Madrid is the capital city of Spain, and is located almost exactly in the geographical centre of the Iberian Peninsula. Madrid is the largest city in Spain and has a population (city) of 3.228 million (July 2005) and 5.843 million (metropolitan area). Madrid is best known for its great cultural and artistic heritage, for which El Prado museum is a good example. It also boasts some of the liveliest nightlife in the world.
Madrid is located in central Spain, and it is also the capital of the autonomous community of the same name (Comunidad de Madrid). It lies at an average 600m of altitude in the middle of the Spanish central Castillian plateau (Meseta central). Nearly all of the most famous tourist areas are located in the centre of Madrid: Puerta del Sol just in the middle, Plaza Mayor a bit to the south, Palacio Real to the west, and Plaza de Colón to the north-east. Some of those hot spots spread up past the Gran Via, which is one of the main streets in Madrid (the largest one being the Paseo de la Castellana).
The climate of Madrid is continental: mainly dry and quite extreme at times, with frequent rain in winter. Madrid sees perpetual sunshine and a characteristically hot temperature in the summer, and a fairly cold temperature in the winter. Spring and Autumn are fairly temperate with most rainfall concentrated in these seasons, together with winter. Spring is definitely the best time to visit, specially months of April and May. Rainfall occurs sporadically, and snowfall is not something that happens every year in the city, however, there is abundant snowfall in the adjacent mountain ranges close to it.
The culture of Madrid was dominated by its religious and royal history. Enormous, monolithic cathedral and churches are plentiful in Madrid, as well as medieval architecture, although nowadays Madrid is a cosmopolitan city as you would expect from Berlin or London.
The citizens of Madrid (referred to by themselves as Madrileños or the more traditional term "gatos" (cats) though not so used today) live by a daily routine that is heavily influenced by the harsh climate. Due to the extreme heat in the middle of the day, a "siesta" is observed in which some citizens take a break from the heat. Small stores are often closed during this time. Workers and those more afflicted by Western lifestyles do not have to observe this long break and work traditional business hours, which are usually between 9 a.m. and 6-7 p.m. Offices usually close during the weekend but businesses are often open Saturday morning, and downtown also during the afternoon. Most grocers are closed on Sundays. Some major chain and department stores will be open throughout the day, however, for example- FNAC.
Madrid possibly has the largest number of bars per capita of any European city and a very active nightlife; Madrileños are known to stay up until even 6-8 a.m. It is important to note that due to their very active lifestyle, lodging located near the Gran Via can result in an aural nightmare at night; light sleepers should take heed.
Madrid has become very modernized as of late, with a very elaborate transportation network comprised of the Metro and buses. The city contrasts with some large European cities in that it is extremely clean, and city employees in bright green vests can almost always be seen cleaning the streets and sidewalks. Like most large cities, however, there is a substantial population of vagrants and beggars lining the streets.
Madrid is one of the biggest and most cosmopolitan cities in Europe. Communities of West Africans, North Africans, Latin Americans, other Europeans, Chinese, Indians, Filipinos and Pakistanis are important.
The majority of Madrid residents do not speak very much English- the population speaks about as much English as the U.S. population speaks Spanish. Even employees at U.S. franchised businesses such as McDonald's and employees at cash exchange centers rarely speak much English, therefore it could be essential to at least know very common Spanish words and phrases.
Nevertheless you can often find someone with enough domain of English on main hotels and tourism sites.
Essential Basic Words & Phrases to Know for Madrid
Oficina de Turismo- "Tourist Office", this is the main information hub for tourists
Horario- hours of operation/opening & closing times
Cambio- "change", used during purchases and also designates Currency Exchange stations
Bebidas- "drinks", designates places where refreshments can be purchased
Comida- "food", designates places where food/meals can be purchased
Tapas- "appetizers", food served in small portions, either as accompaniment for your beer, or as part of a larger meal
Joyeria/Relojeria- "jewelry shop/watch shop", these can be seen in abundance in the city
"sin"- "without", often used on food items to designate what it does not contain, for instance, "sin cafeina" means "without caffeine"
"con"- "with", the exact opposite of "sin", "con" would designate what something does contain
Tropical garden in Atocha
The nearest airport is Barajas International Airport, about 15-20 minutes from Madrid. It is connected to the city by the Metro line eight. Taxis from the airport to the city centre cost about €20. In February 2006, a huge new terminal building, designed by Britain's Richard Rogers and Spanish´s Antonio Lamela, was inaugurated at Barajas. All One World alliance flights depart from the new Terminal 4 (T4). Due to a dispute between the regional and national governments, work on the Metro connection to the new terminal has only just begun and will not be completed until 2007. In the meantime, bus services run from the remaining terminals to T4 and there are additional bus services running from the centre of Madrid (Plaza Colón and Avenida de América). It is also planned (according to www.elpais.es) that a commuter train line from Atocha and Chamartín will arrive to the airport by 2009.
But don't be put off by the construction work. This is one of the best and cheapest working metros in Europe! Trains are regular and on time.
Not only is Madrid the capital of Spain, but it is also the hub of the country's rail network. Major routes include frequent trains to Barcelona on the east coast (5 hour journey), where it is possible to continue on to the French coast, and to Paris to the north with access to most of the rest of Europe.
Spain's high-speed train (AVE - Alta Velocidad de España) makes the Madrid-Seville run in in two and a half hours. The AVE line to Barcelona will probably become operational during 2007. It currently operates only between Madrid and Lerida via Zaragoza.
Northern bound trains arrive and depart from Chamartín station, while trains to Barcelona, Valencia and southern Spain depart from Atocha railway station.
There is more information available at Spanish Railway System Renfe (+034 902-240-202).
Madrid has eight gigantic international and intercity bus stations. Information on where buses to a particular destination depart from can be found at the Tourist Office!
Many of the international buses, and those headed south of Madrid, arrive at and depart from Estacion Sur de Autobuses (Calle de Mendez Alvaro, Tel:+034 91-468-4200) which is connected to the rest of the city by Metro. Buses to and from Barcelona are based from the Avenida de America bus terminal (Ave. de America), also connected to the Metro.
There are car rent facilities available on the airport, train stations and other main travel sites. Always be sure to have a street map handy!
Using the Metro de Madrid (Madrid's Subway/Underground) is efficient and usually easier than using the buses, especially if one is new to the city. Also, the underground tunnels of the Metro provide relief from the sun on particularly hot days. Single trip tickets with unlimited changes within Madrid city (zone A) cost €1,00. If you plan to make at least six metro trips, think about buying the Metrobús tickets which offer a better value of 10 rides for €6.15. You can buy these tickets at Metro stations, news-stands, and estancos (tobacconists'). They are valid not just on the Metro but also on EMT city buses (the red ones), including the night bus network (its buses are called Búhos - night owls). Stamping the ticket one time allows you to use the Metro network as long and far as you like - make sure you stay inside the Metro zone, once you leave it, you'll have to stamp your ticket again. When travelling by bus, the ticket needs to be stamped each time you enter a bus.
In addition to a bus pass, consider buying an Abono Turístico (tourist pass). This pass comes in five versions: lasting 1 (€3.50), 2(€6.30), 3 (€8.40), 5 (€13.20), or 7 (€18.40) calendar days. They are valid from the date they are first used. The date of expiration will be printed on the back of the ticket.
On Friday and Saturday nights, a night bus service runs on the same routes as the Metro lines once these have closed for the evening. This service, inaugurated in 2006, is known as the 'BuhoMetro'.
EMT operates the city bus network. A single trip costs €1 (buy ticket on boarding), or buy a Metrobús ticket in advance (see "Metro" above) giving 10 rides for €6.15 and also valid on the Metro. There are special night buses (called Búho - "night owl"). All the Búhos start at Plaza de Cibeles, going to all directions from there.
Using the Madrid Tourist Bus to move around is not a good idea, as it has no air conditioning/heating, and the temperatures inside can get to over 50ºC.
Taxis in Madrid are cheaper than in other European cities but much more expensive than travel by bus or the Metro.
They are widely available at all hours except Friday and Saturday night when they are difficult to catch due to diners and partiers fighting for them. Note that it can be next to impossible to get a taxi when it is raining. Unlike in other European cities, there are few taxi ranks; just stand by the side of a major road or bus stop, and wave your hand for a free taxi passing by. Free taxis are labeled libre in the windshield, and have a green light on top.
Official Taxis are white, and have a red stripe and the flag of Madrid on the front door. The tariff is displayed on top of the car (a 1 during daytime, a 2 during the night, wich become 2 and 3 on holidays such as cristmas eve). Ask for a receipt (in Spanish 'recibo') if you feel the charge is too high - the driver is obligated to give you one.
There are also special surcharges if you go to the airport, like a surcharge for the bags and for entering or leaving the airport. Ask for the written table of tariffs and charges (suplementos) (usually shown on small stickers on rear windows)before paying if you think it's too expensive. A normal ride to/from the airport is about €20.
Transportation by private automobile in Madrid can be very difficult. The Spanish capital suffers from the typical problems of most big cities: far too many cars and not enough space to accommodate them. Sometimes there can even be traffic jams in the Paseo de la Castellana at three o'clock in the morning (Then again, three in the morning is early to some Madrileños). The problem is compounded by the narrow streets in the old town, where a lorry delivering beer barrels to a local bar can cause a huge tailback. Looking for a place to park your car can be very time consuming, and difficult if one is not skilled in the art of close proximity parallel parking. Many Spaniards are also lacking in this art, prompting them to simply park in the street, blocking other cars in. If you find yourself blocked in by such a practice, honk your horn until the driver returns, he will usually just be popping in to a shop, and it will make you feel better.
On the other hand, travel by car can be advantageous; going home by car on weekends is, of course depending where you live, usually faster than by public transport.
Riding a bicycle in Madrid is quite dangerous because there is no reserved section of the road for bikers, and drivers are not used to seeing bicycles in the city. This is due to Madrid not being a flat city so Madrileños do not see travel by bike as being practical. The Metro limits the times when a bicycle can be carried on it. However, Madrid is not totally ridden of bicyclists- Madrid bikers can often be seen riding in El Retiro, Madrid's largest park besides "La Casa de Campo" which is bigger with 1800 Ha. Both parks are sites of nature´s enjoy and sports though are considered dangerous after the sun sets.
Major Museums The "Golden Museum Triangle"
Museo del Prado, (The nearest Metro stations are Atocha and Banco de España. Bus lines 9, 10, 14, 19, 27, 34, 37 and 45.), . Closed on Mondays and some holidays. One of the finest art collections in the world, and the best collection of classical art in Madrid. It contains the famous Velazquez piece, Las Meninas, as well many of the Black Paintings of Goya. Includes many different Collections: the Spanish (El Greco, Velazquez, and Goya), the Flemish and Dutch paintings (Rubens, van Dyck, and Brueghel), Italian (Botticelli, Tintoretto Caravaggio, and Veronese),the German paintings (Albrecht Dürer, Lucas Cranach, and Baldung Grien).Tickets are about €6, with discounts for students, children, etc. Entry is free on Sundays.
Reina Sofía National Museum and Art Centre, Santa Isabel 52, 28012 Madrid (located near the massive Atocha train station), ☎ (+34) 91 774 10 00 (fax: (+34) 91 774 10 56), . Mo-Sa: 10.00 - 21.00, Su 10.00 - 14.30. Houses Madrid's best collection of modern art. It includes many of Pablo Picasso's most revered works including the renowned Guernica. The Reina Sofía also houses masterpieces by Miró, Kandinsky, Dalí, Bacon, and more.€6, free at weekends.
Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum of Art, . Opens from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. The ticket office closes at 6:30 p.m. The Museum is closed all day on January 1, May 1 and December 25. Contains a large art collection including masterpieces by Monet, Goya, Degas, Renoir, Van Gogh, Picasso, Mondrian, Bacon and Lichtenstein.Tickets are about €6.
Atocha RENFE. A very large train station. The interesting thing about it is the winterhouse jungle garden inside the main building, complete with small turtles. Worth visiting.
El Retiro is considered to be the "Central Park" of Madrid, the perfect place to take a rest during a sunny day, or take part in the drum circles around the statue of Alphonso XII on summer evenings. There is a large boating lake where one can hire a rowing boat - great fun for the children! There is a monument to the victims of the Madrid 3/11 terrorist bombings, the Forest of the Absent, and the Crystal Palace, a large structure entirely made of glass.
Sunday afternoons in summer are a treat in the park, where young hippies play bongos and dance.
La Casa de Campo is the park at the rear of the Palace (Palacio Real) which used to belong to the Royal family. Much of the park has been taken to smaller activity parks such as the Zoo but in general it's peaceful. From Moncloa you can take a teleferico across into the park.
Palacio Real, (The nearest Metro station is ''Opera''), . The Palacio Real (Royal Palace) is a enormous palace, with scorching plains of concrete around it and the Real Armorial (Royal Armoury), a two-story collection of medieval weapons and armour. In spite of its name, it is not the residence of the current royal family. The Royal Palace, in the Calle de Bailén, is considered to be one of the most emblematic and beautiful buildings in Madrid, not only for its location but also for its architecture and the artistic treasures to be found in its rooms. The façades of the palace measure 130 metres long and 33 metres high with 870 windows and 240 balconies opening on to the facades and courtyard. It has a surface area of 100,000 square metres with 44 stairways and more than 30 principal rooms. Also located within the palace is the Pharmacia, which contains hundreds of bottles of early medicines and a reconstructed laboratory.
Catedral de la Almudena. This massive cathedral can be found facing the Palacio Real. Finished in the end of 20th century, it is where the Princes of Asturias Felipe and Letizia were married in 2004.
Gran Vía. Literally, "Broadway", Gran Via is one of the busiest avenues in Madrid, what you could call the main street of Madrid, and the location of the cinema district. The Gran Via is very similar to Times Square in New York City. "From the Habsburgs to Manhattan in 2 minutes". Gran Via has a constan buzz of traffic and life. 3-4am Early morning traffic jams are not unusual.
Plaza de Cibeles houses one of Madrid's emblems, the fountain of Cibeles, and one of the world's most beautiful post offices, Palacio de las Telecomunicaciones.
Plaza Mayora burray of people and restaurants enjoying the surrounding buildings.
San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Art: Great art collection with paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints. Several Goya masterpieces.
The Museum of the City: with five floors it tells the city's history, since it was founded by the Arabs. There are models of some urban areas.
San Antonio de La Florida Hermitage: This small church is famous for its murals, painted by Goya. It's also the mausoleum of the painter.
The Debod Temple: An Egyptian temple, located in one of Madrid´s most beautiful parks. Near Royal Palace and Plaza de España, it was a present given to Spain for helping in the salvage of a monument that was going to be destroyed.
Real Madrid Museum: Located in the famous stadium, Santiago Bernabeu, it showcases all the trophies of the considered most successful football club in the world. - Real Madrid.
Stroll on El Retiro (Madrid's biggest park near the Prado Museum and by Puerta Alcalá Monument), Madrid of the Hagsburgs (center of Madrid, where you can go out for tapas) and Paseo del Prado (a pedestrian walkway full of fountains and trees near the famous museum).
Enjoy the famous nightlife of Madrid.
Check out some Flamenco Visit the Corral de la Moreria , one of the most famous flamenco tablaos in the world. It´s right in the heart of the city, and you can enjoy a full fledged Spanish meal while you watch performances by renowned international flamenco music and dance artists.
Watch some soccer Two teams from Madrid play in La Liga (Spain's premier division): Atletico de Madrid (at Vicente Calderón stadium) and Real Madrid (at Santiago Bernabeu stadium). Real Madrid, or Los Galacticos , has a team comprising of some of the world's most talented and famous players yet have failed to turn their hand to winning any silverware in the last few seasons. Despite this, the Santiago Bernabeu is one of the great soccer stadia of Europe and watching a match there is a great experience. Atletico are traditionally the second team in Madrid and don't have the illustrious past that their bitter rivals across the city do. However, they do have Fernando Torres, arguably Spain's brightest star in their team, so watching them play is rarely dull. The football season starts in September and ends in May/June depending on the year. Tickets cost anywhere from 20 euros upwards.
Check out the sport - In basketball, there are also two major teams, Estudiantes and Real Madrid. Another important event held in October is Madrid Tennis Masters series, where the best ATP tennis players participate. More info about Madrid TMS: 
Have your portrait drawn in the Plaza Mayor. Generally very good quality and the prices are very reasonable.
Cinemas offering international o.s.t. movies can be found in inner city, consult the daily press for what they show at the moment.
La Transhumancia. A yearly festival (of sorts), in which the centre of Madrid is traffic free and instead the streets are filled with sheperds exercising their ancient right to drive sheep and livestock through the city.
The office working day starts between 0800 & 0900 and officially finishes around 1800. However it is normal for companies to demand more of their employees and as such most people take a long lunch (1 or 2 hours) and work until 2000 in the evening. Shops and stores follow a different routine with most small shops shutting during the middle of the day (1400-1800) before opening until 2100 in the evening. Bars and restaurants open until 0200 so the city really is 24hrs depending on the business area.
Working in Madrid is subject to the same restrictions and permissions as working in Spain. The salaries are higher than most other cities with the possible exception of Barcelona. Although this doesn´t stop Madrid being the most expensive city to live in in Spain.
Sol-Salamanca districts:* The most convenient area for tourists is around Calle de Preciados, between Sol and Gran Vía, home to the El Corte Inglés department store, high-street names like Zara, Gran Vía 32, H&M, Sphera, Pimkie... The smartest shopping district is Salamanca northeast of the centre, around Calle Serrano. Top designer names like Chanel, Versace, Hermès and Hugo Boss, including the fluid fabrics and elegant cuts of Spanish designer Adolfo Domínguez, are located on Calle Ortega y Gasset. Head for Calle Serrano for Purificación García, Roberto Verino, Ermenegildo Zegna and Yves Saint Laurent.
El Rastro: Madrid's largest flea market, only open on Sunday mornings, featuring rows upon rows of private vendors selling a variety of homemade goods, and a wealth of live entertainment. It is very important to note that the Rastro is notorious for having an abundance of pickpockets, so watch your handbag closely and do not bring along valuables. The closest Metro station is La Latina.
Cuesta de Moyano: A quaint outdoor book market, near Museo del Prado.
Chueca and Fuencarral street area: This part of the city used to be an abandoned and marginal area. But lately it has quickly turned into the most avant-garde and modern part of Madrid. Thanks to the gay community, old shops were taken over and turned into the coolest places of Madrid. Today, it is an example of modernity, a paradise for entertainment where everything is possible. The streets are filled with restaurants, alternative cafés and shops, a good example is the Market of Fuencarral (Mercado de Fuencarral, in Spanish) a novel shopping centre concept. Apart from the purely commercial, this area proposes a wide range of gastronomy and party clubs by night in the weekends.
Fuencarral Market (Mercado de Fuencarral):The market is one of the most daring and dynamic spaces in the city. Besides shops selling clothes, shoes, accessories and decorative items, that will delight the most daring and fashion conscious shoppers, this modern market also offers avant-garde cultural activities on a continuous basis. Frequent disc jockey sessions are put on in the centre’s café, and also exhibitions in the art gallery and cinema projections and theatre pieces in the old cinema room. The Cinema and activities until midnight. It's is located in Fuencarral street, number 45, between Tribunal and Gran Via. Its 3 floors crowded of modern shops are aimed specially for young people.
El Corte Inglés It's a "Harrod's Like" store, multiple buildings, several floors, you can find anything in a wide range and stocks. It sells almost everything, from gastronomy to pneumatics. Several locations in Madrid.
And there is a great number of H&M , Zara , Mango , Blanco stores all over Madrid , with high fashion clothes and accessories at a low price.
Food in Madrid is heavily influenced by Mediterranean cuisine. The most famous dishes from Spain are the appetizers, Tapas, that are often served at bars and small cafes before a main meal. These Tapas can be almost anything, from French fries to heavily seasoned octopus medallions (and can be very hard on one's pocketbook). A very popular dish, for tourists seeking the Spanish cuisine experience, is Paella, a rice dish that includes a variety of seafoods and vegetables. Remember that Spanish people have lunch from 2:00 p.m. and dinner after 9:00 p.m.
Callos (tripe with hot sauce)
Cocido madrileño (tradional Madrid stew with chickpeas vegetables and different kinds of meat)
Fish and Seafood (although Madrid is far from sea, all kinds of fish and seafood are brought to the city each day from the sea to the plate in a matter of hours - Madrileños like to claim that Madrid gets the best of the catch each day, a popular myth but the quality is impressive nevertheless)
Bocadillo de calamares (a sandwich of fried squid rings in batter)
Including paella from Valencia (see below), fabada (bean stew with chorizo, a spicy sausage, lacón (similar to smoked gammon) and almost any regional cuisine of Spain.
Tortilla de patatas a spanish omelette (eggs, potatoes and onion fried in olive oil)
Patatas Bravas chunks of fried potato (akin to English chips) in a spicy sauce.
Zumo de naranja (orange juice) available fresh-squeezed in most cafes and bakeries, and is a must-try for OJ lovers.
Pollo al ajillo small chunks of chicken fried in olive oil with garlic.
Pimientos al Padrón small fried green peppers, most being mildly flavoured but one or two in every helping as hot as a chilli.
Chocolate y Churros perfect for breakfast or a late-night snack, chocolate lovers can dunk long, fried pieces of dough into rich, thick chocolate served in a mug.
List of Selected restaurants
Xanacuk - C/ Orense, 12 posterior (metro: Nuevos Ministerios). A hidden secret known only to office goers in Madrid's bustling financial district. Xanacuk is always full at lunch times, with the public spilling out onto the terrace in summer. Its friendly staff, together with its Australian/ Spanish managers María Salas and Nick Lucie-Smith, serve a variety of custom designed salads, quiches, wraps, sandwiches, and other healthy fare, along with an incredible range of creative fruit and vegetable juices. An ideal choice for vegetarians, vegans or anyone looking for a healthy option in friendly surroundings. You have to go down some steps behind C/ Orense to find this place however an advertising board is placed on the C/ Orense in order to help anyone who strays off the path.
Casa Mingo - Paseo de la florida street, number 34. Near the church with the Goya's frescoes in San Antonio de La Florida Hermitage.
El Almendro 13 - C/ Almendro 13 - Really nice tapas bar in beautiful location in old city
El jardin secreto - C/ de CONDE DUQUE 2 (Plaza España) 28015, TEL: 0034 91 541 80 23, FAX: 0034 91 559 35 43, - Cakes, chocolate and other sweet confections. Includes Chocolate Death, a 4-tiered chocolate cake and Aire de coco y mango (Mousse).
El Inti De Oro - Amor de Dios, 9 (Antón Martín) and Ventura de Vega, 12 (Sol). Fantastic Peruvian food with a fine selection of wines. Prices around €28 per person including wine and dessert.
Zara - Infantas, 5 (Gran Vía). Five different dishes from Cuba (six on Thursdays), and probably the best Daiquiri you can get in Europe. You may have to wait half an hour until you get a table. Prices around €30/person including drinks and dessert.
La Montería - Lope de Rueda and Menorca (metro: Ibiza). An always-bustling bar famous for its monterias (tigres), as well as other portions of food, high quality but reasonably priced, it is well-known by both locals and the famous, and accordingly busy.
EcoCentro - C/ Esquilache, 4 <M> Canal or Río Rosas. Vegetarian restaurant with an organic emphasis and vegan options. Around 40€ for two people including organic wine and a dessert. One of the better vegetarian restaurants in Madrid, and a good idea if you're looking for vegetarian food.
If you are not fond of Spanish cuisine, and are staying near a tourist area, you are in luck. Fast food chains have become extremely popular in central Madrid, and areas such as Gran Via are home to several Burger Kings on one street alone. Most international fast food chains have a restaurant in Madrid, including Burger King, McDonald's, Pizza Hut, and KFC.
There is of course the Hard Rock Cafe Madrid (located in the Plaza de Colón) and the Planet Hollywood Madrid (Plaza de Neptuno).
Madrid-exclusive restaurant chains
Bocatta (French bread sandwiches)
Cañas y Tapas (Tapas; they don't use to have main courses)
Foster's Hollywood (international food, a Spanish imitation of Planet Hollywood) This is very much like TGI Fridays in England.
Museo del Jamón Literally 'Ham Museum', it is in fact more of an eat-in delicatessen with lots of legs of ham hanging in the window. Products are slightly overpriced but the best quality.
Pans & Co (French bread sandwiches - based in Catalonia)
Rodilla (Crustless sandwiches of all kinds and flavours).
VIPS (International food along with convenience stores). Most VIPS also include a Gino's restaurant, specialized in pasta and pizza.
Telepizza (Pizzas, usually to carry out)
On weekends, the time to go out for a drink (Spaniards call it copas) starts at about 12-1 a.m., which is somewhat later than elsewhere in Europe. Before that, people usually have some tapas (raciones, algo para picar), have "real" dinner in a restaurant, stay at home, or go to cultural events. Some pubs and clubs close in the morning. It is not unusual to have breakfast (chocolate con churros), thick, melted chocolate with sweet fritters before going home.
Where to go for a night out
The law bans drinking in the streets (although in some areas it is still a common practice) and the minimal age to drink is 18, so if you're under this age, you may not be allowed to go into some pubs.
Plaza de Santa Ana, Huertas - The most common place for tourists to go out, it has a lot of Irish pubs, and many other interesting bars, but some of the locales here serve alcohol of questionable quality.
La Latina - In the old section, many small bars and pubs, a generally older crowd (late 20s, 30s). Contains the area of Plaza Mayor and Cava Baja. Avoid places in the Plaza Mayor. Multiple bars serving fantastic tapas in the Cava Baja and Cuchilleros.
Tribunal - Plenty of bars related to Madrid´s famous "movida", the plaza 2 de Mayo is in this area, you´ll find a higher concentration of bars playing rock, punk, etc in this area.
Chueca, The gay neighborhood; and, by far, the most cosmopolitan place in town. Has become quite chic and expensive.
Alonso Martínez - Many pubs and later on small discos. Until about 3 am, a very young crowd, and if you´re around here before midnight, and over the age of 20, prepare to feel positively old.
Torre Europa - A very posh or "pijo" crowd, quite expensive and virtually uniform music, places, and people.
Moncloa - Many cheap bars and discos as it is near the university although some of the places are best avoided.
List of Selected Bars
Esquina de Eusebio, Calle de Caramuel, Metro Puerta de Angel. A nice bar to start with. Guests of all ages, mostly locals. People drink normally beer, wine, clara (beer and lemonade) or soft drinks, and eat canapés. You only pay for the drinks.
The national youth hostel association can be found at www.reaj.com. Prices range from €7.80 to €16 per person and night, including breakfast.
Hand-selected Barcelona Apartments. Rent vacation rental apartments in the center of Madrid and in select outlying Barrios $802/week, per apartment and up. The American agency listing this apartment has been in business since 1975, gives its profits away to charity, and looks particularly for apartments of good value.
Hostal Brisas, - Calle Cruz, 8 1º Metro station Sol, +34.91.531.44.03. All rooms are ensuite, TV, central heating, air conditioning. We are in Cruz street, in the heart of historic Madrid, 1 minute walking from the famous Puerta del Sol. We are sorrounded by 3 subway stations: Sol, Sevilla, and Anton Martin.
Cat's Hostel Calle Cañizares, 6 (28012), 91 369 28 07 (Fax: 91 429 94 79 e-mail: email@example.com) , . Cat's Hostel is located in a 17th century palace, but has a modern interior and is clean and secure. Breakfast and internet is included in the price and there is also a bar. It attracts a young backpackers public. Prices under 20 euro.
Hostal Villagarcía, - Calle Fuencarral 10 3º Metro station Gran Via, +34.91.522.05.85(fax +34.91.531.56.21, hostal -at- villa-garcia.com) . This Hostal is so centric that most famous Monuments and Museums can be visited by walking (such as Prado Museum, Thyssen museum, Sol, Plaza Mayor, Palacio Real). Inside the room you can find: bathroom, TV, air conditioning, central heating, laundry and baggage storage facilities. Rooms with kitchen, washing machine and fridge are also available. Free Internet wireless access in the rooms. €30-€65 (single - room for four).
Los Amigos Backpackers Hostel, - With beds available for less then 20 euros a night, and a very central location, Los Amigos is excellent place for those on a budget. Breakfast is offered. There is a lounge area, a kitchen in which you are able to cook your own food, and a bar. The beds are clean, comfortable, and the staff is friendly.
Spain Select. If your stay in Madrid for a week or more, there are now a number of companies offering short term apartment rentals as an alternative to hotel accommodation. One such company is Spain Select. Their apartments are well-equipped (all are air conditioned), centrally located and suitable for business or holidays. Note that for some apartments the minimum stay is one month.
Old Town Apartments, . Apartments from a single day. This company also offers their accommodation in Barcelona.
Hotel De Las Letras, - Gran via, 11 Madrid, 28013, . Lovely hotel in central location. Old building with tasteful modern interior. Well sound-proofed against the busy Gran Via outside. Very comfortable beds. Rooms with TV, hi-fi, mini bar, bath/shower. Optional breakfast buffet with wide choice of good quality food and drinks. Pleasant, comfortable bar. Restaurant.
Abba Atocha Hotel, - Pº Santa María de la Cabeza, 73 Madrid, 28045. . Ideally located in the centre of Madrid, close to the historical and artistic heart of the city (El Prado, Reina Sofía, and Thyssen Bornemisza Museums), and the Atocha railway station (Where all Spanish railway connections and high-speed trains can be found).
Like most capital cities, Madrid has pickpocket crime. Busy tourist areas are prime targets, but pubs and clubs are not uncommon hives.
Madrid is both a city and a region in Spain and as such has a number of sights within easy reach. Popular destinations include:
Aranjuez - Home to royal residences, botanical gardens & summer retreats.
Chinchon - Typical Spanish town which retains its character from the 1700´s
El Escorial - A mountainous retreat home to Spains largest monestary.