Cost of Living in Madrid
Overall, the average consumer prices in Spain are significantly lower from average prices in other western European countries. However, in cities such as Madrid and Barcelona, they can still be higher than the rest of the country, especially regarding the prices of rent and services.
- Groceries (on average): Fresh bread costs 0,85 per piece, milk 0,80 EUR/litre, cheese 9-10 EUR/kg, potatoes 1,15/kg
- Eating Out: A meal in a cheap restaurant costs around 12€, and around 30€ in a mid-range restaurant. A pint of local beer costs just around 2,5€
- Leisure: A cinema ticket costs approx. 9€, and a Fitness Club Monthly fee is about 35€
- Clothing: The price of a chain store pair of jeans is about 20€, increasing up to 70€ for a branded sport trousers. A mid-range pair of running shoes are 60€
- Transportation & Gas: In Madrid, a one-way public transport ticket costs 1,5€, a monthly ticket costs around 55€. A litre of 95-grade fuel costs around 1,23€
Small family-run stores (tiendas
) still constitute the bulk of Spanish retailers, although the shopping scene has been transformed in the last two decades with the opening of numerous shopping centres and hypermarkets chains.
With the exception of markets, where haggling over the price is part of the enjoyment (except when buying food), retail prices are fixed in Spain and shown as PVP (precio de venta al público).
The best time to have a shopping spree is during the winter and summer sales (rebajas) in January-February and July-August respectively, when bargains abound and prices are often reduced up to 50% or more (the best bargains are usually on clothing and shoes).
Gift Items from Spain
Some typical Spanish gifts/souvenirs are:
- Flamenco dress or CD
- Cheese and Cured Jamón/Ham (It is recommended to check customs policies to see if they can be imported to your country when leaving Spain)
- Olive Oil
- Spanish hand-fan
- Sherry form Jerez, Cava from Andalucía or Sangria form Madrid
- Drinking Bota (Leather Wine Bottle) – Typical from north Spain
Shopping hours in Madrid
Most small shops open from between 8.30am and 9.30am (or earlier for food shops) until between 1pm and 2pm and from around 4.30pm until 8.30pm, from Monday to Friday. However, on Saturdays the timetable is changed from 10am until 2pm and from 5pm to 9pm, sometimes not closing on midday.
Department stores, hypermarkets and many supermarkets are open continually (without lunch break) from around 9.30am or 10am, until 10pm from Monday to Saturday. Department stores and hypermarkets may also open on Sundays (e.g. 10am to 8pm) and public holidays (e.g. 10am to 8pm).
Some shops close for the whole of August, when everyone is on holiday. Large stores are entitled to open on a maximum of 12 Sundays and public holidays (festivos) a year.
Madrid's Shopping Districts
Madrid, as any other big city, has many different shopping districts, regarding what you are looking for and your budget. In between the most popular ones, you can find:
- Las Rosas: A large shopping centre with all of the biggest brands. It is outside the city centre, so you might want to use this to get there.
- Gran Via & Sol: The biggest chains have their biggest stores in this area. Most prominent are the Inditex chains, such as Zara, Pull & Bear and Stradivarius. The Spanish clothing industry is now expanding into other parts of Europe, but their most important stores can be found on or near Gran Via. There you can also find Madrid (and Spain's) biggest cinemas.
- Principe Pío: This modern shopping mall was built above a bus and train hub. It is Tthe most central large covered shopping mall in Madrid.
- Ortega y Gasset: This is the classy district, where the likes of Victoria Beckham and the other footballers' wives go shopping. Not far away, on Serrano St. you'll find ABC Serrano, a three-floor shopping mall with some of world's most expensive clothing outlets.
- Fuencarral & Hortaleza: Just off Gran Via, it is the hipster paradise of Fuencarral and Hortaleza Streets. On the right is Chueca, Madrid's gay district; and on the left Malasaña can be found, the trendiest part of town.
- Opera: The area around the opera house is perfect for purchasing musical instruments, especially locally produced Spanish guitars.
- El Corte Inglés: Spain's omnipotent and omnipresent chain of department stores - they're so big that they count as districts of their own. If you can't get it in one of their many branches, you're unlikely to find it anywhere. Many try to avoid the chain in an attempt to keep alive the smaller stores, but it is often difficult to do so. Nothing beats El Corte Inglés for convenience, no matter how begrudgingly you go.
Supermarkets in Madrid
There are quite a load of big supermarket chains in Spain, the most important ones are: