The city of Madrid counts with excellent means of transport. Its underground network has modern trains and stations and links to most destinations reaching even some of the main towns in the surrounding areas of the city. Using the underground will be the best way to get from one part of the city to another. Here is a useful website for planning your transportation in Madrid: www.ctm-madrid.es, you will find schedules for buses, trains and for the subway lines.
The time in Madrid is the Central European Time (Summer Time GMT+2)
The average maximum temperature in Madrid in May is 90°F/32°C and the average minimum temperature is 61°F/16°C.
Madrid will surprise you with its intense and enveloping blue sky. It has a dry climate with little rainfall.
BUSINESS HOURS & SHOPS
Most shops open between 09.30 and 13.30h in the morning and 17.00 to 20.00h in the afternoon on weekdays. During the summer months, many establishments will stay open much later in the evening. On Saturday opening hours are restricted to the morning shift and Sunday is literally the day of rest. However there are some department stores that remain open all day long until 22:00h.
Informal for all the occasions.
Spain's standard electricity supply is 220 Volts (V), 50 Hertz (Hz) AC. The plugs are round two pin, European standard.
CURRENCY AND BANKS
The national currency of Spain is the European euro (€). Exchange facilities are available at Barajas airport, most banks and also along central streets like Gran Vía. Many visitors to Spain have commented on the advantage of bringing debit cards rather than credit cards, since the exchange rate is generally much better and commissions lower. However, it would be prudent to check this with your bank before travelling.
TIPPING AND CONSUMER TAX
At almost all restaurants, service is included, but it is common practice to leave a tip or around 5%, as it is with taxi drivers (depending on how you liked the driving!).
Tipping is not obligatory anywhere, but much less in bars or cafeterias. However, if you leave a small tip it shows your appreciation of the service - a good rule of thumb here is 10 to 20 cents per round of drinks. Never leave tips in pubs or discotheques. A tip of 1 euro may be used in many other occasions, such as with hotel porters.
There are two different tax rates in Spain 8% and 18%. You will pay 8% tax on your hotel and restaurant bills, as well as other items considered "essential". This tax is not refundable.
Most physical items purchased in shops will be taxed at the 18% rate.
The number 112 can be dialled to reach emergency services - medical, fire and police - from anywhere in Europe. This Pan-European emergency number 112 can be called from any telephone (landline, pay phone or mobile cellular phone). Calls are free. It can be used for any life-threatening situation, including:
- Serious medical problems (accident, unconscious person, severe injuries, chest pain, seizure)
- Any type of fire (house, car)
- Life-threatening situations (crimes)
- SOS 112 website
- Information on the 112 number from the European Commission website
One of the main tourist information offices is the Municipal Office of Tourist Information, which can be found at Plaza Mayor (address: Plaza Mayor, 3). You can reach them on the telephone or fax at: Tel: 91 366 54 77. Fax: 91 588 16 36. If you are planning to see as much as possible on your stay, then this tourist information office should be the first stop on your itinerary.