Nestled in the tightly packed streets of central Madrid, the beautiful grand central square of Plaza Mayor is one of the prettiest open spaces in Spain. This magnificent square boasts a combination of imposing architecture and vibrant street life that makes it a must-see site in Madrid. Take a lunch break after wondering Plaza Mayor’s cobblestones and try a calamari sandwich in one of the restaurants, a culinary speciality in Madrid that is perfect alongside an ice-cold beer. If you visit Madrid during December, visit Plaza Mayor for its brilliant Christmas markets.
Madrid has an outstanding artistic scene that is almost unrivalled, which is why art lovers return time and time again. The Museo del Prado, for instance, is one of the world’s premier art galleries, with over 7000 paintings held in its collection - including the royal paintings of Velazquez. Meanwhile, the fantastic Centro de Arte Reina Sofía is home to Picasso’s Guernica, possibly Spain’s most famous artwork, alongside other majestic works by Salvador Dalí and Joan Miró. Whilst the Prado and Reina Sofía allow you to focus on individual artists in detail, visit the Museo Thyssen-Bornmisza to look at an incredible breadth of artistic styles.
The magnificent Italianate Baroque Palacio Real used to be the residence of the Spanish royal family, until they moved to the modest Palacio de la Zarzuela. Filipe V, the first of the Bourbon kings, decided to build a palace that would dwarf its European counterparts. However, Filipe died before this gigantic palace was finished and, as a result, the palace only comprises a mere 2800 rooms, just one-quarter of the original plan. Take a fascinating guided tour of the palace, which leads you through 50 stunning rooms, holding a remarkable collection of Goyas, ornate clocks and five impressive Stradivarius violins.
Parque del Buen Retiro
Escape the bustling streets of central Madrid for the serenity of the glorious gardens of Parque del Buen Retiro. Amble around the park’s fantastic marble monuments, luscious landscaped lawns and seek out the wonderful metal-and-glass structure of Palacio de Cristal. The locals of Madrid particularly enjoy this spot during fine weather, a perfect place to catch some rays or to read the paper in the shade. One of the main attractions is the stunning artificial lake, on which you can rent a rowing boat for an iconic Madrid experience.
Basílica de San Francisco El Grande
Recently restored, this imposing Baroque basilica is one of Madrid’s grandest churches. The magnificently frescoed dome is estimated to be the largest in Europe and the fourth largest in the world, with a diameter of 33m and a height of 56m. Each chapel is ornamented with frescoes and decorated to a different historical style; the Capilla de San Bernardino chapel is the most popular as it was painted by the famous Spanish painter Francisco Goya.
British Airways from London Heathrow to Madrid. UK regional departures and charter flights are also available.
From London Heathrow to Madrid: 2 hours, 30 minutes.
Travelling With Children or Without an Adult
Children travelling without both parents should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country (for example, South Africa) or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country. Please contact the relevant Embassy for the county you are travelling to for further information.
Visa and Advance Passenger Information
All passengers must ensure they have a valid, acceptable passport, any required visa and any other documentation for both the final destination and any stop-off points en route. Please make sure that Advance Passenger Information is submitted in advance to travel for all destinations. Failure to hold correct documentation or submitting incorrect details with Advance Passenger Information or Visa applications may result in refusal of carriage or entry into a country. Please check with the relevant Embassy regarding visa requirements well in advance of your travel date. Charges may apply for some visas.
Passengers not travelling on a British Passport are advised to contact their relevant Foreign & Commonwealth office for individual Visa requirements.
For up-to-date resort information, visit www.fco.gov.uk
Health facilities, hygiene and disease risks vary worldwide and you should take health advice about your specific needs from your general practitioner or a specialist clinic as early as possible before travel. Those planning to become pregnant should discuss their travel plans with their healthcare provider to assess their risk of infection with Zika. For information about Zika, other mosquito-borne diseases (such as Dengue fever and Chikungunya), Lyme Disease (caused by tick bites), and to receive advice on mosquito bite avoidance measures, please visit http://travelhealthpro.org.uk/insect-tick-bite-avoidance/
In addition, we highly recommend that you seek specialist advice from your doctor and, where recommended, obtain vaccinations or tablets for protection against, for example: Malaria, Hepatitis A, Polio and Typhoid. In some cases, treatments for Malaria should begin well in advance of travel. Travellers may also be required to show Yellow Fever Certificates on arrival in certain destinations ie, some African countries. Please note that you are strongly advised against scuba-diving for 24 hours before travelling by air. We would also like to draw your attention to the risk of DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) and recommend that you consult with your doctor before travelling.
Visit the FCO website and select your destination country for the very latest travel advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Additional sources of information include: www.hpa.org.uk, http://nathnac.net,
www.fco.gov.uk, www.hpa.org.uk and www.nathnac.org, your General Practitioner or a specialised clinic.