Spring: Between March and early June, the days get longer and the evenings become warmer making it a good time to visit.
Summer: With temperatures ranging from 30-40 degrees between June and August, summer in Madrid can be scorching during the day and hot and sticky at night.
Autumn: After a sizzling summer, things begin to calm down a bit in September but the weather is still warm and comfortable until at least mid-October.
Winter: As the highest capital city in Europe, winter can be pretty chilly with snow a possibility, although expect clear blue skies during the day.
Images: Sunset by torephoto on Flickr
With some of the best museums and art galleries in Europe, as well as a buzzing night scene, there is always something to see and do in Madrid. Alternatively, anyone looking to escape the city for a day can choose from a range of day trips to quieter towns and cities.
El Prado: As the most famous attraction in Madrid, this art museum is home to the best single collection of Spanish art dating back to the 12th century.
Royal Palace of Madrid: Standing on the site of a 9th century fortress, the palace is the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family in Madrid and is used for state ceremonies.
Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum: Check out the 1,600 paintings in this impressive art collection that was once the second largest private collection in the world.
Temple of Debod: Discover this ancient Egyptian temple that once stood in the Nile Valley of Egypt and was brought to Madrid in 1971.
Reina Sofia: Dedicated mainly to Spanish art including work by Picasso and Dali, this museum makes up the so-called Golden Triangle of Art along with the Prado and Thyssen- Bornemisza.
Madrid Teleferico: Fly above the streets and parks of the city over various famous attractions such as the Royal Palace and the Temple of Debod in this cable car at heights of up to 150 feet.
Las Ventas: With a capacity of 25,000, this famous bullring in the east of Madrid is regarded as the home of bullfighting in Spain. The season runs from March until December.
Santiago Bernabeu Stadium: Holding over 85,000 fans, this is the official home of Real Madrid - one of the greatest football teams in the world. Tickets are relatively easy to get hold of.
Madrid Cathedral: No trip to the city is complete without a visit to its largest and most important church. Work began on the cathedral in 1883, but it was only completed in 1993.
Often described as the ‘city that never sleeps’; Madrid is one of the liveliest cities in the world. All tastes are catered for here, whether you’re looking to grab a bite to eat, dance until the early hours of the morning or watch some traditional Spanish flamenco dancing.
La Latina: Boasts a laid-back vibe - perfect for chilling out on a Sunday afternoon
Salamanca: Rub shoulders with the rich and famous in this swanky spot
Puerta del Sol: Catch a flamenco show or drink in an Irish bar in the heart of Madrid
Chueca: Discover sleek and fashionable bars in the main gay area of the city
Gran Vía: Dance until the early hours in some of the city’s most popular nightclubs
Malasaña: Mingle with the young, alternative and rocker crowd in bars, clubs and restaurants
Day Trips from Madrid:
For anyone looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a day or two, Madrid is the perfect base for daytrips to various towns and villages. With many tour operators and excursions available, it’s easy to explore anything from historical town centres to ancient monuments.
Toledo: Home to over 100 ancient monuments, Toledo is a World Heritage Site with a medieval charm, boasting castles, cathedrals, bridges and museums.
Travel Time: 1 hour
Aranjuez: Climb aboard a classic steam train from Madrid to discover the sites of Aranjuez including the Royal Palace and the Church of San Antonio.
Travel Time: 50 minutes
Segovia: Visit the famous two-thousand year old Roman aqueduct and castle, as well as discovering various churches and museums around every corner.
Travel time: 1 hour.
El Escorial: Check out the monastery and gardens of El Escorial and experience fantastic views of the countryside from the top of the palace.
Travel Time: 45 minutes.
Images: Royal Palace of Madrid, by Ali Reza Zamli on Flickr / Temple of Debod by Felipe Gabaldón on Flickr / Madrid Teleferico by Daniel Lobo / Toledo by Jose Antonio Cotallo López on Flickr / Church of San Antonio in Aranjuez by Flickr user Fiore Silvestro Barbato / Segovia by Mariano Fotos on Flickr / San Lorenzo de El Escorial by Jim McIntosh on Flickr
As the style capital of Spain, Madrid has everything you need for that glamorous shopping experience with a host of fashionable shops and trendy boutiques. Alternatively, soak up the vibrant atmosphere at the largest flea market in Europe and pick up a bargain or two.
- Calle Jorge Juan: a cool and hip area in the Salamanca district with various exclusive boutiques
- Malasaña: fast turning into a new shopping hub with funky shops and vintage clothes
- Gran Via & Sol: packed with famous mainstream brands and shoe shops
- Ortega y Gasset: a classy district where the rich and famous like to shop
- El Corte Inglés: a huge department store selling all your favourite brands and designer products
- Sexta Avenida: a lifestyle shopping centre with exclusive boutiques to the north-west of the city
- Plaza Norte 2: one of the largest shopping centres in Madrid with an enchanting interior
- El Rastro: Europe’s largest flea market selling all sorts of items from clothing to pottery.
- Stamp Market: trade stamps, banknotes and coins every Sunday morning at the Plaza Mayor
- Toledo Gate Market: find antiques, art and fashion on the site of a renovated fish market
Image: El Rastro by Tomas Fano
Spanish food is an eclectic mix of national and international cuisine with dishes from all over the world. Eating is a social activity here from large family gatherings at lunch to eating late in the evening. Discovering the delights of Spanish cuisine is what makes visits to Madrid so special and whether you want to sit down for an evening meal of tapas, paella or meat, or grab a snack in one of the many market stalls, there’s something for everyone here.
Popular Madrid Hotspots:
Chueca: modern, cosmopolitan and international food
La Latina: traditional Basque food and tasty Spanish cuisine such as paella and tapas
Mercado San Miguel: a casual market with fresh, artisan foods including freshly cut meats and fish
Castellana: charming Spanish restaurants where the locals eat lunch or dinner
Image: Tapas by Helen T. on Flickr
Experiencing the traditional Spanish culture is what visits to Madrid are all about so it’s great to get involved for a more authentic trip here. From learning a few useful phrases to advice on etiquette in the city, these tips should help you blend easily into the Spanish way of life.
Madrileños - what residents of Madrid are known as
Good Morning - Buenos Dias
Do you speak English? - ¿Habla
inglés? (formal) or ¿Hablas
Dos and Don’ts
DO try and become familiar with the way the metro system works
DO try and speak the language as often as you can, even if it’s just ‘buenos dias’
DO shake hands with people you meet or kiss a member of the opposite sex on the cheek in more informal occasions
DON’T make a circle with the thumb and forefinger to signal you’re ok as this is considered vulgar
DON’T show off expensive items such as jewellery when on the metro or out sightseeing
There are no rules for tipping in Spain and generally the Spanish tip very little. It is however usual to leave 5-10% for restaurant waiters if they provide a good service. Tipping hotel porters and toilet attendants is also useful practice, while taxi drivers should be given around 5%, or more for longer journeys.
Image: Madrid Metro Map, by ccchan19 on Flickr
Although Madrid is the largest city in Spain, getting around is fairly straight forward. The city has an excellent transport system, with the metro (the underground) being one of the biggest networks in the world and running all across Madrid. Buses are also useful for getting around quickly or you can really get to know the city by exploring on foot.
Metrobús 10 Journey Ticket: Gives you 10 journeys on any metro line in zone A, as well as on buses from all bus stations.
Tourist Travel Pass (Abono Turístico): Get unlimited travel on all forms of public transport within Madrid and its surrounding region, valid for 1, 2, 3, 5 or 7 consecutive days.
Taxi: Always make sure you’re in a fully licensed taxi and get the driver to turn the meter on so you don’t end up paying more than you should do.
For more information and up-to-date metro fares see the Madrid Metro website.
Image: Madrid Metro by Richard Winchell
Madrid Bloggers: Top Tips
Regina Winkle-Bryan and Nancy Todd, The Spain Scoop
"Want to munch away with locals in Madrid? A must-go-to market is the noisy Mercado de San Miguel. With over 30 vendors, this bustling market has several bars for sandwiches, champagne, oysters, and grilled shrimp. Spanish wines are jammed into ice-filled bowls ready to pour. In addition to the food bars, individual vendors specialize in artisanal cheeses with dozens of varieties. Pork vendors delicately slice paper-thin pieces of that expensive, acorn-fed, Iberic ham. The chocolate store has most helpful salespeople, as if we needed much help. A book store is in back of the market complete with travel books in English. With books, good food and wine all under one roof, we could stay here all day."
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