From Madrid to heaven is what the "Madrileños", (Those born in the city), says. Possibly Madrid is no longer a paradise if you live and work in the city. Traffic can be terrible and very, very slow. The distances from home to work are almost endless, and the working days incredibly long. But if you are lucky and just are visiting Madrid, it is an unique experience.
Madrid is the biggest city in Spain, right in the heart of the Iberian Peninsula. Madrid is the third largest city in Europe after London and Berlin. 3.2million people, or Madrileños lives in the capital of Spain.
Anyone who thinks that they know Spain after a few visits to the Costa del Sol, Costa Blanca or the Canary Islands is seriously mistaken. It is quite interesting to compare the differences between life in Madrid with life in the famous Spanish coastal resorts and islands. In Madrid you get the feeling of being in a historic city but with a trendy modern urban feeling. The life in the Spanish Capital is found on the bustling streets: Somehow Madrid is a European city with a very peculiar and exotic character.
Madrid is Spain's capital since 1562 and Madrid is also Spain's "kilometre zero". The square "Puerta del Sol" in the city centre of Madrid is the geographical midpoint of Spain. It is said that all Spanish roads starts in Puerta del Sol in the city centre of Madrid. Madrid is also Europe's highest located capital: 646 meters above the level of the sea.
The climate in Madrid is extreme: Cold winters are common and the summer in Madrid is always extremely hot and dry. It is not rare that it snows in Madrid in December and January, but July and August are unbearably hot with every day temperatures over 40 grades Celsius. The best seasons to visit Madrid are undoubtedly spring, early summer and late autumn. From May and until the end of the summer (Mid September), the streets are filled with people from late afternoon until early morning hours: The typical "summer terraces" that are found everywhere in Madrid are always an alternative when the high temperatures makes it hard to sleep! In summer Madrid is a very lazy city where people work only until noon or early afternoon. Then a pleasant siesta to sleep away from the heat and afterwards: Long pleasant evenings and late nights together with family and friends at some of the nice terraces at Madrid´s many bars and restaurants. Madrid is a unique city, especially in summer, when life is lived on the streets all trough the night!
To walk in the centre of Madrid is great. But do not forget to look up when you are walking around: The historic buildings are works of art themselves and the roofs are ornamented with impressive statues that rise majestically into the sky.
Near Puerta del Sol you find the main square in Madrid: Plaza Mayor. On and around Plaza Mayor it is always life and movement. Thousands of small bars serves tapas and "raciones" (Same as tapas but bigger servings) of all kinds. On Sundays, the flea market "El Rastro" is a colourful walk. For those who prefer quieter Sundays: The enormous park "El Retiro".
Weather in Madrid: Weather forecast and temperatures in Madrid today: Click here!
Culture: Things to See in Madrid - Top attractions in Madrid: Click here!
Around Madrid: Click here!
The Nightlife in Madrid is not only for weekends, you can find entertainment around the clock, 365 days a year. The easiest way is to buy a Madrid entertainment guide: "Guia del Ocio" in any newspaper stand. It comes out every week. Even easier is to read the guide on the web: www.guiadelocio.com / madrid
A night out in Madrid starts late and then just keeps going! Most bars are deserted before midnight and stay open until about 03:00. Clubs will only start to get busy around that time with doors closing between 06:00 and 08:00. In short; the youth of Madrid aren't too fond of sleeping.
Like most of Europe's major cities Madrid is home to a very broad selection of international cuisines, but it also retains a very Spanish core full of wonderful seafood and of course tapas.
Madrid is known for its meat dishes, and menus are dominated by ham, beef and pork. These dishes can be a little heavy, especially in summer, but you should try at least one during your visit. Anyway you can also find some of Spain’s best fresh seafood and fish dishes in Madrid. Madrid is considered the "Best port is Spain” even if the city is located far from the sea. Spanish serrano ham and all kinds of tapas are also very popular and served in all bars and restaurants in Madrid.
Getting around in Madrid is easy: By bus, subway or taxi at reasonable prices. The underground even takes you all the way to the airport, Barajas. Puerta del Sol in the city centre is where all metro lines are connected. The metro or underground is definitely faster than a taxi, except on Sundays when there usually is no traffic at all. Sunday in Madrid is not like Sundays in other cities: All shops and department stores are closed. Food, cinemas, museums and walking is what you can do on Sundays.
The cultural attractions of Madrid are endless. Madrid's most famous museum, of course, the Museo del Prado. "El Prado" is one of the world's largest art museums. To see the entire museum one day is not enough: Velazquez, Goya, Zurbarán, El Greco, Murillo ... ... .... On the same street: the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza ... .. and close to them: Centro Cultural Reina Sofia ... ..
Most museums close on Mondays or Tuesdays, but they open on Sundays. The following is only a small part of all Madrid's cultural attractions.
Museo del Prado - Museum Del Prado (Paseo del Prado)
Paseo del Prado. Open Tuesday to Saturday 9.00 a 19.00. Sunday 9:00 till14.00. Closed on Mondays.
Museo del Prado is the home to one of the finest art collections in the world, including many of Spain's most famous classical pieces, this huge museum also boasts works by Rembrandt, Goya, Titian, Botticelli, Caravaggio, Dürer and many more.
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza - Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum (Paseo del Prado, 8)
Paseo del Prado. Open 10:00 to 19:00. Closed on Mondays.
In the museum Thyssen - Bornemisza you'll see works by Monet, Degas, Renoir, Picasso and Van Gogh among others.
Museo Nacional Centro Cultural Reina Sofía - Reina Sofía National Museum (c/Santa Isabel 52)
Santa Isabel, 52. Open 10:00 to 21:00. Closed on Tuesdays.
Houses Madrids collection of modern art including many of Pablo Picassos most revered pieces including his famous Guernica.
General Martínez Campos, 37. Tuesday - Saturday 9:30-15:00 Sunday and holidays 10:00 to 15:00. Closed on Mondays.
Museo Español de Arte Contemporáneo
Juan de Herrera. (The university district) Open 10:00 to 18:00. Sunday 10.00 to 14.00. Closed on Mondays.
Museo del Palacio Real
Bailén s / n. Open 9:00 a 18.15. Sundays and Holidays 9:00 to 15:15.
Museo Arqueológico Nacional
Serrano, 13. Open 9:30-20:30. Sundays and holidays 9:30-14:30. Closed on Mondays.
Museo de Escultura al Aire Libre
Paseo de la Castellana. This is an outdoor sculpture museum.
Museo Taurino - Bullfighting Museum
Plaza Monumental de las Ventas. Open 9:30-13:30. Sundays 10:00 to 13:00. Closed on Mondays and Saturdays.
Other than Museums
The Palacio Real (Royal Palace) is the official residence of the King of Spain and is the largest royal palace in Western Europe with over 2,800 rooms. Certain sections (50 rooms) are open to tourists except for when there's official business taking place. Located in downtown Madrid it's accessible from the Ópera metro station. Also, The Almudena Cathedral is located behind the palace and is well worth a visit.
El Retiro: Close to the Museum del Prado you can find what is Madrid’s most popular park, El Retiro or Parque del Buen Retiro. Here you can find many gardens, fountains, monuments, a little lake with row boats and the Palacio de Cristal. And don't forget about the Real Jardin Botánico (Botanical Gardens) where all kinds of botanical life are on show.
There is the always an array of theatre, opera and other entertainment going on in Madrid but for a real taste of Spanish culture nothing like Las Ventas, Spains largest bullring. Bullfighting season in Madrid lasts from March to October and bullfights are usually on every Sunday. Out of season the bullfighting arena is used for music events. The bullring Las Ventas seats 25,000 spectators.
Those who have more than a few days to discover the capital of Spain and the surrounding area are lucky. Definitely worth visiting near Madrid are:
Alcalá de Henares
30 kilometers from Madrid is Alcalá de Henares. A historic university town that offers many attractions. Including Cervantes Museum - home.
A little more than 40 kilometers from Madrid. Aranjuez is something like Madrids Versalles. The palace and gardens are fantastic.
El Escorial & El Valle de los Caídos
Fifty kilometers from Madrid is El Escorial. There is a large monastery, where the kings of Spain are buried. Warning in winter: It's much colder here than in Madrid. The building is enormous: It took 21 years to build it.
Just a few kilometers from the monastery you find one of the most unique monuments in Spain: El Valle de los Caídos. It is a huge monument to those killed in the Spanish Civil War.
War prisoners built the monument on General Franco's orders. Franco himself is buried in a small chapel here, which was excavated in the rock. During the construction hundreds of prisoners died. At the top stands a 150 meter high cross. You can reach the top on foot or by cable car, the view over the valley is incredible from the top of the hill. The area around the monument is worth a visit in itself: Wild forests covers the whole area.
Read more about Madrid: Madrid - Visit Madrid - Madrid City Guide >>
Toledo is located 68 kilometers Madrid and is one of the most visited cities in Spain, unfortunately not so common among foreign tourists. The city represents history and art. It is one of those places where you can feel the history around you.
Toledo represents the Spanish interior perfectly and has enough monuments and attractions to fill a full day excursion. The whole city gives the impression of a medieval castle, alleys and streets inside the city walls are filled with small shops selling local handicrafts: Knives and swords mixed with pottery and beautiful plates with gold decorations.
The city requires undoubtedly walking shoes. The hilly streets must be discovered on foot. Sights are too numerous to mention briefly. The cathedral is a must, as the artist El Greco home, now a museum.
The temple Santa Maria la Blanca was once a worldwide symbol of the different religions living together. During the 12 - century the temple was shared by Jews, Muslims and Catholics. On Fridays, the building was used as a mosque, as synagogue on Saturdays and Sundays as church.
From Madrid you can go to Toledo by train, bus or car. It is also possible to buy excursion packages. Important: Do not forget your camera!
Read more about Toledo: Visit Toledo - Toledo City Guide >>