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Tips for visiting Madrid

(1 Post)
palomablanca21 Sun 27-Jul-08 23:25:42

I have put together this list of tips for people visiting madrid. Your contributions are welcome to this list if there is anything you would like to add to it. I will be updating my key tips list on my website www.kidsinmadrid.com with all your suggestions

if you´re coming to Madrid

Remember: Emergency 112

Tipping in Madrid

In Madrid it? s not usual to tip a percentage like in other parts of Europe. You leave what you want and usually it?s much less than the normal 10% tip that you might leave in say a London restaurant.
You don?t ned to tip taxi drivers, it?s not expected.
You don?t tip hairdressers more than a euro or two.
If you are moving to Madrid please note that you do tip your porter for helping you with your move, tending to items outside of his day to day routine. And naturally at Christmas.

Public Transport

Always make sure to carry small change on you as buses won?t allow you to get on the bus if you don?t have the right change. They don?t accept notes. I have been refused on a bus for this precise reason.
Taxi drivers don?t like large notes either and most don?t accept credit cards. The maximum number of passengers allowed in a taxi is 4 but some won?t accept 4 as they don?t want you to ride in the front.
If you are staying in Madrid for a few days get a metro/bus ticket. It gives you 10 rides on either bus or tube and cuts the cost by 50%. You can buy these from most tabacco kiosks and at any metro station. You can?t get them on the bus.

Driving and Parking

If you are driving in Madrid make sure that you don?t park in between two arrows facing eachother nor on ?Carga and Descarga? bays even if they are within a green or blue parking bay. Otherwise expect some heflty fines

Try and park on blue bays, they are cheaper and allow you a maximum of 2 hours as opposed to the green bays which only allow you a maximum of 1 hour. Make sure you have plenty of coins for the machines and make sure you place your ticket clearly in the windscreen. I have been fined on several ocassions because the warden claimed my ticket wasn?t visible.
When driving generally, be alert to other drivers, Spanish drivers are quite aggressive drivers and usually don?t signal. They also regurarly cut you up on the roads, overtake on teh inside, treat the outside lane within the city as a fast lane and they go through the red lights. It takes time to get used to their driving habits. I am still not used to them 6 years down the line. Avoid parking in the city centre or in busy areas as other vehicles have a tendency to double park and you can get stuck for some time until the driver of the double parked car returns. It may be advisable to either use public transport or a car park. Also, a note of warning, Spanish drivers when they park park by sound: ban ban ban bang. What does this mean? that they don?t get in and out of a parking space delicately. They BANG their way out!
My car was immaculate when I came to Spain, within a week it was full of bumps and scratches from the way other cars were parking and from double parked cars baning their doors against my car. If you have a rental car be aware that any damage may be charged to your account.

Children in cars.

Children under 12 years of age are not allowed in the front passenger seat. All passengers have to wear seat belts and young children are required by law to sit on suitable booster seats.

Peak traffic

The traffic in the mornings between 7.30 and 9.30 is chockablock. Avoid using your car at these times.
The traffic gets heavy again between 5.30 and 7.30 in the evening
Fridays expect a lot of traffic on the M30 and other main roads in and out of Madrid between 2pm and 4pm as many people finish work early on Fridays

Drinking

If you go out drinking do use public transport and remember that taxis are cheap in Madrid. The drinking measures in Spain are a lot more generous than in the UK. and the drink driving laws have toughened up a lot recently (at last).

Business Hours

Banks
Generally open weekdays from 8.30am to 2pm (Thursdays til later) and Saturdays until 1pm, but usually during the summer most banks close at 1pm or 2pm weekdays and do not open on a Saturday.

Attractions
Most museums are open from 9.30am to 2pm and again from 4pm to 7pm. They are closed one day a week, usually Monday. Some big attractions do not close during the afternoon like El Prado.

Shops
most shops close at aroudn 1.30pm and reopen around 5 or 5,30pm. Small shops close at 8pm and large department stores stay open until later
On saturdays most shops close afer lunch at around 1.30pm except for the large department stores and large shopping centres.

Telephones
When making a phone call in Madrid always dial the full number, including the city code, even if you are making a local call.
Calls are cheaper after 8pm during the week and all day at weekends and phones in bars are usually more expensive.

When to Visit

Well, from my experience Madrid has sunshine just about all year round although in April and May the weather can be surprisingly unseasonal.
Generally speaking, in the summer it gets unpleasantly hot (July and August). September and June are lovely warm months with lots of sunshine and all the street cafes are in full swing (although June can get very hot towards then end of the month). August is empty so if you are looking for lots of atmosphere then August is not the month to come besides which many businesses close during August.
I personally think that October and November are lovely months as the temperatures are still relatively warm and plenty of sunshine to be had. They are great months to do lots of walking without suffering from swollen ankles. Christmas time is also a beautiful time to come. Madrid is one of the best lit cities in Europe and it lights up like a Christmas tree at this time of year. Wonderful nativity displays throughout the city and people really get into the festive mood.

Dining out

If you enjoy eating out be aware that Spanish people eat lunch and dinner much later than the English or most other Europeans. Most restaurants don?t open for business until 2.00pm and for dinner until 9pm although you are likely to be the only people in the restaurant at that time. If you are looking for ambiance wait until 10pm to eat out for dinner.

Thanks to all of you who contribute for your time, I hope the infomation will make people's visit to Madrid that much more enjoyable

Palomablanca21

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