March 29, 2011
From Los Angeles to Madrid, your travel options are vast — if you don’t mind connecting flights. If you want a nonstop flight, Iberia will have them beginning March 28. Flight duration is roughly 11 hours and 20 minutes. American citizens need a passport that is valid for at least 90 days from point of entry.
You can get around Madrid via taxis, buses and the Metro. The Metro is especially convenient, since it stops right at the airport.
WHAT TO BRING:
There’s much to do in Madrid — including shopping, art museums, flamenco shows and tapas bars — so this depends on your interests. Madrid is a big walking city, so be sure to pack comfortable shoes; even if you’re taking the Metro, there will be plenty of stairs up and down.
WHEN TO GO:
Spring is considered the best time of year to visit Madrid — the days are warm and nights are cool. The average temperatures are in the 60s. The weather in autumn and early summer is also pleasant; in the late summer, the average temperature is 78 degrees, but can get into the 100s. Winter days (December through mid-March) average in the 40s. It rains occasionally throughout the year, though mostly in October and late spring, so you may want to take an umbrella. Winters are usually dry, though it has been known to snow. In terms of dress, leave the tattered jeans and tennis shoes at home; Madrileños aren’t just chic — they are elegant, too, and wouldn’t be caught dead in a pair of sweats unless they’re headed for a tennis match. Sure, there is the bohemian set, but only you know if you can get away with that look. Bring a dress or a jacket and tie … just in case.
If you have an iPad, iPhone or other smart phone, you can download scores of handy travel apps for Madrid, including Metro de Madrid (map of the metro); Lonely Planet city guides; language apps such as World Nomads and the Oxford Translator Travel Pro; currency converters such as CurCon; and even a Michelin guide restaurant app. For other electrical gadgets, including blow dryers and computers, you’ll need the proper adaptors and converters — which, by the way, are two different things. An adaptor simply changes the plug, which is fine if the device already has a converter within it, though some items still need separate converters. Don’t forget a sleep mask and ear plugs — not only will they come in handy on the flight over, you’ll need them to sleep in after late nights at tapas bars and flamenco shows.
Euro is the currency, so change some money before you leave so that you’ll have cash upon arrival. You can likely strike a better deal at a currency exchange once you get here, or use an ATM. Tipping isn’t obligatory in Madrid, but always welcome for good service.
INFORMATION AND RESERVATIONS:
For booking hotels, restaurants, theatrical shows, tours, transportation and flights, and for more information, go to www.turismomadrid.es.
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