Madrid is a Vibrant 24 hour city with an array of fun things to do, both day & night.
It’s filled with lots of great neighborhoods (Chueca, Latina, Lavapies, Malasaña, Chamberi, Arguelles, Pacifico, Salamanca), delicious cuisine, friendly locals, beautiful gays, bisexuals, heterosexuals, women… welcome to one of the most open European Capital. Madrid is also unbeatable for its nightlife scene.
Welcome to the Capital of Spain, in the center of the country.
Take the high-speed train (called AVE) to the west, in 2:30 you’re in Barcelona. Take AVE to the south, and in 2:30 you’re in Málaga & the famous gay city of Torremolinos. In 3:00 southern, you reach Sevilla! Madrid is not land locking at all, on GoMadridPride, we advise you where to swim when summer is hot. So have fun and enjoy this wonderful city of Madrid, we give you here all the practical tourism information, this is our survival guide to Madrid for gay travelers!
Madrid shares roughly the same latitude as New York: 40°26’N, 3°42’W.
At 635 meters (2100 ft) above sea level, Madrid is one of the highest capitals in Europe.
It’s surrounded by “Sierra de Guadarrama”.
Its highest peak is Peñalara, 2428 metres (7966 ft) in elevation.
MADRID TIME ZONE
Spain is one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) UTC/GMT +1 hour.
Daylight savings time is observed late March to late October, making it UTC/GMT +2 hours.
So Madrid has the same time as Paris, Rome or Amsterdam, one hour more than London.
MADRID COST OF LIVING
Madrid is far less expensive than London, Paris, Rome, Berlin or Amsterdam, for transportation, hotels, food, drinks, parties, and everyday shopping or services. Luxury goods and services will be same priced as any European Capital (musicals, upscale restaurants, luxury wines…).
If you’ve received good and friendly service, we usually tip 5 to 10%.
Some prices: Coffee (1,5€), Pastry (1€), Fresh Orange Juice (1€), Draught beer (caña: 1€, large: 3€), Gin Tonic or Cocktail (6 to 8€), Metro Ticket (10 trips: 12,20€), Taxi Ride in the city (5 to 12€), Taxi to the Airport (30€), Typical lunch menu (10-12€), film ticket (8€), Museum ticket (8€), Lucky Strike cigarettes (4,45€).
MADRID WITH CREDIT CARDS
Major Credit Cards are accepted almost everywhere: shops, bars, taxi, clubs, hotels. Including at Club’s door, you can purchase tickets by Visa o Mastercard. You’ll find ATM everywhere in Madrid, and rarely out of order.
American Express is not commonly accepted, except in luxury stores, bars, restaurants. Pay by Phone like Apple Pay is not spread yet.
In some supermarkets and many others, you can pay from credit cards from 1 euro only.
During Madrid Gay Pride (Madrid Orgullo), due to the number of tourists in the streets, we recommend you to withdraw cash just in case ATM get out of cash.
Madrid weather is dry and sunny all year. We have only a dozen of cloudy and rainy days concentrated in October/November and March/May. The Wind is not common at all, a rare thunderstorm in the summertime can surprise tourists.
Winter: 10-15°c (50-59°f) in the afternoon thanks to the sunny sky, 3 -8°c (37-47°f) in the evening, and it might drop bellow 0°c (32 °f) in the middle of the night. Snow is fairly rare.
Summer: June to mid-September, we rarely get below 30°c (86°f) in the afternoon and 20°c (68°f) at night. Heat is livable as it’s dry, you hardly ever get wet. Heat waves are common; temperature can climb up to 40 °C (104 °F). You’ll love air conditioning in that situation!
Madrid has an extensive public transport (Metro, Bus, Train) super clean, super safe with air-conditioning all at a very reasonable price. That’s why it is widely used by people.
Metro Madrid is the 8th longest metro in the world with 294 km, 301 stations, 1698 escalators, 522 lifts. Very Modern then;) You can buy an individual ticket for 1,5€, or 10 journey ticket for 12,20€ (better!). Service is available 7/7 from 06:00 to 01:30. Average waiting time between two trains is short (2 to 10 min).
Bus system is very cool, just jump in and pay at the bus driver directly. Regional trains are called Cercanias. Main stations are Atocha, Chamartin, Principe Pio. Just check on Renfe Website the timetable for your destination.
BiciMAD is the new public bike rental service in Madrid.
It is supplied by 100% electric white bicycles: 2028 electric bikes distributed among 165 stations. This service is available 24/24, 365 days a year, for resident and tourist.
To rent occasionally from one of the stations, choose a free card covering a 1, 3 or 5 day period. To secure the card, you pay a 150€ deposit with a credit card – this amount is then adjusted according to how much you’ve used the bikes at the expiration of your card.
1st hour: 2 euros, 2nd hour: 4 euros. Service is limited to 2 hours. For exceeding the 2nd hour you’ll be charged 4 euros.
BiciMad is really cool just try it!
Taxis in Madrid are numerous, they can be found everywhere throughout Madrid, day & night. Hail the taxi driver as in NYC when you see one passing with the “green light” on. Taxi drivers are friendly. Mostly Men and Spanish, they take care of their car, they love to talk but they don’t really speak English.
Taxis are less expensive than many other European Cities. A typical ride inside the city will be around 5 to 10 euros. A trip to/from the airport is 30 euros (flat price).
As Madrid is a safe city, most taxis do not carry the Plexiglas barrier separating the passengers from the driver.
Treat your taxi driver with respect and kindness and they’ll always return the sentiment!
MADRID PUBLIC TOILETS
Walking in the street, you may search for public restrooms in a hurry. There will be up to 130 public toilets “fully accessible for people with reduced mobility” soon. Here’s actual Madrid Public toilets map.
In 2020, Public toilets are almost nonexistent in Madrid and it’s not really the done thing to go into a bar or cafe solely to use the toilet; ordering a quick coffee is a small price to pay for relieving the problem.
Otherwise you can usually get away with it in a larger, crowded place where they can’t really keep track of who’s coming and going. Another option is the department stores of El Corte Inglés that are dotted around the city.
During Madrid Gay Pride (Orgullo), the city puts portable public toilets at all major city spots, so please keep the city as clean as you can!
All foreigners have the same right as Spanish Citizens to emergency medical treatment in a public hospital.
EU citizens are entitled to the full range of health-care services in public hospitals free of charge, but they’ll need to present their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC); be sure to ask for it at your national health service before coming to Madrid. Even if you do not have health insurance, you’ll be treated in case of an emergency, with costs in the public system ranging from free to €150 for a basic consultation.
Non-EU citizens asking for regular treatment will pay everything at a high price. One good reason among many to have a travel-insurance policy. If you have a specific health problem, be sure to have the necessary information translated to Spanish with you, before leaving home. Have a look to the list of Pharmacies & drugstores in Madrid open 24 hours.
SMOKING IN MADRID
Some of you will be surprised to see so many smokers everywhere in Madrid.
In Madrid you can smoke everywhere outside (including terraces) but it is strictly forbidden inside (metro, restaurant, clubs). Some places have a membership license as a “Private Smoking club”, in that case, you’ll see a lot of people smoking while dancing.
Buying cigarettes is cheap, about 4 to 5 euros a packet of Lucky, Marlboro or equivalent. Shops are called Estanco some of them are closed on Saturday and Sundays, others are open 7/7, 24/24 (especially in Chueca).
You can also buy 7/7 at El Corte Inglés department Store. Last but not least, many restaurants, bars and clubs have automatic machines where you can buy packets with an extra charge of only 0,50 cts.
You are encouraged to use public ashtrays available on top of every street rubbish bin.
MADRID PUBLIC SAFETY
Madrid is particularly safe but, as in any large European city, please keep an eye on your personal belongings at all times and exercise common sense.
Just be aware of pickpockets on public transports and around major tourist sites such as Museo del Prado or Parque del Retiro. Empty dark streets at night are rare in Madrid, but cruising in Parks in the middle of the night could put you in danger.
You will rarely see a fight in the street or in the club, we are lucky here: people are going out to enjoy a good night, not to get into trouble, even if some of them might be totally drunk!
So enjoy, be nice with the others and don’t be paranoid about safety!
MADRID INTERNET ACCESS
In Madrid Barajas Adolfo Suárez Airport you can connect to the Internet with your laptop, mobile phone or any other device with WiFi technology, through Unlimited Free WiFi (supported by advertising).
Madrid is fully equipped in 4G+, so the Internet connection is fast and reliable. If you are a citizen of the European Union, you will have roaming included (voice + data) at no additional cost. Many Bars, Restaurants or Hotels offer Free WiFi Connection. Just ask for “Do you have WiFi?” as they usually do not advertise for it.
If you book a touristic flat, you might have a very good ADSL connection, or Fiber connection (up to 300mbs). Make sure to ask your host about passwords 🙂
MADRID CAR RENTAL
In addition to Madrid’s public transportation, and public bike rentals, you”ll find of course in Madrid all the major car rental companies. The top 5 based are the European classics: Hertz, Europcar, Avis, Sixt and GoldCar Rent. Their main offices are located at the airport or at Atocha train station,
We recommend you to book in advance during Madrid Gay Pride (Orgullo Gay de Madrid). Finding a place to park in the center during the festival will just be IMPOSSIBLE: the city center (Chueca, Puerta del sol) is almost 100% pedestrian.
MADRID BANK HOLIDAYS
- January 1 – New Year
- January 6 – Epiphany
- April 9 – Holy Thursday
- April 10 – Good Friday
- May 1 – Labour Day
- May 2 – Feast of the Community of Madrid
- May 15 – San Isidro
- August 15 – Assumption of the Virgin
- October 12 – National Day of Spain
- November 2 – All Saints Day
- November 9 – Our Lady of the Almudena
- December 7 – Day of the Spanish Constitution
- December 8 – The Immaculate Conception
- December 25 – Nativity of the Lord
Madrid has a unique timetable to have breakfast, lunch, dinner, aperitif, drink, club and sex. Let’s make it simple: if you are coming from Paris, just add +2 hours, from London +3 hours, from United States +4 hours.
Ok to make sure you get it well: true breakfast is at 10:30; lunch is from 14:00 to 15:30, even later on weekend days, dinner is at around 22:00, bars are like by 23:30, club between 01:00 & 03:00 depending the party.
It might sounds late for many of you, but remember: Spanish people are finishing work late (20:30-22:00), and in the summer sun is hot up to the end of the day, so people are not used to be in the street earlier than 21:00.
But this is true, during Madrid Gay Pride 2020 (Madrid Orgullo), as many LGBT Tourist are here, streets will be packed earlier for sure. Except for clubs: don’t go there before 00:30 as a minimum!
After 3 days you should be without any jet lag, just take a nap that’s the Spanish secret to the nightlife.
MADRID PLUGS & ELECTRICITY
if you are a foreigner and you are bringing any electrical appliances to Spain you might wonder “What is the kind of plug and voltage in Spain?”
Like in France, Portugal, Belgium or Italy, Spain uses the 220V voltage, 2 round pins (see the image). Plug adapters are available everywhere in case you’re coming from London or the USA or any other countries.
But as a Worldwide Gay Traveler, sure you have one yet right ?!
Lack of batteries for your mobile? You will find free charging points in many cafes and bars, even little by little in the metro of Madrid that is installing chargers for mobile devices in many of its stations.