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What to Do When in Madrid: Awesome Spots in the Spanish Capital

  • Post last modified:October 25, 2023
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Living in Madrid for two years let me experience so much of the Spanish capital, and let me tell you, it is such a fun city! Often overshadowed by Barcelona, Madrid has plenty to offer despite being far from the coast. Here is a list of what to do when in Madrid, how to get around, and some awesome things to eat and drink.

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Where is Madrid in Spain?

Madrid is the capital of Spain, and located in the dead center of the country. It may not be near the coast, but it certainly is the best hub for reaching all different parts of Spain.

where is Madrid in Spain

Madrid is located in the dead center of Spain.


How to Get to Madrid

Like we said, Madrid is a huge hub- not only in Spain, but for many different places in Europe! There are a number of different ways to reach the Spanish capital, including flight, bus, train, and a few others.


Domestic Flights into Madrid

Domestic cities that fly direct to Madrid include Almeria, Alicante, Asturias, Badajoz, Barcelona, Bilbao, Bogota,  Castellon de la Plan, Fuerteventura, Granada, Gran Canaria, Ibiza, Jerez, La Coruna, Lanzarote, Malaga, Palma de Mallorca, Pamplona, San Sebastian, Santander, Santiago de Compostela, Sevilla, Tenerife, Vigo, 


International Flights Into Madrid

Flights that go from other European cities include Amsterdam, Athens, Balice, Bari, Berlin, Berne, Blagnac, Bologna, Bordeaux, Bristol, Brussels, Bucharest, Budapest, Copenhagen, Dublin, Dusseldorf, Florence, Frankfurt, Geneva, Hamburg, Leipzig, Linz, Lisbon, London, Luqa, Lyon, Manchester, Manises, Marseille, Milan, Munich, Nantes, Naples, Nice, Nowy Dwor Mazowiecki, Paris, Pisa, Prague, Porto, Rome, Sofia, Someseni, Stockholm, Strasbourg,  Tirana, Turin, Vantaa, Venice, Vienna, Warsaw, and Zurich.


Cities from the Middle East and Africa that go direct to Madrid include Beirut, Cairo, Casablanca, Dakar, Doha, Dubai, Hassi Messaoud, Jeddah, Luanda, Malabo, Marrakech, Rabat, Tangier, and Tel Aviv. In addition, Shanghai flies there.


Cities that fly to Madrid from the Americas include Bogota, Boston, Buenos Aires, Cali, Cartagena, Comayagua, Dallas, Guayaquil, Havana, Lima, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Miami, Montevideo, Newark, New York, Panama City, Philadelphia, Punta Cana, Punta Caucedo, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, San Jose, San Pedro Sula, San Salvador, Santa Cruz, Santiago, Sao Paulo, and St Johns.

Flight Tip: Using Skyscanner you can use the calendar to check and see which are the cheapest dates for flying to Madrid!

Search for a flight to Madrid:

How to Get to Madrid City Center From the Airport

The international airport is located about 40 minutes away from the city. You can reach the city by train (Renfe), metro, or bus. If you are looking to get to the center, the easiest way is to hop on the Renfe, which is just a few stops away from Sol. Tickets can be purchased at the machine by using debit card or cash.


Other Option for Getting to Madrid

Madrid is well connected to all areas of Spain, so you can get around by easily hopping on a train, a flight, or even grabbing a Bla Bla Car, which is one our favorite apps to save while traveling. It is basically sharing a ride with someone who is already traveling somewhere! It's cheaper than most trains and buses, and is very popular in Spain.


Here are a few popular routes that you can book to Madrid from surrounding cities:

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Madrid is a popular place for a layover, and it's not uncommon for people to miss their connections. The good thing is though, that there are ways to be protected if flights have delayed or cancellations. 



Entry Requirements for Spain

Depending on which country you're from, and where you're traveling from, will depend on your requirements for entering Spain. Here we are going to cover what you need to know for visiting the country of Spain (both visa and covid-wise).


Visa Requirements for Spain

There are many nationalities that can enter Spain visa-free. Travelers from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein, and Iceland can all enter without any restrictions at all, while others that don't need a Schengen visa can visit for up to 90 days within a 180 day period.


The 90/180 Rule

It's important to note that these 90 days are for all countries in the Schengen area. For example, if you spend 10 days in Italy (which is also part of the EU), you will then only be able to spend a total of 80 days in Spain within that 180 day period.


We use the Schengen visa calculator, which is extremely helpful for those that are planning on traveling in and out of the EU for a long period of time.


Schengen Visas

For those of you that plan on staying longer, or for those of you who are from a country that doesn't get visa-free access, you will need to in fact apply for a Schengen Visa. Make sure to check the list of countries that need to get a Schengen Visa before traveling.


Covid Entry Requirements for Spain

All Covid requirements to visit Spain have now been lifted (Yay!). Masks are no longer necessary, unless visiting medical facilities, or riding on public transportation, in which they can be pretty strict about wearing masks.


Local Adjustments for Madrid, Spain

Whenever you are traveling there are things that you may forget about. These may be different from where you are coming from. Here are a few of the local adjustments to keep in mind while traveling to Spain.


Official Language in Madrid

The official language in Spain is Spanish. Just like there is a difference between English is the US and English in the UK, the same goes for Spain and other Spanish speaking countries.


Some things to note about the Spanish in Spain is that there are some different pronunciations. The C and Z are pronounced with a "th" sound, which can be particularly confusing for those that learn Spanish from Latin America.


Spanish people are quite proud, and always prefer if you at least try to speak Spanish to them. We suggest learning some of the basics so that you can better communicate with the locals. That being said, Madrid is the capital, so you will always find people that speak English as well.


Currency Used in Spain

The currency used in Spain is the same as most of Europe, which is the euro. Most places takes credit card, so you won't need to have too much cash on you, unless you are taking bus or want to buy from a street vendor.


Electrical Outlets in Spain

Spain uses the same plug types as the rest of Europe, which are types C, E, & F. The standard voltage in Spain is 220 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz. If you are coming from the US, make sure to buy an adapter that is also an energy converter, so you don't blow out your electronics.


Is the Water Safe to Drink in Madrid?

When you go to restaurants you will hardly ever receive tap water. This is customary in many places in Europe. However, the water is totally safe to drink, so we suggest bringing a refillable water bottle to fill up from the tap.


Tipping Culture in Spain

The tipping culture in Spain is pretty much inexistent. If you are traveling in Madrid it is not common to tip, unless it is a very nice restaurant, or excellent service, in which people will leave one or two euros.


What to Do When in Madrid: Places to See

Madrid is the perfect mix of history and fun. Here are some Ideas for what to do when in Madrid when it comes to sightseeing.


Palacio Real

No trip to a European capital can be complete without visiting its royal palace. Located between Sol and Principe Pio, you can easily reach here by foot from several areas. Check out the gorgeous courtyard, intricate architecture, or its lavish gardens which are accessible to the public free of charge.

Palacio Real, what to do when in Madrid

Palacio Real is one of the top sights in Madrid.

Plaza Mayor

Plaza Mayor is one of my favorite areas of Madrid, and where I called home for two years. This large square is symmetrical and lined with arches and balcony apartments. There are several restaurants with outdoor seating, and a large horse statue in the middle of the square. During December this place is also fantastically lit and features dozens of kiosks.


Plaza Mayor, what to do when in Madrid
what to do when in Madrid
 what to do when in Madrid

Plaza Mayor is the main square in the city, and has plenty of great things to do in Madrid around it.

Puerta del Sol

This is considered to be the very center of the city, and the most well connected, serving the metro as well as the Renfe. This square is home to the famous clock, as well as the bear statue. The plaza connects many different popular spots, and has plenty of bars, restaurants, and shops.

Sol, what to do when in Madrid

Sol is one of the main hotspots of the city, and close to many of the best things to do in Madrid

Gran Via

Gran Via is the main commercial district of Madrid, and is full of hotels, restaurants, and a lot of shopping. Check out the Metropolis and Carrion buildings and take in Gran Vía's showcase of early 20th-century revival architecture. The district runs from Plaza de España to Plaza de Cibeles and is the busiest area of the city.


Calle Montera is one of the most famous streets, but do be aware that this is where many prostitutes hang out. It isn't anything to worry or feel threatened about, but simply to be aware of before going.

Gran Via, what to do when in Madrid

Gran Via is home to the best shopping in Madrid.

Plaza de Cibeles

Right in the center of the city is one of the most important squares, and definitely one of the most beautiful. Resembling a palace, lies what is actually a post office now, and also features a large fountain in the middle. Not only is it nice to look at, but it is the center of street parties during large events in Madrid.

Cibeles, what to do when in Madrid

Cibeles is the center of many street parties in Madrid.

Templo de Debod

Located right near Plaza de España, this beautiful temple was gifted from Egypt to Spain in 1968. It is surrounded by a large pool, making it particularly captivating at sunset with its reflection.


Plaza Santa Ana

Here is a mother square that we love in Madrid. It is walking distance from the area of Sol, and has some great restaurants, bars, and beautiful architecture.

Plaza Santa Ana, things to do in Madrid

Plaza Ana is a beautiful plaza with great bars and restaurants.


What to Do When in Madrid: Activities

Madrid is such a big city, and there are so many things to keep you entertained! Here are some ideas for what to do when in Madrid when it comes to different activities.


Visit Parque del Retiro

Retiro Park is one of my favorite places to hang out in Madrid! There is so much to do, and being that there is no beach nearby the city, it's a popular place to hang out when the weather starts warming up.

Retiro, things to do in Madrid
Retiro, things to do in Madrid

Parque del Retiro has enough to do for the whole day.


Parque de Retiro features gardens, statues, street performers, kiosks, small restaurants, a crystal palace, and a well maintained lake in the middle. You can literally spend hours enjoying different areas of the park. Get a caricature made, admire the greenery, or rent a rowboat in the lake for just 8 euros! 

Go to a Football Game

If you're wondering what to do when in Madrid, then this should definitely be at the top of your list. Spaniards are serious about football (not American Football- we mean soccer), and there is no better place to go to a game than in Madrid! The capital has two teams, and they are both very good. Going to a game is so much fun, just because of the hype of the fans.


The best game I ever saw was when Real Madrid played Atletico Madrid for the Copa back in 2014. The entire city went crazy, and the streets filled with parties.


Even if you can't make a big event though, going to any game, and experiencing the parties after the game are definitely one for your Madrid bucket list.


Shop at the Rastro

Every Sunday the neighborhood of La Latina has a huge flea market in the morning. Get there early before all the good stuff goes! You can find some pretty cool stuff for great deals and the atmosphere is super fun. Not to mention, you can head over to the bars after for a great Sunday Funday! Whenever my friends ask what to do when in Madrid, I tell them to go to La Latina.


Take in the Epic Views of the City

There's nothing like a good rooftop bar, and Madrid has plenty! One to add to the bucket list is Hotel RIU in Plaza de Espana. Try to head there for sunset so that you can enjoy the views from light to dark. Entry is 5 euros from 11 am to 5 pm on Mondays to Fridays, and 10 euros from 5 pm to close, or anytime on weekends.


Enjoy the Nightlife

If it's one things Spaniards know how to do, it's party. You can't visit the capital of Spain without experiencing at least one crazy night out. But be ready, because the parties don't stop til at least 6 am! (We'll get into this a little later).


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What to Do When in Madrid: Spanish Food & Drinks

I could dedicate multiple articles to food & drinks in Madrid. In my opinion, one of the best things to do in Madrid is to explore the many awesome restaurants and bars. Actually, when people used to visit me, we pretty much ate and drank all day because the food and drink scene in the capital has so much to offer!


What Foods to Try

First things first- what to have? Here are just a few dishes we think you should try while in Madrid, or any part of Spain for that matter.


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Tapas

If it's one thing you need to have in Spain, its tapas! While they really know how to do them best in the south of the country, you can still enjoy them in the capital as well.


Tapas are small plates of food. This can mean a few different things actually. Normally when you get a meal, you will be given a tapa, which is a small plate of food to start you off (free of charge.)

tapas in Madrid

Tapas are small plates of food, and are great for sharing many plates with family or friends.

Going out for tapas is a different thing. This is when you go with friends and family and order many plates of tapas and all just share family style. In my option, this is one of the best things ever, as you can try a lot of different things in just one seating!


Want to take a tapas tour in Madrid? here are a few fun options:

Paella

Paella is one of the most famous dishes in Spain, and is a must try! This slow cooked rice dish is full of flavor and is served either with vegetables, seafood, or sometimes the tourists choose a 'Paella Mixta', which is a combination of meat and seafood.


Keep in mind that these dishes are BIG, and they are usually available only for groups. Despite the size, portions are priced per person, not per dish. The city of Valencia does the best Paella, so if you are traveling there then you can save this for then! If not, we still suggest trying it.

paella, what to eat in Madrid

Paella is the number one dish to try in Spain.

One other thing to add is that Paella is intended just for lunch, So generally, restaurants don't serve Paella after 5:00. As an American, this is hard to wrap my head around, but it is what it is. Being that Madrid is the capital, some touristy spots may just serve it at any time, but those restaurants probably aren't the ones you'd want to eat at.


Jamon

There is a big debate of which is better, Spanish Jamon or Italian Prosciutto? While they are both pretty similiar, there is definitely a difference. The thinly cut, dried and salted meat is a Spanish specialty, and we think it's even better than Prosciutto. Although Jamon translates to Ham in English, that type of ham is actually different.


Always specify which Jamon you want, so that you don't end up ordering American ham! 2 popular types are Jamon Iberico and Jamon Serrano.


If it's one place I can't be a vegetarian, it's Spain, and that's due to Jamon. There are many different cuts of the meat, so you can find some Jamon for dirt cheap, and others that are extremely expensive. You will find plenty of restaurants that have the legs hanging from the ceiling, so go in and try some!

jamon, what to eat in Madrid

It's typical to finding hanging legs of jamon in restaurants throughout Spain.

Queso Manchego

Something that pairs perfectly with Jamon is queso Manchego. This salty cheese is made from the milk of sheep, and is aged from 60 days to 2 years. We suggest grabbing a plate of Manchego cheese and Jamon to start your meal!


Tortilla de Patatas

Although this is not meant for breakfast in Spain really, this was my go to breakfast every single morning. Although translated to 'potato omlet', it is actually so much better than that. Tortilla de Patatas is served either as a whole or a "racion" which is a fat slice, and usually only a couple of euros.

Spanish tortilla, what to eat in Madrid

Tortilla with a cup of cafe con leche is the perfect way to start the day.

Cocido Madrileño

Cocido Madrileño is a traditional chickpea-based stew that is typical from Madrid. This hearty stew is served with plenty of meat and vegetables, making it a pretty heavy lunch to have. It is most popular during the winter, but is served throughout the year in some restaurants, one of the most famous ones being Casa Carola.


Croquetas

Despite what many think, Spanish croquetas are actually not made of potatoes! These croquettes are made from a creamy bechamel with flour that is breaded and fried. They sometimes have ham and cheese added, and are the perfect to get as a tapas dish.


Pulpo alla Gallega

This dish is made of slices of octopus served on a wooden platter with potatoes and topped off with paprika. It may be simple, but it is really good!


Pimientos de Padron

This is more of a side dish or a small starter to go with your meal. These small green peppers come from the Padron region in Galicia, and are cooked with olive oil and salt. No, they are not spicy at all! 


Olives

This one may sound silly, as everyone has tried olives. But seriously, Spain has the best olives I've ever had (sorry Italy). A lot of times olives are just given with the meal as a tapa, but if you don't end up getting them given to you for free, definitely make sure you order some before leaving the country.


Tinto de Verano

Everyone knows of the famous sangria throughout Spain, but another popular drink is tinto de verano, which is a cold red wine beverage normally mixed with a lemon soda.


Cafe con Leche

Literally translating to coffee with milk, this may not sound like anything special. Really was it is is espresso topped with hot milk, and the Spanish (and Italian) do it best. The bad part? If you are from the US and start drinking cafe con leche, we promise you that you won't ever be able to go back to regular coffee.


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Menu del Dia

This is not a dish, but actually just a lunch special. I've put this here because I feel that it is something you should get at least once. Go for lunch in almost any restaurant and they will have a "menu del dia" posted on a board out front. 


For usually under 10 euros, you will get a tapa, an appetizer, bread, a drink of choice, an entree, and dessert or coffee. There are a few options for each course, and the deal can't be beat!


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What to Do When in Madrid: The Best Places to Eat

While there are so many amazing places to eat in Madrid, here are just a few worth noting.


Mercado de San Miguel

Mercado San Miguel is located right next to Plaza Mayor, centrally located in the city. This Market is a must if you are in Madrid. Although a little pricier than other spots, this place is great because of all of the different options in just one space. My personal favorite is the Mozzarella guy!

Mercado San Miguel, what to do when in Madrid

Trying different tapas at Mercado de San Miguel is one of the best things to do in Madrid.

Mercado San Anton

Markets in Madrid may just be one of my favorites, as there are just so many choices! I particularly like this one though, as there is a beautiful rooftop that you can dine on. good food and nice views- yes, please!


Botin

Sobrino de Botin was founded in 1725, and is the oldest restaurant in the world that is in continuous operation, definitely making it one for the bucket list! It is beautifully decorated and will truly be a dining experience to remember.


Rosi La Loca

This restaurant is a new addition, and is located on a tiny side street along Gran Via. Rosi La Located is the perfect place to enjoy a cocktail, with its fun and vibrant vibes. The restaurant is small, but full of color and a great spot to check out in Madrid. Make sure to make reservations in advance as they fill up quickly.

Rosi La Loca in Madrid,what to do when in Madrid

Rosi La Loca is a super colorful restaurant to have a drink or dinner at in Gran Via.

Lateral

Lateral is a chain throughout Spain, and has locations in both Madrid and Barcelona. This restaurant combines traditional Spanish cuisine with a trendy modern twist. The restaurants have sleep design, delicious food, and great service.

Lateral, what to do when in Madrid

One of Lateral's locations is in Plaza Santa Ana.

Cheap & Fun Eats

While eating at the best restaurants in town are obviously what most want to do, we can't help but mention some of our favorite spots! Save some money, have a quick bite, or just hang out like a local at some of these fun & cheap eats that you can find all over the city.


100 Montaditos

There were times where I would actually eat at this place more than once a day. The reason? You can grab something small and it is fast and cheap! (but not that crap you eat at fast food restaurants). Montaditos are actually tiny sandwiches, and the reason it is called 100 montaditos is because there are 100 on the menu!


Some montaditos are under one euro, and the most expensive is just 2 euros. They always have great deals different days of the week, so check what offers they have to decide which day to go. They used to do 1 euro jarras (a pint of beer) and 50 cent montaditos on Mondays, so we would tend to go on Mondays a lot.

100 montaditos, food in Spain

100 montaditos is a chain that has 100 different types of mini sandwiches.

El Tigre

El Tigre is actually one of the only here mentioned that isn't a big chain. There are a couple of locations in the city however. This place is well known by locals and is extremely popular with a young crowd. Every drink you order comes with a plate of food. Now after a few drinks, you will have too much food to even need a meal for a while.


The plates are chosen at random, and are usually of different types of tapas, sandwiches, meats, and snacks. The best is to go with a group so that you can be given all different plates of food and share.


Taco Tuesday

I normally would never promote any kind of fast food chain, but it just has to be mentioned. Every Tuesday at Taco Bell there is Taco Tuesday, and we would go to have a beer and taco for just one euro! Now if you're from the US, keep in mind that the food standards are much higher in Europe, so the tacos are actually decent.

Taco Tuesday Madrid

Taco Bell in Madrid serves beer, and has great deals on Tuesdays!

Museo de Jamon

This translates to "Musuem of Jamon", and is a great place to stop and have some quick tapas. When you walk in you will see the entire ceiling covered with hanging legs of Jamon. The beers are cheap, and it's a great place for a quick drink and snack.


La Sureña

La Sureña is a place I used to literally spend hours at. At the time (a few years back), buckets of beers were just 3 euros, and they also had some great bar food. La Sureña is a chain and most of them usually have outdoor seating. Grab a bucket of beer (or a few) and people watch, while enjoying the fun Spanish vibes.


Mercado Provenzal

Another great spot for cheap beers is Mercado Provenzal. They have "canas" (small beers) for just 40 cents! Need we say more?

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The Best Things to Do in Madrid: Nightlife

When it comes to nightlife, Madrid is seriously one of the greatest. One of the best things to do in Madrid is to simply have a night out and party til the sun comes up.


Not only are there a huge variety of bars and clubs, but there are also several different areas with concentrations of great nightlife.


The Different Neighborhoods to Go Out in Madrid

There are a ton of different choices when it comes to partying Madrid. Here are a few different areas that are popular.


Sol

Sol is the most famous touristy area when it comes to going out. Right off the main plaza there are plenty of bars and smaller clubs all lined up, with promoters usually standing outside offering a free shot if you go inside.


These places are hit or miss, as sometimes they can be pretty dead, but other nights they can randomly become packed. I personally liked coming here to go to Dubliner, which is an Irish pub that is big for watching games (and one of the only that you can watch American football).

Sol, what to do when in Madrid

Sol is home to some of the best things to do in Madrid.

La Latina

This is personally my favorite area to go out. On any given night there are plenty of bars lined up where you can hop from one to the next, but the best time to go out in La Latina is for Sunday Funday. The place truly comes alive after lunch time, and the neighborhood becomes packed. Bars close at 2, and then there are a couple of nearby clubs for the night owls.

what to do when in Madrid

La Latina is located just a few minute walk from Plaza Mayor, and has plenty of bars and restaurants.

Malasaña

Malasaña is considered the more "hipster" area of Madrid. Here you can find really cool and quirky bars. There aren't so many night clubs, but mostly larger bars, which close around 4:00 am.


Chueca

Chueca is the gay neighborhood of Madrid, and if you're looking for a wild night, this just may be your place. This area of the city can get pretty crazy, but has only the best party vibes.

 

Tribunal

This area is nice because it catches more locals, but is still close enough to walk from a lot of the more touristy areas. This area has quite a few great clubs, as well as a good amount of bars. You can always bar hop in Malasaña, and then head to one of the clubs in Tribunal to continue your night.


What to Do When in Madrid: Top Night Clubs

Night clubs in Madrid are not like clubs everywhere else. Don't even think of going to a club before 3 am because it'll be completely empty. Most clubs stay open til 6 or 7, and then there are the "after party" spots which can go well into the middle of the next day! Here are just a few popular ones.


Kapital

This is the biggest and most popular club in Madrid for tourists. The massive venue boasts 7 stories, each one with a different style of music, making it great for everyone! Kapital can attract more of a younger crowd, and lines can be pretty long, but it is definitely something to experience.


Fabrik

Fabrik is one of the most interesting spots in Madrid. Due to it actually being located outside the center of the city, it's not the easiest to get to, so it's actually much more popular with the locals. Famous DJs sometimes play here, and there are multiple rooms, with mostly electronic music.


Sundays they do huge day parties, where there are younger crowds of people drinking in the parking lots early in the morning, then entering the club midday, and partying through the night. If you like intense scenes, than this is the place for you.


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Joy Eslava

Joy Eslava is a club that is a large open space, with a giant dance floor in the middle, VIP couches on the side, and stairs going up to balconies overlooking the club. This is a very popular venue for tourists and students, as they have different deals and many promoters on the streets bringing people in.


Ocho y Media

Ocho y Media is an interesting club because it's one of the clubs in Madrid that has more of a rock and indie mix. There are plenty of concerts here as well, and a variety of a crowd.


Akua Terraza Lounge

This is a summertime favorite, as this huge venue is mostly outside, and features a huge pool, different dance floors, and cabanas, making it a super chic and fun night out.


La Riviera

This nightclub is named for it being located along the river banks. This is one of the best music scenes in Madrid, and hosts plenty of concerts.


Shoko

If you're doing a Sunday Funday in La Latina and want to keep the party going, Shoko is the place to go. This is one of the most popular clubs in the area, and walking distance from all of the bars in La Latina.


Sala Cool

Sala Cool is home to one of the most popular parties in Madrid called Fucking Mondays. This is particularly popular with a younger crowd, and has 3 floors featuring commercial music, latin music, and beer pong.


Gabana

There isn't anything particularly special about Gabana, but it is just a place that I felt I needed to add as it is a very popular night club, and is just a great night out with a variety of music.


Unique Bars

There are so many cool places to visit in Madrid that we could definitely do a separate article for this, but we will just name a few of our favorites.


Gymage Rooftop

Gymage is a 5 story athletic facility equipped with a state of the art gym, nutrition center, and hair salon. But the best part? It has a chic rooftop lounge featuring a pool and restaurant at the top, making it the coolest spot to hang out at.


Circulo de Bellas Artes

Another great rooftop is at Bellas Artes, located right between Gran Via and Cibeles. Due to its great location, it gives you views of both areas, two of the most iconic spots in Madrid.


El Chapandaz

We absolutely love this bar because it is made to look like it is out of a cave, and there is its famous drink "leche de pantera", (which translates to panther's milk) that pours from the ceiling. Not to mention, they have huge cocktails with long straws, making for a truly instagrammable experience.


Bar Hawaiano

We love bar Hawaiano due to its unique cocktails that are served in a variety of different objects such as giant turtles, volcanoes, and coconuts. They come with long colorful straws and an array of snacks to top everything off.


What to Do When in Madrid: Day Trips From the City

Being that Madrid is right in the center of the country, it is the perfect place to begin or finish traveling through Spain. If you are only staying in Madrid though, and would like to see some nearby places, here are a few great ones.


Segovia

This gorgeous city is just a quick hop on the train from the center! Take the Ave (fast train) from Chamartin, and you'll be there in just 25 minutes. Segovia is also just an hour by car, if you wanted to get a BlablaCar.


This ancient city is characterized by a fairy-tale castle, and a beautiful aqueduct across the border, that is estimated to date all the way back to 50 AD!

Segovia, day trips from Madrid

Segovia is one of the best day trips from Madrid.

Toledo

Located just an hour south of Madrid, this ancient city is set on a hill above the plains of Castilla-La Mancha. The medieval town is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the capital, but definitely has enough to do to spend a day or half day.


Just hop on the Renfe Cecanias to get there in an hour, or spring for the high speed train for just a few more euros, and get there in just a half hour.


El Escorial

El Escorial is an adorable little town that is located just an hour from the city on the Renfe Cercanias. Take a 10 minute stroll into town and explore the beautiful monastery, or grab a bite at one of the cute restaurants with outdoor seating.


La Sigüenza

Looking for another getaway to see some local castles? Head to La Sigüenza for its fairytale castle and the fortress-like Sigüenza Cathedral which features Romanesque elements and a rose window. Take the train from Chamartin and arrive in an hour and a 1/2.


El Yelmo

Looking to get out of the city and enjoy nature? El Yelmo is a mountain outside the city that makes the perfect day trip for some hiking, and dipping in the refreshing waters of the river. The loop is 5 1/2 miles roundtrip, and can be accessed by the bus 724 from Intercambiador de la Castilla.

el yelmo, day trips from Madrid

El Yelmo is a great place to hike outside of Madrid


What to Do When in Madrid: Getting Around

When it comes to getting around it is super easy in this city! The public transportation system is very easy to use, and affordable. Here's a little bit more info about different options for what to do when in Madrid for transportation.


Getting Around Madrid By Foot

We absolutely love seeing cities by foot, as there is always something to see around every corner! Madrid is a pretty big city, but you can definitely do most of it by foot if you enjoy walking. If you're feeling tired, there are always plenty of Metro stops, where you can hop on quickly to get to your destination as well.


Getting Around Madrid by Metro

The metro is what we suggest to use 90% of the time while traveling in the city of Madrid. It is the easiest way to get around, and is maintained very well. The lines are organized by color and number, making it easy for anyone to understand. 


Fares are very reasonable, and only increase slightly when going to further zones. If you are planning on visiting many areas, it is better to get the 10 ride option, but if you plan on staying mostly in the center, it is easier to buy each ticket ride by ride.


Getting Around Madrid by Bus

Buses are the same fare as the metro, as the price depends on the district you are traveling through. They are rarely needed, but are more often used for reaching areas outside the center of the city.


Getting Around Madrid by Renfe Cercanias

The Renfe Cercanias is the regular train that runs throughout Madrid. This is usually used when reaching neighborhoods outside the center of the city, and is always connected to a regular metro, just in a different area of the station. The most popular stations that have the renfe are Sol and Atocha.


Getting Around Madrid by Uber/ Taxi

We would say this should be your very last option, as public transportation can almost always get you there quicker! The only exception is late at night when the metro closes (between 1 and 2 am), and when buses become very infrequent. Taxis are usually metered, and ubers are definitely a little cheaper than a taxi.


Getting Around Madrid by Scooter

One of the newer additions to transportation options in Madrid is renting an electric scooter. There are plenty lying around town that you can just pick up and charge on your credit card just like Uber. This is a super fun way to get around if you want to go somewhere a bit faster without taking public trasnprotation.


Renting a Car in Madrid

While you're exploring the inside of Madrid, you really won't need a car. However, if you decide to visit the outskirts or do some day trips, then renting a car is definitely not a bad idea! You can easily do so from the airport, or inside the city.


Here is a site we use for most of our car rentals:


What to Do When in Madrid: Where to Stay

When it comes to where to stay, there are just so many options. If you'd like something a little more upscale you can check out the hotels lined along Gran Via or Serrano. If you'd like to be near a lot of the parties and good dining options a good option would be to check for something near La Latina or Plaza Mayor.

Puerta del Sol, what to do when in Madrid

The center has so many great neighborhoods to stay that are close to the best things to do in Madrid.

Some other great neighborhoods that are just a short walk from the very center include Plaza de España, Tribunal, and Malasaña. You can find everything from hostels to fancy hotels, and everything in between. 


Want to look for places to stay in Madrid? Check the neighborhoods surrounding the center on the map below:

Booking.com

Is Madrid Safe?

Living in Madrid for two years I really learned a lot in terms of safety. Coming from a small town in New Jersey, I grew up in a bit of a bubble, where everything is super safe.


Unfortunately, Madrid is a big city, and doesn't have the same safety you'd find in a country like Croatia for example. It isn't by any means super dangerous, but you do need to keep an eye out for your belongings (like most big European cities).


You shouldn't be worried about having someone coming up to you to take your wallet, but if you leave it somewhere, chances are you won't have someone trying to return it to you. Overall Spain is a safe country, but just be cautious while traveling in larger cities.


Other Things to Know about Visiting Madrid

Now you know almost everything you need to know about visiting the Spanish capital, from what to do when in Madrid, to how to get around. But don't go anywhere yet! Here are a few other things to know.


The Best Time to Visit Madrid

Madrid is a destination that is visited year round. Like New York though, it is the one destination that we don't particularly recommend during the summer.


In summer, all the locals escape to the beach and go on vacation. Many things are closed, and the vibe is different. Not to mention, it is unbearably hot! Spring and Autumn have beautiful temperatures, and still experience plenty of sunshine, as well as a lot of hours of sunlight (the sun sets around 9:00 pm)


Winter in Madrid is super nice during the holiday season, so we also enjoy visiting Madrid in December. Our personal favorite months to visit are September and May.


Weather & Packing

Madrid experiences 4 seasons, with very hot summers, and pretty cold winters. You'll hardly ever see snow though. In Spain the days are longer than other areas in Europe, and are definitely warmer than the northern countries. Make sure to bring comfortable shoes to walk around, and nice clothes to go out at night.


Packing List for Visiting Madrid:

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But this isn't anything like you've ever experienced before. You'll have an epic trip without having to break the piggy bank.

Unique locations. Epic adventures. Lifetime memories.


Madrid is a big city, and has an endless amount of things to do! We suggest spending a weekend and choosing some of your favorites on our list, but you can easily spend a week with all that the capital has to offer!


Traveling to other cities in Europe? We have a ton of other European City Guides for you to check out, as well as destinations throughout the country like Barcelona, Sevilla, Costa Blanca, and the Canary Islands.


Need help planning your next trip? With Scratch Your Mapa Travel Planning we can help you explore more, and spend less! Want to learn how? Take a look at our different travel planning packages or simply drop us an email for your free consultation.


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