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Traveling within Madrid
Madrid has a very sophisticated public transport network consisting of 16 subway lines (“metro”), buses, and a commuter rail (“Cercanías”). The best part? For people under 26 years of age, you can get a transport pass that covers all transport in Madrid, in all zones for only 20€ a month!
Public Transport Network & Passes
Your public transport pass is called a tarjeta transporte público, or TTP. While you can get it once you arrive in Madrid, we recommend ordering it online 2-4 weeks before you arrive so you can use it from the moment you get here. Check out our guide for ordering your TTP.
You can also buy single tickets or a 10-ride pass. This is good for friends or family who visit you for a short time. However, these tickets have certain drawbacks over longer periods of time:
- Over time, these tickets are more expensive than the 20€ / month TTP. You need to buy a card to load the tickets onto that costs 2.50€, and then each ticket can cost 1.50€ - 8€ depending on which zones you’re traveling to
- A 10-ride pass costs 12.20€, or 1.22€ per ride, but is only valid in Zone 1 and again, quickly becomes more expensive than 20€ per month
- If you do not have the monthly TTP, you have to pay a supplement of 3€ every time you take the metro to/from the airport
- You can’t change modes of transport in the same journey (for example, taking the metro then switching to the bus)
Not sure how to get where you’re going? Google Maps is fairly reliable when it comes to public transport in Madrid.
All official taxis are white with a red line on the front doors and have a visible taximeter inside displaying the price. The driver’s license number is displayed inside the car. They are safe and reliable. You can hail a taxi easily in any busy street or find a taxi stop. You can also order one in advance with the MyTaxi app or by calling (+34) 915 478 200. You can even order a bigger cab for more people or luggage. Always ask for your receipt - If you forget your phone/wallet in the cab, you can easily track the driver down.
Cabify and Uber are options, but may have limited availability in Europe.
Traveling Beyond Madrid
Spain has several networks of buses that connect its towns and cities. When you’re traveling outside Madrid, be sure to compare bus and train options to see which will be faster or cheaper.
Intercity Bus Information
The major bus stations (intercambiador) are:
- Plaza de Castilla, accessible by metro lines 1, 9, and 10, for most buses heading north
- Avenida de América, accessible by metro lines 6, 7, and 9, for most buses heading east
- Moncloa, accessible by metro lines 3 and 6, for most buses heading northwest
- Méndez Álvaro Estación Sur, accessible by metro line 6, for the longer-distance buses
The Spanish national rail company is Renfe. You can buy tickets on their website or at the train stations. Most cities are connected by rail, and Spain boasts several high-speed train routes.
The AVE (High-Speed Train) is a great option to get from Madrid to Barcelona in under two hours, or to Sevilla, Córdoba and Granada in the south in under three hours.
The major train stations in Madrid are:
- Atocha, accessible by metro line 1, for most trains heading south and east
- Chamartín, accessible by metro lines 1 and 10, for most trains heading north and west
Most major airlines fly to Madrid's Barajas Airport.
Many students take advantage of low-cost airlines for affordable weekend getaways. However, these airlines have strict rules about luggage allowances and what’s included in your ticket. When traveling on your own, be sure to check which terminal your flight leaves from. You can do this simply by Googling the flight’s airline and number (ex. Iberia 6166).
Be sure to arrive at the airport with plenty of time to check your luggage, go through security, and find your gate. We recommend 1.5 hours in advance for flights within Europe, and 2.5 hours in advance for flights outside of Europe.
Traveling Between Madrid & Barajas Airport
- There’s an express airport shuttle bus that leaves from Atocha, Cibeles, and O’Donnell, 24/7. It takes approximately 40 minutes and costs 5€
- Metro line 8 goes to all airport terminals (but does not run from 1 a.m. - 6:30 a.m.)
- The Cercanías goes to Terminal 4 (but does not run from 11:30 p.m. - 5 a.m.)
- The flat rate in a taxi is 30€