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Things to see in Madrid

Attractions

Parque del Buen Retiro (Retiro Park)

This lush park in the heart of Madrid was originally the private garden of Philip IV. Visitors can enjoy a stroll along the shady avenues and formal gardens, take a rowing boat out on the lake or picnic in the extensive wooded areas. Madrileños flock here on the weekends, when entertainment is provided by fortune tellers, pavement artists and circus acts. There is a children's puppet theatre and numerous refreshment points. Temporary art exhibitions are held in the Palacio de Cristal, Palacio de Velázquez and the Casa de Vacas.

Address: Plaza de la Independencia, Puerta de Alcalá, Madrid,
Telephone: +34 915 30 00 41
Opening times:

Daily 0600-midnight (Apr-Sep); 0600-2200 (Oct-Mar).

Website: http://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/parque-del-retiro
Admission Fees:

No

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Museo del Prado (Prado Museum)

The Prado Museum (founded in 1819) is among Europe's greatest art galleries. Within its 4,000-strong collection of 16th to early 19th-century paintings are masterpieces by Fra Angelico, Botticelli, Bosch (El Bosco), Titian, Rembrandt and Velázquez, as well as evidence of the astonishing development of Goya – from his sun-soaked early paintings of dances and festivities to the grim madness of his black period.

Address: , Paseo del Prado, Madrid,
Telephone: +34 91 330 2800.
Opening times:

Mon-Sat 1000-2000, Sun 1000-1900.

Website: http://www.museodelprado.es
Admission Fees:

Yes.

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (Reina Sofia National Art Centre Museum)

Designed by the Spanish architect Antonio Fernánez Alba in 1977, Reina Sofia was completed in 1990. Officially opened by the King and Queen in 1992, it is dedicated to Spanish 20th-century art, pride of place belonging to Picasso's Civil War-era masterpiece, Guernica. Dalí, Miró and Juan Gris are among the other artists on show. More recently the museum has expanded with a building created by the French architect Jean Nouvel. The expansion houses the museum's library, a 450-seat auditorium and temporary exhibition galleries.

Address: , Calle Santa Isabel 52, Madrid,
Telephone: +34 91 774 1000.
Opening times:

Mon-Sat 1000-2100, Sun 1000-1900 (some exhibitions closed from 1415); closed Tues.

Website: http://www.museoreinasofia.es
Admission Fees:

Yes (free after 1900, and 1430-1900 Sun).

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Palacio Real (Royal Palace)

With the opulence of Versailles in mind, Philip V commissioned Italian architects Giambattista Sacchetti and Francesco Sabatini to build the Royal Palace, following a fire that destroyed the medieval Alcázar in the 18th century. Although the Royal Palace is his official residence, the king does not reside there; this means the 3000-room extravaganza is only used for state functions. The rest of the time, the startling white building in granite and Colmenar stone is open for tours and individual visits. Highlights include the Hall of Halberdiers and Hall of Columns, the Throne Room with its 17th-century sculptures, and the lavish private apartments.

Address: , Plaza de Oriente, Madrid,
Telephone: +34 91 454 87 00.
Opening times:

Daily 1000-1800 (Oct-Mar), daily 1000-2000 (Apr-Sep).

Website: http://www.patrimonionacional.es
Admission Fees:

Yes.

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Plaza Mayor (Main Square)

This beautifully proportioned cobbled square was constructed under the reign of Philip III in the early 16th century - his statue stands proudly at the centre. Plaza Mayor was both a market place and the setting for public spectacles – everything from the ritual condemnation of heretics to bullfights and pageants. Today, tourists outnumber the locals but Plaza Mayor is still as lively as it was in the past, with shops and cafés in the covered arcades.

Address: , Plaza Mayor, Madrid,
Telephone:
Opening times:

Daily 24 hours.

Website: http://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/plaza-mayor-madrid
Admission Fees:

No

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Madrid Río

More than 10km (6 miles) long, the Madrid Río has transformed a previously neglected part of the city to create an urban park on the banks of the Manzanares River. Dotted with historic monuments, viewpoints, pedestrian and cycle paths, it symbolises a hugely successful riverfront regeneration scheme; previously an ugly motorway scythed through this part of the city. Highlights include an orchard restored with more than 800 fruit trees, a glasshouse, a city beach and children's playgrounds.

Address: , , ,
Telephone:
Opening times:

Daily 24 hours.

Website: http://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/madrid-rio
Admission Fees:

No.

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales (Convent of the Royal Barefoot Sisters)

Founded by Juana de Austria, the daughter of Charles V, in 1559, as a retreat for noblewomen, the Convento de las Descalzas Reales is still a functioning convent. A superb example of 16th- to 17th-century baroque architecture, it contains a magpie's hoard of artistic treasures, including Flemish tapestries, Italian and Flemish paintings and sculptures, religious artefacts and more. The convent is open for guided tours only. Tours are in Spanish, although questions are taken in English.

Address: , Plaza de las Descalzas Reales 3, Madrid,
Telephone: +34 91 454 8800.
Opening times:

Tues-Sat 1000-1400 and 1600-1830; Sun 1000-1500.

Website: http://www.patrimonionacional.es
Admission Fees:

Yes.

Disabled Access: No
UNESCO: No

Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza (Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum)

Madrid purchased the private collection of Hans-Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza after a nine-and-a-half-year loan, instantly enriching the city's fund of art treasures. The collection contains over 1,600 paintings, sculptures, carvings and tapestries, ranging from primitive Flemish works to contemporary pieces. Highlights include works by Fra Angelico, Van Eyck, Dürer, Caravaggio and Rubens.

Address: , Paseo del Prado 8, Madrid, 28014
Telephone: +34 91 791 13 70.
Opening times:

Mon 1200-1600; Tues-Sun 1000-1900.

Website: http://www.museothyssen.org
Admission Fees:

Yes (except for Mondays when there's free admission).

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Fundación Mapfre exhibition halls

The non-profit foundation Mapfre has two exhibition halls a stone's throw from one another on one of Madrid's grandest thoroughfares. With low-priced tickets and expansive exhibitions of superb quality, it's one of the city's most overlooked artistic treasures. Expect work from renowned photo artists, collaborations with galleries such as Musée d'Orsay in Paris, and extraordinary painting, sculpture and other exhibitions – Mapfre prides itself in celebrating all artistic disciplines.

Address: , Paseo de Recoletos 23, Madrid, 28004
Telephone: +34 91 581 61 00.
Opening times:

Mon 1400-2000, Tues-Sat 1000-2000, Sun 1100-1900.

Website: http://www.fundacionmapfre.org/fundacion/en/exhibitions/recoletos-hall/
Admission Fees:

Yes.

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Parque Juan Carlos I

This modern and vast green space (Madrid's biggest park) holds within it the recinto ferial (fairground), where most of Madrid's exhibitions take place. It also holds a large collection of macro-sculptures in Spain. People come here to walk, ride their bicycles, fly kites and fish. There is even an enclosure to exercise dogs.

Address: , Glorieta de Don Juan de Borbon, Madrid,
Telephone: +34 630 630 710
Opening times:

Mon-Sun 0700-0100 (Jun-Sep), Sun-Thu 0700-2300, Fri-Sat 0700-midnight (Oct-May).

Website: http://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/juan-carlos-i-park
Admission Fees:

No.

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Tourist Offices

Oficina Municipal de Turismo

Address: , Plaza Mayor 27, Madrid,
Telephone: +34 91 578 78 10.
Opening times:

Daily 0930-2030.

Website: http://www.esmadrid.com

The main tourist office in Plaza Mayor (Madrid's main square) offers maps, directions and the usual advice on where to go and what to do. Staff usually speak English. There are also branches in: Aeropuerto de Barajas Terminal 2 and Terminal 4 (tel: +34 91 578 78 10; open daily 0900-2000); Plaza de Neptuno (open daily 0930-2030); Plaza de Callao (open daily 0930-2030); Paseo Recoletos 23 (open daily 1100-2000); and Ronda de Atocha (open daily 1100-2000).

Tourist passes

The Madrid Card (www.madridcard.com), valid for one, two or three days, gives visitors free admission to over 40 major museums, the Madrid Vision bus tour, as well as discounts in selected shops, restaurants, theatres and more. The cards can be purchased from main tourist offices or online.

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Featured Hotels

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Hotel AC Santo Mauro

This small luxury Madrid hotel, part of the Marriott Autograph Collection, is situated in a leafy corner of the historic Chamberí neighbourhood and is housed in a 19th-century palace that once served as an embassy. It has been reconstructed in a tasteful combination of neoclassical and avant-garde styles. The lounges, ornamented with stucco mouldings, mirrors and fluted pilasters, evoke the refinement of a bygone age and are the perfect setting for entertaining clients. Other facilities include business services, six conference rooms (occupying the former ballrooms), interpreting services, multilingual staff, an indoor swimming pool and a fitness centre.

Casual Madrid de Teatro

It’s not just the location that makes this a great value hotel, although being a stone’s throw from Plaza Santa Ana and Plaza del Angel doesn’t hurt. The building is a lovely 1920s throwback, and the rooms are bright and airy, with high ceilings. Many hotels are charging much more for way less. One of the best cheap hotels in Madrid.

Petit Palace Ducal Chueca

Located close to the Gran Via, this Madrid hotel can truly boast 'all mod cons'. Part of the state-of-the-art High Tech hotel chain, its 58 boutique rooms are full of electronic knobs and whistles, including a flat screen TV and a hydro-massage shower. That doesn't impinge on comfort levels, though, and the red and black décor gives it a classy feel.

Vincci Soma

The location is one of the main attractions of this 170-room boutique hotel in Madrid, opposite Goya Metro station in the upmarket Salamanca district, 1km (0.6 miles) from Retiro Park and the chic shops of Calle Serrano. There are a few forays into the realm of luxury service, with a pillow menu and a book delivery service. The restaurant serves creative Mediterranean dishes.

Hotel Trafalgar

Less than 10 minutes from the centre of town by metro (Iglesia or Bilbao), the Trafalgar is a modern hotel that is popular with both tourists and businesspeople. It lies in a residential neighbourhood, well provided with shops, restaurants and other amenities. The 48 en-suite rooms, while unexceptional, are air-conditioned and have direct-dial telephones and TV. There is also a laundry service and currency exchange. The English-speaking staff are friendly and helpful.

Hotel Paris

One of the popular cheap options in Madrid’s Puerta de Alcalá area, Hotel Paris' 120 rooms are surprisingly spacious, decorated in classic style – this was one of the first luxury hotels in Madrid at the start of the 20th century. It was only when the Ritz was established in 1910 that it was relegated to a more modest category. Its main attraction is its location, right on the Puerta del Sol, with the main cultural stops right on its doorstep.