Madrid is an exciting city, full of cultural sites to visit, parks to take a stroll in, great restaurants to eat in, and a number of activities to take part in. If you are thinking of visiting the capital of Spain soon, you might want to read some of our tips for a great visit to Madrid.
1. Buy your plane ticket with enough time
If you are a seasoned traveler, you already abide by this rule. In general, the closer you get to the date of the flight, the more expensive it will be to buy a ticket for it. It pays off to plan with enough time and to avoid certain times or days where prices can rise, only to drop down a little later. Friday is the worst day of the week to purchase a ticket because it is when most people are shopping for flights and prices soar. Usually, the beginning of the week is a good time to browse. A smart way to shop for flights is by using websites such as Kayak and Skyscanner and setting a price alert. These two websites compare prices from a number of airlines, helping you find the most affordable one and if you set the price alert, they will contact you when prices have dropped so that you can purchase your ticket at the right time. In terms of airlines, consider if it is worth it to take a low-cost flight or a regular priced one. It all depends on how far you are coming from, how many suitcases you will bring with you and the level of comfort you need. In Europe, Ryanair, Vueling, and Easyjet are some of the cheapest airlines that fly to Spain but they are not exactly known for their stellar service and the flights are usually really packed.
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2. Choose your accommodation
Again, the choice of accommodation will depend a lot on what you need to feel comfortable and the type of trip you are taking. Lone, seasoned travelers who are heavy sleepers will easily find bargains at local hostels, sharing a dorm or a semi-private room. For them, there is also the option of renting a room through Airbnb or even crash at someone’s house through Couchsurfing. We advise anyone who uses either of these services to thoroughly check the profiles and references of the hosts they are considering staying with. We also advise that women, especially those who are traveling alone, avoid staying with a host of the opposite sex, just to be on the safe side. For people who prefer a different level of comfort, there is a range of hotels at their disposal, for all kinds of budgets. Another option is to rent an apartment during your stay, particularly if you want to be more independent or have a more private experience. In terms of areas, try to avoid staying too close to the main attractions. Tempting as it may seem to stay at a walking distance from a certain monument or plaza, you should consider how noisy the area may be, particularly at night, when you will need to rest after a day of sightseeing.
3. Choose what you want to see
Depending on the length of your stay in Madrid, you may not have the chance to experience everything the city has to offer. Here, we give you some suggestions of what to see and do, by theme.
Nature – If you like to spend time outdoors, you are in luck – Madrid has a number of beautiful parks where you can spend some time walking, reading or playing games. One of the most famous parks in the city is El Parque del Buen Retiro, which is often referred to simply as El Retiro. Another great park is Parque del Oeste, which has a beautiful rose garden which annually hosts a rose show in Spring. The largest park in the city is Casa del Campo, so there is plenty of space to roam around on a sunny day. If you want to admire various species of plants, head on to the Royal Botanical Gardens. Other notable parks are Campo del Moro, Parque Juan Carlos I, Jardines de Sabatini, Parque del Capricho, Dehesa de la Villa, and Jardín del Príncipe de Anglona.
Family friendly – If you are visiting Madrid with kids, you can spend a very fun day at one of the Warner Parks, be it the amusement park or the water park. Other fun places to visit with the family are the Zoo Aquarium, Faunia, and Safari Madrid, all of which will allow you to spend some time around animals.
Culture – As any big city, Madrid has plenty of museums to be visited. Some of the most important museums in the city are Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Museo Nacional del Prado, Museu Thyssen-Bornemisza, Museo Sorolla, Museo Arqueologico Nacional, and Museo Cerralbo.
Architecture – If you want to walk around the city gazing at interesting constructions, swing by El Retiro Park to take a peek at the beautiful Palacio de Cristal. Another two beautiful palaces are the Palacio Real and the Palacio de Cibeles. The Banco de España headquarters is also worth a visit. Plaza Mayor and Plaza de la Villa are both greats places to walk around and to photograph interesting buildings. If you prefer modern architecture, look for the Cuatro Torres Business Area, the Gate of Europe towers, the Torre Espacio, the Torres de Colón, the Torre de Cristal, and the Torre Cepsa.
Activities – In Madrid, you will find activities for every type of person. Want to go bowling? Try Bowling Chamartín, La Ermita Bowling, or Ilusiona. Want to go paragliding? Try Madrid Outdoor Sports. Want to go indoor rock climbing? Go to Bulder King, Placax, or The Climb. Want to see the city from above? Then take a ride on the Teleférico de Madrid. Want to go bungee jumping? Try HighJump – Salto Límite, Paddle in Spain, or Madrid Puenting.
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4. Look for discounts and deals
To be able to enjoy a larger number of activities in the city, it is worth it to spend some time online looking for deals.
If you want to visit a certain number of museums, there are 3 different cards that can offer you discounts. The Abono Paseo de Arte will give you access to the three main museums in Madrid for 25.60€. With this card you will be able to visit Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo Thyssen Bornemisza, and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. Then, you have the Abono 4 Museos de la ciudad de Madrid card, which costs 8€ and will allow you to visit 4 museums in Madrid, during a period of 10 days, and the Abono 8 Museos de la ciudad de Madrid card, which costs 15€ and will allow you to visit 8 museums in Madrid, during a period of 15 days.
It’s easy to have a good time in Madrid. All you have to do is prepare and plan things with enough time and you will manage to enjoy your trip to the fullest!
Looking for an apartment in the city? ShMadrid is the answer.
* Main photo by Massimo Frasson via Visualhunt