Madrid Layover Guide (MAD)

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Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport (MAD) is the main international airport serving Madrid in Spain. It is located 13 km (8 mi) from the center of Madrid. It has had multiple flights to destinations worldwide since it opened in 1928. The airport is the primary hub and maintenance base for Iberia and Air Europa. Madrid is a global city as well as Spain’s capital. It is a leading economic, cultural and historic center in Europe. It is well known for its rich history, architecture, sports teams, tourism, international relations as well as its stunning scenery, markets, and magnificent landmarks.

Can you leave Madrid Airport (MAD) airport during a layover? Do you need a visa?
It's possible to visit Madrid during a layover. However, certain travelers may need a visa depending on their nationality. (more info).

Tours, Things to do, Sightseeing

Madrid Organized Tours

Madrid: Prado Museum

Discover masterpieces of art with a full-day entrance ticket to Madrid’s Prado Museum. This museum houses more than 1,300 works currently on display in the main building. Too many options means a headache for most people but the works by Velázquez, Goya and El Greco are some of the best. Since it opened in 1819, the Prado Museum has acquired a dazzling array of Spanish art. The collection includes 7,600 paintings,1,000 sculptures, 4,800 prints and 8,200 drawings, in addition to a large number of historic documents. » book this tour

Madrid City Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour

Hop on board this open-top double-decker bus for a comprehensive sightseeing tour of Madrid. Choose from a 1-day or 2-day pass to see all the sights Madrid has to offer on 2 comprehensive routes that take you to see historical sites like the Royal Palace to modern skyscrapers. Explore in your own time and hop on or off whenever you want. » book this tour

Madrid: Bernabéu Stadium Tour

Real Madrid is one of Europe’s most successful football teams with many European Cups to their name. The stadium is where they play most of their home matches and are always high in their spirits while here. This is a one-stop location for football fans as they are provided with panoramic views of the stadium. Visit the dugouts as well as the press room and presidential box. Explore the history of the Real Madrid football team from the Trophy Room where European Cups, UEFA cups and more are testimony to Real Madrid’s football prowess. Learn the history of the Real Madrid football team, admire the vast array of club memorabilia and take a walk around the pitch to experience the spectacular stadium from the ground. Even get to see the dressing rooms which were previously off-limits to everyone except the players and managers. » book this tour

Madrid Things to do / Sightseeing

Royal Palace Gardens

This magnificent palace is the Spanish version of Versailles, an amazing royal court designed to impress. It rises above a steep slope overlooking the lush gardens. The palace is built of granite and white Colmenar stone and was commissioned by Philip V back in the 18th century. The Neoclassical facade features Doric pilasters and Ionic columns based on drawings that the sculptor Bernini originally intended for the Louvre in Paris.

Time required: 1 hour.

Airport to here: It usually takes about 20 minutes to get here by taxi and an hour by train.

Plaza Mayor

This elegant plaza was built in the 17th century during the reign of Philip III. It was the center of commerce and municipal life as well as the scene of ceremonial events such as the proclamation of a new king and also where the canonization of saints took place. The Plaza Mayor also served as a venue for bullfights, knightly tournaments, and dramatic performances. The plaza took on its current appearance after a fire incident in 1790, when nine entrance arches were built, linking it to Calle de Toledo, Calle Mayor, and Calle Postas.

Time required: 1 hour.

Airport to here: It takes about 25 minutes to get here by taxi or 30 minutes by the line 8 subway.

Basilica de San Francisco el Grande

The Church of San Francisco el Grande was constructed in 1761 for a Franciscan friary. It was designed by Fray Francisco Cabezas, who also modeled the architectural plan on the Church of Santa Maria in Campitelli in Rome.The interior features here have a circular plan with an inspiring dome and six unique chapels. The chapels display paintings by Maella, Goya and Velázquez. The church also contains a painting of Saint Bonaventure by Zurbarán.

Time required: 1 hour.

Airport to here: It usually takes about 25 minutes to get here by taxi or an hour by bus.

Gateway of the Sun (Puerta del Sol)

This is the true center of Madrid(kilometer zero). Puerta del Sol is filled with spurting fountains, restaurants, shops, and lots of people. The area is always crowded, especially at night when the city comes alive with many people passing through the square looking to party at some of Madrid’s hottest bars and nightclubs. This is one of the best places to be after a busy day. It is also the right destination to taste Madrid’s vibrant life!

Time required: 3 hours.

Airport to here: It usually takes about 20 minutes to get here by taxi or 1 hour by bus.

Barrio de Salamanca

Salamanca is one of the most elite areas and best place to be in Madrid, and its main streets – Calle de Serrano, Calle de Goya and Calle de Velázquez – are known to be the most expensive.Usually compared to New York City’s Fifth Avenue or London’s Bond Street, Calle de Serrano has been named the “Golden Mile” because of its studded posh brands.

Time required: 2 hours.

Airport to here: It usually takes about 15 minutes to get here by taxi or 30 minutes by train.

Retiro Park

The Retiro is just a short distance from the Prado and was a royal property up until the end of the 19th century when it was then opened to the public.The glass and iron pavilion was constructed to house the Philippine Exhibition in 1887. The oldest tree in the city is close in proximity to the garden. It’s a Montezuma Cypress planted in 1633. This tree is ringed by an iron fence.

Time required: 1 hour.

Airport to here: It takes an average of 15 minutes to reach here by taxi and 40 minutes by bus.

National Archeological Museum

A tour of the National Archeological Museum is like a trip through Spain’s rich history with numerous invaluable pieces gathered from across Spain. All the best of these Iberian treasures and sculptures look very new, even though they have been in existence for almost 2,500 years.

Time required: 1 hour.

Airport to here: It takes almost 20 minutes to get here by taxi or 30 minutes by train.

Mercado de San Miguel

This gorgeous art nouveau marketplace dates back to 1916.Although there are grocery stalls, it’s less of a fresh produce market here and more of a gastronomic destination to purchase the best that Spain has to give, like cava, paprika, and saffron. Taking a stroll through the market is a wonderful experience.

Time required: 2 hours.

Airport to here: It is a 22 minutes drive to the market or 40 minutes by train.

Things to Do in Madrid Airport (MAD)

Relaxing and Sleeping

Airport Lounges and Relaxing
The airport has several lounges » view all lounges or buy a lounge pass or membership online

Hotel and Sleeping
There are several hotel options very close to the airport. » view all or book an airport hotel online

Rest Area and Sleeping in Airport
Rest areas are found in Terminal 4S where there are padded recliner chairs with lamps.

WIFI/Internet and SIM Card

WIFI/Internet: Free unlimited WiFi is available at Madrid Barajas Airport. Simply, connect to the “AIRPORT FREE WIFI AENA” network.

SIM Card: There are several shops within the airport that sell SIM cards. » buy a global sim card for Madrid, Spain that you can use for other countries as well!

Transportation to/from airport

Taxi: Official taxi services run at the airport constantly, they can be found outside the arrivals area of all terminals.

Train: The Madrid Metro Line connects the airport with city center station Nuevos Ministerios in Madrid's financial district. The underground stations are found in Terminal 2. The metro also provides links to stations on the Spanish railway via the Barajas Line 8. From Terminal 4, Line C1 of Renfe Cercanias connects travelers to the city. (more info).

Bus: There are several bus options to the city and back to the airport as well as intercity buses, city buses, and long-distance coaches. (more info).

Shuttle: There are several Airport hotel shuttle services.

Car rentals: Multiple car rental options are available onsite and can be booked online. » view available cars or rent a car now online

Parking: There is spacious parking available and it is possible to book a parking space in advance.

Luggage Storage & Lockers

Luggage storage is found at luggage offices on the ground floor of Terminal 1 and Terminal 4 as well as the 1st Floor of Terminal 2. » book a luggage storage or locker at Madrid Airport (MAD) online (subject to availability).

Money Exchange and Withdrawal

- Madrid Airport (MAD) ATMs, currency exchanges and banks