An exciting city that’s full of life, Madrid perfectly marries the old and the new which is reflected in its historical sites and dynamic lifestyle. The capital of Spain is home to many interesting tourist spots including parks, notable museums, palaces, and plazas that are full of history and culture. Popular attractions include Retiro Park, Prado Museum, Plaza Mayor, and the Royal Palace.
How to Get There
Located around 30 minutes from the city centre, Madrid-Barajas Airport is the primary international airport serving Madrid. This is where international travellers would likely arrive. There are many ways to go to the centre upon your arrival at the airport. The public transportation available in Madrid includes the metro, train or bus.
One of the most common and fastest means of transport is the metro and the train. It takes about 15 minutes to reach the centre. If you’re hopping on the metro, you need to catch the Line 8 (pink line) and transfer depending on your final destination. For the train, it is accessible only in Terminal 4.
Meanwhile, the cheapest mode of transport is the bus. Many bus lines operate in Madrid. Travellers can take the bright yellow-coloured Airport Express Shuttle bus and pay the 5 euro fare. Travel time is around 30-40 minutes. It operates 24 hours a day so you won’t have to worry about late-night transportation.
If you have the budget, the most convenient would be to get private transportation. You can do this by riding a taxi, renting a car, or booking an airport transfer in advance.
Madrid’s transport system is one of the best and more affordable options in Europe. It’s easy to navigate and understand that even non-Spanish speakers will not have a difficult time using them. As such, it’s recommended to take the local trains or buses when you explore the city.
It’s best to get a Madrid Tourist Travel Pass if you plan on maximizing public transport. You can get either the Zone A or Zone T pass, which is valid for 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 7 days. The Zone A pass is for when you’re exploring the city centre. On the other hand, Zone T is the best option if you’re planning to visit neighbouring areas like Aranjuez or El Escorial.
If you plan on driving around, take note that the traffic in the city can be congested. Furthermore, getting a parking spot can be tricky so make sure to read up on and familiarize yourself on how to drive in Madrid.
Top Things to Do
There are many things to do and experience in Madrid, one of the best destinations in Europe. History buffs, art lovers, and even laidback travelers will have a great time when they explore the city’s top tourist destinations. And thanks to its convenient public transport, getting around is a breeze.
Start your adventure by checking out Madrid’s remarkable plazas such as Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol. The historic Plaza Mayor is a public space where people can enjoy the outdoors, shop, and eat. Located nearby is the Sobrino de Botin, which holds a Guinness World Record certificate for being the oldest restaurant in the world. Then, head over to Puerta del Sol to see its famous clock, the Casa de Correos, and other statues and artworks.
A visit to the Retiro Park should be in your must-do when in Madrid. Located amid the hustle and bustle of the city, it’s a great place to relax, have a picnic, and enjoy the nature view (as well as the people!). Within the park is Palacio de Cristal (Glass Palace). Built in 1887, this conservatory was previously a greenhouse. Today, it serves as a venue for art exhibits.
Meanwhile, spice up your holiday a bit and go see a flamenco show. This iconic dance form originated in Spain and plays a significant role in Spanish culture. The best places to catch a show would be in Corral de la Morería, Las Carboneras, and Casa Patas to name a few.
And of course, make sure to visit Madrid’s top attractions including Museo del Prado, which boasts masterpieces from Goya and Velasquez; Gran Via, a thriving entertainment and shopping hotspot; El Rastro, the biggest and most popular flea market in Madrid; and the Royal Palace, the official
Famous for its party culture and vibrant nightlife, Madrid is one of the best places to be in Spain for an evening to remember. There are numerous hip and trendy nightclubs and bars around town. Famous destinations include Teatro Kapital, Museo Chicote, and Joy Eslava.
On the other hand, you can also enjoy quiet time and appreciate the nighttime view along Alcala Street, or from a rooftop bar, or even go to the Reina Sofia Museum. Entrance fee is free from 7 PM to 9 PM so you can save money.
What to Eat
Given the dynamic culture of Madrid, it’s not surprising to see a wide selection of Spanish and world cuisine in the city. But take note that, as in almost all of Spain, meal times and meal types are different from what you may be used to. For example, lunch often starts at around 2 PM since they have a sort of brunch (almuerza) at around 11 AM. But regardless of when you are eating, you’ll surely enjoy the offerings from Madrid.
Some of the top local Spanish cuisine you should try include pincho de tortilla (Spanish omelet), Bocadillo de Calamares (calamari sandwich), huevos rotos (broken eggs), Oreja a la Plancha (pan-seared pig ear), and the local tapas.
And who can resist the mouth-watering, deep-fried churros that are best dipped in a thick hot chocolate? Make sure to try it at Pasadizo de San Gines, a historic cafe in Madrid.
Where to Stay
The best things about the hotels in Madrid is that many of them are situated in neighbourhoods that are close to major tourist sites, shops, parks, and the metro. As such, picking your accommodation would depend on your interests and budget.
Most of the best hotels in Madrid are located at the Centro (City Centre) and in Retiro, which is where the famous Retiro Park is situated. These areas are ideal for all types of travellers because accommodation is a mix of budget, boutique, and even 5-star hotels
If you prefer a livelier neighbourhood especially in the evenings, Chueca and Malasana are the best options. These hip neighbourhoods have countless bars and clubs lining the streets. Most accommodations here are budget-friendly. Staying at a hotel in La Latina, on the other hand, is a dream for foodies. Check out the iconic street of Calle Cava Baja for the best tapas.
Meanwhile, Salamanca is renowned for its posh and exclusive quarters. Most 4- and 5-star Madrid hotels are situated here. At the same time, it is home to luxury brands and high-end shops.
• Take note that business establishments in Madrid like restaurants and retail stores open a bit late. Also, some family-run shops might close for “siesta time” around 2PM-4PM.
• Save money when going to a museum. Check which days or time of the day when entrance fees are free.
• Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t always sunny in Madrid. If you’re planning to go in winter, make sure to pack warm clothes since the temperature can drop to a negative degree.