Glorieta Emperador Carlos V
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As one of Europe’s grandest, most elegant cities, Madrid stands right at the heart of Spain. If you arrive at Madrid’s Atocha Railway Station you’ll want to start exploring this great capital city and its surroundings as soon as you can.
A hire car is a great way to see Madrid and the must-see attractions in the mountainous region surrounding it. You’ll find we’re ideally placed to get you in a hire car as quickly and efficiently as possible. We’ve got a convenient car hire pick-up location next to railway station, the main rail gateway into the city.
It’s a handy spot to pick up a rental car and be out on the road without any hassles. Our Madrid Atocha office gives you our best price promise: if you find cheaper car hire locally, we’ll refund the difference.
You’ll be driving off into the heart of one of Europe’s biggest and most interesting cities. If you’ve got a hire car you can explore the whole of Madrid and tour the best attractions of the region of Castile too.
The station is situated in the south of the city but not far from the center. In fact, you’ll be just on the ring of the main arterial route that forms an inner ring road – the M-30. This makes it easy to drive around to any part of the city you want, as well as allow you to find your bearings.
Driving around Madrid itself is part of the experience of visiting the city. There are grand tree-lined boulevards and major roads right across the city, and between the big roads, expect to enter a narrow grid of streets but it’s all generally safe and well behaved. To reduce the risk of congestion, the city center use a one-way system so make sure to take this into consideration before departing in your rental car.
The Spanish capital city is also the country’s main road hub and you’ll find that the major routes radiate from the city. You can easily drive south to the former capital of Toledo using the A42 or drive north on the A6 to visit the ancient city of Segovia.
The roads in central Spain are good quality. The driving is relaxed and safe. And the rules of the road are very similar to the rest of southern Europe. That means that traffic drives on the right. Also, note that you mustn’t use main headlights in built-up areas and everyone must wear seatbelts. The maximum speed is 75mph on motorways and 62mph on dual carriageways. In urban areas the normal limit is 31mph.
It stands at the geographical center of Spain and Madrid is the cultural, political, entertainment, artistic and culinary capital of the nation too. Whether you’re here for work or holiday, you're bound to have a memorable visit. You’ll find Europe’s third largest city covers a large area and is surrounded by major attractions, so a hire car helps explore them all fully.
Royal and religious history
Madrid is the home of the Spanish monarchy, so look out for the popular royal attractions. The Royal Palace is a grand 18th-century baroque landmark. It’s the biggest building in the city and although the royal family doesn’t live there, it’s used for all their official functions. You can take tours of the formal gardens and antique-packed interior.
On the western outskirts of the city, you’ll find the former home of the royals, the Moncloa Palace, which is now the Prime Minister’s house. To the north of the city, the El Pardo Palace is a huge former Royal residence that was chosen as a home by General Franco and nearby is the Zarzuela Palace complex where the royal family mostly live now.
The city’s main church, the Cathedral de la Almudena is right next door to the Royal Palace. It was built in the Gothic style and is worth exploring all the religious artifacts inside. The central public square of Madrid is the impressive Plaza Major, and you’ll find its pavement cafes are a great place to relax and admire the beautiful period buildings around the sides.
The city is a bustling, thriving metropolitan city with all the shops, restaurants, entertainments and nightlife you might expect. It’s particularly good for galleries and museums.
The highlight is the Prado, a huge museum housed in magnificent period buildings. It would take you days to fully examine all the pieces from the national art collection you’ll find inside. Not far away is the spectacular modern architecture of the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, which houses an acclaimed array of modern art, and the Reina Sofia Gallery, which displays 20th-century art in an old hospital building.
A visit to the La Latina district will expose a different side of modern Madrid. Among this area of bohemian tapas bars and pavement cafes, you’ll find the weekly El Rastro flea market every Sunday, a great spot for bargain hunting.
A short drive out of the city is some of Spain’s top attractions. The enormous El Escorial monastic palace in the mountains was the home of Philip II at the time of the Armada and is now a World Heritage Site. Not far away is the landmark memorial to a more recent ruler, General Franco. His tomb at Valle de los Caidos is a remarkable sight - a gigantic basilica hollowed out inside a mountain, which is topped by a 500ft stone cross.
And to the south is the fabulous walled city of Toledo, once the ancient capital of the country. The entire old center of narrow streets, churches and fortifications have been declared a World Heritage Site.