Madrid, capital of Spain since 1561, has more than three million people, over five if we include the metropolitan area surrounding the city. These figures make Madrid the fourth largest European city surpassed only by Moscow, London and Paris.
The spanish capital ejoys a Mediterranean-Continental climate which is characterized by low humidity and wide temperature variation. If you come to Madrid during December or January, do not forget your winter gear: gloves, cap, parka, warm shocks, anorak, etc. However, summer is really hot. The asphalt, sidewalks, buildings seem to melt.
Spring and fall are definitely the best times of year to visit Madrid. Temperatures are very pleasant and the parks and terraces of the city are filled with people enjoying the beautiful weather.
Madrid never sleeps. Shops have absolute freedom to determine their opening days and times, so it is not unusual to see the streets of downtown or large malls crowded with people during a Sunday afternoon.
Small businesses open from 10:00 to 13:30/14:00 and from 16:30 to 21:00/21:30.
However malls and fashion franchises open with out interruption from 10:00 to 21:00/21:30.
As for the monuments and museums usually close their doors on Monday (staff day off). However, Prado Museum does open every day from Monday to Sunday for the enjoyment of all tourists visiting the Spanish capital.
“Madrid Card” allows you to visit the city in a efficient way, saving time and money. “Madrid Card” holders have guaranteed access to the best museums and monuments in Madrid. At the same time, you will avoid unnecessary queues.
More info on www.madridcard.com
The main Tourist Office in Madrid is located in Plaza Mayor 3 (+34) 915881636. Here you will find all the information you need: free maps, Museum schedules, rent a bike, cultural activities. Near the Royal Palace there is a mobile Tourist Office which also provides assistance to the foreign tourists in different languages.
If you are one of those people who cannot wait, in Barajas Airport there is a Tourist Office (+34) 91305865. Attention! Tourist Offices are open from Monday to Sunday (09:30 to 20:30).
If you are a shopaholic, Madrid is one of the best options you can find. The large number of mega-malls, shops of all kinds and exclusive boutiques, the generous opening hours (Sundays included) and very affordable prices make Madrid one of the best European cities for shopping. In fact it is not uncommon to see numerous groups of foreign tourists waiting their turn to pay in any mall.
How much tax do I have to pay?
Currently the consumption tax (VAT) is 21%, one of the highest rates in Europe (restaurants and hotels 10%). Visitors from countries outside the European Union can benefit from a tax refund when shopping. Just fill out the corresponding form and submitted it at the Airport before returning to your final destination.
Credit Cards in Spain
The vast majority of shops and restaurants have credit cards terminals, so paying with plastic in Madrid won´t be a problem at all. However, some establishments may require up to €10 minimum credit card purchase. According to Spanish law, employees may ask the clients for documentation when paying by credit card to verify their identity. Even when PIN number is required, employees must check the documentation.
In addition, Madrid is one of the European cities with the largest number of ATMs per square meter. You can always go to any of them to get cash.
Madrid is a city completely safe for visitors. The streets of downtown are protected by police and security agents 24 hours a day. The downtown police station is located in Montera Street 16 (tel: +34 915234594). Besides, places like the Royal Palace or Puerta del Sol have a mobile police office where they have translators in many languages (English, French, Italian, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, etc.). If you experience any security-related incident come immediately to any of these offices.
Despite being a safe city, pay attention to your belongings such as cameras, purses or wallets. Watch out when you’re on the terrace of a bar or inside any cafe as there are professional thieves who try to fleece tourists.
European Union citizens must carry at all times the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) which allows you to receive treatment in any health center of the Spanish capital. Moreover, you will save the medical costs generated by your treatment.
If you are not a citizen of the European Union, we must have travel insurance to cover those unexpected events beyond your control.
Anyway, if you have an accident or need urgent medical attention, you will be attended in any health center or hospital regardless of whether you are E.U. citizen or not.