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Madrid vs Paris for 5 days

Our group of 4 has a total time available of 5 days (not including travel time) and are debating between a visit to Paris or Madrid. Two of the group have been to Paris before but only for 2 days so just highlights of the city. None of us have been to Spain. Any thoughts on which area would offer the best selection of activities for a group with varied interests for a quick visit.

Posted by
1178 posts

My vote will be for Madrid....I have been there several times, and one time to Paris. Madrid had much more that appealed to me, with less difficulty in getting around, and less expensive as well. The Prado Museum, with the others close by, the Royal Palace, Plaza Mayor,etc. etc. Lots to see and a very walkable city. Much cleaner than Paris as well in my viewpoint.

Posted by
697 posts

I've never been to Madrid so I can't speak to that but I personally vote for PARIS!!! I was there in April & began planning to return before I even left! As Audrey Hepburn said "Paris is always a good idea!" Have fun, whatever you decide!

Posted by
9363 posts

Madrid, for sure! Great museums, great prices, great food, beautiful architecture. As HJ said, it's very walkable. Very easy daytrips by train to places like Toledo and Segovia.

Posted by
11286 posts

They are very different, and while I strongly prefer Paris, it's really hard to compare them. Does any one in your group have special interests that would help you make the choice? Have a look at some at guidebooks and travel videos to see if that sways anyone (Rick's travel videos are on Hulu and Youtube, and he did a new set on Paris last year; his Madrid videos are a bit older).

Posted by
8396 posts

Also check out the Globetrekker episodes on each city. They made a new one on Paris in 2013.

Posted by
5460 posts

Do the relative air prices, flight times, and airlines make any difference? Maybe you mean this month, maybe you mean next Summer? I ask because urban outdoor life is even more important in Madrid than in Paris.

Although Paris is my favorite European city, I love Spain, and unlike most posters here, like Madrid better than Barcelona. I did once go to Paris for four nights, but on Flier Miles, and for a specific event. I admire your willingness, but it seems like an odd use of such a jet-lag outing. Are you all Private Equity charlat... I mean, wizards, between two deals?

Posted by
4535 posts

Everyone will have there own opinions and personal preferences of course, but honestly there is no comparison between Madrid and Paris - Paris is so popular for a reason. So unless there is a compelling reason to pick Madrid over Paris, your group would be wisest to pick Paris. Even the people in your group that have been there haven't really seen it and experienced it (impossible with only 2 days). It offers the broadest options for those with varied interests and several daytrip possibilities. And 5 days can easily be filled without anyone getting bored.

Having said that, Madrid is not a bad option by any means, though 5 days is a bit long. There are some daytrip possibilities, but the activities are not as varied so some in your group could find themselves bored by the end.

Posted by
1262 posts

First, applaud your recognition of need to focus only on one city with the time available.
Second, recommend you rent an apartment due to: larger space, kitchen, better chance to become involved w locals and we have found to be a better economic deal.
Third, what time of year are you planning to arrive?
Fourth, although Barcelona is my personal favorite, I would select madrid over paris. Public transport is excellent, Toledo is an easy day trip via bus or train and it is a new opportunity for everyone in your group.
Such a tough choice to have to make!

Posted by
807 posts

Paris has more variety than Madrid. Madrid has a lot of good museums, a couple of little towns you day trip to, wonderful place, but not as diverse as Paris.

Posted by
50 posts

I vote Paris!! I am also one of those people that prefer Barcelona to Madrid, so my second choice would be Barcelona.

Posted by
951 posts

Paris, of course!Madrid is good but more of a type of city that you visit because you fly into that city or fly out of; not a main source of visitation when you only have 5 days and that is the only place you visit. Don't get me wrong;Madrid is a great city but it doesn't have the impact that Paris does. It isn't as romantic. The neighborhoods are not as charming. Yes the museums are important and some may say that El Prado is better than the Louvre (I am not saying that but i have read it alot on this forum). Madrid just doesn't have that punch that Paris has. I would go to paris for a long weekend but never madrid. I would do a long weekend in Andalusia though, but you didn't ask about Southern Spain:)

Posted by
655 posts

You can't go wrong with either choice so if other factors come into play, such as a great airfare to one or the other, that can sway your decision. We have spent several days in both cities and enjoyed them very much. If I were to decide, I would probably pick Paris just because it is so charming and there is so much to explore. What can compare to a moonlight cruise on the Seine or a visit to Sainte-Chapelle? For me, Paris is the one.

Posted by
11805 posts

Madrid is one of my least favorite cities in Spain. It became Spain's capital very late so it's on a par with American cities like Philadelphia, New York or Boston.

It's true Spain is cheaper than France, your dollar will go further. In Spain, however, Madrid is about the most expensive area.

If you don't go to Paris, I'd pick a place with some history like Barcelona or Granada.