Madrid is the capital city of Spain and with more than three million inhabitants, it is also the largest city in the country, and the third largest in the European Union (behind London and Berlin). As the capital of the country, Madrid is the seat of politics, economics and culture in Spain, and home to the official residence of the King of Spain, the official residence of the President and Prime Minister, the headquarters of various government departments and the seats of parliament – many of which are major tourist attractions in their own right. Before you plan your trip to the Spanish capital, here is everything you need to know about Madrid tourism.
Located in Northern Spain, Madrid is bordered by the autonomous communities of Castile and León and Castile-La Mancha. One of the most distinctive features of the city’s geography is the River Manzanares, which runs throughout the capital and throughout the country as well. It sits just south of the Guadarrama mountain range, which is a fantastic destination to visit in the winter for skiing, snowboarding and other winter sports.
Like the rest of the Iberian peninsula, Madrid offers the ultimate Mediterranean climate. While winters can be cooler than in other parts of Spain, they are definitely nowhere near as cold as winters in other parts of Europe like the Nordic countries. If you’re travelling to the capital during the winter, make sure you are well equipped with woollen clothes, thermals and a thick coat to keep you warm. If you plan to indulge in winter sports, you may need to buy or rent specialised gear.
On the flipside, summers are dry and hot, with July being the warmest month of the year most times. In fact, Madrid is thought to be the driest capital city in all of Europe, and it barely rains during the summer time, if at all. If you’re heading to Madrid during the summertime, which is the peak season for Madrid tourism, pack lots of cotton clothes (cotton allows your skin to breathe and is ideal for long days of walking and sightseeing) and do not leave your hotel room without a generous helping of sunscreen.
As the dictionary definition of a cosmopolitan city, Madrid is the ultimate mix of Spanish and international influences. This reflects in every part of life in Madrid, from work to play and everything in between.
Food and drink is a crucial part of Spanish culture, of life in the capital and Madrid tourism. You will get a taste of this in the streets, in the food markets, in the fancy restaurants, in a local’s home and even through specialised activities like wine tasting or food tours. Whether you are a foodie or not, you must take the time to indulge in Spanish cuisine during your time in Madrid – whether it’s sampling tapas at one of the many tapas bars that dot the city, or opting for a more modern take on Spanish flavours at some of the new concept restaurants that have opened up.
Another major part of culture in Madrid is the city’s love for football. In fact, the city is home to two major football teams – Real Madrid, which is one of the most popular and supported football teams across the world, and their hometown competitor, Atlético Madrid, which has a huge local and national following.
You don’t have to be a football fanatic to partake in the celebration that comes around during football season, though – the locals’ energy is infectious enough. If you have the time and the budget, try to score tickets to a football game taking place in Madrid – it is the experience of a lifetime, and unlike seeing any other sport live! If not, simply head over to one of the many bars in the city on game night and have a good time with the locals.
Given the number of locals and tourists that travel in and around Madrid every day, the city is geared to handle the traffic and has fantastic public transport that makes for quick and easy travel around the capital. The metro connects most major neighbourhoods in the city and is fairly easy to navigate through maps at the stations or on your phone. Buses are frequent as well and are another option if you don’t want to splurge on taxis, which can add up.
If you are around the centre of the city, however, you should be able to get to most major tourist landmarks and attractions on foot. Most Madrid tours will also be centred around this area. Walking is also an excellent way to get your bearings in a new city and soak in the local life and culture. A good alternative to walking is to rent a cycle through a company like BiciMadrid; the rental is pocket-friendly, and the service is great!
At SOTC, we offer a wide range of Package holidays to Madrid and Spain tour packages that will take you all around Spain and offer you Madrid tours as part of the package was well. You can learn more about our Summer Budget Best of Spain, Summer Premium Tour Spanish Fiesta and other holiday packages on our website.