Spain’s capital and largest city, Madrid is located almost dead centre of the Iberian Peninsula. Culture vultures take cheap flights to Madrid to “ooh” at the treasure troves that are the Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza and Reina Sofia galleries. All are stuffed with priceless religious paintings and magnificent royal portraits. The streets offer plenty of opportunities to say “aah”. Philip II established his royal court in Madrid in 1561 and later kings added to the streetscape with ever grander palaces, ornate cathedrals, stately public buildings and glorious monuments.
The galleries and museums might feed the mind, but Madrid has plenty to feed the soul too. It is one of Europe’s greenest cities with more than 40 parks. These include Madrid’s best-known park, the Retiro, as well as the Casa de Campo and the Parque Quinta de la Fuente del Berro.
As for feeding the belly, Madrid’s cuisine is a melting pot, literally, of all of Spain’s regional dishes. Renowned in particular for its stews and hotpots and tapas, they provide the fuel for long nights. Starting late, a night out for Madrilenos can end at breakfast time the following day.
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Madrid has a temperate, Mediterranean climate. Summers, when most travellers take cheap flights to Madrid, are hot with temperatures of 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) or hotter, sometimes up to 40 degrees (104F). The heat is dry, not humid. Winters are cold. Daily average temperatures are about 9 degrees (48F).
Summer is peak season, when most travellers take cheap flights to Madrid. If 40-degree days are too hot for you, avoid the month of August. Temperatures are more comfortable between May and mid-July, between 20 and 32 degrees Celsius (68–90F).
Spring and fall are good times to visit. Attractions are less crowded than during the summer months.
Winter is generally off season.
After landing on cheap flights to Madrid, the city is easy to get about on foot. When you get tired of walking taxis can be hailed on the street. There are also several taxi ranks throughout the city.
Madrid also has a fantastic metro system – cheap (fares are about €1) and very efficient. There are 12 metro lines, three tramway lines and the branch line that links Ópera to Principe Pío.
Empresa Municipal de Transporte (EMT) operates the buses. Just like the Metro, bus services are efficient and cheap. A single ticket costs €1.
One of the most wonderful ways of getting around Madrid is by cable car. The cars link terminal on Paseo Pintor Rosales with the Casa de Campo. One-way tickets (adults) cost about €3, round trips are about €5. From the cable car there are views of the Air Transport Ministry, Temple of Debod, Plaza de España skyscrapers, Royal Palace and Cathedral of the Almudena.