Planning a Visit to Spain’s Capital? Here’s What to do in Madrid in May 2019

This blog post was originally posted on April 28, 2016, and was updated on April 1, 2019.

The sun is shining, the days are getting longer, and Madrid is buzzing with activity—it must be May!

Late spring, without a doubt, is one of the best times of the year to visit the Spanish capital. As the numerous parks and gardens across town spring into bloom with colorful flowers and seats begin to fill up at outdoor plazas and terraces, one thing is evident: this is a time of year meant to be enjoyed al fresco. Check out our top suggestions for what to do in Madrid in May in order to make the most of your visit.

If you're not sure what to do in Madrid in May, read on. Here are our top picks for springtime in Spain's capital.

Weather in Madrid in May

Before you head out and about, it’s always a good idea to know what to expect weather-wise. Luckily for you, Madrid is at its best in May. While unexpected changes in the forecast can occur, in general, here’s what you can count on.

  • Lovely daytime temperatures in the mid-70s Fahrenheit (low-mid 20s Celsius) during the daytime
  • Around 8–10 hours of that famous Spanish sunshine per day
  • Slight chances of occasional rain, but considerably less than in April (and you know what they say about April showers…)

Now that you know what kind of weather is in store, it’s time to start planning your agenda. Here are our top picks for what to do in Madrid in May.

1. Have a picnic

As one of Europe’s greenest capitals, parks in Madrid are a dime a dozen. That means it couldn’t be easier to pack up a picnic lunch and enjoy a meal in the great outdoors. For a truly local experience, stock up on provisions at a nearby market before you head out and about. Here are a few of our favorite parks, as well as nearby markets, so you can start planning.

If you're wondering what to do in Madrid in May, it couldn't be simpler: head to your local market to pick up picnic supplies, then head out to the nearest park to enjoy your feast.
Parks such as Retiro make for the ultimate springtime relaxation spot.

2. Party like a local at the Fiestas de San Isidro

Here in Spain, we’re pretty big on celebrating our patron saints, but you don’t have to be Catholic (or even religious) to get in on the fun. Madrid’s patron saint, San Isidro, is the man of the hour on May 15, but the festivities last for several days. Expect a massive street fair, concerts, and so much more.

Want to really party like a local? Follow the madrileños to the San Isidro Park, where you’ll find a full-fledged Spanish-style rural celebration right in the heart of the country’s busiest city. Here, you can devour sweet treats like rosquillas (ring-shaped cookies in a delicious variety of flavors) and tontas y listas (glazed sugar donuts) to your heart’s content. And don’t even worry about the extra calories—you’ll dance them all off during the chotis, Madrid’s local folk dance.

2019 dates: May 10–15

What to do in Madrid in May: San Isidro
Rosquillas, the ring-shaped cookies eaten on San Isidro come in a variety of flavors such as strawberry, lemon, sugar glazed or plain.

3. Have a drink on a terrace

Few of life’s pleasures are as enjoyable as the simple act of sitting out in a sunny plaza, enjoying drinks in good company—no wonder this is one of our favorite options for what to do in Madrid in May. From a refreshing, ice-cold beer to a classy glass of wine to sophisticated cocktails, there are dozens of spots throughout Madrid where you can enjoy the gorgeous weather and good vibes.

Can’t decide? Here are a few of the plazas where you’ll find us this May.

  • Plaza de Santa Ana (Barrio de las Letras): One of Madrid’s most legendary and picturesque squares, surrounded by a handful of bars and restaurants serving a tasty variety of dishes.
  • Plaza del Conde de Barajas (Los Austrias): A leafy square just behind the Mercado de San Miguel that offers a peaceful break from the city’s hustle and bustle.
  • Plaza de Chueca (Chueca): One of Madrid’s most social squares that captures the trendy-yet-welcoming spirit of the Chueca neighborhood effortlessly.

Already planning your terrace outing? Check out our tips in the video below for how to order wine in Spain like a local.

4. Celebrate Madrid on 2 de Mayo

San Isidro isn’t the only reason to celebrate in Madrid in May. On May 2, the city comes alive with celebrations in honor of the Community of Madrid’s most important regional celebration. The festivities commemorate the city’s defeat of Napoleon’s armies in the early 19th century, and the celebrations themselves are abundant. Expect military parades, concerts, important sporting events and more. And, as you may imagine, Plaza 2 de Mayo is the heart of the celebration—if you’re not sure where to go, that would be a perfect starting point.

If you're not sure what to do in Madrid in May, consider checking out the 2 de Mayo celebrations.
May 2 is one of the most important dates on Madrid’s regional calendar. Photo credit: Cristina Cifuentes

5. Discover a new documentary at Documenta Madrid

Film buffs, this one’s for you. In fact, you don’t even have to be a cinephile to enjoy Documenta Madrid, the city’s signature documentary film festival. In its 16th edition this year, the event promises to be bigger and better than ever, with a special focus this year on films that defy aesthetic and cinematographic conventions. In addition to film screenings, the festival also hosts informative panels, workshops and other events that will help guests expand their horizons.

2019 dates: May 9–19

6. Cheer your heart out at the Madrid Open

Last but not least on this countdown of what to do in Madrid in May: one of the biggest sporting events of the year in the Spanish capital. The 2019 Madrid Open will welcome household names such as Rafa Nadal, Roger Federer, Maria Sharapova and Novak Djokovic to the Caja Mágica, one of the most elite tennis facilities in the world. Tickets tend to go fast for this event, so be sure to grab yours ASAP.

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