Where to Eat, Stay, and Play in Madrid, Spain

Royal Palace

Planning a trip to Europe can be pretty overwhelming, and let’s face it, hiring a booking agent can break the bank. But guess what? I’ve got your back! After traveling of my own throughout Europe, I put together a comprehensive list of where to eat, stay, and play in Madrid, Spain. Below you’ll find the best restaurants, coolest things to do, and must-see sights. 

So, if you’re ready to make the most of your time in Spain and have an epic adventure, I’ve got the insider scoop for you! Forget the travel jitters, ’cause we’re gonna explore Spain like pros, with each activity and sight-to-see planned out to give you the best of this incredible country. Whether you’re a foodie, a history buff, or just want to spend the day shopping, I’ve got you covered.


  • We stayed at Hostal Oriente
    • We landed in Madrid around 8am and caught an uber to our hotel. Catching an uber from the airport is super easy so don’t stress about this part. Our stay at Hostel Oriente is anything but your ordinary hostel despite the name. To our surprise, the hotel exceeded our expectations with its cleanliness and overall ambiance, all while remaining budget-friendly. Situated right in the heart of Madrid’s bustling plaza, we found ourselves in the midst of everything this vibrant city has to offer – shops, restaurants, and best of all, just a short walk away from the Royal Palace. Some of the rooms come with a balcony that offers breathtaking views or the lively plaza below. If you arrive before check-in time like we did, the staff was nice enough to hold our bags for us in a locked room while we went to explore the city.
  • Other hotels we looked into staying at include:
    • H10 Villa de la Reina Boutique Hotel
    • Hotel NH Collection Madrid Palacio de Tepa
    • Hotel Atlántico


  • Visit the Royal Palace
    • This is definitely a sight you don’t want to miss! Built in the 18th century, the palace boasts over 3,000 rooms, making it the largest royal palace in Western Europe, surpassing even Buckingham Palace. One of the most remarkable sections of the Royal Palace is the Royal Armoury, showcasing an awe-inspiring collection of weaponry and armor. From intricately crafted suits of armor worn by valiant knights to finely detailed ceremonial swords, the Armoury provides a glimpse into the martial history of Spain and the valor of its past rulers.
  • Take a stroll through the Prado Museum
    • Founded in 1819, the Prado Museum boasts a rich history that reflects the passion of Spanish royalty for art and culture. Once a royal museum exclusively meant for the enjoyment of the Spanish monarchy, it now opens its doors to art enthusiasts from all corners of the globe, sharing its diverse and awe-inspiring collections with the world.
  • Rent a bird scooter and ride around Retiro Park and visit the Crystal Palace 
    • This enchanting urban oasis, known as Parque del Buen Retiro in Spanish, offers an idyllic retreat where locals and visitors alike can escape the city’s hustle and bustle. The Lush greenery, shaded pathways, and beautiful gardens at Retiro Park create a serene atmosphere that invites you to unwind and embrace the natural beauty around you. Whether you’re seeking a leisurely stroll, a peaceful spot to read a book, or a place to relax with friends, Retiro Park offers the perfect backdrop for all. Within Retiro Park, you’ll find the Crystal Palace, or Palacio de Cristal, which stands as a mesmerizing architectural gem that enchants visitors with its ethereal beauty. This striking glass pavilion, designed in the late 19th century, serves as a symbol of Spain’s artistic prowess and innovation. Its delicate iron framework, crowned by a majestic glass dome, allows natural light to cascade through its interiors, creating a dreamlike atmosphere that captivates all who step inside. Originally intended to house exotic plants from the Philippines during the late 19th-century Exhibition of the Philippines, the Crystal Palace now serves as an exhibition space for contemporary art and cultural events.
  • Spend the night dancing at Kapital 
    • Step into the vibrant heart of Madrid’s nightlife, where euphoria and excitement intertwine. Boasting seven sprawling floors, each with its distinctive theme and music genre, Kapital offers an unparalleled nightlife journey like no other. From intimate lounges to dance floors pulsating with energy, every level invites you to immerse yourself in the spirit of revelry.
  • Shop til you drop
    • Madrid is not only a cultural and historical treasure trove but also a shopper’s paradise. From chic boutiques to bustling markets and grand shopping streets, Madrid offers an enticing blend of traditional craftsmanship and modern fashion. The iconic Gran Vía, Madrid’s grand shopping avenue, stands as a fashion mecca that captivates fashionistas from all over the world. Stroll along this bustling street, adorned with elegant boutiques, flagship stores, and renowned international brands. From the latest high-end fashion to local designer labels, Gran Vía is the place to embrace your style and indulge in retail therapy. Fun fact: Did you know that Zara opened its first store right here in Spain? For some reason, the clothes seemed to be 10x better than their counterparts in the US.


  • RIU Plaza Espana for lunch
    • This architectural gem, soaring high with panoramic views of the city’s iconic landmarks, offers a haven of elegance and comfort for all types of travelers. The restaurant serves a wide selection of tapas including mouthwatering croquettes, delectable cheese and meat platters, and even some irresistibly cute hamburger sliders. To complement your meal, savor some truly refreshing cocktails as well. Once you’re done eating, head upstairs to the rooftop terrace and treat yourself to more cocktails, a 360-degree view of the city, and some fun music. Make sure to book a reservation on their website in advance. 
  • Ella Sky Bar for dinner
    • If you’re looking for a place where locals come alive on Friday and Saturday nights, Ella Sky Bar is an absolute must-visit. The restaurant is lined with expansive glass windows that give you a view of the cityscape, ensuring you never miss a moment of Madrid’s vibrant energy. The ambiance at Ella is nothing short of great – a perfect blend of lively and fun, making it an ideal setting for socializing. The Artichoke Flowers with sea salt and crispy ham were definitely my favorite thing we ordered on the menu. We also tried the Cheese Platter with homemade breadsticks and jam, Salmon Tartar marinated in ponzu, Grilled Octopus with chimichurri sauce, and Sea Bass with yellow chili, red onion, and caramelized sweet potato with honey. Once you’re finished eating, there’s a rooftop bar with a 360-degree view of the city that seems to stretch into eternity. Sip on crafted cocktails, and dance the night away as their DJ plays you some grooves. Make sure to book a reservation on their website in advance. 
  • San Miguel Market 
    • San Miguel Market holds a significant place in Madrid’s history, tracing its roots back to the early 20th century. Originally a traditional market where locals sourced fresh produce and ingredients, it has evolved into a culinary hotspot, drawing both locals and tourists in search of delectable treats and authentic Spanish flavors. From classic tapas to regional delicacies and international fusion, San Miguel Market is lined with rows and rows of vendors and endless options to choose from. 
  • TATEL for dinner
    • Founded by Raphael Nadal and Christian Ronaldo, TATEL is a luxury dinner spot in the heart of Madrid. TATEL recovers the legend of the clandestine bars of the American 1920s, during the controversial prohibition law, where only the most daring locals survived, and combines it with the most innovative techniques and current tastes, to design unique cocktails that take you back to those debauched afternoons and nights. TATEL is known for having live music every day of the year.