Madrid, the capital of Spain has long been a fascination for international travellers who are intrigued by its unusual history. Although the area has been inhabited since prehistoric times, the city itself dates back to the 9th century when it was established by the Moors.
Madrid today continues to lure visitors by offering more than just history. Unknown to many, it boasts one of the largest green areas of any metropolitan city in the world. Amongst more than half a million cultivated trees are many architectural wonders including the largest palace in Western Europe.
Madrid has a Mediterranean climate with mild winters and hot summers.
Getting to Madrid
The Madrid-Barajas airport (ICAO: LEMD, IATA:MAD) is the busiest and largest airport in Spain. Its air shuttle service, which is called Puente Aéreo (Air Bridge) is the second busiest in Europe.
Getting Around Madrid
Madrid has a high-speed rail system, Alta Velocidad Española (AVE), which connects Madrid with at least 17 provincial capitals, and more lines are being built. The Spanish AVE system is the longest high speed rail network in Europe.
Madrid also has a vast network of buses, many of which run 24 hours a day. Some buses are “N lines” which means they operate only at night. Nearly half of the trips made in the metropolitan area are made through public transportation. Madrid also has over 15,700 taxis.
It is also quite easy to pre-arrange your car rental pickup at the airport before you travel to Madrid.
Where to Stay In Madrid
The is a vast variety of quality hotels in Madrid to choose from. You can use our hotel comparison tool to find the best hotel deals in Madrid.
Top 10 Places To See And Things To Do in Madrid
The Puerta del Sol
The Puerta del Sol (Gate of the Sun) lies in the center of Madrid. Built in the 15th century, it was originally one of the gates of the wall that surrounded the city back then. It faces the east and was thus named after the rising sun that illuminates the entry. It is also the center of many intersecting roads.
The Museo del Prado
The Museo del Prado, which is also sometimes called just El Prado, is Spain’s main national art museum and is considered one of the best art museums in the world. It boasts one of the world’s finest collections of European art and includes pieces dating from the 12th century to the 19th century. It has works by Francisco de Goya, Hieronymus Bosch, Diego Velázquez and countless many other artists.
The Royal Palace of Madrid
The Royal Palace of Madrid is the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family, who use it for official ceremonies. Some of the rooms are open to the public. The current palace was built in the 18th century but sits on the site of a 9th century castle.
Another palace to check out in Madrid is the Cybele Palace.
The Church of San Nicolás
The Church of San Nicolás has the distinction of being the oldest church in Madrid. It was probably built in the 12th century and therefore probably was originally a Muslim mosque. Parts of it were renovated in the 17th century.
Madrid is also home to two successful football teams, Real Madrid who play at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium and the Atlético Madrid who play at the Vicente Calderón Stadium. Real Madrid has won at least 10 European Cups since that competition’s establishment in the 1950s.
For Sports fan, a visit to the two UEFA 5-star stadiums and Las Ventas bullfighting arena is a must.
In the city center, variety of architectural styles is almost overwhelming. Since the construction of Grand Via, art nouveau, totalitarian, art deco and expressionist styles of buildings have tried to enforce their character prompting the experts to declare Madrid a living artist gallery.
Among the many attractions in Madrid is the Golden Triangle of Art, which constitutes popular museums of ancient and modern art. Although, the Spanish capital is considered second to Seville in terms of quality of baroque churches but it contains the most elaborate examples of baroque style such as the world famous convent of Las Descalzas Trinitarias, and the decorated roof of the dome at San Antonio de los Alemanes.
The nightlife of this city echoes the cultural movement of ’80s, la modiva. This characteristic movement is still evident in the neighbourhoods of Bilbao, Puerta del Sol, Tribunal, and Moncloa. At these spots, tourists will relish many clubs and restaurants where locals gather to enjoy a carefree lifestyle, drinking alcohol together.
Travel to Lavapies district to find many hidden houses where ‘underground’ concerts and entertainment still flourish. For those who love a more formal atmosphere, Madrid offers live entertainments of expressive and alternative art.
Theatre and Orchestra
Other activities include the Classical Opera concerts offered by Spanish National Orchestra and Chamartín Symphony Orchestra.