- Cityscape The heart of Spain
- City life Capital of cool cats
By day, Madrid is a city of extravagant palaces, majestic plazas and stately parks; by night, los gatos (the cats), as the city’s inhabitants are nicknamed, prowl the historic avenues until the early hours indulging their passion for decadent nightlife.
There is more than a grain of truth in tales of Madrileños heading straight from a late-night club to the office, so don’t be surprised if that guard watching over the treasures of Velázquez, Goya and El Greco in the Prado Museum looks a bit bleary-eyed. If you have the stamina to keep up, Madrid has enough excellent shopping, fabulous cuisine, glittering galleries and lively bars to keep you going well past any respectable bedtime.
Do go/Don’t go
Don’t go in August, when the city turns into a ghost town with most people closing up shop and heading for the beach. Winter may cold but the sun still shines brightly. Spring and autumn are ideal as the weather is mild and the city hosts several festivals during these seasons.
- Planes Fly direct from various UK airports with BA | Iberia and Easyjet. Madrid Barajas airport is 45 minutes from the centre by metro. A taxi into town should cost less than €30.
- Trains The metro is a cheap, clean and fast way to get around. Buy a ‘bono’ of ten trips for €6.15 which can be used however far you travel either by metro or bus. Madrid is at the heart of Spain’s efficient and reasonably priced train network (www.renfe.com).
- Automobiles Madrid has lots of traffic and it’s difficult to park so there’s no need for a car.
- Taxis Cabs are very reasonably priced and easy to flag down anywhere. There’s an extra charge when going to the airport or train station.