Madrid is one of Europe's most spectacular capital cities. And it is also one of the least well known. Living in Madrid is one of the most interesting experiences you can have. The city is full of culture and places where you can make the most of your international experience at any time, any day of the week.
The people of Madrid are very open and enjoy their city very much. That's why it is a great pleasure for them to show everyone who visits the different places that make life in this city unforgettable.
One of the things that Madrid is most famous for is its numerous museums, conferences, theaters, cinemas, concerts, festivals, sports activities and, of course, bars, restaurants and nightclubs. The variety of culture, nightlife and gastronomy is endless.
Art lovers are in the right city, with one of the largest collections of museums and exhibits in Europe. The many options in Madrid include the Prado Museum, the world's second-largest art museum; the Reina Sofía National Art Center, which houses Picasso's famous Guernica; and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, the world's most important private art collection.
However, there are also a great many temporary exhibits at places such as the Caixa Forum or the Mapfre Recoletos exhibition center, as well as countless art galleries in the Malasaña and Chueca districts, where modern artists display their works.
One of the most deeply rooted traditions in Madrid, and one of the most fun, is to got out for cañas y tapas. Visiting the thousands of bars in neighborhoods such as Lavapiés or La Latina, in the heart of Madrid, and sitting at one of the sidewalk cafés for a traditional caña of beer accompanied by a tapa-sized appetizer is an experience not to be missed.
But the culinary possibilities doesn't end there. Madrid has many places to get together with friends over a good meal: From the traditional cocido madrileño stew to any of the specialties found in Spanish or international cuisines.
Madrid offers a great atmosphere just about any night of the week. The city's great nightlife is one of its main attractions. There is a wide and varied selection of bars, pubs and nightclubs.
From areas such as Santa Ana, Huertas and Alonso Martínez, where you can have some beers and tapas and continue on until dawn, to areas filled with nightclubs and discos, such as Azca. There are also college night spots like Moncloa and Argüelles, gay-friendly districts such as Chueca or alternative places for a night of rock-and-roll such as Malasaña.
Madrid is much more than museums and exhibits. Just walk through any of its streets and you will find locations filled with culture and history. A walk through the historical center, exploring the Hapsburg quarter, the Puerta del Sol or Plaza de la Villa square, is a unique experience. And while you're there, you can also take a break at the San Miguel Market, where you can try the delicious gourmet treats prepared there.
Typically Spanish traditions can also be found in Madrid. The city boasts one of the country's most important bullrings: Las Ventas. And, of course, there are a great many places to take in a flamenco show, such as the Corral de la Morería, the world's oldest flamenco venue or tablao.
Students at the Real Madrid University College can also enjoy the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium from up close, as some of the program activities take place there.
In addition, less than an hour outside of Madrid there are a good number of places of historical, cultural or tourism interest, such as Toledo, El Escorial Monastery, Alcalá de Henares, Aranjuez or the medieval cities of Ávila, Segovia and Cuenca.
Shops open at between 9:00 and 10:00 am and tend to close at around 8:30 or 9:00 pm. However, many of them take a break between 2:00 and 5:00 pm. But not all of them close in the afternoon. Malls and department stores open at 10:00 am and do not close until 9:00 pm.
Madrid has a very dry continental climate, so winters tend to be quite cold and summers are very hot.
In the winter, temperatures range between 40º and 60º F. Nighttime temperatures tend to reach freezing, and it sometimes snows, but very little.
In the summer, the days are very sunny and temperatures can reach 95º F, although they drop to 70º F at night.
During the spring and fall, temperatures vary greatly, and can even go from 40º to 75º F in a single day. The days are quite sunny, although there may be brief storms occasionally.
Madrid is not an especially expensive city compared to other world capitals. The cost of living can reach an average of €1,000 a month, but that cost includes accommodation, food and other expenses such as transportation.
The following table offers guidelines for the approximate costs of the primary needs in the city: