Last updated: 8. January 2022
Madrid is the capital of Spain and one of the largest cities in Europe. It is located in the center of the Iberian Peninsula and is surrounded by mountains and natural parks. The city is popular for tourists because of its vibrant nightlife, culture, lifestyle, art, and unique architectural buildings. If you’re looking for a magnificent city that mixes historic allure with modern flair then Madrid is where you must go.
With a wealth of iconic sights and a picturesque setting, Madrid will see you covered in a rich tapestry of culture, art, and unforgettable architecture. It’s the ideal place for an adventurous getaway, offering visitors everything from fine dining to endless cultural adventures embodied by its three world-famous art galleries. More so, the superb Prado Museum houses over 8,800 pieces of art including masterpieces by Velázquez , El Greco , Goya , Rubens , and others.
The official language in Madrid is Spanish, and although English is spoken, it is not as widely as in other major European cities. Read on to learn all you need to know about traveling to Madrid.
Spring and early fall are the best times for visiting Madrid. Madrid has an incredible mix of history and modern, urban lifestyle. It has high altitudes causing temperatures to vary from season to season.
From March to late October, Spain benefits from daylight-saving time so days are extremely long. Temperatures are usually mild or rainy. June marks the gradual rise in tourist activities which can cause crowds at popular spots. However, it is not as crowded as in the summer. If you arrive during the summer, there will likely be huge crowds and a hile in the prices of goods and services.
Although the weather is beautiful year-round, it can be too hot in July and August, especially for those unaccustomed to extremely warm weather. The summer heat will be at its peak and it may become unbearable to move around.
The winter is also considered a good time to visit Madrid, but the temperature will be cold, and the city will be a little slower than usual except during the Christmas season. During the holidays, the city becomes full of activities, as locals flood the city to admire the street decorations. However, finding a hotel room or an apartment might be tough, and most sights, especially museums, could have longer lines than usual. Most of the outdoor cafes will also be closed and there will be less time to explore the city before darkness sets as compared to the spring season.
Spring and fall are the best times because many hotels offer lower rates, and activities pick up as well. During the spring and fall, there are fewer crowds in the city, shorter lines at tourist attraction sites, cool temperatures, and better hotel rates. Additionally, you can attend events like the San Isidro Festival, which is held each year in May. The nights are also quite calm and cool, so you can enjoy walking in the beautiful city.
Before visiting the colorful city, you need to know a couple of things about their way of life. Here are a few things to know.
The city is not considered drivable due to crowds during open season, old narrow streets, and sudden traffic. Most people take public transportation, as it is cheaper and a faster means of arriving at your destination. Although it is possible to rent a car, it is best to stick to using public transportation. You can get a public transport card (TTP) at any train station and buy ten (10) journeys at a time. Alternatively, you can use buses to navigate. The buses in Madrid typically are often available and display their wait time at every stop. This way, you won’t face major frustration moving around the busy city.
Madrid is a fashion mecca. It seems there are as many clothing stores as there are bars and restaurants. Madrid is a city of fashion and style, where women and men carry themselves with a ton of confidence. You’ll find women wearing full make-up on the street, and men dressing smartly. The city is also a stunning place full of culture and beauty. It is a great place to shop, no matter what your style or budget!
Parties in Madrid
Nightlife is a big part of Madrid culture. Places don’t really get going until midnight or later and can last until 6 am. Madrid is a tad more conservative than other party towns in Europe, so the nightlife is often more low-key. However, if you’re in the right place at the right time, you’ll have a swell experience. You’ll also find many authentic tapas eateries in the older sections of Madrid. A common practice in Spain, the standing room-style tapas bars are a great way to sample a variety of food and drinks at a reasonable price. In a city with a strong culture around standing up and socializing over plates of food, this walkabout style of eating is the best way to experience what Spaniards call “la comida” or “the food.”
In Madrid, meals start a little later than you may be accustomed to. Probably due to the length of their days, lunch does not begin before 2 pm. Dinner typically starts around 9 pm and can go on till midnight. You’ll have the option of going to any tapas bars at any time, but if you want a full meal in a nice restaurant, you’ll have to follow their timeline. Most restaurants won’t be open from 5 pm-8 pm as they take the time to prepare for their 9 pm shift. On the bright side, complimentary snacks with alcohol are a thing in Madrid. You can order a drink and get a surprise snack.
Here are some of the best hotels you can consider lodging in during your stay in Madrid.
The Westin Palace
The Westin Palace occupies a prime spot in the middle of Madrid, across from Plaza Neptuno and near El Retiro Park. Just a short walk from Cibeles Fountain and Paseo del Prado. The hotel is an elegant mix of modern décor and grand history. The Westin Palace is one of the best hotels to stay in Madrid. It has welcomed guests such as Bill Clinton and Christina Aguilera and more. You can relax in the lobby’s stained-glass cupola or at the 1912 Museo Bar, where celebrities have been spotted even up till today.
Heritage Madrid Hotel
The heritage is a historic luxury hotel in Madrid and is known to be one of the best hotels in the city. It has an interesting design and the services it offers are very comprehensive. At night, its interiors are illuminated in a warm gold light that gives the building an ancient glow that has nothing to do with technology. Around it lies a silent residential neighborhood that is very peaceful at night.
The Principal Madrid Hotel
The Principal is a 5-star hotel in Madrid, Spain. Each room is designed with clean lines and neutral palettes. Premium rooms offer views of the street while Deluxe and Superior rooms provide views of the city’s most famous building, the Metropolis Building. Deluxe rooms have views of the glass-and-concrete Metropolis building; the more pricey Superior Corner ones peek at the park—the best of both worlds. Rooms include free access to the sauna and spa and Finca Gayeta toiletries from Mallorca.
Gran Hotel Inglés
Gran Hotel Inglés is the oldest hotel in Madrid. It offers the warm service of a bygone era, along with all the conveniences you’re looking for. The hotel features 48 individually appointed rooms equipped with ovens, microwaves, fridges, satellite television that works all over the world, and air conditioning. You’ll also enjoy numerous other amenities including, 24-hour room service, free wifi, a complimentary breakfast buffet with hot and cold items, outdoor terrace with city views to relax and unwind after a busy day.
The restaurant you visit during your trip will help you experience the different tastes and cultures of the city. Here are some of the best restaurants in Madrid for you to consider.
La Tasquita de Enfrente
La Tasquita de Enfrente is a classic Madrid restaurant with a cozy interior and a seasonal menu based on traditional Madrilenian fares such as jamón croquettes and pork ear terrine. Under chef Juanjo López, who took over the kitchen 20 years ago from his father, the restaurant has evolved into an avant-garde establishment that now serves tasting menus. La Tasquita de Enfrente offers the warm and friendly hospitality that you expect of a family-run restaurant. It boasts of some of the best Spanish cuisines in the region, and its staff can coach you into ordering the perfect full-course experience. The restaurant also offers beautiful outdoor terraces.
Paco Roncero Restaurante
Paco Roncero Restaurante is a culinary landmark in Madrid. It is perhaps best known for its delicious and visually stunning 10 and 18-course tasting menus featuring only the finest seasonal ingredients. The restaurant, housed on the top floor of the Casino de Madrid, has become a local and international destination since it first opened in 1988 and was voted one of the 50 best restaurants in Spain by Conde Nast Traveller.
Whether you’re having dinner for two or part of a large group, there are plenty of reasons to visit Sacha. The charming dining room is efficient and informal, the elegant bistro dishes are prepared using fresh seasonal ingredients, and the daily specials provide something different every time. Its classical ambiance meets modern French cooking at this intimate neighborhood bistro. The restaurant is a delightful spot and the cooking brings back memories of Paris. Its superb full-bodied wines complement the meat dishes.
DSTAgE is an acronym of ‘Days to Smell Taste Amaze Grow & Enjoy’. The restaurant is designed to have an introductory feel, rather than have new diners feel intimidated by the loftiness of its setting. DSTAgE is divided into two sections: a counter of bar stools for up to 60 people, where diners can watch the chef’s team at work, and a larger space for up to 25 guests. The design includes teak wood on the floor, tables are made with marble found in Guerrero’s (the Chef) father’s abandoned tile factory, and warm lighting that makes the restaurant glow. The menu is centered on innovation, even while it pays homage to some of the great masters of Spanish cuisine.
The sprawling city of Madrid is packed with tourist attractions. Museums, world-class restaurants, and cutting-edge architecture take center stage in this cultural capital. Here are the top three must-see places to visit during your stay in Madrid.
The Plaza Mayor is the main square in Madrid’s Old Town. It is framed by splendid buildings dating back to the 16th century, including the Royal Palace of Madrid. You can admire the architecture of the surrounding buildings, which date back to the 16th century, or simply people-watch. The Plaza Mayor in Madrid is a historical square, surrounded by beautiful fountains and busy shops with plenty of activities to do in your day.
El Retiro Park
The El Retiro park is one of Madrid’s most popular green spaces, with lakes, restaurants, playgrounds, and even a zoo on site. It has a wonderful rosary garden. Every rosary is made from one single braid of fragrant red roses, with many large fragrant bouquets present in the gardens. Each rosary is attached to a metal ring held by a statue that represents a different stage of Jesus’ life. The 300-some-acre El Retiro Park is a wonder to behold.
The Museo Nacional del Prado, (Prado Museum)
The Museo Nacional del Prado, one of Madrid’s most vibrant museums, is also known as the Palace Museum, as it is housed in many rooms taken from the Royal Palace. The museum’s permanent collection includes approximately 8,600 paintings and more than 700 sculptures. Some of the works you can see include “Las Meninas” by Velazquez, “The Third of May 1808” by Goya, and El Greco’s “Adoration of the Shepherds.”
A trip to Madrid is a journey of artistic, cultural, and craft discoveries. The city is filled with galleries, museums, gardens, monuments, castles and an enormous amount of history to inspire you. You can unwind in the city’s countless bars, enjoy the best culinary delights you can imagine, and enjoy its intriguing events.