Getting around, Madrid
I know this is another big capital city, and its not for everyone to drive on it. However, for the adventurous ones, like me, I have been driving in Madrid since 1990 and never had a scratch nor a parking ticket. Not even a speed ticket !!!
To reach Madrid you have several expressways such as A-1, Madrid-Burgos-Irún; A-2, Madrid-Barcelona-La Junquera; A-3, Madrid-Valencia; A-4, Madrid-Sevilla; A-5, Madrid-Badajoz , and A-6, Madrid-A Coruña.
From my initial days living in the city they built the circular road M-30 this was in the 70's building the section from the north exchange of Manoteras to connection with the old N-IV (now call avenida de Andalucía); and the movement to encircle Madrid and improve the beltways went on.
more on the magical M30 is here
Since then, many others have been built making Madrid a laberinth of beltways:
It came the M-40, bordering Madrid a bit further out with connection to the towns in the south and west to Pozuelo de Alarcón. Then, you have the full ring outer beltway of the M-50, which was more a project of the community regional of Madrid to connect both ends through a tunnel; it is the furthest and little us for the visitor to Madrid. You, also, have the half-loop M-45 running between the M-40 and the M-50 . There is a plan now to build a fourth full loop, the M-60, which would encompass the whole metropolitan area of Madrid, 120 kms out.
you have other smaller section of beltway such as the M-31, M-21, and the M14 that goes to Barajas Adolfo Suarez airport out of Madrid by Ave de America. You secondary circular roads such as the R-2, R-3, R-4,and R-5. These are pay tolls roads which offer an alternative road system to roads such as the A-2, A-3, A-4, A-5 etc to travel into the capital from the rest of Spain.
inside Madrid for easy bearing you take the Paseo de la Castellana that runs North to South and cuts the modern city with the old city per se. At its southern points it changes to paseo de Recoletos and continues as the Paseo del Pardo and later the Paseo de las Delicias. Other important directional streets in Madrid are those running parallel to the Paseo de la Castellana. These are: Príncipe de Vergara, Serrano, (East), Bravo Murillo- Santa Engracia (West). Gran Vía, Sagasta, Cea Bermúdez, Reina Victoria (West) and O´Donnell- Alcalá, Avenida de América (airport exit) Costa Rica, (East) run perpendicular to the Paseo de la Castellana.
Getting a good map and knowing where the main attractions are in relation to the geography and the cardinal points will let you drive at ease in Madrid even in heavy traffic. You can drive for example from Manuel Becerra on doctor Esquerdo to Atocha Renfe by reina cristina but if there are traffic jams you can cut on doctor esquerdo by ave de nazaret to menendez pelayo to reina cristina above or take the tunnel to lead you to plaza emperador Carlos V. Always alternatives , and the modern GPS works well in the city.
Some info on the different roads that are in Madrid or the region around Madrid;
A-1 goes by 18 towns such as Madrid, Alcobendas, San Sebastián de los Reyes, Colmenar Viejo, San Agustín de Guadalix, El Molar, Pedrezuela, Guadalix de la Sierra, Venturada, Cabanillas de la
Sierra, La Cabrera, Lozoyuela, Buitrago, La Serna, Piñuécar, Horcajo de Sierra, Robregordo, Somosierra.
A-2 goes by 6 towns Madrid, San Fernando de Henares, Torrejón de Ardoz, Alcalá de Henares, Meco, Santos de Humosa.
A-3 goes by 7 towns Madrid, Rivas Vaciamadrid, Arganda del Rey, Perales de Tajuña, Villarejo de Salvanés, Fuentidueña de Tajo, Estremera.
A-4 goes by 6 towns Madrid, Getafe, Pinto, Valedemoro, Cienpozuelos, Aranjuez.
A-5 goes by 4 towns Madrid, Alcorcón, Móstoles, Navalcarnero.
A-6 goes by 7 towns Madrid, Las Rozas, Torrelodones, Galapagar, Collado Villalva, Alpedrete, Guadarrama.
AP-6 goes by 4 towns Collado Villalva, Alpedrete, San Lorenzo del Escorial, Guadarrama.
AP-41 goes for 4 towns Arrollomolinos, Moraleja de En medio, Serranillos del Valle, Batres, Serranillos del Valle.
A-42 goes by 7 towns Madrid, Getafe, Fuenlabrada, Parla, Torrejón de la Calzada, Cubas, Csarrubuelos.
N-320 goes by 6 towns Valdeavero, Talamanca de Jarama, El Vellón, Torrelaguna, Redueña, Venturada.
By one town these go by N-400 Aranjuez, N-403 San Martín de Valdeiglesias., M-11 Madrid, M-12 goes by two Alcobendas, and Madrid. M-13 Madrid.,M-30 Madrid, M-31 Madrid.,M-40 goes by 4 towns Madrid, Leganés, Madrid, Alcorcón, and Pozuelos de Alarcón.
M-50 goes by 12 towns in two sections.
1º section goes by 3 A-1 – M-45, San Sebastián de los Reyes, Paracuellos, San Fernando de Henares. 2º section goes by 9 towns M-31 – A-6, Madrid, Getafe, Fuenlabrada, Leganés, Alcorcón, Villaviciosa de Odón, Boadilla, Majadahonda, and Las Rozas.
R-2 goes by 8 towns Madrid, Alcobendas, San Sebastián de los Reyes, Paracuellos, Ajalvir, Daganzo, Alcalá, Meco.
R-3 goes by 6 towns Madrid, Rivas Vaciamadrid, Mejorada, Velilla de San Antonio, Arganda del Rey, Perales de Tajuña.
R-4 goes by 6 towns Getafe, Pinto, Parla, Torrejón de Velasco, Valdemoro, Aranjuez.
R-5 goes by 6 towns Leganés, Fuenlabrada, Móstoles, Moraleja de En medio, Arroyomolinos, Moraleja de Enmedio, Arroyomolinos, Moraleja de Enmedio, Arroyomolinos, Moraleja de En
Some links to help you plan your driving experience
route planning on Michelin and repsol of Spain
copy and paste to your browser both offers weather ,traffic, and gas/petrol station information.
The Spanish gov traffic dept also offer great info on the traffic here and all over Spain
this is a 9mb pdf map that you can enlarge on the screen to see the different highways of the communidad de Madrid region including the city of Madrid
just copy and paste to your browser safe comes from the local government.
New ruling for central Madrid around the Puerta del Sol
traffic will not be done from 8h to 22h every day including Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays.
The municipality has a map informative on traffic in Madrid with a nice map
and you can see from the city road cameras the traffic ahead of coming obviously
Not recommended for the novice but from puerta del sol to Barajas Adolfo Suarez airport T2 arrivals takes by car about 20 minutes; this is not taken into account the traffic, if you included I have taken 30 minutes, driven myself and been taken many times. You leave the airport staying on left lane and follow signs for M-14/Madrid Centro ciudad/Avda. América/A-2/M-40/A-3/A-4/A-5, and go to M-14,stay on the left to get to this road M-14. Take the exit on the left to get into the M-40 direction R-3/A-3/R-4/A-4/A-42/R-5; take exit or salida 13 towards R-3,direction M-23/c/ O'Donnell/Valencia; stay on right in the following exchange follow the panels for the M-23/Calle O'Donnell/M-30 and go by the M-23; this takes you direct into Calle de O'Donnell (near Retiro park), take left on Calle de Alcalá (my old home street); Continue to the Plaza de la Independencia (where the Puerta de Alcalà is very near my old home) take a right towards the Calle de Alcalá; stay on the right lane to stay on Calle de Alcalá; take a slight left and continue on Calle de Alcalá
;stay on right to keep driving on the Calle de Alcalá; continue straight to the Puerta del Sol. You have arrive at the center of Madrid and Spain!
Further cannot give you details on the needs for driving in Spain as too many variables but only will post the Americans here
check with your embassy or auto club as what is require for your country.
and plenty of parking on the streets with patient if not there is a parking garage, great at Atocha
and the general transport tourist office of Madrid in contact too
Don 't drive in Spain.
I racked up three speeding tickets (140Euros each) in just 7 days all from automatic type systems. I only managed two speeding tickets in the preceding 38 years. My story is not uncommon for foreigners in Spain
So, unless you are prepared to pay this " tourist tax" don't drive in Spain. Needless to say , I will never drive in or even ever visit Spain again .
A way for a different look of Madrid is the telpher that links Paseo del Pintor Rosales to Casa de Campo, passing over Rosaleda, and Manzanares river. It offers a different perspective of the city and a few monuments, but, once arrived in Casa de Campo, unless you want to breath for a while in the woods, the solution is... to return.
take the plunge at 1000 meters and go to Casa de Campo by cable car or the Teleferico de Madrid at parque de la montaña, and next to the better known parque del Oeste.off Paseo Pintor Rosales, s/n., 1 28008 Madrid
and while there at casa de campo enjoy an attraction park with rides, a zoo, and an aquarium, in addition to lovely walks in the beforementioned parks, the essence of a real visit to Madrid.
the cable car is Swiss made in 1969 , and its systems is bicable with 80 cabins, each one with a capacity for five persons each. It traveled for 2,457 meters ,reaching a height of 40 meters. The main station is located at 627 meters of sea level and the tension cables stretcher at 651 meters. The total capacity per hour is of 1,200 passangers,and its maximun speed is at 3'5 meters per second so it lasted 11 minutes to reach it destination.
indeed very good you rented a car, the best way to travel...
you can get a lot of travel infor by looking at Spain route planner repsul guia campsa
its the equivalent of Michelin there. I use it all the time and even lived in Madrid.
Madrid is central Spain, so if it were me I would start in Madrid, then Lloret del Mar, Barcelona, Valencia and back to Madrid on the A3 road. YOu will have one circle in line.
You can always rent a car at Barajas and drive all over Spain, MADRID been central to all the country.
If I am visiting a Metropolitan area I generally try to get a travelcard if one is available. I realise it may not always be the cheapest option, although it can be, but I like the convenience and am prepared to pay a little over the odds for it. I don't like holding up a queue getting on a busy bus as I try to explain to the driver where I want to go in a language I don't speak and am always conscious of inadvertently travelling further than my ticket allows and risking the wrath of the ticket collector with the potential legal consequences.
I had asked on VT about the billeta and a member I respect greatly and who knows Madrid had suggested that the city was pretty walkable and for my time there I probably would not get the value from it. Both things proved correct although I think I only spent a little more than I needed and was happy to do so for the peace of mind and conveneience. When you factor in the €3 supplement to and from the airport on the Metro (which I find ridiculous as it is just a normal line and not too far out of town) I don't think I was ripped off.
I purchased my billeta at the airport and should you wish to do the same the desk is right at the entrance to the Metro station, just follow the signs from arrivals. The young man there was charming, spoke perfect English and the entire transaction (conducted via UK debit card) was completed in a couple of minutes. I had looked at a map previously and knew that I would only need a billeta for Zone A which is the central area but the man told me that a Zone T ticket covering all areas including the suburbs was the same price. I was happy with that although I am not sure if this is merely an off-season offer or something else. My five day billeta came to €26:80.
Suitably equipped, I ventured onto the Metro system to use my newly prchased billeta and there are a couple of points to remember here. The ticket itself (pictured out of the wallet) will only go into the machine one way. Yes, there is an arrow on it to indicate which way and no, I didn't have my spectacles on so it took me a little while. Basically, stick it in red end first! The place to put it is on the front of the barrier on the right hand side and the ticket will the shoot up on the top of the machine which brings me to my second point. Don't forget to take it with you!
I have to say that for some reason my billeta did not work one night as I was returning to my hotel. I do not speak Spanish but explained via hand signals and demonstration to a helpful member of staff who let me out of the station. It was too late for the ticket office to be open but I returned next day and an equally helpful lady was able to interrogate it, found it to be valid and reactivated it. I had no further problems and I should add, as an aside, that many London Underground staff could learn a thing or two from their Madrid counterparts in the matter of customer service!
I used the billeta predominantly for Metro journeys with a single bus journey thrown in but it is worth noting that it covers (Zone T billeta) all Metro lines, Madrid City buses (EMT), suburban rail network trains, suburban buses, light rail and the Parla tramway.
In conclusion and as I stated above and, I may have paid a little more than I needed to have done which may be a consideration for those on a very tight budget, but I was happy with the billeta and I would recomend it.
While you are in Madrid, the best way to discover the city is by bus or metro. If you don't want to deal with obtaining tickets each time, you can get a ticket for 10 journeys which can be used in both bus and metro. You can get this ticket via vending machines and you can even use your credit card for payment. This ticket costs 12 Euros.
The suburban trains are included in the tourist travel passes. The suburban trains are a quick way to navigate between the various train stations (or get to one if you are near their route). Google maps, when providing directions via public transportation, does not seem to include them as an option.
As with other European cities, walking is by far the best way to explore. You will see so very much moire in that way.,
Walking around cities in Europe is quite normal and you will be in no danger if you do so. It is what ordinary people do, all the time.
There are also lots of buses (I didn't use them). You can pay the driver, which makes life much easier.
The Metro is clean and efficient. Ticket machines are easy to use and have English language options. A single-journey ticket costs 1.50 euro as of February 2012.
The city transport website below will give you information (in English) about bus and Metro routes.
But do use your feet as much as you can...you'll see so much more of Madrid!
We had not seen anything of Madrid on our first pass through the city, so we were determined to at least make a foray of some sort on the return leg of our trip to Spain! The staff at our hotel gave us a few clues on how to best get to the downtown area, starting from a city bus stop near our hotel that would connect us with the closest Metro (subway) station. We were fortunate to strike up a conversation on the bus with a Spanish lady who was also planning to catch the Metro - she told us to stick with her at the transisition point and all went well after that.
The Metro system is quite modern, clean and very efficient. For only a few Euros each, we ended up taking the Green Line from Canillajas station into the centre of Madrid, emerging just before noon from the Gran Via station in the bustling core of the city. The subway itself was an enjoyable ride, just watching everyday life of the passengers take place around us!
After a few hours of exploring the city on foot, we used the Callao station (near the Cathedral and Royal Palace) to begin our return trip - which went smoothly except for a slight glitch in trying to find the correct bus to finish the trip of. Definitely the Metro is the way to go if you want to explore various parts of Madrid. The photo shows our first view of Madrid as we surfaced from underground.
There are 3 major ring roads circling the city – M-30, M-40 and M-50, and 3 smaller main ones – M-45, M-31 and M21. The M-30 is the closest to city centre and was built prior to the city expanding and incorporating it and so it is probably the busiest in the country. Rush hour can be a nightmare on any of these main routes. The toll roads are more expensive but less congested. They are marked by an ‘R’.
There are seven main highways that travel into Madrid and are easily marked as to where their destination is. Highway A-2 is the route from Barcelona, A-3 travels from Valencia, A-4 travels from Andalucia, A-5 from Extremadura, A-42 from Toledo. All end up in the centre of Madrid on the M-30 or Calle 30 – a ring road which travels for 33kms.
Taking a taxi between the two depends a lot on the timing:
If between the hours of 0700 and 1000 or 1700 and 2000 it can take up to 50 minutes to an hour in a taxi.
Outside that time you are talking 20 minutes with a clear run.
Pricing: Daytime 20€ plus 7€ supplement (5€ airport 2€ train station)
Nightime and adaytime weekends 23€ plue the 7€ supplement
Weekend nightime and public holidays 25€ plus 7€ supplement
If you are arriving to Terminal 4 add another 1,15€ for the toll road and another 3€ for the extra distance.
I would seriously advise anyone arriving in the congested hours as stated above to do the Metro to Nuevos Ministerios via metro (departs from Airport Terminals 2 and 4) and then Cercanias (two tickets, total cost 2,30€) as it will not be subject to delays due to weather, traffic, accidents etc.
At www.ctm-madrid.es you can find many info (in English too) about the public transportation and a great option with a recommended path between two points of Madrid, including metro, bus, trains etc You just put the name of the street or the name of the attraction!!
I think the Metro network of Madrid is very useful and probably the most convenient way to move around the city. The only problem is that sometimes you need to change line more than once so you loose some time. The metro runs daily 06:00-01:30 and the ticket costs 1euro. I always buy a metrocard which costs 6.70euro and gives you 10 rides (every time you validate it there is a marking at the back). There are also 1day passes for 4euros, 2days(7euros), 3days(10euros), 5 and 7 days. http://www.metromadrid.es
There are 11 lines, each one has different color and number so it’s easy to check the map (free maps provided at the stations). Just check the direction of the train, usually written at the front panel of the train or somewhere on the platform. You can easily buy your tickets/metrocards from machines with touch screens (with menu in Spanish/English/german).
Although the metro is very useful for some spots the center of the city can be easily done by walking. Madrid is a big city, with traffic, pollution and kind of dirty but it’s the only way to “see” a new city. Take a good map, make a plan of the sights you want to visit and follow your itinerary. What I always love in Madrid is the Tapa bars in every corner where you can drink your beer and eat something light before continue. Some times we stop in so many of them that there’s no need for lunch till late at night! :)
I don’t think it’s a good idea to rent a car in Madrid because of the traffic. The metro runs 6:00-1:30am and the local buses till 23:30. After that hour there are 20 night buses departing from Cibeles square. And there are also many taxis of course, they are painted white with a red stripe, If you the lam on top lighted just raise your hand.
I noticed some bike rental shops around but for the same reason (traffic) I was afraid to use any but I guess it will be nice in less busy streets or at Retiro Park. The cost is about 12-15 euros per day.
BIKE SPAIN TOURS is at Plaza de la Villa 1 (Sol/Opera metro stations), tel:+34 915590653
TRIXI MADRID is at Calle de los Jardines 12 (Sol/Gran Via metro stations) tel:+34 915231547
OTERO is at calle Segovia 18, tel:+34 915473225
One of the funniest moments was back in 2005 when a bike protest took place in Madrid. I was in Gran Via and I saw hundred of naked bikers protesting for letting the cycles allowed in the metro!
Another way to see Madrid is to take a tourist bus(pic 1). There are three of them Red(historical madrid), Blue(modern city) and Green(monumental Madrid). The tour is audio guided (in several languages). It costs 16euros for a day or 21e for 2 days and you can ride them as much as you want. Check their site at www.madridvision.es for discounts.
I found this tool while planning how to go from point A to point B on my Madrid trip and I found it extremely useful. You have several ways to choose the best way for you: either metro, bus or suburban trains, choose by the name of an attraction or sight or by street address. Very good!
Travel planner: Consorcio Transportes Madrid - in English.
Update: for some reason the link above, which I got from their English version, sometimes ends up loading a page in Spanish. If that happens to you, click on the English flag.