Madrid travel guide

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Introduction to Madrid

Madrid, known for its incredible El Retiro Park, Plaza Mayor, and Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, is a travel destination everyone should visit once in their lifetime. This municipality and capital of Spain has plenty of experiences to offer curious travelers. Home to a variety of natural beauty and architecture, a unique historical background, and a culture as rich as its population of more than 3.3 million people, Madrid is truly one of the main highlights of Spain.

For a deeper understanding of the city's history, culture, and local events, the official website of Madrid is a treasure trove of knowledge.

Travelers looking to experience the best of Spain often choose to stay in Madrid. Easily accessible from Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas, and Adolfo Su?rez Madrid?Barajas, Madrid is the perfect base for a memorable and unique vacation in Spain.

History of Madrid

Madrid, Spain's vibrant capital, is steeped in a rich, colorful history that spans centuries. Its story begins in the 9th century when it was established as a small Moorish town under the name 'Mayrit'. The Christian Reconquista in the 11th century saw Madrid come under Christian rule, and it gradually began to gain prominence.

In 1561, King Philip II chose Madrid as the capital of his vast empire, marking a significant turning point in its history. Following this, Madrid saw a period of growth and prosperity, with many grand structures like the Royal Palace and Plaza Mayor being built.

The 18th and 19th centuries were a time of turmoil with the Napoleonic invasion and the Spanish Civil War, but Madrid persevered and rose from the ashes. Today, Madrid is a cosmopolitan city that beautifully blends its historic past with modern charm, making it a must-visit destination for history buffs and travelers alike.

Local culture and customs in Madrid

Madrid, the capital of Spain, is renowned for its vibrant culture and warm, hospitable locals. The Madrileños, as locals are known, have a laid-back attitude and love to socialize, often spending evenings in tapas bars or outdoor terraces. Madrid's culture is deeply rooted in its history and traditions, with flamenco music and bullfighting being integral parts of local life.

Madrid’s culinary tradition is an essential part of its culture as well, with tapas and paella being local staples. Late dining is a norm here, with locals usually having dinner after 9 PM. Siestas, or afternoon naps, are common, leading to many shops closing in the afternoon and reopening in the evening. It's also customary to greet people with two kisses, one on each cheek, but a handshake is acceptable for first meetings.

Madrid is also home to an array of festivals and events throughout the year, the most famous being the San Isidro, Madrid's patron saint’s day, celebrated in May. Respecting these customs and participating in local traditions can greatly enrich your Madrid experience.

Currency information for travelers in Madrid

The local currency in Madrid, Spain is the Euro (€). You can exchange your currency for Euros at banks, post offices, and exchange bureaus. It's recommended to have some cash on hand, as smaller establishments may not accept card payments. However, credit and debit cards are widely accepted in most places, including hotels, restaurants, and larger shops. Visa and Mastercard are the most commonly accepted, while American Express is less so. ATMs are abundant and offer a convenient way to withdraw cash. Keep in mind that some foreign banks may charge fees for international transactions. When budgeting for your trip, remember that Madrid is a relatively affordable European capital, though prices can be higher in tourist-heavy areas. A daily budget of €50-€100 is a good estimate for budget travelers, though this can vary depending on your planned activities.

Language tips for travelers in Madrid

In Madrid, the official language is Spanish, and while English is understood in many areas, it's advisable to learn a few basic Spanish phrases. Greetings such as 'Hola' (Hello), 'Gracias' (Thank you), 'Por favor' (Please), and 'Lo siento' (Sorry) can go a long way.

For navigation, phrases like '¿Dónde está...?' (Where is...?) can come in handy. Also, the Spanish in Spain is different from Latin American Spanish, especially in pronunciation and vocabulary. So, a quick refresh on Castilian Spanish (Spain Spanish) can be beneficial.

Consider using language apps for on-the-go translations. Remember, Spaniards appreciate when foreigners make an effort to speak their language, so don't be shy to practice your Spanish, no matter how basic it is.

Best time to visit Madrid

The best time to explore Madrid is during the Spring (late April to June) and Autumn (September and October). These seasons offer moderate temperatures, perfect for strolling the streets, visiting parks, and savoring outdoor dining. Spring is particularly beautiful as the city blooms with vibrant colors, and Autumn provides a delightful backdrop of fall foliage. Summer (July and August) can be swelteringly hot, while winters can be chilly, though rarely extreme.\n If you're looking to avoid crowds, consider visiting in late Spring or early Autumn. However, if you wish to experience Madrid's festive spirit, don't miss the city's popular festivals like the San Isidro in May, or the Autumn Festival in October. These events are a spectacle of traditional music, dance, and cuisine. Despite the weather, Christmas time is also quite enchanting, with festive lights and Christmas markets adding a magical touch to the city.\n Always remember, regardless of when you visit, Madrid's museums, restaurants, and nightlife are year-round attractions. Plan wisely to get the most out of your Madrid experience.

Weather in Madrid

Madrid, Spain's capital, features a hot-summer Mediterranean climate with long, hot summers and mild winters. Summer, between June and August, sees average highs of 30-35°C, while nighttime temperatures drop to a more comfortable 15-20°C. The city can occasionally experience heatwaves during this period with temperatures soaring above 40°C. On the other hand, winter, from December to February, is quite mild with daytime temperatures hovering around 10-15°C. Nights can get chilly with temperatures often dropping to around 3-6°C. Snow is infrequent but possible.

Spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) are the most pleasant seasons to visit Madrid, with moderate temperatures and less rainfall. Madrid gets relatively low rainfall throughout the year, but the wettest months are April, May, and November. The city has a high altitude, meaning that the sun can feel stronger than the actual temperature might suggest. Therefore, it's wise for travelers to stay hydrated and use sun protection, regardless of the season.

Local tip for visiting Madrid

In Madrid, the insider tip is to take a late evening stroll along the Madrid Río Park. This park, a local favorite, runs alongside the Manzanares River and is often overlooked by tourists. As the sun dips below the horizon, the park comes alive with locals enjoying a jog, a leisurely bicycle ride or just a quiet moment by the river. Street performers and food stalls add to the vibrant atmosphere, while the bridges are lit up, creating a beautiful setting. Wander off the beaten path and explore Matadero Madrid, the city's old slaughterhouse turned cultural center, located within the park. It often hosts exhibitions, concerts, and other events. Having a picnic here, especially during the sunset, can be a magical experience. This insider tip will not only allow you to enjoy Madrid like a local but also provide a refreshing break from the city's bustling center.

Top services in Madrid

On this page, you'll find all the top travel services in Madrid, Spain. Enjoy the convenience of planning and booking every detail of your trip to Madrid, including flights, accommodations, activities, and more, in one place.

Discover the cheapest and most popular flights offered by a variety of airlines that fly to Spain. Check out the best things to do in Madrid by browsing over 1616 top-rated tours available to you in the city. Compare the rates and services of the stays and 13 car rental companies offering CDW insurance coverage.

Experience the best of Madrid with an expertly curated and fully customizable itinerary. Get answers to questions about the routes and services offered in Madrid from our free 24/7 customer support. We make it easy for you to find and book every detail of your trip to Madrid with this travel guide.

Continue reading this Madrid travel guide to learn how you can enjoy a stress-free and memorable vacation in the city of Madrid!

Learn more about Spain

With destinations such as Madrid, a trip to Spain needs no further explanation. Spanning over 505,990 square kilometers, Spain is an expansive playground of discovery, offering a wealth of diverse landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and captivating experiences awaiting exploration. From bustling metropolises to historic towns and modern urban hubs, Spain has something to enchant every traveler.

In Madrid alone, travelers are spoiled for choice with an array of experiences and world-famous attractions such as El Retiro Park, Plaza Mayor, and Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. Thus, a trip to Spain becomes essential. Whether you're drawn to historical sites, natural wonders, or vibrant cultural experiences, Spain offers an abundance of treasures waiting to be discovered.

There's so much to explore and uncover in Spain. Click or tap the link below to discover more about Spain and its offers.

What to see in Madrid

Photo of aerial  panoramic view of Madrid, Spain.

Expect an exhilarating journey through Madrid, a haven brimming with attractions to suit every traveler’s taste. From historical landmarks to natural wonders, and delectable cuisine, Madrid offers an abundance of experiences waiting to be discovered. Dive into this ultimate Madrid travel guide to uncover must-visit spots and get the scoop on what makes the city so special.

Top attractions in Madrid

With its blend of traditional and modern culture, Madrid is more than just a wonderful city in Spain. It's a hub for diverse experiences, boasting top attractions that range from historical landmarks to modern marvels, offering a glimpse into Spain's rich heritage and innovative spirit.

One popular place to visit in Madrid is the unforgettable El Retiro Park. Considered one of the most well-known attractions in the city, a visit to this spectacular travel destination is something you shouldn't miss on your trip to Madrid. This remarkable attraction is located at 28009 Madrid, Spain, and is open for visitors Monday - Sunday, between 06:00-22:00.

For more information about what you can expect during a vacation in Madrid, check out our list of top attractions below. Discover the best places to visit in Madrid, including the fascinating El Retiro Park, Plaza Mayor, Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, San Miguel Market, and Museo Nacional del Prado.

Map of attractions

Take a closer look at the city map below for the exact locations of all the top attractions in Madrid.

Things to do in Madrid

Photo of the famous Cibeles fountain in Madrid, Spain.

You've explored Madrid's top attractions and marked them on your map. So now, it's time to delve deeper and discover the top things to do in Madrid. These activities not only offer excitement and adventure but also provide unique insights into the city's culture and heritage. Take your experience to the next level by checking out the best sights with a knowledgeable guide, embarking on fun adventures unique to Madrid, or learning more about the city's rich history and traditions.

Discover the most popular tours and experiences in the city below.

Most popular experiences in Madrid

A visit to Madrid gets more exciting with memorable experiences. And the city is just perfect for that, with plenty of fun activities. Historical Tours, Walking Tours, Bus Tours, and more are just some of the options you could explore to fully immerse yourself and make the most of your time.

In this travel guide, we've included some of the best things to do in Madrid, adding a special touch to your journey in this vibrant city. Explore bustling markets, embark on scenic hikes, sample local delicacies, or immerse yourself in the rich history and heritage of Madrid. Browse this diverse array of unforgettable experiences Madrid offers and let your adventures begin!

Top tours & tickets starting in Madrid

In Madrid, travelers are spoiled for choice with a dazzling array of 25 categories of top-rated tours and tickets. But among this sea of options, one category reigns supreme: Trips & Excursions.

Trips & Excursions offer an unparalleled opportunity to immerse yourself in the heart and soul of Madrid. For example, the fantastic Private Tour to the Prado and Reina Sofía Museum.

Madrid also offers plenty of budget-friendly tours and activities that promise travelers a unique experience. This experience costs around 3 EUR.

Elevate your upcoming Madrid adventure with unforgettable experiences by booking top-rated tours in the city. Uncover the finest tours, activities, and tickets awaiting you in Madrid right below.

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All Experiences in Madrid

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Search for things to do in Madrid

Discover the best things to do in Madrid. Choose from 1616 fantastic tours and activities available in the city.

Select your dates and number of travelers in the search bar below to receive the best recommendations for your vacation in Madrid. Click the green button to view your options and discover a variety of exciting things to do in Madrid.

What to eat in Madrid

When exploring Madrid's vibrant culinary scene, you'll be spoiled for choice with the array of traditional dishes and innovative cuisine. The best places to eat in Madrid range from bustling food markets to Michelin-starred establishments. Start your gastronomic journey in Mercado San Miguel, a food market offering a variety of Spanish tapas, local wines, and fresh produce. In the Barrio de Salamanca district, high-end restaurants such as DiverXO, the only restaurant in Madrid with three Michelin stars, serve avant-garde dishes while maintaining a deep respect for Spanish culinary traditions. For a taste of Madrid's traditional cuisine, be sure to try Cocido Madrileño, a hearty stew made from meat, chickpeas, and vegetables, or Callos a la Madrileña, a spicy tripe dish. Churros con Chocolate, a popular sweet treat, is a must-try, ideally at the famous Chocolatería San Ginés. Dining in Madrid is more than just a meal, it's an immersive experience, so take your time to savor the unique flavors and enjoy the lively atmosphere.

Best shopping in Madrid

Madrid, the stylish capital of Spain, boasts an incredible shopping scene, filled with boutiques, markets, and shopping malls. The Golden Mile, the best place to go shopping in Madrid, is a luxurious neighborhood housing designer boutiques like Gucci, Prada, and Louis Vuitton. For a more local experience, visit El Rastro, Madrid's largest open-air flea market, held every Sunday. Here, you'll find everything from vintage clothes to handcrafted jewelry. If you're in search of the city's distinct fashion, head to Fuencarral Street, known for its trendy and alternative boutiques.

Madrid's shopping malls, such as ABC Serrano and Moda Shopping, offer a wide range of international and Spanish brands. For traditional Spanish craftsmanship, visit the Royal Tapestry Factory, where you can buy beautifully woven goods. Madrid is also famous for its fan shops, the best of which can be found on Calle de la Paz. Be sure to pick up a traditional Spanish fan as a must-buy souvenir. To enhance your shopping experience, most shops in Madrid are open from 10 am to 8 pm, with a siesta time between 2 pm and 5 pm. Happy shopping in Madrid!

Best Free Things to Do in Madrid

Uncover the magic of Spain's capital without breaking the bank with the best free things to do in Madrid. Begin your exploration in the heart of the city at Puerta del Sol, a bustling square filled with iconic landmarks. Next, wander through the Retiro Park, a 350-acre oasis of lush gardens, striking monuments, and serene lake. Don't miss the Crystal Palace, a breath-taking glass and metal structure that hosts free art exhibitions. On Sundays, join the locals for El Rastro, the largest open-air flea market in Madrid teeming with curiosities and vintage treasures. Immerse yourself in Madrid's rich history with a visit to the Basilica de San Francisco El Grande, a stunning church boasting one of the largest domes in Christendom. Explore the world-class Prado Museum, which offers free entry in the evenings. The museum houses a vast collection of European art from the 12th to the 20th century. Lastly, enjoy Madrid's vibrant street life in the La Latina neighborhood, famous for its lively bars, rustic eateries, and colorful graffiti. Indeed, Madrid offers a rich tapestry of experiences that are not only memorable but also completely free.

How to get to Madrid

International travelers can fly to Madrid by booking flights with Iberia Airlines, Air Europa, Iberia Express, Vueling, and Transavia France, offering flights to Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas, and Adolfo Su?rez Madrid?Barajas. From the arrival airport, travelers can choose from various public and private transfer options to Madrid.

For those seeking the best flight ticket deals to Madrid, knowing the cheapest travel times and which airlines offer the most affordable flights is helpful. Luckily, we provide this information to help you discover the cheapest and most popular flights to Madrid. Go to this page to compare all flights to Madrid.

Find cheap flights to Madrid

Photo of tourist woman with Spain flag rejoicing against Royal Palace in Madrid.

Booking budget-friendly flights to Madrid is a crucial part of planning your trip to the city. This section will guide you through the process, helping you find the best deals for your journey.

Booking in advance is a smart move when traveling to Madrid. Airlines release their best deals months ahead of departure, so early birds catch the lower fares. Consider flexible travel dates while planning your visit to the city. Mid-week and off-peak seasons often offer more wallet-friendly options.

To help you find cheap flights to Madrid, you can use the powerful booking widget below. Enter your departure city, choose between round trip or one-way, pick your fare class, select travel dates, and specify the number of travelers. Click "Search" and the widget will do the rest. You'll see a list of flights matching your criteria, making your trip to Madrid even more convenient.

Fine-tune your search with filters to sort by price, airline, layovers, and more. Once you've found your ideal flight, click "Book" and you'll be redirected to the booking page to complete your reservation. Enter your payment details and receive a confirmation – it's that simple!

Remember to book ahead, stay flexible, and utilize the widget's features to make your journey to Madrid both affordable and unforgettable.

Popular flights to Madrid

Travelers visiting Madrid can easily access the city via Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas, and Adolfo Su?rez Madrid?Barajas, offering direct connection to 1219 destinations worldwide. To streamline your travel planning process, explore the most popular flights to Madrid below. Discover direct routes from major international hubs and convenient connections tailored to suit your travel preferences. Click to delve into the diverse array of flights available to Madrid and embark on an unforgettable journey.

Car rentals in Madrid

Photo of crystal Palace (Palacio de cristal) in Retiro Park in Madrid, Spain.

To navigate Madrid effortlessly, renting a car is an excellent choice. With your own wheels, you can explore every nook and cranny of the destination without relying on public transportation and even venture off the beaten path. On our website, you'll discover a selection of over 13 car rental companies in Madrid, ready to provide you with the perfect vehicle for your travels.

Automatic cars for rent in Madrid start at 13 EUR per day or 90 EUR per week. The cheapest automatic rental car is a Xev Yoyo Xev. If you prefer driving a manual car, you'll find multiple options for rent in Madrid, starting at 8 EUR per day or 54 EUR per week. The cheapest manual rental car is a Fiat 500.

Learn more about the different types of cars you can rent in Madrid, Spain below.

Popular types of cars for rent in Madrid

Renting a car in Madrid is a popular choice among travelers who want to explore the city at their own pace. A wide variety of popular car rentals are available to choose from in Madrid, ensuring you find the best car for your travel plans.

Check out all the options available and book your car rental in Madrid for your upcoming adventures in Spain below. All car rentals come with CDW insurance for added protection throughout your trip.

Search for car rentals in Madrid

Get ready to hit the road and explore the beautiful city of Madrid. Find the best deals on a variety of popular car rentals in Madrid, Spain, or any other destination in Europe by using the search tool below.

Enter your pick-up and drop-off location, driver's age, and dates. Click the green button to view your options.

Popular destinations to visit after Madrid

Photo of the Quinta de los Molinos park in Madrid in full spring bloom of the almond and cherry trees.

The city of Madrid is just one of the many unique and scenic destinations you can visit in Spain. So if you're itching for another cultural adventure, a relaxing road trip, an action-filled city break, or a memorable weekend getaway, know that Spain has it all.

Each destination in Spain offers something unique to experience! Take the opportunity to visit other captivating places in Spain that are as magical as the city of Madrid. The most popular travel destinations in Spain are listed below. Click on the name of the place you want to explore next to learn more about it.

All the best destinations in Spain

When unsure about where to go next, use the map below. This map shows the locations of all the best destinations in Spain. Use the map to plan your trip and find the best routes.

Domestic flights from Madrid

Photo of royal Palace in Madrid, Spain viewed from the sabatini gardens.

Experience the authentic charm of Spain by expanding your travels beyond the boundaries of Madrid. Explore other destinations around Spain with a domestic flight. A domestic flight is typically a short-haul flight, with the longest duration not exceeding two hours. To find the best flights from Madrid to other amazing locations in Spain, add the required details below and select 'Search' to view the best domestic flights in Spain for your chosen dates. You can also jump to the last section of this travel guide to find the most popular domestic flights from Madrid.

Popular domestic flights from Madrid

Travelers in Spain can catch flights to domestic airports in Valencia, Seville, Santiago de Compostela, Tenerife, and Palma de Mallorca. Domestic flights in Spain are operated by 6 airlines, including Iberia Airlines, Air Europa, Iberia Express, Vueling, and Volotea. There are around 41 scheduled flight routes operating to Madrid on a weekly basis.

From Madrid, travelers can book scheduled flights to 28 domestic destinations. The most popular flights from Madrid depart to many top-rated destinations in Spain and are offered by Iberia Airlines, Air Europa, and Iberia Express.

Search domestic flights from Madrid

Traveling to another city or region in Spain? Use the flight search tool below to quickly find the cheapest one-way or round-trip flights from Madrid to different local destinations.

Enter all the necessary information and click or tap on the Search button to see a list of the available domestic flights in Spain on the selected dates.

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