Currency is the euro. Time is one hour ahead of GMT. Flight time is around 2.5 hours from London. The cost to carbon-offset is £3.10. For more details visit http://www.climatecare.org
Visit Madrid is the of cial tourist board. Its site is packed with details to help you make the most of your trip. http://www.esmadrid.com
The Flanders Panel by Arturo Pérez-Reverte (Harcourt, £8.99) tells the story of an art restorer living in Madrid who discovers a hidden message on a 1471 Flemish masterpiece.
How flexible is your bedtime? Do you mind eating late? If you can answer positively to either question, you’ll like Madrid and Madrid will like you. While there’s plenty to do and see here, it’s immersing yourself in the day-to-day rhythm of the Madrileños that sets the capital apart from other stand-of sh Spanish cities. Whether that means an afternoon spent gesticulating over café con leche (strong white coffee), joining the throng in a terraza (terrace), haggling at the ea market or grabbing some castanets and dancing the amenco until dawn, Madrid takes socialising seriously. The feast of Corpus Christi is on 15 June, where spirits will be high and music loud for one of the most important national holidays.
What to do
Madrid is one of the greenest cities in the world with the highest number of trees per capita in Europe. You’re never more than ten minutes’ walk from a park, so it makes sense to start a sunny summer morning with a constitutional and a coffee. All roads lead to Plaza Mayor, the city’s main square, which is best viewed before midday as the sun rises over its 16th-century spires and light splays off the statues and monuments, casting shards into the bars and cafés that line its perimeter. Call up a horchata (a sweetened milk-based nut drink served ice-cold at this time of year) as you contemplate lunch. Conveniently, you’re only about 30m from Mercado de San Miguel http://www.mercadodesanmiguel.es the city’s largest indoor food market. We’d plump for Paella y Olé, serving up mountainous portions at rock-bottom prices. Avoiding the tourist traps of Calle Mayor, head east for Paseo del Prado and the Golden Triangle of Art. It comprises the Prado, Reina Sofía and Thyssen-Bornemisza museums which, together, house Madrid’s nest collections. El Rastro – the largest ea market in Europe – is open every Sunday (7am-2.30pm) with some 3,500 stalls peddling all manner of art and crafts.
Where to stay
As with most European capitals, rooms are available for all budgets. Our pick of the bunch is classical The Principal 00 34 915 21 8743, http://www.slh.com set within striking distance of the centre but untainted by its noise. Its 76 rooms are cut in monochrome, with showers so hot that Lucifer himself would approve and a range of toiletries that rival any spa. A rooftop restaurant and bar make the most of its stellar location. The Salamanca district – the city’s most upmarket – plays host to myriad quality hotels. Barceló Emperatriz 00 34 913 422 490, http://www.barcelo.com is the newest and one of the best. It’s perfect for exploring the local boutiques, while interiors are grand without being stuffy. For something a little off the wall but by no means lacking in quality, try boutique Vincci the Mint 00 34 912 030 650, http://www/vinccihoteles.com where its lively design and green palette lives up to the name. Rooms are available for a city-beating £76.
Where to eat and drink
Stick to the south of the city. The tapas bars are more authentic, cost less and it’s where the true locals hang out.
Tables at Madrid’s top restaurants, bars and clubs are hard to come by. Madrid Lux 00 34 692 383 870, http://www.madridlux.com can secure reservations at any for a good price, as well as provide top-drawer recommendations. One restaurant not to be missed is Botin 00 34 913 664 217, botin.es which has been heralded by The Guinness World Records as the oldest in the world, having been in operation since 1725. It serves Castilian food at its most traditional; all clay pots, roasted meats and dickie bow-clad waiters. At the other end of the spectrum, Hermoso & Malditos 00 34 911 091 441, http://www.hermososymalditosmadrid.com at Hotel Tótem serves hyper-modern cuisine using ultra-traditional ingredients. Its take on steak tartare with avocado is worth the visit alone. You can’t come to Madrid and not eat tapas. El Tempranillo 00 34 913 641 532, and La Castela 00 34 915 740 150, http://www/restaurantelacastela.com are two of the best.
Time running out?
A stadium tour of Castigo de Bernabéu, home to Real Madrid, the world’s richest and most successful football team, is a great way to spend an afternoon, if only to marvel at the number of trophies it has won. http://www.realmadrid.com
Average daily temperatures and rainfall
This article was published on 21st June 2017 so certain details may not be up to date.