So you’ve decided to come to Madrid for a few days? Fantastic. The capital hides monuments, adventures, an incredible gastronomy, a vibrant nightlife and many surprises.
Among all its surprises, there are some good ones and some not so good ones. How do we sort them out? Well, by reading this article in which we explain how to get the most out of your trip to Madrid while avoiding all the things that could give you a headache.
We’re so nice and so handy, like all the people of Madrid, that we’ve divided the things you shouldn’t do into three sections; things you shouldn’t do to integrate, to have a better experience and for your safety.
THINGS YOU SHOULDN’T DO TO BE ABLE TO INTEGRATE
These are our tips if you want to enjoy the city and all it has to offer if you want to feel a bit more local, as if you grew up in Malasaña.
If you want to live the Madrid experience from minute one, forget your mealtimes: eat lunch around 12:30, dinner before 21:00 and live as if the sacred afternoon snack didn’t exist? How dare you!
In Spain we eat a lot, very well and late. If any of these three characteristics are not on your menu, you are not being a true Spaniard.
We eat breakfast when we can, lunch between 14:00 and 15:00. Around 18:00 it would be good to have a snack; a sandwich or something sweet with a soft drink or juice. And for dinner, from 21:00 onwards, otherwise you will be a guiri!
A small aside, in Spain we call tourists guiris, usually if they are British and German. Is that offensive? Not at all. What’s more, it’s an almost affectionate nickname because we are used to people from abroad, as tourism is part of our culture.
So if you hear it, don’t get defensive or think you’re being insulted – nothing could be further from the truth.
Type of food
Try it all. And when we say everything, we mean that there is life beyond the dishes you know, paella, or even those of your own country.
Madrid is a cosmopolitan, international city that welcomes and integrates many nationalities. But, please, don’t look for restaurants typical of your country. Make the most of your stay and discover the delicacies of our land.
Try the tapas, all of them. We recommend you to order to share among all the people at the table. This way everyone will try everything and you can start to make a list of your favourite dishes, your least favourite ones and the ones you want to repeat.
Speaking of food, beware of eating in busy places, monuments or tourist squares. They are very nice for their views, but you should keep in mind that the bill will be very high and, not only that, sometimes the quality of the dishes is lower as the traffic of customers is practically guaranteed.
Speak a little Spanish
We don’t ask you to have a B1, but we do ask you to try. Here we understand that Spanish is not easy, but we also value the good intentions of those who come from abroad when they try to communicate.
Between the enthusiasm of the tourists and the basic English that we Spaniards usually have, we always end up understanding each other. Just in case, here are some Spanish words and phrases to help you make your way around the city.
Hola / buenos días / buenas tardes / buenas noches / buenas
Hi / good morning / good afternoon/ good night / hi there!
Por favor – Please
Gracias – Thanks
De nada – You´re welcome
¿Dónde está…? – Where is…?
La cuenta por favor– Can I get the bill please?
Yo quiero… – I want…
Yo no hablo español – I don´t speak Spanish
¿Hablas inglés? – Do you speak English?
Necesito ayuda – Necesito ayuda
Estoy perdido – I am lost
THINGS YOU SHOULD NOT DO TO HAVE A BETTER EXPERIENCE
You should have a balance with your clothing. I mean, you might be a bit hot, but remember that you are coming for sightseeing, a lot of walking, but remember that there are a lot of people, and most certainly a lot of sun.
Before flip-flops, wear comfortable and light trainers. If you wear short sleeves and shorts, don’t forget sun cream. And lastly, watch out for changes in temperature. Whatever your travel agent may have told you, it’s cold and rainy in Spain sometimes.
Keep an eye on the weather forecast so you can take a lightweight umbrella or windbreaker with you.
Be careful about travelling from the airport to the city centre. Don’t let the desire to get here get you make mistakes. Taxis can be very expensive compared to public transport (bus and train).
If there are several of you, it may be profitable, the decision is yours, but you should keep in mind that you have several options, which are more economical and environmentally friendly.
THINGS YOU SHOULDN’T DO FOR YOUR SAFETY
Let’s talk about more unpleasant things. Like any big city, there are a lot of people, and not all of them are tourists. Let’s be clear, first of all, that Madrid, despite being a big city, has a lot of security and at no time will you feel uncomfortable or unsafe.
It is a very safe city, but that doesn’t mean that the sadly famous pickpockets don’t exist. Be careful with your backpack and back trouser pockets. Is there a solution? Of course there is.
First, keep your wallet in your front pockets and, whenever possible, carry your rucksack and backpack forward, especially if you’re on busy streets or public transport at rush hour.
By the way, you know the times when we eat, so you can imagine the time when there will be more and less people using public transport and walking on the street.
Don’t carry all your documents with you all the time. Leave your passport and most important documents at the hotel and, if you think you will need them, take photocopies or pdf documents on your mobile phone of them.
When you sit down to eat or rest for a while, don’t leave your belongings unattended. Madrid is a safe place, but it’s a big city. Avoid bad moments by being cautious.
And that’s it, now you just have to enjoy this great city and, of course, stay in the best hostel in town. Any doubts? Of course not, we are talking about CATS Hostel.