I love Madrid
Madrid as a capital city doesn’t draw the tourist numbers of some of its European neighbours but that is not because it is lacking in attractions or hasn’t enough to offer. It is an under-hyped city waiting to enchant you.
Madrid oozes warmth, character, tapas and Sangria – what more could one want?? Well one more thing – you will find it much more affordable than Paris, Rome or even Barcelona.
It carries all the punch you would expect of a historic, vibrant, living and working city. It is stately and steeped in history, architecture, museums and galleries. Some of the main architectural and cultural sites to visit include; Puerto Del Sol, Gran Via, Plaza Mayor, Royal Palace, El Retiro Park, Prado and Reina Sofia museums.
The tourist centre of Madrid is relatively small and in my experience is very safe and easy to walk around. I strongly recommend this as the cobbled streets, spectacular buildings, stunning fountains, public parks and other outdoor spaces are amazing. You also get to experience the warmth of the locals as they go about their daily business. However, if you need to rest your legs, there are many hop-on-hop-off bus options and Madrid has a first class public transport system (Metro) and local bus network which are clean, safe, efficient and easy to navigate.
If you are looking for nightlife, this is a city like no other with some of Europe’s best and craziest nightclubs. For those seeking something less frantic, there is every kind of restaurant imaginable, live music, concerts, flamenco venues, cocktail bars etc to choose from. For the sports fan, a visit to Madrid will not be complete without attending a home game at the Bernabéu stadium, home of Real Madrid.
If you are staying longer than a few days, there are 5 UNESCO World Heritage Sites within an hour of Madrid: Alcalá de Henars, Aranjuez, El Escorial, Segovia and Toledo. The controversial visitor site – Valle de Los Caidos (Valley of the Fallen) can be combined with a trip to El Escorial. Escorted tours are on offer or you can use public buses from Madrid.
If a multi-centre break appeals to you, Madrid delivers. The main train station Atocha is a central intercity hub and high speed trains will bring you in less than 2 hours to Córdoba or Valencia, in less than 3 hours you can reach Barcelona, Seville, Malaga.
Madrid: How to Get There
There are multiple airlines flying direct to Madrid from Dublin daily.
Connections are available from regional airports.
Madrid: When to Go
• May and October are best months in terms of weather, however Madrid has a mild climate and is a good place to visit throughout the Spring and Autumn.
• November to February are quiet in the city and many of the outdoor bars and cafés are closed. However, it is down to personal preference. This is a time when there are less tourists vying for space at the main attractions. You can also avail of some great flight and hotel prices.
• Even the locals try to get out of the city in July and August as the heat is stifling. Many local businesses close for the month of August so the owners and staff can get out of the city.
Madrid: Interesting Facts
• Madrid is the highest capital in Europe.
• Madrid is the sunniest city in Europe.
• There is no Uber in Madrid.
• Traditionally businesses in Madrid can still close for a mid-afternoon ‘Siesta’. This tradition is diminishing but you can still find some shops or offices closed between 2 p.m. until 5 p.m. while bars and restaurants can close from about 4 p.m. until about 8 or 9 p.m.
• English is not as widely spoken as in other Spanish tourist destinations.