After Franco’s death in 1975, young madrilenos celebrated their liberation from totalitarian repression with raging, all-night parties in bars and on streets across the city. This reveliy became so widespread that it defined an era, and la Movida (the Movement) is recognized as a world-famous nightlife renaissance. While the newest generation is too young to recall the Franco years, it has kept the spirit of la Movida alive. Not particularly cognizant of the city’s historic landmarks nor preoccupied with the future, young people have taken over the streets, shed their parents’ decorous reserve, and captured the present. Bright lights and a perpetual stream of cars and people blur the distinction between 4pm and 4am, and infinitely energized party-goers crowd bars and discos until dawn. Madrid’s sights and culture equal its rival European capitals and have twice the intensity.
Flights: All flights land at Aeropuerto Internacional de Barajas (MAD; general info 913 05 83 43, 44, 45, or 46), 20min. northeast’ of Madrid, The Barajas Metro line connects the airport to all of Madrid (‚1.10). Another option is the green Bus-Aeropu-erto #89 (look for EMT signs just outside the airport doors), which leaves the national and international terminals and runs to the city center (every 15min. ‚2.50). The bus stops underground beneath the Jardines del Descubrimiento in Plaza de Colon. Serving national and international destinations, Iberia is at Santa Cruz de Marcenado 2, M: San Bernardo. (Office s915 87 47 47. 24hr. reservations and info 902 40 05 00. Open M-F 9:30am-2pm and 4-7pm.)
Trains: Two Largo Recorrido (long distance) RENFE stations connect Madrid to the rest of Europe. Call RENFE (913 28 90 20; www.renfe.es) for reservations and info. Try the Main Office, C. Alcala 44, at Gran Via (M: Banco de Espana) for schedules.
Estacion Chamartin: 24hr. info international 934 90 11 22, domestic 902 24 02 02; Spanish only. M: Chamartin. Bus #5 runs to Sol (45min.). Ticket windows open 8am-10:30pm. Most cer-canias (local) trains stop at Atocha and Chamartin. To: Barcelona (7-102hr. 10 per day, ‚33-44); Lisbon (9$hrž 10:45pm, ‚48-67); Paris (13Vahrž 7pm, ‚119-131).
Estacion Atocha (913 28 90 20). M: Atocha-Renfe. Ticket windows open 7:15am-10pm. Trains to Andalucla, Castilla y Leon, Castilla-La Mancha, El Escorial, Extremadura, Sierra de Guadar-rama, Toledo, and Valencia. AVE service (915 34 05 05) to Cordoba (l34hr. 20 per day, ‚35-47) and Seville (2Vihr. 20 per day, ‚57-64).
Intercity Buses: Numerous private companies, each with its own station and set of destinations, serve Madrid; many buses pass through the Estacion Sur de Autobuses.
Estacion Sur de Autobuses: C. Mendez Alvaro (914 68 42 00). M: Mendez Alvaro. Info open daily 7am-llpm. Continental-Auto (915 27 29 61) to Toledo (l’hr.; every 30min.; ‚4).
Estacion Auto Res: C. Fernandez Shaw 1 (902 02 09 99). M: Conde de Casal.To: Cuenca (3hr.; M-F 8-10 per day, Sa-Su 5-6 per day 8am-8pm; ‚9); Salamanca (214-3hr. 20 per day, ‚10-15); Trujillo (3V4hr. 11-12 per day, ‚14); Valencia (4-5hr. 14 per day lam-2pm, ‚20-24).
Estacion La Sepulvedana: Po. de la Frontera 16 (915 30 48 00). M: Principe Pio (via extension from M: Opera). To Segovia (lVihr. every 30min. 6:30am-10:15pm, ‚5.60).
Empressa Larrea: 915 30 48 00. To Avila (1 Vihr.; M-F 8 per day, Sa-Su 4 per day; ‚6.30).
Marking the epicenter of both Madrid and Spain, Kilometro 0 in Puerta del Sol (Sol for short) is within walking distance of most sights. To the west are the Plaza Mayor, the Palacio Real, and the Opera district. East of Sol lies Huertas, the heart of cafe, theater, and museum life, which is centered around PI. Santa Ana and bordered by C. Alcala to the north, Po. Prado to the east, and C. Atocha to the south. The area north of Sol is bordered by Gran Via, which runs northwest to Plaza de Espana. North of Gran Via are three club and bar-hopping districts, linked by Calle de Fuencarral: Malasana, Bilbao, and Chueca. Modern Madrid is beyond Gran Via and east of Malasana and Chueca. East of Sol, the tree-lined thoroughfares Paseo de la Castellana, Paseo de Recoletos, and Paseo del Prado split Madrid in two, running from Atocha in the south to Plaza Castilla in the north, passing the Prado, the fountains of Plaza Cibeles, and Plaza Colon. Refer to the color map of Madrid’s Metro. Madrid is safer than its European counterparts, but Sol, PI. Espana, PI. Chueca, and Malasaha’s PI. Dos de Mayo are still intimidating late at night. As a general rule, travel in groups, avoid the parks and quiet streets after dark, and always watch for thieves and pickpockets in crowds.
Public Transportation: Madrid’s Metro (902 44 44 03; www.metromadrid.es) puts most major subway systems to shame. Individual Metro tickets cost ‚1.10, a bonotransporte (ticket of 10 rides for Metro or bus system) is ‚5.20. Buy both at machines in any Metro stop, estanco (tobacco shop), or newsstand. Keep your ticket; Metro officials often board and ask to see them, and travelers without tickets get fined. Bus info 914 06 88 10 (Spanish only). 6am-midnight, ‚1.10. Buho (owl), the night bus service, runs every 20min. midnight-3am, every hr. 3-6am, and is the cheapest form of transportation for late-night revelers. Look for buses Nl-20.
Taxis: Call 914 05 12 13, 914 47 51 80, or 913 71 37 11. A libre sign in the window or a green light indicates availability. Base fare ‚1.40, plus ‚0.70-0.90 per km.
Car Rental: There is hardly reason to rent a car in Madrid. Don’t drive unless you’re planning to leave the city; even then bus and train fares will likely be cheaper. Tobacco shops sell parking permits. Europcar, Estacion de Atocha, AVE terminal (915 30 01 94; reservations 902 10 50 30; www.europcar.com). M: Atocha Renfe. 21+.
Moped Rental: Motocicletas Antonio Castro, C. Conde Duque 13 (915 42 06 57). M: San Bernardo. 21+. Mopeds from ‚26 per day (8am-8pm) or ‚120 per week, including unlimited mileage and insurance. Deposit for 1-day rental ‚390, for week-long rental ‚450. Open M-F 8am-l:30pm and 5-8pm.