Are you thinking of visiting Madrid soon? In this post you’ll find a collection of the most practical Madrid travel tips that you should know before visiting Madrid for the first time.
From transport options and accommodation to the optimum length for a visit and the best places to eat.
This guide covers everything you have to know before visiting the city, as well as some helpful travel tips from a lifelong Madrid local!
Índice / Table of Contents
- 1 Useful tips before visiting Madrid for the first time
- 1.1 Best time to visit Madrid: When to go
- 1.2 How many days do you need to visit Madrid?
- 1.3 Where to stay in Madrid: Find affordable accommodation
- 1.4 How to get from Madrid airport to city center
- 1.5 How to get around Madrid
- 1.6 Must see places to visit in Madrid
- 1.7 Where to eat in Madrid
Useful tips before visiting Madrid for the first time
I was born in Madrid and I have to say, I love the city! It’s a magical place, with lots of things to do and see. That’s why visiting Madrid can be complicated if it’s your first visit to the city.
After writing a comprehensive guide to Madrid on a Budget, I realized that many readers would need some additional guidance and information before their visit.
Particularly if they’d never been to Madrid before. In order to get the most out of your trip, you will need to know some important Madrid tips and tricks.
With the following travel tips for Madrid first-timers, I want to make your trip to the city as easy as possible.
I’ll break down all of the important information.
Know what to do before traveling, what are the best accommodation options at the best price in Madrid, tricks to move around the city and how to save on a trip to Madrid.
Best time to visit Madrid: When to go
Any time is good for traveling to Madrid, but personally, I recommend that you visit in spring or autumn, when it’s not too hot and it almost never rains. May, June, September and October are the best months to visit Madrid.
One of the important things to know about Madrid if you are visiting the city in July or August is that temperatures can reach 40 degrees Celsius. And you will have to see the city more calmly, taking advantage of inside activities with air conditioning. If not, you will melt!
If you are traveling to Spain and want to explore beyond Madrid, have in mind when is the best time to visit those cities. If traveling to Andalusia, the best time would be from April to June and from September to November; and even more if you are traveling to Sevilla or Cordoba, that the weather is really hot in the Summer.
How many days do you need to visit Madrid?
When people ask me for advice on traveling to Madrid, this is one of the most common questions.
I always say that it’s impossible to explore Madrid in a weekend, but not all of us have a whole month to visit an entire city, right?
I’ve lived in Madrid all my life, and I still have hundreds of places to see. But, to give you an idea of the city and visit the most important things, you will need at least 2 days. Although, ideally, it would be 4 days.
If you only have 2 or 3 days, you can’t spend a whole day visiting museums, since you will not have time for the rest. And remember, the best thing for visiting Madrid is walking around the city and exploring it like a local.
Where to stay in Madrid: Find affordable accommodation
Madrid is a huge city, and you can find all kinds of accommodation, from hotels to hostels and apartments. Depending on what type of traveler you are, you will prefer one or the other.
My recommendation at this point is that you either stay in a central area of Madrid (such as Sol, Gran Vía or Plaza de España), or close to a metro stop, so it will be easier to get to the main places of the city.
Here’s a brief rundown on some of the best accommodation options in the city.
Best basic hotel in Madrid – B&B Hotel Madrid Centro Plaza Mayor
If you’re looking for a simple, affordable hotel that offers comfort and convenience, look no further. This B&B hotel is located right in the center of the city and doesn’t cost a fortune.
Best hostel in Madrid – Ok Hostel Madrid
Ok Hostel Madrid offers affordable, comfortable accommodation right in the heart of the city. You can book into a dorm room to keep costs low or a private room if you prefer some personal space. Cook meals in the shared kitchen and meet other travelers in the communal lounge.
Best luxury hotel in Madrid – Barceló Torre de Madrid
Perfectly located near the center of Madrid, Barceló Torre de Madrid is ideal for a luxury visit. It offers elegant rooms and incredible amenities including a fitness center and indoor pool. The on-site restaurant is world-class, too.
How to get from Madrid airport to city center
If you travel to Madrid, Spain by plane, you will arrive at Adolfo Suarez-Madrid Barajas Airport. Make sure you read my guide on getting from Madrid airport to city center for the easiest transport options.
Depending on where you have booked your accommodation, you will prefer to use public transport or book a private transfer.
How to get around Madrid
There are many ways of sightseeing in Madrid; by bus, taxi or even transports like Cabify or Uber. But, undoubtedly, the best and the cheapest way to get around the city is by metro or on foot.
You will find metro stops in all Madrid neighborhoods, and there are more than 12 lines that connect to each other in order to make traveling in Madrid as easy as possible. You can download Madrid Metro’s map here.
A cool and ecological way to get around Madrid is by bike.
The City Council of Madrid has created BiciMAD, a service where you can use electric bicycles, picking them up at a point and leaving them where it suits you best around the city.
There are more than 160 stations where you can pick up your bike. Currently, they are present in the districts of Arganzuela, Retiro, Centro, Moncloa-Aravaca, Chamberí, Salamanca, Tetuán and Chamartín. You can locate the station you want on this map.
Renting a bike will cost you 2 euros for the first hour and 4 euros the second.
If you want to visit Madrid and surroundings, the best thing is to hire a tour that takes you. Or if you prefer to go on your own, take the Cercanías train, which takes you to places as beautiful as Aranjuez or El Escorial.
Must see places to visit in Madrid
Once you have the transport, the accommodation and know how you are going to get around Madrid, the next thing is to plan what to see there.
There are so many places to see in Madrid!
Some classic tourist destinations include Mercado de San Miguel, Puerta del Sol, Paseo del Prado, and the Royal Palace of Madrid.
This post will be really useful, particularly if you’re visiting the city on a budget: 8 Things to Do in Madrid for Free.
Only have 24 hours in the city? Check out this tips on how to visit Madrid in a day.
Where to eat in Madrid
Last but not least, you have to plan where to eat in Madrid.
There are hundreds of restaurants, but be very careful: if you want to eat in central and tourist places such as Sol or Plaza Mayor, you have to know that the quality of the food will not be good, and the prices are high.
Don’t fall into the trap of trying “the best paella in Madrid” in the Plaza Mayor, because you will be disappointed.
I recommend you go to La Latina to have tapas on the weekend. The atmosphere is amazing and the bars are filled with local people enjoying the most typical dishes of Madrid. It’s also very typical to taste a calamari sandwich or the famous “churros” with chocolate.
If you are looking for something different and less traditional, there are two restaurants in Madrid that I love:
- Le Cocó Madrid, a cool restaurant with delicious dishes (which you can also enter with your pet); and
- Kabuki Wellington, one of the best Japanese restaurants in Madrid (but this one is quite expensive).
I hope this post has been useful for your first-time visit to Madrid. But if you have further questions, leave a comment and I will help you as much as possible in your Madrid travels!
* This post is written as part of a collaboration as Ambassadors of GoEuro, but always based on my experience, with original content and without any brand having influenced me.