Madrid is an underrated travel destination. Despite getting more than five million visits per year, it still remains in the shadow of Barcelona – at least from a travel perspective. Among other Southern European destinations, Rome and Athens also remain more popular than Madrid. But the Spanish capital is gaining traction and worldwide attention. In this article you will get a couple of solid reasons to visit Madrid for your next trip abroad.
#1 Madrid is the largest city in Spain
Madrid is the largest and most populous city in Spain. For that reason, it brings a huge amount of entertainment, along with plenty of opportunities. Aside from going to the beach, there is nothing you can’t do in Madrid.
The physical size of the city is not an issue though – it’s still quite easy to get around. You will, however, feel how populous the city is when you walk around. Gran Vía is absolutely crowded all day. Retiro always has its fair share of visitors, and the bar scene is rarely empty. Madrid is a city of action, a city of events: There’s always something to do, and there’s always people to do it with.
#2 Shock full of culture and history
There can be no doubt that Madrid is full of culture and history. It can be experienced in a variety of ways, but the most obvious way is to visit the famous museums.
Madrid has “The Golden Triangle of Art” located quite central in the city. Here you will find some of the best museums that Europe has to offer: Namely the Prado Museum, the Reina Sofía Museum and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum.
The architecture is also worth noticing. It has a very historic feeling in itself – particularly in the areas of La Latina, Malasaña and Salamanca.
#3 A city of fashion
If you’re into fashion, Madrid is the perfect city to visit. While not on the level of Milan and Paris, it is still considered one of the fashion capitals of Europe. This can be seen in the high number of luxury clothing stores, but also on the style of the locals.
Madrid offers several great shopping opportunities if you’re into fashion. Check out Calle de Fuencarral – a street full of interesting shops, cafés and restaurants. Calle del Arenal, which starts in Ópera, is a great alternative.
Among great malls: We recommend Centro Comercial Príncipe Pío which is the only big mall in the centre of the city. If you’d like to experience something bigger, go for a visit in La Gavia in the southeast or Xanadú which is a bit further southwest.
Department stores, such as El Corté Ingles which there are plenty of all over, is also worth checking out.
#4 Easy to get around
Madrid has a well-functioning and fast metro that covers most of the city. If the metro is not enough, you can always try the Renfe Cercanías: They usually go a bit further, although with fewer stops in between.
Surprisingly, the metro is least crowded during the summer. For the rest of the year, it can be quite full. Particularly lines 1, 5 and 11. But it remains easy to get around the city – another good reason to visit Madrid!
If you’re staying in a central hotel, you will notice that almost all the popular tourist attractions are within walking distance. For example, a walk from Sol to Atocha is only around 20 minutes. And the first time I walked from the Royal Palace to Gran Vía, I was surprised at how fast the walk was. So you can absolutely cover most of the city by foot. If not, there are plenty of different opportunities that are not related to crowded, public transport: Rent a bike or a scooter – something that is becoming more and more popular. You can also take a taxi or an Uber to get around.The prices in Madrid are generally fair.
#5 A proper taste of Spain
Everything that characterizes Spain can be found in Madrid.
Madrid is right in the centre of Spain, and for centuries it has been taking in all the best ideas from around the country. The city is as Spanish as it gets. Ranging from food to drinks, and from architecture to attitude. Madrid certainly has its own wonderful inventions too, but the city’s greatest strength lies in the fact that it is a strong representation of the country in general.
There you have it: Some good reasons why Madrid is great and why you should consider a visit. A few days are enough to see the main sights, but if you want the full Madrid experience, we recommend staying for a week or more. The city has an incredible number of things to do, and you will soon be able to read more specific articles about these things.