Madrid is the capital of the Spanish State and occupies the number one position in the ranking of the most important cities in Spain by number of inhabitants. In Madrid you will find the most important museums in Spain, the Retiro Park, the Royal Palace and countless monuments of great cultural importance. It is also the city with the highest air connections thanks to Barajas Airport. Discover here how to prepare if Madrid is your next destination.
Below you have an index with all the points that we are going to deal with in this article.
What you should know upon arrival
Once you have chosen the estimated or exact dates to visit the capital of Spain, it is important to choose in which means of transport we will do it. From the outset, we announce that you are in luck, because traveling to Madrid is very easy at any time of the year.
As it is the capital of Spain and at the same time one of the main world capitals, in Madrid there are connections with most ports, airports and roads around the world, and of course it is possible to arrive from any Spanish autonomous community by car in a way very simple.
Whether you are from Spain or any other country, traveling to Madrid by plane is one of the fastest and most used options, thanks to the fact that there is the Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas Airport (IATA code: MAD), which is currently the fifth largest in Europe and is ranked No. 29 on the list of the world's largest airports.
Madrid-Barajas Airport, in addition to having very good connections with almost all Spanish airports, is the European airport with the highest number of connections with Latin America, thanks to the Iberia airline, which currently leads the flights between Europe and Latin America. In fact, terminal 4 of the airport is its hub.
Before traveling, however, you should take into account the following tips to avoid complications as soon as you step on Madrid territory:
- There are no PA announcements, but everything is shown on the screens
- There are no spaces for smokers
- In T1 and T2 it is still usual to have to go down stairs to access the plane
- VIP rooms are available to those who request them
- Passing the security check usually takes about 30 minutes per person
- There are chapels for the celebration of religious acts in all terminals
- Baggage claim is usually slow
- The restaurants and establishments of the airport are expensive
- In T2 there is a pharmacy with ample time availability
- There is a service for people with reduced mobility or special needs
On the other hand, T4 is intended for national departures / arrivals and Schengen, and has the T4 and the T4-S. Since it is the most recently built terminal, the baggage and boarding processes are usually more agile. The T4 also has check-in kiosks in which it is possible to remove the label for the suitcase, which speeds up the process, and then the only thing to do is deposit it at the corresponding counter.
Spanish or European tourists can access by car, although this is not the most recommended option since parking in the city is almost impossible mission at almost every hour of the day, and especially during the week. Traffic is usually very congested, so more than save time, you usually lose a lot at the entrance. Other options like the one are better bird.
Security in the city
In general, like all the great capitals of the world, Madrid is a very safe city. Now, since it is also a very tourist city, a series of special measures must be taken when visiting it as a tourist, especially if we are going to travel with children and travel by public transport, especially during night hours.
According to official data provided by the Secretary of State for Security, National Police and Civil Guard, there are more than 145 robberies with force a day in the Community of Madrid. In 2015 alone, the region recorded a total of 92,024 crimes reported in the first quarter of the year. However, this figure is considered almost 5% lower compared to the one registered in 2014.
In general, it should be noted that the crime rate in Spain is low if we compare it with other countries. Within Europe, this rate is the third lowest in the European Union, second only to Greece and Portugal. The truth is that in Madrid and the rest of Spanish communities, the most common type of crimes are those committed at the wheel, so our advice is that, if you are going to drive through Madrid, do so with great caution.
The main problems that tourists encounter in Madrid are the small thefts and, above all, the pickpockets in the subway and in the main tourist attractions of the city. Therefore, special care must be taken from the moment of our arrival in Madrid, especially if you are going to move from the airport to the city by subway with all bags and suitcases for your stay.
On the other hand, the index of robberies and thefts in Spain is not so positive, since the data of the British criminology institute show that it is the second OECD country with more robberies and thefts. Specifically, the most common crimes in the Community of Madrid are those shown below, ordered from most to least frequent:
- Against road safety
- Robberies with force
- Against public health
- Robberies with violence
- Attacks against authority
- Resistance and disobedience
- Theft and theft of motor vehicles
- Forgery of credit cards
On March 11, 2004, better known as 11-M, the largest terrorist attack committed in Europe took place, only surpassed by the Lockerbie (United Kingdom) attack in 1988. There were 10 almost simultaneous explosions in four trains. , in rush hour in the morning, that is, between 07:36 and 07:40. The consequences of the attack were catastrophic: 193 deaths and more than 1,800 injured.
Since then, and after the attacks in Paris in November 2015 and in Brussels in March 2016, the anti-terrorism alert level (NAA) existing in Spain is 4, that is, high. The scale ranges from 1 to 5, being 1 low and 5 very high risk, so the index is in a high position. In addition, Madrid is probably the Spanish city with the highest risk because it is the capital.
Restaurants and accommodation search
Choosing a hotel or any other type of tourist accommodation in Madrid is very simple and, in fact, it can sometimes be overwhelming given the wide range of establishments available, adapted to all tastes and budgets. We recommend you take a look at the most luxurious hotels in Madrid to get an idea.
The main advantage of traveling to Madrid is that the quality-price ratio of practically most hotels and hostels is much better if we compare it with that of other major European capitals, such as London, Amsterdam and Paris, where the price is very high for the quality that tourists later find.
As for the best sleeping areas, some may want to be close to nightlife areas, while families with children may prefer to stay in the quietest areas of the city. In any case, and from a neutral point of view, the best area to stay is the downtown district, mainly because from there you can reach on foot almost all points of the city.
If you like this area and want to stay in it, our advice is that you look for hotels or hostels near Gran Vía and Puerta del Sol. Also those that are close to the main metro stations of the center are advisable if you opt for comfort. However, the price of these will be a little higher given their geographical location.
Apart from hotels and hostels, in Madrid you can also find holiday rental apartments, an option increasingly demanded by tourists who prefer to save money on meals away from home, since these types of rentals are equipped with kitchens. They are the most recommended option for families or people whose stay is going to be longer than a weekend or 7 days.
As for where to eat, this is also a very personal matter and will depend on the purpose of your trip. If you want to taste the cuisine of Madrid, then our advice is that you go through the Plaza Mayor, where there are endless bars in which it is possible to taste the most typical dishes of Madrid, including the famous squid sandwich, probably the most demanded dish by tourists.
Now, in the area of the Plaza Mayor, most restaurants are intended for tourists, so their prices are much higher accordingly. If you prefer not to spend such a high amount but you want to try Madrid's cuisine in its purest essence, in Fuencarral and Gran Vía streets you will find numerous Spanish tapas bars at a very good price.
Getting around Madrid
The truth is that the most comfortable means of transport to move around the capital of Spain is the meter. However, it has several lines and endless stops both in the center and in the surroundings of the city, which is why it is not surprising that the majority of tourists are easily confused. The most advisable thing is to take a look at the lines that we will use during our stay.
Currently, there are twelve subway lines, three light rail and the branch (R), which serves to connect the stations of Prince Pius and Opera. The metro is the fastest way to get around Madrid and, in addition, it operates from 6:00 in the morning until 01:30 hours, with a frequency between trains that goes from 2 to 5 minutes only, although it is lengthens a little more on weekends and holidays.
Of all the subway lines, the modern one stands out line 8 (Nuevos Ministerios-Aeropuerto T4), because thanks to it it is possible to travel from the city to Barajas Airport in just 20 minutes. The rest of the terminals take only 12 minutes and also connect the center with the Feria de Madrid (Ifema). The rest of the lines (line 12, 11, 120, 7, 3 and 2) connect the capital with other nearby towns.
There is the call Tourist Transportation Ticket, which is a ticket for which tourists staying in Madrid between 1 and 7 days have the possibility of accessing all public transport in the city (subway, bus, train …) with no travel limit and for a closed price It will depend on the number of days. It is a very profitable way to get around the city if your trip requires the use of various public transportation.
Tourist transport passes vary in price by zones. Zone A includes the services of Madrid Capital, including the Airport, all urban bus lines (except express to the airport), the ML1 of Metro Ligero and the Renfe Cercanías network. The T zone is wider and covers all urban and interurban lines within the Community of Madrid, including services to Toledo and Guadalajara.
In addition to the subway, bus or suburban train, there is another even cheaper way to get around Madrid: the bicycle. It is a cheap means of transport, non-polluting and with which you exercise at the same time. You can rent a bicycle at a private company or use the BiciMAD public service. If you plan to move around Madrid by bicycle, pay attention to these tips:
- Don't ride on the sidewalk
- You can drive along the road, on the rightmost lane
- Respect speed, do not overtake pedestrians at full speed
- Plan your route in advance
- Make gestures to indicate your next maneuver
- Respect traffic rules with common sense
- Don't forget to wear a helmet
- Make yourself see at night
Special events and nightlife
There are many tourists who choose to travel to Madrid on designated dates, such as on New Year's Eve. Spending the last night of the year at Puerta del Sol, the place where thousands of people congregate to say goodbye to the year, is a privilege for many. In fact, this is where Spanish television networks broadcast the bells year after year at 00:00 hours.
However, if you are going to spend the end of the year night at the Puerta del Sol, you must prepare well and anticipate any unforeseen events that may arise considering that it is a massive event. Therefore, here are some useful tips:
- Metro schedules: The Sol stop usually closes from 9:00 p.m. to 00:30 a.m., so you will have to get off at a nearby metro station, such as Callao.
- Advance time: It is advisable to be at least one hour in advance, since as the time to say goodbye to the year approaches, more and more people gather in the Sun.
- Where to place: If you make the mistake of placing yourself in an area of frequent passage, the burden will be greater since it will not stop passing people every minute. Therefore, being on the side of the square is the most recommended.
- Chimes: You may be told that the chimes will not be heard, but it is difficult for this to happen. It is not advisable to count the chimes yourself and start taking the grapes on your own, as you may end up getting ahead.
- Leave the square: since the Puerta del Sol will be crowded with people, if you try to get out of there as soon as the bells end you will end up pushing with others. It is best to be patient and wait for it to clear a bit to leave it.
Likewise, if you plan to spend Christmas in Madrid with children and decide to go through the famous Three Kings Parade, you should know that it is also an event where people flock and in which both parents and children are eager to see the floats and Enjoy the event, especially the little ones. If you are going to go, deciding the day before from which point you are going to see it will help you see it better.
Also keep in mind that, whether you are going to see the bells from the Sun, you will go to the Three Kings Parade or, ultimately, your trip will take place in winter, Madrid is a city where it is cold at this time of year , especially in December. For this reason, it is very important that you go well sheltered, since in Madrid night in winter it is especially cold, with some 9-12 ° C on average.
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