Paris vs. Madrid

Europe is known as the continent that bags 50% of the world's tourist arrivals, making it the most visited region globally. Unsurprising since it's filled to the brim with tourist hotspots beautiful enough to stop someone in their tracks. Among these popular places are Paris and Madrid, the capital cities of France and Spain, respectively.
Paris vs. Madrid

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Both destinations have similarities, which may serve as a dilemma for people looking for a superior spot to visit. The two cities are nirvana in terms of art and gastronomy. In addition, they won’t lose to one another when it comes to landmarks. However, they still have their differences, which you’ll have fun discovering on your own.

To give you the lowdown, Paris has everything a romantic, sentimental person will ever want. The city has vintage cobblestone streets filled with desserts of every kind, making it a sweet tooth wonderland.

The Parisian atmosphere is also nothing to scoff at, thanks to the stunning architecture and the place’s elegant dynamics. It’s enough to make you leave everything in your homeland, starting over as a resident of the city of love.

On the other hand, Madrid is a fiery city ideal for passionate individuals with a thirst for excitement. The sunny weather, intoxicating nightlife, and thrilling sports are the perfect mix for tourists far and wide. On top of these, the friendly atmosphere extends to everyone, with the city welcoming humans of all kinds. In Madrid, you get to have all the fun you like without worrying about who you are.


Paris – the mere mention of this city will surely light up the eyes of any person with wanderlust. Not surprising since the place easily belongs in the top 10 list of most visited cities in the world. It’s a dream destination for many, particularly people with a flair for fashion, art, and romance.

Dubbed one of the most beautiful cities in the whole wide world, Paris has more than just the Eiffel Tower to be proud of. There are plenty of museums to explore, foods to taste, and architecture to get lost in. Through all these, you can easily decipher why it’s identified as France’s capital. There’s no denying that you’ve been attracted to this wonderful city of love and light at one point.

What Makes Paris Unique?

Heaven for Art Connoisseurs

Paris is the mecca of aesthetes – people with a taste for art and all beautiful things. As such, it’s no wonder it’s a city very much loved by artists and art enthusiasts from all over the world. The place has the largest collection of impressionist and postimpressionist paintings globally. It’s also the hub for the biggest contemporary masterpieces made by genius painters.

In fact, Paris is home to some of the biggest, most influential painters in history, including Vincent Van Gogh and Claude Monet. Don’t forget Pablo Picasso, Auguste Renoir, Henri Matisse, and many more. Some artists were originally from the city, but others were attracted to the place’s charm and decided to stay. Here are some of the world-famous paintings you can only see in Paris, France:

  • Mona Lisa (Leonardo da Vinci)
  • Self-Portrait (Vincent Van Gogh)
  • Poppy Field (Claude Monet)
  • Liberty Leading the People (Eugène Delacroix)
  • The Triumph of the Virtues (Andrea Mantegna)

Fashion Capital of the World

Despite not being interested in all the latest clothes, no doubt you’ve heard of Paris and its expertise in fashion. They take the top spot in hosting different style shows of all kinds, the most famous one being Paris Fashion Week. During this period, brands and designers show off their skills by presenting unique collections. It’s an exclusive event with models wearing haute couture and ready-to-wear assemblage on the runway.

Aside from the fashion shows, Paris is also the home of established brands that set the trends for every season. Familiar with Dior, Chanel, Hermes, or Yves Saint Laurent? Well, the city has no shortage of clothing lines that birth looks copied all around the globe.

Great Hausmann Architecture

One thing that makes Paris unique is its preservation of Hausmann Architecture. This style was created during the reign of Emperor Napoleon III with the artistic touch of Baron Haussmann in the 18th century. During this time, a massive renovation of the city’s architecture occurred. It led to its transformation from a medieval look to the Parisian outlay you see today.

This revamping period lasted for 20 years, but it was well worth it. Gone are the dark, grimy streets of Paris, replaced by a more modernized, bigger city. Thanks to these, you can walk along avenues filled with cream-colored buildings and grey-zinc roofs. These buildings are all made with similar stone facades, adding up to their remarkable vintage charm.

Fun fact: 60% of the city’s infrastructures sport this style, equal to about 40,000 Haussmann buildings. It’s the reason why most Parisians prefer the long way home. Some foreigners would even travel hours and miles just to snap a few aesthetic photos of this classic Parisian architecture.

Eye-Catching Infrastructures

Paris is well-known for its art and fashion, but it also has eye-catching infrastructures you really don’t want to miss. The city is brimming with landmarks from left and right, showcasing its cultural and historical preeminence. In fact, one day isn’t enough to tour all the grand places Paris has to offer. As such, if your stay is limited, you may want to check out world-renowned ones such as the following:

Eiffel Tower

When you say Paris, people would automatically associate it with the Eiffel Tower. It’s the shining jewel of the city and the most famous landmark that attracts people from other continents. The iron-wrought structure stands tall but still has that undeniable Parisian charm. The Eiffel Tower has long been the background of special moments, including proposals and weddings.

Since Paris is a low-rise city, you’ll catch a glimpse of the structure from all over the place. It’s quite phenomenal, especially at night when you’re on a bridge or right under the building. You can also enjoy it up close, so long as you book in advance to set a reservation.

The Louvre

The Louvre is a building with a peak Parisian atmosphere, styled like a 12th-century fortress enclosed in a modern glass pyramid. It’s a breathtaking structure used by monarchs as a residence until they moved to Versailles. The unique design is enough to wow most people, but wait until you see what’s inside.

Clue: the Louvre is home to 300,000 exhibitions sourced from all parts of the globe. It’s the biggest museum in the world that houses various works of art, be it from Oriental, Egyptian, or Greek roots. However, note that only 35,000 of these pieces are available for public viewing, which is still quite a lot. These include paintings to noteworthy sculptures:

  • Mona Lisa
  • Vénus de Milo
  • Le Sacre de l’Empereur Napoléon Ier
  • Chevaux de Marly
  • Hammurabi Code
The Catacombs

Want to feed on your adventurous side even further? Well, the Catacombs in Paris may be the right spot for you. Compared to other landmarks found aboveground, this place lies underneath the city of love and light. It’s a tunnel spanning 320 km (200 mi), brimming with the remains of ancient Parisian people.

To be exact, the Catacombs house unnamed city dwellers during the 17th century, with a number of over six million corpses. It’s a place that will leave you feeling scared, especially as you’re literally walking in a wall full of dead bodies. However, the landmark allows you to pay homage to the people in the catacombs.

Aside from the corpses, you’ll also find unique sculptures in the Port Mahon corridor dating back to the time of Louis XV.

Iconic Bridges

Another thing that makes Paris stand out from the rest is its collection of iconic bridges. If you’re a history buff, you’re well aware of the city’s historic bridges being built on different timelines. Some date back to World War II, while others were created way back in the reigns of Napoleon and Henry IV. Take a look at some of the most remarkable ones below:

  • Pont de Bir-Hakeim. Named after the WWII Battle of Bir-Hakeim, this dual-level bridge is a great spot to view the Eiffel Tower. It passes through the island of Île aux Cygnes, so you can also see the famed replica of the Statue of Liberty. This bridge is phenomenal enough that it’s been shown in several movies, including Inception, Monte Carlo, and Last Tango in Paris.
  • Pont Alexandre III. This bridge was built way back in 1900 with a classic Beaux-Arts style. It’s a famous Paris destination due to the sculptures scattered all throughout. If you’re a huge mythology geek, visiting this place is a must since it displays nymphs from both Roman and Greek lore.
  • Pont Neuf. This bridge is the oldest one you can find along Paris’ Seine River. Built in 1607, it has been a famous landmark for people far and wide due to its distinctive sculptures. The most famous one of these artworks is the bronze statue of Henry IV on horseback, which is quite a big deal.
  • Pont des Arts. If you’re looking for the most famous bridge Paris has to offer, then get ready to travel to this particular site. This place is commonly known as the Love Lock Bridge, where visitors put a padlock on the railings. They would then throw the key away in the Seine River, symbolizing their eternal devotion.

Delectable Gastronomy

If you think Paris’ uniqueness is limited to art and fashion, you’re in for a real surprise. The city can also stand shoulder-to-shoulder with other places in terms of tasty, flavorsome dishes. In fact, its delectable gastronomy is something you should experience once in a lifetime. These apply both to their native daily cuisines and pastries, well-known by foodies from different countries.

French Cuisine

French cuisine has been a consistent part of the world’s top 10 most delicious cuisines. This is no surprise, especially as France is rich in unique flavors and spices. However, Paris, the capital city, stands out since it has the country’s complete menu. Here are some of the most famous foods you must try.

  • Escargot
  • Croque Monsieur and Croque Madame
  • Steak-Frites
  • Confit de Canard
  • Ratatouille

Having a sweet tooth means you’ll thoroughly enjoy touring the bustling streets of Paris. It’s the capital of pastries, brimming with sweets and desserts from every side. Bakeries line up each corner of the city, displaying their specialty and unique take on pastries.

Your tastebuds will definitely rejoice for all the variety of confections you’re going to taste. There’s no shortage of anything, from croissants, Milles Feuilles, cardinals, and many more. Tip: it’s always a great idea to leave some room for unexpected desserts, especially if you’re roaming the city to maximize the experience.

Shopping Galore

Paris is the homeland of fashion, so it’s only sensible that it’s teeming with several shopping streets. If you have a big budget, you can definitely enter high-end fashion stores – does Chanel, Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, and Louis Vuitton ring a bell? There are also other French luxury brands you can explore; you may even find your new favorite style while doing so.

Similarly, there are also vintage flea markets for those not keen on splurging on big brands in the fashion industry. This is a great idea if you’re focused on enjoying other aspects of the Parisian culture but still want to check the latest trends. You can also go window shopping and come back to buy everything you want in full force.

Parisian Atmosphere

Many foreigners would choose to go to Paris every vacation despite being capable of going to other countries. Some would even leave their homeland, settle in the city, and start building their life from scratch. There’s only one thing responsible for this: the Parisian atmosphere.

There’s nothing like the city of Paris when it comes to streets and alleyways. From vintage cobblestones to modern streetlights, the place simply screams romance and comfort in one. The culture and the people are also pleasant, often treating each other as family.

In fact, Paris has been thriving with warmth and tenderness, enough for it to be dubbed as the city of love. No doubt, many lovers dream of walking under the city’s thousand street lights. In relation to this, the place is also known as the city of lights, particularly because of the gleam brought by its illumination.


Madrid may not be one of the hottest tourist sites in the world but visiting it once in your lifetime is a worthy endeavor. It’s the original artisan city of Western Europe, meaning there’s no shortage of artworks to look at. It doesn’t matter which direction you head in this Spanish capital; there’s bound to be something majestic to take a photo of.

Still, don’t be bummed out; Madrid is not your typical city of culture. It’s filled with endless possibilities for adventure, perfect for people craving things that are out of the ordinary. The place is innovative and accepting of all kinds of tourists, no matter your color or sexual orientation. It’s also perfect for those thirsty for electrifying nightlife and interesting interactions.

Traveling to Madrid may just be what you need if you’re after experiences that will spark something within you. The place is one of the ideal getaways in the European continent, especially for people with a great love for exploration. The spot has many things to boast of, be it food, art, or tourist destinations.

What Makes Madrid Unique?

Getaway for Foodies

If you’re someone who has toured the streets of Madrid, you’re aware of how much the city loves its food. In fact, the Spanish capital has its own unique gastronomy ranging from stews, snails, tripes, and squid rolls. However, they also incorporate the strong, unforgettable flavors of the country.

This means you can taste different Spanish specialties and delicacies while staying in one place. If you’re ready to satiate the foody in you, check out some of Madrid’s must-have cuisine:

  • Cochinillo
  • Chocolate con Churros
  • Paella
  • Ibérico Ham
  • Caracoles a la Madrilena
The Oldest Restaurant in the World

The Spanish capital can surely give you the foody experience of a lifetime. However, if you truly wish to get to the roots of Madrid’s cuisine, you should take the time to visit Sobrino de Botín. It’s the Guinness Book of Records holder for the world’s oldest restaurant.

Founded in 1725, the spot has miraculously preserved its original building from the 18th century. This has caught the eye of different personalities, including authors that made their mark in the annals of history. These include Ernest Hemingway. Graham Greene, and Frederick Forsythe.

Sobrino de Botín is not all talk either, so you’re visiting more than their ancient infrastructure. The restaurant is famous for its suckling pig and roasted lamb, brimming with flavors bite after bite. They also offer other dishes, including squid rings and their very own Clams Botín.

Globally Famous LGBT Community

Everyone is welcome to enjoy the streets of the Spanish capital, but those of the LGBT community can particularly enjoy going to Chueca. Located in the neighborhood of Central Madrid, this place is the heart of gay culture. It doesn’t matter what sexual orientation you are; you’ll have the time of your life touring this particular spot.

Bars, drag shows, and even globally-famous pride parades, Chueca has them all. It’s also the hub of Madrid LGBTI+ Pride Festival, held every twenty-eighth of June onwards. On top of all these, this spot also houses the Museum of Romanticism, Longoria Palace, and the Casa de las Siete Chimeneas.

Hotspot for Sports

True-blooded sports enthusiasts most likely have Madrid on their list of must-visit destinations. It’s for a good reason, especially since the city is known for its noteworthy sports events and competitions. In fact, there are two particular competitive games the Spanish capital is known for.


Madrid is the home of one of the most famous soccer teams in history, known as Real Madrid. Specifically, the city contains the Paseo de la Castellana, which is where Santiago Bernabeu is located. With a whopping 1 million visitors per year, this stadium belongs in the top spots in the Spanish capital.

If you’re wondering why this place is a big deal, know that Real Madrid is a legend in soccer. The team broke every record to break, easily considered the greatest football club ever.


Similar to Southeast Asia’s original blood sport known as cockfighting, Spain has bullfighting. In particular, this game is most often held in the Plaza de Toros Monumental de las Ventas, found in Madrid. It’s a big business in the city, attracting thousands of spectators each session.

The Las Ventas Bullring has a seating capacity of 24,000 people, eager to watch matadors interact and bait bulls. They wear flamboyant costumes that steal the shows they participate in, waving the muleta to taunt the animals. Note that you should know the rules and steel your heart if you’re eager to watch this Spanish blood sport.

Never-Ending Nightlife

Madrid is not dubbed as the Spanish capital for nothing. In fact, it’s easily one of the best cities in Europe, both for its growth potential and never-ending nightlife. If you’re looking for a destination to get buzzed, then this spot is right for you.

You’ll find the streets lined with reputable bars and pubs eager to give you the best night out of your life. There are plenty of clubs to choose from, the main recommendation being Kapital. It’s among the biggest spots in the city, known for its unique vintage flare and seven floors with different aesthetics. Other options include Huertas, Bohemian Malasaña, and plenty more.

City for Singing and Dancing

Flamenco may have originated in the southern part of Spain, but Madrid steals the spotlight regarding quality. The city is well-known for hosting the best flamenco shows in the country, enough for enthusiasts to travel miles for them. It fuses Andalusian music and dance with Roman characteristics – resulting in a unique dance everyone can enjoy.

Madrid is also a hotspot for other dance types, including sensual salsa and artistic zarzuela. If going to clubs is not your cup of tea, you may want to explore this particular Madrid activity. You won’t regret allocating time for these, especially if you’re itching to show some of your moves.

Home to 300 Ornate Statues

Yet another thing that makes Madrid stand out is its streets are littered with ornate statues. You’ll find these works of art sitting on every corner, from plazas to parks and even other public establishments. It’s the reason why the city is often the subject of social media posts, mainly as part of a cool ‘gram feed.

Aside from aesthetic pictures, these ornate statues can also be a source of game and entertainment. You can go statue-hunting alone or with your family, finding particular art forms you can relate to. There are over 300 figures to find, so it’s definitely a challenge worth every reward. Some of the most amazing sculptures and their locations include:

  • Julia (Calle del Pez)
  • The Sweeper (Plaza de Benavente)
  • Day and Night (Madrid-Atocha Train Station)
  • Air Crash (Calle Mayor)

Madrid vs. Paris – Which City Is Better?

Madrid and Paris are both equally endearing destinations that people should visit if they get the chance. There’s no use in comparing which of these capitals is better. The two spots have their own unique charms that appeal to a wide variety of tourists.

If you’re weighing the options between which of the two cities you should explore —

Visit Madrid if you’re interested in exploring hidden gems and uncommon spots, you’re fond of places that aren’t overwhelmed with tourists, you’re keen on experiencing the city’s bustling nightlife, you’re not too excited about the changing weather, you’re a big supporter of the LGBTIQ+ community.

Visit Paris if you’re a big fan of art, love shopping and dressing up, love pastries and other sweets, you’re aiming for a romantic getaway with your partner, you enjoy historical and vintage designs, you’re eager to experience the famed Parisian lifestyle.

All in all, both Madrid and Paris have remarkable things to offer. The two cities are not famous tourist destination spots for nothing – each presenting its own appeal and allure. Choose to visit Madrid if you have an adventurous spirit, but opt to go to Paris if you’re a romantic soul.

There’s nothing to lose if you travel to both capitals, especially if money and time are not the issues. In fact, this is plausible and convenient since they are within reach of one another.


Overnight Train From Madrid to Paris

If you’re on the hunt for a sleeper train that travels straight from Madrid to Paris, you’re out of luck. There are no overnight trains linking the two cities, so you must find other routes. It’s a pity since they’re a great way to save up on extra expenses, especially since you don’t need to book a hotel to spend the night.

You have alternatives, but note that changing rides once or twice is a must. You’d also have to travel during the day, particularly late morning or early afternoon. Take the bullet train from Madrid to Barcelona, then get off at the required station. Afterward, switch and ride the second train from Barcelona to Paris.

Paris to Madrid Drive

The distance between Paris to Madrid via car is 1,272 km (790 mi). This should take an average of twelve hours, so long as you won’t encounter heavy traffic on the road. Worry not, though, because there are plenty of possible stops en route if you wish to rest for a while.

For instance, you can stop by Bordeaux, a port city in France famed for its tasty wine. It’s a five-hour drive away from Paris and six hours from Madrid, making it the ideal stopover for those looking for middle ground. It has plenty of budget-friendly inns, so you’d have no trouble hunting for a place to sleep.

You could also choose Burgos as a stopover, a province in Spain well-known for its medieval infrastructure. Since this is a famous tourist spot, several accommodations are available for you. Note that Burgos is only a few minutes away from the main route from Paris to Madrid, making it even more convenient.

Best Way to Get From Madrid to Paris

The best way to get from Madrid to Paris depends on your primary goal. Check out which of these options fits you through the details below:

Via Train

Trains are the most sought method of transport from Madrid to Paris. It’s more expensive and time-consuming than plane rides. However, the route is the most romantic, providing great views of Spain and France’s majestic landscapes.

Via Bus

Traveling from Madrid to Paris via bus will take you an average of 17 hours. This trip is for those who enjoy commuting with plenty of people or those not keen on driving. If you’re not any of these, then you’re better off choosing other modes of transport.

Via Car

Traveling from Madrid to Paris by car takes about 12 hours, the best option for people who aim to enjoy the scenery along the way. However, note that there are plenty of toll roads between the two destinations, so this route is quite costly.

Via Plane

If you’re looking for the route that takes you from Madrid to Paris in a jiffy, air travel is the one for you. It’s only going to take you an average of two hours to arrive at the destination – and it will only cost you about $30 or so.