Spain's capital, Madrid, is a city that boasts a contrast of elegant colonial buildings nestled against a backdrop of modern skyscrapers. Just a short drive from Madrid Barajas Airport (MAD) you'll find plenty to explore, from the many museums and galleries to the bustle of the Plaza Mayor and Gran Via or the regal splendour of the Palacio Real.
You'll discover Madrid's main sights within the city centre. Gran Via is the city's largest and busiest avenue, packed with nightclubs, bars and shopping malls and the perfect spot to find traditional tapas, churros or an authentic sherry on a night out. Salamanca is one of the most affluent parts of Madrid and is known for its glitzy malls and designer boutiques. A short distance away is the Parque del Buen Retiro, which is a great spot for some time out with its walks and boating lake.
As it was the centre of Spain's colonial empire, Madrid is full of elegant architectural delights. Just one example of Madrid's history is the Palacio Real, the palace. Football fans, of course, will want to visit Atlhletico Madrid's stadium - Vicente Calderrn.
The climate in Madrid is favourable, with less than average rainfall in both winter and summer. Temperatures can get very hot in high summer. Whatever time of year you travel, you may find it easiest to park in one of the many underground car parks as on-street parking can be tough to find.
Outside of Madrid car hire enables you to make good use of the country's excellent road network and explore further afield. Just 25 km south of the city is the Warner Brothers Theme Park, which is ideal for thrill seekers with its many exciting roller coasters. Toledo, about 71 km away, is a World Heritage Site and a medieval city that was the former capital of Spain.
Another example of a medieval city is Segovia, around 80 km from Madrid, with its aqueduct and fairy-tale castle. Salamanca, not to be confused with the shopping district in Madrid, is around 120 km from Madrid and is Spain's academic heart. As another World Heritage Site, it too is full of stunning historical architecture.
Whatever your tastes, there is much to see, do and explore in Spain's capital or the surrounding areas.
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