The centre of Madrid is relatively compact and can be covered on foot. However, sometimes there are so many people jostling for space on the narrow pavements that using public transport suddenly becomes a very attractive option. The Tourist Travel Pass is a cheap and handy ticket as it allows you unlimited rides on any form of transport within the valid time period. A daily pass costs €3,50 and if you want to use the suburban train network then it costs €7.
Madrid Transportation Travel Guide
Although traversing Madrid by car isn’t as nightmarish as some European cities, it still requires nerves of steel and a liberal use of the horn. If possible, try and avoid hiring a car as congestion is rife and parking a headache. Take the metro instead which is extensive and reliable or use the plentiful buses that patrol the streets.
2. Madrid Bus
Telephone – 91 580 42 60
Familiarise yourself with some key bus routes when you arrive (such as the No. 12 that runs the length of the Castellana to the Prado) and hop off when you please. Buy your tickets directly from the driver for a single journey, or a book of ten from a kiosk (much better value) and remember to validate it using the onboard machine. The buses run frequently (about every 15 minutes) from 6am until midnight but night buses are less frequent, running every half an hour until 3am and hourly after that.
3. Madrid Metro
Telephone – 91 244 44 03
The metro is easy to understand, even if your Spanish is a little stunted. Stations are identified by their diamond-shaped signs and the trains run regularly from 6am – 1.30am. There is a flat rate fare for each journey but, as with other cities, a ten-journey ticket is more economical. Route maps are clear and stations are clearly signposted on each platform.
4. RENFE Trains
Telephone – 90 224 34 02
Atocha Station serves southern and eastern destinations and can be reached by taking the through line from Chamartin which is the terminus for northern destinations. Alternatively, use the No. 8 metro link, Chamartin to Castilla, and then No. 1 to Atocha RENFE. “Cercanias” are local and suburban trains while “largo recorrido” are the intercity and long distance trains. Tickets can be bought at the respective stations.
Can be flagged down anywhere – check there’s a green light to show it’s free – and are metered. Journeys can take a while with the dire traffic jams but they are useful at night when the roads are a bit clearer. A supplement is added after midnight, on Sundays, public holidays and when travelling to and from the airport.