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Getting from Madrid Barajas Airport to Madrid (and vice-versa)

As both a financial capital and cultural hub, Madrid is a major entry point for travelers visiting Spain. If you’re flying from outside Europe, Madrid is most probably your arrival point since most international flights arrive in either Madrid or Barcelona. For those flying from other parts of Europe, you’ll be able to find cheap flights to various parts of Spain, especially the Balearic Islands.  From Madrid, it is usually a short domestic flight, train or bus ride to your next stop in Europe or within Spain.
Handling over 40 million passengers a year, the Madrid Barajas International Airport (MAD) is one of the busiest airports in Spain, with four terminals to accommodate the high air traffic. Its fourth terminal only opened in 2006, presenting travelers with a fresh new look and even better services. The airport is eight miles (13 kilometers) from Madrid’s city center, and is accessible via various modes of transport. Once there.

Taking the Metro from Madrid Barajas Airport to downtown Madrid

Madrid’s metro system is relatively efficient and well-connected. However, there are over 12 lines in the metro system (and more new ones in construction process), and it might get difficult to navigate at times. The airport metro station is on Line 8, the pink line. It connects you directly to the commercial hub of Madrid, specifically Nuevos Ministerios.
If you are staying around the area, it’ll be easy and convenient to hop on and off the metro to get to the airport. Otherwise, if you are looking for a hotel in Madrid’s historical center, then you’ll most probably have to change trains. There are clear signs and directions even if you don’t speak the language. Before leaving, you might like to check the Madrid’s metro plan.
For those catching an inter-city bus to other parts of Spain straight from Madrid Airport, the best option would be taking a metro to the bus/train terminal. Whether you are catching a bus from the Méndez Alvaro or Avenida de America Bus Terminal,  they are all connected to their respective metro stations.  Train stations like Atocha and Chamartin are also conveniently connected to the airport by metro.
The metro takes you all the way to the airport Terminal One and the brand new Terminal Four. From there, you can catch the free airport shuttle to the other terminals.  For those who are here on a layover, there are several world class hotels near the Madrid Barajas Airport.

Taking the Bus from Madrid Barajas Airport to downtown Madrid

Although metros are the easiest and most convenient way of getting to downtown Madrid, public buses are also a comfortable mode if you know where you are heading to. Only five lines serve the airport terminals: check the Madrid bus website for full list.
Most public buses here serve the eastern part of the city: Ciudad Lineal, Mar de Cristal and Canillejas. These areas are relatively far from the city center, but if you are staying around here, the bus would be fast and convenient.
If you are staying near Avenida de America, then catch bus 115 or 200 (express service). Bus number 115 would take around 45 minutes while 200 cuts that down to 15 minutes with very few stops in between.
Alternatively, AeroCity Express offers door-to-door transfer to your hotel.  Rates range from 23 to 55 euros, depending on number of passengers. For four passengers on a weekday, the ride costs 26 euros, which works out to a low cost of 4.50euros each. The rates are higher for pickups at night and on weekends.

Taking the Taxi from Madrid Barajas Airport to downtown Madrid

Taxis are pretty costly in Spain, especially within Madrid. There is a 5-euro surcharge to/from the airport, and further supplements on weekends or holidays. There is however no  extra charge for suitcases. It costs approximately 25euros to get from the airport to downtown Madrid, depending on traffic.
Try to avoid getting a cab from touts who approach you, they might not be licensed taxi drivers. There should be plenty of taxis waiting in line outside the arrival hall. Taxi drivers in Madrid are generally trustworthy and always use the taxi meter.

Hiring Rental Cars from Madrid Barajas Airport to downtown Madrid

There are numerous car rental companies at Madrid Barajas Airport, namely Hertz, Europcar, Argus, AutoEuro and Avis. To cut cost, it would be best to reserve a car in advance.
Hiring a car in Spain is one of the best ways to see the country, although Madrid can be quite a challenging place to start off from. It might be wise to rent a car at the airport, drive to your hotel in downtown Madrid then leave the car while you explore the city on foot. Once outside the city, traffic is much more managable and you’ll find driving in Spain an incredible experience.
It is also possible to pick up the car at Madrid Airport and drop it off in another city just before leaving the country. Most international car rental companies like Hertz and Avis allow that with an extra charge.
Arrived in Madrid? Find out more on free things to do in Madrid and recommended day trips from Madrid.

Photo credit: Flickr photos by Diorama Sky