Spain’s largest capital is home to a safe, clean and efficient public transportation network.
Not only is the city extremely walkable, but it’s also very easy to get from point A to point B by metro, bus and more! If you’re new to using public transportation in Madrid, here’s all you need to know. Soon you’ll be making your way around town like a born and bred madrileño!
1. Buying tickets
A single journey on public transportation in Madrid will normally only set you back between €1.50 and €2, making it incredibly budget-friendly. If you’ll be relying a lot on public transport, consider a 10-trip ticket pack. This costs just €12.20, works on both the bus and the metro, and tickets can be shared among several people. And if you’ll be in town for 24 hours, 2 days, 3 days, 4 days, 5 days, or one week, consider buying the corresponding public transport tourist pass!
With 13 lines traveling between more than 300 stations, the metro is one of the fastest and most efficient forms of public transportation in Madrid. Each line has a corresponding color, making maps easy to read and figure out routes. Catch the metro daily from 6 a.m. until 1:30 a.m., with trains coming sometimes as frequently as every 3 or 4 minutes. Frequency depends on the line and time of day. At night, be prepared to wait up to 15 minutes between trains. Be aware that trains will be especially crowded at rush hour. The metro is generally safe, but always be alert and aware that pickpockets tend to target the trains and stations, especially in major tourist areas.
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You can buy tickets for the metro in each of the stations at the machines available. Simply select your language and the instructions on the screen will prompt you through the rest. Metro trains stop at all stations, so there’s no need to press a button to signal your need to stop.
Madrid’s local bus company is known as EMT. They offer 2,000 blue buses serving more than 200 lines between the downtown area and residential neighborhoods. Normal buses run daily from 6 a.m. until 23:30, every 5 to 15 minutes depending on the line and time of day. At night, a limited service of nocturnal buses known as búhos (“owls”) runs from 23:45 until 6 a.m. the next morning, every 15-30 minutes. This is the ideal option for public transportation in Madrid if you’ll be out and about until the wee hours of the morning!
Single-journey tickets for the bus must be purchased on the bus itself. All buses are air conditioned and wheelchair-equipped, and many of the newer buses also feature seats for young children. When you need to get off, simply push the button to alert the driver as your stop is approaching.
Madrid’s commuter train system, known as cercanías, connects the entire Madrid autonomous community. Renfe, the national rail service, operates these punctual and efficient trains. Most of its stations in downtown Madrid also have metro connections. Trains run daily from 6 a.m. until 23:00, every 10 to 30 minutes. This is a great option for public transportation in Madrid if you want to explore more of the region outside the capital! Just be aware that the further away you go from Madrid proper, the more your ticket will cost (though it won’t hurt your wallet at all).
You can buy your ticket from the electronic machines in any of the cercanías stations. Like the metro ticket machines, simply follow the instructions as prompted.