Established in the second half of the 9th century as a Muslim fortress town, Madrid is the capital of Spain and centre of government life. It is a bustling city renowned for its golden triangle of museums (Prado, Reina Sofia and Thyssen) and cultural activities, cuisine, beautiful architecture, and vibrant street and night life. It has a population of 3.2 million in the city and 6.5 million in the metropolitan area, making it the 3 largest city in Europe, after only London and Paris, and the second largest metropolitan area. Madrid is the European city with the highest number of trees and green surface per inhabitant and it has the second highest number of aligned trees in the world, with 248,000 units, only exceeded by Tokyo. Madrid’s citizens have, on average, access to a green area within a 15-minute walk. Madrid ranked 12th on the Economist’s 2017 Safe Cities Index.
Getting to Madrid
Madrid is easily and affordably reached from all over Europe and the world. Located in the centre of Spain, the national high-speed train, bus and flight networks are very well developed and affordable, placing Madrid within 2-4 hours max. from all other major urban areas in the country. Visit the website of the national train service at: www.renfe.es
Staying in Madrid
Madrid has an abundance of hotels and apartments to suit everyones tastes and budget. Organised in barrios or neighbourhoods each area of the city has a distinct flavour and atmosphere:
- Puerta de Sol and Gran Via are in the very centre of Madrid and renown for bustling bars, shops and theatres.
- Malasaña is the birthplace of the “la movida” cultural movement in the 1980s and the heart of Madrid’s alternative scene.
- Barrio Salamanca, to the east of el Paseo de la Castellana, is Madrid’s upmarket area where you can find all the luxury shops and brands on Calle Serrano.
- Lavapíes is Madrid’s centre of multiculturalism and home to large Muslim, African and South Asian communities. Popular with young people, it has some great tapas bars and never fails to be lively and entertaining.
- Los Austrias is the most historic area of Madrid and is home to wonderful of churches and palaces as well as Plaza Mayor.
- Chueca is known for being Madrid’s gay neighbourhood and is the focal point of the city’s huge LGBT+ Pride festival that takes place every year in June.
- La Latina is one of Madrid’s top neighbourhoods for food, tapas and terraces after a visit to the nearby Rastro flea and antiques market.
- El Barrio de las Letras was home to the major authors from the Golden Age in Spanish literature, including Cervantes and Quevedo. Visit the bustling Calle Huertas and check out the quotes from these famous authors engraved in the street.
Getting around Madrid
Madrid’s excellent public transport system makes it really easy to get around. The metro system has 301 stations on 13 lines and 294 kilometers of track, which makes it the seventh largest metro system in the world. The bus system is also very well developed with 217 routes and over 10,000 stops – almost the whole population of the municipality lives within 300m of a bus stop. Ticket prices are very reasonable, on average about €1.50-2.00 and you can buy metro-bus combination tickets at any station.
BiciMAD is Madrid’s new100% electric public bicycle service available for all citizens and visitors. The service includes 1,560 electric bikes distributed among 123 stations. You can get more information here.
The regional train system (Cercanias) provides an easy and quick way to get to all of Madrid’s neighbouring towns and historic cities such as Toledo, Segovia, Aranjuez and El Escorial.
The weather in Madrid
At the beginning of October the weather in Madrid is very pleasant with an average minimum of 15º and maximum of 26º.
Culture and Entertainment
When it comes to culture, entertainment or just relaxing and taking it easy, Madrid really has everything. World famous museums, stunning architecture, delicious tapas, amazing city parks, flamenco, shopping, theatre and nightlife. See our page on culture and entertainment for more detailed information, click here.