MADRID - A Travel Guide

Posted on Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Madrid: A Travel GuideMadrid is Spain’s capital city with a characteristic balance between modern economic and financial metropolis, and cultural, historical, and artistic heritage. There is a non-stop buzz of energy surrounding this commercial and industrial city, but the natives—often called Madrilenos—are never too busy to slow down and enjoy the still very lively culture and traditions.

While visiting Madrid on a tour of Spain, you’ll have the opportunity to soak up the lifestyle by eating at a terrace café, or enjoying an evening flamenco performance. Culture yourself with visits to art and history museums, and spend time down at the fisherman’s wharf. Whether you’re inspired by the hustle and bustle of the city, or by the ir de tapas lifestyle, Madrid is sure to have something for everyone.


Sights and Symbols—

Puerta del Sol (Gate of the Sun: The symbol of Madrid and the center of the city 

Madrid’s Royal Palace:  The largest palace in Western Europe and Madrid’s most beautiful building

Plaza de Oriente: Scenic open square in front of the Royal Palace

Plaza Mayor: The best square to people-watch in the city

 Gran Via: Madrid’s most famous street

Puerta de Alcala: The city gate that has become an icon in Madrid

Paseo del Prado-Street lined with 18th century fountains


The Prado: The best of Madrid and one of Europe’s premiere art museums

The Goya: Francisco de Goya’s frescos for his chapel are a must see. 

The Reina Sofia: Enjoy the works of Picasso, Dali and Gris here

 Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza: Everything from medieval to 20th century masterworks.

Family Friendly—

Parque de Atracciones: Amusement park rides and fun

Retiro Park: Recreation and entertainment

Museo de la Ciencia: Interactive exhibits for kids and adults

Faunia: Famous zoo full of wildlife and nature


You simply can’t come to Spain without experiencing the tapas culture. Enjoy the best tapas in town anywhere near Plaza de Santa Ana and Cava Baja. If you’re looking for a great atmosphere, Sobrino de Botin and Cornucopia are the hottest spots. Marisqueria Ribeira do Mino totes some of the freshest seafood, or go to Casa de Valencia for a taste of original paella. For traditional Basque cuisine try Zalacain, and don’t leave Madrid without having traditional Spanish hot chocolate and churros at San Gines.

Late Night—

If you plan on coming to Madrid to enjoy the late night scene, you are in luck. Madrid knows how to party…but the party doesn’t start until after 2:00 AM! But don’t worry; Madrid has something for everyone in the way of nightlife. The district Barrio de Salamanca is good for sleek, chic nightspots such as4 Bajo Cero and Ramses, which are both full of very posh patrons.  The Lavapiés region is known for its dive bars like La Lupe. The open-air cocktail lounge in the gardens of the Casa de América is a must-see for streetside terrazas, but the new atmosphere in Madrid is on the rooftop bars like the ME Madrid Hotel and La Cocina de San Anton.


Madrid, originally named Mayrit, meaning “place of many springs”, was founded under Arab occupation by the emir Muhammad in the fourth century. Madrid was soon after conquested by Christians, and all Muslim symbols were removed by Kind Alfonso I. The city changed hands between Christians and many other religions—contributing to the multicultural heritage and architecture still seen today.

 In the 15th century, the population continued to grow so rapidly that under Enrique III, the Spanish Court was relocated to Madrid. The 19th century was full of turmoil due to the Spanish war of Independence from the French, but after the rebuild and regrowth of Spain, the Spanish Constitution of 1978 deemed Madrid as Spain’s capital. Madrid was the home of the first democrat elections in 1979, and is now the home of over three million residents.


Madrid is located in the center of the Iberian Peninsula on top of a plateau—the tallest capital city in Europe. Most of the main attractions in Madrid are located in El Centro—including the Puerta del Sol, the Prado museum and Retiro Park. This district spans over about a mile, and is very easy to navigate on foot. The modern and metropolitan parts of the city surround El Centro, and the metro provides public transportation.

Because of its central location, Madrid is a very dry city. Summers in Madrid can reach temperatures of up to 105 F/40 C in the hottest months of July and August. Spring and fall are the best times to visit, with beautiful climates between 70-80 F/22-27 C. Winters can get very cold at 50 F/10 C during the day but reaching below freezing at night.

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