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Travel to Madrid

Flying to Madrid

Airlines offering direct flights to Madrid from the UK include Air Europa, British Airways, easyJet, Iberia, Iberia Express, Norwegian and Ryanair. With so much competition on the route, cheap flights are available year-round. The warmer, summer months are peak season, so fares tend to rise at this time, but you can still bag a bargain if you book well in advance. From the USA, there are direct flights with Air Europa, American Airlines, Delta, Iberia and United.

Flight times

From London - 2 hours 25 minutes; New York - 7 hours 20 minutes; Los Angeles - 11 hours; Toronto - 9 hours 30 minutes (including stopover); Sydney - 24 hours 30 minutes (including stopover).

Travel by road

Traffic drives on the right and the minimum driving age is 18. Speed limits are 120kph (75mph) on motorways, 100kph (62mph) on dual carriageways, 90kph (56mph) outside built-up areas and 50kph (31mph) within towns.

Foreign visitors require a valid driving licence to drive in Spain. National licences from EU countries are accepted, while nationals of other countries are advised to obtain an International Driving Permit. Third-party insurance is required and documents should be carried at all times. A Green Card is strongly recommended for all visitors and is compulsory for those from outside the EU.

Emergency breakdown services

Real Automóvil Club de España (RACE) (tel: +34 900 100 992; www.race.es) has reciprocal agreements with the AA and RAC in the UK and the AAA in the USA. Alternatively, drivers in distress can contact the Ayuda en Carretera (Help on the Road) (operated by the Guardia Civil) on the roadside SOS telephones, who will contact the breakdown services.

Routes

Motorways radiate outward from Madrid. The NI links Madrid to the French border (via Burgos and Irún), the NII to Barcelona(via Zaragoza) and the French border. The NIII weaves its way to Valencia and Alicante, the NIV to Seville and Cádiz, the NV to Badajoz at the Portuguese border (where the A6/E90 continues to Lisbon) and the N401 to Toledo. There are also three ring motorways, M30 and M40 and M50.

Coaches

Estación Sur de Autobuses, Calle Méndez Alvaro 83, is Madrid's most important bus terminal for long-distance coach travel. Destinations served include Albacete, Avila, Alicante, Toledo, Barcelona, Benidorm and Santiago.

ALSA (www.alsa.es) provides coach services to other Spanish cities.

Eurolines (tel: +34 902 405 040; www.eurolines.com) runs coach connections to major cities throughout Europe. Services from London Victoria Coach Station to Madrid involve a change at Area Suco Interchange (total journey time - 15 hours 30 minutes).

Time to city

From Barcelona - 6 hours 30 minutes; Seville - 5 hours; Lisbon - 6 hours.

Travel by Rail

Services

Mainline services in Spain are frequent, reliable and efficient. It is essential to book ahead for long-distance trains. Tickets are available online, from stations or from travel agents.

Madrid has two main railway stations - Estación de Chamartín (Chamartín Station), Calle Agustín de Foxá, in northern Madrid, and Estación de Atocha (Atocha Station), at Avenida Ciudad de Barcelona, in southern Madrid.

Madrid's rail network includes services to provincial capitals in Spain and connections to the European railway network. Chamartín Station serves trains from Franceand northern Spain, including Bilbao and Oviedo. Atocha serves trains from Andalusia, Extremadura and Portugal, including Malaga and Valencia. Many trains stop at both Atocha and Chamartín. Atocha is the arrival and departure point for AVE trains, high-speed services between Madrid and Seville via Córdoba; between Madrid-Barcelona and Madrid-Valencia.

Operators

RENFE (tel: +34 902 320 320; www.renfe.com) operates the Spanish railway network. RENFE also operates the Cercanías suburban network. Atocha Station is the hub of the Cercanías suburban rail network.

Journey times

From Barcelona - 2 hours 50 minutes; Valencia - 1 hour 40 minutes; Córdoba - 1 hour 45 minutes; Seville - 2 hours 30 minutes.

A digital image at https://illuminoto.com

Book Accommodation

Featured Hotels

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Hotel Unico

Despite the name, this five-star property in the heart of Madrid's most affluent neighbourhood, Salamanca, is not exactly unique – at least in terms of interior design. But based in a 19th-century palace, it is smart and elegant, with numerous luxurious touches such as the coffee machine in the rooms, the ground-floor garden that manages to block out the noise of the city and the staff who deliver complimentary chocolates and water to your room in the afternoon. Breakfast in the aforementioned garden is an extravagant affair, with fresh-baked pastries, Iberico ham, fine cheese and eggs to order.

The Principal

Concealed behind a palatial facade, The Principal is situated on the corner of one of Madrid's most important streets, Gran Vía. The entrance, reception and dining area are handsomely decorated, with portraits of aristocrats and fine wooden furnishings conjuring 19th century grandeur. Rooms are stylish without being ostentatious; expect carpeted floors and elegant but simple furniture. Ask for a room overlooking Gran Vía for terrific views over the city, or you can always pop up to the roof terrace for a drink.

Hesperia Madrid

Looming over the grandest boulevard in Madrid, Hesperia is a haven from the rush and frenzy of the capital city sprawling beyond its doors. The lobby and dining area are enormous, which means finding a quiet corner of your own is easy. The rooms are large too, many of them with separate lounge and sleeping areas, and all furnished with warm tones and classic woodwork. Book a room with a view of Paseo de la Castellana, the noise of which is inaudible thanks to triple-glazed windows.

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.