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The ideal way to get to know Madrid is to take the tourist buses. For one price you get the opportunity to ride on one or all of the three buses. There is a good commentary and through headphones provided you can choose from a number of different languages.
The red route takes you on the historical Madrid route. The blue route takes you on the modern Madrid route and the green route is the monumental Madrid. It is an excellent way to see the city and you don’t wear out your shoe leather in the process. Note the places of interest to you and visit them later.
The red and blue routes last approximately 75 minutes each and the green route is about 40 minutes long.
A one day ticket is 13 Euros and a two day ticket is 17 Euros. (discounts for young people and senior citizens.)
Opening in 1969 and connecting Madrid city centre to Casa de Campo is the Telerifico. It is a Gondola style car the rides high above Madrid. It takes 11 minutes to complete the ride (seemed more like 111 to me)
The views across Madrid and then across the vast shrubland of Casa de Campo were worth me being scared!! The trip costs 3.10 Euros for a single and 4.45 for the return journey. You can take the ride from near to the Templo de Debod just down the road from the Palace gardens.
Great in-city mass transportation
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.
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Abono Transportes Turísticos (Tourist Travel Pass)
This pass will give you free transport on buses, commuter trains and metro within the zone you buy it for. Madrid is divided into 2 zones: Zone A, which basically is Madrid, and Zone T which includes El Escorial, Alcalá de Henares, Toledo and Guadalajara.
They sell 1-day, 2-day, 3-day, 5-day and 7-day passes and the price range goes from 3.80€ to 19.80€ for an adult in zone A or 9.60€ to 39.60€ for adult in zone T. With this pass you avoid paying an extra 1€ ticket at Madrid Barajas that does using single tickets have to pay.
You can buy it online and pick it up at the tourist board office at Barajas, terminal 2, right before the subway entrance.
Validate your ticket by inserting it on the machine where you first use it and have it with you at all times, because the controlants can be quite tough (not speaking by experience). I saw 2-3 of them on all the major subway stations.
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Great tool: travel planner around Madrid
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.
- Budget Travel
Madrid by Moto
Motorcycle is the best way to move around Madrid. No traffic jams, no parking problems, no delays, cheap, you don't need A/C.
Of course if you come for 3-4 days, you won't bring your motorbike, but you can always rent a scooter.
BTW, rent a little one, not one of those huge monsters like Ivan's, which are quite inconvenient for traffic jams, LOL
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How to move around
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.
Tourist Travel Pass - "Abono Turistico"
Besides buying a regular 10 trip METROBUS pass you also have the option of buying an "Abono Turistico" Tourist pass that offers unlimited travel for the number of days it is valid. (between 1 and 7 days) Use it on Metro (Subway) trains, the busses and also commuter "Cercania" trains within the zone you buy it for. If you are using it for the Cercania trains and metro as well it is certainly a good deal. But you have to make at least 3 or 4 metro and bus trips a day to make this pass worth the price.
The pass also comes with handy city and transportation maps and has information in English.
Prices for the zone A (which covers all central Madrid and somewhat into the outskirts)as of January 2006 are:
1 Day : 3,50 Euros
2 Days: 6,30 Euros
3 Days: 8,40 Euros
5 Days: 13,20 Euros
7 Days: 18,40 Euros
Buy the tickets at metro stops, some newspater kiosks, Tourist office, IFEMA, Atocha AVE station. And remember to bring your Passport or ID as the number has to be written on the back of the ticket.
NOTE: This is NOT the "Madrid Card" which includes entrance to muesums and discounts and things like that...
- Budget Travel
DON'T be gentle to your feet
ok, we bought one of those ten-rides tickes that is valid for the Metro and the Bus, to have it just in case. Though we walked most of the time - BuT IT IS WORTH IT. In case your feet hurt too much, moving around the city by metro or bus is just fine.
Feet and Metro
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!
- Family Travel
Walking on the streets of Madrid is a fantastic option, there are so many places to see and visit, have a drink or some food. There are walking tours where you´ll learn more about the history of Madrid
Caminar por las calles de Madrid es una de las mejores opciones, hay tanto por ver y visita o incluso para tomarte algo. También hay visitas guiadas donde te cuentan mogollón de cosas sobre la ciudad de Madrid.
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Bike rental in Madrid
At first we had some trouble finding a bike rental shop in Madrid, but then found one near Plaza Mayor. We had great fun exploring the city on our bikes. If you avoid the main streets and are used to cycling through city traffic, this is a great way to discover the city and visit its main attractions. Especially recommended is cycling through Retiro park or along the wide avenues on Sunday morning, when there is almost no traffic.
Price is 24 euros for the weekend, but they are closed on Sundays so this only works if you can return the bike on Monday morning. You can also rent a bike for one day. They do not speak English, but with little knowledge of Spanish (bike=bicicleta; rent=alquilar) you're in business! Otero's shop is at Calle Segovia 18-20, 5 minutes walk from the Plaza Mayor.
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In a given Spanish city or village, walking is the easiest way to enjoy the sights. Comfortable shoes are a must because many streets are made of cobblestone. As you set out to explore you will find that Granada is great for strolling, Toledo is very easy to tour on foot, and Seville is best seen up close as you get around by walking, and the walk between Marbella and Puerto Banus is only three minutes.
All the monuments, museums, and places of interest are close to one another. The majority of the historic centers are made up of pedestrian streets and narrow, winding paths.
You must be 21 or older to rent a vehicle in Spain. An average rental will cost US $30 per day for a small car. A motorcycle may be rented for about US $17-23 per day. Helmets are required. Most insurance policies do not cover theft.
Major roads are considered in great condition. Traffic, though hectic at times, is manageable in the cities. One word of warning—Spain ranks high for the number of traffic accidents in Europe. Fuel prices are costly and could be double the pump prices in the United States. Driving is on the right side of the road, as it is in the United States. Parking in cities is challenging. If your hotel offers parking, then you will save lots of time looking for a parking spot. Never leave anything valuable in the rental car because theft of personal items from unattended vehicles is common.
National; 1-800-227-7368 (Ambassadair members receive a discount up to 20 percent off rental cars).
Holiday Autos, 1-800-422-7737.
Spain provides reliable and affordable public bus service. The bus service is reduced on Sundays and holidays.
Madrid: Thousands of taxis operate in Madrid and they are a good value. 95-547-8200.
Getting There By Car
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.
- Historical Travel
The Ring Roads
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’.
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