Spain is a beautiful country with a rich culture – no doubt its capital city reflects these aspects rigurously! Madrid is (in my opinion) one of the cleanest and most elegant cities in Europe.
Planning a visit here is a no brainer! There are a few things, though, that you might want to know before starting your stroll through the city:
1) transportation is cheap
And fast! Taxis & buses cost a fraction of the price that you pay in London or Paris. Traffic is fluid on most weekdays and the 15 minute commute from the airport should be a breeze!
2) narrow streets are safe
Don’t be scared to venture away from the main boulevards! Smaller streets are where most restaurants and bistros are located. Even at night, these alleys are peaceful and safe.
3) no habla inglés
If you plan on dating or just making new friends, keep in mind that most Spaniards do not speak English.
It can be tricky to understand what they are saying because they talk very fast and not always with the same accent. Try finding other ways to communicate, like photos or maps!
4) some lines can be skipped
For most tourist attractions, there will be huge lines that can last up to an hour. If you are on a hurry, visit the official website of the desired location and check if they have online tickets.
Museo Nacional del Prado, for example, requires you to wait in line twice in order to enter the building: ticket purchase & baggage control. You can skip the first part by printing your online ticket at your hotel. It must be printed, otherwise they won’t accept it!
5) fancy drinks are pricey
If you want to indulge yourself with anything more special than regular wine/beer, be prepared to spend some coin. Cocktails will cost you more than €10 at a regular bar. Nightclubs can be even more expensive!
6) local souvenirs / dishes are amazing
Shoes, handbags, sweets, wine, olives – there are plenty of options for those interested in purchasing something traditional. Most of the stuff you will find in the city centre is either handmade or good quality. Also, all supermarkets carry a variety of tasty Spanish treats!
7) a day off to visit Toledo is worth it
If you get bored of the hustle and bustle, you can plan a one day trip to the nearby town of Toledo. It is only a short train ride away from Madrid!
8) bargains are rare
Especially in El Corte Inglés! Sales only happen at very specific moments throughout the year. Outside of those time frames, everything is cheaper online – so don’t even bother going on a shopping spree.
9) hotels with a view are very romantic
If possible, try to find a hotel that grants you access to the roof. Your soulmate will thank you!
The panoramic views are totally worth it and sunsets are simply magical! I highly recommend H10 Puerta del Alcala for its rooftop terrace and great vicinities.
10) nature is everywhere
If you love trees and gardens, this city is the place to be! During the warm months, everything is lush and beautiful. Most parks offer a variety of rental options (from bikes to boats) that help you reconnect with nature!