Citytrip Madrid – the capital of Spain, is the ideal destination for an interesting city trip! Together with Barcelona and Seville, Madrid is one of the top destinations for a city trip to Spain. A short flight from most European airports takes you to the Spanish capital where you can enjoy Spanish culture, gastronomy and tourist sights. Madrilenians are proud of their beautiful city and rightly so! If asked what is so special about Madrid, they will answer: the azure sky, the lively nightlife and the many bars and restaurants. Food and enjoyment are important for the people of Madrid, and this shows! Tapa bars, restaurants and markets at every street corner.
Madrid is the largest city in Spain with over 3 million inhabitants and greater Madrid has more than six million inhabitants. Madrid has much to offer. The city centre brims with sights, monuments and museums, easily reached on foot or by metro. It goes without saying that you will visit Museo del Prado or admire the paintings by Picasso and Dalí in Museo Reina Sofia. Your visit to Madrid is complete only when you have been eating tapas in local tapa bars. Don’t leave Madrid without shopping in one of the many shopping streets. Be sure to lounge in the sun in the Retiro Park and visit stadium Bernabeu, home to football club Real Madrid. This city never sleeps: nightlife continues until the small hours. A short distance away from the city centre, you will find trendy neighbourhoods such as Chueca, Malasana, Huertas and Latina, where you can shop in small boutiques and eat delicious tapas in local restaurants.
Table of Contents
Compare City Passes – Flights– Hotels and B&B’s – Sights – Restaurants and Bars – Markets – Shopping
Madrid City Passes
If you want to enjoy Madrid to the full, purchase a city pass and experience Madrid hassle-free. City passes allow free entry to the most important sights and museums in Madrid. With a city pass in hand, you save time and money. A city pass is often cheaper than single tickets and there is no waiting in line because you will skip the line at popular attractions. Select the pass that suits you best: Madrid City Pass or Madrid Art Walk Pass. City passes are easily booked online in advance.
City Passes at a glance:
- The Madrid City Pass allows skip-the-line and free entry to the Prado Museum and the Royal Palace (Palacio Real). A hop-on hop-off bus ticket is also included. You can opt to add a three-day public transport card including airport transfer with a private taxi from Madrid Airport to your hotel in the city.
- The Madrid Art Walk Pass allows entry to three top museums in Madrid: Prado Museum, Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum and MuseoReina Sofia at a favourable price which is considerably lower than buying separate tickets for these world-famous museums. What’s more, you skip the lines at the ticket office!
Compare Madrid City Passes:
Madrid City Pass
- Prado Museum
- Royal Palace
- Hop-on Hop-off bus
- Option: 3-day public transport card
- Option: Airport transfer (taxi)
Madrid Art Walk Pass
- Prado Museum
- Museum Reina Sofia
- Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum
- Skip-the-line entry
Flights to Madrid
Many tourists travel to Madrid by plane. Madrid Airport’s official name is Adolfo Suarez Madrid Barajas Airport and is located at about 20 kilometres from Madrid centre. The international airport has five terminals: T1, T2, T3, T4 and T4S. Madrid is connected to many European airports by direct flights. Many budget and other companies fly to Madrid: KLM, Iberia, Vueling, Lufthansa, Brussels Airlines, Iberia, Ryanair, Easyjet and more.
From the Airport to Madrid City Centre
Take the metro, train, express bus or taxi to get from the airport to Madrid centre. The terminals at the airport are interconnected by metro line 8. At Nuevos Ministerios metro stop you change for the metro line that takes you to the city centre. The trip to Nuevos Ministerios takes about 20 minutes. Express Aeropuerto is a transfer bus that runs to Atocha train station and stops at Calle O’Donnel and Plaza Cibeles. This bus runs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The journey takes about 40 minutes but longer during peak hours. It leaves every 15 minutes during the day and 35 minutes at night. Trains run from Terminal 4 to the centre of Madrid. Journey time is 10 minutes and arrival is at Chamartín station, in the north of the city. A taxi ride from the airport to the centre of Madrid costs about € 30. Taxi fares are slightly higher from 21.00 hours and at weekends.
Hotel or B&B in Madrid
Madrid has a wide range of hotels, apartments and other accommodations: from 5-star to budget and from design to the bare minimum. You will find accommodation in Madrid to everyone’s taste and wallet.
If you want to splash out, go to the ME Hotel Reina Victoria at Plaza de Santa Ana 14, all luxury and stylish: splendid rooms and delightful roof terrace. Palace Hotel at Plaza de las Cortes 7 is another 5-star hotel where you can indulge and be pampered. Budget travelers make a bee-line for hotel Praktik Metropol, at Montera 47, close to Gran Via, with free Wifi and a roof top terrace. Hostal Chic & Basic Colors (or Sant Ana Colors) is basic but feels like a 3-star hotel. Its central location at the always lively Calle Huertas makes this hostel a good choice. The hotels of Roommate are trendy boutique hotels in the centre of the city. This chain has hotels at 4 different locations in Madrid. They are very reasonable priced and each hotel has its own character. Roommate Oscar is located in the heart of the lively Chueca district. Roommate Alicia at Plaza Sint Ana near Plaza Mayor.
If you stay in Madrid for a longer period or with a whole family or group, consider booking an apartment. Your ‘own home away from home’ makes a good base from where to explore the city. Wimdu, Waytostay and Booking.com specialize in offering apartments. They have a wide choice of affordable accommodation that offers plenty of space and / or luxury. Staying in an apartment is especially recommended when you travel with a family or a group of friends. Staying in an apartment is much more affordable than staying in hotel rooms.
Things to do in Madrid
Madrid is a city full of famous sights and museums. Highlights include the Palacio Real, the Cathedral, the attractive squares Plaza Mayor, Puerta del Sol and Plaza Cibeles, the world-famous museums on Paseo del Prado (Prado Museum, Museo Reina Sofía and Museum Thyssen-Bornemisza), Bernabeu Stadium of Real Madrid and the Retiro park. The editors of Citypasses have made a list of the most important highlights and hotspots in Madrid.
TIP: Start your city trip Madrid on the Hop-on Hop-off bus. Leaned back and relax while you pass along most of the highlights of the Spanish capital. You decide where to get off, which attraction or museum you are going to visit and then you hop on again to see even more highlights.
How to get there
The main entrance of the palace is on the south side via the Plaza de la Armaria, but the most beautiful side is the facade at the Plaza de Oriente.
Opera metro station at Plaza Espana (lines 2 and 5) is a 5-minute walk from the Royal Palace.
Palacio Real is the Royal Palace of Madrid. This palace, in the centre of Madrid, is the working palace of the King of Spain, Felipe VI. The Royal Palace is on the Plaza de la Armería and was built in the eighteenth century and commissioned by Philip V. Constructing this impressive, baroque palace took thirty-six years. It is Europe’s largest Royal Palace after Versailles in France and has more than 3400 rooms spread over four wings and around a patio. Since 1931 the King and his family no longer live in this palace, but they live in the simpler Zarzuela Palace in a suburb of Madrid. Palacio Real is still regularly used for official state affairs.
The Palacio Real de Madrid is partially open to the public and can be visited on a guided tour. The highlight of a visit to the Palacio Real is definitely the Salón de Trono (throne room) with a fresco of the ‘Apotheosis of the Spanish Monarchy’ by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. Furthermore, the private rooms of Carlos III and the library with a large collection of books and manuscripts are worth a look. The Galería de Pintura, with paintings by Luis Morales, Juan de Flandes, Caravaggio, Velázquez, Goya and Sorolla is a gem for art-lovers. Beautiful gardens such as ‘Campo del Moro’ and parks such as the ‘Plaza de Oriente surround the palace.
How to get there
The Catedral de Santa Maria Real de la Almudena is located opposite the Royal Palace of Madrid on Calle Bailen 10.
It is an 8-minute walk from metro station Opera (Lines 2 and 5).
Almudena Cathedral (Catedral de Santa María la Real de la Almudena) is opposite the Royal Palace (Palacio Real). Its construction started in 1879 but was only completed in 1993. One of the reasons was that the work stopped during the Spanish Civil War. The cathedral was inaugurated by Pope John Paul II on 15 June 1993. As the construction of the cathedral took several centuries, it will be no surprise that many architectural styles are represented: Gothic, Baroque and Roman. Statues of the twelve apostles adorn the exterior. The interior is neo-gothic with a modern twist. Several artists designed chapels and statues, including in pop art style. The ceiling of the large dome is impressively decorated. The Almudena Cathedral is also home to a small museum displaying objects which tell the history of the Archdiocese of Madrid. Entrance to the cathedral is free. Admission to the museum is 6 euros.
Temple of Debod
How to get there
The Temple of Debod is located in the Parque del Oeste on Calle de Ferraz
Plaza de Espana metro station (lines 3 and 10) or Ventura Rodriguez metro station (line 3) are a 10-minute walk from the temple.
The Egyptian temple of Debod is a historical monument in the Parque del Oeste in Madrid. When the Aswan Dam was constructed, ancient monuments had to be moved. Spain helped to save the Debod temple. It was dismantled and in 1971 rebuilt in Madrid. It consists of two third-century BC gateways. The Temple of Debod is located in the west of Madrid and is believed to have the most spectacular sunsets of Madrid. When the sun is setting, the temple is aflame with the last rays of the sun, which reflect in the surrounding water. Plan your trip to the park at sunset as it is a truly magnificent sight! You will find many outdoor cafes at Paseo Pintor Rosales close to the park.
How to get there
Plaza Mayor is located in the centre of the city and can be accessed through many roads.
Plaza Mayor is a 5-minute walk from Sol and Opera Metro Stations.
Plaza mayor is the most famous square in Madrid. It is rectangular in shape and surrounded by arcaded buildings, all of the same architectural style. The 237 balconies of these three-story residential houses look on to the square. Plaza Mayor started life as the market place outside the city. When Madrid became the official capital city of Spain in 1561, the square was used for official ceremonies, theater performances, bullfights and executions. Today’s Plaza Mayor dates back to the late 18th century, when houses were rebuilt after a fire. Nowadays, you will find at Plaza Mayor many outside café, street artists, and more tourists than locals. Every Sunday morning, there is a market for stamp and coin collectors. The statue in the middle of the square is the equestrian statue of King Felipe III.
Prado Museum and Museo Reina Sofia
How to get there
All three museums are within walking distance of each other and near the Paseo del Prado.
Metro station Atocha is close to the Reina Sofia museum on Calle de Santa Isabel 52 and the Prado museum on Paseo del Prado. The Banco de Espana metro station is the nearest station for the Thyssen Bornemisza Museum on Paseo del Prado 8.
Madrid has three world-famous museums: Museo del Prado, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza and Museo Reina Sofia, all three are within walking distance of each other in the Golden Triangle (Triangulo de Oro) at the Paseo del Prado. The Prado Museum is host to the most important collections of Spanish painting from the 12th to the 19th century. Stand eye to eye with great Spanish masters such as El Greco, Goya, Velázquez, Ribera, Zurbarán and Murillo. Italian and Flemish painters such as Jheronimus Bosch and Peter Paul Rubens are also represented.
The Reina Sofía museum focuses on modern and contemporary art. The collection of Museo del Prado stops in the 19th century, the collection of the Reina Sofia continues until the present. The most famous works of art here are the paintings of Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró, Pablo Picasso and Juan Gris. The ‘Guernica’ by Pablo Picasso is the undisputed masterpiece. Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza exhibits the private collection of paintings of the art collector Baron Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza. Since 1993, this collection has been on display in the 18th-century Palacio de Villahermosa. The permanent collection consists of over 1000 works of art and provides an interesting overview of the history of European painting from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century.
TIP: The Madrid Art Walk Pass allows you free entry to the three top museums in Madrid: Museo del Prado, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza and Museo Reina Sofia at an attractive price which is lower than buying individual tickets for these museums. Moreover, you beat the queues with fast track entry!
Park El Retiro
How to get there
The park has several entrances. The main entrance is Plaza de la Independencia, but there are also entrances in Calle de Alcalá and Calle de Alfonso XII.
The metro stations Retiro, Ibiza and Príncipe de Vergara are close to entrance gates of the park, at a walking distance of 2 to 6 minutes.
If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of Madrid you go Retiro Park, just outside the city centre. It is a leafy park with fountains, exotic trees, playgrounds and comfortable seats to rest your weary feet. There are always many activities to do or to watch. During weekdays, the park is a quiet spot. But at the weekend skaters, joggers, cyclists, dogs, street performers, musicians, mothers with small children and picnicking families take possession of the park. Boats are for rent at the pond in the middle of the park.
The Parque del Buen Retiro was laid out in the 17th century as a private park for the court of King Felipe IV. Only in the 19th century was it opened to the public. Stroll through the park and discover famous statues, including the statue of the Fallen Angel by Ricarde Bellver (1878) and the bronze equestrian statue of Alfonso XII. The Casa de Vacas, a remarkable building in the park, used to be place where cows were kept, today it is a theater. Two other buildings in the park serve as annexes to the Museo Reina Sofia for temporary exhibitions: the Palacio Velázquez and the magnificent Palacio de Cristal building constructed entirely of iron and glass.
Plaza de Cibeles
How to get there
Plaza de Cibeles can be reached via Paseo del Prado, Pasea de Recoletos and Passeo de la Castellanaen.
Metro station Banco de Espana (line 2) is a 2-minute walk. Metro station Retiro is an 8-minute walk via Plaza de la Indepencia.
Plaza de Cibeles is een van de bekendste pleinen in Madrid. Op dit verkeersplein komen enkele belangrijke straten samen: de boulevards Paseo del Prado, Paseo de Recoletos, Paseo de la Castellanaen de Calle de Alcalá. In het midden van het plein staat een prachtige fontein met het beeld van Cybele, de godin van de vruchtbaarheid, in een door leeuwen getrokken voertuig.
Omringd door het prachtige Palacio de Comunicaciones, het voormalige hoofdpostkantoor van Madrid en thans in gebruik als gemeentehuis, de Banco de España en Palacio de Linares is dit plein vooral ´s avonds erg mooi als de fontein en de omringende gebouwen sprookjesachtig verlicht zijn. Het is tevens dé plek waar feest wordt gevierd, wanneer bij belangrijke feestdagen en evenementen en als voetbalclub Real Madrid een belangrijke titel wint.
Stadium Real Madrid
How to get there
Estadio Santiago Bernabéu is located on the Paseo de la Castellana in the Chamartín district.
It is a 5-minute walk from metro station Santiago Bernabeu (line 10) to the entrance of the stadium of Real Madrid on the Avenida de Concha Espina 1.
Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, home of the legendary football club Real Madrid, is definitely worth a visit during your city trip to Madrid. Real Madrid is one of the most successful clubs in European football and won several European and international cups. The imposing stadium of the club dates back to 1947 and has a capacity of 85,000 spectators. The guided Bernabeu tour of Real Madrid Stadium gives you an inside look of the club. Admire the pitch from the Presidential Box or from the players’ bench, visit the dressing rooms and walk through the players’ tunnel, and follow in the footsteps of Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Cristiano Ronaldo. Finally, admire the impressive collection of trophies at the Real Madrid Museum. Tip: purchase your stadium tour tickets online from Real Madrid stadium and avoid the queue! Football fans may also visit the Atletico Madrid stadium, Real Madrid’s rival.
Restaurants and bars in Madrid
Madrilenians like to eat out. No wonder that Madrid has so many restaurants and bars, where you can enjoy good food all day long at a very reasonable price. Lunch is the most important meal of the day and is eaten at leisure. Lunchtime in Madrid starts at 2 pm. Many restaurants offer a very reasonably-priced ‘menu del dia’. Tapa bars serve tapas for lunch and for an evening meal. If it is your main meal, order several raciones (larger portions of tapas) and wash it down with a good glass of wine. Dinner (cena) in Madrid usually starts between 21.00 and 22.00 hours. A lot of easily digestible dishes are often eaten, such as salads or meat served with vegetables.
Try to avoid ‘tourist traps’ because prices are often much higher and sometimes the food leaves much to be desired. Go outside the city centre and eat were the locals go. Neighbourhoods such as Chueca, Malasaña and La Latina brim with restaurants where your meal doesn’t break the bank. Restaurant El Azul de Fúcar, in calle Fúcar, a quiet street in the Huertas district serves delicious meals at an affordable price. Cervercería 100 Montaditos: you choose from 100 sandwiches and Spanish dishes, such as tortilla and salads. This restaurant chain has several branches in Madrid, one is close to Plaza Mayor in Calle Mayor 22. El Tigre in Calle Infantas 30 is a very popular restaurant in Madrid. Here you can savour tapas at budget-friendly prices. The portions are very big and you also get a tapa with every drink. After three drinks you have eaten a complete meal!
If you are looking for something delicious, check out dinner at La Gabinoteca in Calle de Fernandoz de la Hoz 53. They specialize in authentic dishes based on Spanish cuisine using fresh ingredients. Restaurant La sol de Montelban is an attractive restaurant hidden between the Paseo del Prado and the Retiro park (Calle Montalban 3). More restaurants in Cava Baja and Cava Alta, two lively streets full of restaurants in the Latina district.
Markets in Madrid
Mercado de San Miguel, Mercado San Anton and Mercado de San Ildefonso, three popular food markets where you can feast your taste buds on Spanish snacks, drinks and products. These three markets are also very popular among the locals! The ideal spot to sniff up Spanish culture and buy a culinary souvenir.
Go where to locals go and shop at one of the Madrid markets. El Rastro in the La Latina district, open on Sundays, specializes in almost anything from clothing, antiques, books, art, jewelry and bags to toys, second-hand stuff and food. El Rastro is Calle de la Ribera de Curtidores. San Miguel Market on San Miguel Square is close to Plaza Mayor. In the old market hall, all glass and cast iron, you will find tasty and fresh products. Another interesting indoor food market is Mercado San Antón in Calle de Augusto Figueroa 24 in the Chueca district.
Shopping in Madrid
If you are addicted to shopping, you will love Madrid! Quirky boutiques, international chain stores, large department store, exclusive specialty shops, shopping malls and high-end fashion stores: Madrid is an elorado for shopaholics. Go shopping or window shopping in Gran Via, Calle la Montera, Calle de Fuencarral, Calle de Hortaleza and Calle Orense, Madrid’s main shopping streets. The Salamanca district, Madrid’s answer to the Champs-Élysées, is the place to be for exclusive branded fashion. Prada, Gucci, Chanel, Tiffany & Co, Dior and Louis Vuitton have their stores in Calle Serrano and Calle Ortega y Gasset. Calle Almirante and Conde de Xiquena streets abound with trendy designer boutiques. Head for the Salamanca district if you are looking for jewelry, shoes, leather goods, gifts and furniture. The Malasaña district is the vintage neighborhood of Madrid. Shops with traditional articles, espadrilles, fabrics, ropes, hats and religious items centre around Plaza Mayor Large department stores are located near Puerta del Sol and along the streets of Princesa, Goya and Castellana.
If your passion is shopping in a large shopping mall, Principe Pio is the place to be. This huge shopping centre is in the Paseo de la Florida in an old Madrid train station. Be sure to take a closer look at the beautiful architecture of the building. The shopping mall is home to over 110 stores. At 7 km from Madrid centre is another mall: shopping mall Plaza Norte II, with more than 200 stores.