Here we come to the final stage of my solo trip: 4 days in Madrid. I am not going to lie, I was tired already, and all I wanted to do was to lie in bed and do nothing 🙂 But, considering my luck with the hotel, that was not possible and I had to go out 🙂
But let’s start with my departure from Salamanca. I chose train as a way to get to Madrid’s Atocha, as the ticket was quite cheap and my hotel was very close. When I got to the train station, I could not find my route on the electronic display. The train was bound to leave in 20 minutes, but there was only Madrid’s Chamartin station as the destination. It took me some time to realize that my ticket was till Chamartin: apparently, I did not pay attention to the station when I bought the ticket 🙂 So, I had to cross the whole city to get to my hotel. Pay more attention when you book your tickets.
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How to get to Madrid from the airport
The Barajas airport has 4 terminals: 1, 2 and 3 are close to each other, and 4 is far from these three. Passengers arrive mainly to the first three.
There are a couple of ways to get to Madrid from the airport. Let’s mention more affordable ways than taxi.
– If you fly to terminals 1, 2, 3, then you can take the metro to Nuevos Ministerios station and change from here to the line you need. If you fly to terminal 4, you can again take the metro till Nuevos Ministerios. If you need to go to Atocha, better opt for the option below, otherwise, you will have to change the lines twice.
– If you fly to terminal 4, you can opt for light rail service called Cercania, and it will take you directly to Atocha station. Even if you fly to the other terminals, you can still use Cercania: there are free shuttle buses between the terminals. Actually, on my way to the airport I took Cercania from Atocha to terminal 4 and then the shuttle bus: it cost me 2,6 EUR. More info on Cercania from the airport to the city center is here.
– There are many local buses that connect airport with the city center. You can check all of them here.
– Just keep in mind that the options I mentioned above are not available 24/7. If you arrive late at night, you might consider the Airport Express that departs from the terminals 1, 2 and 4, just check the timetable. More info is here.
Where to stay in Madrid
Well, the place I stayed at while in Madrid is not the one I can absolutely wholeheartedly recommend. While it is cheap and has some really strong advantages, I have ambiguous feelings about it.
I stayed at JGM Room Huertas, and the location was just perfect. It is on calle Atocha, one minute away from Anton Martin subway station, and about 15 minutes on foot from the Atocha train station and the Royal Palace. As I prefer to explore the city by walking, this hotel was a very good option.
My room was small, but clean. The lady who cleaned it, was very nice and helpful, and I do not know what I would have done without her. Like I said, my Spanish is quite rusty, and the owners of the hotel don’t speak a word in English, so this cleaning lady who spoke Romanian (I speak it much better than Spanish) was my only way to communicate with the owners.
The check-in process itself was not smooth: they could not charge my card. They tried a couple of times with no success, so I had to give them all the cash I had left.
But it was not the check-in process that made me regret my decision to stay at this hotel. You see, the window of my room faced the main street, and it was extremely noisy. I could not sleep because of all the sounds from outside, and there was nothing I could do about it. But, probably, if you get another room, it will be ok.
Here below are some hotels that have high scores on Booking.com, are relatively cheap (depends on the season) and close to the touristic attractions of Madrid. What I advise you to do is to read the reviews first:
Hostal Delfina – a hotel offering rooms with private bathrooms right in Gran Via.
Fuencarall Rooms – a hotel offering rooms with private bathrooms not far from Gran Via.
Hostal Las Murallas – a hotel offering rooms with private and shared bathrooms not far from Gran Via.
Far Home Plaza Mayor – a hotel with private and shared bathrooms at Tirso de Molina subway station.
Hostal Mayor – a hotel with private bathrooms close to the Royal Palace.
Hostal Oriente – a hotel with private bathrooms close to the Royal Palace.
Hostal Inn Madrid – a hotel offering rooms with private bathrooms not far from Gran Via.
How to move around Madrid
In my opinion, the easiest way to move around Madrid is by metro. I am not going to claim that I used it often, just a couple of times: getting to the city center from the airport and from Chamartin station to Atocha. The rest was done on foot 🙂
This is the official website of the Madrid metro network: here you will find the maps, route planner, ticket costs. The price depends on the zone: for example, I paid 2 EUR for a ticket from Chamartin to Atocha, and 1,6 EUR from Barajas station to Nuevos Ministerios. More info on prices is here. If you intend to use the subway extensively, you might consider buying a pack of 10 tickets for 18,30 EUR. Something else I noted (or, probably, I am just so lucky!): the stations are mostly unmanned, I mean, no ticket offices just machines. There were people helping to buy tickets, but I do not remember anyone speaking English.
NB: I think it is a new thing, but it looks like now you have to buy a card and load it with tickets. Read carefully the information in the links I provided above.
What to buy in Madrid
I guess if Madrid is your final point in Spain, then it is just the right time to buy turron to take home. This dessert that looks like a chocolate bar, is usually made of honey, sugar, egg whites and nuts. It comes in different flavours and fillings. My favorite one is chocolate turron with almonds! Like I mentioned already, I had an opportunity to buy a really delicious turron in Seville, but hoped to find something cheaper. Well, I did not, and bought mine in a shop not far from my hotel on Plaza de Mattute.
Another thing you can bring from your trip to Spain is the famous jamon, of course 🙂 I am not a big fan of it, but there are lots of shops selling it. I honestly think that the price is too high. You can find it in the shops and in the markets as well. The San Miguel market is an absolutely touristic and, consequently, very expensive place, but the San Antón market is farther from the city center, not so crowded, and prices are lower.
I could not forget about sangria 🙂 This famous beverage might be a nice gift to – probably – everyone who likes wine. And, if we are talking about drinks, it is fair to say that Spain is a known producer of wine, so bringing back a bottle would be nice.
Where to eat in Madrid
I spent about 80 EUR on food during these 4 days in Madrid, and I consider it is a lot of money, but I am the one to blame 🙂 I did not research beforehand affordable restaurants, so I left about 20 EUR each time in those I went to. I am not going to recommend them, especially considering that I am not really fond of them.
Of course, when it comes to places to eat in Spain, markets always come to mind. The most famous and expensive market in Madrid is Mercado de San Miguel. I went there, and… I did not buy anything. It was so crowded, that it was problematic even to get close to the counter. Some people just bought sandwiches and sat on the steps outside. But I managed to take some photos 🙂
Instead of crowding at Mercado de San Miguel, I would advise to go to another market: San Anton. It is not as fancy and colorful as the San Miguel, but it is a bit cheaper with much less people. There is a market on the first floor where all kinds of jamon, cheese, fruit and vegetable are sold, and the second floor is a bar with ready-to-eat tapas and places where food can be cooked.
If you see anywhere Granier shops, go in for delicious croissants and pastry.
There are many places where they sell pizza slices for 2-3 EUR, which is a good way to save money on food. I went to PaPizza in Gran Via, and can wholeheartedly recommend it. They have more places open in Madrid, check the website.
If you want something sweet, there are many great cafes in Madrid to satisfy your cravings.
Places to eat in Madrid you might consider (I did not go there):
Restaurant Francisca not far from the Royal Palace on Calle de Bailén, 14.
Taberna del Chato in Calle de la Cruz, 35.
What to see and do during 4 days in Madrid: a detailed itinerary
I am not a fan of arts (I think I tell it very often :)), but I had to visit the Prado Museum. I heard so much about it, so I just could not miss it. The Retiro Park was in my bucket list as well, and, shame on me, that was pretty much everything I knew about Madrid before I started researching the places to visit.
I have a couple of favorite places in Madrid now: it is the Temple of Debod, the Rosaleda and the Botanical Gardens. As always, I wrote a longer post on places to visit. Here is my guide on free things to do in Madrid. And the itinerary is below:
Mercado de San Miguel
Palacio Real de Madrid
Muralla Arabe and Parque Emir Mohamed
Real Basilica de San Francisco el Grande
Climb to the 9th story of the El Corte Ingles Shopping Center for the free view of Madrid
Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales
Plaza de España
Egyptian Temple of Debod
San Antonio de la Florida Chapel
Plaza de Colón
Museo Arqueológico Nacional
Mercado San Anton
Plaza de Cibeles
Puerta de Alcala
El Retiro Park (a half of the park)
San Jerónimo el Real
Museo Nacional del Prado
Park at Paseo del Prado
Royal Botanical Garden
El Retiro Park (the other half of the park)
Just like I said, Madrid is just one of the cities I visited in Spain, so if you are curious, I have a detailed, day by day itinerary for those 3 weeks I spent in Spain or Andalusia tour only.
Weather. It was sunny, but a bit cold to my taste during these 4 days in Madrid. Still, I did not need layers of clothes as in Salamanca, so I consider the weather was good 🙂 But I would suggest to come to Madrid before November.
Pharmacies. There is a 24/7 pharmacy not far from the San Miguel Market on Calle Mayor, 13. In Calle Goya, 89 there is another pharmacy open day and night – Goya 89. Not far from Gran Via in Calle de Preciados, 19 one can find Farmacia Montilla Illera open 24/7.
Supermarkets. Not far from the San Anton market in Calle de Valverde, 25 you can find a Door Shop supermarket. There is a supermarket on Plaza de Matute, it is the one I visited frequently. A Dia supermarket in Calle de las Huertas, 72 is not far from the Prado Museum.
English. I can’t say that I met many people speaking English in Madrid. I guess partly that’s because I did not even attempt to speak English anymore, considering that in the other cities it was not of much help. Waiters in many restaurants speak English, but that’s it. Just like I mentioned above, even the hotel owners did not know a word in English. My last piece of advice: learn a bit of Spanish before you come to Spain 🙂
Train from Salamanca to Madrid – 11,95 EUR
JGM Room Huertas – 145 EUR
Food (restaurants, supermarket, occasional snacks) – 79 EUR
Entrance fees to touristic sights – 16 EUR
Local transportation – 4,6 EUR
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