What’s the pace of the city? What are the opening hours of museums and monuments? Will my phone work in Madrid? Is it safe to drink tap water?
Find the answers to these questions before your visit to Madrid.
Shops in Madrid open at 9 or 10am and close between 8 and 10pm, and most of them don’t close over lunch. Some – especially those far from the city centre – close from 2 to 4 or 5pm. In Madrid, shops don’t have restricted opening hours, as local regulations governing shopping days and times grant retailers freedom to close or remain open. The shops and businesses in the districts on the tourist map, mostly Puerta del Sol and Gran Vía, will be open even on Sunday and bank holidays. To have lunch at a restaurant table, it’s advisable to arrive before 3.30pm, or before 11pm for dinner. However, you can still find kitchens open later than this. And if you don’t, you can always go tapas, as tapas bars and restaurants have more flexible hours.
Mobile phone coverage
To make calls or to surf the Internet, you will need to bear in mind the mobile phone frequencies used in Spain. Depending on the bands supporting the telephone, we can have faster or slower data connection. Here are the frequencies and uses in Spain:
BAND 20 - 800MHz: 4G
BAND 8 - 900MHz: 2G and 3G
BAND 3 - 1800MHz: 2G and 4G
BAND 1 - 2100MHz: 3G
BAND 7 - 2600MHz: 4G
It must also be taken into account that in Spain (like in most countries) the FDD (Frequency Division Duplex) is used whilst in China and some operators in the United States use the TDD (Time Division Duplex).
Electricity supply in Spain is 220V. Plugs have two round pins and an additional ground pin. A standard travel adaptor plug will enable you to use appliances from abroad. Most hotels will supply you with one.
In Madrid you’ll find one of the safest tap waters in Spain. The capital’s excellent drinking water comes directly from Sierra Norte to the points of consumption.
VAT & tipping
In all establishments, service is included in the price. This isn’t the case in hotels and restaurants, where the legend ‘IVA NO INCLUIDO’ (VAT NOT INCLUDED) usually comes next to the price. This means you should add 10%. It’s up to you whether you want to tip or not, but if you’re happy with the service, you may want to leave a gratuity.
Although the warm, Mediterranean climate predominates in Spain, in the case of Madrid, as it is inland, the temperatures are usually extremely marked and contrasting depending on the season, tending to be cold in winter (around 6 degrees in winter) and hot in summer (average of 25 degrees in July and August).
In October, temperatures are mild, while in November, it tends to be cold and rainy. The last two months of the year are generally the wettest. The average temperature goes from 15 ºC in October to 7ºC in December. In any case, it is an excellent opportunity to visit the city’s parks, including El Retiro - in shades of red and ochre. Furthermore, autumn is the time when you feel like tasting some of the local cuisine typical dishes, such as stew or tripe; La Bola is a good option in this respect.