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Know Before You Go
- Madrid is Europe's sunniest capital. The city has 300 days of sunshine a year, so make sure you pack sunblock, a hat and sunglasses.
- Plan your meal times and errands around the siesta. From 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm, most shops will close making it difficult buy food or get things done during that time.
- Madrid is one of the cheapest capital cities in Europe. Get ready to splurge on a fancy hotel or stretch your budget even further in a hostel. Beers cost EUR 1, and a three-course meal will only set you back EUR 15 - 30.
- Madrid runs on a later schedule compared to other parts of the world. Lunch starts at 3 pm, dinner is at 10 pm, clubs get full from 2 am, and 7 am Sunday traffic jams are not caused by people going to church.
- Buy your tickets for the Prado museum online. You'll get to jump the long line outside and have more time to view the famous artworks from Velazquez, Goya, Bosch and more.
Getting Around Madrid
Madrid has an extensive public transport system that is also one of the most affordable in Europe.
- The metro is easy to use and covers a variety of routes. Fares start at EUR 1.50 for the first five stations and then EUR 0.10 for each additional stop.
- If you are going to be in the city for a few days, buy the Abono Transportes Turístico pass. You'll get unlimited rides on the metro and buses. You can purchase the pass at any Metro station with prices starting from EUR 8.40 and going up to EUR 35.
- Buses are useful for quickly moving up and down the Paseos. They operate from 6:00 am to 11:00 pm and fares start at EUR 1.50 one way.
- One of the best ways to explore the city, if you have limited time, is with the Hop-on, hop-off double-decker bus. The commentary is available in 14 different languages, and the routes cover most the city's major attractions. Tickets start at EUR 21 per person for a one-day pass.
- Taxis are another cheap way to get around the city. You can flag down metered taxis any time of the day or order one through ride-sharing apps like Uber.
- You won't need to rent a car unless you're travelling outside of the city. Make sure you have an International Drivers Permit to pick up your vehicle from train stations or at the airport.
When is The Best Time to Visit Madrid?
The best time to visit Madrid is during its shoulder seasons of autumn and spring. From September to November and March to May, the city is cool, making it easy to explore on foot. You'll also enjoy daylight savings time with the sun only setting after 9 pm, giving you plenty of time to see the city's attractions.
If you can handle the cold, visiting Madrid between December and February is the best time to save money. Hotels slash their prices, airfare is cheaper, and the city is almost empty of tourists. Except during Christmas time when you'll have a hard time finding a hotel room especially at the more affordable hotels or hostels.
From June to August, the summer temperatures make travelling around by foot unbearable. Many local business owners choose to escape the city’s heat by closing their doors during August for a month long holiday.
Despite the locals leaving the city, It's still the busiest time of year as Spaniards and travellers from other European countries flock to Madrid for the school holidays. Book your accommodation a few months in advance to avoid the spike in rates and to make sure you don't struggle to find a room.
Airports in Madrid
Madrid-Barajas is the biggest airport in Spain and the main international airport serving Madrid. It's located 9 km from the city centre and is a gateway to the Iberian peninsula from the rest of Europe. The airport acts as a hub for Air Europa and Iberia as well as a focus city for Ryanair, Norwegian Air International and Wamos Air.
Getting To and From Madrid-Barajas Airport
Metro line 8 runs from the airport terminals to central Madrid in 15 minutes. The metro leaves every five minutes and runs every day from 06:00 am to 02:00 am. Tickets cost EUR 5 including the EUR 3 airport surcharge.
From Terminal 4 you can catch a train into the centre of Madrid. The trains leave every 30 minutes between 06:00 am to 00:15 pm and cost EUR 2.60 one way.
The city bus route runs from T1, T2, T3 to the Canillejas Transport Hub where you can transfer to several intercity bus routes and the metro system. A single ticket costs EUR 1.50 and change is only available for notes smaller than EUR 20.
If you find yourself arriving at the airport in the early hours of the morning, you can take the express bus. It runs to the Atocha-RENFE transport hub from the airport 24 hours a day. Tickets cost EUR 5 and buses leave every 20 minutes and every 35 minutes at night.