I love Madrid for the tapas, the people and all the many places you can visit -- Plaza Santa Ana, Puerta del Sol, Prado Museum, Retiro Park, and Rastro Flea Market. I would recommend everyone to enjoy a cold beer at one of the nice terraces at Plaza Santa Ana Square while listening the improvised live music from some amateur. I just loved it! Of course, keep your belongings safe. This is a recommendation to everyone traveling abroad. You may find pickpockets awaiting daydreaming tourists in Madrid and all major cities.
Madrid is not dangerous at all, providing you be very careful with your bag and wallet! I suggest sightseeing with a photocopy of your documents in the bag, and leave the originals in the hotel room, so if you lose your bag you don't have to spend your last few days of holiday in the council to ask for a new passport -- there's always a big queue!
I liked Madrid -- a great place to visit. I was there over Christmas of '06 -- flew from Faro-Madrid direct.
Spain is not dangerous, but there are petty crimes everywhere. You'll be safe -- just not your belongings. Definitely be more cautious and always check that your belongings are with you. Don't be obvious about being a tourist.
I've been to Madrid thousands of times, I've never been especially cautious or anything, and I've walked the city day and night... I never had anything stolen, the city is actually safe. As in any city of 5 million people, you need to be a bit more vigilant I guess, and leaving lugagge unattended or stuff like that is certainly not smart... just do what you would do back at home, no more, no less.
Be CAREFUL in Madrid. We had our cell phone stolen from our hostel and then two days later our bags stolen from a metro station! Despite what you're thinking, we were being very cautious. We heard lots of similar stories. Watch your pockets and bags, and if you obviously look like a tourist and someone asks you for directions, immediatly check that your wallet's there... that's how they get you!
The two Gringos
Madrid is a GREAT city to visit! With two of the better museums in all of Europe, The Prado and The Reina Sofia, this is a city that the art lovers and those with a casual interest in art will not want to miss.
Another site that is often overlooked is in the church San Antonio de la Florida which houses some amazing frescoes by Goya. They were so popular even in his time that the church goers were so overcome by tourists that they were forced to build an identical church next door so that they could worship in peace! Nearby is the hill where many insurgent Spaniards were executed by the French on May 3rd; the same powerful scene that Goya depicts on canvas located in the Prado. There is also an restaurant in the vicinity that serves whole roasted chicken and apple cider (the alcohol variety) that always packs people in.
If you are there during the season, be sure to go to a Real Madrid futbol (read: soccer) game. Even if you don't know anything about soccer, you will be seeing one of the greatest teams ever assembled with superstars from all over the world.
Hopefully you can make your way to Madrid, because it is a city that should be up there with London, Paris, and Rome as the premier places to visit in Europe!
There are a lot of cheap hostels and pensions near the metro station "Sol" which is in the middle of the city. Madrid is very quiet indeed.
Madrid is more of a working city than a tourist attraction. But even the locals leave during the summer because it's just so darned hot. Tip: look for a "Solero Smoover" (tropical smoothy in a tube... mmm) here and everywhere else in Europe to beat the heat.