Madrid: capital of Spain, home to one of the world’s most success football teams and overflowing with culture. Here is everything you need to know when planning a trip to the third-largest city in the European Union.
Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport is one of the largest airports in Europe and is serviced by many different airline carriers - not least Iberia, who are based there. They fly directly from London Gatwick, as do Norwegian, Iberia Express and Easyjet. Also offering a direct service from the London area are Ryanair (from Stansted) and British Airways (from London Heathrow). In addition, there is a range of options if you are departing from further north, including Ryanair, Iberia and BA (from Manchester) and Easyjet from Edinburgh.
Once you arrive, the best way to get from the airport into the city centre is via bus or train. Of the options available, the 24-hour Express Bus is the most convenient because it runs around the clock, can take you directly to the main train station within the hours of 6am and 11.30pm, and only costs €5 per person. Otherwise, there is a commuter train that departs from Terminal 4 or you can take the pink metro line from any of the four terminals.
Where To Stay
If you are looking to find an inexpensive hotel without sacrificing your position in the centre of Madrid, look no further than the Mayerling. You will be situated in a neighbourhood known as Cortes, in the Centro district, with the Tirso de Molina metro station just metres down the road. The staff are very friendly and everything is done without pretence. There is both a roof terrace and courtyard for relaxing, Wi-Fi is free and the rooms are surprisingly modern.
Hotel De Las Letras
This is a great boutique option and will place you right in the heart of the action, on one of Madrid’s most famous streets – Calle Gran Via. The main train station is just up the road and you will be in touching distance of the best galleries and museums. The rooms are splashed in bright colours and each has a balcony from which you can gaze out on the city below. The restaurant is a great place to enjoy a chic, yet casual meal and the bar is always lively.
Gran Melia Fenix
If you to conduct your Madrid city break in style, this five-star option is perfect. It is located in the classy Salamanca district, close to the Parque del Buen Retiro. This luxurious accommodation option will offer a stylish home from home and all of the modern amenities you will need. You will have free Wi-Fi and dedicated charging for your phone, access to the Thai spa, airport pick-up and drop-off, and the option to savour the delights in the fine dining restaurant. If you really want to splash the cash, choose one of the rooms on the Red Level and enjoy a Jacuzzi and access to the executive lounge.
With an extensive network that is only outdone by London’s, the Madrid metro system makes getting around very simple. There are 12 different coloured lines that can take you all over the city, with tickets available for short trips or periods up to seven days. If you find yourself needing to travel after 1.30am (when the metro closes), there is a fleet of night buses that will get you to where you want to go with the added bonus of free Wi-Fi.
Where To Eat
When in Spain, you should definitely take a leaf out of the locals’ collective book and indulge in the tradition of tapas. This relatively new restaurant has earned raved reviews from Madrileños and tourists, offering a selection of dishes that can be ordered as a full-size dish or as tapas. Expect a menu full of traditional and modern morsels and expect to sit at the bar unless you make a reservation. This is, however, a Spanish tradition in itself.
Bringing the cuisine of Asia (via another Spanish speaking country - Argentina) to Madrid, Sudestada combines fresh and spicy curries with South American flair. Amidst the warm setting of the wooden décor, you can look forward to dishes that will dance on your tongue, warm your heart and fill your stomach.
Highly rated on trip advisor and known for turning each dish into a work of art, an evening at DSTAGE is a great way to commemorate a special occasion or just end your Madrid city break on the highest of notes. There are two tasting menus on offer, one with ten courses and one with 14. Reservations are a must but you will remember this spectacular meal for the rest of your lives.
Bonus: San Ginés
If you feel yourself craving a sweet snack, try some of Madrid’s most famous churros at this iconic chocolatier.
Top 3 Things To Do
Peruse Do Prado
As we mentioned at the start of this article, Madrid is overflowing with culture. However, if you only have time to see just one example of this, then head for the Museum Do Prado. The thousands of works displayed in this giant building are predominantly from the royal collection and show allegiances with countries such as France and Italy, forged during the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. It is impossible to see everything in one visit, but use the free maps to pinpoint your own personal highlights.
Relax In El Retiro
It’s surprising to see just how many green spaces this large, bustling city has but there are plenty of parks to help you get away from the busy streets. Parque Del Buen Retiro is the most central option, offering a peaceful atmosphere complete with fountains, lined pathways and sculptures. The largest park, however, is Casa de Campo. It is located in the west of the city and is where you will find the zoo, a theme park and a peaceful lake.
Rifle Through El Rastro
If you are anywhere other than Madrid’s largest flea market on a Sunday morning, you may start to wonder where everyone is. If you don’t mind fighting the crowds, head to Calle Ribera de Curtidores and search for a bargain amongst the many stalls. If you would prefer to do some more sophisticated shopping, visit the Salamanca district.
If you are duly inspired to plan a Madrid city break, allow us to do the hard work for you. We can tailor-make your holiday so that it includes everything you wish to see and do within your desired budget. Contact our team today for more information.