Book flights to Madrid to sample the cultural delights and impressive architecture of Spain’s capital and largest city. It’s the political, financial and administrative heart of the country, situated on a plateau 650m high, almost exactly at the centre of the Iberian Peninsula.
During October, the weather is lovely, hotel rates are lower and there are not too many visitors, making it an ideal time to book cheap flights to Madrid. The city has a wealth of galleries, museums and is home to El Rastro which is one of the best flea markets in Europe and has plenty of bargains waiting to be found. Madrid is one of the greenest cities in Europe with forested areas in several parks, of which the foremost is the Parque del Retiro. Originally the private gardens of King Philip IV, the park consist of 350 acres of formal gardens, fountains, lakes, sculpture, playgrounds, and outdoor cafes.
In 1561, Philip II established his royal court there, and successive kings commissioned grander and grander palaces, cathedrals, public buildings and triumphal monuments, turning Madrid into a splendid world city. If you’re interested in bull-fighting, Madrid gets the best matadors in the country. There are fights on Sundays and holidays throughout the year and for longer periods in the spring, especially starting with the feast of Madrid’s patron San Isidro.
The plateau on which Madrid is sited is high enough for clear skies and dry air. Summers are very hot (often hotter than 37 degrees Celsius), but it’s a dry heat. And the warm summer nights are a great pleasure. During May through to October, Madrid’s weather is usually warm and dry so you might consider booking your flights for this time.
The winters are quite cold (November – February), but Madrid’s cultural life is in full swing, and you can make a day trip to a ski resort. The spring (March – April) brings some of Spain’s most spectacular fiestas, starting with Holy Week, the week leading up to Easter. Madrid’s biggest holiday is the feast of San Isidro, the city’s patron saint, which begins on 15 May. It’s a popular party, so book your flight and hotel well in advance. This is a great time to travel to the city if you would like to be immersed in authentic customs and traditions, especially as the activities are free. Expect local residents dressed in typical chulapo and goyesco costumes, concerts, street parades and music.
Barcelona may have the reputation as the capital of cool, but Madrid has plenty for travellers to “ooh” and “aah” at. Every year, millions of tourists take cheap flights to Madrid to gawp at the magnificent, treasure-stuffed Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza and Reina Sofia galleries.
The streets of Madrid, Spain’s capital and largest city, are almost open-air museums so stately and grand are the public buildings. King Philip II set up his court in Madrid and he and later kings added grander and grander palaces, cathedrals and monuments.
Madrid is one of Europe’s greenest cities; there are more than 40 parks. The Retiro is Madrid’s best known. Other popular parks are the Casa de Campo and Parque Quinta de la Fuente del Berro.
As for food, the cuisine offers the best of Spain’s regional dishes. The stews, hotpots, and most famously, tapas, provide the fuel for long, raucous nights. Madrilenos head out late and stay out even later. A Friday night out in Madrid may only end with a late breakfast on Saturday or later.
Walking: you could see most of Madrid’s must-see monuments in about two hours, but if you get tired, the metro (underground) is clean, fast and cheap. The bus system is great too – day buses run from early morning to late night and there are also night buses (buhos).
Taxis are white with a red stripe. Flag them down on the street, pick one up at a taxi rank or order them by telephone.
Madrid Airport (MAD) is located 13 km from the city centre.
There are several car-rental companies with desks at the airport. Taxis are readily available.
Buses serves the Avenida de America, from where you can catch the metro. Metro travels from the airport terminals to Nuevos Ministerios station.