Practical Life in Madrid

Transport in Madrid

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Public Transportation in Spain

Public transport is generally excellent in Spanish cities, most of which have efficient urban bus, rail services or underground railways (metros) and tramways.

Spanish railways (RENFE) provide an efficient and reasonably fast rail service.

Moreover, Spain has comprehensive intercity bus, international and domestic airline services as well as by frequent international coaches and suburban trains.

Metro in Madrid

Urban transport in major cities such as Madrid is inexpensive and efficient and their rates are among the best in Europe. Services include comprehensive bus routes, metros (subway) and extensive suburban rail networks. Most of the systems are totally integrated and the same ticket (sold at tobacconists or transport stations) can be used for all services.

Madrid has the largest and oldest metro system in Spain with 13 lines and 190 stations operating from 6.05am to 2am on all the lines. The subway system doubled in size between the early 1960s and the late 1990s, and it now reaches the outlying industrial and residential communities. The metro leads you directly to the airport of Madrid- Barajas and to "Sur" bus station.

No smoking is permitted on metro trains or in stations, which are clean and safe (crime is rare on Spanish metros).

To navigate routes, tickets and find more information, go to

Madrid Metro Tickets

The price of a ticket to travel on Madrid's entire network is €1.50. There are books of 10 tickets (10 viajes metrobús) that allow you to travel in metro or bus using the same ticket (price is 11,20€ or 12,20€)

Be careful wherever you go as prices change from zone to zone. Ask information at the ticket offices that are in the stations.

There are also different passes and fares are available depending on everyone needs and travel days per months or year.

Children under the age of 4 are entitled to travel without a ticket. The ticket or transport document must be kept until after the exit. For further information visit:

Madrid Public Transport Card

Madrid's Public Transport Card works with contactless technology and is used for the entire public transport system in the Community of Madrid. This is a personal and non-transferable card. The holder's name and photograph are printed on the card, along with a card identification number.

Obtaining a Public Transport Card

A Public Transport Card can be obtained on the internet, tobacconists or by post. All the information on conditions, forms and the necessary documents, and the deadlines for obtaining them can be consulted at Consorcio de Transportes de Madrid and

Trams in Madrid

The city has a light-rail network of 35.4km long. It encloses 52 network-stations, connecting residential and business areas to other means of transport with a greater capacity.

Three concessionary companies deal with light-rail services exploitation:

  • Metros Ligeros de Madrid S.A.: Managing line ML1 (Pinar de Chamartín - Las Tablas)
  • Metro Ligero Oeste S.A.: For ML2 and ML3 lines (light-rail lines connecting the municipalities of Pozuelo de Alarcón and Boadilla del Monte with Madrid at Colonia Jardín station, on line 10 Metro) and finally,
  • Tranvía de Parla S.A: Which operates the line ML4 (a circular line connecting different zones of the city with Parla station on line C-4 of Renfe Cercanías)

For further information about each of the lines contact: Consorcio de Transportes de Madrid

Buses in Madrid

EMT (Madrid Municipal Transport Company) runs regular public bus services with over 200 lines. Lines are in service from Monday through Friday from 6am till 11.30pm with night buses (búhos) on off hours. The frequency is generally every 4 to 15 minutes.

Trains in Spain

Renfe (Red Nacional de los Ferrocarriles Españoles) is the main rail company and provides suburban, regional and high-speed trains.

Regional commuter lines run between Madrid and the nearby provincial capitals of Segovia, Guadalajara, and Toledo. The country's first high-speed rail line was built for the Seville World's Fair in 1992, making it possible to travel between Madrid and Seville in about two hours.

Lines provided by RENFE trains:

  • AVE: It covers the majority of routes from Barcelona and Madrid to León, Seville and Málaga
  • Altaria: Madrid to Algeciras, Murcia and Cartagena
  • Alvia: From Alicante, Madrid and Barcelona to different Spanish destinations
  • AV City: Madrid to Málaga, Zaragoza, Sevilla and Valencia
  • Euromed: Barcelona to Alicante
  • Talgo: Madrid, Barcelona and Zaragoza to different destinations in Spanish
  • Trenhotel: From Barcelona to Galicia through Madrid. It also covers the international route from Madrid to Lisbon. It usually works as a night train

Renfe, in cooperation with SNCF, connects both Madrid (with a stop in Barcelona) with French cities such as: Carcassonne, Lyon, Marsella, Nimes, París, Toulouse, Narbonne, Béziers, Agde, Sète, Montpellier, Avignon, Aix-en-Provence and Valence.

Airports in Madrid

Madrid's airport, Madrid-Barajas (MAD), is served by airlines from all over the world and is also the centre for IBERIA airline. It is one of the largest airports in Europe and connects Madrid to most major Spanish cities and around the world.

How to Reach Madrid's Airport

The airport is located within the city limits at just 13 km (8 miles) northeast of the historic center. 

Madrid's airport is connected by metro. The Barajas Line 8 runs from Terminal 2 and Terminal 4 into central Madrid.  

EMT runs regular public bus services between the airport and centeral Avenida de América station. Take bus 200 during the day, or night bus N4.

There is also an express bus linking Barajas airport to Renfe's Atocha Station. This line runs 24 hours of the day during all the days of the year.

There is a flat route from the center of the city to the airport for 30 euros. Pick-ups and drop-offs outside of the M-30 will be charged a minimum of 20 Euros.

Taxis in Madrid

Taxis in Madrid are usually white with a red stripe. Taxis may be hailed on the street, picked up at a taxi rank or ordered by phone/app. All taxis are metered but they do not charge the same throughout the country.

The initial fares are:

  • €2,40 during the day 6am to 9pm (Monday – Saturday)
  • €2,90 from 9pm to 6am during weeknights and all day Sunday & Public holidays.

There are charges for train stations pick up (3€), for Christmas Eve and NYE (6,70€) and for those taking it to  Juan Carlos I Exhibition grounds.
Learn more about fares and standards at

Driving and Roads in Madrid

Although roads in and around Madrid are between Europe's finest, they are also among the world's most expensive roads. Spanish freeways (motorways) are often toll roads built by private companies.

Inside the city, system of priority roads have been created in order to get rid of the big traffic jams. This system is called VAO ways. Therefore, only some vehicles are allowed to drive; motorbikes, some coaches and private cars.

Driving in Spain

Regarding the fact that the conditions vary depending on your country of origin, we recommend contacting the Spanish Embassy or Consulate in your country before traveling to verify these policies before you start your trip.

Eligibility to drive in Spain:

  • Be 18 years old or over: To drive in Spain you must be 18 years old or over, and to hire a vehicle, you must be at least 21 years old.
  • A current driving licence: If you come from a member state of the EU, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, you only need to carry your current driving licence. If coming from a country other than the above, you must have an International Driving Licence.

The wearing of seat belts in Spain is compulsory on all roads at all times (not only outside of towns as it was on the previous law) and it includes passengers in rear seats. Children under 12 must travel in the back seats of cars unless the front seat is fitted with an approved child seat.

Emergency (ambulance, fire, police) and public utility vehicles (electricity, gas, telephone, water) attending an emergency have priority on all roads.

For information on traffic and driving policies:

Renting a Car in Spain

While renting a car (alquiler de coches) in Madrid is not necessary with its excellent public transport, driving can offer access to some more inaccessible areas in Spain. Driving should not be a challenge, except for those used to driving on the left!

Drivers must produce a valid licence and non-EU licence holders may be required to carry an international driving permit depending on their license and rental company. Note that car rentals may require drivers to be 22, or even 25 for some cars.

If you plan to rent a car in Spain, it would be useful to familiarize in advance with the operation of the manual transmission as that is most common. If you reserve a car with an automatic transmission you could still end up with a manual.

The good news is that car renta lis generally quite cheap in Spain. However, be aware of extra charges collision damage waiver (cobertura de daños por colisión), insurance for theft (cobertura contra robo),  baby seats, air-conditioning, additional drivers, etc.

All this said, if you want to rent a car, the best companies are:

Coaches in Spain

170 destinations are covered by national bus services. Different coach companies operate coaches over the 16,000+ kilometres throughout the country.

Almost all Spanish provinces are connected to Madrid and there are two major bus stations: Avenida de América and Estación del Sur. They provide services to a great number of cities, with departures approximately every hour.

Numerous companies also offer direct routes from European countries to Spanish cities. To know more about international services, visit the following companies websites operating between European countries and Spain.

Update 8/06/2018


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