Hemingway refers to Madrid as “the capital of the universe” and “the most Spanish of all cities” in his novel Death in the Afternoon.
Madrid, the European Union’s second-largest city (behind Berlin), captivates visitors with its beauty, museums, history, and cuisine.
Madrid also has a plethora of exciting tapas places, with their tiny, cobblestone alleyways teeming with enthusiastic revellers till the early hours of the morning.
There is so much to see and do in Madrid that you could easily devote a couple of weeks to exploring under the surface and still be left getting more.
Walking tours are the ideal way to peel back the layers of a place for a more true, in-depth experience, whether you’re seeking a short introduction to the city or something more extensive and nuanced. There is something for every traveller — and every budget — from quick free ones to cuisine tours to in-depth history treks.
Here’s a selection of the greatest walking tours (and one bicycling tour) in Madrid to help you make the most of your time in “the capital of the world”:
Top Madrid Walking Tours
If you’re on a tight budget, free tours are an excellent way to learn the fundamentals of Madrid. However, if you enjoy walking tours or want to delve into anything more specialised, you’ll have to pay for a more extensive one. Here are some of the top paid tours in Madrid to help you get the most out of your visit:
1. Madrid Free Walking Tours
Walking Tours for Free Madrid is not free, but it is quite inexpensive. You must register for a tour and pay 3 EUR to secure your position, which somewhat undermines the “free tour” claim; nonetheless, that’s still a good deal, and you cover a lot of territories.
The tours begin with Madrid’s roots as a little Arab town and go through the world-spanning Spanish empire, the Civil War and Franco’s dictatorship, and the post-Franco “Movida” era of the late 1970s and early 1980s. This is an excellent introduction to Madrid and Spanish history.
2. Devour Tours
Devour offers cuisine tours throughout Spain and Italy, but its creators are based in Madrid. This is why a Devour trip here is very advantageous, especially if you’re a gourmet. The four-hour Tapas, Taverns, and History trip will fill you up and satisfy you. You’ll eat and drink at four family-run tapas bars while weaving between them and pausing at significant locations. It’s a fantastic way to spend an evening in Madrid.
Another trip takes you directly into the Prado (with your guide) and culminates with a delicious supper at Sobrino de Born, the world’s oldest continuously functioning restaurant (which happens to serve some of the best fire-roasted pork on the planet). This is a must-see if you’re a gourmet like me!
Tours start at 99 EUR per person.
3. Madrid’s Wellington Society
This tour firm isn’t so much a “society” as it is merely the fantastic tour guide Stephen Drake-Jones conducting small groups on specialty tours across Madrid. He offers wine tours, as well as ones focusing on Goya and Ernest Hemingway, who spent several years in Madrid. You’ll be brought to a few famous places, like the wonderful sherry bar La Venencia, that were frequent haunts of “Don Ernesto” while he was in Madrid.
Tours start at 100 EUR per person.
4. Madrid Day Tours
While this company offers walking tours in Madrid, their expertise is taking you to one of the fantastic little mediaeval villages in the nearby countryside. This is an excellent opportunity to see another region of Spain while staying in Madrid. Tours to the mediaeval cities of Toledo or Segovia are excellent choices because they are just a short drive away and have a powerful wow effect.
Tours start at 65 EUR per person.
5. Cool Tour Spain
This tour organisation provides interesting street art tours across Madrid. They take you through the multicultural Lavapies neighbourhood to show you the beautiful street art that can be seen throughout this central Madrid neighbourhood. There are also architectural, feminist, and contemporary art walks. This is ideal for when you need a break from the centuries-old structures and historic attractions that might become monotonous.
Tours start at 20 EUR per person.
6. Babylon Tours
Babylon is present in several cities across the world. Their local guides in Madrid are knowledgeable and competent, and they provide personalised and small-group tours. Babylon provides a nice overall Madrid walking tour, but they specialise in museum visits. With your guide, you may avoid the wait at the Prado or Reina Sofia and learn about the unique history of these significant works of art in seconds.
Tours start at 59 EUR per person.
7. Walk Eat Spain
Margaret and Amy, two long-term American expats in Madrid, give entertaining walking tours. You stop, eat, get an explanation about the food and the history of the location, and then walk off till you reach your next destination. Walk Eat Spain arranges tours in the bustling Malasana district, which is known for its tapas and wine crawls. They also provide family-friendly private tours for a more personalised experience.
Tours start at 89 EUR per person.
8. Fat Tire Tours
Do you need to rest your feet? Or do you prefer pedalling? Fat Tire provides two three-hour bike tours throughout town. You’ll study some history, tour lesser-known districts, and see all the attractions. While their tours cover a lot of ground, they also go at a reasonable pace, so you’ll never feel rushed. And, because Madrid is one of Europe’s greenest capital cities, there’s a trip focusing on its parks and rivers that’s ideal for kids — or anybody who doesn’t want to pedal about the crowded city centre.
Tours start at 28 EUR per person.
While major tourist destinations like Madrid are simple to visit on your own, it’s always ideal to connect with an expert local guide if you’re searching for a deeper, more authentic experience. Walking tours are the way to go if you want a primer that covers the highlights or an in-depth tour with a special emphasis. I always take a couple when I’m here, and I recommend that you do as well.