***This is going to be my Madrid, “running blog.” That just means I’ll keep adding to it as I discover more of Madrid during the next several months. Keep up to date with my updates of this post by following Wanderlust With Will on Facebook and Twitter.***
As with most cities, taxis are the easy way to get around. Here in Madrid they are very abundant. They’re clearly marked in small white sedans with red stripes and a taxi sign on the roof.
The rate works as follows: Every fare starts with a €2,50 basic fare. Every kilometer is charged another €1,10. From Monday-Friday 9:00pm-7:00am and Saturday and Sunday the basic fare is €3,10 and €1,30 every kilometer.
If the “Libre” light on the passenger side of the windshield is lit, then the cab is free and you can get the drivers attention.
As is the case around most of
the world, taxis are the most expensive form of transportation.
The need for taxis in Madrid is minimal if you take the time to learn the metro system. It’s a very expansive system that covers anywhere you could possibly ever want to go, combined with some walking.
The Madrid metro us split up into, “zones.” From what I have gathered so far the, “A” zone is the city center where you’ll be doing the vast majority of your use of the system. Zone B3, for example, is the largest zone in the system and serves the very southeast of the city of Madrid. Purchasing the use of more zones increases the cost of a metro card.
The trip cards can be purchased at the entrances to each station. There is a single trip card that is only valid for the metro (€4), a 10 trip card that is valid for the metro, city busses and intercity busses, a 7 day card and a 30 day card (called a seasonal card that locals renew every 30 days).
The metro system consists of 16 different lines and runs everyday from 6:00am to 1:30am.
The best way to avoid confusion is to download the, “Transporte Madrid“ app which has service maps, service times and also has bus route and time information. Bikes
Madrid has a great bike system where you can rent bikes with a small motor on them for a few Euros and then park them at another station where you are commuting to. The app gives you an account for a year for €15 and then you scan the QR code on your phone through the app and pay a small fee for each use. The bikes appear to be popular with locals. I will add more information if I find out more.
Similar to the bikes there is an app where you create an account involving QR codes. You can rent the scooters throughout the city. You can gps track where the scooters are placed and pick one up, scan in, use it and then when you are done scan out and just leave it on the sidewalk. I will add more information if I find out more.
Like the bikes and scooters the same applies to the mopeds you see on the sidewalks throughout Madrid. I will add more information if I find out more.
Electric Mini Cars
I have only seen one such case by Plaza Mayor but through an app you can rent these two seat mini electric cars. Same deal with a QR code and all that. I will add more information if I find our more.
What To Do In Madrid
The Golden Triangle of Art
To say you have completed the "Golden Triangle of Art" you'll need to visit the three most famous art museums in Madrid. The Prado, The Reina Sofia, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza. The bad news is each museum is large in size. The good news is they're all in close proximity to each other.
It's practically impossible to complete all three museums, because of their sheer size, in one day. That's unless you're some superhuman with endless amounts of walking energy and an ability to go half day without a meal. So basically, it's not worth trying. If you're in Madrid for a couple of days, just plan to do one museum a day. I'd suggest start your days at one of these three museums throughout the week, or, if you're in Madrid for three days, do one each morning.
So far I've made it through the Prado (some sections are closed due to COVID-19 restrictions) and one floor of the Reina Sofia (There are four floors). I have also completed all of the Thyssen-Bornemisza.
The Prado - contains a lot of religious based art. Lots of graphic paintings of Jesus. My favorite painting was in the main hallway of what appeared the be the later hours of the Last Supper. The subjects appeared to be depicted as drunk (the wine to water thing might have helped). Most were speaking to Jesus but off to the left you'll notice a guy sitting upright on the stone ground near the dinner table. He appeared to be fighting off a guy trying to take his pants? I stared at it in amusement trying to figure if that's what I was seeing. As best I can tell my interpretation wasn't wrong? *Pictures are not allowed*
The Reina Sofia - At The Reina Sofia you get a lot of bang for your buck. €5 to get in and you get access to four full floors of art exhibits. All different styles depicting different messages. So far I've only been on the second floor and the ones I liked the most were Salvador Dali's and Pablo Picasso's work. On the second floor you'll get an up close and personal look at Picasso's famous, "Guernica" painting. Be sure to check out the photo progression of how the Guernica progressed over time. It's in the same room and you can't miss it! Take your time looking at the pictures and then looking at the Guernica in real time to see how it progressed in stages. It's really fascinating.
There were also some drawings that depicted the "enigma" that was Nazism during the 1930's & 1940's in Spanish history. Drawings depicted Nazism as a nightmare and other things and drawing comparisons to Spains most infamous fascist leader Francisco Franco.
The Reina Sofia has free wifi with a quick and easy sign in form. *Pictures are not allowed*
Thyssen-Bornemisza - The Thyssen-Bornemisza museum is a private museum that houses approximately 1,600 paintings from the collection of German-Hungarian entrepreneur Heinrich Freiherr Thyssen-Bornemisza. Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza was a big art collector.
The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum consists of three floors. It's recommended that you start on the second floor (in Spain it's the ground floor, first floor, then the second floor) and work your way down. If you follow these directions it's easy to see why they recommend this route. The first paintings you'll see are from the mid 1300's. As you make your way around the second floor and down to the ground floor the paintings get younger (and less religious). The final display halls before the museum shop (the end of the museum) are modern art and not too old, at least considering how old the ones on the second floor are.
You'll see paintings that are nearly 700 years old, tapestries from the late 1400's, Pablo Picasso, and Vincent Van Gogh. The collection is an extremely wide range of art that definitely has something for everyone.
Expect to spend at least two hours here. It's a pretty large collection of paintings. There are plenty of benches to stop for rest and free wifi. *pictures ARE allowed here*
Of all the museums in, "The Golden Triangle of Art" the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum was my favorite.
Plaza de Cibeles
Plaza de Cibeles features the famous Palacio de Cibeles building, which is guaranteed to blow you away with its beauty. In the foreground you'll be able to admire the Fuente de Cibeles statue which is located on a beautiful fountain which is also surrounded by several Spanish flags.
The Botero exhibit is inside the famous Palacio de Cibeles. One of the most beautiful buildings I have been lucky enough to lay my eyes on.
This exhibit features the work of world famous Colombian artist, Fernando Botero. I wont ruin it for you but I guarantee you've seen some of his work. His art is a bit abstract but it is worth seeing. Maybe you'll be surprised to know some of the paintings are very recent even though he's 88 years old!
Walk Around Retiro Park
Retiro park is Madrid's most famous park. That's saying a lot considering Madrid is known as a walkable city and known for it's outdoor activities. Retiro is quite large so if you're looking to explore most the park at one time or in one day, expect to walk a lot. Or you could rent a scooter as mentioned above in the getting around section.
When exploring Retiro, don't forget to take in the atmosphere. It's a popular hangout spot for local Madrileños (someone from Madrid). There is no shortage of cafe's to grab a coffee or a beer. A must visit inside the park is the Monumento a Alfonso XII which is surrounded by a large pond where you can even rent a rowboat.
Palacio Real de Madrid
What's not to love about a huge royal palace in the heart of one of Europes best cities? Due to the COVID-19 pandemic there are no guided tours but simply just walking through the halls with a friend or two or by yourself (no judgement here) is totally worth it. It's €8 to get in but if you have an EU work visa, it's free from Monday-Thursday 4-6pm. Our friend was a little behind us and said she couldn't get in at 5pm so it's best to be safe and show up at 4pm.
It's no longer the residence of the royal family in Spain but the palace still hosts events when prominent international guests come to town. Other important events are also held at the palace.
Once you're in the palace you can only take photos in the entrance hallway. Once you get to the extra special rooms, you can no longer take photos. This is an absolute MUST DO when in Madrid.
A sunset at Templo de Debod
This temple dates all the way back to 200 BC. It was donated to the city of Madrid in the early 1970's by the Egyptian government as a nearby dam was being built and there were concerns it would be ruined in flooding. It was taken apart, shipped to Madrid, and rebuilt stone by stone.
The temple is not open to the public but you can walk around the temple. The surrounding park, Cuartel de la Montaña Park, in which the temple rests is easy to enjoy.
The best time is at sunset as the sun sets over the hills west of Madrid. If you have a high quality camera, I suggest brining it. If you're traveling with friends or family, make a night of it and picnic in the back and watch the sunset unfold. You'll notice it's a popular activity with native Madrileños who enjoy the sunset with some popular libations.