PopulationMetro: 6,424,275
Open all hours with an always-full dance card, Spain’s capital is Europe’s city that doesn’t sleep.

In Madrid, everything old is new again. With oodles of investment, the Spanish capital is finally tapping into its long dormant city-building potential.

It’s not just the well-known cultural bounty (although The Prado, Reina Sofia and Thyssen-Bornemisza museums have all expanded over the past few years). Madrid is, more importantly, finally committed to the modern reinvention of the city focused on its citizenry.

Take, for example, Mercado de San Fernando. Once a traditional covered market, it has been converted into a hub not just for food and drink—there’s plenty of that and we recommend you stop for tapas at Bond 40—but also for a variety of activities, from dance performances and lectures to tango and cooking classes to DJ sessions that kick off the weekend.

Nearby is La Casa Encendida, an early 20th-century building styled in Neo-Moorish architecture that has become a hotspot for concerts, lectures and exhibitions.

The third-best Nightlife city on the planet (trailing only London and Tokyo) is finally making it easier and more pleasant to stay out late.

CITY PERFORMACE
Place
Place 66
Product
Product 40
Programming
Programming 41
People
People 63
Prosperity
Prosperity 43
Promotion
Promotion 39

And much like Tokyo, the low crime rate—ninth lowest in the world—makes exploring in the dark much more fun knowing that the metropolis of 6.5 million had fewer than 20 murders in 2017.

The city’s Top 20 ranking in our Neighborhoods & Landmarks category is certain to improve given long overdue big-budget projects like making the central Gran Via boulevard far more pedestrian friendly—and far greener, with almost 250 new trees.

But the unveiling that locals are eagerly awaiting is the grand Edificio España, mostly empty for the better part of a decade since the financial crisis and set to reopen in 2019 as a luxury hotel and fresh street-level retail. Part of the redevelopment includes a much-needed reimagining of the facing Plaza de España’s concrete dead zone that will finally embrace its place in the heart of the city.

The world is already taking notice, with the Spanish capital landing at #7 in our Promotion category, including a third-place overall finish among Google Trends and Top 10 for TripAdvisor Reviews. Madrid’s ascent will continue in the years ahead as it—and spellbound others—tell her story.