The facts speak for themselves—solo travel is a trend that’s here to stay. Taken from a compilation of studies done within the travel industry, Solo Traveler World reports that solo travel made up “around 18% of global bookings” in 2019, which “has increased by 7% in the last year alone.” With countless destinations to choose from, Spain is ranked in the top 10 best countries for solo travelers by Travel+Leisure, making it an ideal choice for both novice and seasoned solo travelers alike. There’s no better place to start the country’s capital city of Madrid, a pulsating metropolis well-known as an epicenter of Spanish art, history, and culture, as well as for its delectable tapas and vibrant nightlife. We’re here to make sure you have the perfect solo travel trip to Madrid, so let us help you figure out what to see and how to have a positive experience while traveling alone.
The top Madrid attractions you have to visit
Squares, or plazas, are an integral part of Spanish culture. These public spaces are a meeting place for friends, families, and lovers alike—and are a great place to people watch and get a glimpse of what day-to-day life in Spain is like. Madrid has no shortage of plazas for you to visit and enjoy, from the Puerta del Sol and Plaza Mayor to Plaza de Olavide and Plaza de Cibeles. The city’s plazas are also a great spot to meet new people, whether locals or fellow travelers, and strike up a conversation, so find a an open bench or a café with outdoor seating, and enjoy!
Did you know that Madrid is home to some of the famous art museums in the world? You’ll find these three in every Madrid travel guide —the Museo Nacional del Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía—and with good reason. All three can be found along the main street of Paseo del Prado, which itself is the oldest street in Madrid’s history. Other honorable mentions are the Museo del Romanticismo, Casa Museo Lope de Vega, and Museo Arqueológico Nacional.
Historical and cultural sites
The list of must-see historically and culturally significant sites in Madrid is practically never-ending, but our attempt at a short list includes Calle Gran Vía, the Royal Palace of Madrid, the Estación de Puerta de Atocha, Mercado San Miguel, and the neighborhoods of Chueca and Malasaña. Madrid also has a number of beautiful parks that hold more of the city’s gems, such as the Jardines del Templo de Debod in the Parque del Oeste and the Palacio de Cristal in the Parque del Retiro.
One of the best parts about traveling alone is getting to decide what, where, and when to eat—stopping whenever something catches your eye or you feel a rumble in your stomach.. Make time to savor some local dishes, like the famous bocata de calamares, or squid sandwich, at El Brillante, and Chocolatería San Ginés, which is open for both breakfast and merienda, the typical Spanish afternoon snack time, for you to get your churros fix. Other popular options are cocido madrileño (a hearty stew of meat, chickpeas, and vegetables) and huevos estrellados (a mixture of fried eggs, potatoes, and Iberian ham), but you can always opt to let the restaurant decide for you when you order the menú del día.
Tips on personal safety in Madrid
Make a list of helpful local numbers and addresses
Before you set out on your Madrid solo travel trip, take the time to compile a list of helpful local numbers and addresses, and save it as a note in your phone. Things we’d recommend including are the following:
- Address and phone number of where your accommodation in Madrid
- National emergency phone number (112)
- Location and contact information for your local embassy in Madrid
- International contact information for your bank and credit card companies
Although geared at foreigners moving to Spain, Expatica has a full list of important emergency numbers in Spain that is worth making note of, too.
Keep a watchful eye on your personal belongings
Madrid is a safe city for solo travelers, but much like with any major city, you should be mindful of the presence of pickpockets. If you’re wearing a purse, it’s advisable to choose one that closes with a zipper and wear it across the front of your body. For those simply carrying around a wallet and a phone, put them in your front pockets, and be mindful of anyone who gets too close. When dining, don’t leave your smartphone sitting out on the table, particularly if you’re eating outside. It’s also a good idea to not carry an excessive amount of money on you while out exploring, and to always leave behind at least one credit card and some cash back at your accommodation.
Go where the locals go
Blending in with locals is not only a rule of thumb for when you pack for your trip—it also applies to when you’re on your vacation! You can, and should, still visit Madrid’s main attractions, but attempt to avoid overly tourist restaurants, shops, and areas, as petty theft tends to be more prevalent. It may seem like an obvious tip, but when looking for somewhere to eat, have a look around to see who is already eating there. If the café, bar, or restaurant is filled with Spanish people, you’ve found the right place.
When you’ve finished planning your solo trip to Madrid, the last thing you need to stress about is getting the right photographs to show your friends and family of your travels.
Make your epic adventure even easier by booking a photo tour of Madrid! You’ll get all the right shots of this beautiful Spanish city—and have an unforgettable time doing it.