The travel guide Lonely Planet has named Madrid as the second-best place to visit in Europe for 2019. Travel experts from the famous guidebook awarded the Spanish capital for its efforts to make the city more environmentally and pedestrian friendly. According to Lonely Planet, “the emphasis on sustainable living has led to wide-scale pedestrianization, bicycle lanes and rental schemes, widened footpaths, and new emissions controls transforming the city.”
Thanks to the pioneering program Madrid Central, which restricts traffic in the city center, emissions of polluting gases in the center of Madrid have fallen by as much as 38%, according to a study by the Technical University of Madrid. As part of the program, 472 hectares of the city center were made off-limits to traffic, and ongoing reforms are set to increase space for pedestrians by nearly 22,000 square meters. Madrid City Hall has also created new bicycle lanes and increased the number of electric bicycles available for public hire.
But it was not just Madrid’s sustainability efforts that were celebrated, the Spanish capital also scored points for its vibrant nightlife. According to Lonely Planet, Madrid’s nightlife was “among Europe’s best” and “keeps improving.” The guide gave a special mention to Calle de Ponzano, a popular tapas and cocktail spot in the Chamberí neighborhood, arguing it was “one of the continent's coolest nighttime streets.” Indeed the street has become so popular it now has its own hashtag: #ponzaning.
Madrid’s Prado Museum also got a nod, with the guidebook praising the “array of special exhibitions” programed for 2019 in celebration of the art museum’s bicentenary. This year, the museum has planned temporary exhibitions on artists such as Diego Velázquez, Rembrandt and Francisco Goya, as well as special music performances, film cycles and displays of lesser-known paintings.
Madrid was ranked behind only High Tatras in Slovakia, which won the top position for its mountains and waterfalls.
Last year, the magazine Time Out named Embajadores in Madrid as the “coolest neighborhood in the world.” The area, located just to the south of the central Puerta del Sol, took the prize thanks to its “bustling cultural life,” its multicultural nature (focused in Lavapiés), the murals on its walls, and the effervescence of squares such as Tirso de Molina.
In January 2019, Madrid was the third most-visited destination in Spain, receiving more than 500,000 visitors in the month.