8 Things to Know Before Visiting Madrid, Spain

Here's something important things to know before visiting Madrid | © Madrid Destino Cultura Turismo y Negocio
Here's something important things to know before visiting Madrid | © Madrid Destino Cultura Turismo y Negocio
Photo of Lori Zaino
23 April 2017

Madrid isn’t a complicated place to visit, but knowing these tips before you go will help you have a safe, easy and enjoyable trip. Here’s 8 things to know before visiting Spain’s capital city.

Pack your sunblock

Plan to be ready with sunblock, because Madrid is Europe’s sunniest capital. Although there’s no beach in sight, Madrid has about 300 days of sunshine a year and it’s easy to burn. So apply sunblock, bring a hat, put on those sunglasses and find some shade.

Dress right

Despite the sunshine, Madrid locals typically don’t wear shorts or sandals until June, and you’ll rarely see flip flops around the city, those are saved for the beach. You can, of course, wear what you like – but if you want to look like a local, skip the flip flops.

Sandals are fine, but locals don't usually wear flip flops | © Madrid Destino Cultura Turismo y Negocio

Plan for siesta

Many small shops still close from about 2 to 5 pm. If you have important errands to run, make sure to get them them done in the morning. In fact, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, and take a little nap yourself.

Do it all later

Everything is shifted a few hours later in Madrid. Wake later, eat later and to go sleep later. Plan to adjust your schedule to 3 pm lunches and 10 pm dinners. If you just can’t fathom eating that late, at least try to wait until 1 pm for lunch or 8:30 pm for dinner. Some restaurants won’t even open for lunch or dinner until those times.

Eat late in Madrid | © Madrid Destino Cultura Turismo y Negocio/Jose Barea

Prep your Spanish

Although Madrid is the capital city of Spain, the level of English spoken there isn’t high. Most locals are friendly but don’t expect advanced vocabulary especially if you head outside the city center or beyond the typical tourist spots. The good news is that most Madrileños will try to help you with whatever you need despite the language barrier.

Budget right

Madrid is one of Europe’s cheapest capitals. You can splurge and stay in a fancy hotel, or you can find cheap hostels for 20-50 euros per night. Beers will cost you just over one euro, expect to pay 2-3 euros for a glass of wine and dine out for 15-30 euros for a 3-4 course meal.

Meals aren't expensive in Spain | © Casa Mingo

Get ready to eat

Diet beforehand, because once you arrive in Madrid, all you’ll want to do is eat. Spanish food is hearty and delicious, and the Spanish love to share their cuisine with anyone who will eat it. Do keep in mind that although more modern eateries are opening up, Madrid can be a difficult city for vegetarians, so do your research ahead of time if you have special dietary restrictions.

Getting around

Getting around is easy and cheap in Madrid. There are many options to get from the airport to the city center such as different buses, the subway and taxi. The metro is easy to use and there are tourist passes available as well as 10-ride options which are great for short stays. The bus system is fairly easy to use, especially if you download the EMT bus app. Taxi’s can be hailed from anywhere or found at taxi stops, and apps like Uber and Cabify are also useful if you need to get around town.

Getting around Madrid is easy | © Madrid Destino Cultura Turismo y Negocio

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