If you’re looking for a Spanish city destination for your 2017 holiday, Madrid offers the best of Europe’s premier urban destinations with fascinating attractions and history as well. Spain’s capital city is vibrant and cosmopolitan, with world-class attractions such as museums, art galleries and historic attractions that make for an unforgettable European city break. Madrid has been the capital of Spain since 1561 and offers a strong focus on the finer things in life, art, music and culture. The urbanised modern city sprawls eastwards into the 19th century Barrio de Salamanca, and north to the neighbours of Chamartin and Chamberi. You can also explore the old quarters of Madrid, including the Parque del Buen Retiro, to enjoy the scenic views of historic red-tiled rooves and church spires. In addition to the majestic city architecture, Madrid offers a vibrant and artistic lifestyle and touches of nature in the form of parks dotted throughout the city. Whether you’re looking to stay for a weekend or are enjoying a break in Madrid for a week or longer, the capital city of Spain is the ideal setting for your next holiday adventure.
At a glance
- Currency: Euro
- Language: Spanish
- Time Zone: GMT +1
- Average flight time: 2h 30m
When to go
(°C) Avg. High Temp
Madrid is famous for its rich history and diverse culture, and with a wide range of attractions and activities there is something for everyone. The best thing about Madrid is that it offers a fuss-free city break, with a number of excellent attractions and restaurants within easy reach. The Puerta del Sol is the vibrant plaza at the heart of Madrid, a place where tourists and locals alike congregate to enjoy festivals, street performances and open-air parties that embody the vibrant spirit of the capital city. Another great feature of Madrid is the year-round gorgeous weather, which makes it easy to enjoy a summer vibe no matter what time of year you visit. The top attractions here make good use of the pleasant climate, such as heading to the Parque del Oeste, the city’s botanical gardens with incredible landscapes perfect for relaxing with family and romantic picnics as a couple.
Wine and Dine
The cuisine in Madrid is stellar, thanks to the city being supplied with fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, shellfish and meat from across the country every day. The food here is some of the best quality in Spain, which, coupled with the laid-back approach to dining and siesta traditions, makes for an unforgettable gastronomic experience. The Madrid locals tend to start each day with a lighter breakfast and often pop to a café or coffee shop mid-morning for brunch. Lunch is eaten at around 1.30pm, with many places serving lunch for starts as late as 3pm. Dinner in Spain starts late in the day, after 8pm, with many restaurants not even opening until after 9pm. This is worth bearing in mind if you are travelling with young children, as you may wish to pick up food during the day to make sure you can eat at a time to suit you. The most popular dishes in Spain include paella, a rice-based dish with fish and meat, spices and vegetables, croquetas or fried fritters with a potato centre, and tortilla espaniola, a chunky and thick potato omelette that’s popular across the country.
Madrid is an excellent choice of destination for a Spanish holiday, with a huge array of entertainment suitable for all ages. One of the best family-friendly attractions is the Parque de Atracciones, which features more than 30 attractions for all the family. The theme park is split into a number of themed areas that focus on tranquility, mechanisation and nature, making this an educational, as well as exciting, day out. If your kids are nature lovers, they’ll love the zoo and aquarium close to the theme park in Casa de Campo. Here you’ll see lots of wonderful open-air enclosures with very few bars or dividing walls, as well as the most popular zoo and marine animals such as dolphins, tigers and bears. Another excellent Madrid theme park is the Parque Warner, a Looney Tunes-themed attraction with actors in costumes, a number of roller coasters and a few water rides. You can meet some of your favourite furry critters up close and personal at Faunia, a large nature park with 14 acres of well-preserved wild surroundings, ponds and lakes. Your family can spy extinct animals including dinosaurs and ancient species at the Natural Science Museum, which has excellent child-friendly attractions including toy dinosaurs and stuffed African elephants, fossils and specimens of now-extinct animals.
Action and Adventure
In addition to being the home of one of the best and most popular football teams on the planet, Madrid has plenty of active things to do if you’re not the type to lounge around on holiday. Madrid often plays host to professional basketball games and athletics events, and has an active lifestyle that encourages sports and other activities to take a key role in life. In Madrid you can go horse riding, play tennis and golf, play basketball in small groups or take part in larger competitions, have a kickabout and even go ice skating. One of the best active ways to explore the city is to rent a bike, helping you stay fit and healthy as well as protecting the environment.
Life's a Beach
While there’s no beach in Madrid itself, there are plenty of lovely beaches in the surrounding area if you’re searching for a place to cool off in the sea breeze or top up your holiday tan. While Madrid is land-locked in the heart of the country, the city has been cleverly designed with the needs of tourists and locals alike in mind. There are a number of public pools in close proximity to Madrid, meaning you don’t have to go to the beach to enjoy a refreshing swim. Alberche Beach is around an hour’s journey from Madrid and features a scenic riverside spot with sandy beaches and warm waters, ideal for swimming, paddling or renting boats. Nearby you’ll also find the Embalse de Picadas, a lake nestled in stunning green pine forests which separates you from the urbanised areas if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle. Here you’ll find a recreation area with space for a picnic or barbecue, fresh water and scenic landscapes.
Madrid’s capital city has a buzzing nightlife scene that never sleeps. No matter what day you want to go out partying, there’s always a venue in Madrid that’s open. From Monday right through to Sunday you can party all night long, ending your night with a pastry breakfast and coffee. Some of the best nightlife venues in Madrid include El Sol, which offers a great indie ambience and excellent live music acts. Thundercat Club welcomes local bands to play covers of rock classics from idols including The Beatles and is good for a rock-meets-pop vibe. Meanwhile, those looking for the authentic Euro disco experience will want to head to Kapita, one of the largest Madrid nightclubs with seven storeys showcasing karaoke, R&B, dance and rap music to suit your tastes.
If you’re visiting Madrid as a couple, you’ll be pleased to know there’s no shortage of things to do that’ll put a smile on your loved one’s face. The buzzing cosmopolitan vibe of the city means it’s easy to get up and go each day, and quickly find something to do. The main tourist area runs from the iconic Metropolis building to the Plaza de Espana. Along this route you’ll find many of the best bars, shops and casinos that the city has to offer. If you walk along the Gran Via, you’ll stumble across a good selection of clothing and jewellery shops, perfect for treating your significant other. If you’re a couple that enjoys learning about culture and art, you can visit the Museo del Prado and the Thyssen-Bornemisza, art galleries that feature exhibitions from the best artists on Madrid’s cultural horizon. With a stunning landscape dotted with spires and statuettes sat atop buildings, you’ll want to treat your better half to a day out at the Circulo de Bellas Artes to take in the whole city from a rooftop position.
Madrid is a city that positively bursts at the seams with culture. From bullfights to art exhibitions, exploring Madrid on foot or by bike gives you the best way of immersing yourself in the vibrant culture and heritage of the city. One of the cultural hotspots of Madrid is the Plaza de Toros de la Ventas, Madrid’s bullfighting arena, which is split into two sides either in the sun (sol) or shade (sombra). The Corridas, or bullfights, mostly take place in the month of May and offer the opportunity to witness some of the world’s most famous toreadors showcasing their skills. Other culturally significant attractions include the Monasterios de las Descalzas Reales, a peaceful monastery close to the Gran Via, where you can take in the stunning Flemish tapestries, Titian paintings and picturesque frescoes. Madrid also boasts one of the world’s foremost art museums, the El Prado, which has more than 4,000 works of art including the iconic Spanish pieces, Velazquez’s Las Meninas, as well as numerous pieces by Goya.