Madrid has four distinct seasons and numerous monthly events that cater to every taste. If you’re wondering where to start in this most vibrant of cities, check out our guide for the best activities and events, whatever time of the year you choose to visit.
The Christmas season in Madrid doesn’t end in December. In fact, holidays are celebrated through the first and second week of January, thanks to the Three Kings Day on January 6th. The holiday decorations are still lit up and the Kings Day Parade is on the eve of January 5th through the city centre, where you can expect large crowds and rowdy celebration. Rebajas – essentially big discount sales – occur twice a year: once in July and once in mid-January, running through the end of February. Pretty much all stores will have these end of season bargain extravaganzas, so plan to shop ’til you drop.
This month is one of the coldest of the year, so it’s the perfect time to explore Madrid’s many museums and thriving art scene, as well as the city’s largest art fair, ARCO. Make sure to hit the most famous of the musuems, which are the Museo del Prado, known for its ample collection of religious and Renaissance art and the The Reina Sofía, which has masterpieces from Picasso and Dalí.
Museo del Prado, Paseo del Prado, Madrid, Spain, +34 913 30 28 00
As the weather begins to imrove, a walking street art tour through the funky neighborhoods of Lavapiés, La Latina and Malasaña is ideal during those warmer spring temperatures and sunny skies. Madrid Street Art Project conducts tours called Safaris Urbanos that focus on street art in one specific area of town. Cooltourspain will give you a guided tour of Madrid’s best street art, including a visit to La Neomudejar, a contemporary arts centre and neighborhoods with an abundance of street art.
April is a great month to visit Madrid’s many parks and green spaces on a clear day. It will still be cool enough to enjoy a brisk jog through Madrid’s Casa de Campo park or to check out the regal Parque del el Capricho, which has a palace, several monuments and a quaint lake.
The Roselada, Madrid’s most famous rose garden located inside the Parque del Buen Retiro, is typically in bloom one month out of the year: May! So head over and check out over 4000 roses in various colours, shapes and sizes. Madrid also celebrates the San Isidro holiday mid-May, so visit the Pradera, which is where the main celebrations are located. Besides that, there’s concerts and events all over the city in celebration, all the details are on the official schedule.
With temperatures rising, June is ideal for spending as much time as possible outside before the summer heat really kicks in. Madrid Río is a wonderful place to hang out, whether you want to cycle, rollerblade or walk alongside the river. There’s even a ‘beach’ area where you can soak up some rays.
Summer in Madrid can be very intense, so visiting outdoor rooftop bars after the sun goes down is a great way to beat the heat while still spending time outside. The Círculo de Bellas Artes is one of the very best, with expansive 360 degree views of the city and beyond. Don’t forget to celebrate Madrid’s Gay Pride parade (this year being World Pride) at the beginning of July. Not only a party for LGBT community, the whole city loves to partake in the celebration, so get out and enjoy the parade, one of the many concerts, or the heels race.
Most Madrileños flee Madrid due to extremely hot temps in August, so if you’re looking to get out of the hot city, it’s easy. Thanks to Madrid’s very central location in the middle of Spain, there’s beautiful day trips to take in any direction. If you’d rather bask in the heat, howver, the Paloma celebrations taking place in La Latina in mid-August let you shop, drink and party outside.
Madrileños spring back into action in September. Madrid’s fashion week occurs and it’s the perfect time to update your autumn wardrobe. The weather is still warm and pleasant, so sipping beers in the Plaza Mayor or strolling the streets of Madrid is the order of the day.
As autumn moves in, it’s time to sample some of the region’s wines. Many bars and wine shops start to offer wine tastings and you can always buy bottles to complement your home stash or as gifts. It’s also a nice time to hang out in the Malasaña neighborhood before it gets too chilly. Filled with bars, thrift stores boutiques, it’s one of the coolest areas of Madrid to explore.
Enjoying Madrid’s foodie scene is the way to go in November. Now that the weather is cold again, it’s time for hearty stews like cocido and rich plates like hueves rotos. There are many restaurants that will also offer an American Thanksgiving meal if you’re craving that Turkey at the end of November. Madrid’s many food markets are great places to sample many different kinds of cuisine.
With holiday celebrations in full force, this is the time of year to walk the streets of Madrid and see all the lights and Christmas decorations. The Plaza Mayor has holiday market stalls where you can buy all sorts of decorations and holiday items. If it’s too cold to walk, you can hop on the NaviBus, a bus that takes you around the city to check out all the lights. Just beware of intense crowds, as the whole city wants to see the decorations too.