When visiting Madrid it is important to adapt to the basic local habits and rules. Here come some tips for an easier stay.
Madrid’s people tend to be nice and open; they are used to deal with tourists, so you will probably have no problems when asking for directions or help if you use the right manners. When requesting something to an unknown person (someone in the street, a policeman or a taxi driver) , no matter how much in a hurry you are, always greet first by saying "buenos días/buenas noches" (good morning/evening) and use polite phrases such as "por favor" (please), "gracias" (thank you) and "que tenga un buen día" (have a good day).
Even though many people here speak English this is not the generality and in any case it is always better to approach in the local language, so try to learn the courtesy phrases in Spanish. If you are being introduced to someone, a handshake will always be fine. When there is a certain confidence and informality two women or a man and a woman will kiss each other twice, one kiss per cheek.
When strolling around Madrid it is advisable to have some change in Euros to make sure you can move in case you don’t find an open exchange (they are closed on Sundays and holidays and they are not easy to find at certain districts). Shops usually operate between 9:00 and 20:30 with a break at midday and public offices normally work from 9:00 to 15:00.
As per places of interest and attractions (such as museums or national monuments) many of them close on Mondays and some of them also close on Sundays afternoons. Therefore, it is advisable to check the timetables of the places you are planning to visit. During holidays there is a great movement of people and special activities are organized, but public places and cultural attractions tend to close earlier. Public transport from one city to the other (planes, rails or buses) tend to be over demanded, so if you are planning to travel in a holiday (or during the summer high season) try to book your trip in advance.
Tipping in Madrid is not mandatory, but there is a habit of tipping waiters (that will be happy with around 5% of the total bill), the hotel’s bellboy (1 Euro per bag) and taxi drivers (they do not actually get tips but rounding up to the next Euro is expected).
As general details it is important to keep in mind that Spain’s electricity has a power of 220 V, so if your electronic devices are 110 V you should use an adapter. It could also be good to bring adapters for plugs, since in Spain the most common ones are the two cylindrical leg ones. In Madrid you can safely drink water from the tap, since this is pure and properly treated.
In case you have an emergency in Madrid, dial the 112. If you need to contact the police for any other reason you will find three forces that patrol the streets, the Local police, the National police or the Guardia Civil (usually seen in roads but not commonly in big cities). If you need medical assistance check the coverage centres of your insurance. In case of emergency, go to the nearest medical centre, there you will be assisted and then charged to your insurance.
For more tips of Madrid or tourism in Spain, contact us and we will gladly send you further material about any subject of your interest. We will e-mail this information at no cost within 72 hours and it will be specific to your requirements.
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