Madrid, the capital of Spain, is a city teeming with culture. Tour world-class galleries feature masterworks by Picasso and Dalí, then spend an evening enjoying a meal in one of the culinary capitals of Europe. Nearly 7 million people live in the greater Madrid area, and when you go out for a night, it might feel like that many people are on the city streets having the time of their lives. If you put on your dancing shoes and head out into the night life, you'd best be prepared to dance until dawn in the Spanish capital. The third-largest city in Europe, Madrid is both a fashion hub and a cultural mecca for travelers to experience.
When to visit
Tourist info Madrid dictates that peak season occurs in the summer – despite the dry, oven-like heat of the city. However, seasoned travelers know that you should visit Madrid in either the spring or the fall. The reason? Better weather, and many shops will close up in August for vacation time. The Autumn Festival in October is a highlight of local culture, and while it may be tough for some to stomach, the Feria de San Isidro bullfights occur mid-May every year. If you're looking for discount rates, aim for January of February – but be sure to pack warm clothes in your suitcase.
When you're thinking about what to do in Madrid, you have to consider the weather. A continental climate, Madrid features hot summers, chilly winters, and perfect springs and falls. In spring, expect the temperature to range from 50F/10C to 80F/26C, with similar temperatures in the early fall. Late fall leads into winter, with January being the coldest month, where average temperatures hover around 32F/0C. Though the temperature hovers around freezing, snow is rare. In fact, most of Madrid's climate is particularly dry year-round.
How often do you have the chance to eat in the world's oldest restaurant? The Restaurante Sobrino de Botín (est. 1725) is officially recognized as the world's oldest restaurant by the Guinness Book of World Records. Local tours are popular when you don't know what to see in Madrid, as they'll take you to the most popular nooks and crannies of the city. Into fashion? Head to the Salamancia District. One of the wealthiest in the city, clothing stores, clubs, and restaurants pack the street. Be sure to bring your credit card – some of the stores here can be a bit on the expensive side.
The Parque del Buen Retiro are a must-see highlight. Marble statues, beautiful gardens, and serene buildings lead to a rather contemplative feel as you walk through. While they're are hundreds of museums in Madrid, a handful stand out. In particular, don't miss the chance to see the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, which features a wonderful private art collection. The Museo del Prado is also a highlight, featuring nearly 7000 different paintings in its collection. Finally, take a stroll down to the Plaza Mayor, where you'll find the buzz of Spain alive on cobblestone.
Tips & Recommendations
• When you're at a restaurant in Madrid, take a chance on tapas – bite-sized morsels for which Spain is famous. Rumor has it that they were originally served so people could focus on the friends they were eating with more than the meal itself.
• As with all major European cities, be particularly vigilant of pickpockets, especially around major tourist attractions. Other than petty theft, Madrid is a relatively safe city to visit.
• On a budget? Some museums and galleries are free to the public at certain times of day. Plan in advance and you can save yourself a bundle of money.
The 3-star Huéspedes Marisol is an attractive option for your stay in Madrid. This is a great choice for a more private, intimate stay. A nearby station is Príncipe Pío Station. Plaza Mayor, Puerta del Sol and Plaza del Callao are within a short walk from here. This property is close to Cathedral of the Almudena. Buen Retiro Park is a popular attraction you can visit easily from this location.
If you dislike giant hotels, Hostal Zabala may be a good choice. These guestrooms are in the 1-star(s) category. Make your trip especially memorable, visit Madrid Flower Market, Villa Square and Casa de la Villa. The famous landmark Puerta del Sol is conveniently close, as are Plaza Mayor and Gran Via Madrid. Buen Retiro Park is one of several nearby options for fun and entertainment. From this lodging, San Jeronimo el Real is an easy jaunt.
The 1-star Hostal San Blas delivers good quality for the price. Arriving and departing is easy thanks to the nearby Atocha Railway Station. From this area you can easily visit Royal Botanic Gardens, Plaza de Cibeles and even Cibeles Fountain. The location of nearby Buen Retiro Park is one good reason to stay at this accommodation. Not to be missed in Madrid are the museums Reina Sofía Museum and Prado Museum.
You'll enjoy a touch of opulence at 3-star 8Rooms Madrid. Intimate and authentic thanks to its small size and handful of rooms. The area is easily accessible thanks to Atocha Railway Station's close proximately. You can walk to Royal Botanic Gardens, Cibeles Fountain and Plaza de Cibeles from here. Nearby Buen Retiro Park offers fun and entertainment. In the immediate vicinity of this accommodation, you'll find the outstanding Reina Sofía Museum and Prado Museum.
La Casa Del Madrileño enjoys a 3-star rating. Teatro Real and Thyssen Bornemisza Museum are within easy reach. Gran Via Madrid, Puerta del Sol and Plaza del Callao are all within walking distance from here. Plaza de Colón is just 1.3 km (0.8 miles) away. Nearby Buen Retiro Park offers fun and entertainment.
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