This blog post was originally posted on November 2, 2016 and was updated September 5, 2019.
Madrid bursts with colorful energy at the arrival of fall.
After the summer crowds clear out and low season sets in, Madrid takes on a much more authentic vibe. Pleasantly sunny days and crisp, lively nights bring the best of both worlds.
Ready to immerse yourself in the everyday life of the city while enjoying the first few crisp days of autumn? We know how you feel. This guide to what to do in Madrid in October will help you make the most of one of the most beautiful times of year here in Spain’s capital.
Discover Madrid’s fascinating architecture
All it takes is a stroll down Gran Vía to see that Madrid is home to some pretty gorgeous buildings. But have you ever thought about what’s inside these spectacular structures?
Semana de la Arquitectura, or Architecture Week, will take you beyond the iconic façades and into the heart of some of Madrid’s most beloved buildings. You’ll be able to take guided tours of spaces ranging from the Bank of Spain and the Reina Sofía Museum to hidden gems such as the Botín Foundation and the Royal Engineering Academy.
But that’s not all. The event also consists of walking routes through key parts of the city, panels and workshops, and even activities for kids. It’s the perfect way to take a deeper dive into some of the buildings that give this city its irresistible charm.
2019 dates: September 30–October 7
Have drinks on a terrace
Good news: terrace season isn’t just limited to summer.
In fact, with much milder temperatures, fall makes for an arguably better time of year to enjoy al fresco drinks and dining (both on a rooftop as well as at ground-level). Bring a pair of sunglasses for the daytime or a light jacket in the evening, and you’ll fit right in.
Can’t narrow down where to go? Check out El Viajero in La Latina, one of the city’s most emblematic barrios. (Just be sure to get there early for Sunday afternoon tapas—La Latina is a popular weekend lunch area!) If you’re not sure what to do in Madrid in October, this is a great way to start things off.
See award-winning photography
Nearly 5,000 photographers from more than 125 countries take part in the world’s most popular travel photography event each year. The winners—from more than 78,801 entries—are displayed at the World Press Photo Exhibition, a prestigious traveling exhibit that showcases the prized selection around the world.
The even better news? It’s coming to Madrid in October.
For a full month, the Colegio Oficial de Arquitectos de Madrid will host the exhibition. Stop by and see for yourself just how powerful visual storytelling can be.
2019 dates: October 4–November 3
Enjoy the city’s parks
We love Madrid, but we could all use a break from the city’s hustle and bustle from time to time.
If that’s the case, seek out tranquility at one of Madrid’s dozens of beautiful green spaces. Whether you want to check Retiro Park off your bucket list or explore the sprawling Casa de Campo, there’s a park everyone will love.
This is definitely what to do in Madrid in October whether you want to get active by running or biking, or simply relax on a bench with a book. As a bonus, you’ll be able to enjoy the colorful fall leaves decorating the trees all around you.
READ MORE: 10 Beautiful Madrid Parks Worth a Visit
Explore Madrid’s architecture and culture
Won’t be around for Architecture Week? No problem.
Later in the month, you’ll have another chance to look at Madrid through new eyes. Madrid Otra Mirada is an event designed to raise awareness of the city’s incredible heritage through cultural activities, guided visits and so much more.
You’ll be able to discover some of the city’s most important historic buildings that normally don’t open to the public. You can even explore popular hotspots such as museums, churches, parks and gardens, and more with greater context thanks to the activities and events taking place at each stop along the way. As a bonus: it’s all free!
2019 dates: October 18–20
Treasure hunt in El Rastro
El Rastro is Spain’s most popular flea market for good reason. With more than 400 years under its belt, it’s hard to imagine a Sunday morning in La Latina without it.
You never know what you’re going to find as you make your way through the crowded lanes. From souvenirs to clothes to antiques and so much more, there are countless treasures just waiting to be discovered.
We especially love wandering around the market on a crisp fall morning. Wake up early and enjoy a coffee before setting out to leisurely browse the stalls. When you’ve had your fill of shopping, cap it all off with a well-deserved tapas lunch!
Details: Every Sunday from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.; Metro La Latina; Between Calle Embajadores and Calle Toledo
See something new on the big screen
The Festival de Cine de Madrid isn’t your average film festival.
The event focuses specifically on new producers and creators, giving a platform to stories that otherwise may not have been told. And it’s working: the festival, in its 28th edition in 2019, grows more and more popular every year.
This year’s theme is “Madrid as a film set” and will showcase screenings at nearly a dozen venues throughout the city. Entrance to screenings is completely free.
2019 dates: October 10–20
What better to do in Madrid in October than celebrate the country of Spain itself?
Spain’s most important national holiday, Día de la Hispanidad, is October 12. Though celebrations take place throughout the country, there’s no better place to be in Madrid.
The biggest event of the day is the military parade that makes its way down Paseo de la Castellana. It’s a pretty big deal—Spain’s royal family always attends—so if you want to check it out, show up early to be sure you get seats.
Eat like a madrileño
Now that summer is over and tourists aren’t crowding into nearly as many bars and restaurants, it’s time to appreciate Madrid’s foodie scene at its most authentic.
Duck into a rustic, century-old tavern to enjoy recipes that have been passed down for generations, or discover something new at a trendy modern gastropub. Madrid really does have it all when it comes to food, and leisurely, laid-back October is one of the best times to experience it.
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Alex’s first taste of Spain was Basque Country, and it was love at first sip…of txakoli! Too obsessed with tapas to even consider returning to the States, Alex moved to Madrid and continued exploring Spain. Read more about her travels and expat adventures on her blog: Backpacking Brunette.