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
Spain uses the GSM international coverage standard. American frequency ranges (850 and 1900MHz) are different from those in Europe (900 and 1800MHz), but the widespread use of 3G and 4G devices provides support for the entire range of bands in both continents. In addition, 3G terminals include a third band that supports the band of a region other than that of purchase. For instance, European tri-band phones typically cover 900, 1800 and 1900MHz, while American tri-band mobiles cover 850, 1900 and 1800MHz.
If you have another type of mobile phone, ask your service provider to check for coverage.
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.
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