What a surprise Madrid after more than 5 years. A reborn city after the big crisis of 2008, a city bustling with life. It is quite a challenge to do a top don’ts about this city but there are some minuses bellow. So here we go and please feel free to contribute in the comments:
- Don’t be short time limit when in Barajas airport. It is a huge one with more terminals. Take a very good look on your terminal, either T1-T3 or T4.
- Don’t use taxis, as public transport is very good in Madrid and affordable, just choose your tariff plan that suits you best.
- If impossible to avoid, then don’t be shy and ask other flight passengers to share a cab to city center. Everybody likes to save some money if they can. I do it often and I was never turned down.
- Don’t make savings on airplanes by arriving or departing too early or too late or having transit flight, if they are not more than 30%. Otherwise the quality of your trip will be severely diminished, from my own experience.
- Don’t expect to have your own personal space in the city center cause it is so crowded that you’d better take some unbeaten streets. Madrilenos like to go out, to shop, to walk. It becomes sometimes quite exhausting.
- Therefore don’t expect a clean city cause it is not…at all.
- Don’t book late your accommodation as it is very expensive and you only have airbnb as the last option. The medium price rooms on airbnb are not great, by the contrary. Well it is Madrid and the locals prefer to go out than to renovate so this is it. Nothing to do about.
- Don’t go out at 8 pm as it is too early. Dining starts at 10 pm and drinks at 00. The good point is the price.
- Madrilenos speak no foreign languages so don’t be shy and ask for a person to speak English in local taverns. There is always an immigrant in the kitchen who is more proficient in languages.
- Don’t avoid local taverns and especially ” el menu del dia”. Great food, Spanish dishes, great prices. Best paella I ever ate at Mama Ines.
- Don’t buy classic souvenirs as they are ugly, bad quality, expensive and looks like you don’t care about the person. Try a little bit harder. Send a post card if no idea.
- Don’t pay museum entrance fees as they have free entry, just look at their websites to find out when.
- Also, either if you pay or not, don’t go unprepared as Prado or Reina Sofia are huge museums and you’ll be soon exhausted. Choose what masterpieces you want to see or painters and fully enjoy. Madrid is a city to return to so keep in mind that you can revisit at your next visit.
- Don’t go without travel insurance….ever. Go out with copies of papers and leave your valuables at the hotel.
- A funny don’t to the end. Come alone as madrilenos are beautiful and love to socialize.
It is a very compact city, easy to walk between major points of interest. The hidden gems of Madrid are the local markets and the businesses within. I fully recommend Mercado San Anton, less touristic but so authentic. Taste the oysters and the sandwiches with jamon.
Get off the beaten paths and go to parks, to local neighborhoods like Malasana, and have an experience to remember.