Madrid is one of the most vibrant and cosmopolitan capitals in all of Europe. You’ll spend your days in art galleries and wandering around museums, afternoons eating tapas, watching the sun go down, and nights partying with a fun international crowds. Madrid’s culture is steeped in its royal history as the centre of the Spanish empire. Today, you can still see all the palaces and ancient monuments, which stand tall alongside their newer, more modern counterparts. Hot weather, a colourful culture and some of the world’s best food – what more could you ask for in the capital of Spain? With plenty of flights to Madrid, you'll be in this fantastic city in no time!
Book a flight with a last minute deal to save extra pennies, head out with the whole gang on a family holiday, try an all inclusive holiday if you want ultra-relaxation, or use our clever search engine to find the cheapest holidays.
The Madrid skyline is one of the most attractive in Spain, so find a rooftop terrace and take some great panoramic photos.
Take a walk along Gran Vía. It’s the city’s main road with shops, bars and a casino lining this wide street that stretches for more than a kilometre.
Three essential spots... The first is Plaza Mayor where you can sit with a café con leche, Puerto de Alcalá is another must-visit & number three is the Royal Palace, next to the Catedral de la Almudena.
When the sun’s out and the weather is nice, bars and restaurants open up their terraces and the vibe is positively infectious. Recommended areas are Plaza de la Cebada, Cava Baja and Calata Alta.
If you love markets, you must visit El Rastro on a Sunday. Dozens of stalls are set up selling second-hand clothes, vinyl records, jewellery and just about anything.
Take a photo with El Oso y el Madroño (the bear and the strawberry tree), it’s the quintessential symbol of Madrid.
Madrid has two traditional dishes, Cocido is one of them, and the locals love it so much that there’s even tours you can go on to try the best. The second being Calamari sandwiches, which are certainly a local favourite.
Museums and Madrid go hand in hand, and luckily for tourists, they’re mostly all found within close walking distance to each other. In the Museum Triangle, you’ll find the three major art museums – the Museo del Prado, with art collections to rival the Louvre, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum of Art, where you can see masterpieces from Money, Van Gogh, Picasso and Lichtenstein, and the Reina Sofia National Museum and Art Centre, the home to Madrid’s modern art collection. There are plenty of other museums worth catching, covering everything from art to archaeology. Here’s a tip: Most museums offer free entry at some point of the day, so do you research ahead and save your Euros for a glass or two of sangria!
Aside from its great bar scene, Madrid also has its fair share of concerts and shows. You can’t come to Spain without seeing a traditional flamenco show, and the country’s capital is where you’ll find the best. Head to the city centre to find the most authentic ‘tablaos flamencos’. For other types of music, there is also the Spanish National Orchestra, the Royal Theatre and the Circulo de Bellas Artes, which offers film, music and theatre events.
Whether you’re after luxury goods or one-off finds, Madrid has it all when it comes to shopping. It’s often a lot cheaper here than in other places, so you can bag a bargain even in the chain stores. The Sol-Salamanca districts are where you’ll find most of the well-known brands, but for something a little more unique, you can head to the Chueca and Fuencarral Street Area. If markets are more your thing, head to El Rastro on Sunday mornings, Madrid’s largest flea market.
May: San Isidro is probably Madrid’s biggest fiesta, and continues for nine days in May. During this time there are art exhibitions, open-air concerts and firework displays.
June/July/August: Los Veranos de la Villa – Summer nights in Madrid are perfect for outdoor concerts, dance performances, shows, theatre and much more at the Sabatini Gardens with the Royal Palace in the background.
August: San Cayetano, San Lorenzo and Verbena de la Paloma are fiestas that take place in August. Visitors will experience the best of Spanish culture with celebrations that include dance, clothing, food and drink.
Just out from Madrid, you’ll find plenty of historic UNESCO World Heritage sites. Alcala de Henares was the world’s first planned ‘University City’ and the original model for the City of God. An hour south of Madrid is Aranjuez with the Palacio Real, where the King of Spain lives. See Spain’s largest monastery in hillside El Escorial, and wander around the former capital of Toledo, a medival city with some of Europe's finest cathedrals.