City Discovery: Madrid – The Capital of Spain

Egyptian Temple in Madrid
Photo by ISA Student Alana Kahan

Discover Madrid!

Located nearly in the center of Spain, Madrid is not only the capital, but it is also the country’s largest city. In fact, Madrid is the third largest city in Europe behind London and Berlin. Madrileños, residents of Madrid, are also known as “gatos” because of their nocturnal nature and active night life. Find out where some of the best places to meet “gatos” are.

Here are some Discovery Model activity suggestions in Madrid that you won’t want to miss:


Intercultural experiences highlight exposure with the local culture.

There is always something going on in Madrid. During each semester the ISA Madrid on-site staff sends out a Cultural Agenda with information about local events, concerts, activities, and ISA cultural events planned for that week. Students are provided with information on classroom etiquette, how to build positive relationships with local students and professors and information about manners in Spain.

One of Madrid’s huge festivals occurs in May and is the Fiestas de San Isidro. The city comes out to celebrate San Isidro, the patron saint of the city, and concerts, dancing, and food is never too far away!

Street Performers in Madrid
Photo by ISA Student Carolyn Rush


Historical experiences highlight historical parts of the local culture to help students better understand their new environment.

Students can participate in cultural activities such as visits to the Reina Sofia museum and Museo Nacional El Prado, where they will learn about the history of Spanish art, the lives of Spanish artists and see works by some of Spain’s most well-known artists.

Taking place in March, Madrid hosts a special event called Noche de los Teatros where theater and artistic scenes are performed on streets and in plazas throughout the city.


Sociopolitical discovery highlights social and political activities or experiences.

Madrid is the capital city of Spain and students can visit Congress and the Senate of Spain. Madrid is also home to the Royal Palace (El Palacio Real) which is host to several important exhibitions.

Coronation Day in Spain
Photo by ISA Student Lucas Lemar


Professional experiences provide exposure to professional development opportunities during each student’s time studying abroad.

One of the best ways to build professional experience in Madrid is to volunteer. Students can volunteer at a variety of local organizations. One in particular is called “1 Kilo de Ayuda,” which works to help support education in lesser developed countries. Students can work with the ISA on-site staff to find other local volunteer opportunities suited to their interests.

Madrid by Night
Photo by ISA Student Carolyn Rush


Environmental experiences expose students to different environmental aspects of the host country.

ISA students studying in Madrid will visit the Real Jardín Botánico (the Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid) and it’s roughly 90,000 plant species with ISA Madrid.

Discover more about studying abroad in Madrid!

As part of the City Discovery Series, ISA will showcase a different location and highlight activities within the five parts of the Discovery Model: Intercultural, Historical, Sociopolitical, Professional and Environmental. The Discovery Model aims to help students have the best possible study abroad experience by helping them to gain a better understanding of the local environment, customs and people through a variety of experiences.


Author: International Studies Abroad (ISA)

Since 1987, International Studies Abroad (ISA) has provided college students in the United States and Canada the opportunity to explore the world. ISA offers a wide variety of study abroad programs at accredited schools and universities in 73 program locations throughout the world.