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About Madrid

Madrid is not as large as it might seem—especially the central districts. Right in the middle of the city lies the Puerta del Sol, a traffic nexus that is the point from which all distances are measured. Also, the house numbering on every street starts at the end nearest the Sol. West and south of the Sol, are the oldest areas of the city, Los Austrias, which contain the royal palace (Palacio Real) and the historic and well-trodden square, Plaza Mayor.

The triangular area to the east and south of the Sol—with the Plaza de Cibeles, Atocha Station and the Sol at its corners—is one of the liveliest districts in Madrid, containing countless bars and restaurants. This is also where the three big museums stand in a row, and beyond them, the largest park in central Madrid, Parque del Buen Retiro.

Directly south of the Sol is Lavapiés: formerly a working class area, but now the most ethnically interesting part of the city thanks to a significant influx of immigrants from Africa and Asia.

North of the Puerta del Sol and the parade avenue of Gran Vía are the Malasaña and Chueca districts. The former is an old residential area that has been cleaned up in the last twenty years, whilst remaining one of the city’s most relaxed bar districts. The latter has also undergone a rebirth: today it is Madrid’s hippest quarter, a centre for a culture of clubbing, restaurants and clothing shops. Originally a gay district, it is now best described as broad-minded.

Aerial view of Cibeles fountain at Plaza de Cibeles in Madrid
S-F/Shutterstock.com

Tips

Good to know

Public Transport

Madrid’s metro system consists of 16 lines that serve both the city and its suburbs. The metro is also the most efficient way of getting around, and runs from 6am to 2am daily.

The EMT bus network is made up of about a hundred lines, including a useful “circle route” (the buses are marked with a C). Buses run from 6am to 11:30pm daily, with some night buses running later.

Electricity

220 volt (125 volt in some older buildings)

City connections

Alghero

AHO Italy, Italian Republic

Bari

BRI Italy, Italian Republic

Berlin - Tegel

TXL Germany

Bucharest Otopeni

OTP Romania

Catania

CTA Italy, Italian Republic

Cluj

CLJ Romania

Constanta

CND Romania

Copenhagen Airport

CPH Denmark, Kingdom of

Koln

CGN Germany

Lamezia Terrme

SUF Italy, Italian Republic

Larnaca

LCA Cyprus, Republic of

Londra-Luton

LTN United Kingdom of Great Britain & N. Ireland

Napoli

NAP Italy, Italian Republic

Pescara

PSR Italy, Italian Republic

Roma

FCO Italy, Italian Republic

Stockholm-Arlanda

ARN Sweden, Kingdom of

Tel Aviv - Ben Gurion

TLV Israel, State of

Torino - Caselle

TRN Italy, Italian Republic