Top 10 Things to Do in Madrid When It Rains: A Practical Guide

Madrid, with its usual sunny days, sometimes surprises you with rain. But don't let it rain on your parade; this city knows how to keep the mood up even when the clouds roll in. A few raindrops can't drown the fun in Madrid.

Top 10 Things to Do In Madrid When It Rains
Top 10 Things to Do In Madrid When It Rains

I live in Madrid, and while it’s usually a sunny city, there are days when the sky is grey and rain taps on the windows. These days can be a surprise in a city known for its blue skies. Living here, I’ve learned that when rain falls, Madrid doesn’t stop; it just moves indoors.

Madrid when it's raining
Madrid, when it’s raining

If we’re being technical, Madrid falls into a mid-latitude steppe, semi-arid cool climate, and its terrain is what in Spanish is referred to as a secarral, a term related to the dry areas of central Spain. Madrid sits high on a plateau, and its climate is usually drier than other European places. So when the rain comes, it feels special and rare.

Under cloudy skies, the city has a different feel, and we locals, not accustomed to rainy weather, immediately vacate the streets and call off any commitment as soon as the first drop touches the ground.

But if you’re visiting Madrid and the forecast calls for rain, don’t worry. The city has many attractions to keep you dry and entertained. Here are the top 10 things to do in Madrid when it rains.

Top 10 Things to Do in Madrid When It’s Raining

1. Having Churros at San Ginés

Like the Prado Museum, San Gines's churros are a Madrid institution
Like the Prado Museum, San Gines’s churros are a Madrid institution

When rain falls in Madrid, enjoying churros with hot chocolate is a great activity. Madrid’s Chocolatería San Ginés (Pasadizo de San Ginés, 5) serves this famous Spanish treat. It’s open 24 hours every day, so visitors can get their sugar fix any time. The best way to get there is to take the metro to the Sol station 1 2 3 C and walk a short distance.

San Ginés is a busy place. Even when it’s wet outside, the inside is warm and full of the smell of chocolate. It’s not too expensive (it can set you back some €5-8 per person), and it’s a fun way to spend time on a rainy day in Madrid. After eating, you can look at the many photos on the wall that show famous people who have visited San Ginés over the years.

2. Marveling at the Masterpieces at Madrid’s Art Triangle

Madrid's Art Triangle is one of Europe's most important art corridors
Madrid’s Art Triangle is one of Europe’s most important art corridors

Madrid’s Art Triangle is a must-see for art lovers, especially on a rainy day in the city. The Art Triangle consists of three top museums located close to each other. First on the list is the Prado Museum (C. de Ruiz de Alarcón, 23), housing a massive collection of European art. Here, visitors get to see works by Spanish masters like Velázquez and Goya. It’s best to visit during working hours, and the museum is easily accessible from Estación del Arte 1 or Banco de España 2 stations.

Another unmissable gem is the Reina Sofia Museum (Calle de Santa Isabel, 52), which focuses on modern works. The star attraction here is Picasso’s ‘Guernica’. Like the Prado, it’s also fitting to explore this museum during the day. Reach this by alighting at the Estación del Arte 1 or Atocha Station 1 C REG LD AVE .

Lastly, don’t miss out on the Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum (Paseo del Prado, 8). It displays Western art from the Middle Ages to the late 20th Century. From Renaissance to Pop Art, you can find many styles here. It’s a stone’s throw away from Estación del Arte 1, Sevilla 2 and Banco de España 2 metro stations.

All these museums offer shelter from the rain and an opportunity to enjoy some of the finest artworks in existence.

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3. Catching a Play or Musical on Gran Vía

On a rainy day in Madrid, visiting Gran Vía to catch a play could be a rewarding choice. Known for its theaters, Gran Vía offers opportunities to enjoy live performances. Even if Spanish isn’t your strongest language, smaller venues might offer plays in English.

Check the theater schedules online or look at posters along the street for show times, which are typically in the evening. The closest metro stations are Callao 3 5 and Gran Vía 1 5.

4. Tapeo at one of the Many Madrid Gastromarkets

Madrid offers several sheltered places for food and drinks when rain falls and Madrileños are famous for enjoying tapas.

In Mercado de San Miguel (Plaza de San Miguel s/n), you can wander among stalls offering fresh products and delicious bites. This market draws food lovers with its grand iron-and-glass structure, operating daily from early morning until midnight. It sits right next to Plaza Mayor, easily reachable by the Metro station Sol 1 2 3 C.

Another great place is Mercado de San Antón (Calle de Augusto Figueroa, 24) in the lively Chueca neighborhood. This modern market features a variety of food options spread across three floors, including a rooftop terrace that is perfect if it stops raining. To arrive here, hop on the Metro and step off at Chueca station 5.

5. Sip a Cup of Coffee at One of Many Madrid Cafés

Enjoy coffee at a historic café when it rains in Madrid
Enjoy coffee at a historic café when it rains in Madrid

Madrid has many cozy cafés that are perfect for a rainy day. One such place is Café Gijón (Paseo de Recoletos, 21), which has been serving coffee since 1888. It’s open every day, and you can go there anytime from early morning until late at night. The closest metro station is Colón 4. Another good spot is Café Comercial (Glorieta de Bilbao, 7), where locals have enjoyed warm drinks since 1887. It welcomes guests all day long and is best reached by the Bilbao metro stop 1 4.

Café Barbieri (Calle del Ave María, 45) in the lively Lavapiés neighborhood of Madrid offers a quaint atmosphere to enjoy a cup of coffee while listening to the rain. It’s usually open during typical café hours. Get there by taking the metro to Lavapiés station 3. If you prefer a place with a view, Café de Oriente (Plaza de Oriente, 2) faces the Royal Palace and is ideal for those who want to enjoy historical views without getting wet. It opens its doors in the morning and says goodbye to its last customers late at night. Ópera metro station 2 5 R is your best bet for reaching this café.

Lastly, Café Ruiz (Calle de Ruiz, 11) in Malasaña is a small but charming choice that’s been around since the early twentieth century; it’s open from mid-morning until after dinner time. This spot is close to both Tribunal 1 10 and Noviciado 2.

6. Going to La Casa Encendida for Alternative Art

When it rains in Madrid, one fun activity is to visit La Casa Encendida for some hipster art and culture. At this cultural center, you can catch movies and explore a variety of contemporary art exhibitions and events. The exhibitions often change, so each visit brings something new to see. La Casa Encendida is located at Ronda de Valencia, 2. It is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 10 pm, making it a great option for daytime or evening visits.

To get to La Casa Encendida, take the metro to the Embajadores 3 5 C or Lavapiés 5 stations . Both stations are within walking distance of the cultural center.

7. Shopping at One of the Many Shopping Centers

Shopping Centers are a great idea when it's raining in Madrid, or anywhere for that matter
Shopping Centers are a great idea when it’s raining in Madrid, or anywhere for that matter

Shopping can be a good way to spend a rainy day in Madrid. Centro Comercial Moda Shopping (Avenida del General Perón, 40) offers fashion and more. Inside, it’s dry and warm. People can walk around, look at clothes, or relax with a coffee.

For those who enjoy large malls, Plenilunio (Calle Aracne) can be a perfect option. It’s one of Madrid’s largest malls and offers many shops, from clothing to electronics. If you feel hungry, there are places inside to eat as well. You can reach Plenilunio by taking a bus from Avenida de America. Plenilunio is open from 10:00 am until 10:00 pm except Sundays when it closes earlier.

8. Enjoying Live Jazz at Café Central

Café Central is a spot where people gather to listen to live jazz music. Its address is Plaza del Ángel, 10. You want to visit in the evening since this is when musicians usually play. To get there, use the metro and exit at Sol station 1 2 3 C.

Inside Café Central, you can watch the performers while having a drink or snack. It has been a popular place for jazz lovers for years. Remember to check opening times before you go, as they could change depending on the day of the week.

9. Checking What’s New at the Matadero

Bosch Expo at Matadero Madrid - Perfect things to do in Madrid when it rains
Bosch Expo at Matadero Madrid – Perfect things to do in Madrid when it rains

On a rainy day in Madrid, Matadero Madrid offers an indoor space for arts and cultural events. This large former slaughterhouse has been turned into a creative area for art exhibitions, performances, and film screenings. Anyone interested in art or looking for an indoor activity can visit El Matadero, located at Paseo de la Chopera, 14. It’s best to check their program online before going, as they have different events every day.

The easiest way to reach El Matadero is by taking the metro; Legazpi station 3 6 is the closest one. Open hours change depending on the exhibition.

10. Experiencing the Ancient at the Archaeological Museum

La Dama de Elche is the highlight of the National Archaeological Museum in Madrid
La Dama de Elche is the highlight of the National Archaeological Museum in Madrid

When the weather is wet outside, another enjoyable place in Madrid is the National Archaeological Museum. Here, visitors are taken on a journey through Spanish history with artifacts from prehistoric times to the 19th century. The museum is known for its detailed reconstructions and interactive exhibits. Located at Calle de Serrano, 13, it’s open during working hours on most days except for some public holidays.

Madrid has many indoor places to visit on a rainy day. Other than the places included on our list, you should also consider a visit to alternative museums like the Sorolla Museum. If science interests you, check out the National Museum of Natural Sciences. Madrid’s Royal Palace & Collection is worth seeing for its beautiful rooms, works of art, and history. The Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, where the Real Madrid soccer team plays, offers tours inside.

All that said, if you’re anything like a Madrileño, you can choose to warm up with hot chocolate and churros at a cozy cafe.