A Solo Traveler's Guide to Madrid

The Almudena Cathedral in Madrid
The Almudena Cathedral in Madrid | © Luis Garcia/Wikipedia
Photo of Lori Zaino
30 April 2017

Thanks to friendly locals and plenty of outgoing travelers, Madrid is an easy city to visit alone. With a variety of language exchanges, hostels and an epic nightlife scene, traveling to Madrid solo can be loads of fun. Here’s a guide with tips and tricks if you plan to travel solo to Madrid.

What to see and do

Give yourself a DIY walking tour of the best sights

Checking out the monuments in Madrid is an easy and enjoyable activity to do on your own. If you download google maps offline, you’ll be able to give yourself the perfect DIY walking tour of the city. Start in the city’s central plaza, Puerta del Sol. Make sure to see the clock tower and the KM 0, a plaque on the ground that shows the very spot that is the exact center of Spain.

Then, wander down to the Plaza Mayor. The grandeur of the red square with 237 balconies facing a bronze statue of King Philips III will leave you in awe. Having a beer or coffee in one of the many outdoor cafes in the plaza is the perfect place to enjoy a little alone time.

After this, meander down Calle Mayor until you see the stunning Catedral de la Almudena and the Palacio Real. You can either head inside or just admire the towering buildings’ exteriors.

The Royal Palace I © Lori Zaino

Enjoy nature in the city’s parks

Spending time outside among trees and flowers in one of Madrid’s many parks is a great opportunity for solo reflection. The Retiro Park is Madrid’s most central and most famous park. You can jog, walk or picnic there, or even row in a small boat along the lake. Don’t miss the the Palacio de Cristal, a stunning building made of glass that often hosts temporary art exhibitions inside. Or, visit Madrid’s largest park, the Casa de Campo. You can get here via metro, bus or teleferico (cable car).

The Crystal Palace I | © Lori Zaino

Visit a museum

The art scene in Madrid is especially awesome, and you can’t go wrong with visiting one (or all) of Madrid’s top art museums, a great activity to do alone. Visit the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía to see some modern art, especially the famous Guernica painting by Pablo Picasso and the the immense Dalí collection.

La Guernica | © Joaquin Cortes / Roman Lores for the Reina Sofia

If it’s more traditional art you’re after, The Museo del Prado is one of the most famous museums in the world for classical and religious art, with masterpieces from Francisco Goya, Bosch, El Greco, Murillo, Zurbarán and Velázquez.

Where to eat

Chill at a coffee shop for breakfast

Having breakfast at one of Madrid’s coffee shops is a great way to get some free WiFi, enjoy good food and maybe even make a new friend at a language exchange. The Malasaña area is full of great cafes and tiny coffee shops to check out.

Coffee shops are ideal for a solo traveler to hang out I | © Toma Cafe

Sample everything at a food market

If you don’t really want to sit at a proper restaurant alone, checking out one of the many food markets is the way to go. A great one to visit alone is the Mercado de San Antón. The ground floor has plenty of items to take home, the next floor has various tapas stalls with spots to stand and the top floor features a restaurant and sexy rooftop bar if you fancy a cocktail overlooking Madrid’s skyline.

Mercado de San Antón, Calle de Augusto Figueroa, 24B, 28004

Fried fish at a food market I © Lori Zaino

Where to stay

For something quaint and boutique, try the Only You Chueca, a new and trendy spot that’s located near some of the best bars and restaurants in the city.

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If you’re in the mood to meet new people, stay at The Hat Madrid, a hostel with hip minimalist decor and a fun rooftop bar at the top.

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Practical tips

Watch your belongings

Madrid isn’t a dangerous city and you shouldn’t be concerned about traveling there solo, but pickpocketing is common in crowded and tourist-filled areas. So keep an eye on your personal items, especially when riding the metro and visiting tourist attractions. As in any destination, watch how much you drink and avoid roaming the streets alone very late at night.

Don’t worry about food and tap water

You can drink water from the tap in Madrid and you shouldn’t worry about food sanitation or hygiene. If you do find yourself ill, there are plenty of 24-hour pharmacies in the city.

Getting around

Madrid is easy to navigate and walking the city is the ideal way to get around. However, the metro is also cheap and easy too, as well as the bus system. If it’s late at night, using a taxi or Uber to get home may be a good idea.

Getting around Madrid is easy | © Madrid Destino Cultura Turismo y Negocio

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