Madrid Travel Guide
The capital of Spain is an extraordinary city. Culturally dynamic, full of creativity and exuberance, it is a paradise for those who want to go out at night, for music fans and art lovers.
From the infinite masterpieces of the Prado Museum to the luxury shops of the Salamanca district, Madrid is a city to be explored at your own pace and from which you will extract unforgettable experiences.
To enjoy sports, there is nothing better than joining the crowd at Real Madrid’s matches. Couples can walk arm in arm through El Buen Retiro Park, while a good meal of papas bravas, bowls of cocido madrileño and pinchos de tortilla española will satisfy all the public. Not to mention the genuinely typical squid sandwiches in the Plaza Mayor.
- Top 5 reasons to visit Madrid
- What to do in Madrid
- When to visit Madrid
- How to get to Madrid
- Where to stay in Madrid
- How to get around Madrid
- Cost of living in Madrid
- Where to eat in Madrid
Top 5 reasons to visit Madrid
Fabulous museums and galleries
Madrid is home to one of the most extraordinary art galleries in the world: the Prado Museum. From El Greco and Fra Angelico to Velázquez and Goya, it includes a truly amazing collection of masterpieces. However, it is not the only museum. The Centro de Arte Reina Sofía houses Picasso’s Guernica, and the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza has a spectacular collection of contemporary art.
Two great football teams
Madrid’s two main football teams are also world class. Real Madrid and Atlético de Madrid have played in the final of the European Champions League in recent years and fight for league supremacy every year. A match at the Metropolitan Wanda Stadium or the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium will become an unforgettable sporting experience.
Its incredible nightlife atmosphere
Areas like Chueca, Malasaña and Alonso Martinez never seem to sleep. Madrid has one of the best nightlife scenes in Europe thanks to clubs like Joy Eslava, ThunderCat Club and Kapital. If you are looking to party, few destinations can compete with the capital of Spain.
Gourmet Spanish food for all tastes
Food is a Madrid obsession, and Madrid is home to numerous world-class chefs. If gourmet food is your passion, try the creations of masters such as Ramón Freixa at the Hotel Único, or Diego Guerrero at El Club Allard to discover why gourmets value Madrid so much.
An impeccable public transport network
One of the most pleasant aspects of Madrid is its exceptional public transport system. Wherever you need to go, the metro, EMT buses and Cercanías-Renfe trains will take you to your destination economically and efficiently.
What to do in Madrid
Enjoy the Golden Triangle of Art
Take a short walk along the Paseo del Prado after enjoying the largest art gallery in Europe and arrive at the Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, famous for Picasso’s Guernica. Complete the triangle with a visit to the Thyssen.
Going out through Chueca, the heart of Madrid
Take a slight detour from Gran Vía and go shopping or eating tapas in this charismatic neighborhood. This is where you will experience the craziest part of your Madrid visit.
Relaxing in the park of El Buen Retiro
In the centre of the city of Madrid is the park of El Buen Retiro, the green lung of the city. Enjoy its countless recreational activities. The centerpiece of the park is the Crystal Palace, an extraordinary feat of design. If you prefer, rent a rowboat and slide down the shimmering pond of El Retiro.
Visit the Royal Palace of Madrid
Step into this extravagant palace that has more works of art by great masters, such as Velázquez and Caravaggio, than many European museums. Don’t forget to explore the splendid Moorish Gardens at the back.
Eating at the Mercado de San Miguel
San Miguel is a gastronomic paradise. Taste the culinary delights of countless vendors specializing in modern variations of traditional Spanish dishes.
When to visit Madrid
As far as the climate is concerned, temperatures in Madrid begin to rise in April and remain high until October. The best months for tourism are May and the beginning of June or September.
How to get to Madrid
Madrid-Barajas Adolfo Suárez Airport (MAD) is located about 13 kilometres northeast of the city centre. To get to the centre of Madrid, you can take an express bus which costs 5 EUR, the Cercanías train system (2.60 EUR), or the metro, which costs 5 EUR.
The Madrid stations of Atocha and Chamartín are the two arrival points of the train in Madrid. Both stations are connected to the underground network, so it will cost you 1.50 EUR to get to the city centre. Connections to the south, such as Seville, are made by AVE (high speed train), as well as to Galicia, in the north of the country. Arriving by train from other European cities is not recommended due to the long distances, but there are trains that connect with Paris.
If you drive from France, the fastest route is to take the E-15 to Barcelona, and then the E-90 to Madrid, although there is also a northern route through Bilbao that involves taking the E-80 and then the E-5. From Lisbon, take the A6, then the E802 and finally the E-90 to Madrid.
Madrid has countless bus connections with the rest of Spain and Europe, thanks to companies such as Alsa, Eurolines and Avanza. Most of the long distance buses will end up at the Avenida de America bus station, linked to the metro, which will take you to the city centre in about 10 minutes.
Where to stay in Madrid
Madrid has a wide range of accommodation options, from palatial hotels to humble hostels. Luxury options include the Wellington, the Ritz Hotel and the InterContinental, with prices starting at 300 EUR per night.
How to get around Madrid
One of the best things about Madrid is how easy it is to get around on public transport. Buses, trains and underground services use the same tickets and cost the same: 1,50 EUR per trip. Daily passes cost 8 EUR, while weekly passes cost 33.40 EUR, with big savings for children under 11.
Although public transport is exceptional, the Madrid underground closes at 1:30 a.m., so if you are heading to the hotel after a night out, a taxi may be essential. You will have to look for white vehicles with red stripes, as these are the official ones. The basic rate is 2.40 EUR per flag down, plus 0.90 EUR per kilometre, although prices increase at night.
Many travellers who visit Madrid choose to rent a car, which makes it easier to visit attractions outside the city such as El Escorial Monastery, Aranjuez Palace or sporting events on the outskirts. Companies such as Enterprise, Hertz and Sixt have offices in various parts of the city and at the airport, and rates can be as low as 20 EUR per day.
Cost of living in Madrid
Madrid is a fantastic place for buyers. If you are looking for gift shops or clothing franchises, visit Gran Vía and nearby streets like Fuencarral. Preciados street is probably the busiest, with shops like Fnac, Zara or El Corte Inglés. Serrano Street, in the Salamanca district, is the most luxurious along with Velázquez, Ayala and Jorge Juan, with Gucci and Hermès shops, among others.
Finding places to buy food in Madrid is never a problem. In addition to the big markets, you will find supermarkets like Carrefour, DIA and Mercadona in most neighbourhoods. Prices are generally not high. You will pay around 1 EUR for a litre of milk or 1.60 EUR for 12 eggs.
Where to eat in Madrid
Madrid is a wonderful gastronomic destination, so you will have countless options. If you want excellent tapas, try restaurants in Cava Baja such as Casa Lucio. There are Andalusian delicacies available in Sanlúcar, gourmet creations by Catalan chef Ramón Freixa at the Hotel Único, and succulent roast beef dishes at Botín, which claims to be the oldest restaurant in the world. Prices vary, but you can eat well for less than 25 EUR.