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Madrid

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Discover hidden gems in Madrid, Spain. Against the popular belief, Madrid is not only a large, anonymous town but has a million things to offer: the fascinating Madrid museums, tapas bars, history, and beautiful parks.

One of Europe’s great capitals, Madrid, is a city awash with fine art and culinary delights just waiting to be devoured. For centuries Spanish royals bestowed riches on the best artists of the day that can be seen it the city’s three excellent museums, the Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Prado, and Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.

If you take nothing else away from your visit to Madrid, it will be that the locals know how to enjoy life with the streets alive at night with the sounds of people having fun.

Architecturally about as beautiful as you can get, Madrid is an exciting, fun city that you will want to return to time after time.

Good to know before traveling to Madrid

Capital: Madrid

Currency: EUR

Power voltage and socket type(s): 230V, plug types F and C.

Official religion(s): 60% of the population is Roman Catholic, followed by atheist and agnostic citizens

Official language(s) and general knowledge of English: Spanish is the official language. English is semi-widely spoken.

Main tourist areas: La Latina, historical center, Malasaña, Gran Vía

Most famous places in Madrid

Museo Nacional del Prado

Home to one of the world’s finest collections of European paintings dating from the 12th century to the early 20th century, the Prado houses the Spanish royal collection of art. Francisco Goya, Bosch, El Greco, Rubens, Titian, and Diego Velázquez are just a few famous artists whose works are on display. – Get tickets here

Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

The Centro de Arte Reina Sofía houses Madrid’s premier collection of contemporary art featuring works by Picasso, Salvador Dalí, and Joan Miró. Located in room 206 on the second floor, you will find Picasso’s Guernica’s masterpiece, the most potent anti-war painting. – Get tickets here

Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza

While the Prado and Reina Sofía allow you to study a single artist’s works, the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza provides a more eclectic collection approach. By doing this, you are given a tour of how artist styles and genres have evolved over the centuries. – Get tickets here

Plaza Mayor

If Madrid were the hub of a spoke reaching out to every corner of Spain, its heart would be the beautiful and impressive Plaza Mayor. A vast open place in the center of the city surrounded by imposing buildings, the Plaza Mayor is full of historical tales and vibrant street life.

Santiago Bernabéu Stadium

Home to one of Spain’s two great football teams, Real Madrid, the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, is one of the world’s most famous football venues. A tour of the stadium and a visit to the impressive trophy room should be on every visitor’s list of things to see and do. – Get tickets here

Accommodation in Madrid

Being one of Europe’s great capital’s Madrid gets over six million visitors per year, which means that the city has plenty of places to stay. Most of Madrid’s accommodation can be found in the center of the town with a sufficient amount of design-conscious, medium-priced hotels to select from.

If you would like to stay in Madrid’s finest establishments, visit on the weekend when business travelers have gone, and they have special offers.

Budget

When it comes to an inexpensive place to stay, hostels are the way to go. No longer the bare bones room and a shower you found back in the ’70s, today’s hostels are hip fun places not reserved exclusively for backpackers.

Located between many of Madrid’s most popular attractions and tapas bars, the OK Hotel offers minimalistic modern dorms and private rooms with beds starting from 17€ per night. If you want your own personal space, prices start from 50€ per night. – Check rates here

Mid-Range 

Housed in a historical building or sleek and contemporary, Madrid offers a plethora of mid-range hotels of which to choose from. Housed in a former industrial building, the Hotel Atlantico **** is a stunning light-filled hotel popular with fashion and media workers.

Located in the heart of Gran Via this 34-room gem is the perfect place for a weekend getaway. Prices at the Hotel Atlantico start from 63€ per night. – Check rates here

Luxury

While London has the Ritz and Paris the George V, Madrid is home to the Hotel Wellington *****.

Fans of old school glamour will fall in love with the Hotel Wellington and its luxurious rooms and rooftop garden. Not only does the Hotel Wellington occupy a great location, but it also has a Michelin starred restaurant and an A-list guest list that included Ernest Hemmingway and Graham Greene. Prices at the Wellington start from 170€ per night. – Check rates here

Other Accommodation Options: 

In recent years, home share and apartment rentals have become extremely popular with families and people traveling in groups. By staying in an apartment, it not only gives you added privacy but the option of cooking meals rather than eating out.

The best place to look for a private place to stay in Madrid is on websites like Airbnb. – Check AirBnBs here

Do I need a visa to travel to Madrid?

Fast-Track: Get your Spain Visa in advance

As a part of Spain, European Union citizens are free to enter and reside in Madrid. Citizens of the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand do not need a visa and are allowed to stay in Spain for up to 90 days.

Citizens of all other countries should check with their nearest Spanish Embassy or Consulate before traveling to Madrid.

Best time to visit Madrid

During the summer, Madrid can be very hot and especially so in August, prompting many businesses to close and go on vacation. If you don’t mind drab weather and want to visit Madrid for its culture, the winter months are good as the hotels reduce their rates.

Overall though, the best time to visit Madrid is in the spring and fall when the temperatures are near perfect. 

Transportation in Madrid

Madrid has an excellent public transport system, including a metro with lines from the southern suburbs stretching as far as Madrid-Barajas Airport (MAD) in the north. Buses are also an option as are metered taxis found at ranks or hailed on the street.

How to get to Madrid

Flight: Madrid-Barajas Airport (MAD) in the north of the city has flights arriving and departing from every part of the globe. Spain’s national flag carrier Iberia is based at Terminal 4. – Check tickets here

Train: Spain has an excellent high-speed rail network that fans out like the spokes of a bicycle wheel, of which Madrid is the hub. – Get tickets here

Car: Roads and motorways in Spain are excellent and easily navigated. If you plan to drive around in Madrid, though, it can be like driving in rush hour no matter what time of day.

How to get around in Madrid

Car: It is not recommended as it is always busy and hard to find a place to park. If you need to get somewhere by car, take a taxi. – Check taxis here

Public Transport: You can get to nearly everywhere in Madrid by metro or bus.

Best Food in Madrid

A country with more bars than anywhere else, eating out Madrid’s options can be a little overwhelming. As the country’s capital, Madrid has food found in every region of Spain plus some dishes that are typical of the city.

Read: Typical food to eat in Madrid

Typical food in Madrid:

Cocido Madrileño

Once the winter arrives, this typically Spanish pork stew can be found in every local restaurant. Containing vegetables, chickpeas, chorizo sausage, and pork, the dish is served in two or three courses with the broth being served first. 

Callos a la Madrileña

Another dish found in winter is Callos a la Madrileña, smokey, savory paprika infused stew of tripe chorizo and blood sausage. Recipes for the dish date back to the 16th century, making it a Madrid winter favorite.

Tortilla

A staple of Spanish cuisine, the humble Spanish omelet made with eggs, potatoes, and onions can be found in every bar.

Cochinillo

While not from Madrid but the surrounding villages, suckling pig, is a traditional delicacy that Madrileños cannot get enough of. Roasted whole in the oven, Spaniards have been devouring. Cochinillo since the Middle Ages.

Churros

Like doughnuts but made into strips rather than rings, Chuurs are deep-fried and then dipped in a creamy hot chocolate. Churros are an early morning favorite after a night on the town. – Read about Spanish snacks here

Best Things to do in Madrid for Outdoor travelers

While most people visit Madrid for art, architecture, and food, there are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy both within the city and the surrounding countryside.

Cycling

As cities become more bicycle-friendly, Madrid has not been left behind building multiple bike paths throughout the city. Renting a bike from one of the many bike hire shops is a great way to see all Madrid’s plaza’s, parks, and emblematic buildings all in one day.

Parque Del Retiro

Belonging to the Spanish monarch until the late 19th century, the Parque Del Retiro is a 350-acre green space not far from the Prado Museum. Whether you pack a picnic or rent a rowboat on the park’s lake, the Parque Del Retiro is a lovely place to kick back and relax.

Madrid Polo Club

Learn all about the sport of polo and take a private lesson at the Madrid Polo Club. Depending upon your equestrian level, the tasks can be tailored to suit your experience.

Paragliding

Easy and fun to do after a few lessons and a safety briefing, paragliding in the rugged Sierra de Guadarrama National Park should be on everyone’s list. Located just an hour’s drive from Madrid’s center, the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park is the 5th largest of Spain’s protected areas. 

Canyoning

Canyoning is an excellent way of getting back to nature in a fun and exciting way. For wild water swimming, rappelling, and scrambling your way through the cliffs and gorges, head to the town of Cuenca two and a half hours from Madrid. Famous for its hanging houses, Cuenca is also where you will find the Júcar River and your canyoning adventure.

Skiing

Nobody would ever use the words skiing and Madrid in the same sentence, yet it is possible to visit the Spanish capital and spend a day skiing. Located 52km (32 miles) outside Madrid, the tiny resort of Navacerrada is where Madrileños hit the slopes. Try and avoid going on the weekend as it gets jam-packed. 

Rock Climbing and Hiking

Located 50 kilometers ( 30 miles) from Madrid, La Pedriza is a massive field of strangely eroded granitic rocks with nearly 1,000 marked rock climbing routes. Hiking in the area is extremely popular also with plenty of mountain hikes through meadows and streams. 


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