We had heard from fellow vanlifers that by parking in Madrid, you run the risk of having your bus graffitied.
So instead of parking in Madrid itself, we stayed in one of the quieter areas on the outskirts called Pinto and got the train into the center of Madrid each day which took less than 30 mins each way.
Pinto, a medium-sized municipality located 25 kilometers (15 ½ miles) south of Spain’s capital – is not only home to 50,000 Spaniards; but also a Warner Brothers theme park – yes, we went, and yes it was awesome!
Secure camper parking is available in Pinto at GPS coordinates N 40.23847, W 3.69123 for the low price of 0.33 euro cents per hour which equates to 7.92 for each 24hr period.
When you enter the parking you take a ticket from the machine, you then insert the ticket into a separate machine to pay for your stay on your way out.
There is a chap that works there who watches over the vehicles; he’s an incredibly jolly guy, doesn’t speak a word of English but is happy to use Google translate!
There was a maximum stay of 72hrs indicated on the entry barrier, but as we had to stay in town for one extra day because David was sick.
We paid at the ticket machine, exited the camper parking – and then went right back in again with no problems – so it is possible to hack the system if you need to stay for a little longer.
Only a short fifteen-minute walk, or six-minute bike ride from the camper parking – you’ll find Pinto train station.
If you’d like to get from there to Madrid’s central train station, you’ll want to purchase your ticket from one of the many ticket machines and select Atocha station as your destination, this is a 24-minute train journey, and the cost for a one-way ticket is €2.75 per person.
For the most delightful, luxurious, and downright memorable showering experience – I’d highly recommend splashing out and booking the Hammam Arab Baths in Madrid.
A 28-minute walk from Atocha Station, in the center of the city, you’ll find Hammam where upon walking through the vibrant orange curtains of the entranceway, you’ll be transported back in time to what feels like Aladdin’s palace.
I’d recommend booking in for the traditional “emerge” experience, where for €35, you get to choose between any and all of the Arab baths which include cold, warm, and hot bathing experiences.
The duration of the experience is 90 minutes which feels perfectly adequate to relax after a long day at work, but be sure to arrive a little early to sample some of the free tea, served in ornate silver teapots!
If you’re in need of a little more relaxation, the mimma experience combines the Arab bath experience with an essential oil massage designed to revive your energy and release your stress – it’s also said to make you float in the water which is cool!
A combination of the emerge experience along with a massage and body purification using hot stones. *We didn’t try this one, but I thought that it was worth giving you all of the options!
After any of the Hammam experiences, you’ll be able to utilize their changing room with hand carved wooden lockers, ornately tiled showers, and a tray full of the most luxurious toiletries which you’re free to use!
Make the most of your time in what has to be the regal bathroom of all time, use the face creams, straighten your hair and get your money’s worth!
If you’re wanting to explore Madrid without relying on public transport, I’d recommend bringing a bike with you; this is one ridonkulously large city that takes an age to walk around.
The trains from Pinto to Atocha do have specific bike carriages where you are allowed to transport your bike with you.
Watch out though because there is limited space, and signs indicate that you will have to wait for the next train if there’s no room for your bike.
It’s worth mentioning that we traveled into the city during the morning on weekdays and weekends and the bike carriage was pretty quiet each time.
If you don’t fancy taking your bike with you into the city, there is free secure bike parking available at Pinto train station.
Download the app Pverde and select “Pinto bicis estacion” and then click “puerta” to open the door to the secure bike shed – but make sure that you have enough charge on your phone to get it out when you arrive back in Pinto!
One tricky aspect of vanlife is the lack of a physical address, however – in great big cities like Madrid, there is an abundance of co-working spaces which not only make an ideal spot to charge computers, and work for the day – but they often accept packages for members and visitors alike.
So go ahead and make the most of being in a city by ordering those spare parts you’ve been needing for your van, or if you’re like me, perhaps a package of tea from your favorite tearoom!
Madrid is a vibrant and bustling city with tons to do, and even more to eat! Staying outside of the city made for a much more relaxing stay, and I’d highly recommend it as a must see if you’re in Spain.
We’ll definitely be back – even if it’s just for more tasty treats from Delish Vegan Doughnuts… so yummy!
Happy Traveling xx