The best months to visit Madrid are April, May, June, September and October. Temperatures hover around 30-32°C in the months of July and August, when Madrileños, the citizens of Madrid, frequently trade the city for cooler locales to escape the stifling summer heat. Here are some essential tips on how to cope with the heat in Madrid if you should find yourself in the city during the summer.
Start your day early
Hit the streets after breakfast when the morning air is still cool and fresh. It is an ideal time to take in some sights such as Plaza Mayor or Palacio Real (Royal Palace), which has free entry on Wednesdays. On Sunday mornings, make your way to El Rastro, an open-air flea market where you’ll find stalls hawking arts and crafts, collectibles and other bric-a-brac. Go between 9am and 11am to avoid the crowds and the midday sun. Shopping options abound all along Gran Via as well as the streets stretching north and south of Gran Via into the Chueca and Puerta del Sol neighborhoods respectively.
Take a siesta
Take a cue from the locals and plan for a mid-day nap after lunch when the heat gets unbearable at times. This custom is less commonly practiced nowadays but it is not unusual to find businesses and offices closed from 2pm to 5pm. When you’re on holiday, you never need an excuse for an afternoon snooze.
Retreat to El Retiro and the Museo del Prado
El Retiro is Madrid’s green lung and an excellent place to rest and recharge should you choose to forgo a siesta. There are some iconic monuments and sculptures in the park, as well as a lake on which you can row a boat. At one of the al fresco cafes, order a popular summer drink, cerveza con limon or sangria, to quench your thirst. To the west of the park is the world-renowned Museo del Prado, Spain’s national art museum. View the works of Francisco de Goya, Diego Velazquez and El Greco in air-conditioned comfort; entry is free Mondays to Saturdays from 6pm to 8pm and Sundays from 5pm to 7pm.
Paint the town red at night
The three-hour nap earlier in the day comes in handy when you’re in one of Europe’s top nightlife cities. During the summer, the sun doesn’t set till about 9pm, which is about time for a late dinner or drinks and tapas. A more touristic option would be a dinner-and-flamenco-performance package; check out Corral de la Moreria. There are plenty of bars, outdoor terrazas and clubs to choose from, with most of these concentrated in Gran Via, Puerta del Sol, Chueca and La Latina. There is a neighborhood to fit your fancy in this city that comes alive after midnight, with partygoers calling it a night, ironically, when the sun rises at 6am.