Welcome to Madrid

There are two Madrids waiting to be discovered: the serene and the sinful. On one hand you have the grand-dame city, all grown-up sophistication with world-renowned art galleries, historic plazas and a buzzing arts scene.

Then there’s the other Madrid, the decadent and wayward hedonist, birthplace of La Movida – a new era of freedom following the demise of General Franco’s oppressive regime – with a nightlife that sizzles until sunrise in its profusion of bars and clubs.

Madrileños – known as Los Gatos – are among the city’s main attractions, their passion is legendary, their zest for life is infectious and they revel in the fiestas and ferias that are held throughout the year.

Though a diverse and forward-looking metropolis, Madrid at heart is still a traditional Spanish city. Narrow cobbled alleyways and four-hundred year old chapels may be juxtaposed with modern avenues and towering skyscrapers, but life still stops for a siesta, the tapas are as good as anywhere elsewhere in the country and bullfighting is so popular that it’s been elevated to the status of a protected art form. So take the plunge and dive into this energetic and exhilarating city.

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Quick facts

  • Inhabitants in Spain:
  • Inhabitants in Madrid:
    3,300,000 proper (Comunidad de Madrid) & 6,500,000 in city including suburbs
  • Official language
  • Currency
  • Time zone
    GMT + 1 (GMT + 2 from last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October)
  • Emergency number
    112 for any emergency; National Police (Policía Nacional) tel: 091; Local Police (policía local) tel: 092; Civil Guard (Guardia Civil) tel: 062
  • Constitution
    Democracy; Monarchy - King of Spain
  • Country phone code
    +34 (Spain), 810 or 911 or 918 (Madrid area codes)
  • Country code
  • Local transportation
    Metro, Bus and Taxis in the city + excellent bus and train service for day trips; car rentals