It is possible that the city that never sleeps has calmed down a little in recent years, but even if the bars close a bit earlier these days, you can still count on finding a party atmosphere at all times of the day and in all situations. And then, once you have had enough of socializing, you can take a few days out and enjoy the best kilometre of art to be found in Europe.
Euro, €1 = 100 cents
Opening hours are traditionally 10am-4pm and then 5pm-8pm, though these times may vary. Nowadays, however, it is more common for shops to open continually 10am-10pm.
Metropolitan area: 6,000,000
Madrid Tourist Centre
Plaza Mayor 27, Madrid
+34 91 588 16 36
Colón Tourist Centre
Plaza Colón, Madrid
+34 917 01 22 10
Madrid is not as large as it might seem—especially the central districts. Right in the middle of the city lies the Puerta del Sol, a traffic nexus that is the point from which all distances are measured. Also, the house numbering on every street starts at the end nearest the Sol. West and south of the Sol, are the oldest areas of the city, Los Austrias, which contain the royal palace (Palacio Real) and the historic and well-trodden square, Plaza Mayor.
The triangular area to the east and south of the Sol—with the Plaza de Cibeles, Atocha Station and the Sol at its corners—is one of the liveliest districts in Madrid, containing countless bars and restaurants. This is also where the three big museums stand in a row, and beyond them, the largest park in central Madrid, Parque del Buen Retiro.
Directly south of the Sol is Lavapiés: formerly a working class area, but now the most ethnically interesting part of the city thanks to a significant influx of immigrants from Africa and Asia.
North of the Puerta del Sol and the parade avenue of Gran Vía are the Malasaña and Chueca districts. The former is an old residential area that has been cleaned up in the last twenty years, whilst remaining one of the city’s most relaxed bar districts. The latter has also undergone a rebirth: today it is Madrid’s hippest quarter, a centre for a culture of clubbing, restaurants and clothing shops. Originally a gay district, it is now best described as broad-minded.
Madrid is a wonderful city that inspires casual strolls around green areas and frantic nights of adventure. People fill the streets at every hour of the day and there are impressive buildings, lush parks and picturesque streets in abundance. Culture is ever-present here, and you don't have to be a history buff to appreciate the architecture and constant reminders of a long and rich history.
El Rastro Flea Market
The Three Big Art Galleries - Paseo del Arte (Art Walk)
The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum
The Reina Sofia Museum
Puerta del Sol
Teleférico - Madrid's Cable Car
Buen Retiro Park
El Museo Naval
Museum of Romanticism
Parque Juan Carlos I
The varied culinary traditions of the entire Iberian Peninsula come together in Madrid to such a degree that experts discuss whether Madrid actually has a distinct culinary style of its own. The culinary culture of Spain’s capital city has been enriched by immigrants from Andalucia, Galicia, Asturia and a number of other regions in Spain and around the world.
La Terraza del Casino
Marisquería Ribeira do Miño
El Club Allard
Il Bambino Restaurante
Spanish coffee culture is a social and animated affair. Café con leche usually accompanies breakfast, preferably with a croissant. Mid-day, especially after a meal, locals have an espresso, café solo or a cortado, which is an espresso with milk. Café Americano is what some would call watered down versions of the two first coffees. In the afternoon, or after dinner, order a café solo corto, a strong espresso, or a carajillo—a café solo with Spanish brandy.
Happy Day Bakery Coffee
Círculo de Bellas Artes
Café de Mahón
Because the clever Spaniards think you should always eat when drinking, most bars also serve food—usually tapas. And despite the efforts of the authorities, Madrid’s nightlife still happens later than in most other cities, and goes on for longer, as well.
Círculo de Bellas Artes
Taberna Almendro 13
El Parnasillo del Príncipe
Put simply, there are three main shopping areas in Madrid: Centro, located between Puerta del Sol and Gran Vía; Chueca, directly to the north and east of Centro; and Salamanca, slightly further to the east. These represent three different types of shopping, especially with regard to the range of products offered. It’s middle-of-the-road in Centro, trendy in Chueca and expensive designer fashion labels in Salamanca.
Mercado de San Miguel
Objetos de Arte Toledano
El Rastro Flea Market
Mercado de la Paz
The Style Outlets Getafe
Barajas - Airport
Madrid’s airport, Barajas (MAD), lies a little over ten kilometres northeast of the city. The cheapest way to get to Madrid is by metro: line 8 goes to Nuevos Ministerios (the journey takes about 30 minutes). A taxi ride costs more at night and on Sundays, and takes about 30-60 minutes, depending on traffic. Numerous car rental companies are also available at the airport.
Address: Avenida de la Hispanidad, Madrid
Phone: +34 913 21 10 00
Madrid’s metro system consists of 16 lines that serve both the city and its suburbs. The metro is also the most efficient way of getting around, and runs from 6am to 2am daily.
The EMT bus network is made up of about a hundred lines, including a useful “circle route” (the buses are marked with a C). Buses run from 6am to 11:30pm daily, with some night buses running later.
Phone: +34 914 06 88 00
When taxis are available for hire, this is indicated by a “Libre” sign in the front windshield and a green light on the roof.
Radio-Taxi Asociación Gremial
+34 914 475 180
+34 914 051213
+34 913 712131
Most post offices are open Monday through Friday, from 8:30am to 8:30pm, and on Saturdays from 9:30am to 1pm. The main post office on Plaza de Cibeles, stays open until 9:30am on weekdays and from 8am to 2pm on Saturdays.
Address: Paseo del Prado, 1, Madrid
Phone: +34 902 19 71 97
All chemists’ have a list or a sign in the window with details of the pharmacies on duty each night, with the nearest one highlighted. There are two chemists’ that are open at all times:
Paseo de Santa Maria de la Cabeza 64, Madrid
+34 914 730 672
Calle del Conde de Peñalver 27, Madrid
+34 914 024 272
Country code: +34
Area code: 91
220 volt (125 volt in some older buildings)