In the heart of the Iberian Peninsula, surrounded by mountains and natural parks, Madrid is an irresistible destination full of cultural and leisure offers. Spain's largest city houses famous museums, art galleries, elegant buildings, and charming squares. Home to two world-class football teams, Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid, the capital of the Kingdom of Spain also boasts unique neighbourhoods, bustling nightlife, and scrumptious cuisine. Packed with energy and character, Madrid is a city that will satisfy most travellers' desires.
Euro, €1 = 100 cents
Opening hours are traditionally 10am–4pm and then 5–8pm, though these times may vary. Nowadays, however, it is more common for shops to open continually 10am–10pm.
City: approx. 3,223,000
Metropolitan area: approx. 6,791,000
Plaza Mayor Tourist Information Centre
Plaza Mayor 27, Madrid
+34 91 578 78 10
Open daily 9:30am–8:30pm
Madrid is not as large as it might seem, especially the central districts. Right in the middle of the city lies the Puerta del Sol, a traffic nexus that is the point from which all distances are measured. Also, the house numbering on every street starts at the end nearest the Sol. West and south of the Sol are the oldest areas of the city, Los Austrias, which contains the royal palace (Palacio Real) and the historic and well-trodden square, Plaza Mayor.
The triangular area to the east and south of the Sol—with the Plaza de Cibeles, Atocha Station, and the Sol at its corners—is one of the liveliest districts in Madrid, home to countless bars and restaurants. This is also where the three big museums stand in a row, and beyond them, the largest park in central Madrid, Parque del Buen Retiro.
Directly south of the Sol is Lavapiés: formerly a working-class area, but now the most ethnically interesting part of the city thanks to a significant influx of immigrants from Africa and Asia.
North of the Puerta del Sol and the parade avenue of Gran Vía, you will find the Malasaña and Chueca districts. The former is an old residential area that has been cleaned up in the last twenty years whilst remaining one of the city’s most relaxed bar districts. The latter has also undergone a rebirth: today, it is Madrid’s hippest quarter, a centre for a culture of clubbing, restaurants and clothing shops. Originally a gay district, it is now best described as broad-minded.
Explore the city like a local and discover the top things to do and see in Madrid, as well as the best restaurants, bars, nightclubs, cafes, and hotels Spain's capital city has to offer, with our comprehensive, up-to-date, and free Madrid travel guide.
Madrid is a wonderful city, from casual strolls around green areas to world-renowned museums to frantic nights on the town. People fill the streets at every hour of the day, and culture is ever-present. You don't have to be a history buff to appreciate the architecture and constant reminders of this city's long and rich history.
Below is a list of the best things to do and see in Madrid, Spain:
The varied culinary traditions of the entire Iberian Peninsula come together in Madrid to such a degree that experts discuss whether Madrid actually has a distinct culinary style of its own.
The culinary culture of Spain’s capital city has been enriched by immigrants from Andalucia, Galicia, Asturia, and a number of other regions in Spain and around the world.
Below is a list of the best places to eat in Madrid, Spain:
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Spanish coffee culture is a social and animated affair. Café con leche usually accompanies breakfast, preferably with a croissant. Around mid-day, especially after a meal, locals have an espresso, café solo, or a cortado, which is an espresso with milk. Café Americano is what some would call watered-down versions of the first two coffees. In the afternoon, or after dinner, order a café solo corto, a strong espresso, or a carajillo—a café solo with Spanish brandy.
Below is a list of some of the best cafes in Madrid, Spain:
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Because the clever Spaniards think you should always eat when drinking, most bars also serve food—usually tapas. And despite the efforts of the authorities, Madrid's nightlife still happens later than in most other cities and goes on for longer as well.
For the real party animals, the neighbourhoods of Malasaña and La Latina are a mandatory stop at night.
With that said, here's a list of the best bars and nightclubs for a fun night out in Madrid, Spain:
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Put simply, there are three main shopping areas in Madrid: Centro, located between Puerta del Sol and Gran Vía; Chueca, directly to the north and east of Centro; and Salamanca, slightly further to the east. These represent three different types of shopping, especially with regard to the range of products offered. It’s middle-of-the-road in Centro, trendy in Chueca, and expensive designer fashion labels in Salamanca.
And here are the best places for shopping in Madrid, Spain:
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Barajas - Airport
Madrid’s airport, Barajas (MAD), lies a little over ten kilometres northeast of the city. The cheapest way to get to Madrid is by metro: line 8 goes to Nuevos Ministerios (the journey takes about 30 minutes). A taxi ride costs more at night and on Sundays, and takes about 30-60 minutes, depending on traffic. Numerous car rental companies are also available at the airport.
Address: Avenida de la Hispanidad, Madrid
Phone: +34 913 21 10 00
Passport / Visa
Spain can be visited visa-free for up to 90 days by citizens of most European countries, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Israel, UAE and most countries in America. If you are unsure whether or not you need to apply for a visa, we recommend contacting the embassy or consulate in your country. International (non-Schengen) travellers need a passport that is valid for at least 3 months after the end of their intended trip in order to enter the Schengen zone. Citizens of Schengen countries can travel without a passport, but must have a valid ID with them during their stay.
Best Time to Visit
Madrid offers a generally dry climate, as it is located in the heart of Spain. There is little rain or snowfall—you can consider a trip all year round. During the summer months, the city can be quite crowded with tourists, while the locals flee the heat for the shores. Spring and autumn offer both mild temperatures and lower accommodation prices.
Madrid’s metro system consists of 16 lines that serve both the city and its suburbs. The metro is also the most efficient way of getting around and runs from 6am to 2am daily.
The EMT bus network is made up of about a hundred lines, including a useful “circle route” (the buses are marked with a C). Buses run from 6am to 11:30pm daily, with some night buses running later.
Phone: +34 914 06 88 00
When taxis are available for hire, this is indicated by a “Libre” sign in the front windshield and a green light on the roof.
Radio-Taxi Asociación Gremial
+34 914 475 180
+34 914 051 213
+34 913 712131
Most post offices are open Monday through Friday, from 8:30am to 8:30pm and on Saturdays from 9:30am to 1pm. The main post office on Plaza de Cibeles, stays open until 9:30am on weekdays and from 8am to 2pm on Saturdays.
Address: Paseo del Prado, 1, Madrid
Phone: +34 915 23 06 94
All chemists have a list or a sign in the window with details of the pharmacies on duty each night, with the nearest one highlighted. There are two chemists that are open at all times:
Paseo de Santa Maria de la Cabeza 64, Madrid
+34 914 730 672
Calle del Conde de Peñalver 27, Madrid
+34 914 024 272
Country code: +34
Area code: 91
220 volt (125 volt in some older buildings)