Making a Trip to Madrid: The Basics

Madrid is often called the cultural and historical hub of Spain. With a thriving art scene, world-renowned museums, and dozens of impressive, monumental structures, Madrid lives up the that name. You can stroll through the touristy Plaza Mayor or be impressed by the grandeur of Palacia Real. Get lost among the funky and unique barrios (neighborhoods) or in the mass of red at a heated Real Madrid football match. There is a niche here for all types of travelers, so book your Madrid hotel in a great location and dive in.

Free Activities in the City


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For those traveling on a tight budget, Madrid has an impressive array of free activities. The world-famous Prado Museum, for example, offers free visiting hours Monday through Saturday 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The San Miguel Market is a feast of culinary and visual delights. Arrive hungry and enjoy perusing the colorful stalls for lunch, dinner, or to escape the afternoon sun. You can also plan your own walking tour by visiting the truly impressive architectural monuments of the city.

Start outside the breathtaking Palacio Real and wend your way through the bustling and historical hubs of Plaza Mayor and then Puerta del Sol. Continue on to the Museum Triangle, where you’ll find the gorgeous Prado and Reina Sofia museum buildings. Lastly, you can end your afternoon in the large and green Retiro Park, where locals and tourists alike enjoy the fresh air and occasional picnic.

Vegetarian Restaurants Worth a Visit


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One of the most exciting aspects of visiting Madrid are the myriad vegetarian restaurants. Here are some of the most popular (and delicious) finds:

Vega: Opened in December, this 100-percent vegan tapas bar sits nestled in the intriguing Malasaña neighborhood. Its central location has garnered this restaurant a lot of positive attention in the few short months since its opening. Vega offers organic beer and wine, homemade bread, and a mouth-watering array of daily tapas and affordable daily menus.

Yerbabuena: This lively restaurant caters to all dietary restrictions with tons of gluten-free and vegan options, though it is traditionally a vegetarian restaurant. With huge portions and generous daily menus, you’ll leave stuffed to the brim. The only downside is that your wallet may be much lighter. With a central location near Plaza Mayor, Yerbabuena tends toward the more expensive end of vegetarian restaurants.

Using Public Transport


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The sprawling and complex transportation system of Madrid can be daunting for some, but don’t let it scare you off. Once you figure out where you need to go, it’s fairly straightforward. One of the more confusing lines is the commuter train from the airport to the city center. When you arrive at the airport, make your way over to Terminal 4 and look for Renfe Cercanias to board a commuter train. Look for the route that passes through Puerta del Sol or Atocha Station (both of which are in the city center and connect to the major Metro lines), usually C-1, C-3, or C-4.

You also can take a €5 bus or the metro from the airport, but the commuter train is the quickest and most comfortable option. If you’ll be traveling from Madrid to another location by train, you can scan the barcode of your train ticket and get a free one-way ride on the commuter train into town. Otherwise it costs a mere €2.10 at the time of writing this article.


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