3 223 000
6 669 000
Population Density (km2):
Population Density (mi2):
Largest City in Spain
Largest City on the Iberian Peninsula
2nd Largest City in the European Union
Avg. Summertime High:
Avg. Summertime Low:
Avg. Wintertime High:
Avg. Wintertime Low:
Madrid is the destination for anyone who loves architecture. The city has something interesting to offer at every corner. Puerta del Sol is the center of Madrid and a place where you can spend hours just hanging around and watching people! Madrid is also home to several world-class museums. The Prado Museum, Museo Reina Sofía, and Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum is the most well-known.
Kingdom of Spain | Reino de España
505 990 km2
Ranked 51 out of 195
47 451 000
Ranked 30 out of 235
Ranked 43 out of 194
Population: 6 669 000
Population: 6 669 000
Economy & Development:
Human Development Index:
Ranked 25 out of 189
Ranked 34 out of 189
GDP (PPP) Per Capita:
Ranked 40 out of 225
Democracy & Freedom:
Ranked 24 out of 167
90 points out of 100 possible
Ranked 32 out of 180
Ranked 36 out of 162
12th of October
What Is Celebrated On The National Day:
The national day of Spain, on the 12th of October every year, is a day where the history and achievements of Spain are celebrated. The date is the date when Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492 and the celebrations do focus on the Spanish heritage around the world, and especially in the Americas.
Facts & Codes:
UTC +1 (CET)
Summer: UTC +2 (CEST)
Country Calling Code:
Autonomous Communities of Spain | Comunidad Autónoma
Community of Madrid
Comunidad de Madrid
8 028 km2
Ranked 14 out of 19
6 780 000
Ranked 3 out of 19
Of National Population
Population: 6 669 000
Population: 6 669 000
GDP Per Capita::
Hot-Summer Mediterranean Climate
UTC +1 (CET)
Summer: UTC +2 (CEST)
Museo del Prado
World-Class Art Museum
Puerta del Sol
Large And Busy Square
Palacio Real de Madrid
Aeropuerto Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas
9 km / 6 mi (NE)
Former Spanish Prime Minister Adolfo Suárez, as well as the location of the airport (Barajas).
The sixth-busiest airport in Europe and a major gateway for traffic to and from South America.
If you stay near Puerta del Sol, and most locations in central Madrid, I found that the best option is to take the Airport Express bus for 5 EUR. Pay in cash to the driver or by blipping your card on the bus. When you arrive in the city the bus stop is on the North-Western end of Plaza de Cibeles, and when you depart the stop is on the South-Eastern end of the same square. Other options include Metro, Commuter Rail or, Taxis. If you take the Metro and are going to the tourist areas you will have to make a transfer as there is no direct line going to the metro stations in the tourist quarters. Metro Line number 8 serves the Airport and offers transfer options at Nuevos Ministerios Station. By Commuter Rail you can go directly to Atocha Station, the largest station in Madrid. From there you can continue with another Commuter Rail line or with Metro unless your hotel is close enough for a walk. But while Atocha is in Central Madrid it is slightly off from the tourist areas.
Tram / Light Rail
Elevated Rapid Transit
The Underground Metro is one of the most extensive in Europe with 13 lines and 302 stations. There's also an extensive network of commuter rail, which in the city center acts just as a metro with underground stations and frequent departures. You are never far from a metro stop in Madrid! Major stations to aim for if you get lost would be Sol, Atocha, and Nuevos Ministerios.
The city is very walkable. Despite the size of Madrid, the sights and attractions are surprisingly close. Since there is no street grid whatsoever it is however very easy to get lost and get disoriented (but that's part of the charm, right?).
Cash Or Credit:
I had ten Euros in my wallet when I arrived in Madrid, and it was still there, untouched when I left. It was possible to pay with a card everywhere I went, and it was especially encouraged to use touchless solutions. However, if you want to use cash that was also possible everywhere. In Spain, it is easy to use whichever way to pay that you prefer.
Good To Know:
What About English?
You will have a hard time communicating in Madrid if you only speak English. Very few can speak any English at all, not even in tourist locations. It's the hardest city in Europe that I've visited in terms of language.
Puerta del Sol
Often called the "Spanish Broadway". This 1.3 km (0.8 mi) long street contains major shopping outlets, such as a five-story Primark, and restaurants. It's not pedestrianized so you will share your space with cars. The architecture along the street is beautiful so make sure to look up and admire the beauty. Many of the side streets are pedestrianized and contain many more options for dining and shopping as if Gran Vía alone weren't enough. The street starts at the intersection of Calle de Alcalá (near Plaza de Cibeles and the Metrópolis Building) and ends at Plaza de España.
Puerta del Sol is a good starting point when you're looking for hotels in Madrid. Make sure that you are within walking distance of that square and you will be central. Most of the main sights of Madrid are within a 15-minute walk in either direction from Puerta del Sol, so you should also try to be within that limit. Avoid the area around the Central Station (Atocha), not because it's sketchy or anything but because it's quite off from where you will spend most of your time. You can walk from there, but it's longer than it has to be. I stayed a few quarters east of Puerta del Sol and found that area to be very good, especially since the Airport Express bus stops at Plaza de Cibeles.
People said that I had to be extra careful of pickpocketers in Madrid and the city seems to have a reputation for being worse than average in that regard. However, that was not something I felt while on the streets. Central Madrid is a typical huge and modern city in a rich country and safety won't be one of your larger concerns. Something I did take note of though was that there is a larger than average presence of police and security guards for a Western European city. Contrary to many other large cities in Europe, people seemed to be interested in helping out. I saw more than once how people on the street stopped when they saw someone who looked lost and asked, I presume, asked if they needed help finding something.
Your biggest issue will be the language barrier unless you speak Spanish. Don't expect to be able to ask someone for help or directions if you can't do it in Spanish as most people can't speak even the basics, this also applies to younger people which is the first time I experienced that in Europe as even in Eastern Europe I was often able to find people with at least basic English skills by targeting younger people.
Note: My assumption is of the basis that you will always take normal precautions when you're out traveling, just as you would do at home. Even the safest cities have bad elements and no matter how safe you might feel you must always take basic precautions. I'm always aware of my surroundings when I walk around, both with and without the camera. I am however a very typical tourist and it shows so I am a person that will undoubtedly draw the attention of those who targets tourists. If you can you should of course always try to blend in as much as possible, but with my big camera around my neck, it's impossible. That's two things that are good to know when reading my assessment of how it felt from a safety point of view.
Outside of Plaza Mayor
Generally, I didn't feel that Madrid was a particularly good nor bad city for street photography. It's mostly just a huge city and there is a lot of street life going on, but not the type that promotes street photographing. There's of course a lot of outdoor serving places on the sidewalks, but there aren't that many people just hanging around. When people are out on the streets in Madrid it seemed like they always had a clear goal on where they were going. I got some comments from people, such as from the woman in the picture above who yelled "Photo Shoot" after I took the picture. One thing that you can't get enough of in Madrid though is architecture. Whatever street you walk on, so be a large avenue or a small alleyway somewhere, there will be beautiful buildings all around you to point your camera at. A good tip for Madrid is to look up! That's a good tip in general, but I felt that in Madrid it was as important as ever. I've never seen so many roof ornaments as I did in this city.
Madrid is one of the best destinations in Europe for fast food lovers. All the major international chains are represented in the city. I was however unable to find any local alternatives. The only one I could find was Telepizza, but they don't have stores in central Madrid.
Type of Food:
Did I Try:
N / A
Similar to Domino's in the sense that their business model focus on deliveries and the stores rarely have in-house seating.
This is the fast-food chain with the most number of outlets in Spain. There are however no restaurants in central Madrid, so I was unable to try it out. There are Telepizza restaurants in the outskirts of the city center, but none within walking distance.
No Images Available
72 km / 45 mi
How To Get There:
The distance is only 72 km (45 mi). Spain has a very good train network and you can get to Toledo in just 33 minutes from Atocha Station. Tickets can be bought over the counter at the Station and it didn't cost more than 22 EUR for a roundtrip ticket. Attocha Station can be somewhat confusing, especially if you do not speak Spanish, so just make sure to have some margin of time.
Toledo is the former capital of Spain from the times when the Spanish Empire was in the most powerful shape. The streets of Toledo are a sight in itself and wherever you walk you will feel like you're back in medieval times. Major sights you should not miss are the Toledo Cathedral and the almost 500-year old Alcázar of Toledo.
Do I Recommend It:
Highly! I even delayed going to Madrid back in 2019 because I was unable to find the time to fit a day trip to Toledo into the schedule. It was out of the picture to visit Madrid and not go to Toledo. After visiting I can only affirm that I was right to postpone until it was possible to do both sightseeing in Madrid and one day in Toledo.
Below are some day trips that I considered but didn't do for different reasons. They might fit better into your travel plans than they did to mine. I can't vouch for them, but after spending a lot of time researching before each trip the destinations listed below are still places I would like to visit someday and which are within reach of a day trip from here.
70 km / 43 mi
Segovia is located about 70 kilometers North-West of Madrid and is, along with Toledo, one of the two most popular day trips from the city. Segovia is similar to Toledo with old architecture and a large Cathedral as the center. However, what makes Toledo a more interesting trip in my opinion is the history of power as a former Capital city. Segovia is also slightly smaller than Toledo.
270 km / 167 mi
Due to the excellent network of high-speed trains in Spain, it only takes about one and a half hours to get to Zaragoza. I did keep a trip there as an option, higher than Segovia, in case I grew bored of Madrid and didn't know what to do with my last day in the city. It's safe to say that I wasn't even close to going as it turned out I could easily have spent even more time in Madrid. Zaragoza is the capital and largest city of the autonomous community of Aragon. The city is known for its Mudéjar architecture, of which the huge Cathedral-Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar is a prime example.
I had a great time in Madrid and my visit actually exceeded the expectations I had of the city. Madrid is not a city with an abundance of well-known sights. Compared to other cities of a similar size and importance Madrid is lacking in that regard. However, that doesn't matter since the street life and average architecture are of the highest world-class. The architectural quality of almost every building in the city center is astonishing, so even though the sights are not well-known there's still a lot of beautiful things to look at. With that said, it's not that Madrid doesn't have any sights at all, you can spend a day or two just walking between sights. But for a city of its size, there could be more, that is however also up to the marketing department of Madrid to solve as like I said, there's not a shortage of beautiful buildings and areas there. For someone who is just looking for a city trip with great food and shopping but without the need to go and look at sights, Madrid is the perfect city.
Do I Recommend You To Visit?
Yes. Madrid is a great city to visit and there's something for everyone. I had three full days there, one of which I went to Toledo. For me that was perfect, but for most travelers, I would probably recommend one additional day.
Will I Come Back Again?
Probably not in the next couple of years since I feel that I was able to do everything that I wanted to do in Madrid. However, I wouldn't mind visiting again and skip all the tourist stuff. It's a perfect city for just hanging around and do nothing in.
Weather During My Stay:
It was sunny and very warm, with blue skies. It was over 30°C (86°F) every day, with above 35°C (95°F) on one day. The summer season, and especially July and August, is very hot in Madrid and if you don't like extreme temperatures you should avoid those two months. Just keep in mind that the winter in Madrid can be very cold instead and it's not uncommon for the temperature to go below freezing point from December to February.
Not As Good:
The Royal Palace of Madrid (Palacio Real de Madrid) is the official residence of the Spanish royal family, and also the largest royal palace in Europe.
The Almudena Cathedral, which sits opposite a square from the Royal Palace. This is a side entrance into the Cathedral. The entrance is free.
Another view of the Almudena Cathedral.
Gran Vía is the most important shopping street in Madrid. The street is sometimes called "The Spanish Broadway" and the architecture along Gran Vía is stunning.
The Metropolis Building (Edificio Metrópolis) at the intersection between Calle de Alcalá and Gran Vía is considered as the starting point of Gran Vía. The building is one of the most well-known in Madrid.
The Alfonso XII Monument in the huge Retiro Park. The official name of the park is Parque del Buen Retiro, which is translated into "Park of the Pleasant Retreat".
One of the sights of Retiro Park is the Crystal Palace (Palacio de Cristal).
Calle Mayor (Main Street) is formerly the main street and historically the most important thoroughfare of the city. It's still an important street, but it can't be said to be the main street of Madrid anymore.
Plaza Mayor (Main Square) was built between 1580–1619. It was for many decades the center of Madrid. Today it's one of the most important sights and a popular place for tourists to visit.
The North-Eastern corner of Plaza Mayor.
Most of Plaza Mayor goes by a reddish color, except for parts of the Northern side. This building is named "Casa de la Panadería" (Bakery House).
Puerta del Sol (Gate of the Sun) is the current center of Madrid. It's the busiest location in the city and it serves as the kilometer zero from which all radial roads in Spain are measured.
Inaugurated on the 19th of January 1967, the Statue of the Bear and the Strawberry Tree (El Oso y el Madroño) on Puerta del Sol has become one of the most recognizable symbols of Madrid.
The Western end of Puerta del Sol.
Equestrian Statue of Charles III (Estatua Ecuestre de Carlos III) at the center of Puerta del Sol.
Calle de Preciados, one of three busy pedestrian streets that are going North from Puerta del Sol to Gran Vía.
A lot of people on Calle de Preciados.
Calle de la Montera is another very busy pedestrianized street connecting Puerta del Sol to Gran Vía.
Cybele Palace (Palacio de Cibeles). The building was known as the Palace of Telecommunications (Palacio de Telecomunicaciones) until 2011 and has served as a post office as well as telegraph and telephone headquarters. Today it's the City Hall.
The Fountain of Cybele (La Cibeles) at Plaza de Cibeles, which is where Cybele Palace is located.
Puerta de Alcalá is a Neo-classical gate from 1778 near the main entrance to Retiro Park.
The Meneses Building (Edificio Meneses) on Plaza da Canalejas, near Puerta del Sol.
Rounded corners and huge ornaments are typical features of the architecture and street vision of Madrid. Such as this example from Gran Vía.