Best of Madrid

Madrid is known to be the city of great monuments, world class museums as well as one of Europe’s football and nightlife capital.  It is foremost a fantastic cultural destination with a great historic and artistic heritage.  Indeed it is home to the best known art galleries such as the El Prado and Reina Sofia museums within the so called golden triangle of Art located along the Paseo del Prado.  The amazing medieval center where most of the key attractions are located is a wonderful place to get lost along its narrow streets packed with terraced cafes and restaurants.  At the heart of Old Madrid is the Plaza Mayor, an excellent starting point for a day of sightseeing or an evening with friends.

Madrid is not only a fantastic cultural destination but also famous for being one Europe’s most vibrant party cities and known to push the limits of hedonism.  Indeed this exciting metropolis has an abundance of bars, discotheques and  live music clubs opened until the early morning hours.  Will it be in the La Latina district where you may enjoy succulent tapas, in the Huertas home to the famous live flamenco shows,  or passing by the party districts of  Malasaña and Marula, Madrid is packed with great locations for an outstanding night out.

Madrid with its combination of great cultural sites, a feast of exquisite tapas bars and some of the most exciting nightlife in the world, it is an absolute must when visiting the Iberian peninsula.  Will it be for a short city break or for a longer vacation, Spain’s capital has so much to offer in both culture and entertainments, that it will make other cities jealous.

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Madrid map

The following is a central Madrid itinerary that could be done in one day. Starting at the Latine district (A), pausing at the Marula Cafe (C), and moving then to the Plaza de Oriente (C), then to the golden triangle of Art (F and G) passing by la Plaza Mayor (D) and la Plaza Santa Ana (E).

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Best hotels in Madrid

Most of the hotels in Madrid offer great discounts, especially during off peak season.  Check out the latest Madrid accommodation deals or have a look at our best hotels list.  The following are Madrid’s top 10 hotels based on customers reviews of our partner site Agoda.  Those include 2, 3, 4 and 5 stars accommodation.

Agoda

Espahotel Plaza de Espana         

Plaza de Espana, 7, Madrid 28008 / 3 stars

The Espahotel Plaza de Espana is the perfect three stars accommodation in the heart of the city.  The hotel offers a full range of popular amenities combined with good service and a friendly caring staff. The rooms are fully equipped with internet access, air conditioning, hair dryer and other useful amenities.  As for the hotel features they include a bar, restaurant and coffee shop. The Espahotel Plaza de Espana is an excellent choice to stay with reasonable prices, various amenities and a perfect central location.  It is no wonder guests keep coming back.

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Hotel Lusso Infantas         

29, Infantas Street, Madrid 28004 / 4 stars

Hotel Lusso Infantas is located in the heart of central Madrid within an amazing corner building.  Various popular sight-seeing landmarks as well as some of the city top restaurants and bars are situated only a walking distance from the hotels.  It is the perfect place for a corporate trip with various business centres and meeting rooms, as well s free Internet throughout the building and equipped with its own restaurant.  For both leisure and business trips, the Hotel Lusso Infantas is an exceptional choice for a great stay in the capital.

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Apartosuite Jardines de Sabatini Madrid

16 Cuesta de San Vicente, Madrid 28008 / 4 stars

The Apartosuite Jardines de Sabatini is the perfect 4 stars accommodation offering very comfortable rooms and excellent facilities in a very convenient location.  Indeed the hotel is equipped with a laundry/dry cleaning service, meeting facilities, an elevator and various shops.  As for the rooms, each comes with a desk, hair dryer, air conditioning and a daily newspaper in the morning.   With first-rate facilities and a dedicated staff it is no wonder that Apartosuite Jardines de Sabatini hotel is a favourite amongst travellers.

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Room Mate Alicia Hotel   

Street Prado 2, Madrid 2801 / 3 stars

The Room Mate Alicia Hotel is ideally located in Madrid’s old town, only within walking distance of the capital top attractions including the Reina Sofia and Thyseen-Bornemisza msuems.  Situated within the Plaza Santa Ana square there is no better place to be at the heart of the actions surrounded by restaurants, tapas bars and a vibrant night life.  For a perfect stay in an lovely artistic  building combined with a professional and accommodating staff , the Room Mate Alicia Hotel is an excellent choice.

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Catalonia Las Cortes Hotel          

Prado, 6, Madrid 28014 / 4 stars

The Catalonia Las Cortes Hotel is perfectly placed in the historic center of Madrid, near the Plaza Santa Ana in the famous Barrio de las Letras quarter.  It is only a short distance from Madrid’s top attractions including the Puerta del Sol, Plaza de Cibeles, and The Art Triangle.  The hotel is beautifully decorated in a classical style, retaining the charm of the building’s original features but with modern rooms and facilities.  For a great stay in the admirable Huertas area, the Catalonia Las Cortes Hotel is a very good option.

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Room Mate Laura Hotel   

Travesia de Trujillos,3, Madrid 28013 / 3 stars

The Room Mate Laura Hotel is a beautiful modern style hotel, with classically inspired interior designs taken from the 17th century. The uniquely designed rooms provide guests with fully equipped kitchenette, plasma screen TV and complimentary Wi-Fi internet access. There are different room sizes from standard right up to duplex and penthouse.   The hotel perfect central  location makes it a great base for mid to long term stays. It is also a great place for anyone planning on taking a sightseeing vacation to experience the local culture and history.

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Urban Hotel

Carrera de San Jeronimo, 34, Madrid / 5 stars

The Urban Hotel is a five star property ideally located in Madrid centre close to the various artistic and historical sites.  The most amazing feature is the hotel in-house museum, offering various objects such as a vast collection of Egyptian artefacts.  This amazing building offers an innovative style that combines dark woods, fine leathers and well-designed lighting, which will make each of your stay a luxurious one.  Urban Hotel has 102 beautiful rooms that are well furnished with designer decor whilst at the same time offers exclusive facilities. Guests can also unwind and dine at the Restaurant Europa Decó, La Terraza del Urban or Glass Bar which offers a great atmosphere. Urban Hotel is truly an extraordinary and artistic place of stay.

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Petit Palace Plaza del Carmen Hotel    

Plaza del Carmen, 4, Madrid 28013 / 4 stars

The Plaza del Carmen is ideally situated close to the Puerta del Sol, only 12km from the Madrid International Airport.  It is located within walking distance from the Gran Via, a vibrant place with many shops, boutiques, restaurants and nightclubs.  The hotel provides 40 modern guestrooms with a breakfast buffet available for the guests each morning.  The Petit Palace Plaza del Carmen four-star  boutique hotel is the perfect place to stay for modern comfort in the heart of Old Madrid .

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Hotel Sieteislas

Valverde 14-16, Madrid 28004 / 4 stars

The Hotel Sieteislas  is a new 4 stars hotel offering 70 well-equipped rooms within a Canary Islands theme.  It is perfectly situated  in the center of Madrid, only 400 meters from Puerta del Sol, in the heart of all the action within the various theatres, restaurants and nightclubs of the La Latina and Gran Via districts.  The famous attractions of Plaza Dos de Mayo, Palacio Real and the Prado Museum are also nearby.  The Hotel Sieteislas is the perfect place to stay in the centre of the old town and with great modern facilities.

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Francisco I Hotel

15, Arenal Street, Madrid 28013 / 2 stars

The Francisco I is a two stars Hotel perfectly situated  between the Puerta del Sol and the Opera in the heart of  Madrid, only two minute walk to the Sol Metro Station.   The location can’t get better than this, within a pedestrian street and with the old city top sites only a few minutes away, including the Plaza Mayor, Puerta del Sol, the Royal Palace, the Prado Museum and Thyssen Museum.  The hotel offers 58 guestrooms and is an ideal place to stay for a short city break .

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Top things to do in Madrid

Madrid is known to be one of the most exciting cities in Spain and in Europe.  From assisting to a typical Spanish flamenco show, or supporting the local Real Madrid football club, passing by enjoying a Spanish bullfight spectacle or admiring Picasso’s masterpieces, the city offers plenty of surprises and need to be fully discovered and experienced.

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Plaza Mayor - Best of Madrid
Plaza Mayor - Best of Madrid

The top 10 best things to do in Madrid include:

  1. Relax at the Plaza Mayor, Madrid’s best known square
  2. Discover Picasso’s finest at the Reina Sofia museum
  3. Have a look at the Plaza de Oriente, home to the Spanish royalty 
  4. Have a look at some of Europe’s greatest masters at the Museo del Prado
  5. Experience a bullfighting show at the Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas
  6. Discover the many bars and their succulent tapas at the La Latina
  7. Experience a live flamenco show at the Huertas Barrio
  8. Party at the Malasaña district
  9. Enjoy a night out at the Marula Bars
  10. Browse the El Rastro antiques stalls

Plaza Mayor

The Plaza Mayor used to be the centrepiece of Madrid, home to bullfights, markets, tournaments and executions.  Today this buzzing square and best known plaza in Madrid remains a popular tourist attraction, ideal to enjoy a coffee on one of the many terraces and feel the pulse of the local lifestyle.  At its heart is the statue of Felipe III across from the beautifully painted Casa de la Panadería, the former headquarters of the bakers guild.

To enjoy some of the best Andalucian tapas surrounded with a bullfighting memorabilia décor, head to La Torre del Oro restaurant on the Plaza Mayor.

Reina Sofia Art museum

The Reina Sofia Art museum is perhaps best known to be home to some of Picasso’s most famous paintings including the Guernica which denounced war and fascism.

test - Best of Madrid
Reina Sofia Art museum - Best of Madrid

Plaza de Oriente

La Plaza de Oriente is home to the Royal Palace, the official residence of the Queen  as well as the Opera House and the Royal Theatre.

Museo del Prado

The Museo del Prado is one of Madrid’s greatest museum, home to a variety of fabulous masterpieces from Titian and Rubens to Rafael and Botticelli, passing by Goya and Velázquez.

Museo del Prado - Best of Madrid
Museo del Prado - Best of Madrid

Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas

The Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas is Spain’s largest bullfighting arena and a great way to discover the exciting Spanish vibe while assisting to the show.

La Latina

La Latina it is the ideal place to enjoy Madrid’s bohemian atmosphere  and a feel-good vibe combined with stylish bars and restaurants.  For the best tapas in town head to the famous medieval bar packed streets of Cava Baja and Cuchilleros.

La Latina - Best of Madrid
La Latina - Best of Madrid

Huertas

Huertas (or Barrio de las Letras) is the perfect place in Madrid to experience endless nights while enjoying the passion of flamenco or live jazz,  with the area abundance of bars, pubs and restaurants.  The  Barrio has the beautiful square Plaza de Santa Ana at its heart surrounded with a variety of historical buildings

Malasaña

Malasaña (or Tribunal)  is the perfect place in Madrid to go back to the hedonism of the 1980s with plenty of restaurants, cafes and bars to choose from.  The Plaza Dos de Mayo is at the heart of the area, as for the Calle Manuela Malasaña it is best for food  and the Calle Pez is ideal for a night out with an abundance of rock and pop music clubs.

Malasaña - Best of Madrid
Malasaña - Best of Madrid

Marula bars

The Marula neighbourhood is the perfect place to go out for a drink with an abundance of terraces, clubs and live music venues.

El Rastro

El Rastro is Madrid’s most famous market, dating back to some five centuries and offering a variety of antiques stalls and shops.  The city’s largest flea market is only open on Sunday morning however.

Best sights in Madrid

Some of the key Madrid landmarks include the following in alphabetic order:

  1. Archaeological museum.
  2. Atocha RENFE is a large train station across the street from the Reina Sofia Museum of Art famous for the palm garden inside the old building, complete with a pond full of small turtles.
  3. Buen Retiro park is a beautiful green space founded in 1631.
  4. CaixaForum is a cultural centre with free exhibitions and functions.
  5. Cathedral de la Almudena is a massive cathedral facing the Palacio Real.
  6. El Retiro Park is the main park of Madrid and an ideal place to take a rest during a sunny day.
  7. Gran Vía, which literally mean "Broadway"  is one of the busiest avenues in Madrid, packed with various cinemas and a constant buzz.
  8. La Casa de Campo is the park at the rear of the Palacio Real which used to belong to the Royal family.
  9. Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía.
  10. Museum of modern art.
  11. National Library building founded in 1712 containing some of Spain’s historical archives.
  12. Palacio Real, the Royal Palace of Madrid said to be the biggest of its kind in Europe.  It is the official residence of the King of Spain, however the royal family does not actually reside there and it is generally only used  for state ceremonies.
  13. Parque del Capricho is one of the most beautiful parks in Madrid with a strong Romanticism influence packed with swans, ducks, labyrinths, palaces, squares and fountains.
  14. Plaza Castilla near Metro Plaza Castilla is another famous square in Madrid.
  15. Plaza de Cibeles is the location of one of Madrid’s emblems, the fountain of Cibeles, and one of the world’s most beautiful city halls, the former Palacio de las Comunicaciones.
  16. Plaza de Espana is home to a sculpture of Cervantes and his famous Don Quixote character.
  17. Plaza de la Villa was the main square during the Middle Age, and houses today the former City Hall, the former Academy of Fine Arts and the Archbishopric.
  18. Plaza Mayor is the best known plaza in Madrid.
  19. Prado Museum.
  20. Puerta del Sol is the plaza considered the actual heart of the city.  It is the location of Kilometre Zero a plaque showing the point where the measuring of national highways begins, as well as the home to the famous statue of a bear climbing the madroño tree, which is the symbol of Madrid.
  21. Teatro Real, the Royal theatre with its restored 1850 Opera House.
  22. Templo de Debod is an Egyptian temple situated in one of Madrid’s most beautiful parks.
  23. Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, housed in the renovated Villahermosa Palace.
  24. Zoo Aquarium Madrid where you can see the Pandas, pet the lemurs watch the Dolphin and bird show.

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Madrid Centre - Best of Madrid
Madrid Centre - Best of Madrid

About Madrid

Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain, as well as the capital of the autonomous Comunidad de Madrid.  It is situated on the Manzanares river, at the centre of the Iberian peninsula and perfectly  in the middle of Spain.  The current population is a bit moiré then 3 million people doubling the number for the whole metropolitan  area  with a bit less than 6 millions, placing it as the EU third largest after London and Paris.  The city has a total span of  a bit more than 600 km².

Madrid is Spain’s business as well as political center with the headquarters of the government and Spanish Royal Family.  It is a major player within the finance, banking  with head offices of most of major Spanish companies, as well within the industrial sectors especially in the south where most of the factories are located.

Being a very cosmopolitan city, the tourism industry plays a vital role in the capital placing it at the top of the most visited cities Spain, in the top 5 in Europe as well as on top positions within the world’s most liveable cities.  Indeed the city of Madrid offers various forms of cultural and artistic activities combined with a lively nightlife.  As very few Madrileños come from here originally it makes the city a very welcoming and open place for residents and visitors alike.  The local saying says it all “If you’re in Madrid, you’re from Madrid”.

The medieval center dates back to the Habsburg Empire and the key architectural remains of the Baroque 17th century and neoclassical 18th century period is the main square Plaza Mayor and the Palacio Real.

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Palacio Real - Best of Madrid
Palacio Real - Best of Madrid

Madrid History

The city of Madrid has a pretty short history compared to the other places in Spain which date back to thousands of year.

It can trace its origins to the times of Arab Emir Mohamed I in the 9th century who constructed a fortress on the left bank of the Manzanares river.  The city was later conquered by Alonso VI in the 11th century and at the end of the 17th century, a defensive wall was built for the protection of the new outlying areas. 

In the 18th century, under Carlos III some of Madrid’s most famous arteries were designed including the Paseo las Acacias and the Paseo del Prado.

Madrid nightlife

The nightlife of Madrid is by far one of the capital’s main attractions.  It all started during the 80s, under Madrid’s mayor Enrique Tierno Galván and especially after the death of Franco where all the nightlife and clubbing scene emerged, which today the city is so famous for.   Indeed the city center has such an abundance of bars, pubs cocktail clubs, jazz lounges, live music venues, flamenco theatres and a variety of other entertaining establishments  that will make each day of the week a Friday night.  It is especially blessed with live performances venues from famous to rock bands to new singer-songwriters, passing by a variety of or electronic music sessions and jazz concertos.  All these within the central old town or further north in the Malasaña area for a more alternative scene.

Madrid nightlife - Best of Madrid
Madrid nightlife - Best of Madrid

Madrid weather

Due to its central geographic position within the Iberian Peninsula and its high altitude, the  Madrid climate is particularly welcoming, characterized with cool winters and warm dry summers.  It is known as the continental Mediterranean climate with some sporadic snowfalls and minimum temperatures often below freezing during the colder months and a temperatures that consistently surpass 30 °C but rarely above 40 °C within the hotter months.  Madrid is also blessed with perpetual sunshine along the seasons.

It is said the Spring and autumn are the best times to visit Madrid.  Check out the best deals or top hotels in Madrid, best prices guaranteed.

Check out the best deals or top hotels in Madrid, best prices guaranteed.

Madrid weather - Best of Madrid
Madrid weather - Best of Madrid

Madrid airport

The Madrid airport, called Barajas International is one of the largest travel hub in Europe, home to major local and international airlines.  It can handle up to 70 million passengers annually.

The airport has 4 terminals, including the new low-cost carrier terminal that opened in 2006. Terminal 4 is the most spectacular of them all.  It was designed by Antonio Lamela and Richard Rogers who received the 2006 Stirling Prize, and built by TPS Engineers who won the 2006 IStructE Award for Commercial Structures.  The terminal is famous for being one of the world’s largest terminal areas, with an area of 760,000 square meters.  The new design is meant to give passengers a stress-free start to their journey, with the use of illumination, by having glass panes instead of walls as well as installing numerous domes in the roof giving much more natural light.

How to get to the city center?

There are various ways to get to the city center which is located some 13km from the airport.  It is connected to the city by the Metro line 8 (pink) but transfers are required to get to Sol the Madrid centre.  An alternative and perhaps simpler way is to catch the Renfe Cercanías commuter train from Platform 8 at Nuevos Ministerios and Sol will be the first stop.  Finally many Taxis are available from the airport main arrival gate which will get you to the city center for about  €30/40 depending on the location.

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Madrid airport - Best of Madrid
Madrid airport Terminal 4 - Best of Madrid

Real Madrid

Real Madrid football club is by far the biggest sport attraction  in the city.  Indeed the famous  club is one of the most prestigious in the world,  having being crown Spanish champions for no less than 31 times, winning a record 9 European Cups and being selected the best team of the 20th century by FIFA.  The Real Madrid play their home games at the Santiago Bernabéu, which can hold more than 80K fans.  The supporters are referred to as Madridistas or Merengues and as for the players they are known as the Colchoneros, which can be translated to the Mattress Makers, in reference to the team’s red & white jersey colours, which were determined by mattress material being the cheapest at the time of the club’s formation.

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Real Madrid football club - Best of Madrid
Real Madrid football club - Best of Madrid