Madrid, the Spanish capital since 1561, is Europe's city that never sleeps. A vibrant and increasingly international metropolis, Madrid has an infectious appetite for art, music, and epicurean pleasures yet remains steadfast in its age-old traditions.

Madrid takes in plenty of "modern" barrios such as Salamanca, Chamberí, and Chamartín, but the part of Madrid that draws visitors the world over is its historic center, situated between the Palacio Real and the city's green lung, the Parque del Buen Retiro. A conglomeration of Belle Époque buildings with intricate facades, terra-cotta-roofed residences, and redbrick Mudejar Revival churches, Madrid is a stately stunner. Madrileños love being outdoors as much as possible: restaurant patios, flea markets, and parks and plazas are alwayRead More
s abuzz, particularly if the sun's out.

Then there's the art—the legacy of one of the most important global empires ever assembled. King Carlos I (1500–58), who later became Emperor Carlos V (or Charles V), set out to collect the best specimens from all European schools of art, many of which found their way to Spain's palaces and, later, to the Prado Museum. Between the classical Prado, the contemporary Reina Sofía, the wide-ranging Thyssen-Bornemisza, and Madrid's smaller artistic repositories—the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, the Convento de las Descalzas Reales, the Sorolla Museum, and the Lázaro Galdiano Museum, to name a few—there are more paintings here than you could admire in a lifetime.

Not all of the city's most memorable attractions are centuries old. The CaixaForum arts center is an architectural triumph by Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron. Futuristic towers by Norman Foster and César Pelli have changed the city's northern landscape. Other newly finished projects include Madrid Río, which has added nearly 20 miles of green space along the banks of the Manzanares River, and the Conde Duque cultural center, a multidisciplinary haven that hosts film screenings, dance nights, poetry readings, and more.

Fodor's Madrid 25 Best
Compact and affordable, Fodor's 25 Best Madrid is a great travel guide for those who want...

View Details

Recommended Fodor’s Video



Electrical Outlets

220v/50 cycles; electrical plugs have two round prongs

Nearby Airports




Madrid is hot and dry in summer—with temperatures reaching 40ºC (105°F) in July and August—and chilly and damp in winter, with minimum temperatures...Read More

Discover the best neighborhoods in Madrid with curated recommendations from our editors.

Explore All

Our worldwide travel correspondents bring you the best and most up-to-date coverage of over 7,500 global destinations.

Shop Now

Fodor's Madrid 25 Best
Compact and affordable, Fodor's 25 Best Madrid is a great travel guide for those who want...

View Details

Fodor's Essential Spain 2019
Written by locals, Fodor's Essential Spain 2019 is the perfect guidebook for those looking...

View Details

Around the Web