1. Visit Puerta Del Sol and Watch Street Performers
Back in the 15th century when there was a fence surrounding Madrid, Puerta del Sol was a main gate that opened up into the city. It was decorated with a sun (hence the name Puerta del Sol) because it faced eastward in the direction of the sunrise. Today this buzzing plaza houses the head of Madrid’s regional government, making it a hotspot for protestors, tourists, and talented folks trying to make an extra buck. If you walk around the central square and mosey along the connecting streets, you are guaranteed to come across singers, dancers, and musicians of all kinds.
Location: Plaza de la Puerta del Sol, s/n, 28013 Madrid
Closest Metro Station: Sol
2. Take a Stroll in Buen Retiro Park
It is easy to see how this extraordinary park got its name, as it truly would be a great place to leisurely stroll in retirement. But if you are not quite there in life, at least dedicate an afternoon to perusing the 308 gorgeous acres of green space Madrid has to offer. If you want to keep the experience 100 percent free, a walk among the perfectly manicured flowers and trees is the way to go. If you want a little more substance to the park visit, but are on a budget, you can try packing food for a picnic or stopping for a drink at a spot overlooking the lake.
Location: Plaza de la Independencia, 7, 28001 Madrid
Closest Metro Station: Retiro
3. See a Skyline View of Madrid at the Top of El Corte Ingles
Who knew window shopping in a department store could lead to such a fantastic view? At the top of El Corte Ingles, there is a floor filled with tapas, wines, pizzas, and wrapped items for sale that trumps your typical mall food court. Visitors can sip on beverages and taste test on a patio overlooking the Madrid skyline. While you have to pay for refreshments, the view is free and makes for the perfect Instagram photo op.
Location: Plaza Callao 2, 28013 Madrid, Spain
Closest Metro Station: Callao
4. See the Temple De Debod at Sunset
The Egyptian government initially gave the Temple De Debod to Spain to protect it from flooding during the building period of the Aswan Dam. Now the UNESCO World Heritage site is closely guarded against the human forces that threaten its structure. In older pictures of the temple, you can see a brilliant reflection of the landmark in the water surrounding it. The water has since been drained and the attraction closed off to tourists. While you cannot go inside, you can still marvel at the Temple De Debod’s exterior, which looks especially mystical at sunset.
Tourists and locals gather in this area, despite the closure, to relax and see another beautiful skyline view of Madrid. You can find groups sitting in the grass, playing instruments, and even filming in the park.
Location: Calle Ferraz 1, 28008 Madrid
Closest Metro Station: Plaza de España