Modern, dynamic, contemporary, but also cozy, colorful and quite welcoming – this is what Madrid looks like and this is why it’s a must to discover it! The city will welcome you with warm weather and smiling people, with plenty of pieces of art and spectacular views to enjoy, with flamenco, tapas and, of course, with wine. Please, don’t hesitate to check out my personal helpful tips that will make your trip in Madrid even easier and pleasant.
About the city
Madrid is the capital of Spain, as well as the most populated city in the country. In the Spanish capital the state headquarters and the king’s residence are located. The city is also the political, economic and cultural center of Spain. It’s placed on the shores of the Manzanares River, right in the central side of the country. Madrid has been known as the leading economic center of the Iberian Peninsula and South Europe for ages. Despite the local modern progress, the Spanish capital has preserved the authentic look of most of its historical districts, streets and attractions.
- Area – 604.3 km²
- Population – 3 223 334 people
- Visits – 6 million of people per year
- Official language – Spanish
- Airports – Madrid-Barajas and Cuatro Vientos
When’s the best time to visit Madrid?
If you want to avoid the biggest heats, as well as the rainy days, while you are in Madrid, it’s recommended for you to visit the city during April or May
- Average minimum temperatures – around 0 °C
- Average maximum temperatures – around 33 °C
- Hottest months – July and August
- Coldest months – December and January
- Possibility for rain – October and November
City’s public transportation
- Subway – with its 13 lines and more than 30 stations, the subway is the quickest and the most convenient alternative for getting around Madrid. During the day, the trains are available in each 5 minutes, but note, that in the rush hours they are usually quite crowded.
Tip: It’s comparatively safe in subway, but, hence, always keep your personal belongings and luggage at an eye, because it’s after all, the traditional pickpocket’s top favorite place to “work”.
- Buses – The local bus company in Madrid is popular by the name of EMT. It owns more than 2 000 buses that serve around 200 lines, which link the downtown area with the nearby districts. During the day the buses are available within each 5-15 minutes. There are also night busses – familiar with the name of buhos (owlet in Spanish) that can also help you out to get from one to another point, but it’s preferable to know the city in advance in order to be 100% sure where to get off.
Tip: It’s extremely affordable to get a ticket “metrobus” for 10 trips both: with the subway and the buses.
- Trains – If you want to see more from the nearby region and outside of the capital’s territory, use the Madrid’s train system, which is called Cercanias. The trains are available within 10-30 minutes. The ticket prices, by the way, are very budget-friendly.
Rent a car
If you plan to travel outside of the city’s central side, you can also rent a car. Otherwise, though, there’s no point to do so, because you will neither move faster, nor get the chance to save some money.
If you have limited time for sightseeing in Madrid, use the tourist buses. They allow you to fast and easily see the most popular attractions. Once you get a ticket with certain duration, you can get on and off the bus as many times as you want, as well as anywhere you wish until the available time for tourist bus service ends. In the bus you can also get an audio guide or to select a tour with a guide to learn more about the local history and culture.
Bike for rent
Do you want to test a real electrical bike? Then, you definitely should try BiciMAD service, which offers 1 500 electrical bicycles at 123 stations spread across the whole city. The service called BimBimBikes, on the other side, will help you to select the most suitable for you bicycle. You will be offered a bike tour with a guide to learn even more curious facts about Madrid! Last, but not least, bikes for rents are also provided by Bike Spain and BravoBike.
The taxis in Spain are in white color with red line. They are at your disposal 24/7 and you can use them in the late hours, when the subway doesn’t work.
Tip: I recommend you to use a taxi from any of these two companies: Radio taxi and Tale taxi.
Madrid is an ideal city for culinary tourism. Here, more than 8 000 amazing restaurants are placed. Let us make some comparison, though – in New York you can find a bit more, 10 000 in total. Don’t even try to think that the Spanish capital offers only local cuisine. On the contrary, here you can find restaurants and meals for any individual taste. Your culinary tour might start, for instance, form the posh district of Champeri. The meat and grill lovers can visit Sala de Despiece. However, in Madrid there are lots of places where excellent seaside food dishes accompanied by wonderful wine sorts are served. If you want to enjoy an elegant Mediterranean diner, visit Toque de Sal. The district of Anton Martin, meanwhile, is the place, where you can find authentic local cuisine – the popular tapas and traditional wine sorts.
I also strongly recommend you to consider visiting any of these restaurants: Calle Santa Isabel and Vinicola Metridana. If you want to transfer to Andalusia without even getting on the train, reserve a table in La Caleta, where on mandatory, have some fried fish. The place, I describe as the best place for culinary lovers, is Bogedas Alfaro.
Madrid, by the way, is honored to have 21 restaurants with Michelin stars. The restaurant that has god the full set of 3 Michelin stars is DiverXO. If you eat there you will see that every single plate is like a piece of art. The world well-known fusion gourmet cuisine is served everyday here. The restaurants with 2 stars are DSTAge with its amazing combo of Japanese, Mexican and Spanish mixtures in the meal tastes, and La Terraza del Casino, which has an impressive luxurious interior design and a menu full of unexpected, but pleasant Spanish dishes. Some of the most remarkable restaurants with 1 Michelin star in Madrid are Albora, Cebo, Clos and El Invernadero.
Things to do
If you wonder what the most exciting things you can do in Madrid, please, don’t hesitate to check out my personal suggestions for you. Except for the popular local museums, don’t forget to visit the small galleries as they offer plenty of pieces of art and a lot of beauty to inspire you, too. You can also have a walk on the liveliest street in the city, Gran Via, where the shops and the architecture will amaze you, no doubts. Go on the terrace of the Fine Arts Centre, from where you can enjoy a beautiful view of Madrid. Visit some of the local fests, the city’s summer cinema arena or some live music performance in the park. Don’t forget to stop by for some tapas and wine during or after your walk. And, please, don’t forget that visiting a flamenco bar is a must from all the things to do in Madrid. Taste churros (fried flour with chocolate) and paella. Last, but not least, just dive into the city’s atmosphere and enjoy the local Spanish people’s hospitality.
Nightlife and entertainment
Madrid is well-known as the capital of flamenco. That’s why you shouldn’t miss visiting any tabloas – a traditional local flamenco bar. I recommend you Corral de la Moreria – one of the oldest flamenco bars, which was, by the way, established back in 1956th year – or Torres Bermajes – one of the most famous bars for the last 40 years – plus the authentic Café de Chinitas, which has existed since 1970 year.
You can’t live Madrid without tasting at least one cocktail in any of its local bars. Bar Cock is a pleasant Bohemian place for the purpose, by the way. The owners here make everything possible to keep the bar pleasant and peaceful, which is why the available seats are limited. It would be, though, easier for you to find seats here during the working days. In Coceleria Del Diego, on the other side, you will find some of the longest cocktail menus in the city. Meanwhile, the drinks here always come with something tasty for a bite. Soho offers you totally record-breaking cocktails. You can combine them either with classical burgers, or with something more authentic like nachos, ribs and burritos.
If you are up to some live musical performances, I strongly recommend you to go to: Bar&Co, Barracudas, Beer Station or Bogui Jazz. You can end your evening in any of the local popular electronic music clubs, too. The most popular one, as a matter of fact, is Fabrik with capacity for 7 000 visitors and with amazing audio sound system. Kapital is the legendary club in the downtown of Madrid, which is accommodated by an old theater zone. And one of the best worldwide electronic DJs’ gigs take place in Nox Club.