Planning the Perfect Trip to Madrid

  • 01 of 13

    Get the Most Out of Your Trip to Madrid: Introduction

    A view of the Puerta del Sol square, one of the most famous places in Madrid.
    raspu/Getty Images

    Bullfighting is deeply rooted within global historic traditions. But today, local public opinion leans against the tradition. Though the site includes information for tourists interested in attending the events, TripSavvy trusts its readers to make their own decisions on the ethics of bullfighting as an attraction.

    Spain’s biggest airport is in Madrid, making it the most likely arrival point for most visitors to the country. 

    Its convenient location in Spain's capital city, with its extensive ​high-speed rail network branching out to cities such as Seville, Barcelona, and Cordoba makes it also a great departure point for exploring the rest of the country. And with a good number of multiday guided tours, you have more options than ever for deciding how much independence or guidance and local knowledge you’d like on your trip.

    We'll help you with:

    • Deciding how long to spend in Madrid
    • Choosing which day trips to add 
    • Planning your itinerary for the rest of Spain from the capital
    • Deciding when to visit Madrid based on weather and events 
    • Where to stay in Madrid

    How to Get to Madrid

    By Plane: Madrid Barajas Airport is Spain's biggest airport. Budget airlines (such as EasyJet and Ryanair) and major carriers alike fly into Madrid from around the globe. With only one international airport in the area, there is no confusion over which airport you will be landing at. Be sure to compare prices on flights to Spain, and check out the Madrid airport transfer

    By Train: Madrid is the hub for the AVE, Spain's excellent high-speed train network, which connects the city to Barcelona, Seville, and Malaga, among other cities. It's expensive but very fast (faster than the train). Unfortunately, not all of Spain is on the AVE network. In fact, not all of Spain is covered by train.

    By Bus: Spain's national bus service is more extensive than Madrid's train network. Buses are cheaper than trains and are usually a lot slower than the train, but not always. For example, Madrid to Granada is only slightly slower by bus but is less than half the price.

    By Car: Madrid is served by a number of excellent highways. There are no border controls between Spain and France or between Spain and Portugal, so you can drive directly between the countries without stopping. 

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  • 02 of 13

    How Many Days Should You Spend in Madrid?

    Cibeles Palace in Madrid
    imagea.org / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

    People who live in Madrid never get bored, so the number of days you should spend in Madrid really depends on how much time you have and how deeply you want to explore the Spanish capital. However, use this guide as a way to decide how long you need.

    How to Spend Your Time in Madrid

    • Start with two days to wander around the city. Explore the historic Madrid de las Austrias, the attractive La Latina area, the bohemian ​Lavapies, and the hipster chic or Malasaña and Chueca. There’s also the Retiro park to explore, lots of great places to eat and drink, and the Prado and Reina Sofia museums, both of which have free entry most evenings of the week. Have a quick look to see the biggest pieces of art (like Picasso's Guernica).
    • Add at least a half day for a proper visit to one of the city’s Triangle of Art museums, or a full day to explore two or three of them. They are all close to one another, so it's easy to spend a solid day experiencing the best of Spanish art.
    • Add a half day each if you’re interested in watching a Real Madrid game, seeing a bullfight, or enjoying a flamenco show. Though all of these take place in the evening, for planning purposes, add a half day for each, though only you know how much activity you can realistically fit in one day.

    Getting Around Madrid

    Metro: Madrid's metro service is excellent and should be your preferred way of getting around Madrid. Tickets cost under a euro each when bought as a ten-ticket abono, making it one of the cheapest public transport systems in Europe. You can also buy an unlimited Madrid Travel Pass for use on all of Madrid's public transport. Note that violent crime on the Madrid metro is virtually nonexistent. Pickpocketing, however, is on the rise. Keep your valuables hidden, and hold onto your shoulder bags.

    Bus: As is the case in many cities, Madrid's bus system is a little harder to get your head around than the metro system. If your hotel tells you a particular destination is quicker by bus than the metro, follow their advice. The tickets are the same as those used on the metro, but in general, you will be using the metro more.

    Night Buses: From approximately 1 a.m. to 5 a.m., Madrid's night bus service takes over. The buses all depart from Plaza de Cibeles, around the famous Madrid Post Office.

    Train: Madrid's Cercanias regional train service fills the gap between the metro and the national train service. It may be useful for some routes within the city and for a handful of day trips, but you are more likely to use the metro.

    Taxi: Taxis are fairly cheap compared to most major cities, but the tight, often one-way, streets of central Madrid mean journey times and prices can easily add up. It can often be quicker to walk. Don't use taxis unless you are traveling a long way across town.

    Car: Parking is difficult in Madrid, so renting a car is not recommended. If you want to rent a car for travel outside the city, bear in mind it is usually very expensive to drop off the car in a different city from where you started. Public transport is usually easier.

    Bicycle: Madrid doesn't have the best bike paths, though the situation is improving.

    Walking Tour or Sightseeing Bus?

    A good introduction to any city is a walking tour or a sightseeing bus. 

    Madrid's old town area is quite small and compact and much of it is pedestrianized now. The sightseeing bus will take you close to many of the main old town sights as well as to some of the more out-of-the-way places like the Templo de Debod or the Real Madrid stadium.

    But a walking tour is a much better way to explore central Madrid. You'll be able to access streets that the bus simply can't.

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  • 03 of 13

    Day Trips from Madrid

    Turrets on the wall of Avila
    © Damian Corrigan

    Some of the best small cities in Spain are close to Madrid, making them great day trips from the capital. Public transport is good, cheap, and frequent, so you could make any of these trips by yourself. However, it's quicker to go on a tour, so if you wanted to fit something into a half day, or to visit two sites in one day, a guided tour is the way to go.

    Highlights of the Madrid Region 

    • ToledoThe former capital of Spain, Toledo has retained its medieval charm, with its city walls and winding streets.
    • SegoviaThe twin charms of Segovia's fairytale castle and Roman aqueduct make Segovia an essential day trip from Madrid.
    • AvilaThis is an often overlooked city between Madrid and Salamanca, with some of the best preserved medieval city walls in Europe.
    • El Escorial: El Escorial's monastery and kings' crypt (where the majority of Spain's kings for the past 400 years are buried) are a good alternative to tourist-heavy Segovia and Toledo.
    • Arajuez: A royal residence, easily reached by train from Madrid.
    • El Valle de los Caidos: Controversial burial ground for former dictator, General Franco, complete with magnificent stone cross and basilica, built by Franco's prisoners of war from the Spanish Civil War. Close to El Escorial, so it makes a perfect combined day trip.
    • Seville, Cordoba & Toledo by AVE: Seville and Cordoba are miles from Madrid, but that's what the AVE train was invented for. Take these guided tours of Seville and Cordoba from Madrid and be back in time for bed.
    • SalamancaThe university city of Salamanca is a bit farther from Madrid than the other day trips (two-and-a-half hours away by bus or train) and it warrants at least a night there, but if pressed for time, it is certainly possible for a day trip.

    How Much Time Should You Add for Day Trips?

    • Add a day if you’d like to visit Toledo. You could even do this as a half-day, with a guided tour.
    • Add another day for visiting Segovia. Again, you can do this as a tour or by yourself. To see both in a day by public transport would be very difficult.
    • Add a half day for visiting El Escorial and the Valle de Los Caidos. These sights are close together but require complicated logistics for connecting the two.
    • Add another day each for visiting any of the following: Seville, Cordoba, Salamanca, or Barcelona. The high-speed AVE rail network makes day trips to Andalusia or Barcelona possible for those short on time, though they warrant much longer.
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  • 04 of 13

    Where to Go After Madrid

    Seville Cathedral
    © Damian Corrigan

    Spain is your oyster when starting your trip in Madrid because it is the hub geographically and for most transportation. You can head in all directions in Spain and find a fantastic city or region. You'll need to start at Madrid's bus and train stations. Here are some options for travel in the rest of Spain:

    • Head south and visit Andalusia.
    • Head east and visit Barcelona and/or Valencia.
    • Head west and visit Segovia, Avila, the Valle de Los Caidos (Valley of the Fallen), and Salamanca and into Portugal.
    • Head northwest and visit Asturias and Galicia.
    • Head north and visit the Basque country and La Rioja.

    South of Madrid

    • Best Region: Andalusia
    • Best Cities: Seville, Granada, Cordoba, Toledo, Jerez, Ronda, and Cadiz
    • Best Guided Tours: a Four-day tour of Seville, Cordoba, Granada, and Toledo

    East of Madrid

    • Best Region: Catalonia
    • Best Cities: Barcelona, Cuenca, and Valencia
    • Best Guided Tour: a Four-day tour of Barcelona and Valencia

    West of Madrid

    • Best Region: Castilla y Leon or even Portugal
    • Best Cities: Lisbon, Segovia, Salamanca, Avila 
    • Best Guided Tour: a Four-day tour of Portugal from Madrid

    North of Madrid

    • Best Region: Basque country
    • Best Cities: San Sebastian and Bilbao
    • Best Guided Tour: Eight-day tour of Barcelona and northern Spain

    Northwest of Madrid

    • Best Region: Galicia
    • Best Cities: Santiago de Compostela and Oviedo, concentrating on the countryside
    • Best Guided Tour: a Five-day tour of northern Spain from Madrid
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  • 05 of 13

    South: Visiting Andalusia from Madrid

    The Alhambra in Granada at sunset
    © Damian Corrigan

    To the south of Madrid, you'll head for Andalusia and visit Cordoba, Seville, Jerez, Cadiz, Ronda, and Granada.

    When planning how long to spend in each of these cities, use these minimums as a benchmark for each place:

    • Cordoba: Visit as a half-day on the way from Madrid to Seville by high-speed AVE train. 
    • Seville: Stay for at least two days. The better connection to Madrid means I would visit here before Granada.
    • Granada: Stay for two days or less, if pressed for time.
    • Ronda: A full day trip (bear in mind the long travel time from almost anywhere). Worth an overnight stay if only to avoid two long journeys in a single day.
    • Jerez: Possible as a half day from Seville, but worth an overnight stay to drink the local sherry in the gorgeous tabanco sherry bars.
    • Cadiz: Visit as a half-day or full-day from Jerez. 

    Two Days in Andalusia Suggested Itinerary

    Choose one: Seville or Granada.

    If visiting Seville, take the AVE high-speed train and consider a stop in Cordoba to see the Mezquita. There is a Two-Day Seville and Cordoba Tour from Madrid that returns on the AVE high-speed train, the best way to see two cities in just two days. Transport to Granada is a little slower so it's not quite a realistic two-day trip from Madrid, but you'd at least have time to see the Alhambra and taste the famous free tapas with every drink.

    Three Days in Andalusia Suggested Itinerary

    Choose one: Seville or Granada

    Choose two: Seville, Granada, Cordoba, Ronda, Cadiz, and Jerez.

    Seville is well connected to all of these destinations. If visiting Granada or Cordoba, it's not realistic to pair it with Ronda or Jerez.

    Four Days in Andalusia Suggested Itinerary

    All of the above three-day combinations can be done at a more relaxed pace, or add a third city. Jerez is the best option since it is conveniently located close to Seville. 

    It would be difficult to visit Seville, Cordoba, and Granada in so little time.

    Five Days in Andalusia Suggested Itinerary

    Pick two or three: Seville, Granada, Cordoba, Ronda, Cadiz, and Jerez.

    You can definitely see three cities fairly comfortably over five days, possibly: two days in Seville, two days in Granada, and perhaps another city for a day or overnight. If you'd like to see more places, try five days in Seville, Granada, Cordoba, and Ronda.

    What to Do with Six or More Days in Andalusia

    Pick three or more:  Seville, Granada, Cordoba, Ronda, Cadiz, and Jerez.

    You'll have more than enough time to comfortably visit three of these cities in five days.

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  • 06 of 13

    East: Visiting Barcelona and Valencia

    Sagrada Familia in Barcelona
    Sylvain Sonnet / Getty Images

    There are three main destinations when traveling east from Madrid:

    • Barcelona
    • Cuenca
    • Valencia

    Despite Valencia being Spain’s third-biggest city, you might put Cuenca higher on your to-do list. Unfortunately, it’s on the Madrid-Valencia train line, not the Madrid-Barcelona, making a Madrid-Barcelona-Cuenca trip impossible without going via Valencia. Don't even try driving between the two cities.

    There are guided tours of Barcelona from Madrid. Consider these Madrid and Barcelona suggested itineraries.

    Two Days in Eastern Spain: Suggested Itinerary

    Your best bet is to visit Barcelona if you are heading east for two days. Take the AVE high-speed train, if possible. If you are driving from Madrid to Barcelona, stop for lunch in Zaragoza, and see both of the splendid cathedrals there. 

    Three Days in Eastern Spain: Suggested Itinerary

    Barcelona is still your best option, even for three days. If you wanted to meander back to Madrid on your third day, you could stop for a paella lunch in Valencia, the birthplace of the dish, and stop in Cuenca to see the so-called hanging houses. This would involve a lot of driving but it's quite doable and it's even possible by train.

    What to Do with Four or More Days in Eastern Spain 

    You’ll always want to spend the majority of your time in Barcelona, even if you add other cities.

    How Long to Spend in Cuenca and Valencia

    How much time to allocate to Cuenca and Valencia depends on your interests.

    Valencia is a true Mediterranean city, with beaches and paella restaurants and a roaring trade in oranges. It has a more relaxed pace than Barcelona. The old town is actually surprisingly small (its place as the third biggest city is thanks to its sprawling suburbs). It also has a famous Calatrava-designed Ciudad de Artes y Ciencias.

    Cuenca is a small city in Castilla. Its hanging houses are a sight to behold. Its old town is more attractive than that of Valencia. And its museums, as in Valencia, are also focused on arts and sciences: They are smaller than those of Valencia but cheaper, closer together, and more accessible. 

    Cuenca’s climate is more extreme than that of Valencia. It is a place to explore the narrow old town streets, to see the hanging houses, and to explore the fun museums and art galleries. But you probably won’t want to spend too long sitting with a coffee or a wine on a Terraza. In winter, it will be very cold and in summer it can get extremely hot. Valencia, on another hand, is a city where you can just relax. If you don’t want to visit the Ciudad de Artes y Ciencias, the city center will hold your attention, but not for long. 

    Alternatively...

    To extend your trip a little, rather than looping clockwise from Barcelona to Valencia and Cuenca, you could loop counterclockwise and visit La Rioja and the Basque Country.

    Don't try to connect this eastern road trip to the south because the journey between Cordoba and Valencia is not interesting, with less developed roads and no direct trains. You’re better off returning to Madrid first, which is where the train will take you.

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  • 07 of 13

    West: Visiting the Smaller Cities Close to Madrid

    Plaza Mayor Salamanca
    NPHOTOS / Getty Images

    Most of the cities close to Madrid’s west can be visited as day trips from Madrid. However, it can be fun to connect the dots instead and not return to Madrid each night. You'll reduce travel time, but increase hotel check-in time doing this.

    Two Days West of Madrid: Suggested Itinerary

    There are two major options:

    • Visit Segovia via Avila 
    • Visit Segovia and Salamanca

    Three Days West of Madrid: Suggested Itinerary

    • Visit Segovia, Avila, and Salamanca

    Four Days West of Madrid: Suggested Itinerary

    • Visit Segovia, Avila, and Salamanca, returning via the wine region of the Ribera del Duero

    What to Do with Five or More Days West of Madrid

    • Visit Segovia, Avila, and Salamanca, and then head north to Leon (with a quick stop to see the Romanesque churches of Zamora, before returning via the wine region of the Ribera del Duero.
      Instead of returning from Leon, you could head up to the northwest.
    • Visit Salamanca and then head to Portugal to Coimbra and then to Lisbon. 
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  • 08 of 13

    Northwest: Visiting Asturias and Galicia from Madrid

    Santiago de Compostela Cathedral
    Fresco Tours / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

    Visiting green, green Spain is a fantastic way to spend a few days outside of Madrid, but there are a few things you have to think about.

    Consider the Distance

    Galicia and Asturias are Spain’s most remote regions and require a lot of travel time. But you can get considerable time by flying at least one leg of these trips. Here are three ways to tackle the distance problem:

    • Fly to Oviedo, A Coruña, or Santiago de Compostela. 
    • Take the train to Leon and then explore the northwest loop from there. 
    • Take the long route to Leon via our recommended western cities and then continue to the northwest from there.

    City or Country?

    The real allure of the northwest of Spain is the countryside. West from Santiago de Compostela, you have the Rias Baixas "sunken valleys" along the fearsome Galician coast that offer fantastic views of the turbulent Atlantic. To the east of Oviedo, you have the Picos de Europa mountains.

    On the other hand, the cities have their charms, too, particularly Santiago de Compostela, where the old town is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Oviedo has its Bulevar de Sidra (Cider Boulevard) and even A Coruña has the Torre de Hercules (Tower of Hercules), well worth a visit if your flight arrival time means you can’t get over to Santiago for a full day there. Of course, cities have a more varied nightlife, vegetarian options, and other city trappings.

    To accommodate a variety of preferences, here are a few city-country combinations: 

    • Leon: Lunch (the tapas are all free here) or half a day
    • Astorga: Half a day
    • Oviedo and the Picos de Europa: Two days
    • Santiago de Compostela and the Rias Baixas: Two or three days

    Two Days in Northwest Spain: Suggested Itinerary

    Considering the need to check in to two flights, two days should not be enough time. Bear in mind that this actually means one day and two periods of checking into flights.

    • Fly to Santiago or A Coruña visiting just Santiago de Compostela
    • Fly to Oviedo and explore Oviedo.

    In each case, fly back. 

    Three Days in Northwest Spain: Suggested Itinerary

    You have a little more time now, but with only one day without traveling, which is still cutting it close:

    • Fly to Santiago, A Coruña or Oviedo visiting Santiago de Compostela or Oviedo.
    • Lunch in Leon and two days in Santiago or Oviedo. Drive or take the train there and fly back to Madrid (or vice versa).

    In each case, fly back.

    Four Days in Northwest Spain: Suggested Itinerary

    • Lunch in Leon, two days in Santiago or Oviedo, and a day trip
    • A day in Leon, half a day in Astorga, and then two days in Santiago or Oviedo
    • Fly to spend two days to Santiago, spend two days in Oviedo

    In each case, fly back.

    Five Days or More in Northwest Spain

    • Lunch in Leon and at least four days to explore the region
    • A day in Leon, half a day in Astorga, and at least three days to explore the region

    In each case, fly back.

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  • 09 of 13

    North: Exploring Basque Country and La Rioja from Madrid

    Bar-top Pintxos in San Sebastian
    © Damian Corrigan

    Heading directly north from Madrid, you’ll pass Burgos, with one of the most impressive cathedrals in Spain, which is a great place to stop for lunch. Turn slightly east and you’ll soon enter La Rioja, Spain’s most famous wine region. Then head up to the coast and you’ll reach the Basque country, home to the Guggenheim museum and San Sebastian, the gastronomical capital of Spain.

    Here are a couple of things to bear in mind when planning a trip to this area of Spain, particularly to the wine regions.

    Will You Visit La Rioja?

    Spain is a nation of wine regions, with excellent, well-priced wines throughout the country. The Basque country’s proximity to La Rioja means it has even more good wine than the rest of Spain. Therefore, if your interest is just drinking the wine, there’s no need to visit La Rioja.

    That said, the grape-growing areas of La Rioja are stunning and worth a visit for their beauty alone. For those with an interest in wine production, the wine tours can be very enlightening. So there is more to visiting La Rioja than just drinking wine.

    Do You Have a Designated Driver?

    Spanish vineyards don’t tend to be well connected by public transport. But driving is not really an option if everyone in your party wants to sample the wines.

    And even if you do have a driver, just turning up at a vineyard will probably mean you’ll be greeted by a "closed" sign or you may not find anyone who speaks English. Thus, it is essential to book your vineyard visits through winetourismspain.com.

    For anyone without a driver, a guided tour will allow you to indulge in the wine.

    If you don’t have a designated driver and you don’t want to do a tour, visit Logroño. Its Calle Laurel is the best street for trying a variety of wines, with a great tapas at each stop.

    Bilbao or San Sebastian?

    These are the twin stars of Basque country. But where should you base yourself?

    It is unquestionably San Sebastian. While the residents of Bilbao try to argue their pintxos (Basque tapas) are the equal of those in San Sebastian, they simply are not. And with San Sebastian’s Michelin-starred restaurants (and the cider houses), San Sebastian wins hands down for gastronomy.

    But what if you favor art over food? If you favor art over food, Bilbao is your best bet, with the Guggenheim as one of the premier art museums in Spain. 

    In fact, the tapas of San Sebastian and the Guggenheim of Bilbao can be both easily be visited as a day trip from the other city.

    Keep in mind that Bilbao also has an international airport, which may make travel easier for you.

    How Many Days to Spend in Basque Country?

    With half a day needed to visit the Guggenheim, and a day needed to experience the gastronomy of San Sebastian, you'll need a minimum of two days. 

    Two Days in Northern Spain

    Visit: San Sebastian and Bilbao

    If this is all the time you have, you’ll need to fly to Bilbao, head to the Guggenheim and then over to San Sebastian for the night. Have a day in San Sebastian and then go directly to the airport for your return flight. You could also stay in Bilbao with a day trip in San Sebastian, but the travel logistics may be time-consuming.

    Three or Four Days in Northern Spain

    Visit: San Sebastian and Bilbao (and perhaps Burgos or La Rioja)

    With three days, you have the time to drive up through Burgos. You could even take a detour via the wine region of Ribera del Duero.

    Once you’re in Basque country, you have two days to sample San Sebastian gastronomy and the Guggenheim in Bilbao. If you are only visiting for three days, you’ll need to cross one of these off your list in order to fit in a day trip to La Rioja.

    Fly back.

    Five or More Days in Northern Spain

    You could add a day trip to a fishing village close to San Sebastian and sample even more tapas bars in San Sebastian.

    Fly back.

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  • 10 of 13

    Winter in Madrid (December, January, and February)

    Winter in Retiro Park, Madrid
    Ramón Durán / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

    Winter Weather in Madrid

    Madrid tends to be cold and dry in winter. Snow is possible but rare. Temperatures in the towns and villages outside Madrid tend to get even colder. There is usually plenty of sunshine, so your photos will still look great.

    Spain is an hour ahead of the UK, which means you get longer evenings than you might expect.

    Events in Winter in Madrid: Christmas

    December in Madrid is dominated by Christmas and New Year's Eve. Both are traditionally family affairs, but you'll find some bars and restaurants open on Christmas Day.

    If you're in Madrid for New Year's Eve, head to Puerta del Sol to be with thousands of other visitors to the city eating 12 grapes, one for each stroke at midnight. But don't expect many Madrileños to join you because they'll be with their families. You won't even find many bars open for the big moment. But have no fear. At around 12:30 a.m., the bars open and the youth of Spain say "¡Adios, Mama y Papa!" and head out to join their friends.

    January in Madrid

    Madrid is emerging from its Christmas gluttony with, well, more gluttony, as the city's Gastrofestival shatters everyone's attempts at detox in January.

    Here is more detail on January weather and things to do in January in Madrid:

    • January Weather in Madrid
    • January 5–6
      Event: Three Kings Day
      Where? All over Spain  
      What? Kids get gifts from the three kings on the night before the January 6. On the January 5, there is a procession through the streets in which the kings throw candy to the crowds.
    • Early January
      Event: 'Pinguinos' Winter Motorcycle Rally
      Where? Valladolid. Here's how to get from Madrid to Valladolid.
      What? Amateur motorbike rally, just outside the city of Valladolid. 
    • January 19 (approximate)
      Event: Rifa del Marrano de San Anton
      Where? La Alberca, near Salamanca. Here's how to get from Madrid to Salamanca.
      What? The end of a pig's bizarre 'freedom of the village.' 
    • Late January or early February
      Event: Gastrofestival
      Where? All over Madrid 
      What? Special meal deals in restaurants, exhibitions on gastronomy in culture, and more.

    February in Madrid

    Here is more information about February weather and Madrid events and celebrations in February:

    • February weather in Madrid
    • Events in February in Spain
    • February 1–3
      Event: La Endiablada
      Where? Festival in Almonacid, near Cuenca,
      What? Local festivities where everyone dresses up as devils.
    • First Sunday of February (after February 5)
      Event: Santa Agueda women's festival
      Where? Zamarramala, near Segovia.
      What? Parades, dancing and music, and the burning of a straw guy
    • February 14
      Event: Valentine's Day
      Where? Everywhere in Spain
      What? Lovers go out for dinner and buy chocolates.
    • Early to mid-February
      Event: Mercedes Benz Fashion Week
      Where? Madrid
      What? Series of high-fashion shows
    • Late February
      Event: International Contemporary Art Fair 
      Where? Madrid
      What? Often referred to as ARCOmadrid
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  • 11 of 13

    Spring in Madrid (March, April, and May)

    Aranjuez, near Madrid, in March
    M a n u e l / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

    Weather in Madrid in Spring

    There's an expression in Spanish: "Hasta el 40 de mayo no te quites el sayo" ("Until the 40th of May [June 9], don't take off your raincoat."), which means rain is always possible until June. 

    By and large, though, temperatures are moderate and it is usually dry. Here is more detail about the weather in April, which is a great time to visit without a lot of tourists:

    March Events in Madrid

    • March
      Event: Bullfighting season begins.
      Where? Madrid. Other cities will have their first bullfight of the season around this date.
      What? The beginning of the year's bullfights. Fights are every Sunday until October, with extra events throughout the year.  or see the full bullfighting schedule for Madrid for this year.
    • February or March (depending on when Easter falls)
      Event: Carnival
      Where? All over Spain. 
      What? It's Carnival time! Spain's two main gay communities, Chueca in Madrid and Sitges near Barcelona, are the stars of the shows here. Cadiz and Tenerife also host famous processions.
    • March 15 until March 19
      Event: Las Fallas
      Where? Valencia. Though Valencia is 200 miles from Madrid, the AVE train will get you from Madrid to Valencia in just over an hour and a half.
      What? The biggest party in Spain. The third biggest city in the country shuts down for a week to hold one of the biggest street parties you'll ever see. Xàtiva, Benidorm, and Denia also have mini-Fallas festivities. 
         Valencian communities make paper-mache sculptures, sometimes in the shape of traditional figures, sometimes in the shape of famous people like Shrek or Barack Obama. The creations are on display all over the city before being burned in one of the many bonfires. This takes place amid much partying. You haven't seen bonfires until you've seen the ones the Valencians light on the last night of Las Fallas. Here's what to do at Las Fallas.
    • Mid-March
      Event: Motortec
      Where? Ifema exhibition hall in Madrid
      What? Motoring trade show
    • Late March or early April
      Event: Half-marathon
      Where? Madrid.
      What? Half-marathon and 5-km run in the capital.

    April in Madrid

    • Every Sunday in April
      Event: Bullfighting in Madrid
      Where? Las Ventas bullring, Madrid
      What? See one of the regular Sunday bullfights, or plan your visit with a look at the full bullfighting schedule for Madrid.
    • Late April, early May
      Event: Festimad
      Where? Madrid
      What? Festival of 'musical biodiversity’

    May in Madrid

    • May 2
      Event: Dos de Mayo festival
      Where? Around the Plaza Dos de Mayo square in Madrid
      What? Event in Madrid's trendy Malasaña district to commemorate the 1808 uprising against the French
    • Early May
      Event: Madrid Open
      Where? Madrid
      What? Major tennis tournament, part of the ATP Masters Series

    Dates for the following events are not confirmed. Click on the links for more details.

    • May to early June
      Event: San Isidro Festival and San Isidro bullfighting season
      Where?: Madrid
      What? Daily bullfights from about May 9 to June 9, with the main festival from about May 11 to May 15.
       
    • Late May (TBC)
      Event: IPA Beer Festival
      Where? At Baden Baden Cerveceria in Madrid
      What? IPA beer festival celebrates the emerging international craft beer scene
    Continue to 12 of 13 below.
  • 12 of 13

    Madrid in Summer (June, July, and August)

    Plaza Mayor in Madrid in summer
    Angie Six / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

    Weather in Madrid in Summer

    Summers in Madrid can get very hot. In August, much of the city shut down, with many bars and cafes closed as the locals go to the beach. It tends to be very dry, which makes for slightly cooler nights and mornings. Definitely look for accommodations with air-conditioning if you are staying in Madrid in the summer.

    Events in Madrid in June

    • June 7–30 (dates TBC) 
      Event: Suma Flamenca 
      Where? Madrid 
      What? The capital's biggest flamenco festival
    • Third Saturday of June (date TBC) 
      Event: Noche en Blanca de Flamenco 
      Where? Cordoba. The high-speed train from Madrid to Cordoba will get you to the city in under two hours.
      What? Mostly free flamenco concerts throughout the night

    July in Madrid 

    • July and August
      Event: Veranos de la Villa (Summer in the City)
      Where? Madrid
      What? Concerts and theatrical performances throughout July and August
    • July 2–6 (dates TBC)
      Event: Gay Pride
      Where? Chueca district of Madrid
      What? Spain's biggest gay pride event

    August in Madrid

    • July and August
      Event Veranos de la Villa (Summer in the City).
      Where? Madrid
      What? Concerts and theatrical performances throughout July and August
    • August and September 
      Event: Vuelta an España 
      Where? Stages take place largely in the north of Spain (Galicia, Navarra, Basque country, and Catalonia) and around Madrid. 
      What? Spain's version of the Tour de France cycling event. Dates vary year to year but tend to straddle August and September, finishing in Madrid in mid-September.
    Continue to 13 of 13 below.
  • 13 of 13

    Madrid in Autumn (September, October, and November)

    Spain, Madrid, Retiro Park in autumn
    Westend61/Getty Images

    Madrid Weather in Autumn

    Temperatures in September are still quite high, falling steeply in October. Avoid the start of September and come a little later in the year if possible. Here's what to expect from September through November:​

    September Events in Madrid

    • September 25–28 (dates TBC)
      Event: Hay Festival Segovia
      Where? Segovia, near Madrid
      What? The Spanish leg of the world famous literary festival

    October in Madrid

    • Early October
      Event: Bullfighting for the Feria de Otoño
      Where? Madrid
      What? Book tickets for bullfights in Madrid or see the full bullfighting schedule for Madrid.

    November in Madrid