Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Shopping in Madrid

Like any other modern metropolis, Madrid has several shopping areas, department stores, shopping malls and local shops to choose from, dotted about the city. Madrid is the best city in Spain to go shopping because of it wide choice. Whatever you wish to buy, Madrid has everything spread around about 60,000 stores. Madrid shopping is so much special because there are so many different styles, prices and products to choose from.

The most exclusive boutiques, luxury jewellery stores, art galleries, craft shops and antique shops coexist with leader shops, technology stores, beautiful book stores, avant-garde shops and markets. And also with mall centres with shops and leisure offers! To spend a full day shopping in Madrid is perfectly possible; you just need enough time, patience and looking forward to enjoy it!

Most stores and shopping centres open all the day long, whether they are on the periphery, as if they are in the city centre. But the most traditional shops open from 10:00am to 14:00am and from 16:30pm to 20:30pm. Madrid is divided into several distinct shopping areas: Centro, Salamanca, Chueca, Cuatro Caminos, Princesa y el Rastro.

Centro Area (Sol- Mayor-Arenal)

This area is shaped by the Plaza Mayor, the Gran Via, the Puerta del Sol, the Preciado street, etc. Maybe this is the most convenient area for tourists. Here you can buy the typical Spanish souvenirs. But that's not all, because around this district you can buy almost everything: from the most traditional handicrafts, ceramics, leather or jewellery, to castanets, guitars or Manila shawls and flamenco dresses. It is also possible to buy the most modern products and clothes in the famous El Corte Inglés department stores.

Salamanca Area (Goya- Serrano)

The smartest shopping district is Salamanca northeast of the centre, around Calle Serrano. Salamanca is a glamorous place to do shop in Madrid. This area is also called "the golden mile". Top designer names like Yves Saint Lauren, Valentino, Donna Karan, Chanel, Hermenegildo Zenga or Lucchino, are spread around this area. If you can afford to splash out you are guaranteed to find something truly different here.

Chueca Area

Chueca is a trendy, bohemian area, where you'll find real originals and designer goods. It has turned into the most avant-garde and modern part of Madrid. To find real authentic bohemian styles in Chueca, look for the Fuencarral indoor market on Fuencarral street. All streets here are full of modern restaurants, alternative cafes and shops and the most original hairdressers and tattoo parlours.

Cuatro Caminos Area (Bravo Murillo)

Another paradise for purchase lovers is the Cuatro Caminos area, in the north of Madrid. You'll find it between Bravo Murillo street and Orense street, near the Plaza de Castilla. In this area the shopping centres coexist with clothes stores, small shops and markets with the most popular prices.

Princesa Area

If you don't want to hurt your bank balance this is the shopping area you are looking for. Here you'll find the typical clothes franchise stores such as Bershka, Zara, Stradivarius or Pull and Bear. This is the favourite district among the young people.

The Rastro market

The Rastro is the most important market in Madrid. You need about 3 hours just to walk around it. On Sundays and public holidays between 9:00 and 14:00 am, hundreds of street stalls make up this beautiful market around Ribera de Curtidores street and its surroundings. It is an unavoidable visit for every tourist that goes to Madrid, as well as a reference point for Madrid's people. Here it's possible to buy almost everything: from first and second-hand clothes, shoes, books and antiques, to fruit, flowers, accessories, collectable items, music, pictures or the most absurd junk.

In recent years a number of shopping centres have sprung up around Madrid. They offer a combination of all kind of stores, restaurants and leisure offer, such as cinema and sports complexes. The biggest ones are located in Alcobendas, Arroyomolinos, Getafe and Las Rozas.

VAT (IVA) of 16% is charged on most goods in Spain. It is possible for visitors from outside the EU to claim a tax refund from many central shops - shoppers should look for the Global Refund Tax Free Shopping stickers in windows and ask for Tax Free Cheques and keep them along with receipts to be presented at airport customs upon departure.

After a day scouring the shops, you'll need to rest! Take a look at Madrid Apartments
and enjoy the city.

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