Direct, cheap flights to Madrid
Spain's capital is captivatingly beautiful and will almost certainly leave a lasting impression on all who pass through the city. Be culturally fulfilled by the astonishing art galleries, bustling Plaza Mayor and the endless feasting on delectable tapas.
Getting to Madrid
The main gateway to Madrid for air travellers is Barajas International Airport, which ranks alongside the likes of London Heathrow, Paris Charles de Gaulle and Amsterdam Schiphol as one of the busiest airports in Europe.
In 2011, nearly 50 million people travelled through the hub, which serves as the base for Spanish flag carrier Iberia.
Other airlines offering flights to Madrid Barajas include British Airways, easyJet, Air France, Delta and Air Europa.
The base offers a wide range of amenities for passengers, including duty-free stores, restaurants, bars and facilities for people with reduced mobility.
Public transport options include the Madrid Metro line eight, which runs from all airport terminals to Nuevos Ministerios station in the heart of the Spanish capital. Travellers can also catch buses to the city centre and nearby towns or go by train to key locations in Madrid such as Chamartin, Atocha and Principe Pio.
With a population of some 3.3 million people in the city itself and nearly 6.3 million in the wider metropolitan area, Madrid is Spain's largest city as well as the national capital. It is the third biggest city in the European Union after London and Berlin.
In addition to being Spain's political and administrative centre, Madrid is at the heart of the country in geographical terms. It is situated on the Manzanares river and is the chief component of an autonomous community bordering the areas of Castile-La Mancha, and Castile and Leon.
History buffs might be interested in learning more about the heritage of the city, which stretches back to the second century BC, when Roman settlers established a village on the banks of the Manzanares.
Other experiences not to be missed in this lively and fascinating destination include seeing its royal buildings, exploring its prestigious art galleries and sampling the unique atmosphere of buzzing nightclubs, bars and restaurants.
Five must sees in Madrid
Many visitors will want to begin their tour of Madrid with a trip to Plaza Mayor, which has been at the heart of life in the city for many years. The plaza was designed in the 17th century and is now home to an impressive collection of grand buildings.
Art lovers will not want to miss the opportunity to explore the Museo del Prado, Spain's primary national art museum. The institution boasts a collection of more than 7,000 paintings, including works by celebrated Spanish artists like Velazquez and Goya. Arguably the most famous piece of all on display is Las Meninas by Velazquez.
Madrid's main park is Buen Retiro, an ideal spot for sitting down and taking a break from busy activities while watching the world go by. The area boasts features including a large lake where members of the public can hire rowing boats and an impressive structure made entirely of glass.
Another highlight of the city, particularly for sports fans, is Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, the home of Spanish football giants Real Madrid. The stadium has the capacity to seat more than 85,000 people and offers tours taking in highlights such as the trophy room, the players' tunnel and the pitch itself.
Visitors whose holiday time sees them spending a Sunday in Madrid should not miss the chance to experience El Rastro, a giant open-air flea market that boasts a lively atmosphere and unmissable shopping opportunities. The market is held every Sunday and on public holidays at Plaza de Cascorro and Ribera de Curtidores.
Direct Flights travel tip
Modern art enthusiasts should head to the Museo Reina Sofia to see one of Pablo Picasso's most famous artworks - Guernica.
The striking painting was created in response to the bombing of the Basque town of Guernica by German and Italian warplanes in 1937.
When to go to Madrid
Travellers who do not fancy the idea of exploring Madrid in hot conditions should avoid the months of July and August, when temperatures can climb into the low 30s in degrees C.
April, May, September and October can offer more comfortable temperatures in the high teens and low to mid 20s, while the winter months are significantly colder owing to the city's altitude above sea level.