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Madrid is a city that will steal your heart, but not before it has wined and dined you with bottomless glasses of sparkling cava and an endless succession of tasty tapas, then kept you up dancing until all hours of the night. This sprawling jewel of a capital city is the artistic, cultural, and business center of Spain.

Flights to Madrid

Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport (MAD), serves around 40 million people every year. It’s the main hub for Iberia and Air Europa, and a focus city for the Irish budget airline Ryanair, which makes finding cheap flights to Madrid easy at most times of the year. All four American legacy airlines also offer direct flights to Madrid from selected major US cities. The airport is a key link from Europe to Latin America, and also acts as a gateway to the Iberian Peninsula.

MAD is made up of five terminals; its newest is Terminal 4. It’s one of the largest airport terminals in the world, and is astonishingly beautiful arched ceilings. The fifth terminal is called Terminal 4S. There’s an affordable 24 hour express bus service from the airport to the city center, as well as a commuter train, the Metro, and various buses, shuttles, and taxi services.

What to Do in Madrid

The legacy of the Spanish empire has left Madrid with a legacy of exquisite architecture. The gigantic Palacio Real is absolutely stunning, and open to the public. Admission is free on Wednesdays, but you can expect long lines. Once you’re inside you’ll be treated to a sumptuous display of artifacts and armor, as well as priceless national treasures.

The sheer wealth of culture here can be seen in the dozens of museums and art galleries that grace the city, especially in the fabled “Museum Quarter.” The collection at the Museo del Prado must be seen to be believed. The strong National orchestra and various opera houses cater to the musically inclined, but don’t forget to visit a flamenco club to really understand the sound of Madrid.

Madrid’s passionate personality is most apparent in its glorious nightlife. There are countless cocktail bars and clubs where a pulsing crowd of ecstatic dancers while the night away, sometimes until 7 am.

Advice to Tourists Visiting Madrid

You will need a valid passport, but if you’re a citizen of a Western country you probably don’t need a tourist visa for visits up to three months. The currency is the euro. Restaurants commonly add a 15% service fee to bills, but you may wish to tip a further 3% for good service. You should tip hotel maids and doormen a euro or two.

You’ll want to brush up on your Spanish before visiting Madrid, or at least invest in a good phrasebook or app. While it’s a hugely cosmopolitan city, you can’t count on meeting English speakers.

The best time to visit is in May or September, when comfortable temperatures in the 70s make walking the city a treat. Summer in Madrid can be scorching, and many locals simply close up shop and desert the city for the hottest months in July or August. If you use Skyscanner’s free hotel price comparison tool, you can be sure to get a great deal on your accommodation.  

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Images by Flickr/trioptikmal

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