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    Madrid – a brief overview

    One of Europe’s largest – and loftiest capitals – Madrid is often overlooked in favour of Spain’s coastal cities and the former Moorish strongholds of Andalucia. But in many ways, all things still point towards the grand metropolis, which remains a cultural, artistic and economic hub. Once the centre of an empire that gripped the Iberian Peninsula and spread in conquest through the Americas, Madrid is full of grandiose architecture befitting the 16th and 17th centuries’ preeminent global power.

    Things still revolve around the wide regal boulevards leading to Plaza Mayor and the labyrinthine districts surrounding it such as La Latína and Chueca. But efforts to revitalise areas beyond the centre have meant that several exciting barrios on the fringes are now worthy of attention too.

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    Top 10 sights in Madrid

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    Museo Nacional del Prado

    Ruiz de Alarcón 23
    28014 Madrid
    Tel: 91 330 2800
    Show on map

    Opening times:
    Mon-Sat 1000-2000
    Sun 1000-1900

    With a comprehensive collection of European art from the Middle Ages through to the 19th century, Prado is regarded as the most important museum in Spain.

    Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza

    Paseo del Prado 8
    28014 Madrid
    Tel: 902 760 511
    Show on map

    Opening times:
    Mon 1200-1600
    Tue-Sun 1000-1900

    The sum of several Barons of the name Thyssen, this collection includes masterpieces by Monet, Picasso and Carvaggio. Visiting exhibitions tend to be top quality.

    Retiro Park

    Plaza de Independencia
    Show on map

    Opening times:
    Daily 0600-2200

    Once the royal gardens, this huge immaculate park in the centre of Madrid is a place for picnics and romantic strolls. Don’t miss the gorgeous Galápagos fountain.

    Museo Reina Sofia

    Santa Isabel 52
    28012 Madrid
    Tel: 91 774 1000
    Show on map

    Opening times:
    Wed-Mon 1000-2100
    Sun 1000-1430

    The national museum for 20th-century art, the bold and compelling collection is dedicated to Spanish artists such as Picasso and Salvador Dalí.

    Royal Palace

    Calle Bailén
    28071 Madrid
    Tel: 91 454 8700 
    Show on map

    Opening times:
    Daily 1000-2000

    Built in the 18th century, the spectacular palace is full of art, tapestries and antiques. The Royal Armoury and Puerta del Moro gardens are notable treats.

    Plaza Mayor

    Plaza Mayor
    Show on map

    The central square and nearby Puerta del Sol give a taste of what Imperial Spain was like at its height of pomp. The surrounding areas are full of tapas bars and outdoor cafés.

    Museo Picasso

    Plaza de Picasso 1, Buitrago del Lozoya
    28730 Madrid
    Tel: 91 868 0056
    Show on map

    Opening times:
    Tue-Fri 1100-1345 and 1600-1800
    Sat 1000-1400 and 1600-1900
    Sun 1000-1400

    Based on an eclectic range of items from ink sketches to ceramics, this collection was given by Picasso to his barber, Eugenio Arias, and provides some insights into their long friendship.

    Convento de las Descalzas Reales

    Plaza de las Descalzas
    28013 Madrid
    Tel: 91 454 8800
    Show on map

    Opening times:
    Tues-Thurs and Sat 1030-1230 and 3-5:45pm
    Fri 1030-1230
    Sun 1100-1315

    Emperor Charles V’s daughter opened this convent in the 16th century. It features the masterful tapestry by Rubens, ‘Triumph of the Eucharist’.

    Museo del Romanticismo

    Calle San Mateo 13
    28004 Madrid
    Tel: 91 448 1045
    Show on map

    Opening times:
    Tue-Sat 0930-2030
    Sun 1000-1500

    An impressive range of artefacts and paintings can be found here, including Alenza and Goya, inside a quaint 19th-century townhouse setting.

    Museo Cerralbo

    Calle Ventura Rodríguez 17
    28008 Madrid
    Tel: 91 547 3646
    Show on map

    Opening times:
    Tue-Sat 0930-1500
    Thu 1700-2000
    Sun 1000-1500

    Founded by the Marquès de Cerralbo in the late 19th century, this fascinating museum house contains paintings, archaeological finds and opulent furnishings.

    Good to know

    Country Information

    Country overview

    From sizzling cuisine and riotous fiestas to cutting-edge contemporary art, age-old museums and a palpitating beach culture, Spain sure packs a punch. It’s feisty, sexy and extremely hot – almost like a sensual flamenco dancer who captivates with her mesmerising moves. Whether you are a culture vulture, history buff or beach bum, it’s almost inevitable that with Spain, it’ll be love at first sight.

    As versatile as a chameleon, Spain’s multifaceted personality is further highlighted by different corners of the country: from the golden sun-kissed shores of Costa del Sol to the snow-lathered peaks of the Pyrénées; from the futuristic architecture of Valencia to the medieval towns of Catalonia; from the expansive boulevards of cosmopolitan Madrid to the rural countryside of Galicia.


    Spain shares the Iberian Peninsula with its smaller neighbour, Portugal, and is bordered to the northeast by the Pyrenees mountain range that cuts across France and Andorra. Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, Spain has numerous stretches of coastline that are extremely crowded especially in summer.

    Spain has two main groups of islands that are popular with tourists: the Balearic Islands (Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera) located 193km (120 miles) southeast of Barcelona, and the Canary Islands off the west coast of Africa (mainly Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote and La Palma). Located in continental Africa, the tiny enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla also form a part of Spain.

    Mainland Spain is the second highest and most mountainous country in Europe, with an average height of 610m (2,000ft). The Pyrenees stretch roughly 400km (249 miles) from the Basque Country’s Atlantic coast.

    In places the peaks rise to over 1,524m (5,000ft), the highest point being 3,404m (11,169ft).

    The main physical feature of Spain is the vast central plateau, or meseta, divided by several chains of sierras. The higher northern area includes Castile and León and the southern section comprises Castile-La Mancha and Extremadura. In the south, the high plains rise further at the Sierra Morena before falling abruptly at the great valley of the Guadalquivir.

    Southeast of Granada is the Sierra Nevada, which runs parallel to the Mediterranean. Its summit Mulhacen, at 3,718m (12,198ft), is the highest point on the Spanish peninsula. The highest peak in Spain is the Pico del Teide on Tenerife in the Canaries, measuring a height of 3,718m (12,198ft).

    General Information

    Key facts

    Population: 47370542

    Population Density (per sq km): 94

    Capital: Madrid.


    The official language is Spanish (Castilian). Other languages spoken in the first language in Spain include Euskera (in Basque Country, northeastern Spain), Catalan (in Eastern Spain, with variations spoken in Valencia and the Balearics) and Galician (in the northwest). There are also various regional dialects, but you’ll have no problems getting around Spain with knowledge of Castilian Spanish. English is not commonly used, so be sure to pick up some basic Spanish words before your trip.


    230 volts AC, 50Hz. Round two-pin plugs are in use.


    Euro (EUR; symbol €) = 100 cents (céntimos). Notes are in denominations of €500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. Coins are in denominations of €2 and 1, and 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cents.

    General business opening hours

    In Barcelona, Seville and Granada, business hours are generally 0800/0900-1800/1900, with an extended lunch break from 1330-1500/1600. In Santiago de Compostela and Malaga, office hours are generally 0900-1400 and 1700-2000. Banks and government offices open only in the morning.

    In Madrid, standard business hours are Monday to Friday 0900-1400 and 1600-1900, although 0800-1500 is quite common during summer. Larger companies and multinationals, however, are increasingly working through the day, in line with the rest of Europe

    Country overview

    Below are Public Holidays for the January 2015-December 2015 period.

    Note: Additional dates are celebrated as regional public holidays.

    New Year’s Day: 01. January 2015
    Epiphany: 06. January 2015
    St Joseph’s Day: 19. March 2015
    Maundy Thursday: 02. April 2015
    Good Friday: 03. April 2015
    Labour Day: 01. May 2015

    Assumption: 15. August 2015
    National Day: 12. October 2015
    All Saints’ Day: 01. November 2015
    Constitution Day: 06. December 2015
    Immaculate Conception: 08. December 2015
    Christmas Day: 25. December 2015
    Boxing Day: 26. December 2015

    Good to know

    Getting around

    Public Transport

    The Madrid metro is as expansive as you’d expect – more than 200 stations and counting – with a modern, efficient network, and relatively cheap. It runs until after 1am. The buses are frequent and wide-reaching, too ( A Madrid Tourist Pass covers local trains, buses and the metro and lasts for a week (tel: 902 444 403;


    Hailing a taxi isn’t too tricky in Madrid, and they’re not too pricey. If you see a green light atop the vehicle, it’s free. To book ahead, try Teletaxi (tel: 91 371 2131;


    Nightlife in Madrid


    As with elsewhere in Spain, things don’t get going until late in the night – after 11pm and often much later. The nightlife can seem

    a tad more elegant than in other cities, but the outdoor tapas bars in hip barrios cater to those after a few beers and a chat.

    Casa Patas

    Calle de los Cañizares 10
    28012 Madrid
    Show on map

    Frequented by tourists and locals alike, this tavern-style venue is much loved for its traditional flamenco.

    Café Central

    Plaza del Ángel 10
    28012 Madrid
    Show on map

    The elder statesman of Madrid’s live music venues, Café Central has offered jazz and rock performances since 1982.

    1862 Dry Bar

    Calle Pez 27
    28004 Madrid
    Show on map

    Serving perhaps the best cocktails in Madrid, 1862 is an essential stop in the cool Triball area.

    Tipos Infames

    San Joaquín 3
    28004 Madrid
    Show on map

    In the once grim but newly hip Malasaña barrio, this part-bookshop part-wine bar has proved a real hit.

    Casa Labra

    Calle Tetuán 12
    28013 Madrid
    Show on map

    For a brief history lesson, visit the ancient tavern where Pablo Iglesias founded the Socialist Party in 1879.


    Restaurants in Madrid


    Although the culinary zeitgeist is currently with the Basque country and Catalonia, Madrid remains a gastro pioneer.

    The proud capital offers the finest dining as well as both contemporary and classic takes on the south’s beer-and-tapas culture.

    Casa Lucas

    Cava Baja 30
    28005 Madrid
    Show on map

    Price: Expensive

    The originator of cocina creativa (creative cooking), Casa Lucas is still going strong after nearly two decades.

    Olé Lola

    Calle San Mateo 28
    28004 Madrid
    Show on map

    Price: Expensive

    The ostentatious and playful interior of this stylish restaurant is matched by the inventive food, bringing tapas to the 21st century.


    Cava Baja 38, La Latina
    28005 Madrid
    Show on map

    Price: Moderate

    With a wide selection of superb Spanish wines and great tapas, this is a popular tavern-style restaurant.

    Casa Ricardo

    Calle Fernando el Católico 31
    28015 Madrid
    Show on map

    Price: Moderate

    Despite looking rather fancy, this 70-year-old restaurant offers homely cooking and traditional dishes such as bull’s tail.

    La Sanabresa

    Calle Amor de Dios 12
    28014 Madrid
    Show on map

    Price: Cheap

    There aren’t so many casas de comida (traditional eateries) left in Madrid these days. This one still offers a delicious set menu of soup, meat course and a drink.


    Calendar of events

    Festival de Otoño a Primavera

    1 November 2014 – 1 June 2015

    Venue: Various venues.

    Madrid’s most important annual arts festival, with dance, drama and music all across the city, spans seven months with more than 30 live productions showcase international performing arts.

    Reyes Magos (Epiphany)

    6 January 2015

    Venue: City centre.

    Marked by a procession of the ‘the kings’ with commercial floats, watched by thousands of children and their parents as they line up along Calle Alcalá to watch the annual cabalgata (parade). There are lots of elaborate floats and the riders traditionally throw sweets to the children. The occasion ends with a big family dinner, and the giving of presents the following day.

    Festival Flamenco

    1 – 28 February 2015

    Venue: Various venues.

    One of the nation’s best Flamenco dancing competitions, drawing competitors from all over the world. It is usually accompanied by classical guitar concerts. Taking place at some of Madrid’s top venues, such as La Casa Encendida and the Teatro Canal de la Comunidad de Madrid, the Caja Madrid Flamenco Festival is brings you the best in flamenco excitement and beauty.

    Madrid Carnival

    17 February 2015

    Venue: Various streets in central Madrid.

    The week before Lent sees the Madrid version of the traditional Mardi Gras Carnival, featuring parades, extravagant costume parties and flamboyant masks. The highlight is a tradition called ‘The Burial of the Sardine’, in which participants, dressed in black cloaks and hats, proceed through the streets with a coffin containing an effigy of a dead sardine.

    Semana Santa (Holy Week)

    29 March – 5 April 2015

    Venue: Throughout the city.

    Solemn religious processions and services to mark Holy Week, the week leading up to Easter Sunday.

    Madrid Marathon

    26 April 2015

    Venue: Streets of Madrid.

    The annual Madrid Marathon is raced on an urban course which usually includes Puerta del Sol, Plaza Mayor and Palacio Real – all good viewing points from where to watch the day’€˜s event. The event attracts approximately 13,000 runners each year from about 60 different countries.

    Fiesta del 2 de Mayo (Festival of 2 May)

    2 May 2015

    Venue: Various venues.

    Marks the day when Madrid rose up against the French in 1808, with films, poetry recitals, concerts and dance.

    Fiesta de San Isidro

    15 May 2015

    Venue: Pradera de San Isidoro and various other venues.

    The commemoration of Madrid’s patron saint, with a procession to the church of San Isidoro, open-air dance performances, theatre productions, zarzuela, pop and rock concerts and sports competitions.

    Gay Pride

    1 – 5 July 2015

    Venue: Various venues.

    The four day festival is arguably one of the best in the world and culminates in a parade through the Retiro, Sol and Casa de Campo districts, with other events concentrated in the Chueca district. In 2017, the city will host World Pride.

    Nochevieja (New Year's Eve)

    31 December 2015

    Venue: Puerta del Sol.

    Crowds gather to eat grapes and drink champagne. Much of the action is centred on Puerta del Sol as revellers wait for the the clock on the Real Casa de Correos building to strike midnight.

    All information subject to change. Please check the dates on the relevant event organizer’s website.


    Hotels in Madrid


    From elegant converted houses to massive palatial properties, Madrid offers an abundance of hotel options.

    An essential stopping point for young travellers, the city also has plenty of lower-priced accommodation.


    Carrera de San Jerónimo 34
    28014 Madrid
    Show on map

    Category: Expensive

    With an open-air rooftop pool – ideal for the sizzling summer heat – and 96 stylish rooms, Urban is the decadent choice.

    Room Mate Alicia

    Calle Prado 2
    28014 Madrid
    Show on map

    Category: Expensive

    This charming 34-room hotel was designed by Pascua Ortega and features impressive light installations.

    Only You

    Calle Barquillo 21
    28004 Madrid
    Show on map

    Category: Moderate

    A 19th-century palace on the outside, this curious city hotel is hip and contemporary on the inside.


    Calle Pizarro 14
    28004 Madrid
    Show on map

    Category: Cheap

    First built in 1850, this small tidy bed and breakfast ensures that guests feel at home.

    Good to know

    Best time to visit

    Today: Monday, 29.06.2015 06:00 UTC





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    Climate and best time to visit Madrid

    Spring and autumn are the popular choices for visiting Madrid, as the summer months – particularly July and August – are almost unbearably hot. It’s also rather cold in winter, though there’s enough sun during the day to be generally pleasant; there’s also a plethora of heart-warming seasonal dishes to choose from, which tourists usually miss out on. May is a safe bet, with reliably good weather, and a string of festivals to enjoy, including the capital’s biggest celebration, the Festival of San Isidro – the patron saint of Madrid. There are several music and arts festivals, including a documentary film festival, and any number of street festivals.

    Climate & best time to visit Spain

    Spain’s climate varies from temperate in the north to dry and hot in the south. As it is a big country with varying terrain and altitudes, climate can be extremely distinctive from one corner to another. Overall, the coastal regions in the South and Eastern parts of Spain are excellent to visit all year round thanks to the Mediterranean climate (mild temperatures and long days). Northern Spain generally experiences colder temperatures than the South, while Central Spain stays hot and dry due to its location on a plateau.

    The best time to visit depends on the region and type of travel experience you’re seeking. For a beach vacation, the best months for guaranteed sunshine are June to August. Naturally, these are also the busiest months for tourism along the coast and on the Spanish islands, so be prepared for high prices and crowds. If you’re looking to escape the crowds, head inland to cities like Seville, Madrid and Granada where temperatures are sizzling but streets are empty.

    The shoulder season for travel in Spain is usually late spring and autumn: from April to end of May and October to November. These are when tourist destinations are least crowded and weather is still pleasant. January to February is the best time to ski, as snow is ample and the sun is shining. Especially in the Sierra Nevada, the sun can be quite overwhelming even in the snow – come prepared with snow goggles and sunscreen.


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    absolute maxabsolute minØ absolute minØ absolute minrelative humidityØ depositdays with deposit > 1mmsunshine duration
    Jan18 °C-10 °C8 °C1 °C78 %45 mm84.6 h
    Feb22 °C-9 °C11 °C2 °C70 %44 mm85.7 h
    Mar26 °C-4 °C14 °C5 °C61 %37 mm76.4 h
    Apr30 °C-3 °C18 °C7 °C58 %51 mm78.0 h
    May33 °C0 °C21 °C10 °C54 %44 mm79.5 h
    Jun38 °C4 °C26 °C14 °C49 %27 mm510.8 h
    Jul39 °C8 °C30 °C17 °C40 %12 mm212.3 h
    Aug38 °C7 °C29 °C17 °C42 %12 mm111.4 h
    Sep36 °C3 °C25 °C14 °C52 %30 mm48.6 h
    Oct30 °C-1 °C18 °C9 °C66 %51 mm66.6 h
    Nov22 °C-3 °C12 °C5 °C73 %58 mm75.2 h
    Dec17 °C-9 °C8 °C2 °C77 %52 mm84.5 h
    year39 °C-10 °C18 °C8 °C60 %463 mm707.8 h
    Good to know

    Phone calls & Internet

    Telephone/Mobile Telephone

    Dialing Code: +34


    Most telephone boxes require telephone cards that can be purchased in grocery stores. Call centres and internet cafés allow you to call overseas at a lower rate. Area codes are incorporated within a nine digit number dialled from wherever you are. Emergency calls: 112.

    Mobile Telephone

    Coverage is good throughout most of the country. It is relatively easy to get a mobile phone to use temporarily in Spain. Most service providers like Vodafone, Orange and Telefonica offer prepaid SIM cards (that include data roaming). Spanish mobile numbers begin with 6.


    Internet cafés are available in most urban areas in Spain, and wireless access is widespread in cafés and hotels. It is generally easy to find good and fast connections throughout Spain. Most hotels and airports in Spain offer Wi-Fi access.


    Shopping in Madrid

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    Key Areas

    Calle Serrano has lots of high-street shops and designer labels, while there are plenty of fashion boutiques on nearby streets such as Calle Goya. For vintage clothes and hipster destinations, head to Malasaña and Triball.


    The only iron-structured market surviving today, San Miguel is Madrid’s most famous food market situated in the historical centre, with locally grown produce. Sunday’s Rastro Market on Ribera de Curtidores is a must, with dozens of stalls sprawling into the surrounding streets.

    Shopping Centres

    Spain’s leading chain of department stores, Corte Inglés has its flagship store in Madrid and is one of the biggest malls in Europe.

    Good to know

    Traveller etiquette

    Spanish life has undergone rapid change in recent decades and stricter religious customs have been superseded by more modern ways, particularly in the cities and among women. In spite of this, traditions remain strong; hospitality, chivalry and courtesy thrive. Handshaking is the customary form of greeting between men, while women (outside of a business context) are greeted with a fleeting kiss to either cheek (left then right).

    Spaniards eat late; lunch around 1400-1530; the evening meal 2100-2300.

    The Spanish have two family names; the maternal surname follows the paternal, but is rarely used outside a formal context. Smoking is banned in offices, shops, schools, hospitals, cultural centres and on public transport. Bars and restaurants must declare whether they permit or prohibit smoking. The vast majority have opted for the former, though large restaurants are obliged by law to have a substantial non-smoking section.

    Good to know


    Main emergency number: 112

    Food & Drink

    Food in Spain is generally safe to eat. Most restaurants and bars adhere to a certain standard of hygiene. For those with sensitive stomachs, try to avoid street food, such as churros, kebabs and jacket potatoes. These are usually sold in small street-side stores especially in big cities like Madrid and Barcelona. Other foods to look out for include seafood that might not be fresh and sandwiches and omelettes that might have been left out for too long. Tapas bars may sometimes serve foods that have been kept overnight, so be careful what you eat.

    Foods sold in local markets are generally fresh and affordable. If you’re extremely careful about what you eat, these are the best places to look for clean and fresh produce. Tap water in Spain is safe to drink but some complain that tap water in Ibiza can be quite salty and  has an unpleasant taste so it is generally recommended to drink bottled water. Tap water is suitable for washing, brushing teeth, etc. Bottled and mineral water are easily available throughout the country and can be found in supermarkets and grocery stores.

    Other Risks

    In mid-summer temperatures can reach over 40°C and heat-related risks are high. Be sure to drink plenty of water, avoid alcohol, wear strong sunscreen and cover your skin with a hat and loose clothing. If partaking in hiking, cycling or other outdoor activities avoid the midday hours and limit exercise to early mornings or late evenings.

    The national police have set up a telephone hotline for tourists to use in non-emergencies. Those who wish to report a crime such as theft or lost property should call 902 102 112; callers can speak German, English, French or Italian. On islands such as Ibiza be aware that alcohol and drugs are prevalent. Stay hydrated when consuming alcohol and be aware that spirit measurements are generous. Taking drugs is illegal and drug dealing is dealt with very severely by the local police and courts. Every year accidents happen in resorts with holidaymakers falling from hotel balconies, often when under the influence of alcohol. Take care on hotel balconies at all times and avoid excessive drinking.

    In Mallorca in late summer waves of jellyfish can make an appearance, and while these are not deadly, they can give a very painful sting.

    Contractual physician of Lufthansa

    Dr. Eberhard, Ulrich
    c/Joaquin Montes Jovellar 4
    28002 Madrid
    Tel. +34-91-564-3887

    Please note that Lufthansa accepts no responsibility for the treatment nor will it bear the cost of any treatment.

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