Madrid is not only the capital of Spain, but the country’s largest city and is blessed with a rich cultural and artistic heritage, as well as some of the best nightlife the world has to offer. Despite being one Europe’s most visited cities, Madrid is still behind Barcelona in terms of tourist figures, and as a result has managed to retain a much more authentic Spanish vibe than its more popular counterpart.
Madrid is almost as famous for its art galleries as it is for its world class football team, and foodies will not be disappointed either. With a wealth of different restaurants to choose from (including the oldest restaurant in the world), this cosmopolitan city will impress even the most seasoned of travellers. Summer here is typically hot and dry, and fairly cold in winter with frequent frosts but only occasional snowfall.
A hatchback is ideal for driving around Madrid and the surrounding areas.
Boasting some of the finest European art from the 12th century up to the early 19th century, Museo del Prado is a must visit for those looking to see some impressive paintings and sculptures, and without a doubt the finest collection of Spanish art. With around 2.8 million visitors in 2012, the museum can be busy at peak times, so try going early to avoid the crowds.
Serious sports fans should try paying a visit to Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, home to legendary football club Real Madrid. Ranked as the world’s richest football club in terms of revenue, and with an estimated worth a staggering 3.3 billion Euros, you are guaranteed an electric atmosphere should you be lucky enough to catch a home match.
Nocturnal types are spoilt for choice when it comes to the late night bar and club scene, where you will discover why an afternoon siesta is a Spanish tradition as essential as tapas. There’s something for all tastes and ages, for a unique experience, try Tipos Infames, which is a bookshop come wine bar. The Spanish rarely don their dancing shoes until at least 2am, for an eclectic mix of music ranging from Joy Division to the more modern sounds of 2 Many DJ’s, join in the fun at Club Nasti.
For a traditional Spanish dining experience, try Casa Labra situated in Calle Tetuan, whose history is as impressive as its food, as it was founded in 1860. For a more modern take on tapas, try trendy Ole Lola in the San Mateo area, which is also known for its amazing cocktails. Restaurante Botin is the world’s oldest restaurant (over 300 years and counting), specializes in suckling pig and is a tourist trap well worth paying a visit to, book in advance.
Madrid roads are notoriously difficult to navigate, and road maps are recommended. There are several consecutive junctions underground in the town centre where you may be unable to use your GPS. Try planning any trips in advance to avoid becoming lost.
Road signs are not especially good in Madrid, and congestion is a major problem during rush hours, so wherever possible, try to plan your trips around these times.
During evenings and weekends, there’s a good chance you may get a free parking spot just 20 minutes from the city centre in the Principe Pio metro stop.
Madrid Barajas International Airport is one of the largest in Europe and is situated 13km from the city centre. It has four terminals, with 1, 2 and 3 in close proximity of one another. Terminal 4 is further away and has its own metro and commuter train stations.