The Ultimate Guide to Madrid Solo Travel
Start planning your Madrid solo travel right with my ultimate Madrid Solo Travel Guide, complete with getting there, getting around Madrid, where to stay, things to do in Madrid alone, budget and eco-friendly travel tips, and more.
This Madrid Travel Guide is intentionally written for the solo traveler, the first time Madrid traveler, and/or older traveler (I am over 50 and have been solo traveling FOREVER) in mind. Yet, anyone can use this travel guide it to plan and book Madrid travel.
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- Ultimate Spain Solo Travel Guide
- Madrid Solo Travel Planning Resources
- What is Madrid Known For?
- Madrid Solo Travel Packing Essentials
- Best Time to Visit Madrid
- How to Get to Madrid
- Getting Around Madrid
- Is Madrid Safe to Travel Alone?
- Where to Stay in Madrid on Solo Travel
- 5 MUST DOs in Madrid
- MORE Top Things To Do Alone in Madrid
- How to Spend 3 Days in Madrid?
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What is Madrid Known For?
Madrid is the capital of Spain and Spain’s largest city. Within Madrid, in the Puerto del Sol, is where all of Spain’s six major roads start, within its Puerto del Sol (aka “Kilometer 0”).
Originally named “Mayrit” by the emir Muhammad in the 9th century, in 1083 King Alfonso, and following rulers, have since replaced traces of the Muslim influence for Christian influences.
Visibly noticeable is Madrid’s dazzling mix of architectural and outdoor design of palaces, churches, governmental buildings, museums, fountains, parks, gardens, and art. In fact, the gorgeous, tree-lined Paseo del Prado was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in 2021.
As you wander Madrid’s Grand Via, Plaza Mayor, or anywhere within the city center, you cannot help admire the eclectic mix of Baroque, Neo-Classical, Neo-Romanesque, Expressionist, and Art Deco architectural buildings.
Madrid Solo Travel Packing Essentials
Art in Madrid cannot only be viewed in museums but also viewed within some of Madrid’s historic Baroque and Neoclassic palaces, such as the Palacio Real (Royal Palace of Madrid), the Palacio de Linares, or the Palacio de Liria.
Madrid is known as a city of educated and cosmopolitan citizens, including the aristocracy. Spanish, also called Castilian, is the language spoken in Madrid.
Modern and progressive, Madrid boasts world class dining and nightlife as well as the oldest restaurant in the world (El Botin). Combined with centuries-long culture, history and art, it’s no wonder over 6 million tourists visit Madrid yearly.
Is Madrid Worth Visiting Alone?
Why go to Madrid? Well, over 6 million tourists per year can’t be wrong. Right?
Why should you be going to Madrid alone? Honestly, for all of the same reasons above. Like other European capitals, Madrid holds many attractions that suit any tourist, from art to history, to food and entertainment, to outdoor activities.
The fact that most of these Madrid attractions are within an easily accessible city center makes solo travel in Madrid even easier.
Throw in some Madrid group tours, like a Madrid by bicycle tour, tapas and wine tour, or 6-person Prado Museum guided tour, then you have more opportunity to meet like-minded people, enhancing your Madrid solo travel.
It is well worth putting a solo trip to Madrid on your solo travel bucket list. The trick is planning your solo travel to Madrid over 50 to get the best Madrid travel experience. Keep reading.
Madrid vs Barcelona Solo Travel
Some people ask which is city in Spain is better for solo travel: Madrid or Barcelona. Honestly, both are such large, stunning and entertaining Spanish cities with their own culture and history, I would not compare the two.
If I were pressed, however, I would pick Madrid. Why? It’s just a personal preference on how it feels. I think Madrid is prettier, simply put.
Still, if you haven’t been to either Madrid or Barcelona, and you have the time, I highly suggest you visit both for solo travel in Spain and see for yourself which city you like better.
If you need some travel itinerary assistance, check out my best of Barcelona in 3 days solo travel itinerary.
Best Time to Visit Madrid
The best time to go to Madrid relies on weather, costs, activities and events and offered.
Madrid Weather & Costs
Madrid temperatures average from high 40°s F to low 70° F, with hottest weather (average high 80°s F) in the summer months of July and August, with slightly cooler weather in June and September.
Madrid in summer is also peak tourist season when Madrileños tend to leave but tourist count and prices are highest.
Weather in Madrid November through February is the coldest, and rainiest, but offer the least amount of tourists and may be the cheapest time to visit Madrid alone. Consider bringing an eco-friendly travel umbrella if you are traveling to Madrid during these months.
The shoulder season months of April, May, September and October are cooler than summer but still nice for tourism with lower costs than peak season. These may be the best time of year to visit Madrid.
My latest solo travel in Madrid was in mid-October. The days and nights were still warm, daylight hours were decent, and there weren’t many tourists making lines for attractions minimal.
When planning a solo trip to Madrid, I suggest checking Madrid’s festivals and holidays to help determine which month is best.
In mid-October, I did content with Spain’s National holiday (aka Hispanic Day, Fiesta Nacional de España, or Día de la Hispanidad). This only accounted for slightly more tourists than normal for October, but still no real crowds and limited attraction closures.
Prices reflected at time of writing.
Is Madrid expensive to visit?
For a European capital city, Madrid is considered less expensive to visit than other capital cities.
As a large city, there are multiple accommodation options to shop for comparison and a good deal, especially if you book in advance. A good deal on a budget hotel in the city center would cost approximately 50€ a night.
Madrid’s extensive public transportation system makes it easy cover longer distances, or a commute to and from the airport, for minimal cost. A single metro ticket runs 1.50€, with options to buy multiple journey tickets for less than 15€.
An inexpensive lunch could run 8€ to 10€. A beer is 3€ to 3.50€, and a coffee or latte is approximately 2€.
A night out with dinner and drinks could be around 30€ to 40€ or more with tip. This, of course, does not include activities or excursions. Plan your solo budget accordingly.
If budget is a factor, consider traveling alone to Madrid late October to March, staying on the edge (or outside) of the city center, and/or staying at a hostel. Forgo taxis and ridehares and opt for public transportation and walking whenever possible.
How to Get to Madrid
Flying into Madrid
The closest airport serving Madrid is the Aeropuerto Internacional de Madrid-Barajas (a.k.a. “Madrid-Barajas Airport” or “Madrid Airport”) (MAD).
Madrid-Barajas Airport is serviced by most major and European airlines and is comprised of four terminals for international and domestic flights. Madrid Airport is the busiest airport in Spain, so build time in your schedule so you’re not rushed in the airport.
The Madrid Airport is approximately 12 km east of Madrid city center. If you do not have access to an airport shuttle from your hotel, there are several other transportation options from the Madrid Airport to city center.
Spain Covid Travel Tip
Check for the latest on entry requirements for Spain.
Madrid Airport Transportation
Madrid Airport Taxis and Rideshares
Taxis can found outside the main arrivals area by the taxi signs. Look for the official airport taxis (white with red stripe and coat of arms). Taxis will charge by kilometer. Ensure the meter has started before departing. The airport taxi fare to the Madrid centre is a fixed rate of €30.
Uber, Lyft and other rideshares are available at the Madrid Airport and may cost 25€ to 45€. Make sure you have the app downloaded in advance so spotty WiFi is not an issue. To save time, it may be easier to take a taxi.
Madrid Airport Transfers
You do have the option to pre-book a private airport transfer, which may come with a free cancellation.
Airport Rental Cars
You could rent a car, but keep in mind you will be dealing with city parking and costs.
Madrid Airport Metro
The Madrid Metro is the quickest and least expensive way from the Madrid airport to city center. Purchase a single ticket for 4.50€ to 5.00€ (plus 3.00€ airport fee) and catch Line 8 to arrive in approximately 12 to 20 minutes, depending on the airport terminal.
Madrid Airport Bus
Bus numbers 101 (Terminals 1 – 3) and 200 (Terminals 1 – 4) will take you from the Madrid Airport to the centre of Madrid in approximately 40 minutes. Purchase your ticket on the bus.
The Madrid Airport Express bus also runs every 15 minutes during the day, and every 35 minutes during the night, and also takes approximately 40 minutes (depending on traffic).
The Tourist Travel Pass
Buying the Tourist Travel Pass may save you money and time if you are staying in Madrid for an extended period of time or wish to do day trips from Madrid by train.
The pass can be purchased in 1, 2, 3, 5 or 7-day increments and covers both metro zones A (city of Madrid, including the Madrid Airport) and T (outside Madrid), city buses, commuter trains and the light rail.
Budget Travel Tips
On a budget? Take the metro or the Madrid Airport Express bus from the airport. These will get you to the Madrid city center fairly quickly. They are also eco-friendlier. Don’t forget the Tourist Travel Pass option for the metro.
Buses and Trains to Madrid
Spain’s national railway is Renfe, which provides regional train and high-speed AVE train service across the country. Many train lines go through Madrid making it easy to see from the rest of Spain. Trains arrive in Madrid in two main stations: Atocha (in the south) and Chamartín (in the north), which are connected to the Madrid Metro.
There are three types of train fair available through Renfe that allow for all budget types: Básico, Elige and Prémium. To save more money, book well in advance.
Madrid has 3 main bus terminals that serve as departures for other cities: Estación Sur de Madrid, Estación de Avenida de América, and Estación de Conde de Casal. You can catch buses and metro lines from any of these stations.
Multiple bus lines operate within Spain making it easy to book a cheap ride to Madrid.
Eco Travel Tips
More Eco-Travel Tips & Ideas
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- 15 Eco Long-haul Flight Essentials for Solo Travel
- Top 10 Eco-Friendly Carry On Luggage
- 10 Best Eco-Friendly Personal Item Bags for Flying
- 10 Amazing Eco-Friendly and Sustainable Swimwear Brands
- 10 Easy Ways to Be an Eco-Friendly Traveler
ECO TRAVEL PICKS
Getting Around Madrid
Is Madrid walkable?
The whole of Madrid is not completely walkable, of course, but the city center is, which its attractions are best tackled by in sections self-guided and/or taking a guided walking tour of Madrid. Madrid’s city center is a mixture of flat and slight inclines. A comfortable pair of walking shoes and you’re off.
The more time you have in Madrid, the more ground you can cover by foot. If you want to cover more ground a little quicker, the city center is also enjoyable by a bicycle tour, segway tour or electric scooter tour or rental.
Electric tuk tuk tours are also a popular way to zip around while learning about Madrid.
Madrid is a pretty city, so the more time you spend commuting above ground, the more you’ll be able to enjoy Madrid.
Another way to see more of Madrid in a short period of time is the Madrid Hop On Hop Off bus. Tours like these are ideal for large cities like Madrid.
Alternatively, the red, public EMT buses can get you around the city for much less. Buses have their own lanes which saves time commuting. Day buses operate from 6am to 11:30pm and run frequently. Night buses (called “búhos” or “owls”) operate 11:30pm to 5:30am but may take longer to arrive.
All buses route through Plaza de la Cibeles, which is only a 15 minute walk from central Puerta del Sol.
Time tables can be found on the bus. Single tickets cost €1.50, but Metrobús tickets allow for 10 trips and cost only €12.20. Stamp your ticket on the bus before riding.
The metro is extensive in Madrid and can cover a lot of ground very quickly. If you are on a very limited schedule, this may be your best bet to crisscross the city. Just look for those classic, red and white diamond-shaped signs for a metro station.
However, I recommend staying above ground as much as possible, especially if it is your first solo visit to Madrid.
Metro tickets can be purchased from ticket machines at Metro and Metro ligero stations and tobacco shops (Estancos).
Metro Zone A and ML1 single tickets cost 1.50€ to 2.00€, but the same 10-trip Metrobús ticket for 12.20€ also covers the Metro Zone A and ML1.
Additionally, you could purchase the 1, 2, 3, 5 or 7-day Tourist Travel Pass.
Is Madrid Safe to Travel Alone?
Madrid’s crime rate is considered low and considered safe to travel alone, including safe to walk alone during the day and night.
As a solo female traveler in Madrid, I practiced general precautions and stayed within well-lit and populated streets at night. As such, I never felt unsafe in Madrid as solo traveler.
During high tourist season, in crowded areas or on crowded public transportation, ensure to keep your belongings safe and securely on you with no open pockets or carrying cash or valuables in your pockets.
If you normally feel uncomfortable being out solo at night, you may want to visit Madrid when the daylight hours are longest so you have more time to explore Madrid.
Solo Travel Tips
Have WhatsApp on your mobile device(s). Many smaller establishments and activities offices use this as a method of communication making it easier to make inquiries or booking and learn, or notify, of any scheduling changes.
Get the T-Mobile International Plan or something similar in price and features. I no longer work on WiFi only on international travel. I’ll use it when it’s there, but having access to roaming when needed for GPS and Google Maps is a game changer.
Where to Stay in Madrid on Solo Travel
Madrid is made up of 21 districts, but Centro is where you want to be on first-time solo travel in Madrid.
If you have an extended stay (a week or longer), Retiro and Salamanca are also nice districts and will add to your tourist walking or commuting time.
Centro is the heart of Madrid. It holds the iconic Madrid historic attractions and sights, shopping, dining and nightlife and is the district in which to reserve your Madrid accommodations.
Staying close to Puerta del Sol will ensure you are centrally located, as indicated on the map below. However, the more central you are, expect more tourists and higher accommodation cost.
Madrid Hotels and More
There are multiple Madrid city centre accommodations across all budget types for Madrid solo travel. Going in the off season, booking well in advance, and/or staying outside the center will get you the best Madrid prices on any type of accommodation.
Consider booking at a property that either is eco-friendly or Travel Sustainable rated, or at least employs these methods into their business.
For location, price, breakfast, amenities (including free-cancellation), eco-friendly and sustainable operations, and customer reviews and ratings, here are my Madrid hotel recommendations for over 50 solo travel (i.e., where I would stay):
- Room Mate Mario
- Eurostars Casa de la Lírica
- Eurostars Plaza Mayor
- Vincci Soho
- Room Mate Alba
- Pestana Plaza Mayor Madrid
A hostel is an option for solo travel over 50 and where to stay in Madrid on a budget. Using the same conditions above, and the ability to get a private room, my recommendation for best Madrid hostel for solo travel over 50 is Toc Hostel Madrid.
I stayed in a private room at Toc Hostel Madrid on my last visit and thoroughly enjoyed it. Although not a ‘Travel Sustainable’ rated property, it does employ many environmental sustainability initiatives like water efficient plumbing fixtures, sensor lights, no single use plastics, recycling bins, and water dispenser.
Plus, it was had a wonderful staff, amazing breakfast, fingerprint room access, and was just steps from Puerta del Sol. I believe it’s one of the best hostels in Madrid for solo travellers. I would stay there again.
MORE Top Things To Do Alone in Madrid
Here are some of the top things to do in Madrid alone that may interest you. It’s a big list, but certainly not comprehensive. Some of them are free. All you can see by foot or public transportation.
Budget Travel Tips
Consider buying The Madrid Pass. It may save you money and time with fast track entry to top Madrid attractions and museums, a panoramic bus tour of Madrid, and additional discounts. You select your visit dates in Madrid.
Churches & Cathedrals
- Catedral de Sta Maria la Real de la Almudena
- Real Basilica de San Francisco el Grande
- Ermita De San Antonio De La Florida
- Iglesia de San Antonio de Los Alemanes
- Los Jerónimos
- Los Jerónimos
- Iglesia de San Ginés
- Iglesia Catedral Castrense
- Parroquia Jesus de Medinaceli
- Iglesia de Santa Cruz
- Church of San Isidro
Architectural Buildings & Historic Sites
- Palacio Real de Madrid
- Palacio De Cristal
- Plaza Mayor
- Palacio de Cibeles
- Templo de Debod
- Estacion de Atocha
- Casa de la Panaderia
- Real Casa de Correos
- Real Casa de Correos
- Palacio de Gaviria
- Edificio Metrópolis
- Teatro Real
- Edificio Telefonica
- Banco de Espana
- Palacio Real de El Pardo
- Palacio de Linares
- Palacio de Liria
Madrid Landmarks, Points of Interest & Fountains
- Grand Via
- Plaza Mayor
- Puerta del Sol
- El Oso y el Madrono
- Plaza de Cibeles
- Cibeles Fountain
- Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas
- Monumento a Alfonso XII
- Paseo del Prado
- Fuente de Neptuno
- Plaza de Oriente
- Monumento a Filippo IV
- Faro de Moncloa
- Puerta de Alcala
- Fuente del Ángel Caído
- Plaza de Espana
- Plaza de la Villa
- Plaza de Santa Ana
Madrid Museums & Aquariums
- Museo Nacional del Prado
- Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia
- Museo de la Catedral de la Almudena
- Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza
- Museo Cerralbo
- Madrid Archaeological Museum
- Cívitas Metropolitano Stadium & Interactive Museum
- Caixa Forum
- Naval Museum
- Museo Del Romanticismo
- Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales
Madrid Parks & Gardens
- Parque del Retiro
- Parque de El Capricho
- Parque Madrid Río
- Jardines de Sabatini
- Casa de Campo
- Real Jardín Botánico
- Parque del Oeste
- Pabellon de los Jardines de Cecilio Rodriguez
Food in Madrid is a centuries’ long process of Spanish and North African culture and beyond infusion. The mixture of traditional dishes served in taverns, to contemporary cuisine, to the sophisticated dishes that serve the aristocracy and Michelin restaurants, Madrid is bound to serve up something for any over 50 foodie (dietary restrictions and all).
Traditional Spanish cuisine to try in Madrid are:
- Cocido Madrileño – meaty stew with noodles, chickpeas and vegetables (also known as Cocido de Tres Vuelcos)
- Soldaditos de Pavía – fried cod fingers
- Besugo a la Madrileña – oven-baked sea bream
- Oreja a la Plancha – grilled pork ear
- Potaje de Vigilia – spinach and chickpea stew
- Patatas Bravas – peeled, chopped potatoes in spicy paprika sauce
- Calamari roll – deep fried calamari rolls served with mayonnaise (the traditional ‘fast food’)
- Huevos Estrellados – fried eggs and potatoes
- Huevos Rotos (“broken eggs”) – fried eggs with potatoes and chorizo sausage or jam
- Churros and chocolate – deep fried sweet bread dipped in thick hot chocolate
- Bartolillos – cream turnovers
- Buñuelos Rellenos – fried dough puffs with powdered sugar
- Flan – traditional Spanish eggs and sugar desert in coffee, chocolate, and caramel flavors
Of course, dining in Madrid would not be complete without sampling tapas made from a variety of seafood, meat and veggies.
Although landlocked, Madrid serves up many dishes of atún (tuna), pulpo (octopus), calamares (squid), almejas (clams) and more. Dishes like Pulpo a la Gallega (Galician-style octopus), Gambas a la Plancha (grilled shrimp), Almejas a la Marinera (baby clams in a succulent sauce), batter-fried codfish, and tuna empanadas.
Of course, a meal would not be complete without a beer or wine in Madrid. Try a Mahou (popular beer of the locals), sample wines from the favored Valdepeñas region, or sip a Vermouth or Cava (sparkling wine). Or two. Oh, and sangria. Don’t forget the sangria.
When in Madrid, do as the Madrileños do. Breakfasts start later (8am), so no need to get up early to grab a bite in your hotel or in a cafe before seeing the sights. Madrileños also dine four to six times a day, with late lunches around 2pm and dinners sometimes not starting until 9pm.
Now that you’re “localized”, you can feel free to eat as much as you want and as late as you want (without disrupting your sleep, of course).
So, where to sample some of the best Madrid cuisine? Obviously, there are too many choices to list here.
Madrid is full of grab and go stands, street stalls, taverns, outdoor patios and rooftops, and indoor restaurants. You have multiple options (to say the least) to find the right dining experience for you on you solo travel in Madrid.
That said, here are some Madrid notables you may want to build into your Madrid solo travel itinerary:
- Calle Cava Baja – cruise down this street to find some of the best tapas in Madrid.
- Marisquerías – shellfish bars when you’re in the mood for shellfish.
- Rastro flea market – locals in the know come on Sundays for shopping and great seafood. You could even try a tapas crawl.
- Mercado de San Miguel – really want to shop food and wine? This market is a must. Think La Boqueria in Barcelona.
- Plaza Mayor – here’s a good place to stop for that ‘fast food’ Calamari roll and a beer while doing some great people watching. An additional spot for a calamari roll is El Brillante (across from Atocha station) if you’re on a budget.
- La Cruz Blanca de Vallecas – grab a table here when you want to try the traditional Cocido Madrileño.
- La Tasquería – this modern bar and restaurant serves some of the best traditional callos run by a TV chef, Javi Estévez, where you can try some of the best callos in Madrid.
- Taberna Bodegas Ricla – go authentic Madrid in this bar opened in 1867 to sample Vermouth and Callos.
- El Botin – talk about authentic, this is the oldest restaurant in the world (per Guinness World Records) opened in 1725. For the tavern-style Mediterranean dining to remember, make your reservation in advance!
- Chocolatería San Ginés – diet aside, if you don’t try the churros and chocolate from this chocolateria (founded in 1894), you would have truly missed out on a Madrid experience.
Don’t feel like dining alone in Madrid all of the time? Consider mixing it up with some tours, like the Tapas, Taverns & History Tour, Madrid Tapas Night Walking Tour, or Prado Museum Tour with El Botin VIP lunch?
Oh, yes, there is a big nightlife scene in Madrid with many things to do in Madrid at night alone. Let your energy level be your guide on what evening activities in Madrid you wish to indulge in.
As a mature solo traveler, you may wish to unwind from a long day lazily with a cocktail on a rooftop bar to soak in the views of Madrid. You can do this at Picos Pardos Sky Lounge or the roof top of the Circulo de Bellas Artes. The latter can be very busy and you may have to pay a small entry fee. Show up early to avoid the lines.
If you’re feeling adventurous, wander the small pedestrian streets around Puerta del Sol, Calle Preciados or Grand Via to see what may catch your eye for have a cocktail or taking a show or live music.
Want to dance late into the night? Explore the Chueca district nightlife with lively gay bars and clubs that have music pumping all through the night.
Madrid Shopping and Entertainment
Without a doubt, the big shopping area in central Madrid is the Grand Via. The Grand via has all of the major chain stores for blocks and blocks, mixed in with theaters and other entertainment venues. This is a happening area day or night. Ensure to keep your belongings securely on you.
Calle Preciados is another top shopping area with great people watching. Wander this pedestrian street northeast from Puerta del Sol towards the Calleo metro station. It can also be lively at night.
Other shopping, music, and entertainment opportunities lie on the smaller pedestrian streets that span off from Puerta del Sol. Wander to your heart’s content.
If you’re seeking more authentic, Spanish entertainment, take in the infamous Flamenco show at the Corral de la Morería.
If you want more a formal music or theater experience, check out the performance schedule of El Teatro, Madrid’s opera house, just minutes on foot from Puerta del Sol.
Day Trips from Madrid
Due to its central location, there are many day trips from Madrid that you could do, including to World UNESCO Heritage sites, should you wish to get out of the large city.
Top to consider, and the closest, is visiting Toledo, a half-hour train ride from Madrid. The historic center of Toledo is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Toledo is easy to access and easy as a solo traveler. Catch any of the daily trains from the Atocha station and wander Toledo self-guided. Alternatively, you could join a day tour of Toledo or join a day group tour from Madrid to Toledo.
Other day trips only an hour or so away from Madrid are:
- San Lorenzo de El Escorial
- Historic Walled Town of Cuenca
- Old Town of Ávila and its Extra-Muros Churches
- Old Town of Segovia and its Aqueduct
How to Spend 3 Days in Madrid?
Now that you know how to plan for Madrid solo travel and what can be done in a Madrid solo trip, want to know how to see the best of Madrid in 3 days? Check out my 3 Days in Madrid solo travel itinerary to capture some of the best experiences in Madrid on first-time Madrid solo travel over 50.
Let Me Hear From You
I would love to hear if this Madrid solo travel guide was helpful to you. Post me your thoughts or questions in the Comments section below. Thank you!