Ask the locals: 7 top travel tips for Madrid

We ask the experts their travel advice for exploring the capital of Spain, from cultural and historical highlights to their favourite hidden spots…

4 mins

Top tips from Héctor Coronel, the Director of Tourism at Madrid City Council

What are Madrid's cultural highlights?

I highly recommend the beautiful Art Walk. Stretching for just over one kilometre, the walk is home to the Prado Museum, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum and the Reina Sofía Museum, as well as a number of other institutions and buildings well worth visiting. If you're planning on visiting all three museums, I recommend you purchase the Paseo del Arte pass which is valid for one year and allows one visit to the permanent collection of each of the three museums.

Nearby is the Barrio de las Letras (Literary Quarter). In the 17th Century – the Golden Age of Spanish Literature – Cervantes, Lope de Vega, Quvedo, Tirso de Molina and Góngora all lived here as well as many other authors. Some of the streets in this neighbourhood pay tribute to this legacy, along with other brilliant chapters of Spanish history, culture and art.

Don’t miss La Casa Encendida, the social and cultural centre of the ‘Fundación Obra Social’ and ‘Monte de Piedad’, which showcases the most avant-garde exhibitions along with all types of artistic expression, as well as classes and workshops on environmental and community issues. The cultural schedule includes scenic arts, movies, exhibitions, and other examples of contemporary work. The Neo-Moorish style building was designed by Fernando Arbós and opened in 1913, and today offers more than 64,583 square feet of facilities, divided into four floors and a charming roof terrace.

What do you recommend for history lovers? 

The Landscape of Light is a must-visit. Located in the heart of the capital, it is made up of the Paseo del Prado and the El Retiro Park, recently recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Landscape of Light is home to symbols of Madrid including the Cibeles and Neptune fountains, the Royal Botanical Garden and a large number of historic buildings such as the Cibeles Palace and the Bank of Spain.

Be sure to visit the new sustainable area where 1,100 trees have been planted. The pedestrianised area links the emblematic Plaza de España with the Royal Palace, Almudena Cathedral, the Sabatini Gardens and the Temple of Debod. The transformation here revealed several archaeological remains which can be visited such as two floors of the Godoy Palace, the buttresses of the former Royal Stables and the remains of the 'parapet walk' of the old San Gil barracks.

Can you recommend a secret spot? 

In the east of the city, not far from Atlético de Madrid's stadium, lies a little-known park called la Quinta de los Molinos. It is home to all kinds of trees, such as olive, pine and eucalyptus and also has wonderful almond trees which blossom in February and March.

Another beautiful and little-known park is is El Capricho. Built in 1784 by the Duke and Duchess of Osuna on the outskirts of Madrid, it was frequented by 18th century artists, thinkers and bullfighters such as writer Leandro Fernández de Moratín and painter Francisco de Goya. In fact, Goya painted The Spell to decorate the El Capricho Palace. The painting now hangs in the the Lázaro Galdiano Museum. The park is home to a mansion, a bandstand, a labyrinth, a small lake and many sculptures. The gardens were designed by Jean Baptiste Mulot who also worked on the Petit Trianon in Versaille – and are divided into three sections: the parterre (French garden), the English landscape garden and the giardino all’italiana (Italian garden).

Top tips from Carlos Gómez Suárez, the CEO of Iberia Express

Is it easy to get to and around Madrid? 

As Madrid is the capital of Spain, it is unsurprisingly one of the best transport links in Spain. The Adolfo  Suárez Madrid-Barajas airport is in the Airports Council International's list of top 20 global hubs for 2022. The low-cost airline Iberia Express connects the UK to Madrid through the Manchester route, flying twice a week on average. Iberia also has daily flights from London and it is expected that as the situation returns to its pre-pandemic level, connectivity between the UK and Spain will also improve, with Iberia Express planning to bring back the route from Gatwick for the summer season.

Iberia Express has always had a strong link to the city ever since it began life as a company almost ten years ago. In fact, we refer to ourselves as the Madrid low cost airline and that is why we have made a double commitment. First, to offer the people of Madrid an attractive transport service and, second, to meet the transport needs of the capital as a destination and a connection point for travel to other continents through our hub in Madrid.

Once you arrive in Madrid, there are lots of intermodal and public transport connections such as the comprehensive metro service which is considered one of the best in Europe, a network of urban buses operating almost around the clock and also long-distance train services. You can also move around the city by bike with the BiciMAD service, a public bike hire which offers a sustainable way to explore the city. 

What is the food like in Madrid? 

In Madrid, there is a deeply rooted gastronomic culture and that traditional cuisine is part of the real history of the city. Some restaurants have been preparing the typical Madrid dishes for more than 100 years and I would encourage everyone to go out and try them.

There are restaurants such as Casa Labra and Lhardy that have been operating for over a century and these are just two of the many places where you can try the typical dishes from the capital. Be sure to order the chickpea-based stew known as Cocido, cod in various styles, roast suckling pig and the typical Madrid-style tripe. for dessert order the Spanish style French toast and for an aperitif opt for a Vermouth.


Where would you go to escape the crowds in Madrid? 

There are many places and corners away from the busy central streets of Madrid that are worth a visit. My favourite place to get away from it all is Casa de Campo, a beautiful natural space in the largest of Madrid’s public parks. It has great biodiversity and its lake, called Lago de Casa de Campo, is the perfect place to enjoy nature while having a drink or a meal in one of the many bars and restaurants located on its shores.

The perfect place to enjoy the sunset is at the Temple of Debod, an Egyptian temple where you have beautiful views of Casa de Campo park, the Royal Palace and Almudena Cathedral while the sun goes down.

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