Explore Madrid with Expedia’s Travel Guides to find the best hotels, flights, holiday packages and more!
Madrid is the capital of Spain. Situated at the centre of the country, it’s a city of elegant parks, beautiful boulevards and a fascinating history that stretches far back into the misty past. It’s also a great location for visiting nearby destinations by hire car, such San Sebastian,Toledo,Valencia and Zaragoza.
If you’re arriving via Madrid Airport then it’s an 11-mile drive by rental car to Madrid. En route you could take a detour to Casa de Campo park, a former royal hunting ground that’s now a large public space with streams and a boating lake.
Finding a hire car in Madrid is simple. You can rent a car from a range of providers at both Madrid Airport and within the city centre itself. Parking in Madrid is generally limited, but there are a number of underground car parks available. Many hotels also offer free parking so do check before booking. Madrid has a variety of hotels to suit a range of budgets, including Vincci the Mint, Dear Hotel Madrid and Wellington Hotel.
There are various hire car providers to suit your budget and preferences, including Firefly, Centauro and Budget. Many offer extras like free cancellation, unlimited mileage and a shuttle service to your rental car.
There is much to see and do by hire car in Madrid. The city is Spain’s passionate heart, both geographically and culturally, while Madrid’s own heart is its historic Plaza Mayor. The Museo Nacional Del Prado holds a vast art collection and the 18th century Palacio Real is an ornate Bourbon palace with over 2,800 rooms. Other sites to visit by rental car in Madrid include the glamorous Salamanca district, which has many upmarket boutiques and is perfect for souvenir shopping, the fascinating Sunday morning flea market at Ribera de Curtidores and Torre Picasso, Madrid’s tallest skyscraper.
Spain’s Mediterranean coastline is wonderful to explore by hire car. In fact, the coastal route stretches for 1,031 miles from Tarifa in the south to Cabo de Creus on the French border. You can join it at Valencia, a 222-mile drive from Madrid. There are many interesting resort destinations to visit on the coast, including busy tourist towns buzzing with nightlife and tranquil, under-the-radar villages. You can also take a ferry to one of the Balearic islands such as Ibiza, Majorca and Menorca.
Barcelona is a 386-mile journey away by rental car. Perched on the Mediterranean coast, this breathtaking city is filled with world-class museums and art galleries, including the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museu Picasso and the MNAC. You can also sample tapas in one of the city’s historic squares or simply enjoy watching the sunset settle on the 2,000-year-old Port of Barcelona.
Madrid has a complex traffic system, so make sure you familiarise yourself with its routes and rules before heading out on a trip. Traffic in Madrid can get congested, so avoid driving during rush hours where possible. Bear in mind that if you’re exploring rural areas in your rental car, petrol stations often aren’t open on Sundays (or during lunchtime siesta), so make sure your tank is topped up. Always keep an eye on local area speed limits and remember that in Spain, all car passengers must wear seatbelts.
Feeling inspired to explore Madrid and the rest of Spain? Check out this City Guide and use the Expedia search tool to help you find the best car hire, flight and hotel deals and to research the best attractions and activities.
The main airport in Madrid is the Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport (MAD). It has four terminals with car rental companies currently operating out of terminals one and four. To help you get between them, there is a free shuttle bus service (provided by the airport) which runs regularly all day, every day. The service is quick and reliable, allowing you to get to the terminal that houses your preferred car hire company in very little time. With various globally recognised car hire companies operating at the airport, you are likely to have little trouble hiring a vehicle.
There are several major, and minor, car rental companies that operate in and around Madrid, and the city's metro service adds to the convenience, making it easy to reach the car hire company that suits your needs. You could even save time in the rental process by using Expedia’s booking tool to choose the right company and vehicle for you, placing you on the road quicker and creating more time to explore this beautiful city.
Once you find your ideal car, you can enjoy the freedom of the road. Why not take a road trip (taking just under one hour via the M-607) to the great outdoors and enjoy the lakes and mountains of the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park? The park lies just over an hour from Madrid.
Alternatively, you could take a driving tour to admire two of the most visually impressive cities in the world: Ávila and Salamanca. Ávila is an incredibly well-preserved fortified, medieval town complete with massive walls and turrets and Salamanca is an ancient city dating back to the 12th century. Taking just under three hours one way without stops - take the A-6 through to the AP-51 to Ávila, and then the A-50 to Salamanca - the journey through Ávila to Salamanca may be long, but it's rewarding.
Without a doubt, The Prado and Reina Sofía Museum are two places worth driving to, as both house some of the greatest artworks in the entire world. With a car it is also easy to get to and from such must-see sights as the Royal Palace of Madrid, the Plaza de Cibeles, and the Almudena Cathedral. And let’s not forget the enormous Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, the home of Real Madrid football club – even if you are not a football fan it is a real spectacle to behold.