7 Things to Do on a Rainy Day in Madrid

Brian Schæfer Dreyer • 6 May, 2016

Although it may seem like the sky is always blue in Madrid, occasionally there are days when the weather is just plain miserable. So, what to do when the squares, parks and streets don’t seem so tempting? Brian, our in-the-know local ambassador, shares 7 ways to stay entertained when the rain hits the Spanish capital.

1. Hang out in a cosy café

An obvious choice is to go for a cup of coffee in one of the city’s many cool cafés. You could even do a caffeine crawl in a neighbourhood with a high density of cafés, the wonderful Malasaña for instance.

Otherwise you could head to a café that offers more than “just” coffee. Located near the Plaza del Callao metro station and covering several floors in an interesting building, La Central is a magnificent mix of books and beans. Spend some time browsing the books upstairs once you’re done sipping your coffee.

The travel-themed and sustainability-focussed La Ciudad Invisible is located nearby. It’s a unique combination of café, travel library and gallery, with second-hand travel guides for sale and rotating art exhibitions. It’s a great place to cosy up for a couple of hours while watching the raindrops roller-coaster down the big windows.

1411ff830ac54a4acf901e7977fe53f3Photo credit: Brian Schæfer Dreyer

2. Escape to the cinema

While most cinemas in Spain only screen movies dubbed into Spanish, there are a couple of cinemas downtown that also show originals. So, unless you’d like to hear Tom Hanks speak Spanish or you want a language lesson for the same price, head to either Cines Princesa near Plaza de España or Cines Ideal near Puerta del Sol. Both offer movies in English and are great hideaways for a rainy day.

Cines PrincesaPhoto credit: Brian Schæfer Dreyer

3. Get lost in Madrid’s giant museums

If you’re interested in art, you can easily spend an entire day at each of Madrid’s most famous museums. Museo del Prado is the national museum of Spain and one of the greatest museums in the world, exhibiting European art from the 12th to the 19th century. You’ll have a splendid time escaping the rain in the company of Spanish masters such as Goya and Velazquez.

If you prefer 20th-century art, you’ll find Museo Reina Sofía just down the road. Housed in a former hospital, it features contrasting modern and historical architectural details. Don’t miss Picasso’s famous Guernica painting; it will make your worries about the weather seem so small.

The nearby Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum is also worth a visit. The great thing about this one is that you can visit for free at certain times on certain days. Check their website for more details.

Galleries - Reina SofíaPhoto credit: Brian Schæfer Dreyer

4. Go shopping indoors

Shop ’til you drop, or at least ’til the rain stops. There are endless opportunities for a shopping frenzy in this city. If you want to avoid running from shop to shop in the rain, opt for the bigger department stores and shopping centres.

El Corte Inglés at Plaza del Callao has eight floors of shops, and on top of it all – literally – you’ll find one of the best indoor views of Madrid. Located on the 9th floor, the Gourmet Experience is a mix of gourmet food shopping, drinks, tapas and panoramic windows offering excellent views of Gran Vía.

If you don’t mind leaving the downtown area for a while, you could also visit the Dreams Ice Palace northeast of the city centre and go ice skating during your shopping spree.

7569f2fcbe4be9928c90774ee2894326Photo credit: Brian Schæfer Dreyer

5. Get inspired at Matadero

Take the metro to Matadero, Madrid’s former slaughterhouse. It might sound bizarre, but blood no longer flows here – just creativity. The buildings have been transformed into a buzzing cultural complex and the architectural restoration alone is worth the visit. Inside you’ll find contemporary workspaces, free galleries and exhibitions, a small cinema and a nice café. The giant courtyard is often used for cultural events in summer, so it’s worth checking out rain or otherwise.

Matadero 2Photo credit: Brian Schæfer Dreyer

6. Stay dry in a tapas market

What better place to spend a couple of rainy hours than in one of Madrid’s tempting tapas temples? No matter where you find yourself when the rain hits, you’ll never be far from a satisfying haven where you can sample some tasty treats or just soak up the atmosphere instead of the rain.

Not far from Gran Vía you’ll find modern markets such as Mercado de San Ildefonso in Malasaña and Mercado de San Antón in Chueca. And of course you don’t want to miss the sounds and smells of the traditional Mercado de San Miguel next to Plaza Mayor. Located in the posh neighbourhood of Salamanca, Mercado de La Paz is also a nice and more local experience.

17c0846b5ddb417076d4b05a8218fbae (1)Photo credit: Brian Schæfer Dreyer

7. Head underground for a glimpse at Madrid’s past

Another place to take cover from the rain is…underground! Andén 0 is a project that explores the history of the Chamberí metro station, which dates back to 1919. It was on the city’s first metro line, but was abandoned in 1966 due to logistical issues. It has since been restored to near-original state. Take a walk along the platform, admire the vintage advertisements and watch the modern-day metro passing through.

rsz_8154182595_e685f6e500_kPhoto credit: Ana Aldea

For more local recommendations read:
What locals like to do in Madrid
Where locals like to eat in Madrid
Where locals like to party in Madrid

Special tip:
For a more authentic Madrid experience, get the Like A Local mobile app

Opening photo credit: Werner Wittersheim

Brian Schæfer Dreyer
I describe myself as a "travelooney". A person obsessed with travelling and with a passion for inspiring others to do the same. My focus is Europe, where I love to experience the contrasts between buzzing capital cities, intimate villages and stunning natural scenery. My travel blog can be found here: www.travelooney.dk.

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