Flight and hotel Madrid
Introduction to Madrid
Situated in the middle of Spain, surrounded by the peaks of the Sierra de Guadarrama, Sierra del Norte and Sierra de Gredos mountain ranges, Madrid has been capital of Spain since the 16th century. Home to the Spanish royal family and the scene of fascinating political upheaval in the 20th century, Madrid offers plenty of history, culture and great tapas.
What to know before visiting Madrid
The main language in Madrid is Spanish, though you will find that most people who work in hotels and restaurants speak enough English to help out with the basics. The currency is the euro, and the time zone in Madrid is one hour ahead of the UK's.
The Spanish capital is served by Barajas Airport (MAD), which is in the city's northern suburbs and served by a direct link with Madrid via the metro system. Flights to Madrid arrive from all over the world, and you can fly from Cork and Dublin to Madrid regularly.
When is the best time to for Madrid weekends?
As you might expect for a city in Spain, Madrid can get very hot during the summer months. You may find that the milder months of spring and autumn offer more pleasant temperatures for package holidays in Madrid. Surprisingly, thanks to its high altitude, Madrid can get chilly during the winter months, and snow is not an uncommon sight in the city's streets.
What to do in Madrid
Whereas there are many ways to spend your time on a weekend in Madrid, these suggestions will help you make a start.
- Shopaholics should make their way to Gran Via, where you can visit one of Spain's largest department stores, El Corte Inglés.
- Take a break from sightseeing with a stroll in one of the city's many parks. The largest is El Retiro, where you can join the locals on their Sunday stroll or take a rowboat out onto the lake.
- Enjoy spectacular views of the city from Madrid's Teleferico cable car, which runs from the large Casa de Campo park to near the Argüelles metro station.
- Pick out a bargain at El Rastro, the huge weekly flea market that takes place every Sunday in the narrow and winding streets stretching south of the Plaza Mayor.
- Enjoy the nightlife on city breaks in Madrid with drinks and tapas in the lively bars around the Plaza Santa Ana or in the hip and trendy Chueca area of the city, north of Gran Via.
Places to visit in Madrid
Once you've booked your flight to and hotel in Madrid, you'll find several amazing visitor attractions and fascinating museums to choose from.
- The Royal Palace is a must-see on city breaks in Madrid. Take a tour around the opulent staterooms and living quarters, and make sure you check out the gardens alongside the palace.
- Spend some time in Plaza Mayor, Madrid's 17th-century main square. As well as a featuring a statue of King Philip III, Plaza Mayor is also home to several tapas bars where you can sit and enjoy a relaxed lunch.
- Madrid is famous for its art galleries, and they don't come much bigger or better than the Prado, which houses a collection dating from the 12th to the 20th century.
- If modern art is more to your taste, head to the Museo Reina Sofia near Atocha Station. Here, you can see a fine collection of modern paintings, sculpture and film.
- Kids will enjoy spending time at the Madrid Zoo Aquarium, located within the large Casa de Campo park. The Madrid Zoo is one of the only zoos in Spain to have ever been home to giant pandas.
What should you eat in Madrid?
Madrid, and indeed all of Spain, is famous for its tapas, small snack-like dishes made from a variety of ingredients, usually served with drinks – though you can easily order a selection and make a meal of them. Favourites include Spanish omelette, potato croquettes, anchovies and chorizo, a popular spicy Spanish sausage. Make time for a relaxed evening drink and tapas on your weekend in Madrid; the best bars for people watching are in Plaza Mayor and Plaza Santa Ana.
What to bring back from Madrid
Decorated Spanish shawls and fans make great gifts. Alternatively, take back some local wine or olive oil to remind you of your package holidays in Madrid in the weeks to come. Sports fans may want to visit the Real Madrid shop at Bernabéu to pick up a jersey or other memorabilia.