The Community of Madrid, as the rest of the Iberian Peninsula, is located in the time zone GMT+1 (GMT+2 during summer).
Madrid is famous for been a city where, always, is something to do. And this is true but, as in anywhere, there are some timetables that you should know. Turismo Madrid shows them to you. The Community of Madrid has wide opening hours. On the one hand, the shopping centers y las franquicias de moda open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. (this can change from one establishment to others). On the other hand, the small shops use to open their doors at 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. After a break to have lunch, they restart their activity at 5 p.m. until8.30 p.m.
To have lunch in Madrid, you should go to the restaurants between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. and to have dinner between8.30 p.m. and midnight or, sometimes, until 1 a.m. The cafés and bars open their doors between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. until 11 p.m. or, in some cases, 1 a.m. It depends on the establishment.
To go out in Madrid is very easy. You have a lot of possibilities. On the one hand, you can visit the nightclubs open until 3 a.m. or 3.30 a.m. On the other hand, you find the discotheques open during the whole night until 6.30 a.m. or 7 a.m.
Madrid can be proud of its public transport. The buses, the underground and the trains cover Madrid. The buses work between 6 a.m. and midnight, while the underground continue half and hour more, until 1.30 a.m. The trains start at 5 a.m. and keep working until midnight. Moreover, during the night there is a bus service which covers the same routes as the underground from midnight until 6 a.m.
Madrid has a wide variety of shops: luxury shopping, street markets such as El Rastro, avant-garde shops. Traditional shops and modern shopping centers, everything you need or you want you are going to find it here, in Madrid. Have a walk at the la milla de oro and the gourmet and delicatessen shops in the capital. Discover where you can buy the latest international and national brands, the new Spanish designers... You have to visit all the shopping centers that you will find all around Madrid and the local handcraft. All prices in Spain Shops and Restaurants have included IVA (SpanishTAX) http://turismomadrid.es/en/guides/shopping
The banks are opened from Monday to Friday from 8.30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Some of them are also opened during the afternoon, like Caja Madrid that it is opened on Thursday from 8.15 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. and from 5 p.m. to 7.30 p.m. during the winter (1st Octuber-30th of April). Besides there are offices that have especial opening hours, some of them are opened on Saturday morning.
Commissions are appreciably variable from one bank to another. We suggest you not to change in banks located near the monuments and places of interests, and perhaps you can take with you traveller-checks instead of Euros.
In almost every city, you can easily take out money in the automatic cashiers with Eurocard, Mastercard or Visa. A commission is charged when you do the transaction.
Generally you can pay with credit or debit cards in every place of the Community of Madrid but perhaps some old bars or restaurants don’t have this service available. In Madrid giving tips isn’t obligatory, but if you do something nice for a courteous service, it will be welcome. If you want to take a bus you should have some loose change because the driver only can gives you the maximum change of five euro. Some clues to know how much money you should take with you during your stay in Madrid:
Coffe: 1.40 euro Bus: 1 euro Newspaper: 1.20 euro Lunch Menu: 12 euro Cinema’ ticket: 7 euro Drink: 10 euro Real Madrid’ Match at Santiago Bernabéu: from 30 euro Brunch at the Ritz: 70 euro Spanish ham dish: around 23 euro Madrid’s souvenir: around 10 euro
If you are visiting Madrid and its region, for sure that you will want to tell your friends and family how it is going on. For this reason, in the Community of Madrid you will be able to keep in touch with all the people you want because there is a powerful telecommunication net, that it will give you coverage to your cell phone and to your laptop. Madrid has also a lot of public telephones distributed all around the city and region. Of course, if you prefer, you will be able to write a postcard or send a letter in a traditional way: buying some stamps and looking for a mail box. To call to a foreign country you should dial the international code 00, then the prefix from the country you wish to call, followed by the telephone number. The Spanish international prefix is +34 and the prefix number for Madrid is 91. If you prefer to call by your cell phone, first you should know if your phone company is compatible with the Spanish net and you should inform yourself about the rates that they apply you in the entrance calls and in the outside calls.
In Spain there are three big cell phones companies: MoviStar, Vodafone and Orange. Some cell phones connect automatically to the Spanish net but there are others that you should do it by hand. If your terminal is a free one, you will be able to buy a cell phone card in specialized shops. If you are bringing any electrical appliances to Madrid (e.g. mobile, laptop computers, travel irons, etc.) you should bear in mind the voltage and type of plug used here. Spain uses the 220V voltage level and a frequency of 50Hz. Check that your electrical appliances will work with this voltage. You may also need a plug adapter. Spain uses plugs with 2 round pins. Plug adapters are available at stores selling electrical goods and at most international airports. The Community of Madrid has mobile coverage in the whole region, even, you can use your cell phone in the underground. Metro de Madrid has 125 stations, in which you can talk and send messages.
Madrid has a lot of wi-fi areas. Some of them are free and others belong to locals. In these places you can have Internet access if you pay for a drink. Most of the hotels (with a certain category) offers this service to their clients. There are a lot of cafés, bars, restaurants, petrol stations and malls that have Wi-fi for their clients. In Madrid-Barajas airport there is wireless connection in the T4 and S4, in the VIPS halls and in the services areas in T1, T2 and T3. In some streets you can use free wireless. For example, in Plaza de Santa Domingo you can get hooked to the free net. Also in the Biblioteca Nacional(National Library) or in local libraries you can find this service.
In a traditional way…
But perhaps in your visit you prefer to use the traditional methods and you want to keep a regard from your visiting by sending some postcards. Then you will have to go to a Postal office or to a tobacconist’s where you can buy stamps. A normal letter for the EU countries costs 0,62 cents of euro, while for Asia, Africa or Australia the price is 0,78 cents. The mail boxes are situated in the most important streets. They are easy to recognize: they are yellow and are located in the street’s corners. The downtown post offices open from 8.30 am. to 09.30 pm., while the others keep opening only to 2.30 pm. http://www.correos.es/ss/Satellite/site/pagina-localizador_oficinas/sidioma=es_ES?idiomaWeb=en_GB
Go to museums when they are free. Check the website of each museum because many times they have free entrance late in the afternoon or on Sundays. Many museums and cultural attractions will give a discount to senior citizens who are 65 or over. Bring an identification that show your age. Buy food at the supermarket. You can buy bread, cold cuts, cheese, desserts, and wine at the supermarket. You can get good wine in liter cartons for less than a euro and most of the time the wine will be very good. There is no need to eat at a restaurant everyday. For the big cities in Spain, there are supermarkets that are open on Sunday.
At good restaurants, you can order a glass of wine for 2 euros or less. There is no need to order a full bottle. If you want to order a full bottle, ask to see the wine list first. Usually the house wine will be very good and will be cheaper than the other wines. Do not let the waiter decide for you what wine to order, because he may get you the more expensive wine. They may also have half bottles of wine available.
Tipping is not a custom in Spain. If you go to a bar to get coffee or a soft drink, there is no need to leave a tip. If you go to a good restaurant, you can leave a tip if this is your custom. A 5% tip is considered very generous. There is no need to leave a bigger tip than that. The Spanish usually leave loose change. However the waiters do appreciate a tip and if you plan to go back and the service was good, you can leave a tip.
The best exchange rate comes from using an ATM card, which usually has an exchange service rate of 1%. If you go to a bank or money exchange company, they will charge you more. If you have to go to a bank or money exchange, ask how much they charge first.
The Sales Tax Refund - There is a sales tax, called IVA in Spain, which is a value added tax of 18% on retail sales. If you are a non-EU resident you can get a refund on this if your purchases are at least 90 euros at one store. Look for stores with the Tax Free signs. They will give you an invoice which includes the price and the tax on each item. You can accumulate these invoices if you shop at different stores. When you go to the airport to depart, look for the Spanish customs desk. You must have your invoices and the form asking for the refund filled out. You then show the inspectors the items you have bought and the inspectors will stamp your form. After going through the airport inspection, look for a mail box where you can drop the form. Your credit card will be debited in about 2 months with the IVA refund. Please remember this tax refund only applies if you are from outside the European Union.
Madrid has the best tap water in Spain, which comes from the neighboring mountains. Taste tests versus bottled water showed no differences in taste. Since each small bottle of bottled water costs 1 euro or more, you can save some money.
There are many types of Iberian ham (jamon iberico), with different price tags. At the market you can buy the cheaper types and they may be very good. The most expensive is the "pata negra", which is the favorite of Spanish gourmets. You can buy only 100 grams to try it, and this will not break your bank.
If you are a European Union (EU) citizen the free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) entitles the holder to free or discounted medical treatment at state-run hospitals and local general practitioners. If you've got an EHIC, you’ll be entitled to the same treatment that local citizens are entitled to - extremely useful in emergencies.
TOURIST TRANSPORTATION TICKETS
The tourist transportation card has a personal character; it allows the person who buys it an unlimited amount of trips through regular transportation services within a chosen area. The user must buy a card which indicates the area and period of time requested. This card, at the moment of its purchase, will include the buyer's identification card number or passport number. The cards that do not include this information will not be valid. The tourist transportation card can be purchased at the following places:
In the ticket offices inside the subway stations (Area A)
Tourist transportation card: There are five types according to their validity: those of 1, 2, 3, 5 and 7 days. According to age there are two types: normal and for children. There are two areas for this type of card: Area A and Area T. Area A includes practically all of the city of Madrid proper-the limits are specified on the card. Area T includes a greater geographic area and reaches outside of the city limits. The tourist transportation cards are valid during the days mentioned in each type of card and starting from the day it is used for the first time. At this moment, on the back of the card you will see the expiration date. This card may be used until 5 a.m. in the night services of the day the card expires.
The tourist transportation cards for Area A can be used:
In every subway line inside this area.
In every E.M.T. bus line.
Between the RENFE¹ short distance train stations inside this area.
The Area T tourist transportation cards may be used, on the services mentioned above plus in the following:
In all the subway's lines in the network.
In all bus lines inside the Autonomous Region of Madrid.
In all the RENFE short distance train network.
(1) the transportation cards are not valid in RENFE's Operator Regional Services All of these special transportation tickets are valid unless the Transportation Consortium changes any of the above mentioned rules and regulations: www.ctm-madrid.es