Things to do in Madrid

Things to do in Madrid

The excitement of Madrid is ever-growing and never ending, no matter what time of day or night! With an enormous array of outdoor activities, art, plays, movies, shopping, parties, clubs, and more, here's everything you need to plan your trip:

Arts and Entertainment in Madrid

The options to expand your horizons are limitless, with spacious, grand museums filled with great works by Picasso, Dali, Goya, Velazquez and more just a few minutes from your doorstep.


Visit the Reina Sofia, El Prado, the Thyssen, or even the vintage train museum to see what all the fuss is about! What's more? Most of Madrid's museums have open hours on evenings or weekends with free tickets for everyone!

See all museums
Live performance in Madrid

Madrid Sports and Activities

When Madrid weather is sunny and warm (which it almost always is) take a dip in one of the numerous open pools- some of which are Olympic sized!- or head out for a hike in the mountains, only 320 minutes from the city center!


Madrid also offers a huge selection of gyms and fitness clubs, as well as outdoor trails and paths- the Anillo Verde, for example, loops around the entire city! There are also tonnes of clubs for rollerblading, running, yoga in the park, Pilates, and the list goes on…

Our favorite activities
Fun in the Retiro Park

Madrid Nightlife

This is the thing Madrid is possibly best known for: its incredible social life!


With literally thousands of hotspots located throughout the city, each neighborhood boasts its own take on the Spanish fiesta: looking for hipster bars, small dance floors, giant multi-floor clubs, or a retro speak easy full of modern beatniks? We've got 'em all and more!

See our recommended bars and clubs
Madrid's amazing nightlife

Shopping in Madrid

Clothing, specialty food, flea markets, and daily grocery shopping are all at your fingertips in this metropolitan hub!


For clothing, try the posh shops on Calle Serrano, the most popular stores on Gran Vía and Fuencarral, or get funky in Malasaña or Lavapies: no matter what you choose, you’re sure to find something one of a kind.

For those of you with dietary or health needs, Madrid has a pharmacy on almost every street, and almost every grocery store (from the big chains to your local corner store) offer gluten/lactose free products and other allergy-friendly foods!

Finally, be sure to take advantage of the fresh food markets located throughout the city, as well as weekend farmer’s markets, food truck festivals, and one of the world’s largest flea markets, El Rastro!

See our recommendations
World-renowned shopping

Holidays and Festivals in Madrid

If you’re looking for a defining moment in Madrid, look no further.


The most iconic moments of the city- Semana Santa processions, thousands of twinkling Chrismas lights, military processions on 12th October (Doce de Octubre), fireworks in Retiro park, or the week long book festival- are just waiting for you to join the fun!

See a detailed list of festivals
One of Madrid's Christmas markets

Madrid Public Holidays

AIL Madrid is one of the only schools in Madrid that makes up for class time lost on public holidays, so these are some of the best, most enjoyable weeks to explore Madrid!


Enjoy extra hours of class on the day we are open and then a full day off to enjoy processions and more!

This year’s public holidays
The stunning Retiro Park

Madrid Districts

Each Madrid neighborhood has its own flavor and style: be it funky artistry.


Trendy cafes and shopping, classic Spanish bars, or posh shopping, there’s something for every mood within walking distance. The main neighborhoods of fancy Salamanca (where we’re located), hipster Malasaña, gay-friendly Chueca, traditional Huertas, international Lavapies, or the Rastro-tastic La Latina are the most well known and all within minutes of AIL. To get an in depth description and find your favorite spot, check out our blog!

Find my neighborhood
Sunset over Madrid

Cities Surrounding Madrid

As if there weren’t already enough reasons to love Madrid, it’s also in one of the best locations in the world: mountains with hiking and (in winter) skiing are only 30 minutes away, the beach is just over an hour by train, and its surrounded by stunning medieval cities!


Check out the ancient Roman aqueduct in Segovia, the distinct religious architecture of Toledo, the Monastery in El Escorial, or the world famous university in Salamanca in a series of easy day trips- you’ll be there in just 20 minutes to an hour, depending on your chosen city!

Plan your day trip
Wonderful Spanish countryside

Before you arrive...

One great way to prepare yourself for your Spanish adventure is to try a few skype classes!


Review structure, grammar, conversation skills and more with our native teachers so that you feel cheerful and comfortable from the moment you touch down in Madrid. Also, be sure to run through our application checklist to help you get everything in order for your trip!

AIL Madrid Spanish students

Application Check List...

  • Make sure you have a valid passport or ID required to enter Spain
    • Do you know the restrictions and visa requirements required to come to Spain from your home country? If not, you can read about them in the FAQ or during checkout, as well as review the documents needed to obtain a student visa in Spain.
    • If you’re coming from a country with visa requirements, be sure to plan ahead and leave enough time to process your visa before you fly to Spain. Check our FAQ page to see how much time we suggest for your region or country.
    • Have you thought about where you’re going to stay in Madrid? Find the best options in our housing section!
    • Take your level test! You’ll be required to do this during checkout anyway, but you can choose to take it at any time!
    • Pack your bags, and don’t forget your sunglasses- we’ll see you in Madrid!