Madrid Holidays

A taste of Spain past and present

From the sloped, winding streets of Lavapiés to the buzzing nightlife of Malasaña, Madrid holidays encapsulate Spain’s vibrancy, plus plenty of personality of the city’s own. Its different neighbourhoods vibrate with character: a large South American community in the Cuatro Caminos district means there’s an abundance of Latin flavours there, while the Plaza de España is the city’s unofficial Asiatown.

If it’s authentic Spanish cuisine you’re after, you’ll be spoiled for choice – during holidays to Madrid you can easily take a culinary tour of the entire country, from Valencian paella to Galician grilled octopus. Bars and cafés spill out onto the street, and terrazza seating is a popular way to soak up the sun over a glass of local wine. Head east to spend a relaxing day in lush Retiro or check out the upmarket neighbourhoods of Salamanca and Chamberí. To the south, along the river, you’ll find a growing number of galleries and cultural spaces like the Matadero Madrid.

Barrio de las Letras offers old-world charm and streets paved with the words of Spain’s great writers. The nearby Paseo del Prado is home to many of the city’s major museums, as well as enough Picassos and Dalís to gratify any art lover. Whichever area of Madrid you’re wandering through, it’s a feast of colour, culture and flavour.

All resorts in Madrid

Three tips for a top trip

Take the metro

With 12 lines connecting the city, Madrid Metro is cheap and convenient. You can easily buy a 10-trip pass at the kiosks inside every station.

Order the ‘menu del dia’

Enjoy a big meal along with big savings. During lunch, most restaurants offer set menus that typically include a starter, a main, a dessert and a drink.

Free museum hours

Are you a culture lover on a budget? Most of the city’s museums have set hours and days when entry is totally free – just do a little research in advance.

Best attractions to see in Madrid

Retiro

A gorgeously landscaped oasis in the centre of the city, this expansive park hosts gardens, concerts, a free exhibition space and lots of weekend picnics.

El Rastro

Check out Spanish antiques and enjoy some street food at this Sunday market in La Latina. It’s popular with locals and tourists, and don’t be afraid to haggle.

Plaza Mayor

This large historic square in the centre of the old city is an architectural gem. To properly soak it in, grab a coffee at one of the many restaurants that line its fringes.

Your Madrid questions, answered

Madrid’s centre is quite compact – in fact, sometimes it’s faster to walk from one area to another rather than take the metro or a taxi.
Compared to many European holiday destinations, Madrid city breaks are quite wallet-friendly. Researching free museum hours and cultural events are an especially great way to save.
You can have a great time in Madrid all year round. Weather-wise, spring and autumn are great times to book a city break. Temperatures are high, but the fresh breezes keep things comfortable. This is really important if you’re planning to see the city on foot! Summer’s perfect for heat lovers. And as there are more visitors at this time of year, it’s really buzzing. Winter is usually a lot quieter and quite relaxing. It’s also the cheapest time of year to visit, so it’s great for a budget getaway.
Madrid’s variety makes it perfect for all kinds of holidaymakers, from shopaholics to foodies to culture vultures. Families, couples and solo travellers will all enjoy the city.
Madrid doesn’t have a coastline, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a bit of sun, sea, and sand. If you want to top up the tan, the shores of Retiro Park’s lake are a huge hit with sunbathers. The park is right in the city centre. But when only the fresh sea air will hit the spot, the closest beaches to Madrid are in Valencia. It takes around four hours to drive there, or the super-fast AVE train can get you there in under two hours. La Malvarrosa Beach is the closest to the city.
Madrid is famous for being the capital city of Spain. It’s the heart of the country’s government, and home to the Spanish royal family. You can see the working offices and the official residence of the royal family during your trip. But that’s not all the city is famous for. It’s also known for its historical centre and museums. There’s an area called the ‘Golden Triangle of Art’ near the Paseo del Prado. This is where you’ll find three of the most visited art museums in the world.
It’s a good idea to stay a little longer than you think you need. Madrid doesn’t have just one or two famous must-see attractions. It has a huge number of places of interest, and you’ll find even more when you’re there. You could do a whirlwind tour of the city centre over a long weekend, but three to five days is better so you’re not rushed. If you want to visit the theme parks on the outskirts of the city, or take a trip to nearby Toledo, give yourself a week or more.
Madrid is known for a homemade stew called cocido madrileno. It’s made from a thick broth that’s topped with vegetables, meat, and chickpeas. This is a much-loved dish in the city. In fact, there’s even a ritual for serving it! Traditional restaurants will serve the stew in three scoops; the first with the broth, the second with the veggies and chickpeas, and the final scoop with the meat. It’s delicious in summer, but even more so in the winter months. It’s the ultimate Madrilenian comfort food.
Madrid is one of Spain’s biggest cities, but it’s also really walkable. Most of the main attractions, like the plaza and the royal palace, are within walking distance of each other in Madrid’s compact city centre. A leisurely stroll, stopping for tapas and drinks, is definitely one of the best ways to experience the city. And for those times when you do want to go further afield – maybe to the zoo – the local metro system is excellent. You’ll only need to hire a car if you’re planning trips to nearby towns, or to the Spanish coast.