Madrid solo travel is full of tons of incredible things to do alone!
I had an amazing experience on my recent solo trip to Madrid. With a thriving food scene, legendary nightlife, and world-class museums, Madrid is a safe city that’s easy to explore by yourself.
You’ll find that Spain’s capital city is a great place for solo travel thanks to its relaxed culture and all the easy ways to make new friends!
In this post, I’ll share everything I’ve learned from my time traveling alone in Madrid including what to do alone, where to stay, and what to eat. Ready? Let’s go!
BEST MADRID FOOD TOUR
One of the best things to do in Madrid is to go on a Spanish food tour, especially if you’re traveling alone.
This is the perfect experience for serious foodies who want to learn about authentic Spanish cuisine and discover a few dishes you definitely haven’t heard of before.
While this tour can be more expensive than dining on your own, you won’t have to worry about falling for tourist trap paella (a crime against humanity!) or a disappointing evening of dining alone. The magic of Spanish food culture practically guarantees you leave your food tour with a couple new travel besties!
What is Madrid Known for?
Madrid, the capital of Spain, is best known for its world-class art museums like the Prado Museum and the Reina Sofia Museum, housing masterpieces by artists like Goya and Picasso.
It’s also home to the magnificent Madrid Royal Palace, an architectural marvel that showcases Spain’s royal heritage. Moreover, Madrid is a foodie haven where you can try unique dishes from every region of Spain.
Is Madrid a Good Place for Solo Travel?
Madrid is a great place for solo travel, because it’s a safe city with friendly locals. In Madrid, you can get a feel for everyday Spanish life, and the Spanish food culture makes it super easy to meet people.
You won’t have the same type of experience in Madrid as in a spot like Barcelona or Seville which have tons of unique attractions for tourists. Madrid is all about the museums and the food scene.
If it’s your first time visiting Spain, you may not want to put Madrid at the top of your list. My own solo trip to Madrid was just a quick stop before exploring Andalusia in the south. Madrid is often a cheap in and out point so a quick day or two there at the beginning or end of your trip could be perfect.
Is Madrid Safe for Solo Female Travellers?
Madrid is a very safe city for solo female travelers thanks to the well-lit city streets, abundance of public spaces, reliable public transportation, and the fact that women travel alone quite often in Spain.
Safety Tip: Make sure to save Spain’s emergency hotline numbers in case of emergency. Dial 091 for the police and 112 for an emergency.
Madrid Solo Travel Tips
Below are a few important tips to help your solo travel in Madrid go as smoothly as possible!
- Meal Times: Spain has a unique set of rules when it comes to dining out. Breakfast spots open around 9 am, lunch is from 1:30-3:30 pm and dinner spots don’t open until 8:30 pm.
- (Not) Free Bread: Bread is everywhere in Spain. They will bring you bread as soon as you’re seated and it may be accompanied by other tapas. Note that these are not free. You will pay for only what you eat so feel free to turn them away.
- Paella: Most paella spots don’t offer single servings of paella. It comes in one big pot priced for 2 or more people. If you want your own portion, your best bet is to either make friends, book one of the best Madrid tapas tours or head to the pre-cooked local market stand. (Click here to see the tour I recommend is paella is a must!)
Things To Do Alone in Madrid
From plazas packed with Spanish history to Egyptian temples to a palace still occupied by Spain’s royal family, Madrid has a wide variety of sites to keep solo travelers, couples, and groups entertained. Booking a walking or bike tour for your first day in the city helps to get acquainted.
Let’s take a look at some of the best things to do alone in Madrid:
1. Royal Palace of Madrid
Madrid’s Palacio Real was built on the site of a 9th-century Muslim fortress and is the largest of the royal palace in Spain, as well as all of Western Europe. You can only visit a few dozen of its 3,418 rooms, but it’s worth it to see the lavish elegance in person. Get your skip-the-line ticket or book a tour. The palace is open Monday-Saturday 10-6 & Sunday 10-4.
2. Plaza Mayor
Plaza Mayor is one of Madrid’s most emblematic squares, filled with inviting outdoor terraces and chic cafés. I loved starting my morning here enjoying a coffee while watching local Madrilenos go about their day.
3. Puerta del Sol
Puerta del Sol is the most iconic square in all of Madrid. It’s km0, the starting point for all radial roads in Spain. The square is also home to the famed statue, El Oso y El Madroño, which shows a bear eating from a fruit tree: one of the most well-known symbols of the Spanish capital. Unfortunately, when I visited, the whole plaza was under construction.
4. Parque Retiro
El Retiro Park is the most famous park in Madrid. Spending a few hours here is one of the most relaxing things to do alone in Madrid.
Once a royal park, it was opened to the public in the late 1700s. No trip to Parque Retiro is complete without a stop at the Crystal Palace, a glass building with temporary art installations that will make you feel like you’re lost in a fairy tale. Afterward, head over to the pond and watch the rowboats pass by.
Park Retiro is gorgeous year-round, but it’s really something to see in the autumn, the leaves turning red and gold in the Spanish sunlight. An afternoon here is one of the most memorable things to do in Madrid in the fall.
5. Gran Vía
An exciting part of Madrid’s city center, it was so fun to take a stroll up and down this famed street, enjoying street performers, shopping, and all the Spanish culture my heart desired.
6. Debod Temple
Near the Royal Palace, the Debod Temple is a real Egyptian temple that was dismantled and rebuilt in Madrid. Solo travelers with a love of history will be fascinated by this free activity in Madrid.
Interestingly, the temple was actually gifted to the city by the Egyptian government, but the structure was first built in the 2nd century. The temple is open Tuesday-Sunday 10-7.
7. Food Tour
To say that I am obsessed with Spanish Food Tours is an understatement. I go on a food tour in every city possible. A food tour is one of the easiest ways to make new friends during solo travel in Madrid.
The team at Devour are absolute foodie experts. They’ll take you to so many great spots and you’ll come away super knowledgeable about Spanish cuisine.
READ NEXT: Madrid Tapas Tours: 10 Best & What to Avoid
8. Mercado San Miguel
After touching down in Madrid, I made a beeline from my hostel to this popular gastro market, Mercado San Miguel, and have no regrets whatsoever. This was a fun thing to do alone in Madrid, because there was no one around to judge how much I was eating!
9. La Latina Tapas Crawl
A definite favorite from my trip was my self-guided tapas crawl through Madrid’s best tapas street: Calle Cava Baja. An adorable and authentic street dotted with tapas bars, photo-worthy decor, and plenty of locals, you won’t regret an afternoon spent here.
I have to be honest, though: even though I loved this experience, a tapas crawl isn’t exactly the best thing to do on your own. These Madrid tapas bars are super social so if you speak Spanish, you’ll likely leave with many new local friends.
I, however, do not so instead I munched on food while people watching. If I had a chance to do it over again, I would have saved this activity for after my Ponzano food tour where I met a couple other travelers I could have invited.
READ NEXT: Cava Baja: The Best Tapas Street in Madrid
10. Ponzano Tapas Tour
Did I do anything, but eat in Madrid? No. No, I did not. Listen, if you leave this city knowing nothing about Spanish cuisine, it will not be because I didn’t give you enough food tour options!
Calle Ponzano, Madrid is located in the posh Chamberi neighborhood outside the main tourist thoroughfare. This street has earned a reputation for having the best tapas in Madrid, with a major focus on quality. (So, yes, they’re slightly more expensive, but trust me, it’s totally worth it!)
I swear I will dream about the fried pork belly bites, or torreznos, the creamy jamon croquetas, and the just-sweet-enough authentic Sangria I ate on this tour until the day I die!
11. Flamenco Show
Flamenco is a Spanish art form made up of three parts: guitar playing, singing, and dancing. Flamenco originated in southern Spain, but is thought to be influenced by world cultures from Latin America and Cuba.
Flamenco dancers try to express their deepest emotions by using body movements and facial expressions. Even though flamenco originally began in Andalusia, many say that the best flamenco artists can be found in Madrid. Venues across the city offer shows nightly.
Devour Tours offers a tapa and flamencos tour that’s perfect for solo travellers looking to meet others.
12. Explore Malasana
Although I didn’t make it to Malasana, this is probably the most recommended neighborhood to visit. Full of vintage clothing, yummy street food, cool art, and hip cafes, some of the top spots to check out are bars TupperWare and Madklyn as well as the Museo Municipal de Arte Contemporáneo.
13. El Prado Museum
Paris has the Louvre, Florence has the Uffizi Gallery, and Madrid has the El Prado Museum. One of the top art museums in the world, it features works from the 12th century to the 20th. Make sure you check out Velazquez’s ‘Las Meninas’ and Goya’s ‘The Naked Maja.’ You can grab a skip-the-line ticket here, get one that includes a tour, or pair your visit with a stop at the Royal Palace.
14. Reina Sofia Museum
Reina Sofia picks up chronologically where El Prado leaves off, displaying modern and contemporary works. The impressive collection consists mostly of Spanish art. Among the highlights are Guernica, Picasso’s most famous painting, along with art from Salvador Dalí and Juan Miró. Plus, there’s a pretty cool photo opp in front of the building! Grab your skip-the-line ticket or book a tour.
15. El Rastro Flea Market
Held on Sundays, El Rastro is the largest and most popular open-air flea market in Madrid. Joining the locals in this weekly ritual is one of the coolest things to do alone in Madrid. Not only is it great for shopping for almost any good your heart desires, but it’s also a chance to participate in authentic Madrinleno culture. Locals gather at the flea market each weekend to shop, socialize and, of course, eat tapas.
16. Seville Day Trip
I highly recommend you visit Madrid’s southern neighbors Seville and Cordoba during a Spain solo travel adventure! I thoroughly enjoyed the scrumptious Andalusian cuisine and mesmerizing Moorish architecture.
I spent a full day touring the most Instagrammable places in Seville like the Royal Alcazar and Plaza Espana, but I’d recommend at least 2-3 days if you have the time. This city was the perfect size: big enough to spend a few days in, but still easily walkable.
I met so many friendly international travelers there- another great solo travel spot!
17. Cordoba Day Trip
Cordoba, on the other hand, is quite small and easily visited in half a day. If you’re there in the spring, you must see its famed patios in bloom. Otherwise, it depends how much time you have to spare and how much of a draw the architecture is. The Mezquita was incredible to see in person, but didn’t take even half the time that Seville’s Alcazar did.
Getting there: A day trip to Cordoba from Madrid‘s Atocha station takes just an hour and a half by high-speed train.
18. Walking Tour
A free walking tour is a must when solo traveling in Madrid. It not only allows you to immerse yourself in the city’s vibrant atmosphere with a local guide, but also provides an excellent opportunity to meet fellow solo travelers and share unique experiences.
19. Flamenco Show
You can’t leave Madrid without seeing a flamenco show to experience the passionate and art firsthand. Watch talented performers captivate the audience with their mesmerizing dance, soulful music, and heartfelt expression of flamenco’s rich heritage.
20. Cooking Class
Take a cooking class to learn the art of Spanish cuisine and delve into the flavors of the region. From mastering traditional dishes like paella and tapas to discovering the secrets of creating authentic Spanish flavors, these cooking classes will fill you up with knowledge and delicious food!
Like all of Spain, Madrid is known for its epic nightlife. One of the best neighborhoods to experience the city’s buzzing nightlife is Malasaña, known for its eclectic mix of bars, clubs, and live music venues. Stay safe and make the most of your Madrid solo travel experience by joining a pub crawl.
Catch a Real Madrid football match at the iconic Santiago Bernabeu Stadium for an unforgettable experience. You know, if you’re a sports fan…
23. Souvenir Shopping
Some of the best souvenirs to bring home are delicious Spanish delicacies like jamón ibérico or authentic olive oil, which capture the essence of the country’s culinary heritage. Additionally, unique and handcrafted items such as ceramics, fans, or leather goods found in the vibrant markets and artisan shops make for memorable and authentic keepsakes from the Spanish capital.
When to Visit Madrid
While Spain always has pretty pleasant weather, the best times to visit are the shoulder seasons of March-May and September-November. You get that nice, balmy weather and the added bonus of smaller crowds. I visited Madrid in the fall and experienced near-perfect weather!
A Brief History of Madrid
Madrid is one of Europe’s most historically rich cities. Its known history traces back to the ninth century, but the area has been inhabited since prehistoric times. Conquered by The Moors before being retaken by Christians, Madrid, unlike its neighbors, Seville and Cordoba, was purged of all symbols of Muslim influence.
Madrid continued to be a central part of Spain’s history. In the 1300s it was home to the Court of Madrid which played a big role in the dark times of the Spanish Inquisition. Later, in the 1800s, a revolt started in Puerta del Sol, one of today’s busiest and most well-known public squares. This revolt spurred the Spanish Civil War.
After centuries of historical tumult, Madrid has made tremendous urban progress. One of Europe’s most progressive, modern, and beautiful cities, it has a vibrant local arts culture and exciting nightlife, along with constant reminders of the city’s rich history.
Where to Stay in Madrid
All solo travellers are different, but if you haven’t given hostels a shot, you should really try them out! You can choose between dorms and private rooms, but most hostels have common areas and organized activities where you’ll make friends right away.
In my opinion, 2060 The Newton Hostel Madrid is one of the best hostel in Madrid for solo travellers. It’s got a chill, lowkey atmosphere and well-thought-out activities for travelers looking to meet others. Plus, they give you free churros for breakfast. What better way to bond with a new roomie than over fried dough and molten chocolate?
Here are a few other Madrid hostels that are great for solo travelers:
The Hat Madrid
Average Price: $
I stayed in one of The Hat’s private rooms and had a great experience. The hostel is in a perfect location for a first-timer visiting Madrid. All the major attractions were only about a 10-minute walk from the hostel. I enjoyed the industrial chic vibe and incredible rooftop. Check out my review of The Hat Hostel Madrid for more info.
2060 The Newton
Average Price: $
2060 The Newton is a concept hostel and one of the most interesting I’ve come across. Inspired by Newton’s prediction that the world will end in 2060, they want guests to live every day like it’s their last. I only spent one night here in a dorm, but I would certainly return. The beds were spacious and comfortable, hot tubs on the rooftop and free churros in the morning. Like I mention in my hostel review, this is one of the best hostels for solo travelers to stay since there were plenty of organized activities.
Axel Hotel Madrid
Average Price: $$$
Neighborhood: Huertas/Barrio de las Letras
The LGBTQ-friendly Axel Hotel in Barrio de Las Letras promises a great time to all its guests. You’ll find plenty of style, design and comfort in this cosmopolitan hotel. Inclusive to all guests, this seems like the perfect spot for a glitzy weekend with your crew.
Casa du Soleil
Average Price: $$
A gorgeous, Mediterranean-style hotel in the hip center of Madrid? Sign me up. Every detail of Casa du Soleil is stunning. Definitely a great pick if your significant other decides to join you last minute. Or if, you know, you just so happen to meet someone special while you’re backpacking in Madrid. Anything could happen!
If you want to see more Madrid hostels you can check out this post for some additional options.
Best Madrid Neighborhoods
Madrid has a ton of different neighborhoods, but there are a handful you’ll want to be familiar with if you’re planning a solo travel to Madrid.
- Centro: Encompassing the city center and some of the neighborhoods below, Centro is home to popular attractions like the Royal Palace and the Temple of Debod.
- Sol: Home to the emblematic Puerta del Sol, Sol is where it all happens. While the location is very central, Sol can be an expensive place to stay. It is also typically filled with tourists.
- Chueca: Madrid’s unofficial LGBTQ headquarters. Located in the heart of Madrid, just north of Gran Via, Chueca is filled with great boutique shops, small museums, tapas bars (of course!) and a great nightlife scene.
- Malasana: West of Chueca is Malasana, one of Madrid’s most trendy, exciting neighborhoods. With some of the best nightlife in the city, Malasana is popular with young crowds.
- La Latina: Calling all foodies. This is the spot for the perfect tapas crawl, particularly along the iconic Calle Cava Baja. The La Latina neighborhood combines a classic Spanish vibe with a bit of hipster, bohemian flair. The people-watching potential is endless.
- Lavapiés: Another centrally located neighborhood, Lavpies is home to many international residents. If you’re looking to experience Madrid’s multicultural atmosphere, this is where you’ll want to go. Quickly becoming one of the most creative, trendy places in the city, Lavapies is also full of budget accommodations.
- Barrio de las Letras: A picturesque central neighborhood, Barrio de las Letras (sometimes called Huertas) draws less tourists than the neighboring Sol. Steeped in history and charm, it’s a great place to wander.
- Salamanca: Popular for its chic, upscale shopping, Salamanca is a residential area filled with local families. This refined neighborhood is the place to go if you’re looking for some new luxury goods.
- Retiro: Containing the park of the same name, Retiro is a must-see when visiting Madrid. If you have extra time, head east of the park and see where the locals go for tapas.
- Chamberi: I’ll be honest, Chamberi (named after the French city) was not even on my radar until I visited Madrid and went on a tapas tour of Calle Ponzano. Now that I know about this hidden gem, it’s at the top of my return visit list!
How to Budget for a Trip to Madrid
When traveling around Europe, you can get away with spending as little or as much as you want. There are tons of options available from budget, mid-range, and luxury travelers.
The same goes for meals. You could stay at a hostel and cook your own food, find cheap restaurants, or splurge on Michelin-star dinners. Personally, I prefer a mix of these options. Save a little here, splurge a little there!
If you’re really looking to save, off-season travel is the way to go. I was once able to get a roundtrip ticket from the US to Spain for just under $500. (During the summer I’d expect to pay $1500.) Even though it was January, Spain felt much warmer than the States. It was also pretty nice to avoid the sweltering summer heat and crowds!
|Wine, Beer, Cocktails||$5-$15|
|Train (from Europe)||$50|
|Flight (from Europe)||$50|
|Flight (from outside Europe)||$500-$1500|
What To Eat in Madrid
For many solo travelers, mealtimes can be the hardest part of traveling alone. Booking plenty of food tours and staying in hostels that offer family-style meals are great ways to get around this.
I also encourage you to try going out to dinner alone! You can start with restaurants that have bar service or pick out quality restaurants that attract other tourists like Sobrino de Botin). These are great places where I often naturally fall into conversation with other fascinating world travelers.
But if solo dining isn’t your idea of fun, your best bet will be to eat at the Spanish markets where meals are quick and easy.
While you’re in Madrid, be sure to try some of their most famous dishes:
- Bocadillo de Calamares: Calamari sandwich? Say less, I’m in. This well-known Spanish dish is popular near Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol.
- Churros con chocolate: Again, IN. Chocolateria San Gines (listed below) is the most highly recommended spot for this delicious Spanish dessert.
- Tortilla Espanola: In Spain, a tortilla is actually an omelet. The typical omelet dish is made with just eggs, potatoes and sometimes onion cooked in olive oil. It resembles more of a quiche than a typical omelet. Sounds simple, but it’s truly a must-try!
- Tostada con Tomate: This light Spanish breakfast is as simple as it sounds: a piece of toast with tomato puree.
- Huevos Rotos: Translating to broken eggs, this dish consists of somewhat runny fried eggs broken up a bit so yolk runs over accompanying jamon and potatoes.
BEST MADRID TAPAS TOUR
A Madrid tapas tour is not only one of my all-time favorite experiences in Spain, it’s also an incredible way to make new friends if you’re traveling alone! There’s just something about Spanish food culture that really brings people together.
This is my favorite tapas tour, because you visit family-run tapas bars and try everything from jamon and manchego to patatas bravas and sizzling garlic shrimp!
While it can be more expensive than visiting tapas bars on your own, this tour gives you the full Spanish foodie experience and is perfect for any solo travelers wanting to make the most of a short trip.
The Best Restaurants in Madrid
As far as where to eat in Madrid, the restaurants below are all highly rated by both locals and tourists alike!
- Mercado de San Miguel ($) – Sol: The most popular gastro market in Madrid is one of the best places to sample authentic Spanish cuisine. This covered market is one of the oldest in the world and is open daily from 10 am-12 pm.
- TupperWare Club ($$) – Malasana: This bar in the popular Malasana neighborhood is one of the most well-known thanks to its vibrant cartoon interior.
- Sobrino de Botin ($$) – Sol: This restaurant holds the Guinness World Record for oldest restaurant that never closed or changed location. While it may seem like a tourist trap, the reviews contend that this is a spot you must check out while in Madrid.
- Chocolatería San Ginés ($) – Sol: If creamy hot chocolate and fresh, crisp churros are your thing, this is the place to go.
- Azotea del Circulo ($$$) – Sol: Love rooftops as much as me? ‘Course you do. Head to this bar on top of the Circulo de Belles Artes building for a 360-view of Madrid.
- Grupo Galleta ($$) – Various: This restaurant group has numerous chic properties spread throughout the city. This includes two gorgeous (and dog-friendly!) spots in Malasana and another in Chamberi.
- Bodega de la Ardosa ($$) – Malasana: This trendy spot in Malasana has all the classics: pilsners, Spanish vermouth on tap, salmorejo, ham croquettes, and tortilla de patatas.
- Coffee: La Bicicleta ($): With a couple locations around the city, this artsy coffee shop is a great place to get your caffeine fix.
- Best Wine Bar: Angelita ($$) – Centro: This wine bar near Gran Via is full of hard-to-find Spanish and international wines by the glass.
- Best Vegetarian: La Hummuseria ($) – Chueca: Choose from any of their five hummuses (from “the Classic” to “the Irresistible”) to pair with salads and veggie tapas on their regularly updated menu.
- Best Vegan: Vega ($$) – Malasana: This spot has great options for vegans and their friends including a plant-based take on traditional arroz negro and jackfruit al pastor tacos.
- Best Brunch: The Toast Cafe ($$) – Chamberi: With brunch available every day until 2, this is a great spot for early drinks and sweet breakfast options like french toast.
How to Get Around Madrid
Madrid’s metro system (their subway) is super easy to navigate. With metro stops at all major locations, this is my preferred method of transportation thanks to the convenience and cost. The city is very walkable, and Uber/taxis are readily available as well.
- The best way to find the route you need is to put your destination into Google Maps and select the public transit option. Then follow the steps, paying close to attention to which direction your line is headed.
- You can buy a Multi-Card for 2,5 euros and use it to purchase a tourist ticket where you can travel for about 8 euros a day.
- Single journey tickets are available for about 1,5-2 euros and it costs 3 euros to get from the airport to city center.
How do I make friends in Madrid Spain?
The best ways to make friends in Madrid is to stay at a hostel, participate in organized activities like free walking tours and bar crawls, and book a food tour!
How many days in Madrid is enough?
To see enough of Madrid, you probably need 3 days. A full week would give you a more extensive experience of the city, but even one day here is worth the visit.
Barcelona or Madrid for Solo Travellers?
Barcelona is better for first-time visitors thanks to its unique architecture and interesting sites, but Madrid is a great place to experience more of Spain’s daily life and try food from every region of the country.
Where to Next?
If you haven’t been, a solo trip to Barcelona belongs at the top of your list! This Catalonian city is filled with top-notch beaches, unique architecture, and incredible cuisine all its own. Speaking of beaches, if you’re headed on a road trip through Spain, don’t miss this Mallorca roadtrip itinerary!
You could also make your way to Portugal, one of the most charming countries in Europe with pastel architecture, epic beaches, and sunsets straight out of a painting. A few days of Algarve solo travel in Albufeira or Lagos could be just what you need after a busy weekend in Madrid.
Can’t get enough of exciting art galleries and the buzz of city life? A solo trip to Lisbon is just what you need to keep the journey going.
No matter where you end up next, I wish you good fortune and safe travels. Bon voyage!
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- 20 Amazing Things to Eat at Mercado San Miguel
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