There are now so many options for cheap weekend breaks across Europe that unforgettable adventures are accessible to everyone. No matter your budget, your age or your interests, you can be sure to find a city break to suit you.
But when you venture into a foreign city, it is very important to be aware of local customs, rules of etiquette, and key phrases in the local language in order to make the most of your stay. A city such as Madrid can be a wonderful destination for a weekend break, but most first-time visitors can be shocked at how different it is to the more tourist-driven Barcelona. Here are some tips to help you enjoy Madrid like a local.
Adjust your body clock
Madrid is a 24 hour city. After the citizens of the Spanish capital take their afternoon siesta, they are recharged and ready to take on the night. Dinner is typically a late affair and nobody eats before 9pm. Unless you want to be the people sat alone in a restaurant, it’s recommended that you stave off the hunger pains with a few bites of light tapas in the early evening before enjoying your main meal later in the night.
If you feel like enjoying a night on the town, make sure you’re well rested so that you have plenty of stamina for staying awake until the early hours. When the clubs close in the UK, they open in Spain, and the music will keep pumping until daylight breaks and beyond.
Indulge in Spanish tapas
The Spanish love their food, and at every little bar on the winding streets of Madrid you will be able to find delicious tapas dishes. Some tapas treats you should definitely try are patatas bravas (potatoes in a spicy tomato sauce), shrimps cooked in garlic, calamari, and, of course, no trip to Madrid would be complete without consuming plenty of Spanish tortilla or omelette.
If you don’t feel like walking from bar to bar, then head to Mercado de San Miguel where you can find many reasonably priced tapas all under one roof.
Brush up on your Spanish
Unlike Barcelona, there is little English spoken in Madrid. So in order to make the most of your city break, it’s advisable to learn a few key phrases in advance. Politeness will get you a long way so make sure that you know how to say please (por favor) and thank you (gracias).
And of course, it never hurts to know how to order a couple of beers. To order two beers, just say, “Dos cervesas, por favor” to the bartender and you’ll have two cold ones right away. Sorted.
The editor of Discovery News Journal, and pursuer of relatively interesting information, Simon has a Masters Degree in Creative Writing and Journalism from the University of Wales, and is a photo-journalist and writer whose written and photographic work has been represented by the AFP news agency and appeared in newspapers across Europe and Asia.