Worth keeping in mind is Spain’s unemployment rate. With more than half of young people unemployed, you’ll enjoy somewhat cheaper prices on your trip as compared to a visit to another European country. However, the unemployment crisis hasn’t seemed to have affected the long lines at travel destinations.
Large crowds await you at major landmarks, especially in June and July. While August is unbearably hot in Madrid, it may be your best time to visit the city, as the locals clear out and head to beachy destinations during the long summer vacation. Enjoy the summer sun from your balcony at NH Madrid Principe de Vergara hotel starting at $61. The best weather in Madrid takes place in late spring or early fall when it is sunny, but not too hot. Flamenco enthusiasts should visit for the flamenco festival in February, while May is another exciting month chock-full of cultural festivals in the city.
If you are traveling on your employer’s dollar, stay close to the famous plazas in high-end comfort. One of the most popular hotels in the Centro is Hotel Urban* where a business-style room costs $200 per night, with other layouts running closer to $1,000. Another trendy option is Hotel ME Madrid Reina Victoria* on historic Plaza de Santa Ana, which will run you about $230 per night for a basic room. A cheaper option would be stylish Hesperia Madrid hotel at $138 daily. You'll save a lot of money compared to the other two options, but the drawback is that it's a bit farther away from the sights.
It is possible to stay close to Madrid’s action in a budget hotel like NH Ribera del Manzanare, which gets you on the same side of town as the Palacio Royal for $77 each night. If you really need to buckle down and work your way through a pile of emails away from the attractions, get yourself a nice Airbnb in ritzy Salamanca. While the fancy penthouse flats will run you up to $400, you can find a simpler flat under $100, and you’re still within walking distance to Parque de Retiro.
After a productive day of working in your Airbnb space, you can jog down several pristine blocks to the park to immerse yourself in the surprisingly large running culture. Your way there will be studded with outdoor cafés and high-end boutiques, and you’ll congratulate yourself on being clever enough to stay farther away from the tourist zones. Gape at herds of twentysomethings trotting about Retiro’s manicured rose gardens in coordinated running outfits between the hours of 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. before they head out around 10 p.m. for dinner.
Visitors looking for a neighborhood showcasing alternative lifestyles will want to stay in Chueca. If you want to stay in Chueca for Pride the first week of July, be sure to book well in advance. An Airbnb flat in Chueca in the midst of the nightclubs normally should run you $100 per night, but be prepared to pay higher prices during parade season.
Many travelers flock to Chueca to experience the culture of the wine bars; after all, Madrid wins the title as the most bars per capita in the world! If the bustle in Chueca’s streets is too much for you in the wee hours of the morning, consider Abba Hotel Madrid. Starting at $40 per night, it would be cheaper than your Airbnb options and its location farther out from Chueca's center will ensure some peace and quiet.
Any madrileño will tell you to explore Madrid’s cobblestone streets and grand boulevards on foot. Spend most of your day taking in the fashionistas scurrying in and out of Gran Vía's shops. Staying at a budget hotel like Quatro Puerta del Sol lands you right near those boutiques, and the money you save at $53 per night can be designated immediately for your shopping extravaganza.
Madrid invested millions to make the city more bicycle friendly, and the subsequent introduction of public bikes proves to be extremely popular among locals. Exploring Madrid by bike could prove cheaper than taking taxis, even though taxis within the city are reasonable, as rides rarely exceed 10 EUR. Consider looking into a tourist card if you plan to use the metro, as it is an incredibly reliable, clean, and efficient way to get around. The base price is 1,25 EUR, but this could fluctuate once you start traveling longer distances.
If you’re in a pinch, Uber can help you out. There’s no Sidecar or Lyft yet, but remind yourself that if you use a taxi app, you’ll be paying in Euros! Be advised that a cab ride from Barajas international airport 18 km northeast of Madrid seems to cost locals $30 but ends up being more expensive for tourists. If you’re sporting some decent Spanish, do your best to talk the price down. Note that you do not need to tip for cab rides in Madrid.
Madrid’s central location helps you get around easily to your itinerary's other destinations. Staying at Hotel Claridge at $79 per night puts you a taxi's ride away from Puerta de Atocha train station, your hub for catching a high-speed Ave train. Be sure to book your ticket in advance on Renfe’s website, as the seats fill up quickly in these plush air-conditioned trains. You’ll enjoy a spanking new movie as you zip past gorgeous countryside.
Valencia’s beaches are accessible in under two hours to the east, while Barcelona and the Costa Brava await you less than three hours to the northeast. The Costa del Sol awaits you three to four hours to the south from Málaga, and there tends to be a transfer on the way in Córdoba.
You’ve come all the way to Madrid, so be sure to pop in to the Palacio Royal to see the room where King Felipe’s coronation became official. Take pictures next to the fountain on Puerta del Sol and in front of the Teatro Nacional on Plaza de Santa Ana.
Catch an El Greco exhibit at the Prado on your way upstairs to their maze of Velázquez and Goya galleries. Walk down Paseo del Prado to check out Reina Sofia Museum’s Guernica. Do not attempt a visit to these museums in the summer months if you are tired or walking around on an empty stomach. There will be crowds in each gallery, and you must be patient as you snake through the exhibits. Innside Madrid Suecia hotel at $90 per night is a great option if you want to visit Madrid's "Golden Triangle of Art." It's a two-minute walk to the Thyssen, and both the Prado and Reina Sofía are accessible by foot.
Foodies staying at Hotel Regina at $63 per night find themselves within 10 minutes' walking distance to Mercado San Miguel just off Plaza Mayor. This market is the place to snag Spain’s freshest produce and sit at vendors’ stools alongside locals and tourists alike. Keep your eyes open for a variety of green and purple olives for tasty snacking, as Spain is the world’s largest producer of olive oil.
If you’re still hungry after the market, open-air cafés on Madrid’s historic plazas offer a variety of pintxos- or tapas- for lunch. Ham and cheese croquettes accompanied by a salmorejo soup make for a typical lunch around 2:30 p.m.
After washing everything down with tinto de verano, be sure to leave your 1 or 2 EUR coin change for the waiter, even though the tip is already built in to the bill. Luzi Bombón, just footsteps from Rubén Darío metro stop in Salamanca, is the place for weekend brunch, known for their fine sampling of jamón ibérico, Spain’s thinly-shaven marbled ham served up with garlic crostini.
At 10:30 p.m. you'll head over to Chueca for your reservation at Bosco de Lobos. Having a reservation any earlier would earn you some weird looks in Spain, and don’t expect to eat right away. Be prepared to have innovative cocktails mixed up by hand by Bosco’s barmen while the managers come around and sit down to chat with you. Spain’s location on the Iberian Peninsula guarantees amazing seafood, so treat yourself to the mussels in garlic wine broth. Follow up with the gazpacho topped with Bosco’s signature dollop of basil ice cream.
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© 2015 Hipmunk, Inc. Hipmunk is a trademark of Hipmunk, Inc.