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Madrid city guide

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Ultimate guide to visit Madrid

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 city guide - Contents

The crystal palace at the Retiro park in Madrid
The crystal palace at the Retiro park in Madrid
Madrid Puerta de Alcala from the Retiro park
Madrid Puerta de Alcala from the Retiro park
Construction of Caleido tower
Construction of Caleido tower next to the 4 towers
façade Almudena cathedral in Madrid
Almudena Cathedral in Madrid

Practical information to plan your visit to Madrid

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

Art Galleries. 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!

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. 

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.

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.  

Complete 2 day itinerary in Madrid

Retiro Park in Madrid
vacations

Madrid trip – 2 days city break

Madrid in 2 days. A complete itinerary to enjoy your stay in Madrid with a plan that includes daily maps, budget and a list of hotels, restaurants and recommended things to do. Adapt the plan to your budget and your travel style and get the most out of 2 days in Spain´s Capital

Recommended attractions in Madrid

Spain´s capital is a fascinating city that offers a wide range of tourist attractions. You can find all our favorite Madrid attractions here. From the world-class art galleries, the lively tapas bars, or icons such as the Royal Palace, the Bernabeu Stadium or the Retiro Park, you will be able to enjoy no matter what you look for.

bear puerta del sol madrid

Puerta del Sol: the ultimate tourist guide

Puerta del Sol  La Puerta del Sol is located in the heart of Madrid, and in the heart of the country in fact. La Puerta del Sol is Madrid’s main square and the geographical center of the country. It is located just a few minutes from the Plaza Mayor and

Estadio Santiago Bernabeu

Estadio Santiago Bernabeu- Madrid

Overview The Santiago Bernabeu soccer stadium in Madrid is the home of one of the top sports teams in the world: Real Madrid. This imposing coliseum is located in the modern heart of the city, right on the Castellana, Madrid’s main artery. The Stadium is named after Real Madrid’s first

Retiro Park

Retiro Park- Madrid

Retiro Park, the best park in Madrid The Retiro park is probably Spain´s most famous park. Enjoying a boat ride in the Retiro lake is one of the top things to enjoy in Madrid with children. Among the many interesting things you will be able to enjoy in El Retiro

Museo del Prado

Prado Museum in Madrid – Complete visitors guide

Museo del Prado, one of the world´s finest art galleries The Museo Del Prado is one of the main tourist sites of the city of Madrid and you should not pass it up. You can see masterpieces of the Spanish, Italian and Flemish schools. Average customer review Score for Museo

Palacio Real

Royal palace of Madrid – complete visitors guide

Madrid Royal palace – history, tickets and tours The Royal Palace of Madrid was built after a fire that occurred on the 24th of December 1734 in the Real Alcazar. The first Wednesday of every month (except in summer) at 11 am, you can watch the change of guards. You

Recommended hotels in Madrid

There are many hotels in Madrid. Depending on your budget, the style of hotels you enjoy and where you will prefer to be located the options are many. We have put together a complete guide with our recommended hotels in Madrid.  You will find there recommended hotels at each district, and also our top picks based on your travel style. We include below 3 of our favorite hotels in Madrid adapted to different travel budget. 

Recommended restaurants in Madrid

In Madrid you will find an excellent sample of all sorts of Spanish cousine: Basque, Galician, Mediterranean… Madrileños love to go out and that means there is a restaurant to please every taste. No matter if you are looking for a romantic restaurant in Madrid, a place to enjoy the best paella as if you were in Valencia, or a good option to enjoy a family dinner, where are sure you will not be dissapointed. We have put together a complete guide with our selection of recommended restaurants in Madrid

Botín

Sobrino de Botín

Overview Located right next to the Plaza Mayor of Madrid, on Cuchilleros street is Sobrino de Botín, the world’s oldest restaurant. Sobrino de Botín has been in business, in one form or another since 1725. The name “Botín” pops up in numerous texts of several famous Spanish authors over the

Viridiana

Viridiana – Fine dining near the Retiro Park in Madrid

Viridiana in Madrid This is a mythical restaurant in Madrid. A gastronomic temple in which the soul and personality of his chef, Abraham Garcia, is felt everywhere. The name Viridiana was chosen after a film from Buñuel, whom Abraham got to know in Madrid. Viridiana does not follow trends or

Ático by Ramon Freixa - The Principal Madrid Hotel

Atico by Ramon Freixa – fine dining with views in Madrid

Ático by Ramon Freixa – The Principal Madrid Hotel? You might miss the penthouse restaurant of Ramón Freixa if you aren’t paying attention. The Catalonian chef, the owner of 2 Michelin stars, is responsible for the excellent food served in this amazing restaurant situated on the second to last floor

Rosi La Loca Taberna

Rosi La Loca Taberna – Superb tapas near Plaza Mayor in Madrid

Rosi La Loca Taberna in Madrid Hablar de Rosi La Loca Taberna puts a modern twist on traditional Spanish cuisine. This quaint and cute little restaurant is located right in the center of town and their menu offers a wide variety of dishes that highlight the quality of ingredients: fresh

Arce

Arce – Fine dining in Chueca district in Madrid

Arce restaurant in Chueca – Review A staple of the Chueca neighborhood, Arce never disappoints. When Arce opended in Chueca the nights in the district were wild and influenced by the spirit of La Movida. But during the daytime the streets recovered their traditional spirit and locals visited the San

Build your itinerary with our interactive map of Madrid

Top things to do in Madrid

Our team of local experts thought that it makes all sense in this Madrid city guide to ensure you find alternatives and things to do no matter what your travel style is. They have put together a selection of best things to enjoy in the city to suit all tastes. You can find our full list with top things to do in Madrid here.

Top hotels in Madrid near El Prado Museum

Madrid art galleries

Madrid and its “Paseo del Arte” (The local name given to the distance between the top 3 art galleries in Madrid (The Prado Museum, the Thyssen Bornemiza and the Reina Sofía museum) set Madrid amongst the top art destinations in the world.

Besides this 3 top museums, there are other smaller art galleries which would stand out at most cities in the world: The Real Academis de San Fernando, the Lazaro Galdiano museum he Casa Sorolla museum and the Cerralbo Museum.

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.

Fascinating medieval villages where local gastronomy remains unspoilt, top palaces 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.

Palace and gardens - La Granja de San Ildefonso 9.5 rating

Spain royal palaces

El Escorial and its fascinating monastery where Spanish Kings are buried, the beautiful marvel of La Granja de San Ildefonso located 10 kilometers from Segovia, The Aranjuez palace and its gardens (declared Unesco heritage site) and the Royal Palace in Madrid are all proof of a way of live, but also of inmense wealth and beauty. Some of th ebest tours to enjoy from Madrid include visits to these fantastic locations

Madrid´s top Festival

San Isidro Madrid
Fiestas

San Isidro in Madrid festival, Bulls and Rosquillas.

Each 15th of May in Madrid is the festival of San Isidro, the patron of Madrid. For a period of five days, locals take to the streets to celebrate their pilgrimage in the Pradera of San Isidro and also to enjoy music, dancing and Madrid cuisine in the gardens of the Vistillas.
The day before the party, in the streets of downtown Madrid, you can hear the excitement from the Parade of Giants, announcing the arrival of the Proclamation that occurs on the afternoon of the 14th on Plaza de la Villa.

Algarabía

The most romantic restaurants in Madrid

Couples that arrive to Madrid to enjoy a romantic break or to celebrate an anniversary or special occasion will find it easy to discover some hidden treasures and ideas that can bring that extra magic to their stay. We recommend you to visit our guide with romantic things to do and ideas in Madrid.

From parks to go hand in hand during romantic strolls, to restaurants that offer that perfect atmosphere to end the day… Our team of local experts have hand-picked the following restaurants.

El Capricho Park

Get to know Madrid

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 foregin visitors alike. 

MADRID VIDEO

CITY GUIDES OF OTHER CITIES IN SPAIN

Valencia city guide thumb

Valencia city guide

Valencia, which is the capital of the province of the same name and the third largest city in Spain, is situated on the Río Turia in the middle of an extensive and fertile plain, the Huerta of Valencia. It is a university town and the seat of an archbishop. Various annual festivals are held in this cheerful, lively city. Of these, the Fallas deserves particular mention. Valencia is the homeland of paella, one of Spain´s top national dishes

Seville city guide thumb

Seville city guide

The variety and quality of the artistic heritage in the city of Seville, the mixture of styles, eras and civilizations, and the special color of this city makes it an unforgettable place. White streets and squares, flamenco dancing, the river Guadalquivir and the Cathedral and Giralda are just a few of the reasons why Seville should be in your list!

Thumb Barcelona city guide

Barcelona city guide

Barcelona is Spain´s second largest city and the capital of Catalonia. The city has something from everyone. Its Mediterranean character contrasts its gothic roots, which also contrast with its wide avenues and beautiful modern buildings.

Barcelona is a place where architecture and art melt together. The influence of Gaudi has been profound and exceeds his masterpieces.