Madrid is a very walkable city and one of the best ways to explore when you first arrive is by going on a walking tour. Whether you’re interested in immersing yourself in the city’s rich history or its street art scene, here are some of the very best walking tours in Madrid.
Cool Tour Spain offers a tour that bypasses the historical sights and instead introduces travellers to Madrid’s street art scene. The tour weaves through Lavapiés, Madrid’s multicultural barrio that is full of interesting graffiti, some by big names in the street art world. The tour also includes a visit to La Neomudejar, a modern arts centre and La Tabacalera, a former tobacco factory turned modern art space. The two-and-a-half-hour tour costs €15 and can be booked online.
Wellington Society founder Stephen Drake-Jones takes visitors around some of Madrid’s most fascinating historical sights on his bespoke tours. One of the most intriguing is the Hemingway tour, during which you’ll explore the hotels, bars and restaurants favoured by Don Ernesto, who spent a lot of time in Madrid over the years, from his first visit in the 1920s to covering the Spanish Civil War and attending bullfights at Las Ventas bullring.
Sandeman’s Free Tour
Look out for the red T-shirt wearing guides in the tourist information office on Plaza Mayor, the starting point of this enjoyable and informative tour that takes place at 10am, 11am, 2pm and 2.30pm. The tour, which takes around two-and-a-half hours, takes in many of the centre’s historic sights including the Royal Palace, Teatro Real Opera House and Moorish Walls. Best of all, the guides tell you lots of intriguing stories about the chequered history of Madrid and its residents. Tours are free but tips are expected for the guide at the end.
Legends of the Prado Tour
Tackling Madrid’s most famous museum can be daunting – what are the must-sees and where should you start? Take the worry away by doing a walking tour with WalkingMad that delves into the legends of the Prado, including Velázquez, Goya and El Greco. A local guide will take a small group (seven people max) around the highlights of the museum, explaining the historical and social significance of the paintings. The tour takes place during the Prado’s free hours so – bonus – there is no entry free either. Just tips for the guide at the end. Tours take place on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 5.30pm and on Sunday at 4.30pm.
Free Walking Tour
Free Walking Tours offers tours in English and Spanish leaving every day from Plaza de Callao, just off the Gran Vía, at 11am. The guides are fun and informative, mixing historical tales with fun factual nuggets along the way. During the two-and-a-half hour tour you’ll learn about everything from Miguel de Cervantes to the Movida Madrileña, the indie, counter-cultural movement that flourished after the death of dictator Francisco Franco in the late ’70s and ’80s.
OK, this tour might be more eating than walking but it gives you a great introduction to Madrid’s food scene and you will walk off some of the food between pit stops. Devour Madrid offers a range of tours, from the tapas, taverns and history tour to a tour of Madrid’s rastro flea market and tapas scene. The company’s team of international guides are knowledgeable and passionate about Spanish cuisine, and eager to share their love with new visitors to the city.
Madrid Day Tours
If you’re looking to travel a little further afield and prefer to be driven rather than take public transport, Madrid Day Tours offer hotel pick ups and fascinating day trips to Toledo, Segovia and El Escorial and the Valley of the Fallen, the eerie monument built by General Franco to the victims of the Spanish Civil War (and where the Spanish dictator is buried). Tours start at just over €100 per person, with a maximum of six people on the trip.