This is an explanation about what to live in Alcala de Henares really is like: people, weather, work hours, transportation, safety…
What you need to know if you are going to live in Alcala:
- Alcala de Henares is located in the center of Spain, 35 kilometers northeast of the city of Madrid (30-40 minutes).
- It has a population of around 200,000, one of the largest in the region after Madrid.
- Its historical center and University are one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. Learn more about the History of Alcala in this link.
- Alcala is well known for its white stork population, which accounts for 10% of the birds residing in the Community of Madrid. Click here to learn more about this fact.
- Cervantes was born in Alcala. He was a Spanish novelist who wrote Don Quixote, the first modern European novel, and he is known as the greatest Spanish writer of all time. Alcala loves Cervantes.
Climate of Alcala de Henares:
- The climate of Alcala is the continentalised Mediterranean. It means cold, dry winters and hot, dry summers.
- Rains fall mainly in spring and autumn. Snow falls occasionally.
- Temperatures vary from some degrees below 0 °C in December and January, to some over 40 °C in July and August. The average temperature is about 15ºC.
Do you know how we recognize you? You may wear socks with sandals during the summer, but what really impress us is you wearing just a little T-shirt when it is still freezing cold. We only take out our coat when it is actually hot: a small ray of sun during the winter is not enough.
Organization of the day:
Like most people when they first move to Spain, you may find it tricky to adapt to our timetable. We do everything one or two hours later than you are used to. Sorry.
- Schedule of meals:
Breakfast (light, sometimes just a cup of coffee): after waking up
Lunch (the biggest meal of the day): around 2-3 pm
Dinner(light meal): around 9-10 pm, even later during the summer
- Business, shopping, and school hours:
School hours: from around 8:30 to 2:30.
Long working hours, from 7-9 am to 6-8 pm.
Long break (3-4 hours long) in the middle of the day: most businesses close and the streets are not very busy, especially during the summer.
- Social schedule:
Siesta, a nap after lunch (a tradition that is being lost)
Meeting your friends on the weekend: 10-11 pm
Some people think punctual means being around 15-30 minutes late. Sorry again.
Move around Alcala de Henares:
The main mean of transportation in Alcala is your own feet.
- Most people just walk everywhere. You won’t need a car if you live in the city center.
- Bikes are being increasingly used, although not much yet.
- Many people live in Alcala, but work in Madrid: they walk to the bus or the train station every day. Some may use urban buses to go there.
How much does it cost to live in Alcala de Henares?
Living in Alcala is cheaper than living in bigger cities of Spain, for example Madrid. We calculated how much can you expect to expend while living in Alcala de Henares in this post.
Tipping is not common in Spain: we never leave a tip just for a drink or a ‘menu del día’. Sometimes we leave a bit of the change after paying the bill in a mid-price or expensive restaurant, but we will never dig into our pockets to get money out just to leave it as a tip. Just save your money.
What are the people in Alcala de Henares like?
Spaniards in general are a very friendly, warm and fun-loving people. People are very proud of their history and culture and are very happy when foreigners take an interest.
Family life is very important for most people. Socializing and enjoying life is essential. We need little excuse for party or a fiesta.
- Alcala is full of student life: plenty of young people studying in the University of Alcala de Henares , many new Erasmus and exchange students every Semester, and even more international students learning Spanish in the city.
- The average English skills of the people in Alcala’ are … none. You may be lucky and find someone who speaks Spanglish.
- Alcala de Henares is a safe city, even at night. Most girls go back home alone after party no matter what time of night it is. (Even though the chance of being the victim of crime is low, use your common sense).
- Most Alcalaínos are proud of their University and the fact that Alcala is a city, while Madrid is not. Click here and here to know why.
Don’t ever ever say that Alcala was important because of being close to Madrid, it is simply not true. Since we are ‘alcalaínos’, we felt the need of explaining this fact ‘briefly’ in this post.
Getting to know Alcala de Henares:
Are you new in Alcala? In our website you will find more useful information for you during your first days in the city.