Flights to Madrid (MAD)

If you’re catching flights to Madrid, bring your appetite – it’s filled with art, architecture, atmosphere and amazing food.

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Flights to Madrid

The best way to tackle this cosmopolitan city is to do as the locals do and take to the streets the moment your flight to Madrid arrives. Madrileños are famous for their energy, and you’ll need bags of it to explore the best of what the city has to offer.

The vibrant Spanish capital is best experienced with a hunger to consume. You could be sampling local cuisine at the Mercado de San Miguel in the morning, wandering the art exhibitions of the Prado Museum in the afternoon, and then losing yourself to Madrid’s infamous nightlife of tapas-tasting and lounge-hopping in upmarket Gran Vía until it’s time for breakfast.

Breakfast, like every other meal in the city, is taken seriously. Perhaps more than any other destination in Spain, food is a huge part of the culture. Madrid is, in fact, home to the oldest restaurant in the world, Restaurante Botín, which has been open since 1725. As well as experiencing this piece of history, you can also immerse yourself in one of Europe’s most exciting restaurant scenes, where the best meal of your life may come from a Michelin-starred chef or hole-in-the-wall tapas joint.

Part of the reason the food is so good is because Spain’s largest city is also one of its most cosmopolitan. Communities from all over the world, including Latin America, Africa, Asia and the rest of Europe, have settled here, creating a melting pot of cultures and an exciting travel destination.

Some of the biggest attractions, however, are home-grown – the Prado Museum, the Picasso Museum and the legendary flamenco venue La Solea, to name a few.

Embrace the night

Madrid is a city for night owls, where dinner doesn’t start until late and the mingling rarely stops before morning. If you enjoy socialising in lounges, cafes and music venues, you’ll be spoilt for choice. The highlights include Club Musée, a nightlife venue that doubles as an art gallery.

Alberto Alcocer, 33
+34 677 585 982

Be entertained at Teatro de la Zarzuela

For a taste of old-world Spanish culture, visit this beautiful 19th century theatre, which hosts everything from musical theatre to opera and ballet. The performances are usually in Spanish, but even if you don’t understand the language, you’ll still appreciate the showmanship, music and setting.

Calle de Jovellanos, 4
+34 91 524 5400

Browse the Madrid art triangle

Madrid is home to one of the world’s largest art galleries: the Prado Museum, which contains more than 9,000 pieces. Once you’re done exploring, head over to Reina Sofia and the Thyssen-Bornemisza – together the three make up Madrid’s famous art triangle.

Museo Nacional del Prado
Paseo del Prado, s/n
+34 913 302 800

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía
Calle de Santa Isabel, 52
+34 917 741 000

Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum
Paseo del Prado, 8
+34 902 760 511

Relax in Parque del Retiro

When you fancy a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, there are plenty of leafy parks for a relaxing stroll. Parque del Retiro, near the Plaza de la Independencia, is a particularly beautiful spot – a 19th century park with green spaces, a large pond and a ‘palace’ that hosts exhibitions and art shows.

Plaza de la Independencia, 7
+34 915 300 041

See live music

Madrid has one of the coolest, most eclectic music scenes in Spain. Check out Café Populart, a trendy venue in the city centre. Previous performers have been varied and eclectic – from country and western duos to Latin jazz bands. A little bit of something for everyone.

Calle de Las Huertas, 22
+34 914 298 407

Visit the food markets

One of the best ways to soak up Madrid's atmosphere and try its cuisine is to get up early and head for the food markets. Mercado San Miguel is probably the most popular with the crowds, but locals in the know head to the cosier Mercado de San Anton instead.

Mercado de San Anton
Calle de Augusto Figueroa, 24
+34 913 300 730

Santceloni (International)

Michelin-starred Chef Oscar Velasco is at the helm of this sophisticated Mediterranean restaurant, which has been serving discerning Madrileños for more than a decade. Here are three things to keep in mind when you plan your visit: book ahead, dress smartly and bring your appetite – the Menu Gastronomique has a whopping 10 courses.

Paseo de la Castellana, 57
+34 91 210 8840

DiverXO (Fusion)

Madrid’s only three Michelin-starred restaurant is special ­– the only thing edgier than the decor is the mohawked owner Chef David Munoz. The menu draws from a range of cuisines, including Spanish, French and Japanese. Somehow the unusual combinations, such as tomato sorbet or wasabi ice cream, all turn out brilliantly. Book well ahead.

Calle de Padre Damián, 23
+34 915 700 766

Botín (Spanish)

This charming spot near the Plaza Mayor has been open since 1725, and is recognised by Guinness World Records as the oldest restaurant in the world. The great Romantic painter Francisco Goya reportedly worked here in 1765; and Ernest Hemingway was a fan (the restaurant appears in his novel The Sun Also Rises). The house specialty is meat roasted in a cast iron wood-burning stove.

Calle Cuchilleros, 17
+34 913 664 217

Casa Lucio (Spanish)

Casa Lucio offers a slice of Madrid history. Opened in 1974, it’s owned and run by Lucio Blazquez, who began working there aged 12 when it was still the Meson del Segoviano. Today it maintains its old-fashioned charm. Don’t leave without trying the huevos estrellados, or ‘smashed eggs’.

Calle Cava Baja, 35
+34 913 653 252

El Club Allard (International)

This two Michelin-starred restaurant has a number of set menus based around various themes, including ‘Rendezvous’ and ‘Revolution’. You’ll love the quirky little touches – for example, the petit fours are sweets in the shapes of sticks of chalk and are served on a mini chalkboard.

Calle de Ferraz, 2
Bajo derecha
+34 915 590 939

Subiendo al Sur (International)

This hidden gem of a cafe is perfect for the environmentally and socially conscious traveller. Not only do they stock fair trade products and organic ingredients, they also donate profits to worthy charities. Add a cosy atmosphere and friendly service, and it’s the perfect spot for a relaxed dinner.

Calle Ponciano, 5
+34 915 48 11 47

Residencia Sudamericana

If you’re on a budget, head for the charming Residencia Sudamericana. This laidback hostel near the Prado Museum is popular with discerning backpackers, and a cut above the usual cheap accommodation: think wooden floors, quiet and pleasant rooms, and great views over the Paseo del Prado.

Paseo del Prado, 12
+34 91 429 2564

Villa Magna

This quiet and elegant boutique hotel is home to two of the best restaurants in Madrid: Restaurante Villa Magna and Tse Yang. The rooms are lavish (think huge beds and marble baths), there’s a lovely spa, and the lively lounge and its adjoining terrace are popular with both locals and guests.

Paseo de la Castellana, 22
+34 915 871 234

Hotel Ritz by Belmond

If it’s old-school glamour you want, head for this hotel, which was originally built as a rival to its Parisian counterpart. The roll call of guests who’ve checked in here includes celebrities, politicians and presidents. Service is impeccable – linger in the lobby lounge for afternoon tea, dine in the Goya Restaurant or enjoy the views from Velasquez.

Plaza Lealtad, 5
+34 917 016 767

Hotel Orfila

Even though it’s close to the city centre, this boutique hotel has an air of quiet calm. Housed in a converted 19th century mansion, and decorated throughout with antique furniture, it’s the perfect place for a quiet, relaxing stay in Madrid. The leafy patio and garden is a great place to spend an afternoon with a book.

Calle Orfila, 6
+34 917 027 770

AC Palacio del Retiro

Westin Palace Madrid is a luxury hotel conveniently close to the art triangle. While there are lots of lounges and restaurants within walking distance, you must dine at least once at La Rotonda, an elegant restaurant under a huge stained glass dome that attracts a fashionable crowd.

Plaza de las Cortes, 7
+34 913 608 000

Westin Palace Madrid

Westin Palace Madrid is a luxury hotel conveniently close to the art triangle. While there are lots of lounges and restaurants within walking distance, you must dine at least once at La Rotonda, an elegant restaurant under a huge stained glass dome that attracts a fashionable crowd.

Plaza de las Cortes, 7
+34 913 608 000

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