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Madrid sits on a high plateau right in the centre of Spain. It is scorchingly hot in summer and blisteringly cold in winter.
Visit Madrid for a day in autumn or spring for the best weather and smaller crowds. You will need to wrap up warm in the evenings and might be unlucky with rain, especially in autumn. Winter offers the best flight and hotel deals. Bizarrely, summer is the most popular time to visit when the city centre is packed with tourists and so hot, all anyone really wants to do is lie by a pool.
Madrid is an incredibly well connected city nationally and internationally by air and road. The main international airport, Madrid Barajas, is just 13km from the city center.
You have several options to get into the city centre from the airport;
- Transfer – the quickest and most convenient option, you can book in advance with Intui Travel.
- Taxi – grab a cab, which will cost you around €30 and take about 20 minutes.
- Bus – the Expres Aeropuerto (Airport Express) is a 24 hour service which stops in Atocha in the city centre. The bus runs every 15 minutes during the day and every 35 at night with the journey taking approximately 40 minutes. Tickets cost €5.
- Metro – there are metro stations in Terminals T2 and T4. Trains leave every 5 minutes from 6am to 2am. Line 8 goes straight to the Nuevos Ministerios metro station in the centre of Madrid, with a journey time of 12 minutes. Tickets cost €5.
Stay right in the heart of Madrid de los Austurias at Pestana Plaza Mayor. This elegant and stylish hotel in an historic building has a rooftop pool for panoramic views and a charming courtyard restaurant. Step out and be immersed in the city, with tapas bars, shops and attractions on your doorstep.
See & Do
Take a Madrid in a Day Tour
If you prefer to have your day organised (and who doesn’t?) then take a guided tour of Madrid. There are lots of Madrid day tours on offer, whether you have just a few hours in Madrid or want to take a one day tour with a local, there’s something here for you and you’ll be sure to bag all the top things to do in Madrid in one day. Whatever you decide, you can be sure that you’ll come away from your time in Madrid richer in knowledge and experiences.
Visit the Prado
Visit Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza
Save time and take a walking tour of the three museums, known as the Golden Triangle of Art – The Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza and the Reina Sofia Museum – which includes skip-the-line tickets for all three.
Take a Stroll in Retiro Park
Take in the Puerta del Sol & Plaza Mayor
Start your afternoon in Madrid by walking between the Paseo del Prado and the Royal Palace. Stop on the way at the Puerta del Sol, one of the busiest and best known places in Madrid. The square is famous as being literally at the centre of Madrid, and the point is marked in the paving stones of the square. Puerta del Sol is also home to the the famous clock whose bells mar the hour and the traditional eating of the Twelve Grapes at the beginning of a new year.
Pop over Calle Mayor to Plaza Mayor, one of the must sees in Madrid, and the most important public square in the city. Started by Philip III in 1617, the four storey porticoed buildings which line the square dominate the space, which is full of history and fascinating plaques and symbols.
Visit the Royal Palace
Shop the Gran Via
As with any city visit, make sure you have adequate travel insurance, should the worst happen.
Watch the Sunset at the Temple of Debod
On a small hill in Cuartel de la Montana Park, located a fifteen minute walk from the Royal Palace is the Temple of Debod. Slightly out of kilter with elegant and historic Madrid, this Egyptian temple dates from the 2nd century BC and was donated to Spain by the Egyptian government to save it from floods following the construction of the great Aswan Dam.
Visit at sunset to watch the light from the sinking sun play across the Royal Palace to the south and the Sierra de Guadarrama mountains to the north. It has to be one of the most romantic spots in Madrid, a city more know for its culture than romantic opportunities.
Head to Pan Adore for Breakfast or Brunch
Enjoy Churros y Chocolate at Chocolateria San Gines
Indulge at Mercado San Miguel
You could do it the Spanish way and have a nibble (called a merienda) at 6pm, then eat dinner at 10pm to make the most of your one evening in Madrid.
Top Five Madrid Tips
- Plan your specific route and Madrid one day itinerary in advance. It’s possible to see all the major attractions in the city center on foot, without ever having to walk more than 30 minutes or so. Use the metro if you get tired, it’s convenient and cheap. Alternatively, try BiciMAD, Madrid’s electric bike service.
- Book major attractions in advance whatever time of year you visit. Don’t spend your precious time in a queue.
- Unless it’s included, don’t pay extra for breakfast in your hotel. Get out, explore the neighbourhood and enjoy a traditional Spanish breakfast.
- Madrid never sleeps – at least not the bits you want to see. Siesta in Madrid does not last the whole afternoon like it does in some smaller Spanish towns. Cafes and bars might shut at 4pm for a few hours but generally places stay open throughout the day and on Sundays too.
- Talking of which, if you’re in Madrid on a Sunday, catch the Metro to La Latina (line 5) and head for Ribera de Coritodores and Plaza de Cascorro, where you will find the enormous and very busy El Rastro flea market. It does get very busy, so get there early; Spaniards are not known to be early risers but will make an exception for El Rastro.
Do you have just a little longer to spend in Madrid?
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