Getting around Madrid by public transport
Madrid is the largest city in Spain, with over 3 million people living in the capital and an area of over 600 square km. Without a doubt, therefore, to enjoy such a metropolis, it is essential to know how to get around Madrid in the fastest and most effective way.
The Spanish capital offers a great variety of public transport which perfectly maintains and unites all the main points of interest in the city. Undoubtedly, the fastest and most efficient way to move around Madrid is the underground, but there are other ways by which you can easily move around the city, from the bus (essential for the night) to the train, from bicycles to taxis and, why not, even on foot, as we explain in Seeing Madrid in 1 day.
Whichever public transport you choose, remember that there are different types of tickets and passes:
. Tourist ticket.
. MetroBus or 10-journey ticket.
. Simple ticket
. Transport pass (monthly or yearly).
To use one of these passes, it is necessary to purchase before the “Multi Card” (with the exception of the tourist passes for which it is already included in the price), a rechargeable card that costs € 2.5, is valid for 10 years and can be used and recharged at any metro stop, Cercanias railway stations, tobacconists or authorised shops. Multi Card is a multi-personal card, so, if you decide to buy the 10-journey MetroBus ticket, a single Multi Card can be shared among all travellers without having to buy one card each.
TOURIST PASS FOR PUBLIC TRANSPORT IN MADRID
With this ticket you can take advantage of all means of transport in the city and in the Region of Madrid without limits of use. The tourist card can last from 1 to 7 days and it offers two types.
TICKET A has an exclusive use for the Madrid Capital area. This pass, in addition to all means of transport such as buses and trains, also includes the 3 euro supplement for the airport, but is not valid for the Express Bus to Barajas. This is the most requested pass that most tourists use since it covers the entire area of the city center.
TICKET T allows you to travel in the city center and throughout the Community of Madrid, so it is perfect if you think you want to visit destinations such as El Escorial, Aranjuez or Alcalá de Henares.
The use of this pass includes all metro lines (including the 3 euro airport surcharge), all urban (blue) and intercity (green) bus lines, (with which you can reach places like Guadalajara or Toledo) and the entire railway line of the Region of Madrid. It does not include the airport Express Bus.
You can buy the tourist passes for 1, 2, 3, 5 or 7 days, both A and T.
The prices of tourist passes
|1 day||2 days||3 days||5 days||7 days|
|TICKET A||8,40 €||14,20 €||18,40 €||26,80 €||35,40 €|
|TICKET B||17 €||28,40 €||35,40 €||50,80€||70,80 €|
* Children aged under 11 have a 50% discount. Children under 4 travel for free on the subway and bus. Children under 6 travel for free on Cercanias trains
METROBUS OR TICKET FOR 10 TRIPS
This ticket is valid for both underground and buses in Madrid’s A zone and can be requested by purchasing the Multi Card. It can be used by more than one person and once the 10 trips have been used up, you can top up with the number of trips desired.
The MetroBus is not valid for the Express Bus to and from the airport and does not include the € 3 surcharge for the airport, which must be paid separately for both entering and leaving the airport by metro.
The single ticket is valid for a single trip both by subway and by bus and requires the purchase of the Multi Card.
The price of a single ticket for the metro varies according to the number of stations covered:
– Up to 5 stations: € 1.5
– Between 6 and 9 stations: € 0.10 extra per station.
– From 10 or more stations: € 2
For city buses, the fare is always € 1.5 regardless of the number of stops made. The ticket can be purchased on board and the Multi Card is not necessary.
The monthly transport pass is a subscription with unlimited use of the metro, buses and trains depending on the area you want to cover; the cost ranges from € 54.60 / month for zone A to € 99.30 / month for all areas.
TRAVEL IN MADRID BY UNDERGROUND
The metro is unarguably the best, fastest and most convenient way of getting around Madrid. With its 12 lines, the metro of the Spanish capital is one of the largest and most complete in Europe, and connects any point of the city with the peripheral neighborhoods and with some external suburbs of Madrid capital. The areas surrounding the capital are easily accessible thanks to the three light railway lines (Cercanias and Renfe).
Line 8 (Nuevos Ministerios – Aeropuerto T4) differs from all metro lines, as it connects the city center with Madrid-Barajas Adolfo Suarez international airport and it is for many tuorists the first contact with Madrid transport network.
The metro of the capital functions every day from 06.00 to 01.30 with trains that run with a time span that goes from 2 minutes (during the day) up to 15 minutes (after midnight).
Click HERE to download the Madrid metro map.
MOUVING AROUND MADRID BY BUS
Madrid has an extensive city bus network – a total of 194 lines! – easily identifiable by the blue color. Getting around Madrid by bus is not as easy as traveling by metro, but it makes it possible to reach areas of the city where there is no metro stop nearby.
Most lines run between 06:00 and 23:30, with waiting intervals between 4 and 15 minutes.
Buses play a vital role at night, as they continue to operate once the metro is finished. These night buses are known as “bùhos” (owls) and keep the same price of 1.50 €. They have 26 lines that all depart from Plaza de Cibeles with a higher frequency on weekends and holidays.
TO / FROM MADRID AIRPORT BY BUS
There are two lines, apart from the express bus, which connect the city center with Madrid airport: n. 200, which leaves Avenida de América and stops at Terminals 1, 2 and 4, and n, 101, which leaves the Canillejas district and stops at Terminals 1 and 2. These two lines are the cheapest way to reach the airport with a price of € 1.50, the same price as all city buses in the city.
If you would like to have more information about how to reach/arrive the airport from the city center click HERE.
GETTING AROUND MADRID BY “CITY TOUR” BUS
Madrid City Tour Bus, is a bus that allows you to get to know some of the most touristic points of the city without getting off, or getting on and off as many times as you want at one of the many stops distributed in different points of the city.
The bus has two floors, the upper part is open to enjoy the streets of Madrid without getting off and there are audio guides available in 14 languages which explain the most important places through which the bus passes.
There are two routes, historic Madrid and modern Madrid, which also offer an “extended version” twice a day and night trips (available in summer).
Historic Madrid: the tour starts near the Prado Museum, passes through places like the Puerta de Alcalá and the squares of Cibeles and Neptuno before taking the Gran Vía to the Plaza de España. It also passes through the Temple of Debod, the Royal Palace, the Almudena Cathedral and the Puerta del Sol; from here it returns to the Paseo del Prado passing by the Royal Botanical Garden, the Reina Sofía and Thyssen-Bornemisza museums.
Modern Madrid: this tour also starts near the Prado Museum, in the Plaza de Neptuno, and runs along the Paseo del Prado, that of Recoletos and the Castellana. It passes through the Plaza de Cibeles, Nuevos Ministerios and the Santiago Bernabéu stadium, and also crosses the Barrio Salamanca, arriving in Puerta de Alcalá and Puerta del Sol, ending the tour in the Plaza de las Cortes.
Madrid City Tour tickets can be valid for one or two consecutive days and cost € 19 for one day and € 22.5 for two days. Children under 6 do not pay.
For more information, visit www.madridcitytour.es
GET AROUND MADRID BY TRAIN
The Cercanias – Renfe rail network has 9 lines across the Region of Madrid. All these lines pass through Madrid by train and leave from Atocha station and, from a tourist point of view, they are very comfortable and fast to reach destinations of interest such as the Monastery of the Escorial, Alcalá de Henares or Aranjuez and also to arrive directly from the center at Terminal 4 of Madrid-Barajas Airport.
It is a public transport widely used by locals who live outside the city center and commute daily to Madrid, or even by those who wish to get out of the chaos of the city and go to natural landscapes such as the Sierra de Guadarrama.
The timetables of the Cercanias railway network range from 5 am to around 12 am. The frequency of trains is generally between 10 and 30 minutes, depending on the line.
Ticket prices depend on the destination. The tourist pass includes the use of trains, if instead you don’t have this pass you can buy a single ticket or the “BonoTren”, a 10-journey ticket exclusively for the train and that can be used by several people at the same time.
Rates based on the area are:
Zone 1 and 2: 1.70 € 10.00 €
Zone 3: 1.85 € 13.70 €
Zone 4: 2.60 € 18.55 €
Zone 5: 3.40 € 24.30 €
Zone 6: 4.05 € 28.55 €
Zone 7: 5.50 € 38.45 €
Green zone: 8.70 € (single price for any area)
* Children under 6 travel for free. There are also discounts for groups and large families.
GETTING AROUND MADRID BY TAXI
In Madrid there are more than 15,000 taxis, so it is quite easy to find one, especially in the city center, at the train and bus stations and at the airport, but there are many taxi stops scattered around the city, indicated with a blue sign and a white “T”.
All taxis in Madrid are white with a red line on the front doors.
Taxi prices vary according to fare and times:
Rate 1: Monday to Friday, non holidays, from 07:00 to 21:00.
The start of the service is € 2.40 plus € 1.05 per kilometer.
Rate 2: Saturdays, Sundays and holidays and working days from 21:00 to 19:00.
The start of the service is € 2.90 plus € 1.20 per kilometer.
Fixed airport fee: € 30 for any area in the city center.
GETTING AROUND MADRID BY BIKE
Getting around Madrid by bicycle means being able to get to know the city in a different way, faster than walking and at the same time 100% ecological.
There are more and more areas dedicated to cyclists and large green spaces in the city center, such as the Retiro Park, La Casa de Campo or the Madrid Rio Park, where you can escape the traffic and enjoy a peaceful bike ride. Both in the center and near the parks it is easy to find bike rental shops.
But if you want to move like real madrileños, you can use the public bicycle service called BiciMad, which has 165 stations and over 2,000 bicycles, all electric, which makes it much more convenient to move around the city. To use this service it is necessary to purchase a card that can be obtained at the same bicycle stations. There are two types of subscription, the occasional subscription and the annual subscription. With the occasional one, which can last from 1 to 5 days, the card is free and is issued at BiciMad stations; obviously you have to top up the card: the price of the first hour is € 2 and the second hour of € 4. The annual subscription instead provides a payment of € 25 for the card while the use price is € 0.30 every 30 minutes.
If you prefer to take a bike tour with a guide or rent a bike and discover the city on your own, have a look HERE, there are many options!