A love letter to Madrid

where to stay and how to move around madrid

Madrid is one of those cities that either you love or you hate. If you incidentally happen to be born there, you’ll hate it for sure (at least on hot summer days) and try to run away as often as possible. But it’s only part of that love-hate relationship game big cities play with your head. They charm you in with the immense sea of possibilities, intoxicate you with the aroma of excitement and bright lights, and once you’re in, you’re in. Some people seem to be immune to their charms but still can’t resist the appeal, and when they come, they are hooked.

The Spanish capital is no exception. However, a few tremendous competitors surround her, against which she most of the time loses, because Madrid has no sea! If it did…there would be no rival for this lively multicultural haven. The best brands want to have locations here, the best restaurants want to open a local here, even the street food movement has planted roots in the epicentre of Spain.

Madrid, (one of) the city(es) that never sleeps. Fifth busiest airport in Europe, third most populated city in Europe (just after London and Berlin), home to worldwide famous museums and galleries, the birthplace of Cervantes (Alcalá de Henares), Lope de Vega, Tirso de Molina, Quevedo, or Agata Ruiz de la Prada! Inspiration to many, love for others, life for most, and this guy…

SPAIN: A Love Letter to Madrid

Hidden alleyways bring you to places you could have never imagined, and secret rooftops raise you up to the top of the world (our world). The Madrid Metro holds the record for most escalators in metro stations, with 1,656 in total. And the Guinness World Record for the most people blowing a chewing gum bubble simultaneously was broken in 2014 in Madrid with a daunting 737 bubbles! Need to say more? Madrid has character, quirky perhaps, but that’s the charm.

SPAIN: A Love Letter to Madrid

Hooked yet? Well then let’s get down to business. Time for a few useful tips on where to stay and how to move around Madrid for your next trip down to the city where the 80s Movida goot its name.

HOW TO GET TO MADRID:

The easiest way to get to Madrid is by plane to the Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas Airport (that busy airport that I mentioned above) with pretty much any airline, but if you are on a budget, Easyjet and Ryanair are your safest bet for a memorable time in Madrid.

Once you arrive, you have several options. You can take the Metro (Line 8/pink) to Nuevos Ministerios and from there connecting to your final destination. This will cost you the normal ticket plus an airport supplement. But more on transport tickets options below. You can also take the public bus #200 right outside the arrivals hall in all T1, T2 and T4 to Av. de América for about 1.50€. Alternatively, you can take the Express Line bus to Atocha, which takes about 40 minutes (runs every 20 minutes during the day, 35 minutes at night) for about 5€. The last option will be a Taxi, but beware that they charge a supplement for starting/ending at airports and stations, which means the price will rise quickly.

GETTING AROUND MADRID:

The best way to move around Madrid is by using the state of the art public transport (bus, metro, and metro ligero). It is safe, reliable (for the most part), and takes you anywhere you want to go within the city.

Regular buses run from around 5:30 AM to 11:30 PM, and the Metro from 6 AM to 1 AM daily (there are night buses known as the “Owls” during the hours in which regular buses and Metro don’t run).

From all the possible transport cards available in Madrid, the best option if you plan on getting around a lot is the Tourist Card Zone A.  This ticket is available for 1, 2, 3, 5 or 7 natural days and includes Metro, Metro Ligero ML1, suburban trains within zone A (RENFE/ Cercanías trains) and Madrid EMT buses (with the exception of the express airport buses).

If you are planning on getting around the province, you have the option of taking the Tourist Card Zone T, which includes up to transport zone E2.

Both Tourist Cards include the airport supplement and you can buy them in any metro ticket dispenser or office in the city or at the airport. Also, Children under 11 years of age pay 50% of the prices stated above.

Zona
/días
Zona A Zona T
1 día 2 días 3 días 5 días 7 días 1 día 2 días 3 días 5 días 7 días
Normal

8,40€

14,20€

18,40€

26,80€

35,40€

17€

28,40€

35,40€

50,80€

70,80€

*(Price of the Tourist Card Zone A and Tourist Card Zone T as of 1st of November 2017)

However, if plan on mostly walking and using public transport sporadically, a 10 trip ticket is probably the cheapest option. For 12,20€ you can travel ten times and it is transferable.

WHERE TO STAY IN MADRID:

When people ask me where would I stay if I had to pick a (budget) hotel in Madrid, I don’t have to think it twice, my answer is always: The Hat*. It doesn’t only have a quirky name (for a hotel) but the design and the location are top-notch and has a rooftop terrace. Hard to beat!For something a bit more luxurious, but without being pretentious, the ladies at The Slow Pace swear by Hotel Only You Atocha* and Hotel de las Letras!

So, now that I’ve given you some of the basics on where to stay and how to move around Madrid, you can finally get yourself to book your dreamy short trip or weekend getaway in Madrid! And don’t forget to check this list of things to do in Madrid, this guide to Madrid’s quirkiest cafe workspaces and this guide on visiting Madrid’s finest museums for free and without a hassle! Because travelling doesn’t always have to mean breaking the bank.

*Some links are affiliates. These links help me continue producing high-quality relevant content for you and won’t come to any extra cost to you.

16 Comments

  • Reply
    Annemarie
    May 5, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    I have never been to Madrid and have always been told to go to Barcelona first (which I did), but seeing that you hold it so dear and deem it quirky, that makes it really interesting for me. I will definitely visit one day. Hopefully soon.

    • Reply
      Henar - Wanderwings.com
      May 6, 2015 at 4:53 am

      Well as I said, Barcelona sadly (or luckily) is always the “prefered” destination principally because of the beach, although also has lots to offer. They are just completely different, and according to some research, the people from Madrid have the cutest most attractive accent of all (Spain) spanish speakers 🙂 Either way, I hope you give Madrid a chance someday 🙂

      • Reply
        Annemarie
        May 6, 2015 at 5:35 am

        It’s funny that you say beach and most people go there for it. I never been to the beach during my stay. Well, let’s not count Sitges.
        I will definitely check out Madrid at some point. Need to see more of Spain!

        • Reply
          Henar - Wanderwings.com
          May 6, 2015 at 6:19 am

          I’m glad to hear that (tho Sitges does count :P), most people I met that haad been to Barcelona went there for the beach and sunshine (or football) so you are one of the many exceptions ^^
          Spain has sooo much more to offer than just sun, party, and beach (after all it is not always sunny in Spain) and I’m not talking about Madrid only, there’s also Toledo, Alcalá de Henares, Segovia, Salamanca, the north west of Spain is amazing (and great for surfing and hiking) with Picos de Europa (stunning mountains). And don’t even get me started on the food ^^
          I’ll stop now cos I’m making myself a bit homesick hehe ^^

          • Annemarie
            May 6, 2015 at 6:42 am

            Oh dear, then I won’t poke any more into this but I know now whom to ask the next time I go to Spain^^

          • Henar - Wanderwings.com
            May 6, 2015 at 6:48 am

            haha no worries, I’m always happy to talk about the good old homeland (even tho I left it willingly) ^^
            but please please please, if you go to Madrid don’t try to find a place to eat paella or attend a flamenco show 🙂 Yeah, whenever you plan a wee visit, drop me a line, i may either be there and can show you around or maybe can give you some pointers ^^

          • Annemarie
            May 6, 2015 at 9:41 am

            Why should I not eat paella or attend a flamenco dance? Because both are typical for a different region? Paella I already had in BCN, anyway. What’s the local cuisine?

          • Henar - Wanderwings.com
            May 6, 2015 at 9:51 am

            Exactly, Paella is typical from Valencia (and the Mediterranean coastline) and flamenco from Andalucia. In Madrid is a bit more on the meat and vegetables side of the food pyramid with Cocido Madrileño, Lentil soups, and some fish dishes, specially cod (yes yes you read that one right!) and for dance…we have the Chotis ^^ a bit north (Segovia and most provinces in Castilla) have Jotas…and so on. Each region in Spain has it’s own thing. Hence why I think it’s a shame when people come to Madrid or north to Pais Vasco, Galicia and just search for Flamenco and Paella ^^

  • Reply
    Lauren Marinigh
    May 5, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    I love this. I’ve been to Madrid about 5 or 6 times and spent 3 weeks there when I was in grade 10 on an exchange. It’s a city that is definitely close to my heart!

    • Reply
      Henar - Wanderwings.com
      May 6, 2015 at 4:54 am

      Oh Lauren you have no idea how happy it makes me to read this 🙂 I get litterally teary-eyed every time I read/hear someone say they enjoyed their stay/visit to Madrid 🙂 Hope to see you there sometime soon ^^

  • Reply
    Tanj from A Travelogue
    May 6, 2015 at 1:32 am

    I always liked Madrid. Would love to go back to Spain one day.

    • Reply
      Henar - Wanderwings.com
      May 6, 2015 at 4:56 am

      Isn’t it a lovely place! May be loud (heard it’s officially the loudest city in Europe :/ because all the construction grounds etc), but it’s also so alive and welcoming 🙂 hope you make it back ^^

  • Reply
    Jeh-C
    May 6, 2015 at 2:30 am

    Madrid sounds amazing. Hopefully I’ll get to experience it one day.

    • Reply
      Henar - Wanderwings.com
      May 6, 2015 at 4:57 am

      Hey Jeh-C 🙂 You should definitely try to make it to Madrid sometime! Spring, later Summer, and Fall are the best times I’d say, not insanely warm but still sunny and the perks of “low season” travelling ^^

  • Reply
    Allie A Modern Girl's Travel
    May 7, 2015 at 11:19 pm

    A city I’ve always want to go to! I love the um.. spiderman? Bubble popping people are my kind of people!

    • Reply
      Henar - Wanderwings.com
      May 8, 2015 at 8:52 am

      Oh Alexandria, the “Spiderman” dude is ALWAYS there! Is insane! but he’s just one of maaaaaany street artist to be found around the streets of Madrid 🙂 sun or rain! You should visit ^^

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