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Getting Around Madrid

Madrid is Spain’s biggest city in both area and population, so naturally it’s more worthwhile to take the public transport than walk around the city.  Although most of the city’s attractions and museums are concentrated in the historical center, there are many interesting sites outside of the city center worth checking out. Examples include the bullfighting ring (with a museum inside) and Real Madrid Stadium. To explore more of the city, Madrid’s transport network comes into use. Here’s a quick guide on Madrid’s transportation system.

Modes of Transportation in Madrid

Madrid is a massive metropolis; to get from one end of the city to another, you’ll need time and patience, especially when traffic is a factor. The historical center, where most tourists tend to base themselves around, is rather compact and accessible by a network of transport system. The information below will help you find your preferred option to get to and from your hotel or hostel in Madrid.

Metro in Madrid

Connecting all parts of Madrid underground, Madrid’s metro system is relatively efficient and well laid out. For the first-time visitor, it might be slightly overwhelming, especially if you’re in the metro during the peak hours. Morning office hours see massive throngs of crowds dashing all over the station. To avoid the crowd or delays, catch the metro on weekday afternoons.
There are over 12 lines in the metro system (and more new ones in the process of construction). Differentiated by numbers and colors, the metro lines might look like a complex spider-web network, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll find it easy to navigate. Major districts, museums and places of interest are all connected via the metro. The metro system is also the easiest and most convenient way of getting from the Madrid Barajas Airport to downtown Madrid.
A basic Metro ticket costs €1, and you can buy them at Metro stops through the cashier or automated machines. In addition to the basic Metro tickets, there are also daily tourist passes, called “Tourist Transport Season Ticket” (Abono Transporte Turistico). These cost €5.50 for 1 day, €8.80 for two, €11.60 for 3 days and so on. You can purchase these passes for up to 7 days.  For metro tickets to the airport, you’ll have to pay a €1 surcharge.

Public Bus in Madrid

Madrid public buses are comfortable and easy to use. If you are tired of catching the metro or if you are looking for a relaxing ride around the city, then the bus would be an appropriate option. Traffic, however, can be problematic, especially during peak hours.
There are buses from the city center to all corners of the city. Within the city, it is usually faster to take the metro than the bus. But if your destination is outside the city, then your only choice is the bus or train. There are over 200+ bus lines, and 100 over nocturnal bus routes. Check the Madrid bus website for the full list. You can also use the online planner to figure out the fastest and best way to get to your destination.
A basic Metro ticket costs €1, and you can buy them on the bus or at metro stations. You can also get a monthly pass if you are here for a long period of time.  They are available at tabacco stands, you’ll need a fixed address to purchase the monthly pass.

Taxis in Madrid

Taxis are rather expensive in Madrid, considering the high meter rate. The taxi meter starts at a basic rate of €1.85. There is a €5 surcharge to/from the airport, and further supplements on weekends or holidays. There is however no  extra charge for suitcases. It costs approximately €25 to get from the airport to downtown Madrid, depending on traffic. If you are taking the taxi within the city center, you shouldn’t have to pay more than €10 during the day. (Night charges are higher).
Taxi drivers in Madrid are generally trustworthy and always use the taxi meter. There are plenty of taxis in the city center, it shouldn’t be difficult to find one. When calculating the travel time, you must take into consideration the narrow streets and traffic congestion within the historical center. At peak hours, it might be faster taking the metro than taxi.
>>For help getting into the city from the airport, check out your options for how to get from the Madrid Barajas Airport to downtown Madrid.
Photo credit: Flickr luipermom and Diorama Sky