Sometimes it seems like Madrid is another planet when it comes to meal times.

Breakfast (desayuno)

Spaniards tend to start the day with a light breakfast grabbed on the way to work, although many people pop into a café or bar mid morning for a quick cup of coffee and croissant or cake.

Don’t be afraid to plonk yourself down on a stool at any old bar in town — even if it looks like its full of Madrilenos with not a tourist in site. Do as the locals do and order a caffe con leche and tostada.

Lunch (comida)

Lunch never starts before 2pm and can be as late as 3 or 3.30pm. It’s generally the main meal of the day and an excellent way of enjoying good, cheap Spanish food at lunch time is to sit down for a “menú del día“. This is a fixed price menu offering several choices of first and second courses with a drink, bread and desert or coffee.

Dinner (cena)

Dinner in Spain starts any time after 10pm and many restaurants won’t even open until 9pm. If you’ve had a good menú del día at midday, you could follow the Spanish tradition and go for a paseo or evening stroll, visiting the occasional bar and sampling some excellent Spanish wine with tapas instead of a tucking in to a formal dinner.

Rammed full of lively tapas bars, Plaza de Santa Ana is a great place to start.