Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain, located right in the centre of the country. Madrid is well communicated with it's enormous international hub airport, motorway network, and high speed train service. The journey time from the airport to the centre is around 20 minutes.
Madrid has a fine collection of art galleries and museums, which attract thousands of visitors every year. The most famous among them are El Prado, the Thyssen Museum and the Reina Sofia Museum.
The city also has a number of popular theatres, which put on spectacular shows, musicals, dramas and comedies. There is a thriving “fringe” theatre scene, and the capital city plays hosts to many major music events and concerts, and you can also find great local bands playing live at many locations.
Parks & Gardens
Madrid has a green heart, and in fact in 2010 was voted one of the world’s greenest cities. The “El Retiro” park is a fabulous arboretum of 15,000 trees standing in 119 acres right in the centre of the city. The many parks, broad avenues and squares of the city give many areas a spacious and grand feel.
Leisure & recreation
The city is busy, and traffic is high volume, but it is also quite flat, so the brave may enjoy cycling to see the sights. Walking is a pleasure, with the cool parks and fascinating architecture inviting a good stroll. Many street café's offer a welcome break, great places to watch the world go by.
The city has an excellent sporting infrastructure; home to world’s most famous football team Real Madrid, as well as its neighbouring club Atletico Madrid. It is also home to one of the best basketball teams in the world.
Every spring the city holds a major marathon; it’s a great festive day, when for once many of the city’s streets are traffic free.
Places to visit
The Plaza de la Cibeles is considered by many to be the most charming of Madrid’s plazas; it features a well-known statue of the Goddess Cibeles. The plaza is located between many of the cities most noteworthy buildings, including the rather splendid post office. This is the place madrileños go to celebrate sporting victories of the national or local teams.
Although an official Royal Palace, the Palacio Real de Madrid is used only for ceremonial purposes. The original building on this site (the Alcázar) was destroyed by fire in 1734 and the new palace was finished by the middle of the same century.
The interior rooms of the Palacio Real are sumptuous and decorated in striking style- Features of the palace include the Throne Room (preserved intact since the reign of Charles III), the Kings Chamber, the Porcelain Room and the Royal Armoury, where an internationally renowned collection of medieval armour is displayed. The beautiful palace gardens can also be enjoyed.
Fashionable designer boutiques can be found in the area around Almirante and Conde de Xiquena streets. The district of Salamanca is best known for jewellery, shoes, leather goods, gifts, and furniture.
Concentrated in and around the Plaza Mayor are an assortment of shops selling traditional articles, espadrilles, fabrics, ropes, hats and religious articles, and large department stores are located in the vicinity of the Puerta del Sol, and on the streets of Princesa, Goya and Castellana.
The Rastro is the most famous of the flea markets, which opens on saturdays and sundays between the Plaza de Cascorro, La Latina and Calle Embajadores. Everything imaginable can be found here from valuable antiques to used clothing, including card collections, books, records, paintings, etc.
The Feria del Libro Antiguo y de Ocasión (book fair) of used books is held on the Paseo de Recoletos at the beginning of May and the
Feria del Libro sobre Madrid is a book fair held in May, which features books about the city of Madrid, location: Plaza de Isabel II.
There are numerous other markets held throughout the week around the city.
Madrid is a paradise for night owls every night of the week. Most restaurants do not open until eight or nine o'clock in the evening, as the locals dine late, and stay up even later.
Many night establishments are open until the early morning hours; the area around Plaza de Santa Bárbara, the Glorieta de Bilbao and Alonso Martínez incorporates a large number of popular bars, pubs, fast food restaurants and ice cream parlours.
The bars in the districts of Arguelles and Moncloa are generally frequented by University students and a younger crowd.
Malasaña, in the vicinity of the Plaza de Dos de Mayo, has countless cafés and bars with live music, in addition to moderately priced restaurants. The streets of Paseo de la Castellana, Paseo de Recoletos and Paseo del Prado boast quality restaurants, cafés and popular night spots.
In the summer months and especially at night, open-air terraces exude the buzz of nightlife, especially in the areas of the Paseo de la Castellana and the Parque del Oeste
Avila, Toledo and Segovia are easily reached from Madrid. Aranjuez and Alcala de Henares within the region of Madrid are also well worth a visit.
Madrid is famous for adapting dishes from all over Spain; in fact the cuisine of Madrid, is really the cuisine of Spain.
Over the centuries migrating people from all over Spain brought their traditional fare with them. You can enjoy the hearty rich meats and stews from the inland areas, many featuring rabbit and wild boar, or you can experience the fulsome seafood of the north, Merluza a la Vasca, or Pulpo Gallego, or you can eat a fritura malagueña in the capital city.
One thing is for sure, there's no need to eat the same thing twice, no matter how delicious.
There are many specialist ham shops and restaurants in the city centre, which are popular for a tasty meaty snack. Tapas bars abound, offering a stunning variety of little treats.
The public transport system of Madrid, both above and below ground, is highly sophisticated and efficient. Prices are very reasonable and tickets for the metro can be used on the bus.
Look out for the excellent multiple ticket pass if you are making several journeys.
The Metro runs from 06:00 until 01:30 the next morning. The bus service runs from 06:00 to 23:45. There is a night bus service known as the ‘Buhos’, which runs from midnight to 05:15. These night buses run to and from all areas to the city centre every 30 minutes until 03:00, and hourly thereafter.
There are many official taxis available 24 hours a day.
The open topped tourist buses, Madrid Vision, offer an interesting way to see the city. There are three lines – Modern Madrid, Historic Madrid and Monumental Madrid. The buses can be boarded at Puerto Sol amongst other stops.
The climate of Madrid is dry, warm and pleasant. It's high altitude and proximity to mountains causes some wide variations in winter and summer temperatures.
In summer the heat at midday can be intense, with pleasantly cool evenings. Winters, by contrast, bring temperatures dropping to just below freezing. Rain in Madrid is a rarity, with a short rainy season in late October and some showers in spring.