Getting around Madrid by Metro
The Metro is the fastest, most efficient and reliable way of getting around Madrid. It is one of the largest metropolitan networks in Europe, connecting the entire city and a large part of the suburbs. Undoubtedly the most practical and economical option to move from the airport to the center and vice versa.
Boasting over 300 stations, the Madrid Metro currently comprises twelve metro lines, three Metro ligero tram lines and a special Ramal line connecting Ópera and Principe Pío stations. Particularly useful for people visiting Madrid is Line 8 which goes from Nuevos Ministerios in the centre to Adolfo-Suárez Madrid Barajas Airport (20 mins to T4 and just 12 mins to T1, T2 and T3). It also goes to the capital’s trade fair centre Feria de Madrid.
The Metro runs from 6am to 1.30am, with trains departing every 2 minutes in the morning rush hour and every 15 minutes in the early hours (after midnight). At weekends, trains are less frequent during the day. Pitis station (Line 7) and stations between Puerta de Arganda and Arganda del Rey station have different opening hours to the rest of the network. When lines suffer closures due to engineering works, alternative bus services are usually availabe at no extra cost.
Download the Metro map (1.7MB)
Download the Tourist Metro map (2.3MB)
View the temporary discounts available until 30 June 2023 – Metro de Madrid Prices 2023
All pay-per-ride tickets must be loaded onto the Tarjeta Multi, a contactless, transferable plastic smartcard that is valid for up to 10 years.
You can purchase it for 2.50€ at all Metro and Metro ligero stations from ticket machines that have a red sticker saying Tarjeta MULTI Disponible AQUÍ, as well as from Estancos (tobacco shops) and other authorized retailers. It is free if you purchase the 1, 2, 3, 5 or 7-day Tourist Travel Pass, and once the pass expires, you can top up the smartcard with pay-per-ride tickets (single or 10-ride tickets).
The current fares are as follows:
|Metro ticket (Metro Zone A and ML1) (*)||1.50 – 2€|
|Combinado Metro (**)||3€|
|Metro Zone A, EMT (bus) and ML1 ticket (Metrobús)||12.20€|
|Combinado Metro (**)||18.30€|
|TICKETS TO/FROM THE AIRPORT|
|Single ticket (*) + Extra Airport Fee||4.50 – 5€|
|Extra Airport Fee||3€|
(*) Journeys of up to 5 stations: 1.50 €.
Journeys between 6 and 9 stations: extra 0.10 € per station.
Journeys of 10 stations or more: 2.00 €.
When you purchase your single ticket from the ticket machine, simply select your destination and it will automatically calculate the shortest route.
(**)Valid for the entire Metro network, TFM and on Metros Ligeros de Madrid (ML1) and Metro Ligero Oeste (ML2 and ML3) trams
For fairs that apply to less commonly used tickets (such as those for Metro ligero or Metro lines that go to the suburbs), check out this section on Metro’s website.
Many of Metro’s stations, especially the busier ones, have one or more lifts. The official Metro map clearly marks which stations are accessible.
Useful tips and information
- Single Metro tickets expire on the day they are purchased.
- Single bus tickets cannot be loaded on to the Tarjeta Multi smartcard, they must be purchased on the bus.
- Tickets for the Airport Express shuttle cannot be loaded on to the Tarjeta Multi, they must be purchased on the bus.
- Metro’s website offers an online journey planner that helps you find the fastest route to your destination.
- If you are planning on using public transport a lot during your stay, consider purchasing the Tourist Travel Pass which entitles you to unlimited travel over your selected time period.
- Children under the age of 4 travel for free.
- Dogs are allowed to travel on the Madrid Metro. Only one dog is allowed per passenger, and it must have a lead and muzzle, and travel in the last coach of each train. They are allowed at any time, except during the morning and afternoon rush hours. More info about travelling with dogs.
- Bicycles can be folded on the platform and can be used all day at weekends and at different times during the week. More info about carrying bikes.
Travelling around the Comunidad de Madrid
If you wish to travel to towns in the Region of Madrid you can do so by Cercanías. This Renfe service has nine train lines that leave or pass through Atocha station and go to towns and villages in the region, including World Heritage sites such as Alcalá de Henares, the Monastery of El Escorial and Aranjuez. It also stops at T4 of Adolfo Suárez-Madrid Barajas Airport.
Madrid Metro Store
Metro de Madrid has an official store where you can buy official tourist products including home accessories, decorations, books, items for children, and pictures. In addition to the online shop there are two physical stores located in the Sol Metro Station and the Plaza de Castilla Metro Station.
Podcast Metro Madrid
Thanks to the Metro de Madrid podcast, you can find out all about the daily life of this public transport, and get to know more about its history, services, and some fascinating facts. Available on all major podcast platforms.
Transportation in Spain: What Travelers Need to Know
With some local input, we created this in-depth guide to transportation in Spain, from Renfe (the national rail system), to buses, metros, flights, rental cars, taxis, Uber, and more—including how to get to and from the country’s major airports.
Remember, American travelers over age 12 must still obtain a QR code through the Spanish government’s Health Portal, or they can use an expediting service like iVisa which streamlines the process for a small fee.
Navigate with confidence with some local advice. Our trip planners are Spanish locals who will offer detailed transportation instructions *and* restaurant recs. Learn more.
Transportation in Spain
Renfe (Spain’s national train network)
Domestic air travel
Rental cars (what to know)
Metro systems in major cities
Taxis vs. Uber
Using a scooter
How to get to/from major airports
Spain’s national train network (
Renfe) is often the best way to get from city to city
Locals tell us that Renfe, Spain’s national train network, is quick, reliable, and affordable. It offers a variety of options including high-speed, regular, and suburban train lines.
- Renfe’s high-speed train is called AVE (Alta Velocidad) and runs between major cities. If you take the AVE from Barcelona to Madrid, you can cover the 311 miles in just 2 hours 40 minutes—and it’ll only cost €50.
- Make sure you book your tickets in advance (they are a lot cheaper), especially for AVE trains where reservations may be required.
A Renfe train | varias fotografias/Flickr
Domestic air travel is also quick and affordable
Spain boasts more than 40 airports, and there are a number of low-cost airlines that run daily flights between many cities in Spain. Most flights are under two hours unless you are heading to the Canary Islands.
- Vueling is the low-cost branch of Iberia Airlines and offers affordable tickets for domestic flights. For example, you can get a flight from Barcelona to Madrid for around €50.
- Air Europa is another great option for flying within Spain and are also a great bargain. You can fly the same route from Barcelona to Madrid for €45.
- Ryanair is another alternative for getting around Spain. They have more limited routes than Vueling or Air Europa, but their airfares are comparable (just don’t expect many—or any—amenities).
Coach buses are very popular (and comfortable) as well
ALSA Bus in Oviedo | Zulio/Flickr
There are tons of amazing towns throughout Spain that don’t have train stations—luckily, coach buses in Spain are widespread and much more comfortable and reliable than those in the US.
ALSA is the biggest bus company in Spain and has a reputation for great service. ALSA runs between major cities like Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, Valencia, and León as well as small towns in every region in the country. A trip from Barcelona to Madrid will take you about 8 hours non-stop and will cost about €24.
Local tip: Rest stops off Spain’s major highways are really nice. Think fresh-squeezed orange juice, espresso, and lounge seating.
Rental cars are always an option, but there are some things to consider
Renting a car is a great way to get around Spain, but it has its drawbacks. If you come from a non-EU country, you’ll need an International Driver’s Permit (which you can get through AAA).
- The largest highways in Spain (with the highest speed limits) are autovías.
- Autovías are denoted by an “A” at the beginning of the road number.
- Toll roads are called autopistas, and are denoted by an “AP” at the beginning of the road number. Make sure to have cash or credit card to pay for tolls.
Many major cities have great metro systems
Metro stop in Madrid | Metro Centric/Flickr
There are metros in most major cities like Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, and Valencia. In Spain, metro tickets and passes let you travel on all types of public transportation, from city buses to suburban trains.
Spanish metros are known for their cleanliness and reliability. Though crime is very rare, locals say you should always be aware of your surroundings and be on the lookout for pickpockets—especially using the Madrid Metro (check out our article on safety in Spain for more info).
Here are some typical metro fares:
- Madrid: €2.00 per journey for most lines or €18.30 for a bonometro (which is valid for 10 journeys across any station in the Metro network).
- Barcelona: €2.20 for a single trip in one zone, or €10.20 for a bonometro.
- Valencia: €1.50 for a single trip in one zone or €7.60 for a bonometro.
Local tip: If you’re staying in one of the big cities for a while, it’s worth getting a refillable metro pass.
Taxis vs. Uber: A turf war
Because of the uproar against Uber amongst Spanish taxi drivers, Uber has had an on-again, off-again relationship with Spain.
You can get an Uber in Madrid, but Barcelona has banned Uber from operating in the city. Currently, Lyft does not operate outside of the US and Canada, so rideshare app options are limited.
The best advice is to use a licensed taxi to get around. These can be hailed anywhere in major cities, though in smaller towns you will have to call them. Taxis in most major cities do accept cards.
To call a taxi to your location without the stress of finding and hailing one, try the MyTaxi app. It also eliminates cash-vs-credit issues since you pay with the app.
See Spain on a scooter
A Scooter in Seville | Hannu Makarainen/Flickr
Renting a scooter to get around Spain may seem like a good idea, but you will need to have all your ducks in a row before hopping on a Vespa. Most significantly, you’ll need an international driver’s license and some experience riding a scooter or motorcycle. Additionally, you’ll be sharing the road with some pretty aggressive drivers, so be careful!
Getting to and from major airports
Madrid Barajas Airport
The Madrid airport is located in the district of Barajas and is 5.5 miles from Madrid’s financial district.
- Metro: The metro is the most popular way to get to and from Barajas. There are stations in Terminals 2 and 4. The fare is between €4.50 and €6.
- Renfe (Train): There is a train station on the first floor of Terminal 4. You can get to the station using a free shuttle that connects the airport terminals. You can take the train to the Chamartín, Nuevos Ministerios, Atocha or Príncipe Pío stations. The trip to Chamartín station takes 11 minutes and the fare is €4.50. During the day, the trains run every 5–8 minutes.
- Bus: There are several bus routes serving the airport that can get you anywhere in Madrid. The fare is €1.50 or €5 for Express Line 203.
- Taxi: Taxis are the fastest way to travel to and from the airport but they’ll set you back about €30. Only use official and authorized cabs; they’re white with a red stripe and have the Madrid City Council coat of arms printed on their doors. Use the MyTaxi app to book your ride and it’s even cheaper.
- Uber: Madrid is the only city in Spain where you can get an Uber. It will cost €40–€54 to get from the airport to the city center.
Barcelona El Prat Airport
Barcelona’s airport, El Prat, is 8.5 miles southwest of the city.
- Metro: The station is outside the arrival section of Terminal 1. Just follow the red M sign. The fare is €4.60.
- Renfe (Train): The train departs every 30 minutes and it takes 30-–40 minutes to get to and from the city center. The station is in Terminal 2, so you’ll have to use a shuttle bus from Terminal 1. The fare is €4.50.
- AeroBus: This option departs from both Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 for the city center every 5 minutes. The trip takes just 35 minutes, and the fare is €5.90 one way (€10.20 roundtrip). You can buy your tickets online.
- Bus: This is the cheapest (but slowest) option. Buses leave every 20 minutes and take 50 minutes to get to the city. The price is just €2.20 one way (€4.40 for a return).
- Taxi: Barcelona’s yellow-and-black taxis are the quickest way to and from the airport. You’ll have to wait in line for a taxi and you catch them at either Terminal 1 and 2. The fare is €30.00–€35.00 to get to the city center. To hail a cab, use the MyTaxi app.
Valencia Manises Airport
Valencia’s airport is about 5 miles west of the city in the town of Manises.
- Metro: There are two subway lines that link Valencia’s airport, city center, and port. The station is on the ground floor of the regional flight terminal. The trip takes about 25 minutes and the fare is €4.90
- AeroBus: The bright-blue AeroBus has direct service to the city center and leaves the Departures Hall on the first level of Terminal 1 every 20 minutes. The trip takes about 25 minutes and the fare is €2.50.
- Line 150 Valencia-Airport Bus: This option leaves from the Departures Hall and operates every 26 minutes during the week (every 35 minutes on Saturdays). This bus does not run on Sundays or public holidays. The fare is €1.45, and the trip time varies from 45 minutes to over an hour, depending on traffic.
- Taxi: A taxi ride to the city center takes about 20 minutes and you can find the taxi stand outside the main terminal building. Average fares are €18–€20 plus a € 5.40 airport surcharge. To hail a cab use the MyTaxi app.
Conclusion: Have a Spanish local help plan your trip.
Seville | StockSnap/Pixabay
Spain, like most of Europe, has a great public transportation system, but it’s not always easy for travelers to navigate (especially if they don’t speak fluent Spanish). Our advice: have a local help plan your trip.
They’ll provide detailed transportation options that adhere to your budget. And that’s not all! When you work with a local to plan your trip, they’ll help you to see a side of their country that most tourists miss—that means you’ll get to learn about locally beloved bars, restaurants, museums, and parks that don’t make corporate guidebooks.
Work with a local to plan your trip. And for more on Spain travel, check out:
- Is Spain Safe?
- Spain Travel FAQ
- Top Things to Do in Spain
- Where to Stay in Spain
map, opening hours, fare
The best way to get around Barcelona is by using the metro. Here, the ticket price is acceptable, and you can get to almost any corner of the city.
The Barcelona Metro operates every day of the week, however opening times may vary. So, from Monday to Thursday, underground trains transport people from 5:00 to 24:00, on Friday the operating time increases to 02:00. Every Saturday, as well as December 31, June 23, August 14 and September 23, the metro operates around the clock. On Sundays and holidays, as well as on weekdays – from 05:00 to 24:00.
|Metro opening days||Working hours|
|Sunday||5:00 – 00:00|
|Friday||5:00 – 2:00|
|Saturday||around the clock|
|June 23, August 14, September 23, December 31|
One-way ticket costs 2 euros, regardless of direction. But if you plan to use underground transport services for a long time, it is best to buy tickets with discounts for a certain number of trips.
For example, a T 10 ticket (a kind of travel card for 10 trips), but only in Zone 1 (the entire central part of Barcelona). Its cost is 9.80 euros. By purchasing a T10 card, you can change vehicles within Zone 1 (trams, trains, metro, buses) within 1 hour and 15 minutes.
The Barcelona Card is also beneficial. It gives its owner the opportunity not only to ride the Barcelona metro and other public transport for free, but also to visit almost all the sights of the city for a nominal fee, receive a discount in restaurants and other establishments. You can make an unlimited number of trips in 1 day by purchasing a T-Dia card for 6.95 euros. The T-50/30 card allows you to make 50 trips within one calendar month for 37 euros. By purchasing a T-Mes card, you can make as many trips as you like within a month for 50 euros. The same unlimited T-Trimester card for 3 months will cost 135 euros. Children under 4 travel free on the Barcelona Metro. For stowaways, hares will have to pay a fine of 40 euros.
Barcelona metro map
The metro system is made up of two major companies, Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona (TMB) and Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat (FCG). Lines L1 – L11 are among the TMVs. Each line has its own color. FGC underground routes include – L6 L7 L8 and tram lines – T1 – T4.
For tourists who don’t speak Spanish, the sign “Entrada” in the Barcelona metro signifies the entrance, and the sign Salida signifies the exit. Underground trains run every 2-3 minutes. Very rarely the waiting time is 5 minutes.
Where to buy tickets?
Subway tickets can be purchased from vending machines located at each station. The second option is at the offices of Caixa de Catalunya and La Caixa. In addition, tickets are sold at railway stations, tram stops and newsstands – buying them is not a problem!
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Transport in Spain
Public transport in Spain is remarkably developed. So, in Barcelona, public transport is represented by buses, trams and metro, as well as FCG and RENFE trains running within the city. You can buy tickets at special TMB machines, at ticket offices, railway stations, major bus stops and tourist information centers, tobacco and newsstands, as well as in the driver’s cabin.
In Barcelona there is a general ticket T-10 for 10 trips on any transport (metro, buses, railway, trams, some funiculars), it costs 8 EUR. There are tourist buses that cost 23 EUR for one day or 30 EUR for two days. These buses run tourist routes.
Madrid has buses (EMT), metro and suburban trains (cercanias). You can buy tickets from vending machines, at the box office, at stations, major bus stops, hotels, travel agencies, information centers, tobacco and newsstands, in the driver’s cabin.
You can use a taxi either by stopping a free car directly on the street, or by taking it from the parking lot. There is a Radio Taxi service through which a taxi can be called directly from a hotel, restaurant or large store. The maximum waiting time for a booked taxi is 10 minutes. Payment is made in accordance with the indications of the taximeter. For example, the cost of a taxi in the center of Barcelona for a 5 km journey costs around 10 EUR, and the road to the airport is 25 EUR.
The metro is the fastest way to get around any major city in Spain. Operates in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and a number of other cities. You must carry your ticket for the entire trip. A ticket in the Spanish metro is a cardboard card that must be inserted into the slot on the front of the turnstile, it will pop up behind the turntable. On the back of the ticket, a mark about the completed trip will appear.
Metro tickets in Spain are:
– One-time (1 trip – 1.3 EUR)
– One-day (1-Dia – 8 EUR, 2-Dia – 16 EUR)
– For several trips (T10 – 8 EUR, Т20 — 16 EUR)
Railway tickets in Spain start selling 60 days in advance. The earlier you buy a ticket, the cheaper it costs. You can get from Barcelona to Madrid by high-speed train for 46 EUR. Barcelona-Malaga costs 85 EUR.
If you buy on the day of departure, the ticket Barcelona-Madrid (5 hours) costs 65 EUR, Barcelona-Valencia (3 hours) costs 40 EUR, Barcelona-Gerona (1.5 hours) costs 7 EUR, Barcelona-Murcia (6 hours) costs 50 EUR, and Barcelona-Zaragoza (3 hours) costs 30 EUR.
Prices for intercity buses in Spain
– Barcelona-Madrid – 21 EUR
– Barcelona-Almenia – 50 EUR
– Barcelona-Valencia – 25 EUR
– Barcelona-Granada – 55 EUR
Barcelona – 10 EUR
– Barcelona-Seville – 65 EUR
The network of bus lines in Spain is developed, buses run strictly on schedule, equipped with modern equipment and air conditioning. The bus in Spain is the cheapest form of transport. They run frequently, the schedule can be found at bus stops or in shops near the bus stop. Bus operating hours: 06:00-00:00 with an interval of 10-15 minutes.