You get to experience a party like atmosphere in the plaza. It is beautiful and the many cafes, bars, shops give the area color and buzz. The architecture is beautiful and there is a lot of history here dating back to 1560 - the buildings were destroyed by fire several times and each time rebuilt, the last time 1790. There are also many street vendors and entertainers which adds to the fun. Many tourists and locals alike like to visit because it is an area that is very nice to look at and has a lot going on. You won't be disappointed. While there we experienced local musicians, kids entertainers, even some street vendors offering neck and back massages. That said, this is a location because of the volumes of people including tourists that also draws a lot of pick pockets, so watch your belongings. We didn't have any trouble here, but there was a group of 3 that approached us and asked for directions; they were locals. We were cautioned; don't help any of these people; as one will try to distract you or someone you maybe with, while someone else will try to take your purse or wallet. It's like any tourist place you visit any where in the world, so do be alert. Don't flash a lot of money. We left our important belongings in a hotel safe, or close to us under clothing, etc and were more relaxed around popular spots like this. We didn't tend to dine at the restaurants in the plaza square as they tended to be expensive, touristy and found nice spots off the beaten path or the nearby market that were more affordable and delicious. All in all, it is a place to see. You may not dine here, but it doesn't take away from the culture and fun of the place and it is a must see while in Madrid. It is the heart of Madrid, filled with culture, the aroma of wonderful food and entertainment. If you do buy souveniers from the plaza, check out the prices first of some of the vendors; different vendors charge different prices for the same items....so look before you buy. We saved 2 - 3 Euros a piece on some small items. I wouldn't have missed seeing the plaza and would definately go back.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC