Getting around, Madrid
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’.
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.
If you are not in a hurry to go some place the Madrid Vision buses are a good way to see the city. You can get on and off at any stop and transfer between the 3 routes. Listen to the commentary with the headphones and learn interesting things about the city.
The best way to get there from the U.K. is Easyjet so cheap. Thanks Stellios.
The Metro in Madrid is cheap and frequent a must for getting round the city. If traveling outside the buses are like luxury coaches some have toilets. Altough we did'nt try them the trains are also very reliable.
ATOCHA STATION :- for trains to the south.There's an express train to Seville that takes only 2 and a half hours.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 .
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
I see this type of transport more and more around Madrid. If you don't have much time to walk around the city, but you also don't feel like getting into a bus or subway, you can choose to rent a Segway for the day. There are guided tours of different areas of the city for you to choose, or if you just want to try them out you can do it at the Retiro Park. I guess it could be an interesting way to see the city!
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.
For everyone who wants to discover Madrid by bike I recommend to go to the bike rental shop called TRIXI . It is located in the very centre of Madrid near the “Puerta del Sol” on the street called “Jardines”. They have very comfortable ´´Dutch type´´ bikes and the staff working there is friendly and very helpful. We rented a bike for a whole day for only 12 € (seems to be the cheapest place in town) which gave us enough time to cycle around the city, visit the most interesting monuments and hidden corners and even to have a break in the Retiro Park
The best and fastest way to go around Madrid is via Metro. Very efficient and with good coverage, moderately price. A 10 trip ticket costs around 6.10 euros while a monthly pass is about 39 euros for Zona A, which is pretty much what you'll need unless you go to school in the outskirts. The monthly pass is really worth it if you'll be staying for 3 weeks at least since you get unlimited use of the metro and buses. Buses are actually a good option too, if you don't mind traffic. the great thing about taking the bus instead is that you get to see the prettiness of Madrid, as opposed to just seeing black walls.
Madrid is a big city so it's sometimes more convenient and less time-consumming to use public transportation, but if the places you're visiting are within walking distance of each other, just walk. There are a lot of old beautiful buildings, statues, and fountains in Madrid, and when you walk you can stop and take a better look at them and take pictures.