The venue for the Champions League Final between Liverpool and Tottenham on 1 June is well chosen. For a start, no city on earth has a finer footballing and Champions League pedigree than Madrid. And then there’s this: Madrid is one of Europe’s coolest cities.

Madrid is at its best when the weather’s sunny and warm, as it’s likely to be at the beginning of June. The outdoor tables of bars and restaurants in the many beautiful plazas (squares) are filled with happy crowds, and this irresistible, around-the-clock energy is what most visitors remember long after they’ve returned home.

Once you've planned your trip to Madrid, here's what to do while you're in town.

The Atlético Madrid badge on the pitch in the Wanda Metropolitano stadium, which is hosting the Champions League Final
Madrid's Wanda Metropolitano stadium, home of Atlético Madrid, is hosting the Champions League Final © Marcos del Mazo / LightRocket / Getty Images

World-class stadium tours

If football’s your thing, there’s plenty to keep you busy while you’re in Madrid. This year’s Champions League Final will be held at the home of Atlético de Madrid, in their new, state-of-the-art stadium Wanda Metropolitano. To get a feel for the place before the game, take a tour that leads you into the dressing rooms, down the players’ tunnel and out onto the pitch. Tours don’t run on match day.

Follow that up with a tour of the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, the 80,000-seat home of Real Madrid, the most successful club in footballing history; not surprisingly, the Exposición de Trofeos (trophy exhibit) could just be the sporting world’s most impressive collection.

Crowds and stalls in Madrid's Mercado San Miguel
Vibrant Mercado San Miguel is the place to go for fantastic tapas © Vlad Teodor / Shutterstock

Where to eat and drink

For Madrid’s best tapas, try Calle de la Cava Baja, in La Latina. For more of a local scene, head for Calle de Ponzano, north of the city in the neighbourhood of Chamberí. And right in the city centre, Mercado de San Miguel combines the buzz that comes from eating in Madrid with wines and fabulous tapas served from more than a dozen stalls.

For perfectly cooked roasted meats, a real local speciality, head for Restaurante Sobrino de Botín. Established in 1725, it's recognised by the Guinness World Records as the world’s oldest restaurant. Hemingway was a regular.

Madrid’s restaurants aimed at a tourist market can serve up some pretty average paella, so visit El Pato Mudo or La Paella Real to understand what all the fuss is about.

Whether you’re out celebrating your team’s victory or drowning your sorrows, stop by Chocolatería de San Ginés before dawn for Madrid’s best chocolate con churros. For a cocktail mixed in Spain’s most storied bar, don’t miss Museo Chicote.

People in boats by the Monument to Alfonso XII in Madrid's Parque del Buen Retiro
Boating in the Parque del Buen Retiro is a classic Madrid pastime © The World in HDR / Shutterstock

Where to watch the Champions League Final

If you don’t have a ticket to the game, the best place to watch it is your local barrio (neighbourhood) bar. There are thousands of these no-frills places in Madrid: they’re invariably filled with locals, and they’re sure to have the TV on. Cooler wine bars and the like are usually TV-free zones, but in this city with more bars per capita than any other place on earth, you’ll likely have plenty of choice. Irish bars are sure to be showing the game but get there early. Reliable city centre options include the James Joyce, O’Brian and the Irish Rover.

What to see and do in Madrid

The Parque del Buen Retiro in the heart of the city is one of Europe’s most beautiful parks. It’s a glorious place to be when the sun’s out. Architectural showpieces in Madrid range from the supremely elegant Palacio Real (Royal Palace) to the splendid Plaza Mayor – the city centre is a stunning place to explore on foot.

And if art is your thing, Madrid has three of the world’s finest art galleries. The Museo del Prado is an extraordinary collection of Spanish art; the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza name checks just about every European master down through the centuries; and the Centro de Arte Reina Sofía is best known for Picasso’s Guernica, as well as works by Salvador Dalí and Joan Miró.

Statue of Philip III at Plaza Mayor, Madrid, on a sunny day
Statue of Philip III in Madrid's handsome Plaza Mayor © S-F / Shutterstock

How to get to the stadium

The easiest way to get to the Champions League Final is on the metro – the Estadio Metropolitano station is on line 7, which connects to other lines at various points across the network. Metro maps are available from any metro station or tourist office. You’ll need a valid ticket to travel, or a Tourist Travel Pass, valid for 1, 2, 3, 5 or 7 days. You can purchase a travel pass, and top it up, at any metro station. The stadium lies within Zone A, as do most of the attractions you’re likely to visit.

How to get more information

For more information on visiting Madrid, stop by one of the tourist offices scattered around town. There are tourist info centres at the airport; and the main office, the Centro de Turismo de Madrid, is excellent, as is its website.

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