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Gran Via, Madrid
Gran Via, Madrid © Spanish Tourist Board

Madrid Travel Guide

A lively, sexy city which beguiles visitors as much with its vibrant soul as its many cultural treasures, Madrid is unquestionably one of Europe's great urban destinations: 

The glorious art scene and nightlife are the two main reasons to choose a holiday in Madrid, Spain's energetic capital city. Madrid's many art galleries contain such a wealth of great artworks that anyone would be hard put to see them all, while the legendary bars and nightclubs rock till the small hours. Art lovers are naturally enthralled by Madrid's Golden Triangle of world-class art museums: The Reina Sofia, The Prado, and Thyssen-Bornemisza. However, the city has something to offer anyone who enjoys exploring the world's great capitals, with many lovely parks, sprawling flea markets, fascinating museums, grand palaces, historical monuments and a renowned restaurant scene.

Best time to visit Madrid

The sky above Madrid is usually blue, brushed with puffy white clouds, and the city enjoys a pleasant Mediterranean climate. Hordes of tourists descend on Spain for the hot summer months of June, July and August and Madrid is no exception; however, the city is perhaps at its best in the shoulder seasons of spring and autumn, in May or October, when it is less crowded and not as scorchingly hot. Read more on Madrid's Climate and Weather.

What to see in Madrid

-Learn about Spain's rich history at the National Archaeological Museum in Madrid.

-See the Plaza Mayor, Madrid's arcaded central square, dating back to 1619.

-Marvel at Goya's famous fresco and tomb in the Glorieta de San Antonio de la Florida.

-Visit the Sorolla Museum, the former home of another beloved Spanish master artist.

What to do in Madrid

-Stroll and picnic in the beautiful and lush Parque del Buen Retiro.

-Tour the massive, oppulently decorated Royal Palace.

-Treat the kids to a whirlwind of fun at the Parque de Atracciones amusement park.

-Explore the Royal Botanical Garden, one of the oldest of its kind in Europe.

Beyond Madrid

Madrid is located smack in the centre of Spain, making it a convenient travel hub as well as a glorious destination in its own right. Many worthwhile excursions from the city are possible and the most popular daytrips for travellers in Madrid include visits to four spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the magnificent hilltop city of Toledo, the charming village of Cuenca, the ancient Roman town of Segovia, and the royal complex of the Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial.

Getting there

The Madrid Barajas Airport is the busiest airport in the country and the entry point for many international visitors to Spain. The airport is huge and modern, situated just eight miles (13km) from central Madrid. Get more information on Airports in Madrid.

Did you know?

-Madrid has been the capital of Spain since the 17th century and is the largest city in the country.

-Flamenco originated in Madrid and still provides wonderful entertainment for visitors and locals.

-Madrid is said to enjoy more blue skies than any other European city.


Madrid may be lacking in architectural beauty compared with some other major Spanish cities, but it makes up for this with its boundless energy, blue skies, art, culture, and an exhilarating and exhausting nightlife which will delight party animals. The city is compact and easy to navigate on foot; most of the touristic sights of interest are found in the downtown area between the Royal Palace and Parque del Retiro.

The capital of Spain since 1562, Madrid sits in the geographic centre of the Iberian Peninsula and has long been an important stop on any art tour through Europe. The famous Museo del Prado on the city's 'Museum Mile' houses important works by Spanish and European masters from the Renaissance onwards, while the Museo Thyssen-Bornemiza houses one of the most extensive private collections in the world. The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia is devoted to 20th century Spanish art, with works by Miro, Dali and Picasso, and completes the holy trinity of Madrid's art world.

Visitors wishing to take a break from all that art may want to see the Plaza de Toros, Spain's largest bullring, where regular bullfights are still held. Sports fanatics who like something a little less blood-thirsty can watch Real Madrid, or Atletico Madrid, two of Spain's most famous football teams, kick off. Madrid is also home to some gorgeous plazas and parks which are worth exploring.

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