Only got a few days in Madrid? This broad may not be easy to crack, but persist and you’ll be most taken. To this end, we’ve peeped, pried, prodded and picked, put our palates to the test, pounded pavements and lain prostrate to bring this city to you in all her glory. Now there’s no excuse, come play with those slinky gatos...
Miró, Miró on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all? Don’t be fooled by the austere veneer of this Spanish dowager. Long overshadowed by her Gaudi-er sister Barcelona, this gal ain’t capital for nothin’. With Picassoblue skies, some of the world’s best museums, legendary nightlife and a sophisticated gastronomic and shopping scene, Madrid reigns supreme. From the centre Puerta del Sol, genteel Salamanca and gay ol’ Chueca are north and east, the golden museum triangle is southeast and the atmospheric old quarter is southwest. Toreadorable!
Best time to visit is spring and autumn (May is tops), summer is brick-oven hot and the whole damn city shuts down in Aug, while winter is cold and clear Barajas Airport to town: around 30 mins / € 35 by taxi English is not widely spoken, so gesture frantically Taxis are plentiful, just raise your hand The metro is fast, efficient, and all trips are € 1.50 Real Madrid matches are Sep-May, and feast day of San Isidro (15 May), is a week of bullfighting hell Fútbol is a religion, insult it at your peril Almost all shops shut for lunch approx 2-5pm and close on Sundays (except in the Sol district and on the 1st Sunday of the month), which is most inconvenient Many shops make you buzz and then wait for entry In a hurry? Forget it, get used to mañana, mañana It’s pointless fighting the Madrileño way of life. Have lunch at 2pm, dinner at 10pm, cocktails at midnight and go dancing from 2am. It’s siesta, then fiesta Madrileños tend to dress up, so ditch the flip-flops Many of the most exciting new restaurants are in the suburbs, beyond old Madrid, so get out there and eat Smoking is supposedly banned in public places, but unfortunately the rule is seldom actually enforced Madrid is safe, but beware of the odd rogue pickpocket Rush hour is 9-10am, 6-8pm and 2-4am on w/ends You’ll need to show photo ID if paying by credit card It’s perfectly fine to litter in tapas bars Don’t wait for waiters, wave at them politely - just don’t expect them to be polite back to you Int’l dialling code is +34, always add 91 for local calls In an emergency, dial 112
The following Spanish phrases will come in handy:
¡Hola! / hasta luego : Hello / later, baby Por favor / gracias : Please / thanks ¡Basta ya! : Enough already! Less talk, more action please