Getting to MADRID
Madrid is an easy city to get around and the airport is a short journey from the city centre. Its very easy to walk to the gay district of Chueca from your hotel.
Using the Metro de Madrid (Madrid’s Subway/Underground) is efficient and usually easier than using the buses, especially if one is new to the city. Also, the underground tunnels of the Metro provide relief from the sun on particularly hot days. Single trip tickets with unlimited changes within Madrid city (zone A) cost €1,00. If you plan to make at least seven metro trips, think about buying the Metrobús tickets which offer a better value of 10 rides for €6.70. You can buy these tickets at Metro stations, news-stands, and estancos (tobacconists’). They are valid not just on the Metro but also on EMT city buses (the red ones), including the night bus network (its buses are called Búhos – night owls). Stamping the ticket one time allows you to use the Metro network as long and far as you like – make sure you stay inside the Metro zone, once you leave it, you’ll have to stamp your ticket again. When travelling by bus, the ticket needs to be stamped each time you enter a bus.
In addition to a bus pass, consider buying an Abono Turístico (tourist pass). This pass comes in five versions: lasting 1 (€3.80), 2 (€6.80), 3 (€9.00), 5 (€14.20), or 7 (€19.80) calendar days. There is also a 50% discount on the ticket for children under the age of 11. They are valid from the date they are first used. The date of expiration will be printed on the back of the ticket.
On Friday and Saturday nights, a night bus service runs on the same routes as the Metro lines once these have closed for the evening. This service, inaugurated in 2006, is known as the ‘BuhoMetro’.
Taxis in Madrid are cheaper than in other European cities but much more expensive than travel by bus or the Metro. They are widely available at all hours except Friday and Saturday night when they are difficult to catch due to diners and party people fighting for them. If you absolutely must have a taxi late on a Saturday night it’s usually best to walk along the major thoroughfares towards your destination and try to catch a taxi as it returns to the city center. Calle Alcalá, Paseo del Prado, and Paseo del Recoletos are all good streets for this. Note that it can be next to impossible to get a taxi when it is raining, so it’s usually best to wait it out if you can. Unlike in other European cities, there are few taxi ranks; just stand by the side of a major road or bus stop and wave your hand for a free taxi passing by. Available taxis have a green libre sign in the windshield and a green light on top.
Official Taxis are white, and have a red stripe and the flag of Madrid on the front door. The tariff is displayed on top of the car (a 1 during daytime, a 2 during the night, which become 2 and 3 on holidays such as Christmas Eve). Ask for a receipt (in Spanish recibo por favor) if you feel the charge is too high – the driver is obligated to give you one.
There are also special surcharges if you go to the airport, like a surcharge for the bags and for entering or leaving the airport. Ask for the written table of tariffs and charges (suplementos) (shown on small stickers on rear windows, compulsory by law) before paying if you think it’s too expensive. A normal ride to/from the airport should be about €20.
Not only is Madrid the capital of Spain, but it is also the hub of the country’s rail network. Major routes include frequent trains to Barcelona on the east coast (2 h 40 min journey), where it is possible to continue on to the French coast, and to Paris to the north with access to most of the rest of Europe.
Main connections between Madrid and other European cities include:
There is more information available at Spanish Railway System Renfe (+34 902-240-202).http://www.renfe.com/