Madrid is the capital of Spain. With its historic sites, beautiful architecture, and delicious food, it makes for a great few days of exploration. It’s also a good base for day trips to a few other cities. I’ve visited Madrid twice and passed through another time, and look forward to going back to see more.
Madrid Barajas International Airport serves the city. It’s the largest airport by size in Europe and one of the busiest as well. There are plenty of shops and restaurants in the airport which makes it a pleasant place to have a layover or fly out of.
There are two main train stations in Madrid, Estación de Madrid Atocha and Madrid Chamartín. Atocha serves destinations to the south, Barcelona, Valencia, Zaragoza and Marseille. Chamartín serves destinations to the northwest, León, Segovia, and Lisbon.
To get into the city from the airport and to get around, I’ve always used the Madrid Metro, which is very convenient. The best deal for getting around the city during your stay is to buy a tourist card from one of the automated machines at any metro station. It includes unlimited use for a period of 1, 2, 3, 5, or 7 days from initial use, including to and from the airport.
I’ve stayed at two different hotels on my trips to Madrid. The first hotel I stayed at was the Hotel Arosa, located in the middle of Gran Vía. The room was a decent size and the location was unbeatable. I was able to walk to many of the places I was interested in visiting. It cost me €60 a night in 2010.
The other place I stayed was Hostal Viky, which is located near the airport. I needed an easy overnight and this small hotel did the trick. They have a free airport shuttle and it’s only five minutes to the international terminal. I paid €45 for the night (in 2011).
For restaurants, unfortunately I can’t remember anywhere I ate back in 2010 other than when I went on a tapas tour. My only record of restaurants is from a one day layover in December 2016.
En Copa de Balón
If you want to try a bocadillo de calamares (calamari sandwich), a typical meal in Madrid, we enjoyed ours at En Copa de Balón on Plaza Mayor. This small lounge also serves up tapas and has a good selection of wine.
One place to avoid is La Lonja, located on Plaza de Oriente near the Palacio Real. We sat outside for a quick coffee with the thought of having a late lunch there. The server ignored us for a good five minutes before coming to take our coffee order. When Marisol asked what kind of coffees they had, he snapped and said “whatever you want”. She asked to see a menu and instead of bringing one he said “you can have whatever you want”. We both ordered a cappuccino, which tasted like burnt coffee mixed in lukewarm water. It’s too bad we had the bad experience because the menu looked great.