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City Fact Sheet: Madrid, Spain
Written by: Lynda Galea
Last Updated: July 7, 2020
To help our students and graduates make a smooth transition to their new lives teaching English abroad, we've enlisted our ITA Ambassadors to provide us with insider facts and tips for making the most of life in major cities around the globe like Madrid, Spain.
Whether it's finding an English-speaking doctor, opening a bank account, or simply finding a supermarket where you can find the odd comfort food from home (peanut butter!), our ambassadors have actionable on-the-ground-tips to help you feel at home in your new home city. Please note that things change and we will do our best to keep these "Fact Sheets" updated over time and that current and future ambassadors will continue to provide the most accurate and up-to-date information possible.
Meet our Madrid Ambassador!
|Visa Type||Student Visa|
|North American Comfort Food Locations||
You can surprisingly find peanut butter at a lot of the markets here, but it's a bit pricey at around €5 a bottle. But there's one store I highly recommend for American comfort food such a Jiffy peanut butter, BBQ sauce, A&W Rootbeer, maple syrup, a variety of cereals, and so much more! That store is called "Taste of America" and there are at lease four different locations in Madrid. The most convenient location is located in the center, in the Chueca neighborhood.
Taste of America (Chueca location)
Another local store I would highly recommend where you can find a lot of different comfort food and also other items such as housewares, electronics, books in English, fashion and sports is "El Corte Inglés". It's headquartered in Madrid and it's the largest department store group in Europe and ranks 4th worldwide. There are several locations all around Madrid but I like to go to the one in the center near Sol. Fun fact: If you go to the top floor of this El Corte Inglés, you will find a tasty food court with beautiful panoramic views of Madrid. Go during sunset for some amazing photos!
El Corte Inglés
One of the main reasons I chose Madrid was because of its central location. Being at the center of the peninsula makes it a major logistical base for convenient travel.
Metro: Second largest metro system in Western Europe (First is the London underground).
BiciMAD: Public transport system available in Madrid comprised of over 2,000 electric bicycles.
Buses: These operate from approx. 6am - 11:30pm M-F / 7am - 11pm Sat & Sun. The buses in Madrid are the only public transport system available 24 hours, as the metro closes down during the night hours. The night buses, also known as "buhos" (owls) run from 11:45pm - 6am. Bus routes and their frequency are displayed at the stops and you can purchase single tickets on the bus with the driver, or you can use your monthly transport pass (Abono card).
Train (Renfe Cercanias): To get to Madrid's suburbs and surrounding areas, you can use the bus or train. The train runs from 6am to around midnight and offers frequent daily services to places such as Alcala de Henares, El Escorial and Aranjuez for an affordable ticket price (free if you have the Youth Abono card). The main rail terminals are Atocha in the South and Chamartin in the North. Consists of 9 lines and 98 stations.
Taxis: Many people prefer the comfort of taxis when traveling at night. Taxis in Madrid run all day and night and can easily be hailed in the street if the green light is on. Rates are fairly reasonable.
Uber/Lyft/ Bla Bla Car: All available throughout Madrid if you download their apps.
AVE Highspeed Railway: Super fast train that can take you to many cities in Spain in half the time such as Barcelona and Sevilla (approx. 2.5 hours).
Madrid - Barajas Airport: Spain's busiest airport and the main hub of Iberia Airlines. Serves as the main gateway to the Iberian peninsula from Europe, America, and the rest of the world. Located in the city limits of Madrid, and easy to get to by Cercanias or Metro.
|Hospitals & Doctors (English Speaking)||
The three places I recommend are:
Dr. Borras Frances, Ruben Vicente: Highly recommended from the expat community, speaks flawless English. General Medicine/Family Practice. Consultation hours by appointment only: Mon - Fri 12:30 - 6:30pm.
Dr. Pablo Solis Muñoz: Specialist in Digestive Diseases, Gastroenterology.
Dr. Ricardo Picatoste Merino: Office Hours: 9am- 1pm and 4pm - 8pm M-T, and 9am - 1pm Fridays, by appointment only.
|Beauty Supply Stores, Hairdressers & Barbers||
Beauty Supply Stores:
- Oh My Cut!
|Bank Account Location||
Banco Sabadell Calle de Agustina de Aragon, 14 28006 Madrid
Welcome to the culinary capital where there is so much delicious food, that it's a foodies dream! Here are just a few recommendations of typical places I enjoy eating at:
1. Takos Al Pastor: Best tacos in Madrid, for super cheap!
Some places I like to explore include:
1. Retiro Park: Largest park in Madrid where you can rent paddle boats on the lake for €6.
2. La Bicicleta Cafe: Cool coffee shop with a ton of space downstairs for studying and super tasty drinks.
3. Star Coyote 54: Fun bar/club in Madrid where a lot of locals and expats go, they also host beer pong and dance competitions.
4. El Jardin Secreto (Salvador Bachiller): Hidden bar, kind of like a secret oasis. Great for getting drinks or having brunch, but you have to make reservations first.
5. J&J Books & Coffee: English books for purchase and they host weekly intercambios.
6. Taproom: A great selection of craft beer.
7. Mercados: Any of the mercados (markets) in Madrid, they are all awesome and unique. Some of my favorites are:
|Permanent Housing Resources||
Here's a few options you can rely on:
1. Idealista: Everyone here uses Idealista, it's honestly the best way to find an apartment here in Madrid. Try to look for "private or privado" listings as you won't have to pay an agency fee. Once you see a listing, you have to contact them right away, as all listings on Idealista disappear really fast, sometimes within a few hours!
2. Badi: It's an app used in Spain where you can create a profile and look for roommates or a place for rent. I used it and found a Spanish brother and sister to live with. I highly recommend it, if you don't mind sharing a flat with someone.
3. Spot A Home: Super cool platform that takes the hassle out of finding an apartment. Have an expert personally check all of the properties they list and provide honest feedback about the room/apartment with a video tour included. Only downside is you have to pay quite a bit more for this service.
4. Facebook: Use the ITA Alumni Spain Group and other expat groups to look for housing in the area. I did my TEFL at TtMadrid and they set us up in a larger Facebook group specifically created for housing in Madrid.
|Expat Community Resources||
A few recommendations:
Internations: Set up an account and get connected with locals in the area through multiple interest groups.
TtMadrid: This is the TEFL program I went through which has a pretty large expat community that is constantly growing.
Meetup: Don't forget about this one, there are several different interest groups you can find from running in the park, to yoga, to beer fans in Madrid.
Honestly, feel free to use me as a resource. I've spent over a year living in Madrid and have learned a lot over the short time I've been here. Check out my blog for some recent posts ranging from what to pack, to things I've learned since moving here, etc. here are some other helpful websites about Madrid that I use frequently:
- Teaching English in Spain: Country Profile
- What Type of Visa Can I Use to Teach English in Spain?
- What is the Cultural Ambassadors Program for Teaching English in Spain
- Spain Alumni Facebook Group: Only enrolled students & alumni may post, but anybody can check out the conversation between ITA grads teaching English in Spain on a wide array of topics from job tips and apartment hunting to recreational activities & social meet-ups.
An accomplished traveler (she's visited 40 countries!), Lynda hails from Melbourne, Australia. Since she joined ITA in 2017, Lynda has become a primary expert on the field of teaching English online. Not only has she published numerous articles on the topic herself, but she has worked with International TEFL Academy alumni around the world to produce an entire library of information and content about teaching English online. Lynda also serves as a primary organizer of ITA's ground-breaking Teach Abroad Film Festival.
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