Madrid Getting Around
Getting around Madrid
The exceptionally compact nature of the centre means it is perfectly feasible to spend days, or even live, in central Madrid without needing public transport at all. Getting around is exceptionally cheap and convenient, thanks to an ever-expanding modern metro, regular buses and plentiful cheap taxis. Superb trains link Madrid with famous neighbours like Toledo, Segovia and El Escorial.
Virtually everything of interest is found in a compact city centre, thronging with people, and Madrid nightlife is densely packed into key streets within easy walking distance of each other. Walking in Madrid is the best way to find unusual shops, cafes, bars and restaurants, and the famous art galleries are connected by Madrid’s most famous strolling boulevard, Paseo del Prado.
The metro is great for getting around Madrid: an outstanding modern system with safe, clean, fast, frequent, air-conditioned trains linking all the key areas. Central Madrid has dozens of stations conveniently close to each other. Madrid metro runs until around 01.30, sometimes later, and early morning metros are ideal for returning home after a late night. Fares are very cheap, and it is much more economical to buy a 10 trip Metrobus ticket (“un billette de diez”) which is valid for buses too.
Buses are excellent for trips along the key Gran Via, from the Royal Palace in the west to the Prado and Retiro in the east. The city bus lanes also ensure rapid journeys along the key Paseo de la Castellana from Atocha station in the south, past the Prado and Thyssen museums and on to Real Madrid’s Bernabeu stadium in the north. A 10 journey Metrobus ticket will save paying the driver, and is valid for the metro too. Madrid night buses ply the most important routes.
Longer Madrid city breaks can use the modern, economical Madrid suburban train network (Cercanias) to make day trips to the great historic cities of Toledo, Escorial, Segovia and Aranjuez, and the mountains to the north. Most Madrid trains leave from Atocha in the south or Chamartin in the north.
Several companies operate sightseeing trips with open-top buses. A day ticket allows you to get on and off the bus as you like, particularly useful in the hottest summer months.
Taking a taxi in Madrid is far more common than in London. Fares are cheap, the taxis are metered and local taxi drivers are a superb introduction to the Madrid character!Hailing a taxi is usually very easy indeed, with the possible exception of 04:00 to 07:00 at weekends. There are supplements for luggage, late night trips and special destinations like the airport.
Madrid airport is relatively close to the city centre and recently linked by metro. The Madrid airport bus will take you to Plaza Colon, which is handy for the Prado museum. Airport taxi trips will charge an airport supplement.
For some fresh air, take the Madrid cable car to the Casa del Campo park.
Driving and cycling
A car is a hindrance, and cycling is unfortunately best left to experienced residents.