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Spain's capital, Madrid, was the centre of the Spanish Empire and so boasts many cultural and historical sights such as the Palacio Real or Royal Palace. The city is located in the North East of the country and has a population of over 3 million. Like many Spanish cities tourist attractions are focused around key squares including the Puerta del Sol, Plaza Mayor and the Plaza de Colón. Madrid offers ample opportunity for shopping from exclusive designer boutiques in Salamanca to the Rastro flea market. Though there are bars, cafes and restaurants serving local tapas and international cuisine all over the city, a bustling nightlife can be found until the early hours in the famous Gran Via, the street that never sleeps. For a more traditional Spanish experience, Flamenco is performed daily in a number of venues.
Madrid offers a vast selection of hotels to suit all budgets and on the whole prices are very reasonable. On opposite sides of the city, Retiro and Los Austrias are home to some of the city's most luxurious hotels. These are also to be found in the Salamanca area close to the designer boutiques. Further down the scale, more pocket friendly hotels are located in the Gran Via and Sol districts. Other options include the variety of hostales, similar to guest houses and aparthotels with their budget suites.
Madrid's international airport, Madrid Barajas International Airport (MAD) is just a few miles outside the city. From here the Express Bus Service or the Metro are convenient ways to reach the centre. Once there, Madrid's highly respected Metro system is the best way to get around and supporting this is the city's extensive bus network. There are also taxis available to flag down but be aware that you might need to grab that phrasebook!