Location: Spain's capital is situated close to the geographical centre of the country with typically cold winters and hot summers.
Getting there: a range of UK airlines including Go, British Airways and Iberia fly to the city.
Accommodation: few of the big international hotel chains have penetrated Madrid, so the major names are Spanish groups including Sol Melia and NH Hotels.
Sightseeing: Madrid is known for its art galleries, the most famous of which is the Prado which houses fine pieces by Goya, Murillo and Velazquez, to name but a few. Other museums worth a look include the Museum Thyseen Bornemisza, which has art by Van Gogh and Klee. Retiro Park is a pleasant city haven with rowing boats and cafes scattered around a lake. Plaza Mayor is the Trafalgar Square of Madrid with artists sketching, buskers playing and numerous cafes.
Bars and restaurants: Spanish restaurants are famous for their tapas, small dishes of delicious delicacies like potatoes in a spicy tomato sauce, fried calamari, or mushrooms cooked in garlic. A dish of tapas costs about £2.50.
Tips: the Spanish eat late in the evening, at around 10.30pm. The wine is very good, particularly Rioja.
Shopping: banks and shops open from 8.30am-2pm. Banks only open on Saturday mornings from October to April.
Getting around: Madrid is a big city so take a map and use the metro. A new metro link from the city to the airport has just opened. A single metro ticket is 130 pesetas. Buses are air conditioned. Taxis can be hailed in the street.
Cost of a weekend break: British Airways Holidays offers a two-night city break including breakfast and flights for £229 in October or £199 in September.
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