Madrid is famed for its shopping, so be prepared with your pocket money. For the biggest concentration of shops, hotfoot it to Calle Preciados, where you'll find department stores, brand-name outlets and gift shops selling traditional souvenirs like handmade fans, hand-blown glassware, soft leather and bright ceramics. For stylish designer gear, stroll around the Salamanca district or for something different, the Chueco area has funky boutiques and art galleries. Don't miss out on Madrid's amazing flea market either: staged every Sunday on Calle Ribera de Curtidores, it's great for snapping up bargain handicrafts and trinkets.
Madrid is bursting with tapas bars, old-fashioned cafes and smart international restaurants, so you'll never go hungry. Tapas is a way of life here, so make sure you feast on these delicious titbits including soft tortilla and cured hams. Bigger meals include roasted suckling pig or lamb, paellas and cocido madrileno, a hearty broth with beans, vegetables and sausages. Many touristy restaurants and stylish tapas joints are located around Plaza Mayor, or head for Plaza Santa Ana, crowded with bars and restaurants. When it comes to wines, don't miss the region's robust Valdepenas and smooth Riojas, and after dinner sip on a glass of anis, the local anise-flavoured liqueur.
Evenings in Madrid cater for every mood, whether you fancy hanging out in an old-fashioned tapas bar or dining at a swish restaurant. Colourful flamenco shows are easy to come by or if you're up for some modern partying, the city has masses of energetic discos and ultra-hip clubs especially in the Chueco district. Otherwise, just settle at an open-air cafe around the Plaza Mayor and drink in the bustling nighttime scene.