What: Spain’s royal and commercial capital city.
Where: Central Spain.
Currency: Euro (EUR).
Highlights: The Art Museum Triangle (particularly Museo del Prado, for classics by Goya and Velasquez), Plaza Major, Parque del Buen Retiro, Palacio Real, the Bernebeu stadium (for football fans), churros and nightlife.
Snapshot: Bustling, artistic and regal, Madrid certainly offers a cosmopolitan glamour to the visitor. Its busy streets are lined with tall, elegant townhouses and numerous cafés, bars and restaurants, providing a perfect – albeit familiar – setting for those exploring the city on foot. While the Plaza Major and the royal palace – designed to replicate the Palace of Versailles – showcase Madrid’s history as a royal capital, the three art museums – Del Prado, Reina Sofia and Thyssen-Bornemisza – give a wider insight into Spain’s artistic history as a whole.
- Stay with Airbnb. Madrid is possibly the cheapest of all the big, western-European cities for accommodation. Our Airbnb room cost just £50 for two, for a two-night stay. Compared with Barcelona – where June-September prices are upwards of £50 per night – this makes Madrid a very budget-friendly big city.
- Check out a deli, such as Museo del Jamon. The chain of delicatessen-style eateries may not offer the most refined cuisine, but with freshly sliced meats available and beers costing just €1, they make for a delightfully authentic pit-stop.
- Get in free to museums. No, I’m not suggesting there’s a back entrance – or that you’ll get away with bolting the entry gates, But the majority of Madrid’s museums and attractions offer free entry after a certain time. The Museo Del Prado, for instance, makes entry free from 6pm until its closing time of 8pm, Monday to Saturday (Sundays and holidays are even earlier, at 5pm). The queue is long and you’ll have to arrive at 6pm or earlier to be guaranteed entry, but by doing so you’ll save €15.