From airport Barajas to the city
By far the most convenient way of reaching downtown is a 24-hours express bus service that passes all terminals and then goes direct to O'Donell, Cibeles (20 minutes walk or quick metro ride to Puerta del Sol) and Atocha (main train station, not serviced between 11:30 PM and 6 AM). 5 euros, paid in cash to the bus driver. Departures every 12 minutes (daytime) to 35 minutes (late at night). Travel time Terminal 4 (end of line) - Cibeles 30-40 minutes.
Terminal 4 of the airport is connected to the city by Cercanias commuter train (line C-1, from 06:00 to 22:30, €2.60) which goes directly to Atocha and Chamartin mainline train stations, and provides easy connection to Sol. Take the train (look for Renfe Cercanias) to "Nuevos Ministerios" and then transfer to line C-3 or C-4 southbound on platform 8; Sol will be the first stop.
Alternatively, you can take the Metro (line 8 pink, from 06:30 to 01:30, to/from the airport €5.00) to Nuevos Ministerios station from all terminals. In order to reach the city centre (Sol, Ópera or Gran Vía), you must change metro line twice - first in Nuevos Ministerios (which is a huge station and involves a lot of walking) and then again at another station, which is obviously quite inconvenient.
Public bus 200 operates between the airport and Avenida de América bus station in Madrid. It is only 1.50€ and you can use your weekly ticket or 10-trips ticket. Bus 114 does NOT go to the airport terminals and is a 40-minute walk to Terminal 1.
Public night bus N4 goes from Plaza Cibeles to Barajas district, 400m walk from the terminal through a passageway over the highway. Best to get off at the second-last stop, Avenida Central, and then make a right turn immediately after the bus stop. Go straight on, keep going straight crossing the parking lot, and then you make a left to cross another huge parking lot. After that you see the road and the pedestrian highway overpass. Only 1.50 Euros or the 10-trip ticket is valid as well.
Transfer Airport Taxi, ☎ +34 91 125 1602. 24hs. From the Airport to City Center / From City Center to the Airport. Transfer Airport operates 24 / 7 - 365 days. 30 eur fixed price.
MadShuttle, ☎ +34 91 125 1008. 24hs. MAD SHUTTLE operates 24 / 7 / 365 between the airport and city centre with all type of vehicles. from 8,66 Euros per person.
EuropeShuttle, ☎ +44 20 3318 1696. 24hs. Europe Shuttle offers the airport taxi transfer from or to Madrid Barajas Airport to any destination. from 26 Euros per vehicle.
Airport Shuttle Madrid. 24hs.
Radio Eco Taxi (Taxi Service), ☎ +34 911251602. 24hs. Taxi transfer from or to Madrid Barajas Airport to any destination. Booking and price Online. fixed price 30 eur city center.
Book Taxi Madrid (Mercedes Taxi Service). 24hs. Premium Airport transfers to any destination. Online booking, immediate confirmation. fixed price 50 eur city center.
TaxiLeader.net (Madrid Airport Taxi), 24hrs. Private Taxi with Driver Waiting for you at Airport Exit. Price from 38 euros Airport Barajas to City Centre.
By public transit
Madrid proudly sports one of the best public transportation networks in the world and the second largest metro network in Europe, second only to London's. Buses and subways form an integrated network and work with the same tickets.
A single ticket costs €1.50 (5 stations) – €2.00, a ten trip ticket costs €12.20 / €18.30.
Alternatively, you can buy unlimited travel passes as follows: 1 day (€8), 2 days (€13.40), 3 days (€17.40), 5 days (€25.50), or 7 days (€33.40).
Children under the age of 4 may travel without a ticket. Children under 11 receive a 50% discount. Tickets can be purchased at Metro stations, news-stands, and estancos (tobacconists').
The Metro de Madrid (Madrid's Subway/Underground) is one of the better and less expensive metros in Europe. In addition, the underground tunnels of the Metro provide relief from the sun on hot days. Ticket machines are multilingual with instructions in Spanish, English, French, and German. 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 you travel to or from airport stations, there is additional supplement of €3, which can be paid at the entrance or exit. The Passes do not require this supplement-it is included in the price. You can catch some trains as late as 2:00AM, although the official close time for the metro system is at 1:30AM.
Announcements in the metro are made in both Spanish and English on most major lines, including the line to and from the airport. Along with this, almost all metro stops have a map of the exits and the surrounding area above the station. However, most stations don't have a map of the Metro lines on the platform so prepare for your travel in advance and don't expect to plan your journey on the go.
Whatever the Metro doesn't cover, the buses do.
Night buses (Búhos, "night owls"), have their main hub at Plaza de Cibeles , covering most of the city at roughly 20-minute intervals.
Buses are equipped with free wi-fi facility (EMTmadrid), easy to use with any type of laptop or netbook.
Madrid has a system of local trains (Cercanías) that connect outlying suburbs and villages with the city center. Although most useful for visiting historic or outdoor destinations outside the city core, they are also useful for quickly getting from the north end of the city (Chamartin and Nuevos Ministerios) to the south end of the city (Sol and Atocha) and, as of Sept 2011, Barajas airport (terminal 4).
Taxis can be hard to find during late hours on weekends, especially if there is some rain. Unlike in other European cities, there are few taxi stands; just stand by the side of a major road or bus stop and wave your hand to signal an available taxi passing by. Available taxis have a green libre sign in the windshield and 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, which become 2 and 3 on holidays such as Christmas Eve).
There are also special surcharges for entering or leaving the airport/train station. Ask for the written table of tariffs and charges (suplementos) (shown on small stickers on rear windows, compulsory by law) before paying if you think it's too expensive.
Be aware there are some taxi drivers that will do what is called 'la vuelta al ruedo' which basically means they will drive you around or through the crowded avenues to increase the fare.
Most taxi drivers do not speak English, so you should have the names and/or addresses of your destinations written in Spanish to show your taxi driver. Likewise, get your hotel's business card in case you get lost.
Transportation by private automobile in Madrid can be a nightmare. 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 3:00 AM (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. Finding a parking space 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. If you parallel park your car in Madrid, be aware that most Madrileños park by sound alone. They will feel no remorse for repeatedly hitting the car in front and behind them while trying to get into or out of a tight spot. If you value your car's paint job, or you have rented a car, it may be best to park underground. Though this is no guarantee for nobody hitting your car, the chances are somewhat diminished.
In short, renting a car is not only unnecessary, but not recommended for getting around downtown Madrid, and a car is likely to be more of a liability than an asset. Visitors should make use of Madrid's excellent public transportation instead. Renting a car only makes sense if you are planning to leave Madrid and drive to the nearby towns.
Although Madrid does not appear as a bike-friendly city at a first sight, things are changing slowly to make bike experience more comfortable. Several streets in historical downtown have been transformed into mixed-traffic spaces where pedestrians and bikes have priority over cars. There are new easy-bike paths all along the river and connecting important parks.
It is also possible to use a lot of narrow easy streets where traffic is slow and calm to travel along the city without depending on exclusive bike paths. There are some official and unofficial publications with these streets along the web.
To avoid some of Madrid inconveniencies, such as hot weather or slopy streets it is also possible to get bikes on Metro and Railways trains with some schedule restrictions, and on every public transport without restrictions when using folding-bikes.
There is a public rent-a-bike service, BeciMad. There are also some rent shops on historical center area such as the company Baja Bikes and Urban Biking. These companies offers several rental points in Madrid (Retiro, Atocha, Madrid-Río, etc.). They offer Guided and self-guided bicycle tours, using electric or conventional bicycles.
City Tour Bus
The Madrid City Tour Hop on/ Hop off Buses cost EUR 21 for 1 day and EUR 25 for two days (adults). For families with 2 adults and 2 kids, it costs EUR 53 for 1 day.
Stops on Route 1 include Museo Del Prado, Puerta De Alcala, Barrio De Salamanca, Plaza De Colon, Plaza De Cibeles, Gran Via 14, Gran Via 30, Gran Via 54, Plaza De Espana, Templo De Debod, Teatro Real, Palacio Real, Puerta De Toledo, San Francisco El Grande, Cathedral De La Almudena, Plaza Mayor, Puerta Del Sol, Circulo De Bellas Artes, Museo Thyssen, Museo Reina Sofia, Jardin Botanico, Museo Del Prado.
Stops on Route 2 include Plaza De Neptuno, Plaza De Cibeles, Plaza De Colon, Museo De Esculturas, Museo De Ciencias Naturales, Nuevos Ministerios, Santiago Bernabeu, Consejo Superior Investigaciones Cientificas, Museo Lazaro Galdiano, Serrano 61, Serrano 66, Museo Arqueologico, Puerta De Alcala, Alcala 19, Puerta Del Sol, Plaza De Las Cortes, Plaza De Neptuno.
Major credit cards and foreign bank cards are accepted in most stores, but be aware that it is common practice to be asked for photo-ID ("D.N.I."). If asked for your DNI present your passport, residency permit or foreign ID card. Basically anything with your photo and name on it will be accepted by most shopkeepers. The signatures on credit cards are usually not checked.
Casa Vega, 57 Calle Toledo. A traditional shop founded in 1860 selling cord/jute products, espadrilles/alparagatas (rope soled shoes), leather belts/backpacks, dog leashes, fabric saddle bags, etc.
Boteria Julio Rodriguez, Calle Aguila 12. A boteria where traditional Spanish wine botas are made as well as sold. Various sizes are available. €24 for a one liter bota. These botas are the traditional resin lined typed (as opposed to rubber/latex lined ones).
In addition to the shopping areas below, there are also a great number of H&M, Zara, Mango, and Blanco stores all over Madrid, with high fashion clothes and accessories at a low price.
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, Sephora, Pimkie. The smartest shopping district is Salamanca northeast of the center, around Calle Serrano. Top designer names like Chanel, Versace, Hermès, Hugo Boss, Louis Vuitton, Giorgio Armani, Dolce e Gabbana 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, Loewe, Carolina Herrera, Manolo Blanik, Cartier, and Yves Saint Laurent. Prada is on Goya street, and on Jorge Juan St you can find even more luxury shops.
Chueca and Fuencarral Street Area— This part of the city used to be an abandoned and marginal area. However recently, 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 center concept. Apart from the purely commercial, this area proposes a wide range of gastronomy and party clubs by night in the weekends.
Calle Toledo, south of Plaza Mayor— A number of traditional shops selling Spanish rope soled shoes (espadrilles or alpargatas), jute products, and leather can be found here.
El Rastro, (Metro: La Latina). only open on Sunday mornings. Madrid's largest flea market, featuring rows upon rows of private vendors selling a variety of homemade bads, and a plethora 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.
Cuesta de Moyano, (near Museo del Prado). A quaint outdoor book market
Fuencarral Market (Mercado de Fuencarral), Fuencarral street 45, between Tribunal and Gran Via (Metro: Gran Via). 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 center’s café, and also exhibitions in the art gallery and cinema projections and theater pieces in the old cinema room. The Cinema and activities are open until midnight. Its 3 floors crowded of modern shops are aimed specially for young people.
El Corte Inglés, Several locations. Spain's largest department store, with multiple buildings and several floors. You can find anything in a wide range and stocks. It has almost everything, from fine dining to pneumatics. There is post office in the basement.
El Mercado de San Miguel, San Miguel Plaza (Close to the west corner of Plaza Mayor). Sets the ambiance of a traditional market, with the advantages of the new times. It has an Iron and Glass Structure from the 20th Century. Quite upscale with beautiful displays of food with high prices to match.
Las Rozas Village Chic Outlet Shopping, Calle Juan Ramón Jimenez 3, Las Rozas, ☎ (+34) 916 404 900. M-F 11AM-9PM, Sa 11AM-10PM, Su 11AM-9PM. Fantastic outlet in the suburbs of Madrid with villa-like shops. It is part of the Chic Outlet Shopping Villages in Europe which has other villa-like outlets in Paris, Barcelona, Dublin, London, Milan, Brussels, Frankfurt, and Munich. It offers up to 60% off in over 100 luxury brands such as Bally, Burberry, Hugo Boss Man and Woman, Pepe Jeans, Loewe, Desigual, Camper, Tommy Hilfiger and Versace. In Las Rozas Village you can also find some coffee places like Starbucks and a few bars. It takes around 40 minutes to get there by car from the center of Madrid. A fantastic experience for a warm Sunday afternoon.
Landmarks and architecture
Puerta del Sol, (Metro: Sol (lines 1, 2 and 3)). This plaza is the heart of Madrid and one of the busiest places in the city - a hub for the local transit system, a favorite meeting spot for locals, a visible area for festivals or political demonstrations, and a opportune location for tour guides, street performers, pickpockets and anyone else looking to take advantage of all the tourists on hand. In the center of the plaza sits the Statue of King Charles III on horseback, facing the Royal Post Office (Real Casa de Correos), the red-and-white building adorned with a clock tower on the plaza's south side. Originally the building served as Madrid's first post office, then the police headquarters under Franco before being transformed into its current use as the office of the President of Madrid, the head of the regional government. The clock tower is noteworthy for being the center focus of New Year's celebrations every year, which are broadcast across Spain and mark the traditional eating of the Twelve Grapes (one for each ring of the bell) and the beginning of a new year. In front of the building is Kilometer Zero (Kilómetro Cero), a plaque showing the point where the measuring of national highway system begins. On the east side of the plaza is the famous Bear and the Madroño Tree Statue, a bear climbing a madroño tree, which is the symbol of Madrid. Nearby the giant neon Tío Pepe sign sits above the plaza and is a famous fixture of this area.
Plaza Mayor, (Metro: Sol (lines 1, 2 and 3) or Opera (lines 2, 5 and R)). Perhaps the best known plaza in Madrid, this impressive square is now one of the main stops on any tourist visit. Originally built outside the city walls, this enclosed square has played host to bullfights, markets, symphonies, tournaments and executions. Today it is ringed with tourist shops, cafes and restaurants. The statue of Philip III sits in the middle across from the Casa de la Panadería, a beautifully painted building with two towers on the north side of the square (not to be confused with the other building with two towers on the opposite side) which once served as the headquarters of the bakers' guild and now houses a tourist information office. Access to the square is via one of the many arcades which connect to the surrounding pedestrian streets.
Mercado de San Miguel, (Metro: Opera (lines 2, 5 and R)). Near Plaza Mayor is this indoor market, identifiable by its ornate iron posts. Built in 1913, it's full of a wide range of high quality food. Even if you're not buying anything, it's worth entering for the sights and smells of dried ham, fine wine, freshly baked goods and other treats from the vendors inside.
Plaza de la Villa, (Metro: Opera (lines 2, 5 and R)). The main square during Middle Age, as Calle Mayor (High Street) was the main street as well. It houses the former City Hall, the former Academy of Fine Arts and the Archbishopric.
Palacio Real, Calle Bailen (Metro: Opera (lines 2, 5 and R)), ☎ +34 91 4548800,. M-Sa 9:00-17:00, Su and holidays 9:00-15:00, closed occasionally for official ceremonies. The Palacio Real (Royal Palace) is an enormous palace, one of the biggest in Europe, with scorching plains of concrete around it. Though it is the official residence of the King of Spain, the royal family does not actually reside here and it is generally used only for state ceremonies. The Royal Palace is considered to be one of the most emblematic and beautiful buildings in Madrid, not only for its location on a bluff overlooking the river valley but also for its architecture and the artistic treasures to be found in its rooms. A simple one-way tour of the palace (both self-guided and guided are available) takes you up the grand stairway and through the lavishly decorated state rooms with their elegant tapestries, frescoes, porcelain, carvings and added decor like china, silverware, medals, etc. From the courtyard you can access the Farmacia (Pharmacy), which contains hundreds of bottles of early medicines and a reconstructed laboratory, and the Real Armorial (Royal Armory), a two-story collection of medieval weapons and armor. Explanations in the armory are in Spanish only, so do not expect to understand much unless your know the Spanish names for all that medieval weaponry. The lines to get in are very long, especially on Wednesday when the place is free - try to go early. Photography inside the palace is not allowed. If you pay an additional €1 to see the El Escorial exhibit, that same ticket can be used to visit El Escorial (day trip from Madrid) saving you €11. Entry €10; Guided tour €11; Students and children €5; free W for EU citizens.
Plaza de Oriente, Calle Bailen (Metro: Opera (lines 2, 5 and R)). Located between the Palacio Real and the Teatro Real. Baroque-style gardens surround a large monument to Philip IV. Dozens of statues of other kings line the gardens. In good weather there are often a number of street performers here.
Catedral de la Almudena, (Metro: Opera (lines 2, 5 and R)). This massive cathedral faces the Palacio Real. Finished near the end of 20th century, it is where the Princes of Asturias Felipe and Letizia were married in 2004.
Plaza de España, (Metro: Plaza de España (lines 3 and 10) or Noviciado (line 2)). A prominent square on the northwest side of central district, adjacent to two of the tallest buildings in Madrid: the Torre de Madrid (the taller, white one) and the Edificio España (the red and white one). The square contains a large fountain and a sculpture of Cervantes and his famous Don Quixote and Sancho Panza characters.
Gran Vía, (Metro: Banco de España (line 2), Gran Via (lines 1 and 5), Callao (lines 3 and 5), Santo Domingo (line 2), or Plaza de España (lines 3 and 10)). Literally "Great Way" (better translated as "Broadway"), Gran Vía is one of the busiest avenues in Madrid. Running from Plaza de España to Plaza de Cibeles, it is the location of the cinema district and a number of shopping malls and is lined with large billboards and lights. There's a constant buzz of traffic and life - 3-4am early morning traffic jams are not unusual.
Plaza de Cibeles, (Metro: Banco de España (line 2)). A massive roundabout at the intersection of Calle de Alcala and Paseo del Prado, this plaza houses one of Madrid's emblems, the Fountain of Cibeles, which portrays the Roman goddess of fertility sitting upon a chariot pulled by two lions. On the southeast corner dominating the Plaza is one of the world's most beautiful city halls, the Palacio de Cibeles (formerly the Palacio de las Comunicaciones), an impressive structure with a jaw-droppingly spectacular facade. Inside, the building holds a cultural center with changing art exhibits and info on Madrid, and you can climb to the upper floors for some excellent views out the window. On the southwest corner of the square sits the imposing Bank of Spain (Banco de España) building, while the northeast corner is home to the Palacio de Linares, which holds the Casa de América , a cultural center with an art gallery of Latin American works.
Plaza de Castilla, (Metro: Plaza de Castilla (lines 1, 9 and 10); Bus line 27). On the north side of the city and bisected by Paseo de la Castellana, this plaza is in the center of Madrid's skyscraper district. A tall obelisk sits in the center of the plaza while the Gate of Europe (Puerta de Europa) towers, two slanted towers which frame the boulevard, are situated on the north side of the plaza. Taking the #27 bus, which runs along Paseo del Prado and Paseo de la Castellana and ends at Plaza de Castilla, will take you pass several Madrid highrises. North of the Plaza is the Four Towers (Cuatro Torres), four sleek new skyscrapers which are the tallest in Spain.
This is Madrid's museum district, named for the three major art museums clustered along Paseo del Prado east of the old city: the Museo del Prado, one of the finest art museums in the world, the Thyssen-Bornemisza, a baron's collection of classical art, and the Reina Sofia, Madrid's modern art museum. However, a couple of smaller museums also occupy the neighborhood which are well worth seeing as well. Its important to note that many of the museums offer free entry during certain times most days. It varies by museum and day, but to if you are looking to take advantage of these beautiful muesums with a lesser budget, it is still possible
Museo del Prado, Paseo de Prado (Metro: Atocha (line 1) or Banco de España (line 2); Bus lines 9, 10, 14, 19, 27, 34, 37 and 45), ☎ +34 90 2107077. Mo-Sa: 10AM-8PM, Su: 10AM-7PM. Closed and reduced hours on some holidays.. One of the finest art collections in the world and the best collection of classical art in Madrid. It includes many different collections: the Spanish (El Greco, Velázquez, and Goya), the Flemish and Dutch (Rubens, van Dyck, and Brueghel), Italian (Botticelli, Tintoretto, Titian, Caravaggio, and Veronese) and German (Albrecht Dürer, Lucas Cranach, and Baldung Grien). The Prado Museum currently offers free entry Monday to Saturday, 6pm to 8pm, and Sundays and holidays from 5pm to 7pm. The museum can be extremely busy during free entry hours. Some highlights not to miss at the Prado: The Bosch masterpiece The Garden of Earthly Delights, The famous Velázquez piece Las Meninas, The Black Paintings and The Third of May 1808 by Goya, Adoration of the Shepards by El Greco, and David with the Head of Goliath by Caravaggio. Be sure to walk along Paseo del Prado, a pedestrian walkway full of fountains and trees near the museum. Nice affordable restaurant on the main floor. Adults: €14; Students free with ISIC etc & children: €4; free entry Monday to Saturday, 6pm to 8pm, and Sundays and holidays from 5pm to 7pm..
Reina Sofía National Museum and Art Center, Santa Isabel 52 (Metro: Atocha (line 1)), ☎ +34 91 7741000 (fax: +34 91 7741056). M, W-Sa 10AM-9PM, Su 10AM-2:30PM. 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. The Reina Sofia National Museum and Art Center offers free entry into the museums on Sundays 3:00 to 7:00 (times change frequently). general: €8; students with ISIC etc, free; free Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday: 7 p.m. - 9 p.m. Sundays 1:30 p.m. - 7 p.m..
Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum of Art, Paseo de Prado, 8 (Metro: Banco de España (line 2)), ☎ +34 913 69 01 51 . Tu-Su 10AM-7PM. The ticket office closes at 6:30PM. The Museum is closed all day on 1 Jan, 1 May, and 25 Dec. Contains a large art collection including masterpieces by Monet, Goya, Degas, Renoir, Van Gogh, Picasso, Mondrian, Bacon and Lichtenstein. The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum of Art offers free entry on Monday afternoons, from 12:00 to 4:00. Adults: €8; Students: €8; Children under 12: Free.
Caixa Forum, Paseo de Prado, 36 (Metro: Atocha (line 1)). A private museum of contemporary art and culture that is particularly well-known for the "vertical garden" by Patrick Blanc installed on a wall in front of the museum, as well as the quite special architecture of the building itself. The vertical garden can be seen from the street outside, just a block south of the Thyssen-Bornemisza and across from the Prado. Inside the museum has free exhibitions and functions.
Naval Museum, Paseo del Prado 5. (Metro: Banco de España (line 2)). Beautiful museum with vast interesting collections about Spanish sailing. The Juan De La Cosa map, the oldest known map showing America, is held here. You will be asked for a €3 donation on the free days. Free on Saturdays and Sundays..
Museo de América, Avenida Reyes Católicos 6 (Metro: Moncloa (lines 3 and 6)), ☎ +34 91 5492641 and 91 5439437. Tu-Sa: 9:30AM-3PM, Su 10:00AM-3PM, Closed Mondays, Jan 1, May 1, Dec 24, 25, 31. An excellent museum that many tourists miss. Houses thousands of artifacts from the Americas. The exhibit displays objects from many native cultures from before European conquest to colonial times and beyond. Don't miss the Tesoro (Treasure) de los Químbayas, a collection of gold objects that was given as a gift by the Colombian government. Also of interest is the Tudela Codex, an Aztec law book from the 1500's. Beware: most explanations to the objects on display are in Spanish only. Adults: €3, students €1.50, free Su, free for seniors and children.
Museo de San Isidro, los Origenes de Madrid (Museum of San Isidro, the Origins of Madrid), Plaza San Andres 2 (Metro: Latina (line 5)), ☎ +34 913 667 415. Mo: Closed Tu-Su: 9:30am-8pm. This is a museum of two parts. One part is dedicated to Saint Isidore the Laborer, while the other part is dedicated to the paleontology and archaeology of the region of Madrid from prehistory to 1561 (when Philip II made Madrid the seat of the court). Most of the exhibits are explained in both Spanish and English. Entry is free.
Museo de Historia de Madrid (Museum of History of Madrid), Calle Fuencarral 78 (Metro: Tribunal (lines 1 and 10)), ☎ +34 917 011 863. Mo: Closed, Tu-Su: 9:30am-8pm. This museum is dedicated to the history of Madrid from 1561 to present. Much of the history is explained by referencing exhibited paintings depicting people or events from the time, so it is also an art museum. Several maps and models (including two large ones in the basement) show how Madrid grew since the 16th century. All exhibits are explained in both English and Spanish. Entry is free.
Museo de Lazaro Galdiano, Calle Serrano 122 (Metro: Gregorio Mariñon (lines 7 and 10)), ☎ +34 91 5616084. W-M: 10AM-4:30PM. Closed: Tu; Jan 1; Easter Thursday and Friday; May 2 and 3; Nov 1; Dec 6 and 25.. This museum houses the stunning collection of Spanish entrepreneur José Lázaro Galdiano (1862-1947) and is considered to be one of the best private collections in Spain. Not only will you find works by Goya, Velázquez, El Greco and others, the museum is also filled with jewelry, furniture, sculpture and ceramics. This is an excellent museum that is usually not crowded and well worth the price of admission. €4, free on Sundays..
Museo Sorolla, General Martínez Campos, 37 (Metro: Iglesia (line 1) or Rubén Darío (line 5); Bus lines 5, 7, 14, 16, 27, 40, 45, 61, 147 and 150), ☎ +34 91 3101584. Tu - Sat: 0930 to 2000 - Sun 1000-1500. This museum is in what was the impressionist painter's house and features fine furniture and porcelain as well as his paintings. €3.
Museo del Traje (The Costume Museum), Avenida de Juan de Herrera 2 (Metro: Moncloa (lines 3 and 6) or Ciudad Universitaria (line 6)), ☎ +34 91 5504700. Tu-Sa 9:30AM-7PM, Su 10:00AM-3PM. Closed 1, 6 Jan, 1, 15 May, 24, 25, 31 Dec. Offers a wide selection of historical and more temporary costumes (from the early 1200s to now) which shows the aspects of different cultures and Spain. The museum also organizes many activities and events.
National Archeology Museum, Calle Serrano 13 (Metro: Serrano (line 4)), ☎ +34 91 5777912. Tu-Sa: 9:30AM-5PM, Sun and Holidays 9:30AM-3PM. Closed: M; Jan 1 and 6; May 1 and 15; Dec 24, 25, and 31. (Holidays: Apr 5 and 6, May 2, Aug 15, Oct 12, Nov 1 and 9, Dec 6 and 8.. Don't let the sound of it frighten you. This large, well designed museum opened again in April 2014 after several years of renovation works. It houses an incredible collection of archaeological finds from across the peninsula. It leaves the visitor with a sense of the chronology of civilization in Spain (Iberian, Phoenician, Greek, Roman, Visagoth, Arab, and into the modern age). The famous Dama de Elche, an Iberian (pre-Roman) fertility goddess statue, is in this museum. There are also a few pieces from ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. €3, Free entry Saturday after 2:30PM and Sundays.
Real Academia de Bella Artes de San Fernando, Calle Alcalá 13 (Metro: Sevilla or Banco de España (line 2)), ☎ +34 91 5240864. Tu-Fr: 9:30AM-7PM, Sa-M: 9:30-4:30PM.. Highly impressive art collection with paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints. Several Goya masterpieces. Adults: €3, students €1.50, free W, free for children and seniors..
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.
Planetario de Madrid (Planetarium of Madrid), Avenida del Planetario 16 (Metro: Mendez Alvaro (line 6) or Arganzuela-Planetario (line 6)), ☎ +34 91 467 34 61. Mo: Closed, Tu-Fr: 9:30am-1:45pm and 5pm-7:45pm, Sa-Su: 11am-1:45pm and 5pm-8:45pm. Features several exhibits related to space exploration, two screens playing documentaries, an interactive area and, of course, the planetarium. Projections last 45 minutes each. Different ones play on different days so check their website. Note that all the exhibits are explained in Spanish only and the projections in the planetarium are also in Spanish. Entry is free but the sessions in the planetarium each have a cost of €3.60 for a regular ticket and €1.65 for a reduced ticket (children and seniors).
Museo de Ferrocarril de Madrid (Railway Museum of Madrid), Paseo de las Delicias 61 (Metro: Delicias (line 3); Renfe Cercanias: Delicias), ☎ +34 902 22 88 22. Mo: Closed, Tu-Th: 10am-3pm, Fr-Sa: 10am-8pm, Su: 10am-3pm. Museum with four railway tracks, exhibiting a large number of steam, diesel and electric locomotives used in Spain in the 19th and 20th century. Also on display are several model railways. Exhibits are described in Spanish only. Regular ticket price €5.09, reduced ticket price €3.56 (children, students and seniors), on Sundays €2.04.
Museo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologia (National Museum of Science and Technology), Pintor Velazquez s/n, Alcobendas (Metro: Marques de la Valdavia (line 10)), ☎ +34 914 250 919. This is a museum dedicated to the history of science and technology, exhibiting scientific instruments and consumer products from the last few centuries. It also contains a large educational hall, explaining natural phenomena with practical hands-on exhibits (fun for children). Many exhibits are described in English and Spanish, although some sections have only a summary in English. Entry is free.
Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (National Museum of Natural Sciences), José Gutiérrez Abascal 2 (Metro: Gregorio Marañón, Nuevos Ministerios; Renfe Cercanias: Nuevos Ministerios), ☎ +34 91 411 1328. Contains a large collection of fossils and minerals, plus educational exhibits (some are described in English but many are in Spanish only). Has two parts open to visitors with separate entrances. The ticket is purchased at the main entrance and to visit the other part you need to exit from the main entrance, turn left and follow the building until you reach the second entrance. Your ticket will be checked again there so don't lose it. Regular price €6, reduced price €3.
Museo Geominero (Geo-mining Museum), c/ Rios Rosas 23 (Metro: Rios Rosas), ☎ +34 91 349 5759. Mo-Su: 9am-2pm. Part of the Spanish Institute of Geology and Mining, this museum is dedicated to Geology (with a focus on Mineralogy) and Paleontology, containing an impressive collection of fossils and minerals discovered on the territory of Spain and abroad. Also contains educational exhibits, although all are described in Spanish only. The interior of the building is just as impressive and may be worth a quick tour even if you are not particularly interested in Paleontology and Mineralogy. Free.
Museo Nacional de Antropologia (National Museum of Anthropology), Alfonso XII, 68 (Metro: Atocha Renfe; Renfe Cercanias: Atocha), ☎ +34 91 530 64 18 or +34 91 539 59 95. Mo: closed, Tu-Sa: 9:30am-8pm, Su: 10am-3pm. Small but interesting museum with artefacts and models from the indigenous people of Asia (mainly the Philippines, former colony of Spain), Africa and America. The exhibits are described in Spanish, however on each floor there is a leaflet in English explaining all sections. Regular price €3, reduced price €1.50, free on Sat after 2pm and on Sun.
El Retiro Park, (Metro: Retiro (line 2), Ibiza (line 9) or Atocha (line 1)). The main 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.
Royal Botanical Garden (Real Jardín Botánico), (Metro: Atocha (line 1)). 8-hectare garden located next to the Prado Museum and Retiro Park. Opens at 10am, closing time varies by season. €3 admission. €3.
Parque del Capricho, (Metro: El Capricho (line 5)). One of the most beautiful parks in Madrid. Built in 1797-1839, it has a strong Romanticism influence. Declared as an Historic Garden, its lakes with swans and ducks, labyrinths, palaces, squares and fountains makes this a lovely place.
Templo de Debod, Paseo del Pintor Rosales 2 (Metro: Plaza de España (lines 3 and 10)), ☎ +34 91 765108. Tue-Fri: 10AM - 2PM and 6PM - 8PM, Sat-Sun: 10AM- 2PM, closed Mondays and holidays. An Egyptian temple, located in one of Madrid′s most beautiful parks. Near the Royal Palace and Plaza de España, it was a present given by Egypt to Spain for its role in saving the temple of Abu Simbel from the floodwaters of Lake Nasser following the construction of the Aswan Dam in southern Egypt. A great place to watch the sunset. Free.
Rosaleda del Parque del Oeste, Calle Rosaleda 2 (Metro: Principe Pio (lines 6 and 10)). 10AM - 7PM. The rose garden of Madrid, located in the same park as the Templo de Debod. If you like roses and are in Madrid when they have flowered, definitely worth a visit. The garden holds an international competition yearly. Entry is free.
La Casa de Campo, (Metro: Lago, Batan (line 10) or Casa de Campo (lines 5 and 10)). The park at the rear of the 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.
Zoo Aquarium Madrid, (Metro: Casa de Campo (lines 5 and 10); Bus line 33). See the Pandas. Pet the Lemurs. Watch the Dolphin show. Enjoy the Bird show. Adults €22.90; Children: €18.55.
Faunia, (Metro: Valdebernardo (line 9)). A different type of zoo, aiming to recreate the native habitats of the animals (e.g. the building of the nocturnal animals is dark on the inside, emulating night time and allowing visitors to see the animals during their active hours). Several shows, incluidng marine mammals and birds of prey.
Art in Madrid
Art galleries (which display and sell art) can mostly be found via the "Asociación de Galerías de Arte" (de Madrid); they have a great map of all associated galleries that will lead you to a great variety of places to discover great art, established or upcoming. Most galleries will also be able and willing to provide you the map in paper form. Many of these galleries are located in the Barrios de Lavapiés, las Letras, Salamanca, Las Salesas (upper part of Chueca Neighborhood), while you may find some treasures elsewhere, too. For the neighbourhoods with more galleries, just wander around the neighbourhoods, step in in some of them and "get lost in art". In some neighbourhoods you may need to ring a bell to have the personell open the door, feel free to do that, you are most generally really welcome.
Please also note the Art Gallery Tour guiding you through such great places (see next bullet).
Art Gallery Tour
Art Gallery Tour is a pioneer initiative that brings people closer to the world of contemporary art through guided tours of the best and most important galleries & exhibitions in Madrid situated in magnificent spaces in the three most historic districts of Madrid: Salesas, Letters, Salamanca and Dr. Fourquet St. It is a great opportunity to discover Madrid & its cultural heritage. Their main goal is to democratize art in Spain, raising awareness of contemporary art and stimulating the art market. For more information visit: http://www.artgallerytour.es.
Sanchinarro Cultural Center
Located north of Madrid, the Cultural Center Sanchinarro is a large public space dedicated to art and culture. It offers a program of shows and high-level activities especially designed to accommodate a multitude of artistic, cultural offerings and specialized courses. It also has great facilities with ample time. Sanchinarro Cultural Center was founded with the goal of becoming the main cultural landmark of northern Madrid. This Madrid City Council, owner of this equipment, cultural management entrusted to space Tritoma company, which has more than 25 years of experience in the sector. The Cultural Centre Sanchinarro you can access a wide program of activities of the highest quality. The agenda includes courses, exhibitions and shows in which are included the main trends and artistic and cultural scene. Check the programming section to view upcoming activities. Are you missing something? We are happy to evaluate your proposals. You can also enjoy the facilities of the Centre, including an auditorium, classroom technologies, study hall, exhibition halls and multi-purpose rooms. Companies and individuals can rent these spaces for their own activities, presentations, conferences, events, etc. All this in a symbolic space that is one of the leading architectural northern Madrid. A place where you can meet all kinds of people who share your tastes, hobbies and interests. 913 920 690, 915 000 603, email@example.com
Caja del arte centro
Located in the town of Torrejon de Ardoz, the Art Fund is a large public space dedicated to art and culture. It offers a program of shows and high-level activities in which everyone has a place. The Art Fund was created with the goal of becoming the leading cultural reference of the Henares Corridor. This Torrejón City Council, owner of the equipment, has entrusted the management of the spaces of the Auditorium / conference room, study room and cafeteria Tritoma the company, which has 25 years of experience in the sector. In the premises of the Art Box you can access a wide program of activities of the highest quality. The agenda includes case and cultural programming spaces in which are included the main trends and artistic and cultural scene. Check the programming section to view upcoming activities. Are you missing something? We are happy to evaluate your proposals. You can also enjoy the facilities of the Centre, including the auditorium / hall where companies and individuals can rent this space for their own activities, presentations, conferences, events, etc. All this in a symbolic space that is one of the architectural references of the Community of Madrid. A place where you can meet all kinds of people who share your tastes, hobbies and interests.
La Lavandería Galería
Chilean abstract artist Gastón Covarrubias runs a laundry in Calle Buenavista, 44, Lavapies. A unique experience where you can get your clothes washed while learning about abstract art and hear Gastón´s stories about his early life in Chile painting abstract art on rocks with the blood of fish.
There are a number of free, English language periodicals that you will find in bars and restaurants that are a great source of event information. PopGuide Madrid is Madrid's premier English and German lifestyle magazine and features the best Madrid has to offer and the latest in film, fashion, music and art. The monthly InMadrid newspaper has a number of articles and information about events around town. Aimed at the 20-35-year-old crowd, European Vibehas listings for concerts, exhibitions, bars, restaurants, parties and other events happening in Madrid as well as articles about living in the city. In NocheMAD you will also find a very extensive agenda with concerts, parties and theatre plays in Madrid. Check the websites for current distribution points.
Circulo de Bellas Artes, Calle Marqués de Casa Riera 2 (Metro: Banco de España), ☎ +34 91 5225092. A non-profit cultural center located a short walk from Sol, the CBA offers up a wide variety of events and shows including film, music, art displays, dance, theater and more. See the website (in Spanish) for a list of activities.
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.
Las Tablas, Plaza España, 9 (Walk from Plaza España metro), ☎ +34 915 420 520. A very popular Tablao located near the Plaza España metro station. The package consisting of a Flamenco show (at 9 or 10 pm) with a candle-lit dinner and a glass of Sangria wine is truly a treat.
Tablao Flamenco Cardamomo (Cardamomo Flamenco Show), Echegaray 15. Authentic Flamenco show in the center of Madrid, one of the gratest tablaos flamencos all over Spain, typical spanish food during the performance.
Cafe De Chinitas, C/ Torija, 7-28013 (Walk from Santo Domingo metro), ☎ 91 559 51 35. A great show lasting about 90 minutes. Unbelivable amount of energy and passion put in by the performers. There is an option to have dinner as well but that is a separate package and costs more. 25 Euros without dinner / drinks.
Casa Patas, Calle de los Cañizares nº10, Madrid 28012 (About 10 blocks west of Museo del Prado), ☎ +34 91 369 04 96. Shows at 22:30 Monday-Thursday, 21:00 and 24:00 Friday-Saturday. An excellent venue as all tables and seats have a good view of the stage. Optional dinner is before the show and guarantees a good seat near the stage. Attention is paid to flamenco as a cultural art form, not just as a floor show. 36 Euros inc. drink.
Sala Heineken, Princesa 1 (Metro: Plaza España), ☎ +34 91 5476680. National touring acts for rock and pop music.
La Riviera, Paseo Bajo de la Virgen (Metro: Puerta del Angel or Principe Pío), ☎ +34 91 3652415. Another large venue for touring rock and pop bands.
Gruta 77, Calle Cuclillo 6 (Metro: Oporto), ☎ +34 91 4712370. Concerts everyday; pop, rock, punk
Classical & opera
Spanish National Orchestra. Performs every Fri, Sat and Sun at the Auditorio Nacional on Calle Principe de Vergara. The Auditorio Nacional is also the main concert venue for the symphonic concerts of the Community of Madrid Orchestra and the Madrid symphony Orchestra and the main venue for touring classical artists and orchestras.
Teatro Real (Royal Theatre), Plaza de Oriente (Metro: Opera). The main opera theatre in Madrid.
Teatro de la Zarzuela. The Spanish version of the Operetta (Zarzuela) is performed here.
Orquesta de Radio Televisión Española. Performs every Thu and Fri at the Teatro Monumental on Calle Atocha.
Auditorio 400 of the Museo Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. The main venue for contemporary music.
Cuartel del Condeduque.
Foundation Joan March Auditorium.
Banda Municipal de Madrid. Performs in El Retiro Park in the summer.
Four teams from Madrid play in La Liga (Spain's premier division). The matches between Real Madrid and Atlético de Madrid are known as "El Derbi Madrileño" (English: Madrid Derby).
Real Madrid. For football fanatics, a trip to the Santiago Bernabeu, the home of local club Real Madrid is not to be missed. Real Madrid is the most successful football club in Spain and Europe, having been crowned Spanish champions a record 32 times and European champions a record 10 times. Their biggest rivals by far are FC Barcelona, with which it contests matches known popularly as El Clásico at least twice a year. The rivalry between the two sides is by far the biggest in Spain and one of the most intense in the world, and stems from the longstanding traditional rivalry between the Spanish and Catalan speaking parts of Spain. As such, tickets for such matches often sell out very quickly. In case you arrive in Madrid on non-match periods, you can take a self-guided tour of the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. It includes tours around the field, the dressing rooms, the Press Room and the Real Madrid Museum where the trophies and other memorabilia are kept. Without a loyalty card, the typical fees for adults is €16. However, a few days before a match, the chances are you will not be able to take the full tour, but only a part of it, with at least the Real Madrid Museum, at a reduced price.
Atlético de Madrid. Plays games in the Vicente Calderón stadium. The club is one of the most successful in Spanish League history, having won both La Liga and the Copa del Rey on ten occasions, including a double in 1996. They also won the European Cup Winners Cup in 1962, were European Cup runners-up in 1974 and 2014, Intercontinental Cup winners in 1975 and more recently won the UEFA Europa League in 2010 and 2012 and the European SuperCup in 2010 and 2012.
Getafe Club de Fútbol. Plays games at Coliseum Alfonso Pérez in Getafe, one of the dormitory cities of Madrid.
Rayo Vallecano, plays games at Estadio Teresa Rivero. A popular team from the Vallecas area in Madrid, known for its alternative culture and left-wing ultras.
There are two major teams, Estudiantes and Real Madrid.
Madrid Tennis Master 1000, Camino de Perales (Metro: San Fermin - Orcasur; Bus numbers 23 - 78 - 123). Held in mid-May at La Caja Mágica.
Movies and film
There are a number of cinemas offering American and British films in English (along with films in other languages). These original films are denoted in the listings by a designation of "V.O." which stands for versión original. Cinemas in Madrid will sometimes have días del espectador (viewer days) with cheaper ticket prices, usually on Mondays or Wednesdays. Some of the V.O. theaters to check out are:
Yelmo Cineplex Ideal, Doctor Cortezo 6 (metro: Sol), ☎ +34 91 3692518. Probably the best known V.O. theater in Madrid, it offers the largest selection of movies and is only a short walk from Sol.
Cine Doré, la Filmoteca Española, Calle Santa Isabel 3 (metro: Anton Martín), ☎ +34 91 3691125. From €2.50.
Princesa, Calle Princesa 3 (metro: Plaza de España), ☎ +34 91 5414100.
Renoir, Calle Martín de los Heroes 12 (Metro: Plaza de España), ☎ +34 91 5414100.
Cines Golem Alphaville, Calle Martin de los Heros 14 (metro: Plaza de España), ☎ +34 91 5593836.
Renoir Cuatro Caminos, Calle Raimundo Fernández Villaverde 10 (metro: Cuatro Caminos), ☎ +34 91 5414100.
Renoir Retiro, Calle Narvaez 42 (metro: Ibiza), ☎ +34 91 5414100.
Cinesa Proyecciones 3D, Calle Fuencarral 136 (metro: Quevedo), ☎ +34 902 33 32 31. This is a great movie theather showing all of the latest movies. It has both 3D movies and normal movies. There is also a shop in the movie theather where they sell all kinds of candy, drinks, and popcorn. Great for children!> 7.60€(on working days),7.60€ (on weekends and festives), 6.00€ (reduced priced). Note: an additional 2.50€ will be charged for 3D movies.
Cinesa Dreams Palacio de Hielo, C/ Silvano, 77 (metro: Canillas), ☎ +34 902 88 82 00. This cinema is located in a shopping mall know for its ice-skating ring. It is a great place where teenagers can hang out since the mall also has restaurants, bars, and shops. 7.50€.
Kinepolis, C/ Edgar Neville s/n, Ciudad de la Imagen, Pozuelo de Alarcon (metro ligero: Ciudad del Cine (ML3)). Outside the city, in the suburb of Pozuelo de Alarcon. The largest megaplex in the world by number of seats. Has 25 screens. The offer of movies shown in their original version is increasing.
There are also a few movie theathers in Madrid where they show the orignial version of the movies subtitled in their original language. The list is provided below.
Alphaville, Calle Martin de los Herros 14 (metro: Plaza de Espana), ☎ +34 91 559 3836. 6.50€ (on working days), 7,50€ (on festives, evenings, and weekends).
California, Calle Andrés Mellado 53 (metro: Moncloa), ☎ +34 91 5440058.
La Transhumancia. Annual event during which the center of Madrid is free of cars and is instead filled with shepherds exercising their ancient right to drive sheep and livestock through the city.
Madrid Gay Pride. Annual event held between the last week of June and the first of July, with more than 1.5million people in the street from all across the world. It began as a weekend party, but lately turned into a full week extravaganza.
La Paloma. Madrid's most castizo (traditional Madrid) festival on the days leading up to August 15th. A huge street party in the La Latina neighborhood with bars setting up counters outside their locales and booming music. Food stalls along the Carrera de San Francisco. The zone around Calle Calatrava is mainly gay.
Food & drinks
Dishes popular throughout Spain are also widely served in Madrid.
In addition, Madrid has a number of "typical" dishes:
Gallinejas and Entresijos - Portions from different parts of lamb fried in its fat. Very traditional and typical from Madrid city.
Callos a la Madrileña - A hot pot of spicy beef tripe similar to those found in Turkey and the Balkans.
Cocido Madrileño - Chickpea stew with meat and vegetables. The particularity of this stew is the way it is served. The soup, chickpeas and meat are served and eaten separately.
Oreja de Cerdo - Pigs ears, fried in garlic. This popular dish is widely eaten throughout central Spain.
Sopa de Ajo - Garlic soup is a rich and oily soup which generally includes paprika, grated Spanish ham, fried bread and a poached egg. A variation of this soup is known as Sopa Castellana.
It is ironic that Madrid, located right in the centre of Spain has higher quality seafood than most coastal regions. This quality comes at a price, and most Spaniards only occasionally shell out for a mariscada (Spanish for "seafood feast"). Experiencing Madrid's seafood may be, for the visitor, an experience which will be worth the cost.
Meat and meat products (Jamon Iberico, morcilla, chorizo etc) are of generally a very high quality in Spain and particularly in Madrid.
Many of the restaurants and cervecerías in the Sol and Plaza Mayor area have "generic" poster board advertisements on the sidewalks with pictures advertising various paella dishes. These paellas are usually of bad quality and should be avoided. If you are looking for good, authentic Spanish paella, it is usually best to find a more expensive, "sit-down" type of restaurant that offers a variety of paella dishes.
A much better option is the La Latina neighborhood just south of Plaza Mayor, especially along the Cava Baja street. To enjoy a gastronomic tour of this area you can join the Old Madrid Tapas & Wine Tour. There are also a number of deli-like shops along Calle Arenal that offer food para llevar (for take away).
At bars, one generally orders various sized plates, a ración meaning a full dish, a media ración a half dish or a smaller version which would be a tapa, a pinxto or a pincho.
The Spaniards don't eat lunch until 2 or 3 pm, and dinner doesn't start until 9 or 10 pm. As a rule of thumb, restaurants serve lunch from 1PM (earlier in touristic zones) until 3:30PM, then close and re-open for dinner at 8:00PM, serving until 11:00PM. This schedule is usually for restaurants since bars and "mesones" are usually opened all day long offering a wide variety of "tapas" and "bocadillos"(rolls) for a cheap price. If you're really desperate, the standard bunch of fast food chains do stay open throughout the day.
Where to Eat in Madrid
Tasca La Farmacia. Mon-Sat 13:00-16:00 20:30-00:00. Tasca la Farmacia is a classic Basque restaurants of the capital. The perfect spot to enjoy some of the best "pintxos" (Basque tapas) with friends accompanied by cold beer or taste the house specialty, cod. A fish which the chef prepares in various different ways: croquettes, stewed, scrambled, deep fried... all of them with excellent quality and presentation. Located in the mythical district of Tetuan, Tasca la Farmacia is a must for those wanting to experience authentic Basque cuisine inside the city of Madrid.
Le Cabrera. Le Cabrera is definitely a must for cocktails and exceptional cuisine lovers. The owner, Diego Cabrera, an Argentinean mixologist and responsible for the extensive cocktail menu. Together with Sergi Arola, one of Spain’s top chefs, they ensure that your experience in Le Cabrera is memorable. Luis Galliusi, one of Argentina’s top interior designers is the responsible for the amusing décor of Le Cabrera. A mixture of classic and modern with a vast collection of vintage books and cocktail paraphernalia. It's definitely worth spending the money for this quality experience.
La Taberna de Los Huevos de Lucio. This Taberna is the product of the sons of founding members of Casa Lucio, just opposite and down the street, and no doubt La Latina's most renowned, traditional restaurant. The Taberna, however, has a much more explorative, modern menu that serves up traditional ingredients in contemporary ways with excellent results. You can't book but the entrance bar can start you off with drinks and anything off the menu while you wait for seating upstairs or below (upstairs is worth the wait). Don't miss their signature dish of scrambled eggs with sausage, veggies or jamon but also try the artchokes with foie or the shredded quail salad.
L’Hardy. Mon-Sun 08:00-23:00. This restaurant and catering establishment is a historic and iconic Madrid gourmet institute. Right beside Puerta del Sol people dash by without realising that some of Madrid finest traditional Spanish cuisine is being served in the lavishly decorated restaurant upstairs. Since 1839 L’Hardy has been serving excellent quality food to the delight of critics.
Santceloni. Situated near the Hesperia hotel lies Santceloni. A two starred Michellin restaurant that has one of the best teams of the industry: with chef Óscar Velasco, winner of Caldereta de Don Calixto 2012 award; and Abel Valverde, winner of the best head-waiter of the Metrópoli magazine’s IX PREMIOS GASTRONOMICOS. Santceloni is a restaurant with a cozy atmosphere which specializes in classic Mediterranean cuisine, preparing all their dishes with the freshest and the best products of the season, topped by an extent wine list. Don’t miss the suckling pig rack, the specialty of the house.
Kabuki. Mon-Fri 13:30-16:30 20:30-23:30 Sat 13:30-16:30. Japanese-iberian cuisine. Chef and part of the staff regularly spend months in Japan perfecting their technique. Most critics agree they offer the best sushi in Europe.
Zalacain,. Opened in 1973 on the street of Alvarez de Baena, Zalacaín is a classic for fine Spanish cuisine and winner of a Michelin Star. A restaurant specializing in dishes prepared with the best products of the season, combining them with the best wines from its extensive menu. It has a team of professionals with over 32 years of experience, always attentive to any questions, who give suggestions to the most undecided. Do not miss their classic dishes such as the mushroom and foie lasagna and the apple strudel. A suit and tie is a must for men.
Diverxo. 1Mon-Sat 14:00-16:00 21:00-23:30. David Muñoz, chef and owner of DiverXO, advocates a modern and unique fusion cuisine combining only the best of both Mediterranean and Asian products. With over 10 years of experience, each course that David prepares is a world of flavors and textures, one surprise after another that is well worth its 3 Michelin stars. DiverXO also has an original personality, creating service guidelines away form the classic, exploiting the most positive features of its team. If you want a unique fusion dining experience do not miss the opportunity to visit DiverXO. 30 days in advance booking is necessary.
La Terraza del Casino. Mon-Fri 13:30-15:15 21:00-23:00 Sat 21:00-23:00. La Terraza del Casino is one of Madrid’s most innovative restaurants. A classic and luxurious venue located in the city center with 2 Michelin stars behind it and the guidance of a world renowned chef, Ferran Adria. Paco Roncero, chef Adria’s disciple and the residing Terraza del Casino chef, turns any evening at this restaurant a unique and unforgettable experience with proposals like their tasting menu (20 minimalist-style dishes with unique presentation and flavor) much like Adria’s style. The professionalism of the restaurant’s team should also be mentioned; attentive, extensively knowledgeable and always willing to advise. Bookings and suits are essential.
Ramón Freixa Madrid. Mon-Sat 13:30-15:30 21:00-23:00. Named after the chef and owner, Ramon Freixa, and winner of 2 Michelin stars, this restaurant is one of the most elegant eating spot of the city. He also owns one of Catalunya’s finest restaurants, Racó de Freixa, another winner of the prestigious Michelin award. Ramon Freixa offers a modern minimalist space (35 seats and a private room for 10) with spacious tables and a menu that does justice to its fame. Among his specialties are the Big Duck (duck burger, green mustard ice cream, idiazabal cheese and bread), Bacalao al estilo Freixa (Freixa-style cod) and the famous Bogavante en micro menú (Lobster in the micro menu). All of which definitely earn the 2 Michelin stars awarded.
Freiduría de Gallinejas Embajadores, Calle de Embajadores 84 (near Glorieta Embajadores, Metro lines L3 and L5), ☎ 915175933. 11:00-23:00. Another classic tapas bar in Madrid. Not for conservative stomachs. Their most popular tapas are two of the most typical and traditional dishes in Madrid: Gallinejas and Entresijos. A treat for adventurous palates and lamb-lovers.
Museo del Jamon, Several locations. Offers deli takeout service as well as tapas and raciónes at reasonable prices. They offer €1 ham sandwiches and a "picnic" lunch consisting of a said ham sandwich, fresh fruit and a drink for €2.
Cervecería 100 Montaditos, Several locations. Home to the famous 100 "montaditos" (small sandwiches), you'll find several branches dotted around the city. Great place to go for a cheap drink with a bite to eat. CURRENT OFFER: Buy a montadito (1-2 euro) and a pint of beer is just 1 euro
Home Burger, 2 locations: Malasaña District and Plaza de la Luna(Gran Via). THE place for serious hamburgers. Americans will feel at home!
Antigua Huevería, Malasaña District, Calle San vicente Ferrer, 32, ☎ 915312882. 14:00-17:00 and 20:00-00:00 weekend until 2:00. The very best huevos rotos ("broken eggs") and croquetas. Cheap, beautiful and delicious!! The chicken-adorned tiled front dates from the 19th century 15€.
Alhambra, Calle de Victoria 9 (Metro: Sevilla), ☎ +34 91 5210708. This is a good place to drop by on a hot afternoon to enjoy a cold beer and some Andalusian tapas. Sample the sausages and cheeses.
Al-Jaima (Cocina del Desierto), Calle Barbieri 1 (Metro: Chueca), ☎ +34 91 523 1142. This dark, cave-like Moroccan restaurant has some of the best North African food in the city. The seating is at low Moroccan-style tables and the calm, mellow atmosphere makes you feel like you're far from the bustling center of Chueca.
Bacchus, Avenida Moratalaz 141 (Metro: Vinateros or Artilleros), ☎ +34 913280468. Right in the middle of Lonja, an area filled with places to dine and drink. It is still close enough to city centre but offers a more relaxed ambience, making it one especially suitable for families, though all types of customers can be encountered. Bacchus offers a mixture of innovative and traditional-style tapas. Very good though expensive wine list. It can get very busy on weekends. Nice outside seating area makes up for the fact that inside it is rather small and, in traditional Tapas-bar style, somewhat littered.
Casa de Valencia, Paseo Pintor Rosales 58.
Chocolatería San Ginés, Calle de Pasadizo De San Ginés 5 (metro: Sol), ☎ +34 91 3656546. Specializing in chocolate con churros, this Madrid fixture is open 24 hours a day. The perfect place to top off a night on the town. Also offers the usual assortment of coffees and teas.
Cocina Mex-Mex, Calle Libertad 33 (metro: Chueca), ☎ +34 91 521 7640. This is a small, usually crowded, friendly Mexican restaurant with good food and drinks at reasonable prices. Sample some of their tacos and super-cheesy chilaquiles.
D'fabula, Plaza Conde de Barajas 3 (Metro: Opera)
El Inti de Oro, Calle de Ventura de la Vega 12 (metro: Sevilla), ☎ +34 91 4296703. For something different, try this great Peruvian restaurant a short walk from Sol. Be sure to order some of their ceviche and try the Pisco Sour cocktail.
Estay, Calle de Hermosilla 46 (metro: Velázquez), ☎ +34 91 5780470. closed on Sundays. A great place for tapas, they offer a large menu, reasonable prices and excellent quality food. The Solomillo al Foie is excellent and the deserts come highly-recommended as well. Very crowded on Friday and Saturday nights.
Jaen 3, Calle Poitiers 3 (metro: Coslada Estadio Olimpico), ☎ +34 63 0036987. An excellent bar de tapas and restaurant. A nice place to enjoy Spanish food and lifestyle without spending too much. Being located just outside central Madrid, it's far from being a tourist trap and you can enjoy good food and true "raciones" (portions). The pleasant owners are very willing to share stories about Madrid and Spain more generally. In summer time it has a superb terrace, within a stones throw of the Olympic Stadium.
La Bola, Calle de la Bola 5 (Metro: Opera)
La Casa del Abuelo, Calle de Victoria 12 (metro: Sevilla), ☎ +34 91 5212319. A Madrid landmark in operation for over 100 years, this bar attracts a standing room only crowd on the weekends. They mainly serve shrimp-based tapas dishes so if you're not into shellfish it may be advisable to steer clear. Order a plate of their garlic shrimp and accompany with their house wine.
La Mucca, Calle Del Pez (Metro: Noviciado). Nice designer restaurant popular within the 20s-30s crowd. Good music, cool people, even better food and cocktails. The kitchen opens in the afternoon.
La Rollerie, Atocha 20 (Metro: Astón Martín), ☎ +34 914 20 46 75. Pleasant, spacious, yet homely eatery offering outstanding brunch sets and fresh, quality food at a reasonable price. The clean, bright premises, ambient music, airy furniture and attentive, but unintrusive crew complement the meal, providing a welcome respite from the dusty heat of the inner city.
La Zapateria Tapas Bar, Calle de Victoria 8 (Metro: Sevilla), ☎ +34 91 5210708. Great potato dishes that come mixed with chorizo or other ingredients. Also try the pincho moruno (pork skewers) or something else displayed on ice in the front window. The Ribeiro on tap (sparkling white wine from Galicia) is not to be missed.
Malacatin, Calle Ruda 5. Serves typical Madrid cuisine.
Midnight Rose, Plaza de Santa Ana, 14. Daily 1:30pm-4:30pm, 8:30pm-12am. The ME Madrid Hotel´s restaurant. Mediterranean cuisine with Asian, American and Italian influences, with an emphasis on seasonal Produce. Dining for private parties is also provided.
Samm, Calle de Carlos Caamaño 3 (Metro: Pio XII). Best paella in Madrid, but only if you bring more than two people by order of the proprietor. Frequented mainly by locals, prepare to be stared at by the wait staff if you are from out of town.
Siam, Calle San Bernardino 6 (Metro: Plaza España or San Bernardino), ☎ +34 91 559 8315. Beautifully-decorated with a tranquil atmosphere, the food is reasonable and offers a pleasant departure from Spanish fare, if so desired.Most mains between €8 and €12..
The Penthouse, Plaza de Santa Ana 14, ☎ +34 91 7016000. Located on the roof of the ME Madrid hotel, this terrace-style restaurant serves tapas and traditional cuisine. At night they serve great mojitos in a youthful, club-like atmosphere.
La Barraca, C/. Reina , 29 ; 28004 Madrid, ☎ 91 532 71 54. Recommended for paella if more authentic experience is sought. A meal for 2 with a drink each costs in the region of €50 Euros. 40 Euros +.
Botín, Calle Cuchilleros 17 (Metro: La Latina), ☎ +34 913664217. Opened in 1725, Botín is listed in the Guiness Book of Records as the oldest operating restaurant in the world. Once a favourite of Ernest Hemingway, the menu still delights with specialities including roast suckling pig (cochinillo) and roast lamb (cordero). Insidersmadrid.com offers a tour of this institution.
Casa Lucio, Calle de Cava Baja 35 (Metro: La Latina), ☎ +34 91 3653253. Pricey but worth it, the Spanish Royal family sometimes entertain guests here and you may run into a few sports figures and movie stars. You should definitely book ahead on the weekends, and reservations are recommended even for the weekdays. Known for their cocido, their roasts and their huevos rotos.
La Trainera, Calle de Lagasca 60 (metro: Velázquez or Serrano), ☎ +34 91 5768035. A Madrid institution for decades, Trainera is an excellent but somewhat pricey restaurant serving strictly seafood dishes. They have a great wine selection and the waiters can recommend different vintages that will complement the food. Try the carabineros (giant scarlet shrimp) or the rodaballo (turbot). Usually closed in August.
Teatriz, Calle Hermosilla 15 (metro: Serrano or Colon), ☎ +34 91 5775379. Built inside a former theatre, the restaurant counts with 4 spaces (restaurant, tapas, sushi bar, cocktail bar). Unique decoration and a wide range of dishes. Desserts are specially recommended.
Manete, Calle Doctor Castelo 2. From €30.
Casa Nemesio, Paseo de la Castellana 260. Seafood.
Telegrafo, Calle Padre Damian (500m from Bernabeu Stadium). Arguably, the best seafood in Madrid.
In the tapas bars, you should get free food with your drinks.
El Tigre, calle de los Infantas 30 (Metro: Gran Vía / Chueca). Probably the most well-known tapas bar in Madrid, a must do. Don't get frightened by how crowded the bar is and go in anyway. This is one of the most lively places in the city! Get beers, big glasses of wine or "un mini de mojito" and get free big plates of tapas every time you order.
El Boñar de Leon, Calle de la Cruz Verde 16 (Metro: Noviciado / Santo Domingo). You win a trip to the Canary Islands if you are able to finish their "Cocido Madrileño". Seriously.
La Esquina de Eusebio, Calle Caramuel 16 (Metro: Puerta del Angel). Trays of tapas are passed from one person to another in this typical bar of Madrid, absolutely not touristy but really worth it! And it's not so far from the center.
The Sherry Corner, Pza. de San Miguel. Mercado de San Miguel (Metro: Sol). Sherry-tasting available in 8 languages. Commentary by knowledgeable oenologists explaining the details of the history, elaboration methods and tasting notes for each of the wines, while inviting guests to combine them with tapas served at different market stalls.
Café Central, Plaza del Angel 10 (Metro: Sol). Café by day, live jazz music at night.
Cafe Circulo de Bellas Artes, Calle Alcala 42 (Metro: Banco de Espana). A soaring hall on the ground floor of Madrid´s art center combines atmosphere, excellent food and good coffee at reasonable prices. A wonderful place for lunch not far from Madrid´s shopping or museums.
Cafe Commercial, Cafe Commercial (Metro: Bilbao). opened in the 1880´s, this is the oldest cafe in Madrid. Has been run by the same family since the early 1900's. There´s a modern internet cafe upstairs, but the downstairs remains traditional.
Café Gijón, Paseo Recoletos 21 (Metro: Banco de España or Colon). A historic literary cafe. The outdoor terraza is nice in the summer.
Café de Oriente, Plaza Oriente 2 (Metro: Opera). Overlooks the Plaza Oriente and faces Palacio Real. Outdoor tables in summer, cozy indoor rooms in the cold months. Basement banquet room with a glass floor over ancient remains. Excellent food.
Café Pabellon del Espejo, Paseo de Recoletos 31 (Metro: Colon). Opened in 1978, but looks much older. Good food and very crowded during lunchtime.
La Mallorquina, Puerta del Sol 8, Mayor, 2 (Metro: Sol). Famous for its pastries. Peaceful upstairs room where you can linger undisturbed over your café con leche and napolitana de chocolate (chocolate croissant).
La Tabacalera, Plaza de Embajadores (Metro: Embajadores (L3)). until 11PM. An abandoned tobacco factory turned into a huge Berlin-like alternative art space driven by the diverse locals of Lavapies district. Also Tens of free workshops daily. Nice big cheap outdoors terrace. Free.
Nuevo Café Barbieri, Calle Ave Maria 45 (Metro: Lavapies). Slightly scruffy cafe draws an avante garde crowd at night.
Nightlife starts later in Madrid, with most people heading to the bars at 10-11PM.
El Rincón de Fogg. Calle Juan de Urbieta 12. (Metro: Pacífico).Open daily from 07:00 to 22:00 and Friday and Saturday till 00:00. You can have 2 litres of sangría in a self service dispenser from just €14, or €13 for 2 litres of beer, and you get a free plate of patatas bravas. They also have a delicious selection of bocatas from €2,45. Big TV to watch the football matches while enjoying eating and drinking. If you say you've read this, they'll invite you to a glass of rosado wine.
Areia, Calle Horteleza 96 (Metro: Chueca). Very cool chill out bar decorated with deep colours in a Moroccan style. Dark and inviting. The floor is covered in sand giving a beach-like vibe. The seating includes cushions on the floor, traditional tables and chairs, or if you’re lucky, grab the four poster bed at the back. Drinks: €7 before 22:00 and €8 after 22:00.
La Corolla, Visitag Manzana 10 (Metro: La Latina). Specializes in delicious ‘tostas’ (small pieces of toast with different toppings) and avocado (aguacate), along with cañas (small beers). Tostas + 2 cañas: €10.
La Via Lactea, Calle de Velarde 18, Malasaña (Metro: Tribunal), ☎ +34 91 446 75 81. A swingin' bar where you can twist the night away with local hipsters.
Miali, Plaza Santa Ana (Metro: Sol). Nice terrace outside,great for people-watching. The interior is tastefully decorated.
Museo Chicote, Gran Via (Metro: Gran Via). Daily: 17:00 to 02:00. Voted the Best European Bar 2004 by MTV-Campari. Extensive cocktail list. Claims to have served drinks to many famous celebrities, including, Ava Gardner, Frank Sinatra, Lana Turner, Gary Cooper, Orson Wells, Yul Brynner and Ernest Hemingway, Catherine Zeta Jones, Hugh Grant and Tim Robbins. They only serve drinks.
Redbar, Joaquín María López 28 (Metro: Islas Filipinas). Daily: 17:00 to 02:00. Small, cozy cocktail bar with great music and a very nice and original decoration. Extensive cocktail list.
Dubliners, Espoz y Mina, 7 (Metro: Sol), An Irish bar in the centre of Madrid near Puerta del Sol. The bar has televisions and is one of the places where sport can be seen.
Stork Bar, Mancebos 2, La Latina (Metro: Latina), ☎ +34913656357. Cocktail Lounge & World food in the heart of La Latina. Great summer terrace and surprising basement brick cave with live music and karaoke.
Clubs generally open at about midnight. If you go in any earlier you may find it quite empty. Many clubs don't close until 6AM, and even then everyone is still full of life.
Demode, Calle Ballesta (At the back of Gran Via, closest metro may be Tribunal/Gran Via). From 00:00 to 04:00AM. Cool electronic sounds for 20s-30s. Free.
El Sol, Calle Jardines, 3 (Metro: Gran Via). Tuesday - Saturday: 24:00-05:30. Popular with the 20-30 age group. Plays a mix of 70s, funk, and bossanova sounds. No dress code, but people do tend to look cool. Entry including 1 drink: €9.
Joy, Calle Arenal 11 (Metro: Sol). Well known across Europe. Attracts at multi-national crowd. Popular with tourists as well as locals. It plays a mix of popular dance music. Every Thursday there is a Students Party.
Kapital, Atocha, 125 (Metro: Atocha). Enormous club with 7 floors. However, despite it's popularity this club is usually not worth visiting. The owner has a policy to try and limit the number of foreigners in the club so if you are from anywhere except Spain, you will likely get bad treatment. €10-20.
Ohm, Plaza de Callao, 1 (in Gran Via street) (Metro: Callao (L3)). From 00:00 to 07:00AM. Popular Commercial House club with a mixed young straight/gay crowd. €10-20 with mixed drink.
Pacha, Calle Barcelo, 11 (Metro: Tribunal or Alonso Martinez). Thursday, Friday and Saturday: from 23:30 to 06:00. Different dance music styles from night to night. Glitz and glamour. Strict doormen. Expect to be charged according to the glamour of the event you're attending.
Palacio Gaviria, Calle Arenal 9 (Metro: Sol). Stunning club, decorated as a lavish 16th century palace, complete with sweeping marble staircase. Several rooms, including two dance floors with different music. Spanish pop, dance, R&B and other commercial sounds.
Stardust, Princesa 1 (Metro: Plaza España). From 00:00 to 07:00AM. Powerful Techno/House club popular within the younger crowd. (It has been shut down) €10-20 with mixed drink.
Independance, Calle Doctor Cortezo, 1 (Metro: Sol). Rock and Indie
When travelling in Spain is not easy getting connected, Internet pre-paid cards can be purchased but with few formalities. Wi-Fi points in bars and cafeterias in Madrid are available after ordering, and most Hotels offer Wi-Fi connection in common areas for their guests.
Madrid buses also have wi-fi connections although the speed can vary.
The best option is rent a prepaid portable WiFi Hot spot. This service is now available in Madrid and whole Spain, provided by local AlldayInternet or tripNETer which allows the connection to any WiFi device without roaming charges: Smart-phones, Tablets, PCs…
Madrid is a relatively safe city. The police are visible, and the city is equipped with cameras. There are always a lot of people in the streets, even at night time, so you can walk across the city generally without fear. Travelers who remain aware of their surroundings, and keep an eye on their belongings should have little to worry about.
Madrid has a significant amount of nonviolent pickpocket crime so always watch any bags you have with you especially on the Metro and in busier public spaces. It is important for your safety to avoid falling asleep in the metro, which can leave you particularly vulnerable to thefts. It is not unknown for thieves to cut jean trouser pockets in order to steal belongings.
Be careful when carrying luggage, especially if anyone approaches you with an outspread map in hand asking for directions. This may very possibly be a trap to distract you while an accomplice steals your luggage.
When using ATM machines, be aware of your surroundings, just as you would anywhere. Bring a friend if you need to withdraw cash after dark. If someone approaches you while using an ATM, simply hit CANCELAR, retrieve your card and move on.
Beware of thieves preying on people leaving night clubs who have had a lot to drink. Do NOT carry valuables on a night out.
Beware of anyone who approaches you and asks you to write down your signature: it is normally for a "sick hospital" unit, and she will point out the "stamp" on the paper. She will then ask for a generous donation of €20 or more. This distraction can often be used to block vision while a pickpocketing or theft attempt is made.
Be aware of young men and boys who are indicating they are deaf/homeless trying to get you to sign a piece of paper. This also can be a ruse to distract you in order to steal your belongings. These thieves sometimes enter cafes/bars so make sure you do not leave wallets/phones on the table as possessions on show make for easy targets. The area around Calle de las Infantes near Gran Via is particularly renowned for this.
Avoid people offering masaje (massages). Be firm and say "No me toques" (Don't touch me) or "No tengo dinero" (I don't have any money) and keep walking. This is often a scam to extort money.
Coffee shops such as Starbucks are typically full of locals and tourists playing with mobile phones, laptops and tablets. Groups of gypsy kids are often seen raiding such establishments - they favor branches with two exits and run from one to the other, grabbing whatever they can. Keep your wits about you and keep hold of your things if something doesn't feel right.
Street drinking (Botellón) is a very popular and cheap night out. However, be careful as drinking in the street is against the law and the police can and will fine you.
"Locutorios" (Call Shops) are widely spread in Madrid near touristy locations. In Madrid do it's very easy to find one. Making calls from "Locutorios" tend to be much cheaper, especially international calls (usually made through VoIP). They are usually a good pick for calling home.
Madrid is located just northeast of the geographical center of the Iberian Peninsula, in the middle of the Spanish central Castillian plateau (Meseta central), at an average altitude of 650m. Nearly all of the most famous tourist areas are located in the center of the city including Puerta del Sol, Plaza Mayor, Palacio Real, and Plaza de Colón. The major streets in Madrid include the Gran Via, Alcalá Street, and Paseo de la Castellana.
The culture of Madrid was dominated by its Royal history, centre of the Spanish Empire. The Royal Palace, big places and buildings used by the Spanish Monarchy, enormous cathedrals and churches are plentiful in Madrid, as well as medieval architecture, although nowadays Madrid is just as much a cosmopolitan city as Berlin or London, full of new architecture, lifestyle and culture.
As Spanish Capital, Madrid has meant the different "establishment" for most Spaniards. During the 2nd Republic (1931-1936) was a bustling city of new ideas. Being capital of the Franquist dictatorship (1939-1975) made the city still seemed to represent a conservative part of Spain to many Spaniards. However, the city is also the epicentre of the famous Movida, Spain's 80s movement that bred personalities such as the director Pedro Almodóvar. The heritage of this era is indeed still visible in the city centre, where a party can be found at all times and one of the most liberal and colourful environments of Spain can be seen. The city is also known for its great gay tolerance.
The citizens of Madrid, who refer to themselves as Madrileños or the more traditional and currently seldom used term "gatos" (cats), live by a daily routine that is heavily influenced by the climate. Due to the typically midday heat during summer, a "siesta" can be still observed during which some citizens take a break to cool off, though Madrileños can usually only afford this 'luxury' during holidays and weekends. Most stores are open during all the day; just small stores are often closed during this time. Workers and those more afflicted by Western lifestyles choose not to observe this long break and work traditional business hours, which are usually between 9AM and 6-7PM. During summer many offices, however, will have a summer schedule requiring workers to start at 8am and finish at 3pm (most commonly without the standard 1-2 hour break for lunch). Offices usually close during the weekend but businesses are often open Saturday morning (downtown stays open until afternoon). Most grocers are closed on Sundays, but some major chain and department stores linked to "culture" (books, music, etc.) will be open throughout the day and all of them on the first Sunday of the month. Shops and department stores in Puerta del Sol area are open every day.
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 as late as 5AM-7AM. It is quite common to see a crowded Gran Vía on weekend nights. It is important to note that, due to this lifestyle, lodging located near the fun areas may end up a nightmare for light sleepers if your window faces the street.
Madrid has a very modernized and elaborate transportation network of buses and Metro. The city contrasts with some large European cities in that it is extremely clean, and city employees in bright yellow 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, other Europeans, Chinese, Indians, Filipinos, Pakistanis and (especially) Latin Americans are prominent.
Some popular neighborhoods are:
Alonso Martínez - Many pubs and small discos. Until about 3AM, a very young crowd, and if you′re around here before midnight, and over the age of 20, prepare to feel positively old. Most places close around 3AM, then people move to nearby areas to continue partying (clubs in Gran Vía or Tribunal).
Barrio de las Letras / Huertas - Many of Spain's most famous writers lived there (Cervantes, Quevedo, etc.). It is among Lavapiés, Puerta del Sol and Paseo del Prado. It is an area full of history and interesting buildings and is also well-known because of its concentration of bars, pubs, restaurants and hotels. Plaza de Santa Ana is a beautiful square. It can be considered "too touristic" for some local people.
Chueca - Near Malasaña and Gran Vía, it is the gay district (although no one is ever excluded) with a very strong personality. New design, trendy shops, cool cafes. Pop and electronic music. By far, the most cosmopolitan place in town. Has become quite chic and expensive.
Tribunal / Malasaña - Hip area. You can enjoy a café, a dinner, a book or just some drinks. Mainly rock and pop music clubs, some of them still open from "La movida madrileña" (a vibrant cultural period from the early 80's). Calle Manuela Malasaña is a great place to eat. So is Calle del Pez although it has mostly bars. Plaza Dos de Mayo is the heart of the district nd a great place to have a drink in the open.
Conde Duque - Like Malasaña, this district shares a similar audience. Calle Conde Duque is full of cafés and restaurant. Between the main squares in the district, Plaza de Guardias de Corps and Plaza de las Comendadoras, you will also find other options to have drinks, cafés or tapas. The Conde Duque Cultural Centre usually hosts shows, concerts and exhibitions.
Gran Vía - The place that never sleeps. Major street that includes many popular nightclubs, usually open from 1AM to 6-7AM.
La Latina - Near Lavapiés, it is the place to go for tapas and full of bohemian young people looking for stylish bars. In the old section, many small bars and pubs, a generally older crowd (late 20s, 30s - you know, "adults"). Contains La Cava Baja street. Avoid places in the Plaza Mayor but for sunbathing and beers. Multiple bars serving fantastic tapas in the Cava Baja and Cuchilleros. The area centered on Calle Calatrava (what the locals call 'Chuecatina') is has developed into a gay (but very hetero-friendly) zone. It's surprisingly very crowded on Sunday mornings, from 11AM to late in the afternoon due to its close location to the flea market El Rastro.
Lavapiés - Multicultural quarter of the city, with more than 50% foreign residents, mostly from Africa, Asia and Latin America. An increasing amount of westerners are choosing Lavapies as their residence in Madrid, mainly because of the hip vibe it has attained in recent years. Plenty of world music bars and many alternative theaters and art galleries. Lavapiés is maybe the most cosmopolitan and hippy area at the same time in Madrid. Indian restaurants, alternative cafés, African music and South American shops. Several community gardens, food co-ops and eco shops are scattered around the district. Not a lot of tourists here since the quarter holds no monumental sights but has a rather a unique atmosphere. Walking around for a beer or a coffee is well worth it.
Moncloa - Due to its proximity to the main University in Madrid (Universidad Complutense), Moncloa is associated with students and a student lifestyle, many cheap bars and discos as it is near the university, although some of the places are best avoided.
Salamanca - Plenty of expensive boutiques, unique shops with impossible prices and department stores.
Torre Europa. There used to be several posh pubs and clubs under the tower across from the stadium. There are 4 or 5 bars and discos in the avenida de Brazil area catering to a young and student crowd.
Ciudad Universitaria. This area is where most of the students reside as there are several dorms in this area. There are many, many cheap bars with great nightlife starting from Thursdays.
Alcala de Henares— A UNESCO World Heritage site. Alcalá de Henares was the world's first planned university city. It was the original model for the Civitas Dei (City of God), the ideal urban community. This city has a lot of interesting places to visit like its university founded in 1499 which became famous as a centre of learning during the Renaissance. One of the most important features of Alcalá de Henares is that it is the city where the famous writer of Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes, was born where you can visit his natal house.
Aranjuez — A UNESCO World Heritage site. Aranjuez is an excellent day trip away from Madrid. Highlights include the Palacio Real, the summer home for the Bourbons and the lavishly designed Casa del Labrador near the Tagus River. There are some excellent restaurants serving the local specialty, asparagus. To get there, catch a local train (Cercanía C-3, direction Aranjuez) from either the Atocha or Chamartin stations. It takes around 45 minutes from Atocha station, or around 55 minutes from Chamartin station.
Avila — A UNESCO World Heritage site, with its city center surrounded by the Walls of Avila, the most complete fortification in Spain from the 11th century. An hour and a half away by train, from Chamartin station.
Chinchon — A typical Spanish town that retains its character from the 1700s.
El Escorial — A UNESCO World Heritage site. A mountainous retreat home to Spain's largest monastery, the Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial. To get there, catch a local train from either the Atocha or Chamartin stations. It is just over one hour from Atocha station or around 55 minutes from Chamartin station.
Segovia — A UNESCO World Heritage site. Medieval city home to a famous Roman aqueduct and the Spanish Mint (It doesn't belong to Madrid region, but it's quite close and worth a visit). It is about a 2 hour train ride from Atocha station or 1 hour and 45 minutes from Chamartin station on the regional trains, or as fast as 30 minutes on the high speed trains.
Toledo — A UNESCO World Heritage site. Medieval walled city and former capital of Spain. It's about a 30 minute train ride from Madrid Atocha station, with plenty of art (del Greco) and architecture (one of the best cathedrals in Europe) so very worthy of a day trip but more worthy of a night. But it is on the late spring and the early summer nights that it reaches its beauty peak, simply breathtaking, do not miss it. A word of warning, Toledo is on every ones itinerary from Madrid nowadays and has been spoiled somewhat by rampant commercialism and exploitation of tourists. The sites to see no longer come cheap.
Valle de los Caidos — The memorial to all soldiers killed during the Spanish Civil War, it is the world's largest free-standing Christian cross and houses Franco′s tomb. The construction was ordered by Franco and carved from the rocks through the labor of Republican prisoners of war.
El Pardo — A little village near Madrid (8 km. from the city center, connected by bus) and close to the Palacio de la Zarzuela (residence of the King of Spain, no visits allowed), surrounded by mountains and the location of the Palacio de El Pardo (El Pardo Palace), Franco′s residence between 1940 until his death in 1975 and a former residence of the Kings of Spain.
Sierra de Guadarrama — A mountainous area north-east of Madrid probably reached most easily by Renfe Cercanias to Cercedilla on the line to Segovia. There is a special Renfe Cercanias line, narrow gauge and often single track, from Cercedilla through glorious scenery to Los Cotos. This is only yards from an entrance to the Peñalara Nature Park.