We had five days in Madrid in June. June turned out to be a great time to visit Madrid as it was warm but not too hot. A thin cardigan for the morning and late evenings, and tank tops for during the day. Madrid was fantastic for so many reasons. Great food, great art, lots of street artists, and serendipity.
On our first full day, we took a 3-hour walking tour, which was both interesting and very useful in getting your bearings around the city. Our guide was very good, although he had some very strange conversations with us when we were walking from one place to another. I still highly recommend doing one of these ‘free but tip the guide at the end’ walking tours as they are incredible value for money and the guides are very good.
We had many accidental good lucks whilst in Madrid. We went to Reina Sofia on a Sunday without knowing that it is free on a Sunday as it closes at 2:30pm. We also went to Prado on the first day of their Raphael exhibition. There was a large queue outside for what we thought was to buy the tickets to the Raphael exhibition. We were not *too* bothered about it (not enough to queue that long in the hot sun) so we bought ‘normal’ tickets to see the rest of Prado from an automated machine with no queue. Once inside, we discovered that our queue-free machine bought tickets also got us into the special exhibition.
We took it pretty slow in Madrid, so we only did the walking tour, the bus tour, Renie Sofia, Prado and the Royal Palace. We spend the rest of the time basically stuffing ourselves with jamon, figs and other delicious food of Madrid. We particularly liked Museo de Jamon for their €2.50 per person breakfast of jamon and cheese croissant and coffee. Their €1 coffee was hard to beat.
Here are few tips that we learnt along the way:
- If you book a taxi to pick you up late at night from the airport, have a plan B. Our taxi didn’t turn up but I had jotted down details of the airport bus so there was no major panic. However, if I hadn’t, it would’ve been a huge stress at midnight when there’s no one to help you!
- If you take the metro to the airport, you need to buy a special airport taxed metro ticket, which is €4.50 per person (€3 airport tax). Don’t buy the normal €1.50 ticket.
- Pack ear plugs. Madrid is a noisy city and buildings are designed to keep cool but fails at insulating any noise. If you want a good night sleep you will NEED ear plugs.
- There is a archaeological display inside the Opera Metro station. You will need a metro ticket to get in, so I would recommend stopping off at Opera station en route to somewhere else. That way it won’t cost you any extra.
- If you wash your clothes, do it before siesta, and your clothes will be dry by the end of the seista.
- Don’t plan to cram too much into your day. seistas are absolutely necessary in the Spanish heat. Plan to get up early and do something in the morning, have a late lunch, take a nap, then go and enjoy yourself in the evening with good food.