Set in the centre of the country, bisected by the Manzanares River, the spirited and lively city of Madrid offers its visitors outstanding 17th century architecture, gleaming skyscrapers, lush parkland, excellent shopping, a dynamic food scene and a buzzing nightlife. Whilst Madrid may not be Spain’s most beautiful city, it is without a doubt its most exciting, and you will find that it has more than earned its distinction as the nation’s capital.
Things to do in Madrid, Spain
One of the best things about this city is its access to excellent cultural attractions like the Prado Museum, collating over 5000 paintings that chart the golden age of Renaissance painting, and the Spanish masters in particular. Be warned though, you will tire before you see every work in this extensive collection.
After the Prado, it’s worth making your way to the spectacular Royal Palace, which was inspired by, and rivals Versailles in France. You can tour the rooms of the Palace and see the grandiose apartments of King Charles. However, you don’t need to take tours of these buildings to get a sense of the history and grandeur of Madrid. Stroll through the Plaza Mayor, the Puerta del Sol, the Fuente de Cibeles, and the Hermitage de San Antonia de la Florida, a church situated by the banks of the river for a taste of Madrid’s might.
Nature lovers can head for the gorgeous parks and gardens that define Madrid, but make time for the Buen Retiro Park in particular, where you can wander around the Crystal Palace and the Rose Garden.
Outside of the attractions, there’s more than enough in the way of entertainment for Madrid’s guests. Shoppers will delight in the trendy stores found in the Grand Via area, foodies can gorge on tapas in Plaza de Santa Ana, and night owls will find clubs and bars on Calle Arenal, and the hip Huertas.
Best time to visit Madrid, Spain
- The best time to see this city is in the dry and warm months of May and June, when you will find the mercury stays between 20-32°C.
- Summer is peak season (July-August), and is a popular time to visit, but it can be brutally hot, with temperatures sometimes spiking to 40°C.
- It sinks to about 9°C in winter, and can get colder at night, but this is a world-class city and there are plenty of things to do in the low season in Madrid.
Best time to book
- Flights out to Europe are popular, and so usually you’ll find the best time to book is 15 weeks ahead of your trip.
Expect to pay
- Euro (EUR).
- Grab a cup of coffee in the city for 1.70EUR ($2.50).
Arriving in Madrid, Spain by plane
- Madrid-Barajas Airport (MAD) is the premier airport servicing the city of Madrid. Airline carriers that fly into MAD airport are Etihad Airways, Delta, Qantas, British Airways, Emirates, American Airlines, Qatar Airways, Delta, LAN, Cathay Pacific, Air China, Korean Air, Iberia and Air Canada.
- Located 14km from central Madrid, passengers will find good links into the city. There are also good amenities, such as restaurants, bars, shops, a bureau de change and ATMs.
- There are regular connecting routes from Australia to Madrid.
- If you hold Australian citizenship you shouldn’t need to apply for a visa in advance of your trip, but it is important to check the latest requirements on the smart traveller website or contact your local consulate service.
Transportation to city centre
- A journey in a cab will cost between 25-30EUR ($46). If you would rather organise a pick up, or an airport transfer before you land, you can do so with our search and booking tool.
- There are public transport options such as the Metro or the trains.
- For drivers, you can book a car online, or at the airport when you arrive.
Where to stay in Madrid, Spain
- For a swish stay in Spain’s capital you must head for Salamanca, where you will find high-end hotels, easy access to all the major attractions, with the added bonus of bars, restaurants and swanky boutiques.
- Foodies will want to book a hotel in La Latina, considered a mecca for tapas lovers. A great cross-section of the city you will be able to find affordable hotels here and good transport links.
- Chueca is for the night owls, as most of the nightlife is here. There are good eateries and shops for the daytime, and tons of bars and clubs for when the sun goes down.
- To be in the heart of Madrid’s popular tourist haven, look for places in Huertas, you can find lots of hotels with varying price tags to suit most budgets.
Useful tips before you go
- Do tip when you head out for a meal. Usually this can be rounded to the nearest Euro, or adding one or two on top is common. For fancier restaurants, 10% is the norm.
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Airports near Madrid
Frequently asked questions
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