Madrid is the capital of Spain, and it is a city filled with lively street life, delicious food, and much more. Madrid is rich with its culture and even though it doesn’t have beaches like Barcelona, it is still worth a visit. I’ve lived in Madrid for almost a year and it is a must visit, you will find a lot of different things to do, and you will get to enjoy the life of the Madrileños.
1. How to Get Your Visa for Spain
6. Accommodations in Madrid
2. How to Get to Madrid
7. Best Cafes & Restaurants in Madrid
3. How to Move Around Madrid
8. 15 Top Things to do in Madrid
5. Best Time to Visit Madrid
How to Get Your Visa for Spain
You can get the visa by going to the embassy, or visiting the official website, or getting it with an agency like iVisa. iVisa provides 100% online travel documents such as: Visas, health declaration forms, embassy registrations, passport photos, passport renewals, tourist cards, and other travel documents. It is the simplest solution to process your travel visa.
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How to Get to Madrid
The best & easiest way to reach Madrid is by plane since it has an international airport, Adolfo-Suárez Madrid Barajas Airport, since it is a large international airport, you will be able to find a lot of flights depending on where you are. Also, if you are in Europe, you can easily find train and buses through Omio, FlixBus, and Kiwi.com.
I like to use Omio to find either buses or trains in Europe, and if I am looking for a flight I would use WayAway to find cheap flights. You can also use this promo code - TP-385219 - for WayAway Plus or you can directly visit this link! (You will get 10% off WayAway Plus subscription!)
How to Move Around Madrid
To move from the airport to the city or to your accommodation, it is pretty easy and straightforward since the metro is connected to the airport, after claiming your baggage, simple follow the metro sign at the airport and from there you will find ticket machines to get your ticket.
Madrid is actually a pedestrian friendly city, and it is not an extremely large city, so you can definitely explore most place on foot, but you can use public transport, and it is actually easy and good. I lived in Madrid for a year and it has one of the best public transport in Europe, it is convenient and easy to use, so you won’t get lost and you will be able to move from one place to another easily using the metro or even the bus.
Best Time to Visit Madrid
Madrid weather is actually pretty contrast since the winters are really cold and the summers are really hot and dry. People who live in Madrid tend to go to the coast during the summer, so try to avoid that time because the heat is unbearable, and because of this, the city becomes quiet and also most places might be closed such as restaurants. The best time to visit Madrid would be during spring or in September and October. If you’re okay with the cold, Christmas will be a great time for you to visit, as you will get to see the Madrid lights and the Christmas Markets during that time.
Accommodations in Madrid
There are a lot of amazing neighbourhoods in Madrid, my favourite is Lavapies since it is multicultural and lively. You will find a lot of different options which will suit your budget no matter what it is. Most people tend to stay in Salamanca since it is the central area but it is a little expensive. You can easily find a hotel through Booking.com, or if you prefer you can stay in a hostel and find one through HostelWorld. Other options to find accommodation are through Agoda, Trivago, Oyo, and Hotellook.
Best Cafes & Restaurants in Madrid
Agrado Café (Coffee & Cakes)
El Perro De Pavlov (Coffee & Cakes)
Honest Greens (Vegetarian & vegan options)
Samara (Egyptian cuisine)
FOUR (Great lunch option)
Grosso Napoletano (Pizza)
Nina Pasta Bar
15 Top Things to do in Madrid
1. Plaza Mayor
Plaza Mayor is a large square that is surrounded by amazing buildings with beautiful architecture, and it is the most famous square in Madrid. This is where locals meet and enjoy a drink in the evening. It is a must visit when in Madrid. During Christmas, there is a market held there so you can enjoy many stalls that surround the Christmas tree located at the centre.
2. Palacio Real (Royal Palace of Madrid)
The Palacio Real which translate to the Royal Palace, is the biggest building in Madrid that is surrounded by wide open square gardens. You will be able to see the countryside that surround Madrid from the terrace level while there. Since it is the largest Palace in western Europe, it is worth a visit, as it has nearly 3,500 rooms, and fun fact is that it is open to the public despite still being the head of the state’s residency.
It is open from 10:00 until 18:00 from Monday to Saturday, and from 10:00 until 16:00 on Sunday, but the gardens are accessible until 18:00. You can enter for free from 16:00 until 18:00 from Monday to Thursday. Tickets cost €12, and you can book a guided tour if you want.
3. Museo Nacional del Prado (Prado Museum)
The Prado Museum is one of the most famous museums in the world, and if you are an art lover then it is a must visit. It is a 200 years old building with a grand interior and amazing columns.
It is open from 10:00 until 20:00 from Monday until Saturday, and from 10:00 until 19:00 on Sunday. Tickets cost €15.
4. Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (Reina Sofia Museum)
The Reina Sofia Museum is a modern and contemporary art centre which has some of the greatest artists like Picasso and Dali. People come from all over the world in order to see Picasso’s Guernica which is a famous piece. Besides the art there, the building and the architecture are absolutely beautiful.
It is open from 10:00 until 21:00 from Monday to Saturday, and on Sunday it is open from 10:00 until 14:30, and it is closed on Thursday. It is free to enter the museum from 19:00 until 21:00, or on Sunday from 12:30 until 14:30. Tickets cost €12 and you can either get it there or buy it online.
5. Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum
The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum is a part of the "Golden Triangle of Art” which includes the Prado and the Reina Sofía national galleries. It is within a walking distance from the other two museums, and if you love art, it is a must visit.
It is open from 10:00 until 19:00 from Tuesday to Sunday, and from 12:00 until 16:00 on Monday. Tickets cost €13.
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6. Matadero Madrid
El Matadero y Mercado Municipal de Ganados or in English; Municipal Slaughterhouse and Cattle Market, was a former slaughterhouse, but is today a contemporary arts centre.
It is open from 09:00 until 22:00 everyday. Tickets cost €12.
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7. Caixa Forum Museum Vertical Garden
The Caixa Forum Museum Vertical Garden is one of the most interesting things to do in Madrid, as it was once a power station but now is a modern art gallery filled with a vertical green garden which covers the exterior wall. It is an interactive garden where you are allowed to actually touch wall which is 78 foot tall, and feel the different texture. It takes a lot of care to keep this green gardens especially during the hot and dry summer in Madrid.
It is open from 10:00 until 20:00 from Monday to Sunday, and it is free to see the vertical gardens but the museum tickets cost €6.
8. Templo de Debod (Temple of Debod)
As an Egyptian myself, I feel like I had to add this to the things to do in Madrid. The Temple of Debod is an Egyptian temple which was dismantled as part of the International Campaign to Save the Monuments of Nubia and was then rebuilt in the centre of Madrid, specifically in in Parque de la Montaña.
It is open from 10:00 until 19:30 from Tuesday to Sunday, and it is closed on Monday. It is free to enter so you don’t need a ticket to see it.
9. Catedral de la Almudena (Almudena Cathedral)
Catedral de la Almudena or its full name Catedral de Santa María la Real de la Almudena, is a catholic church and the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Madrid, and it was consecrated by Pope John Paul II in 1993.
It is open from 10:00 until 20:30 everyday. It is free to enter so you don’t need a ticket.
10. San Miguel Market
The San Miguel Market has been around since the early 1900s, and it is a food market that is pretty famous in Madrid. It’s know for its gourmet so it is a must visit, as you need to try the food there. The locals love to go there so it will be busy especially on Saturday mornings.
It is open from 10:00 until 00:00 from Sunday to Thursday, and from 10:00 until 01:00 from Friday to Saturday. If you wanna get there by metro, then get off at the Sol station.
11. El Retiro Park
If you want to escape the city life while still being in Madrid, then you can visit El Retiro Park and enjoy the nature and quiet. El Retiro Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site, where you can find some amazing open-view in the shade of some enormous oaks, horse chestnut, and cypress trees. You will also find that the oldest tree planted there was in 1633, also another fact is that El Retiro Park used to belong to the Spanish Royal Family until it became public in the 19th century.
El Retiro Park is open from 06:00 until 00:00 from April to September, and from 06:00 to 22:00 from October to March. It is easy to reach by metro since you have to go to the station called Retiro and simply walk from there.
12. Palacio de Cristal (The Glass Palace)
Palacio de Cristal is literally the glass palace, and it is located in El Retiro Park. It reaches a hight of 22 meters and it is in the shape of a Greek cross. During the summer, the stunning colours of the trees surrounding it are simply beautiful. This palace used to be greenhouse but now it is own by Reina Sofia Museum as they use it as a unique space to hold art exhibitions during the year.
It is open from 10:00 until 21:00 from April to September, and from 10:00 until 18:00 from October to March. It is closed on major Spanish holidays, and it is free to enter so you don’t need tickets to visit.
13. Cerro del Tio Pio
If you want a great sunset view, then this is the place for you. This is a beautiful hilltop park that is located at the edge of the city. Fun fact, is that it used to be a waste disposal site and because of that, its uneven ground has created a lot of small hills for you to actually sit there and enjoy the view.
14. Estadio Santiago Bernabéu (Santiago Bernabéu Stadium)
If you are a football fan, then this is a must visit for you. I am a Real Madrid so obviously I would put the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium on the list. The stadium to the biggest and bets club in football history is a must visit when in Madrid.
15. Wander Around the Streets
Madrid is great to walk around and enjoy its streets, you will feel great and enjoy your walk. You can walk around districts such as Malasana, Chueca, La Latina, and my favourite which is Lavapies.