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Travel guide – Madrid

Spain’s capital and largest city, Madrid is a masterpiece of historic architecture and style. Home to over 3 million people it is one of the largest European cities and is full of interesting sights and experiences. The World Tourism Organisation has based its headquarters here and for good reason; over 8 million people come here every year to enjoy the warm Spanish climate, great food and football-crazy atmosphere. Let the Finnair Madrid travel guide help you plan your next Spanish adventure.

Parque del Retiro - Full of sculptures and monuments this large central park was once owned by the Spanish aristocracy. Luckily it was eventually made available for public use and has become one of the most popular spots in the city. Not too far away stroll through the Botanical Gardens to the Prado Museum, home to over 20,000 individual pieces and one of the most visited sights in Madrid. The definitive place to enjoy Spanish art, it’s a must-see. Follow it up with a visit to the Reina Sofia Museum, yet another treasure trove of art, this time contemporary, with pieces from renowned artists including Picasso.

The Royal Palace of Madrid is yet another jewel in the crown of Madrid. With almost 3,500 rooms this massive structure is visually impressive and holds a vast collection of art dating back many hundreds of years. Visit another “royal” institution at the Bernabéu Stadium, home to the Real Madrid football club, one of the most popular and successful in the world. Hear the roars of the crowd as you watch a game among 85,000 other football fans.

Avila – An amazingly-preserved example of a Spanish walled city, built in the 11th century and standing in stone ever since. Around an hour from Madrid by car.

Segovia – Roman, Moorish and Spanish themes collide in this UNESCO World Heritage-listed site. Easily reachable by car or bus this is a must-see near Madrid.

Toledo – Another must-see UNESCO World Heritage Site less than an hour’s drive away from Madrid.

Barcelona – Jump on a high-speed train and enjoy one of Spain’s most popular tourist destinations. Barcelona really deserves a few days to fully enjoy what it has to offer.

El Escorial – A former home of Spanish Kings it offers history in abundance, making this a definite on the list of things to see and do near Madrid.

Other nice villages near Madrid are Aranjuez and Alcalá de Henares.

Like other large European cities you can find all modern brands in Madrid. Chain stores and luxury boutiques mingle with local sellers and old-style markets. Shopping in Madrid is lively and full of variety.

Gran Vía - All hustle and bustle this is a focal point for shopping in Madrid, for both locals and visitors. El Corte Inglés is found here along with almost any chain store you can imagine. If you want convenience and choice, come here. Along Gran Vía you can also find the most theatres in the city.

Chueca district - Close to Gran Vía, this fashionable area is defined by its trendy shops and fashionable locals. More shops can be found here, mostly international brands.

El Rastro - A popular flea market selling all sorts of second-hand wares. Open on Sundays and public holidays.

Salamanca district - Where to go if you want luxury brands. They’re all here in this very up-market area.

Madrid is a gastronomical paradise for typical Spanish food & drink. Many dishes have been around for centuries and you can get a taste of the real Spain in its many restaurants.

Tapas – Madrid is tapas. Served all over town this delicious and simple dish of bite-sized appetisers can easily become a meal initself, especially with a glass of good Spanish wine.

Cocido madrileño – A hearty stew of meat, chickpeas and other vegetables traditionally served in stages to form a meal of several courses.

Gambas al ajillo – A popular midday meal of prawns in garlic.

Churros – Fried pastries that are especially popular in Madrid.

Huevos rotos or huevos estrellados (“broken eggs”) – Fried eggs served over homemade french fries.

Patatas bravas – A simple dish of filling fried potato chunks drizzled with a tasty tomato sauce.

Bocadillo de calamares – A small baguette stuffed with fried calamari rings, the perfect Spanish snack.

Buñuelo – An anise-flavoured dough ball deep fried and topped off with a sweet condiment.

Callos – A stew made from organs and served with chorizo, jamón (ham) or morcilla (blood sausage). A very traditional dish in Madrid.

Boasting the second-largest metro system in Europe and a wide network of trams and buses, transport in Madrid is both cheap and easy to use.

Metro – Spanning the entire city over 300 stations it is very easy to get to all major sights quickly and cheaply. An unlimited ride card is your best friend for a stay of a few days.

Bus – Serving many of the areas the metro doesn’t directly reach, Madrid’s bus system is very handy and offers riders free wi-fi.

Tram – Many lines weave through popular areas and provide a quick way to get from area to area.

Taxi – Taxis can be hailed from the street and should always have a meter. Drivers may not speak English so have your destination written down if needed.

By foot – Madrid is a foot-friendly city but distances can be long so consider using the metro or bus to get near your destination.

By car – Not advised, unless passing through as traffic and driving conditions can be quite bad.

Currency – Euro (€).

Electricity – 220 volts, 50Hz, European type C plug

Tips – Not required but appreciated.

Payment / card – Widely accepted, but an ID document must usually be presented when paying by credit card.

Time zone – CET / UTC+1.

Water - Safe to drink.

Madrid Airport (MAD)

The airport is located 16km northeast of Madrid.

  • Finnair flights: Terminal 4
  • Check-in opens 2.5 hours before departure
  • Check-in closes 45 minutes before departure

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