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A Guide to Madrid
Know Before You Go
- Pack sunblock, a hat and sunglasses. Madrid is one of the sunniest cities in Europe with 300 days of clear skies a year. Keep your skin protected while you're outside and don't forget to stay hydrated.
- Plan your day around the siesta. From 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. most shops will close making it difficult to complete errands or buy food.
- Splurge on a night at a hotel. Madrid is one of Europe's cheapest destinations, making it easy to afford a room in a fancy hotel. Food is also cheap, with a three-course meal costing between EUR 15-30.
- Get used to Madrid time. The city runs on a later schedule compared to New Zealand. Lunch only starts at 3:00 p.m. and the clubs start to fill up from 2:00 a.m.
- Buy your tickets for the Prado museum online. You'll skip the long lines and have more time to view the famous artworks.
Getting Around Madrid
- The public transport system in Madrid is one of the most affordable in Europe.
- Take the metro. Fares start at EUR 1.50 for the first five stations and the routes run across the city.
- Save money with the Abono Transportes Turistico pass. Prices start at EUR 8.40, and you'll get unlimited rides on the metro and bus service.
- If you're in a rush, hop on board one of the buses. The service runs from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. and fares cost as little as EUR 1.50 one way.
- For travellers short on time, buy a ticket for the Hop-on, Hop-off bus. It has routes that cover all of Madrid's top attractions and commentary available in 14 languages. Prices start at EUR 21 per person.
- Another affordable way to get around the city is with a taxi or ride-sharing service like Uber. You can flag down one of the metered cabs or use the free public WiFi to request a ride.
- If you're planning on renting a car, make sure you have an International Driver's Permit. You'll need it to be able to pick up your vehicle at the airport or train stations.
When is The Best Time to Visit Madrid?
The best time to visit Madrid is during the spring or autumn months. From March to May and September to November, the city is cooler and the days are longer. The crowds also thin out, and you'll have more luck finding tour and hotel deals.
December to March is winter in Madrid. The colder temperatures keep most tourists away, driving hotels and airlines to slash their prices. If you avoid the busy holiday season, you'll have most of the city's top attractions to yourself.
The most popular time of year to visit Madrid is in the summer. From June to August, travellers from across Europe flock to the city for the holidays. If you're planning a trip during this period, make sure to book your flights and accommodation well in advance to lock in lower rates.
Airports in Madrid
Madrid-Barajas is the main international airport in Madrid. It's a focus city for Ryanair, Norwegian Air International and Wamos Air and is considered to be the gateway to the Iberian peninsula.
Getting To and From Madrid-Barajas Airport
If you're travelling to Madrid on a budget, take the metro from the airport into the city. Line 8 connects the city to the terminals and has a total journey time of 15 minutes. The train runs from 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. every day and tickets cost EUR 5 per person.
Another affordable option is to take the train. Head to Terminal 4 and catch a ride into town for only AUD 2.60.
The city bus route also services the airport. You can hop on board at any of the T1, T2 or T3 stops to transfer to the Canillejas Transport Hub. From here you can take another bus or use the metro system to get to your final destination.
If you're arriving in Madrid in the early hours of the morning, take the express bus service. It runs 24 hours a day from the airport and terminates at the Atocha-RENFE transport hub. Tickets cost EUR 5 per person, and the buses leave every 20 to 35 minutes.