Madrid (population: 3.16 million) might lack the beauty of Paris, the mystery of London or the flair of Barcelona, but it is certainly the most passionate city in Europe. To really explore Madrid, you need to see it from its streets, the place where all that relentless action actually takes place. Two such places are Plaza Mayor and Plaza de Cibeles.
Bigger, Better and Grander
Madrid might not have its own Gaudi, but it certainly offers great insights into Spain’s architectural legacy in the form of royal palaces and medieval-era mansions. Few cities come close to Madrid when it comes to arts and music. The city presents thriving art galleries and outstanding theaters and has also given birth to some of the greatest talents such as Velazquez and Goya. Reina Sofia, Museo del Prado, Caixa Forum and MuseoThyssen-Bornemisza are excellent destinations to kick-start your adventures. Other things to see and do include BuenRetiro Park, Temple of Debob and the Market of San Miguel.
How to Getting Around
While in Madrid, it makes sense to take public transportation to a particular area and cover its highlights on foot. The city boasts of an excellent metro system that is very easy to understand and incredibly convenient to use. Other options include public buses, taxis and commuter rails.
Madrid is Spain’s capital and the country’s largest city. Almost 17% of the 3 million people who call Madrid their home are immigrants. "Madrileños" are friendly to outsiders and the city has a variety of things to offer its visitors.
Top 3 attractions in Madrid:
- The Palacio Real is Madrid's largest building and Western Europe’s biggest royal palace. It is also one of the best museums in Europe with its impressive collection of furniture, ceramics, tapestries, paintings, and great works of art by Goya, Tiépolo, Giordano, Mengs and Velázquez.
- The Debod Temple is an authentic Egyptian temple which dates back to the 2nd Century BC. The temple originally stood in Debod in the Nile Valley, Egypt and was moved brick by brick to its current location in Madrid because the construction of Aswan Dam in 1960 would have submerged the temple.
- El Rastro is the oldest flea market in Madrid with stalls selling everything from second-hand books, clothes, records, antiques and jewelry to bars and cafes that give you a little rest amidst all the bargaining and the noise.
Other things to do and see in Madrid:
- Go out for drinks and enjoy ‘cerveza’ varieties with the locals, especially when the weather is good and the bars and restaurants open up their terraces. Soak up on the sun and enjoy food and drinks in the popular Cava Baja, Cava Alta or Malasaña areas of town.
- Enjoy the many green-spaces and parks like the Casa de Campo, the largest park in Madrid encompassing some 6.6 square miles and a large lake. Other popular parks include the Parque del Buen Retiro, the Royal Botanical Gardens, Parque del Oeste, Campo del Moro and Jardines de Sabatini.
- Take a cultural tour of the city and visit popular museums like Museo del Prado, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia.
- Walk along the 'Gran Vía' which is popular with tourists for its great shopping, hotels and movie theaters. A lot of the buildings that line this road have lavishly decorated grand 'edificios' and special architectural designs.
- Visit the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, home of the legendary football team Real Madrid and the Vicente Calderon Stadium, home of Atlético de Madrid.
The Climate of Madrid:
- Madrid has a warm-temperate subtropical Mediterranean climate.
- Summers (June-September) in Madrid can get hot with average high of 38° C and a low of 5° C. During the hottest months of July and August the daytime temperature will rarely get below 30° C and regularly get above 40° C.
- Spring and autumn are mild with the most of the rainfall falling in these months. These are also the best times of the year to visit Madrid, especially the months of April, May, June, September and October.
- Winters (November-March) can be fairly cold with frequent frosts during the night and occasional snowfall in the higher elevations. The average high is around 10° C and the low between 6-8° C.
- Madrid gets one of the sunniest places in Europe and with very little rainfall, it one of the best places for vacation and travel.
- The official currency of Spain is Euro and most businesses will not accept US Dollars or GB Pounds.
- It is advisable that you change currency beforehand or carry a credit card (Visa or MasterCard) that can be used in Spain.
Whether you are in Madrid for a few hours or for a month, you will find something to do in this metropolitan city. Food, places, people and culture all make this city an interesting place to be and a top attraction in Southern Europe.