Madrid Tourist Guide

Gran Via Madrid

By Molly Sears-Piccavey

Spain's capital is a city of grand avenues, historic architecture, palaces, parks and plazas. The streets are paved with buildings reflecting the historic development of the country. Madrid is a fabulous showcase of the grandeur that is Spain.

Madrid is a city of contrasts - it has some of the most vibrant nightlife in Spain and Western Europe. Its art galleries and museums rival anything else in other cities and it is Europe's most welcoming capital city. It defines what Spain really is - fun-loving and relaxed. A place where you can visit the El Prado museum during the day, eat at one of the finest restaurants in Europe and visit one of the many nightclubs or music venues in the city.

Perhaps you prefer to just wander around Plaza Mayor, Plaza de la Puerto del Sol or the opulent Royal Palace gardens and sample the wine and tapas, a relaxed way to spend your time in the city.

Visitor Suggestions

The Prado Museum

This gallery has one of the best collections of art masterpieces in the world and has paintings by Goya and Velazquez. There are temporary and permanent exhibitions and visitors will often experience the desire to return to see the many classical paintings on display.

Plaza Mayor

At some point most visitors to Madrid will end up in this picturesque square where you can sit around and watch the world go by. There are some great bars and eating areas here - a trifle expensive, but the ambience and views are free.

Insider tip: Check out Botin, allegedly the oldest restaurant in the world. Located close to Plaza Mayor on Calle Cuchilleros and serving customers since 1725. (Main courses from around € 18 per person).

Santiago Bernabeu (the stadium of Real Madrid Football club)

Watch a match if you manage to get tickets or try a stadium tour. The stadium is open throughout the year including Sundays.

Gran Via

Madrid's answer to Broadway. Be prepared for traffic jams even in the early hours (3am-4am) as this really is the heart of Madrid. The best theatres are located here and there are also plenty of shopping opportunities. Templo de Debod, Madrid

Templo de Debod

The Egyptian temple on Calle Ferraz, 1 is the place to be in Madrid at sunset. This monument was donated to Spain by the Egyptian state in 1968 to show their appreciation for Spain's help in saving historic relics in Egypt.

Shopping

The Sunday 'Rastro' outdoor market located in the streets around Calle Ribera de Curtidores sells furniture, antiques and a variety of "bric a brac". Be sure to explore to the bars around the Rastro area for churros and coffee or a beer and tapas.

Another popular shopping area is Chueca where you can walk along the streets of Hortaleza and Fuencarral and enjoy some of the capital's best shops and cafes.

Up-Market Shopping - there are a variety of designer stores concentrated around the Serrano Metro stop. Visit Calle Claudio Coehlo and Calle Lagasca and splash out on Spanish boutiques and exclusive labels and brands. ABC Serrano is another luxury shopping centre which will appeal to designer shoppers.

Take a day out at Las Rozas Village to shop at the large retail park which is around a 30 minute drive from Madrid at C/ Juan Ramon Jimenez, 3 28232 Las Rozas. Mercado de San Miguel, Madrid

Eating out in Madrid

Mercado de San Miguel - choose tapas from the markets stalls in this smart gourmet market.

Panza es el Primero - colourful Mexican food at Calle Hortaleza (dinner from around € 17 per person).

El Corte Ingles Callao - the open-air terrace has different food stands and bars where you can choose from Sushi, burgers and Spanish tapas. (prices start from just € 6)

Cafe Gijon on Paseo de Recoletos established in 1888 has a lunchtime menu for € 12.50 (Mon-Fri) and is a popular haunt for Spanish poets and writers to meet up.

Where to stay

Hotels in Madrid can be rather expensive, especially during the summer months, but if you search around and visit out of high season there are plenty of budget hotels and pensions available. Hospes Hotel Madrid - a high budget, luxurious and modern boutique hotel is located close to the Retiro Park and Banco de Espana. A fabulous option for a special stay in Madrid. Don't expect much change from € 1000 for a week in high season. Hotel EXE Puerta Castilla - Metro Plaza Castilla located on Paseo de la Castellana is a 4 star modern hotel with comfortable rooms, wifi in rooms, a small gym and good breakfast selection. H10 Orense - Located close to Santiago Bernabeu and Nuevos Ministerios a good value for money and well located medium budget hotel. Plaza de la Puerto del Sol Hotel Francisco I - an excellent option for budget travellers located on Calle Arenal in central Madrid this hotel is clean and convenient. Friendly staff and perfect for a short stay.

When to go

Madrid has dry climate and experiences extremes of weather conditions. Summers in Madrid are hot and sunny and winters are much colder than on the Spanish coast. The best months to visit are April to June, and September to October or early November when temperatures are generally warm and the sun is usually shining.

How to get there

Madrid airport is connected to most European cities and most airlines fly here. The airport has four terminals, one is especially designated for low-cost airlines. The airport has won awards for its architectural design.

You can also travel to Madrid by long distance bus or train. There are eight international and intercity bus terminals, which cater for buses from all over Europe.