yourself a week or so if you'd like to fully enjoy Madrid and enjoy a day trip or two. Because the city is in the center of Spain, you can easily pair it with other popular destinations, like Barcelona, Valencia, Bilbao, and/or Seville. The country has an extensive highway network, plus high-speed trains and regional airports, so getting around is relatively easy. 

Some popular city combinations include Madrid, Barcelona, and Valencia; Madrid, Seville, and Granada; and Madrid, Basque Country, and Galicia. It's also typical to pair Portugal or Morocco with a visit to Spain.

Past kimkim travelers have enjoyed the following itineraries that feature experiences in Madrid: