Things to do in Madrid

Explore Madrid Hidden Gems and Best-Kept Secrets

Venture off the beaten path to uncover Madrid's secret spots and hidden delights.

Madrid draws in people who come for the diverse culture, wild history, and killer nightlife. Beyond the Plaza Mayor, the sun-baked streets of the Spanish capital teem with thrilling sights that most visitors miss. Madrid's hidden gems make the city what it is—quirky, cosmopolitan, and unabashedly artistic.

Up for an adventure? From secret gardens to ancient Nubian temples, these are some of our favorite things to do in Madrid.


Most tourists pass through the Barajas district at some point—the Madrid-Barajas Airport is located here, after all—but few stop to explore. They're missing out. This area has some of the city's most beautiful parks and unusual historical sites.

1. Parque El Capricho

As the Spanish Civil War raged in the late 1930s, Republican army leaders were holed up unexpectedly. They had a bunker hidden among the lush gardens and classical Greek statues in Parque El Capricho. These days, you can visit the bunker and explore the opulent park, which was once a haven for Spain's artistic elite.

If you're lucky, you'll have the park to yourself. Although it's located next to the popular Parque Juan Carlos I, Parque El Capricho is easily overlooked. A busy street separates it, and it only opens to the public on weekends and holidays.

Photographer: Karabo_Spain

San Blas

Located east of downtown, the San Blas area is reachable by public transportation. Best known as the location of the Estadio Cívitas Metropolitan and Atlético de Madrid, this area boasts one of the city's natural wonders.

2. Parque Quinta de los Molinos

The Parque Quinta de los Molinos is one of Madrid's most peaceful green spaces. Most days, it's populated with local runners and families with kids.

The grounds are pleasant year-round but downright breathtaking in the spring. That's when the many almond trees burst into bloom. Meandering under a canopy of pink and white flowers is one of the dreamiest experiences in the city.

We love the park's slightly wild, unmanicured vibe. In some areas, it feels like walking through a remote forest rather than a major urban center—even though Suanzes metro station is a few minutes away.


You might recognize Moncloa as the home of the enormous Casa de Campo park. It's also where you'll find one of our favorite hidden gems in Madrid.

3. Templo de Debod

The Templo de Debod is something you'd never expect to see in central Spain—an ancient Nubian temple. And no, it's not a replica. The temple was built in Egypt more than 2,000 years ago. Spain, which helped save Nubian archeological sites and artifacts in the mid-1900s, received the temple as a gift from Egypt in 1968.

Today, you can walk through the reconstructed temple for up to 30 minutes. Allow a couple of hours for the visit. Only ten people are allowed in at a time, so you might need to wait.

Photographer: Miguel Saenz de Santa María


As one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Madrid, Vallecas is a remarkable place to visit. Look closely to see signs of the destruction during the Spanish Civil War.

4. Cerro del Tío Pío Park

Watch the sun go down over Madrid at Cerro del Tío Pío Park. Set southeast of the city center, this large, grassy spot offers a spectacular view of the skyline and the mountains in the distance.

While waiting for sunset, stroll around the park to see the sculptures that line the paths. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes. It’s a park known for its large hills.

Photographer: VacacionesPagodasBlog

5. The Rocker Grandma Statue

At first glance, The Rocker Grandma statue looks like a standard-issue military monument. Look closer, and you'll see it's an elderly woman wearing a hat and a leather jacket. Not only that, but she’s making the classic “sign of the horns” gesture with her right hand. This is Ángeles Rodríguez Hidalgo, a grandmother and a beloved figure in Madrid's music scene.

After Hidalgo died in 1993, her friends in the rock community raised funds for a tribute. Artist Carmen Jorba completed the statue in 1994, and it's been gracing the end of Paseo Antolín Pulido ever since.

Torrejón de Ardoz

Torrejón de Ardoz is home to several Madrid tourist attractions, including Museo de la Ciudad and the 16th-century church, Parroquia San Juan Evangelista. It's easily accessible by train. You can get there from the city center in less than 30 minutes.

6. Parque Europa

Travel around some of Europe's major landmarks without leaving Spain at Parque Europa. This vast park features scale models of icons, such as the Eiffel Tower, the Brandenburg Gate, and a Trevi Fountain replica. There's also a real piece of the Berlin Wall.


If you're coming to Madrid, your hotel will likely be in the Centro area. It houses most of the city's greatest hits, including Puerta del Sol, Plaza Mayor, the royal palace, and many of the best flamenco shows in Madrid. But that's not all. If you know where to look, the city center reveals a few of the most exciting secrets of Madrid.

7. Hemingway Bar (Clandestino Cocktail Bar)

When writer Ernest Hemingway visited Madrid in the '50s, he often stayed at the Casa Suecia (now the NH Collection Madrid Suecia hotel). To see where he and other literary creatives used to drink, stop by the hotel's Clandestino Cocktail Bar. Finding the entrance is all part of the fun—the bar is a literal hidden gem of Madrid.

Whether you're a writer looking for inspiration or simply in the mood for a beverage, it's impossible not to be charmed by this gorgeous, Prohibition-style bar. Awash in red velvet and gleaming gold accents, it feels like a true hideout from the world.

8. Salvador Bachiller Secret Garden

The Salvador Bachiller store looks like any other upscale retailer in Madrid to the average passerby. You're not here to shop, however. Bypass the handbags and homewares and head to the rooftop terrace to find Jardín Secreto de Salvador Bachiller, a secret garden café.

Walls of lush greenery create a refreshing getaway from the busy streets below. Hundreds of twinkling lights fill the space with a romantic glow at night. The food and drinks are as beautiful as the garden itself. We recommend making reservations in advance to ensure you get a spot.

9. La Violeta

If you want to try traditional Spanish violet candy, La Violeta is the best place. This tiny shop is stuffed with every violet product, including frosted violets, chocolates, and mousse candies.

Everywhere you turn, beautiful purple packaging awaits. This is one of the most adorable hidden gems in Madrid. Only a few people can fit inside at a time, so make sure to leave a bit of extra time. Plenty of shops are nearby to explore while you wait for an opening.

10. Medias Puri

Don't be discouraged when you arrive at Medias Puri to find an ordinary-looking haberdashery. The back room opens up to a hidden three-floor dance club.

Medias Puri is only open on weekends. It offers evenings filled with music, drinks, and dancing. The DJs change regularly, and the crowd is eclectic and fun-loving. Book tickets online in advance to avoid a long wait.


Set just north of downtown and Retiro Park, trendy Malasaña is one of the city's most happening areas. Tourists and locals spend relaxed afternoons popping into Madrid art galleries, restaurants, and funky shops. Then, they return after dark for parties that go on all night long.

11. Restaurant Ojalá

Landlocked Madrid is anything but a beach town, but you'd never know it at Restaurant Ojalá. Upstairs, the breezy design feels like a waterfront café, with hanging plants, sea colors, and natural wood. It's beautiful, but the real spectacle is located downstairs at Ojalá Playa.

As you descend into the warmly lit space, you'll find rough walls and floors covered in sand. Sink onto a low lounge, sip a drink from the colorful beach bar, and pretend you're relaxing in a tropical paradise.

12. Cocktails & Art at Kikekeller

When the clock strikes 11 p.m., the Kikekeller gallery in the 7 Islas Hotel transforms into one of the city's most exciting cocktail spots. Creatives from all backgrounds come to chat, enjoy a drink, and surround themselves with stylish elegance.

There are no rules here. You can wander around the art gallery, drop by the hotel restaurant, or find any cozy spot to admire the hotel's Scandi-inspired interiors.

Barrio de las Letras

Name a famous Spanish writer from centuries past, and there's a good chance they spent time in the Barrio de las Letras. This neighborhood has long been one of the city's most important cultural centers. It's also home to a secret Madrid highlight.

13. Yugo The Bunker

Most diners at the Michelin-starred Yugo The Bunker don't know the restaurant is hiding something special. In the basement, a room is only open to members.

The Japanese cuisine is fantastic no matter where you sit, but the private, wood-paneled space has a fun, exclusive vibe. Contact the restaurant in advance to see if they accept membership applications.


Experience the true Spanish way of life in Chamberí, a large district full of grand buildings and bustling streets. Frequented primarily by locals, it's a wonderful place to find authentic restaurants and cafés.

14. Toma

If you're passionate about coffee, Toma Café should be on your list of places to visit in Madrid. This hipster hot spot was a pioneer in the city's coffee scene and still serves some of the best specialty drinks in town. If you like the taste, you can buy freshly roasted beans to take home.

While you're hanging out in the chic, modern space, take a look at the menu. The tostadas and sandwiches pair perfectly with coffee drinks. We love the jamón Ibérico tostada.

15. La Duquesita

Satisfy your sweet tooth at La Duquesita, a bakery known for its chocolate-covered palmeras. That's only the tip of the iceberg. The display cases are overflowing with perfectly presented desserts. Bring your appetite or a few friends because you'll want to try more than one treat.

We suggest enjoying your pastries in-house, even if you have to wait to snag a seat. The vintage French interior design makes a simple afternoon treat feel extra special.

La Latina

La Latina, famous for its terraces and sidewalk cafés, is many Madrileños' favorite place to enjoy a meal alfresco. If you want to look deeper, this historic neighborhood has secrets to spare.

16. Sunset at the Jardines de San Francisco

The cavernous Real Basílica de San Francisco el Grande is a popular attraction, but few visitors venture around the building to the Jardines de San Francisco. These small, beautiful gardens are a wonderful place to watch the sunset.

Is it coming earlier in the day? Wander among the beds of brilliant dahlias and admire the group of statues known as El Sueño de San Isidro. The figures once adorned a large fountain, but now overlook the flowers.

Embracing Madrid's Unseen Splendor: A Journey Through Its Secret Charms

Madrid seems sophisticated on the surface, but its secrets reveal a different side of the city. Leave the enthusiastic crowds behind and discover the fanciful side of the town.

Beyond Madrid's picturesque streets, another world of hidden marvels awaits. Join our performers under the big top and enter an alternate universe where acrobats glide through the air. Extraordinary stories unfold in a whirl of light and movement during our shows in Madrid.

More articles about