Madrid Tourism And Travel Guide
10.5° C / 51° F
May to September
4 to 6 Days
Adolfo Suarez Madrid Barajas Airport
Widely referred to as the city that does not sleep, Madrid is Spain’s capital and one of the most beautiful cities of Europe. With a seamless mix of the ancient baroque architecture and modern buildings, Madrid makes you fall in love at first sight. It is no surprise then that tourism in Madrid is swelling every moment, becoming a booming industry for the country. From its museums to palaces, parks to rooftop bars, flamenco performances to charming squares - Madrid is a very delightful holiday spot. If you are planning a visit, here’s a travel guide through the bylines of Madrid for you.
How to Reach
India to Madrid is easily covered by flight, with regular planes plying from Indian metro cities.
Madrid hosts Spain’s most important airport - Adolfo Suarez Madrid Barajas Airport. You can take a flight from Mumbai, Chennai or Delhi to Madrid, with airlines like Lufthansa, Air India, Etihad etc. The airport is quite huge and has 4 terminals, very well connected internally and externally by metro trains.
You can drive to Madrid from neighbouring cities like Barcelona (A2 Motorway), Valencia (A3 Motorway) and Irun (A2 Motorway). Buses also operate and are relatively cheaper than hiring a car. Estacion Sur and Avenida de America station are two of Madrid’s most used bus terminals.
Madrileños or the residents of Madrid love their public transport - buses, metro, subway trains, locals trains et al. They are cheap and very convenient as traffic is the bane of every major city of the world. You do get taxis too however, and Uber is also available in the city.
Weather and Best Time to Visit
Madrid’s weather is greatly influenced by its location atop a plateau in the middle of Spain, so here the summers are dry and hot, while winters mildly cool.
Spring (March to May):
Madrid’s spring season is bountiful and warm, with moderate rainfall here and there. It is one of the best seasons for a visit, with the temperature nicely cocooned between 7-21ºC. By May even the rain is almost gone, so rooftop bars open up and outdoor cafes are all the rage too.
Summer (June to August):
Summers are hot and dry, sometimes reaching 40ºC. But the plus point is the lack of rainfall, which gives you plenty of Spanish sun and loads of time to enjoy outdoors. Some thunderstorms might disturb the weather but they pass just as quickly as they come. This is a high tourist season.
Autumn (September to November):
Autumn is a shoulder tourist season here, with some dampness and rainfall in the air, lower temperatures and receding crowds. The rooftop bars turn indoors and cafes wind up their pavement services, so you may not get the full Madrid treatment.
Winter (December to February):
Winter is actually a good time to go to Madrid if you are okay with a low temp range of 10°C-15°C. Because this is the season of least moisture, clear blue skies and a happy sun. Snow or rain rarely make an appearance and you get to go out in the sun quite often in your woollens and trendy layers, what better way to enjoy your holiday?
Things to Do
Visit the Museums:
Madrid museums are amazing, displaying artefacts and pieces of art from the ancient era as well as post-Modern painters. Visit the Prado Museum with its 3000+ art displays of various ancient painters, explore the Reina Sofia Museum for the masterpiece of Pablo Picasso and some works of Salvador Dali. Don’t miss Thyssen-Bornemisza.
Stroll around Puerta del Sol:
Puerta del Sol literally translates to ‘gate of the sun’ and this square in the heart of Madrid is very renowned, especially on New Year’s. People gather here in thousands to usher the new year, take night strolls on other days, enjoy the nightlife, meet friends and just chill. There are some great tapas bars, clubs and shops for tourists here too.
Real Madrid is the football team of this city, one that has come victorious out of many a European cups and even was the winners of FIFA 2014. Visit their home stadium - Bernabéu Stadium and take a tour of their history, trophies, players’ history and other valuable paraphernalia. This is definitely too much fun, especially for football fanatics.
Picnic at Retiro Park:
Madrid’s Retiro Park is a 350 acre public space for people to come and chill, spread blankets and picnic, go kayaking and boating and canoeing. The greenery and beaten paths, walking tracks and ponds make this park a very similar entity to Central Park of New York. You must come here to see how the locals spend their afternoons on a weekend.
Nightlife and Rooftop Bars:
Rooftop bars, tapas bars and pubs are all the rage in Madrid, not only at nights but all through the day. Of course, the main crowd descends after sundown, usually after 8 pm as that is the dinner time of most Madridians. Visit areas like Barrio de las Letras, Malasaña and Chueca for great nightlife and enjoy drinks with tapas all through until sun-up.
What to Eat
Spanish food has a very different aura to your Mexican fare, even though in your head you might think both of them the same. In Madrid, some of the most coveted dishes to try include the Madrid stew or cocido madrileño, which is a winter delicacy made from meat, potatoes and chickpeas to warm your heart and soul. Also must-try dishes include the Madrid Tripes and Madrid style squid, both usually eaten as appetisers. Seafood here is supposed to be great, as well as Madrid style fried eggs with bacon and sausages and french fries as accompaniments. Other than these, the Tapas are perfect for any day, any time - a savoury snack or starter category of Spanish foods served hot or cold. Some famous ones include slices of Spanish Omelette, patata bravas or fried potatoes with sauces, stuffed olives, cheeses and shrimps. Most of these are served in huge platters when you order wines or drinks at a bar.
Also, if you are in Madrid, never ever move on without ordering a piping plate of churros and hot chocolate (almost a pudding-like consistency). Dip the fried crispy churros in chocolate and feel heaven burst on your tongue. Madridians also love to dip their churros in coffee. The best of these are found at San Ginés.
Where to Shop
Some of Madrid’s best shopping streets for luxury and high street brands like H&M, Zara, Gucci, Prada etc are Gran Vía, Conde Duque and típico español. If you are more of a bargain person and like street shopping, vintage items, used books and trendy clothes then keep a Sunday free to visit the El Rastro flea market. Here you will get anything and everything.
If you are looking for souvenirs, pick up authentic Spanish espadrilles - handmade twine and cloth summer shoes that are the best in every season for walking, just as easy on the eye as well as pocket. They come in trendy colours and patterns too and are all the rage in high street fashion.