Destination Debrief: Madrid

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Fora Author Fora

The Modern Travel Agency


  • Madrid

  • Spain

a serene hotel lobby with colorful seating cushions and a grey couch and chairs

Image courtesy of URSO Hotel & Spa

After visiting Madrid once, you'll be dreaming of when you can return. Its vast and varied collection of galleries and museums display art dating from prehistory all the way up to the present day. Grand, architecturally beautiful buildings frame tree-lined boulevards. And lively parks and green spaces provide a nature-filled respite from the city’s palpable energy. 

Foodies will delight in Madrid’s impressive gastronomic scene. Lively, rustic-chic tapas bars and tabernas serve deceptively simple fare, best paired with a refreshing glass of local vino. Haute cuisine is served in the most unassuming of joints, while elegant Michelin Stars and gourmet markets abound. 

Madrid is also the perfect gateway to Spain, the ideal starting point before venturing off to Seville, Grenada, Barcelona, Menorca, Ibiza, Mallorca...

Below is a mere sampling of all Madrid has to offer. Connect with Fora to plan a personalized trip tailored to your unique interests and travel style. In a city this big, and this full of hidden gems and places to explore, working with a Fora Advisor will pay dividends.

Ready to travel? Connect with Fora to plan and book your Madrid getaway today.

The quick and dirty:

Currency: €, Euro (EUR)

Languages: Spanish

Airport: Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport (MAD)

Transportation: The Madrid Metro is the most economical and efficient way to traverse the city and its suburbs. Taxis, buses and bike rentals are also available.

Best time to visit: Madrid can be beautiful year round. Summers tend to be very hot, and the busiest time of year for tourists. Spring is particularly lovely, as everything begins to bloom. In March and April, expect some rain here and there. During fall, temperatures are mild and pleasant, while November and December tend to be the coldest and wettest months (although January tends to be the coldest, and may see some snowfall).

Ideal length of stay: Three nights in Madrid is perfect. But if you choose to stay longer — say five to seven days — there is more than enough to see, explore and enjoy.

Signature dishes: cocido madrileño (chickpea, meat and vegetable stew), tortilla de patatas (egg-and-potato omelet), gambas al ajillo (garlicky shrimp), patatas bravas (fried potatoes with spicy tomato sauce)

Key phrases: por favor (please), gracias (thank you), buenos dias (good morning), buenas tardes (good afternoon), buenas noches (good night)

Dress code: put-together, smart and chic — you can’t go wrong with a pair of Vejas, a crisp button-up and your favorite statement sunnies

Sol-Gran Vía, Austrias & La Latina

The bustling Sol-Gran Vía and Austrias neighborhoods are located within Centro, an area home to Madrid’s most popular tourist attractions. Austrias is Madrid’s oldest section, brimming with elegant architecture.

Sol-Gran Vía is delineated by two important landmarks: Puerta del Sol and Gran Vía. The latter is Madrid’s most famous street, lined with tons of shops, hotels and classical architecture. (Sol is especially well known for its tree-lined streets and high-end shopping. Don't miss Calle de Serrano, the 5th Avenue of Madrid.) Puerta del Sol, a historic public square, contains several notable statues and a famous clock, housed in the 18th-century Real Casa de Correos.

La Latina, which dates back to the Middle Ages, is fun and dynamic, filled with tapas bars, winding streets and public squares.

an ornate bedroom with a wooden armoire and a large bed with pink velvet headboards

Image courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel Madrid

Where to stay in Sol-Gran Vía, Austrias & La Latina

Four Seasons Hotel Madrid: An opulent stay composed of seven historic buildings, complete with epic rooftop views. When you book Four Seasons through Fora, you’ll enjoy exclusive Four Seasons Preferred Partner benefits. Your advisor will be pleased to give you more details.

Hotel Urban: Modern, art-filled and design-forward, with a Michelin-Starred restaurant to boot. Book with Fora to snag €40 food / beverage credit, complimentary welcome drinks, an upgrade and late check-out.

a white bed in front of a large headboard depicting a woman's head on a black background

Image courtesy of Palacio de los Duques, a Gran Meliá Hotel

Palacio de los Duques, a Gran Meliá Hotel: An elegant 19th-century palace inspired by the work of Velázquez. Fora’s VIP partner perks include complimentary access to the Red Level Lounge, daily breakfast for two, an upgrade and extended check-in/out.

Pestana CR7 Gran Vía: A youthful, centrally located stay steps away from the Royal Palace. Book with Fora to receive welcome treats, daily breakfast for two and an upgrade.

What to do in Sol-Gran Vía, Austrias & La Latina

Plaza Mayor, in Austrias, is perfect for watching the various street performers, souvenir shopping and enjoying a refreshment al fresco. Explore the nearby Mercado de San Miguel for fine Spanish ingredients (fresh fish, cheese, jamón ibérico) as well as an array of food stalls. The sprawling Royal Palace of Madrid and the ​​Catedral de la Almudena are ultra-popular sites, but for good reason. Matadero, the city’s former slaughterhouse and livestock market, is a cultural institution that shows multimedia work.

Where to eat in Sol-Gran Vía, Austrias & La Latina

Grupo Tragaluz knows a thing or two about curating lively places to eat, and Ana la Santa (brekkie, tapas, paella) and Bosco de Lobos (pizza and pasta) do not disappoint. Enjoy fresh fish and fine wine amid exposed rustic wooden beams at the cozy Vinoteca Moratín and seasonal Spanish cuisine at the intimate La Tasquita de Enfrente. Head to Jerónimo, at The Madrid EDITION, for shareable Mexican fare in a sophisticated, vibrant setting. At Oroya, also at the EDITION, Peruvian chef Diego Muñoz prepares seasonal cuisine inspired by the Incas and global cultures (bonito with pickled turnip, salted potatoes with fried cheese…). In La Latina, be sure to stop by the bilevel Mercado de la Cebada, as well as Casa Lucio, an old-school restaurant that's as traditional as they come.

Malasaña & Chueca

Malasaña, a youthful, hipster neighborhood, is home to numerous vintage shops. Tasteful graffiti only augments Malasaña’s cool vibe, as does its renowned nightlife scene. It used to be a part of town to avoid, but today it's young, affordable and cool. Much of the area’s edge can be attributed to its rebellious history. The neighborhood’s central Plaza del Dos de Mayo stands as a monument to the rebellion against Napoleon’s occupation of Spain in the early 19th century. And Malasaña itself is named after Manuela Malasaña, a victim of the famed May 2, 1808 uprising of the Spanish against the French. The neighboring Chueca is Madrid's LGBTQ+ neighborhood, akin to Manhattan's Chelsea. Here is where to go to experience some of Madrid's best nightlife. And if you happen to be in town during the end of June and beginning of July, Chueca is also the best area to experience Orgullo Gay de Madrid, or Madrid's Pride.

a man stands on a stool on an urban street

Where to stay in Malasaña & Chueca

Connect with Fora to rent a charming, tasteful home in the heart of Malasaña and Chueca.

What to do in Malasaña & Chueca

Peruse the various thrift shops and record stores. Enjoy the vibrant after-hours music scene, and bar-hop until you find a spot that fits your vibe. Classic plays get a modern twist at Teatro Victoria, and at Museo Municipal de Arte Contemporáneo, you can see the reconstruction of the office of Ramón Gómez de la Serna, a notable avant-garde writer. The 18th-century Palacio de Liria houses artwork from the likes of Goya, Rubens, Velázquez, El Greco and others. Plus, it’s a study in regal neoclassical architecture. You must not miss Chueca's Mercado de San Antón, with its vibrant combination of food shops plus restaurants. Many Madrileños spend time there, and the area is the perfect spot to kick off a fun night out.

Where to eat in Malasaña & Chueca

For delectable pizzas made from Italian-sourced ingredients, the chic Sakro delivers. Vegans and vegetarians will delight in Superchulo, while coffee lovers and connoisseurs of quality sourcing mustn’t miss the hip Misión Café. Head to Panic Bakery for some of the best sourdough bread around, and to 1862 Dry Bar for world-renowned cocktails in a lively space. At the moody, dimly lit Yugo, savor Michelin-Starred Japanese fare in its izakaya-style main room or in its subterranean recreation of a World War II bunker. 


If you love shopping, then head straight to Salamanca. Luxury shopping is the name of the game here, but there are also shops for all styles and budgets. It’s also very residential, boasting some of Madrid’s most valuable real estate.

red velvet bar stools line a handsome bar

Image courtesy of Rosewood Villa Magna

Where to stay in Salamanca

Rosewood Villa Magna: A handsome refurbished stay with great service and a local feel. Book with Fora to receive Fora’s VIP Rosewood Elite perks, including €110 hotel credit, a welcome amenity, daily breakfast for two, an upgrade and extended check-in/out. 

BLESS Hotel Madrid: Trendy and eclectic, with tastefully quirky rooms and meeting spaces. 

What to do in Salamanca

Shopping is the main draw, of course, but the Museo Arqueólogico Nacional, with work from prehistory all the way up to the 19th century, and the Museo Lázaro Galdiano, which shows work from the likes of Bosch and Goya, are also worth a visit.

Where to eat in Salamanca

El Pescador serves the freshest seafood, all of which is wild. Ten Con Ten is a see-and-be-seen haunt, offering elegant Spanish dishes as well as pasta, seafood and meats. Inventive Spanish cuisine is served at the casual, cozy Taberna Recreo Espartinas, while the menu at the trendy Amazónico features an eclectic array of dishes, from fragrant lamb kofta and fried plantains to char-grilled fish and sushi. For additionally gourmet Spanish cuisine, opt for Tatel, a handsome restaurant owned by Rafa Nadal, Pau Gasol and Enrique Iglesias.


The Chamberí district, itself comprised of six neighborhoods, is a more residential part of town. It’s also a foodie’s paradise, brimming with hip tapas bars, markets and Michelin-Starred restaurants. You won’t find many tourists here, and that’s part of its beauty. 

a glass staircase in a plant-filled lobby

Images courtesy of URSO Hotel & Spa

Where to stay in Chamberí

URSO Hotel & Spa: An exceptionally charming, beautifully designed stay in the perfect location (quiet, but close to all the local action). Fora’s SLH withIN partner perks include $100 hotel credit, daily breakfast for two, an upgrade and extended check-in/out.

InterContinental Madrid: A contemporary, refined homebase for exploring Madrid's chicest neighborhoods. Fora's IHG Luxury partner perks include $100 hotel credit, a welcome amenity, breakfast daily for two, an upgrade and late check-out.

What to do in Chamberí

The charming neighborhood is perfect for wandering. Explore its local boutiques, or jog around the sprawling Parque de Santander, a delightful green space complete with ponds, fountains, volleyball courts, children’s play areas, a sports complex and more. Browse the work of Spanish artist Joaquín Sorolla at Museo Sorolla, located within the painter’s former home and studio. If theater is your thing, a chow at Teatros del Canal will not disappoint. For something especially unique, don’t miss the Museo Geominero, which displays minerals and fossils from Spanish regions and formerly Spanish-ruled regions. 

Where to eat in Chamberí

Chamberí is a foodie’s paradise, and many Madrileños flock to the neighborhood for a fun (and delicious) night out. The community-focused Mercado de Vallehermoso is a must for sampling and purchasing thoughtfully sourced ingredients (spices, butter, sausage, cheese, fruit, fish…). It's also where to find some of the city’s best restaurants, hiding in plain sight. For a gourmet tasting menu experience in a stylish, relaxed setting, head to Bichopalo or La Tasquería. The market-driven Calisto is great for a special-occasion dinner, as is the elegant Virrey. The hip Sala de Despiece serves ingredient-driven tapas in a lively, casual atmosphere. Try the artichoke with caviar and avocado as well as the lion’s mane mushroom with leek and honey. And at the colorful Lúa, traditional Galician cuisine gets a modern twist.

Paseo del Arte & Retiro

These neighboring areas are the ideal neighborhood couple: Paseo del Arte is an art-lover’s dream, while Retiro is home to the Parque del Retiro, which was designed in the 16th century and is today Madrid’s main green space. 

an ornate suite with a large window and cream-colored walls

Image courtesy of Mandarin Oriental Ritz

Where to stay in Paseo del Arte & Retiro 

Mandarin Oriental Ritz: A luxury Belle-Époque marvel just off the park. Book with Fora to receive Fan Club partner perks, including $100 food / beverage or spa credit, a welcome amenity, daily breakfast for two and an upgrade.

What to do in Paseo del Arte & Retiro 

Paseo del Arte is where to indulge your museum dreams — in particular, that of Museo Nacional del Prado, arguably Spain’s most important art museum. Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía is a must-stop for contemporary art. Also don’t miss the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza and its vast collection, which includes work from across seven centuries (Van Eyck, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, O'Keeffe, Hopper…). In Retiro, booklovers should make a beeline to Cuesta de Moyano, a second-hand bookstore. And if you happen to be in Madrid from the end of May to mid-June, the Madrid Book Fair is held in Retiro’s gorgeous park.

Where to eat in Paseo del Arte & Retiro 

Taberna Pedraza is a welcoming, tasteful spot serving a gastronomic menu highlighting meticulously sourced products. For old-school, ultra-refined fare (foie gras, caviar), you’ll love the elegant Horcher. Additional elegance can be found at the Mandarin Oriental: Deessa, their signature restaurant, boasts two Michelin Stars, while the all-day Palm Court offers refined yet casual fare beneath a crystal-canopy ceiling. 

Ready to travel? Connect with Fora to plan and book your Madrid getaway today.

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