Using Public Transportation in Madrid

Travel Tips — By Sarah E. Rogers on September 10, 2011 at 11:39 am

Fast, efficient and cheap, Madrid has one of the best public transportation systems in the world. Seriously. There is no reason to spend money on taxis (though they are plentiful) if you don’t want to.

While Madrid’s public transportation network actually consists of subways, trains, buses and light rail, the Metro (subway) system is Madrid’s preferred method of transport for locals and visitors alike. It’s very easy to navigate and well serves all the neighborhoods in the city. So let me show you how to use the Metro system.

Get a Ticket

You can buy a Metro ticket from the ticket window (many agents speak English) or from one of the ticket machines (in Spanish, English, French, German, etc). Buy a single ride ticket or a 10-ride ticket.

Insert your ticket into the turnstile to gain access to the whole Metro system. You won’t need it to exit the Metro, but you should still hang on to it. Metro personnel occasionally check tickets and will fine you if you don’t have yours with you.

Navigate the Metro

Each subway line is distinguished by a color and a number; for example, the Yellow Line is also known as Line 3. Though system maps are displayed on the walls of every station, pocket-size system maps in English and Spanish are also available for free at all Metro stations. At some stations you can just grab them from the staffed ticket window counter, but at others you have to ask for them.

Each station has two platforms, one for each direction the line travels in. They are labeled with the last station on that line.

So to get to where you want to go, simply remember the color or number of the line, the name of the last station in the direction you want to go to (so you’ll leave from the right platform) and the station you want to get off at. It sounds more complicated than it is, I promise! Look at any Madrid Metro map and you’ll see what I mean.

Map It

If you’re not sure which Metro stations will get you to where you need to be, consult the Madrid Metro’s official website (in English or Spanish). Enter your starting address and destination address and they’ll point you in the right direction by generating all the instructions you need, including walking directions to the nearest Metro station.

That’s all there is to it!

[Photo: Mingo Hagen]