Madrid is the capital and most populous city of Spain. The city has almost 3.3 million inhabitants but the entire metropolitan area gets to a population of approximately 6.5 million. It is a vibrant city, where art and fun co-exist. In this Madrid city guide you will find ideas to plan your trip and make the most out of it. Local madrileños have a expression. ¡De Madrid al cielo! (from Madrid to the sky! which a way to invite people to get to know… and fall in love with it. Madrid is a very welcoming city. You will find how easy it is to move around Madrid and enjoy its many treasures
Madrid travel guide - Contents
MADRID TOP ATTRACTIONS
OUR FAVORITE RESTAURANTS
The Principal Madrid – Trendy and luxurious 5 star
Room Mate Macarena – Attractive 3 star hotel
5 Top Reasons To Visit Madrid
World class attractions
The Royal Palace of Madrid and the Bernabeu Stadium are amongst Madrid top attractions, but there are many more attractions that will make you love Madrid
Few cities in the world offer so much art in a few miles: The Prado Museum, The Reina Sofía, The Thyssen and other fantastic smaller art Galleries. if you love art, you are lucky in Madrid! You can find more details in our Madrid art museums guide.
5 Unesco sites at less than 1 hour
If you have extra time on top of your visit to Madrid you will be able to enjoy some of Spain´s most impressive cities: Segovia. Toledo, El Escorial, Aranjuez, Avila… These superb attractions can be accessed by train from Madrid and can be reached in less than 1 hour. If these were not enough you will be seduced also by the beauty of Salamanca, Cuenca or the smaller beautiful villages near Madrid where madrileños love to spend their weekends.
Great night life
The spirit of La Movida (the 80s) is not dead and Madrid is a good example of aCity that never sleeps
Tapas & fine dining
Madrid is a true tapas heaven.Districts like Huertas, La Latina, Ponzano or the streets near The Retiro Park (Menorca, Ibiza….) are full of bars and restaurants that specialise in traditional or modern tapas and wines. But if you are more into fine dining you will not be dissapointed by the many options Madrid has to offer.
Weather In Madrid
Madrid is located at the heart of Spain and it boosts pure Continental weather. If you would like to enjoy Madrid by yourself you may want to consider August, when most Madrileños leave the city for holiday, but temperatures in both July and August reach averages close to 90F. July is, at a matter of fact, the warmest month since temperatures during the second half of August drop a lot.
The probability of rain is rather low, with 15% chance from September to June and almost none in summer. April is the rainiest month, with between 20 to 25% of probability that you get a rainy day.
Best Time To Visit Madrid
Our favorite months to visit Madrid are March, April, May, first half of June, September and October.
Bear in mind that most restaurants will be close on Sunday nights. Also bear in mind that many attractions close on Mondays.
Most popular attractions in Madrid
Besides the top attractions shown below you can find more information on the best attractions in Madrid here.
Insider's hints to enjoy 1 day in Madrid like a local
Atocha train station
Most people arriving from Barcelona or Seville do not appreciate the beauty of this station. Take your time! The main area at Atocha station is a fantastic example of civil architecture with an iron and glass structure and tropical garden inside.
El Retiro Park
Do not miss the Palacio de Cristal, the Retiro´s most beautiful monument. We recommend to start your walk from the entrance closest to the Prado museum. The Retiro is one of the few places in the world with a statue dedicated to the Fallen Angel (Lucifer). Your visit should include a stop at one of the terraces near the lake or the Paseo de Carruajes. We recommend to leave the Retiro from Puerta de Alcala, Madrid´s most famous Gate.
Tapas like a Madrileño
If you would like to enjoy tapas like Madriñeos do we recommend you exist the Retiro in Avenida Menendez Pelayo and get to streets Doctor Castelo and Menorca where many bars await you. You can continue your itinerary in Goya and Serrano streets. These streets are one of Madrid´s main shopping districts. Serrano is home to some of the most exclusive shops in town. If you opt to walk from El Retiro straight to Plaza de Colón you will also find many bars and restaurants with tapas menu.
Near Plaza de Colón
If you are fond of chocolate you will find one of Madrid´s best shops near Colon (Cacao Sampaka) behind the romantic park of Plaza de la Villa de Paris. Plaza de Santa Barbara is very close too, a local´s favorite for cañas ((the way locals refer to beer)
Recoletos and Cibeles
Cafe Gijón is one of Madrid´s most famous coffee-shops with lots of history. At Cibeles (the square where real Madrid fans celebrate when the team wins a championship) you may decide to visit the City Hall. Views from the upper terrace are fantastic.
Gran Via and Sol
We recommend to start the itinerary drinking a coffee at one of the best terraces in Madrid (Hotel Principal or, on the other side of street, Círculo de bellas Artes). Do not miss the Metropolis and the Telefonica building (once the highest building in Madrid).
The clock in Sol hosts every New year´s eve the count-down for the start of the New year.
Plaza de Oriente
If you would appreciate to try a good paella or high quality cocido you will find 2 good options near the Opera House (El pato mudo for paella and La Bola for Cocido)
La Almudena Cathedral and San Francisco el Grande
From San Miguel market you may decide to get to the Royal Palace through the Latina area instead of calle Mayor and Plaza de la Villa.. You will find some of Madrid best bars in Cava Baja and Cava Alta (and also Lucio restaurant). If you enjoy a bit of atmosphere we recommend you to stop at the terrace of el Viajero. At the end of this “tapas detour” you will find la Basilica de San Francisco el Grande, which holds Madrid´s largest dome. From there you can continue to the Cathedral and the Royal Palace.
Best day trips from Madrid
Madrid is one of the few cities in the world, if not the only one, that can claim to enjoy so many Unesco heritage sites at less than 1 hour drive from the Capital. Most experts would not argue that Spain´s best day tours departure from Madrid.
Fascinating medieval villages where local gastronomy remains unspoilt, the unique royal palaces of Spain´s monarchs and gardens (El Escorial, Aranjuez, La Granja) or one of the world´s most impressive medieval walls in Avila. Add the famous hanging houses of Cuenca, the wines of Ribera del Duero, the windmills of Don Quixote, or the elegance and beauty of Salamanca and you will start to consider Madrid as a perfect base from where to enjoy day after day amazing destinations.
We have left to the end of this list Segovia and Toledo, 2 of the World´s bes preserved medieval cities and, in both cases, ancient capitals of Spain, which hold 2 of the most impressive cathedrals in Spain and many more surprises like the Roman aqueduct in segovia, or the Alcazar fortress in Toledo.
Segovia city and capital of the province same name, and in the region of Castilla y Leon, played an important role even in ancient times. Standing on a rocky out-crop between the two river valleys of the Eresma and Clamores it looks like a stranded ship. Discover in this city guide of Segovia all the information to ensure you make the most out of your visit. … Read More
Brief History of Madrid
The area of present-day Madrid was settled during prehistoric times, as numerous finds from the Stone Age bear witness. The Moors gave the then insignificant town the name ‘Magerit’, from which the name Madrid is derived.
For centuries Madrid stood in the shadow of Toledo. In 1083 Madrid was captured by Alfonso VI and absorbed into the Christian kingdom. Under Henry II the town was totally destroyed by fire. It was later rebuilt by Henry III who had himself crowned in Madrid in 1390.
Henry IV turned the Moorish alcázar into his favourite residence and granted the town market rights. In 1474 Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile had the walls of Madrid destroyed.
Nevertheless, the royal couple made their ceremonial entry here in 1477. In 1561 Philip II declared Madrid capital of the empire. Under Philip III monasteries, churches and hospitals were built and during the reign of Philip IV new buildings were constantly being constructed.
The Borbons demanded the further extension of the city. When they arrived to Madrid they did not like all they saw. The Royal Palace did not exist as we know it today, and the kingdom did not enjoy at the time the summer houses like La Granja. his was continued under Charles III in particular. From 1860 the outer suburbs were developed and were constantly being enlarged.
Madrid is today the city in Europe with more trees. Madrid parks are found everywhere: from the fantastic Retiro Park, to smaller parks, tourists find it easy to enjoy fresh air in Spain´s capital city.
Among the many attractions, you may be surprised to discover that Madrid soccer stadiums are amongst the favorites by locals and foreign visitors alike.
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