MADRID

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WATCH FULL VIDEO! The Best Modern Spanish Restaurants In Madrid

Siestas are VERY real in Madrid, shops aren’t open between 2pm - 5pm.

Spain is in the Central European Time Zone (CET), which is 1 hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time ( GMT+1 ). This means if you’re in New York City on the East Coast and it’s 3:00 pm, it’s 9:00 pm in Spain.

What you should have: 

  • A passport that is valid for at least 3 months after the departure date from Spain (preferably 6 months validity at all times). 
  • Make sure your passport has blank visa pages, you should have at least two blank visa pages. 
  • You should have your passport and national ID card with you at all times. Spanish Authorities don’t recognize a driving license or student ID. 

No Tourist Visa Necessary For: Agreement valid for visits no longer than 90 days.

  • Citizens of the USA, European Union, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. 

Tourist Visa Necessary For: Apply for visa 4 to 8 weeks before departure. 

  • List of countries that require visas.

There is a flat rate of 30 euros for taxis going to the city center from the airport.

There are two options for trains:

1. The Renfe Cercanías is the inter-city train that travels longer distances and goes much faster. It can take you to the major train stations such as Chamartin and Atocha, as well as to suburbs outside the city center. A one-way ticket to the main station of Atocha costs 2.55 euros. You can only catch the Renfe Cercanías from Terminal 4 of Barajas Airport.

2. The metro is the underground subway system of Madrid and you can take it to any metro stop in and around the city center. You will most likely have to transfer between multiple lines in order to get to your stop from the airport. The metro from the airport costs 5 euros and there are metro stops in all of the airport´ terminals.

Madrid has an amazing metro system (the best in Europe in my opinion). It’s clean, it goes everywhere you need to go and you’re never too far from a metro stop wherever you are in the city. Usually it only costs 1.50 euros to take the metro between stops within the city center. The metro closes at 1:30 am and reopens at 6 am every day.

There are tickets with special rates tourists can buy that offer 10 single rides on the metro and bus at a discount (for 12,20€) as well as transportation passes with unlimited rides for up to 7 days (for 35,40€). Such tickets and passes can be bought at the ticket sales machines in metro stations.

Noteworthy metro stops:

  • Vodafone Sol (Puerta del Sol)—Line 2, 3
  • Callao—Line 3, 5
  • Colon/Serrano—Line 4
  • Atocha—Line 1
  • Retiro—Line 2

Spain is considered to be one of the safest European cities. There are few crimes considered to be extreme felonies. The thing to worry the most about is pickpocketing, which is very common in large cities.

The emergency number in Spain is 112. This works from any phone.

Safety tips:

  • Never leave valuables in your back pockets.
  • Don’t carry large amounts of cash.
  • Use ATM machines in banks, not outside in urban areas.
  • Avoid women offering a flower/rosemary; these women are gypsies and will want you to pay money if you accept the flower.
  • Don’t keep valuables in sight inside your car.
  • Consider keeping important documents inside a wallet. Oftentimes thieves will use scissors and cut off shoulder bags to steal valuables.

Safety Tips for the Night-Owls:

  • Don’t walk alone on the streets at night.
  • Steer clear of clingy or see-through clothing when you go out, or you could make a target of yourself.
  • Buy all of your own drinks; never take drinks from strangers.

Overall, Spain is quite safe for female tourists. Be safe and enjoy yourself!

The best time to travel to Spain is during spring/fall. Summer is quite hot, especially in inland cities. July and August have very crowded resorts, so early reservations for these times are a must. If you’d like to visit cities in northern Spain along the Atlantic, July and August are actually considered to be the best. Not all of Spain is sunny during the year, so make sure to check which months are snowy for the city you’re visiting.

Spring: 70-80 degrees F

Fall: 60-70 degrees F

Winter: 40-50 degrees F

Summer: 90+ degrees F (Great for beach days though!)

Spanish is the most common language spoken in Spain, but Galician- Portuguese, Basque, Catalan, Occitan (aranès), and English are spoken as well.

Here are some common phrases:

Hola – Hello.

Por Favor – Please.

De nada – You’re welcome.

¿Cómo estás? – How are you?

Bien, ¿y tú? – Good and you?

Buenos días – Good morning.

Buenas tardes – Good afternoon.

Buenas noches – Good evening.

Hasta luego – See you later.

In Spain, modesty is valued over assertiveness. Personal image, appearance, and relationships are important as well.

  • To greet each other, Spaniards kiss each other on the cheek. Once on each side.
  • Women may kiss other people on the cheek, men hug each other.
  • Spaniards stand very close when talking, but never touch someone you don’t know.
  • Be mindful that bullfighting is a controversial subject.
  • Between 2-4pm, there’s siesta so restaurants tend to be closed. Most establishments are closed on Sundays.
  • Menus may be in Catalan, but many places offer English versions.
  • Tapas are meant to be for lunch, not for dinner.

Spain uses the Euro. It’s quite easy to convert some of your money before you leave, but sometimes you may receive a better exchange rate in Spain. Look out for “Money Exchange Shop,” or tienda de cambio de moneda, where travelers can exchange money. They’re spotted throughout the city. If you don’t have enough cash, most places will accept credit cards and contactless payment.

Tipping! It’s optional in Madrid, but it’s always appreciated to leave 1-2 euros as a general tip at the end of your meal.

In Spain the standard voltage is 230 V and the frequency is 50 Hz. If you’re visiting from the UK, Europe, Australia, and most of Asia and Africa, your plugs should work just fine (you can use your electric appliances in Spain if the standard voltage in your country is in between 220 – 240 V). If not, you should think about buying a converter/adapter before you leave. Your adaptor should look like this:

99.5% of all tap water in Spain is safe to drink, according to international water quality standards. Any issues have to do with taste, chlorine by-products, microplastics, and local pipe contaminants. Overall, Spain today has some of the most advanced public water filtration systems in the world.

There are also water fountains throughout the city, they look like this:

Barcelona public water fountain
Flickr Liz Castro

Public Wi-Fi in Spain is easy to find in cafés, restaurants, and hotels.

Prepaid SIM cards are common for travelers visiting Spain and easy to get. Data roaming is probably the worst for travelers, economically speaking. Most recommend choosing a SIM card that is budget-friendly in order to avoid roaming fees while you’re there.

Taxis’ starting fare for most taxis in Spain is between €3.00 and €4.00 .

These are the ride-sharing apps available in Barcelona: Uber, Cabify, Bolt, and FREENOW.

In 2005, Spain became the third country in the world to accept same-sex marriage. In all of southern Europe, it is considered one of the friendliest for LGBTQ+ travelers. The age of consent is 16, as it is for heterosexuals. Although the move for LGBTQ+ rights has been widely popular, the Catholic Church has opposed many of these steps forward. While people identifying themselves as LGBTQ+ generally keep low profiles in rural areas, people in the city are more open.

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FOR THE PLANNERS:

There is not a BEST neighborhood to stay in, it may vary depending on your budget and interests. But Centro is close to everything.

for foodies:

The world's oldest restaurant is in Madrid. "Sobrino de Botín" was founded in 1725, the fire oven hasn't extinguished since the day it opened.