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Madrid in May: Best Things to See & Do

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. 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 throughout it all: 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.

Pink and red flowers surrounding a cross-shaped pond with a fountain on a sunny day.
Madrid is at its most beautiful in May! Photo credit: Alvaro Araoz

If you’re planning a trip to Madrid in May, you’re in for a treat. The weather is just about as perfect as it gets, and the unique local celebrations that take place throughout the month provide a fun and fascinating look at the authentic Madrid.

Here’s everything you need to know to make your springtime trip to Madrid completely unforgettable.

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.

View of an elaborate cathedral on a sunny day.
The weather in Madrid in May is nothing short of gorgeous. Photo credit: Matt Dany

Things 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.

  • Parque del Buen Retiro: 10-minute walk from Mercado de la Paz
  • Parque de San Isidro: 15-minute walk from Mercado de San Isidro
  • Madrid Rio: 10-minute walk from Mercado la Lonja
Small rowboats on the lake in Madrid's Retiro park with a monument visible in the background.
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 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.

Women and men in traditional costumes holding microphones while performing at the San Isidro Festival in Madrid.
A fun traditional performance at the San Isidro festival! Photo credit: Nils van der Burg

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 glass of local wine, to sophisticated craft 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.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Chueca (Chueca): One of Madrid’s most social squares that captures the trendy-yet-welcoming spirit of the Chueca neighborhood effortlessly.
Urban plaza with a statue of a man in the foreground and a large white hotel in the background.
Plaza de Santa Ana is a must-visit in Madrid.

4. Celebrate Madrid on Dos 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 an uprising led by Madrid’s citizens against Napoleon’s armies in the early 19th century, and the celebrations themselves are abundant. Expect military parades, concerts, important sporting events and more.

As you may imagine, Plaza Dos de Mayo is the heart of the celebration. If you’re not sure where to go, that would be a perfect starting point.

Crowds of people celebrating a public holiday in a city plaza.
Plaza Dos de Mayo packed with revelers on its namesake day! Photo credit: Nicolas Vigier

5. 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 Madrid Open regularly welcomes 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.

The tournament takes place every year in early May and tickets tend to go fast, so be sure to grab yours ASAP!

Tennis match being played on a clay court in front of a crowd.
Roger Federer playing at the 2011 Madrid Open. Photo credit: Carlos Delgado

Madrid in May FAQs

Does it rain in Spain in May?

It depends on where you are. Generally speaking, northern areas of Spain tend to get the most precipitation, with rainfall gradually tapering off as you head south, and May is no different. Madrid gets an average of two inches of rain throughout the entire month of May—less than in April, yet still more than the hot and dry summer months.

Is May a good time to visit Madrid?

May is one of the best times of year to visit Madrid. The beautiful weather combined with the fun and lively local celebrations make it easy to enjoy the city at this time of year.

Update Notice: This post was originally published on April 28, 2016 and was updated with new text and photos on March 25, 2021.

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