Liverpool fans' guide to Madrid

These FSF guides are intended to offer a quick snapshot of advice and info for fans ahead of their trips to Europe - if you have any specific questions about the city, how to get there, where to stay or anything else then simply email us your questions. Through our extensive network of contacts at Football Supporters Europe and experience of travelling throughout Europe ourselves, we will be able to answer just about any query you have.  

Main Tourist Sights

Madrid has managed to preserve a lot of its original charms, and certain quarters retain a very historic feel to them. The Plaza Mayor is the often the first stop on any tourist trip around Madrid, and has a chequered and varied history, having played host to everything from bullfights to classical concerts. A short walk away is the Puerta del Sol, another of Madrid’s famous squares. It is here that the Madrileños celebrate their New Year, and it is also the measuring point for the start of a large part of Spain’s road network, and is thus known as ‘Kilometre Zero’.

Madrid is also well renowned for its museums, particularly its art museums. The Museo del Prado is probably the most well known, for its collection of classical art. Located near to Atocha metro, this is the place to visit if you can tell your Botticellis from your Caravaggios, and your Goyas from your El Grecos. In a similar vein the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum (close to Sevilla metro) has a collection including works by Van Gogh, Degas and Monet. If the classical stuff isn’t your thing, then The Reina Sofia Museum houses an impressive collection of more modern art, including many works by Picasso. His impressive ‘Guernica’ is housed here, along with works by the likes of Salvador Dali and Kandinski.

Once you’ve done a bit of the cultural stuff, how about a bit of trainspotting? Not quite the anorak and notepad bit, but Madrid’s Atocha railway station is worth a visit. It was one of the sites of the Madrid bombings in March 2004, where terrorists planted bombs on 4 rush-hour trains, killing 191 people. There is a memorial located within Atocha, and also, rather bizarrely, the station is host to a large tropical garden, with over 500 species of plant. Even in winter the temperature inside is kept to a constant 24 degress, meaning that it can be a great place to warm up, and alternatively it offers some respite from the very high temperatures of the Madrid summer. 

Other notable landmarks in Madrid include the Palacio Real, close to Opera metro. The official residence of the Spanish royal family, it is also host to the royal armoury, and tours are available. It is quite a stunning piece of architecture, built in the mid-1700s.

Madrid is also the home of bullfighting, and fights still go on at the Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas. Located by Las Ventas metro, this 25,000 seater stadium hosts bullfights from March through to December, typically starting around 6 or 7pm, and lasting between two and three hours.

About the Stadium

Originally the Bernebéu was known as the Estadio Chamartin, which opened in December 1947, and was renamed in 1955 in honour of the former Madrid President . It is one of UEFA’s elite 5 star stadia, and is scheduled to host the 2010 Champions League Final. This won’t be the first major final to be played there, however, as the Bernebéu provided the backdrop to the World Cup Final in 1982.

At one point it held as many as 120,000 people, but as a result of UEFA regulations the ground was redeveloped to remove standing areas, and now its capacity is a more modest 80,300.

The stadium has its own Metro station, Santiago Bernebéu, which is on line 10. It is north of the main city centre, and is reachable on several bus-routes, due to its location on the main road Paseo de la Castellana which runs from north to south.

The Madrid metro is cheap, convenient, and comprehensive, and is the best way of getting around the city. While many of the major sights are within walking distance, and getting around on foot can be the best way to get to know a place, the metro is the best way of covering any real distance in the city and is the best way to reach the ground. 

Eating and Drinking

The times at which Madrileños take their meals are not as you might expect – while breakfast is at a time in the early morning that would be common to most travelling Brits, the afternoon and evening meals are much later, reflecting the general attitude in the city.

Lunch/Dinner can be taken anywhere from 1pm to 4pm, and for many is the main meal of the day. This, of course, is typically followed by a siesta! The evening meal is unlikely to be taken much before 9pm, and sometimes can go on until 11pm or later, meaning that the nightlife in Madrid rarely starts until late, and goes on until even later.

While there isn’t much to find around the Paseo del Prado, the streets around the Plaza Santa Ana – just around the corner from the Prado – are packed with all kinds of bars and restaurants. 

This area is a great place for the tapeo – the pub crawl from tapas bar to tapas bar. 

Tapas

When you think of Spain you think of tapas, and rightly so, but Madrid is also well known for its variety of seafood cuisine. Indeed, Spain is the largest per capita consumer of fish in Europe.

The range of tapas on offer varies greatly; originating many moons ago as a piece of bread that was placed over a drink to keep the flies away (from tapar, literally meaning ‘to cover’), the cuisine grew to the extent that the breads soon came with toppings, until all drinks were typically served with these small snacks. Tapas now comes in two forms – either the small snack served with a drink, or a larger meal, meant for sharing among friends.

What you are likely to receive with your beer/wine depends greatly on the café or bar in which it is served – some will offer up a relatively simple snack such as olives, others will go much further and give their patrons small versions of main meal dishes. Either way, it’s a great way to try some of the local cuisine.

When going out for a meal of tapas, it is more customary to order a racion, which is a larger dish than the small snack that accompanies a drink, and each person will order a couple of these to share.

If you’re looking for something typically ‘Madrileño’, then look out for cocido – a chickpea and vegetable stew, often containing meat.

If you're looking to experience a more authentic (and often cheaper) Spanish experience, then we'd advise you to head away from the centre to some of Madrid's other districts. La Latina (south of Plaza Mayor) has dozens of typical Spanish bars that will serve cañas y tapas on its backstreets, although recommending any one of these above any other would be difficult. If you're feeling adventurous, go for a wander, and see what you can find.

English and Irish pubs

Dubliners on Calle Espoz y Mina (nearest Metro Sol) offers buckets of beer for €15, and has the requisite Irish bar feel to the place, right in the heart of the city.

Another large, central gathering point is likely to be O'Neills, which can be found on Calle del Principe, near to Sol Metro.

One that comes personally recommended is The Red Corner, which is on Calle Bolivar. Not far from Legazpi metro, this is the home of an Atlético de Madrid fan club. The beer is reasonably priced, and the punters are jovial, although this is some way from the main city centre to the south.

Alternatively, there's always The Celtic Cross by Nuñez de Balboa Metro, or if you're looking for somewhere around the ground, try The Irish Rover. A very large pub located right by the Santiago Bernebeu, it serves food, has large screens and generally ticks all the boxes you'd want. Their website will tell you more about what's on and when.

Restaurants

Being a major European capital city, Madrid naturally has a wide range of cuisine on offer, from the cheap to the spectacular. Our advice, if you want to try some of the better restaurants but not pay top notch prices is to do as the Madrileños do, and make your afternoon meal the main meal of the day.

A lot of the restaurants in the city centre will offer a Menú del día, which offers some of the house specials at a reduced rate, to pull in the lunchtime crowd. These are typically 3 course affairs, sometimes with a glass of house wine or a beer thrown in as well, for around €15. This is much cheaper than returning in the evening when you’ll pay anything from €30 upwards for similar food off the á la carte menu. 

It can be particularly expensive around Plaza Santa and Plaza Mayor. A cheaper option is the La Latina neighbourhood just south of Plaza Mayor, especially along the Cava Baja Street. Other recommended areas are around Alonso Martinez, San Bernardo, Noviciado and Chueca metro stations.

Police Advice

We have been provided with the following information for this fixture from Merseyside Police:

‘A team of Merseyside Police Officers will be operationally deployed overseas for the Real Madrid v Liverpool F.C match being played on Tuesday 4th November. The officers are there at the invitation of the Spanish Police and have no powers whilst deployed. The primary function of the team is to advise the local police service and gather and disseminate information.

If you have any issues whilst you are at this match that you feel need bringing to the attention of the delegation, please telephone 0044 151 709 6010 (Merseyside Police Switch Board) and ask the call taker to email Constable 8070 Lee Lomax (Football Officer). Constable Lomax has access to his e mails and will return your call. If you have any issues that require consular advice please telephone the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on 0034 902 109 356 or 0034 917 146 300