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…
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.
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 A||Zona T|
|1 día||2 días||3 días||5 días||7 días||1 día||2 días||3 días||5 días||7 días|
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.