Fact: In 2015, more than 1,5 trillion public transport tickets were sold in Madrid. Given that the city has about 3 million inhabitants, you may guess that public transport use is huge.
I might say that it’s also the best option: comfortable, cheap, ample schedule, quite fast and, additionally, it offers you a bunch of options to choose while you’re exploring Madrid. Punctuality is another story… you may need some patience.
Taking the Metro: keys and facts
Let’s start from the beginning: your arrival to Madrid Adolfo Suárez Barajas airport (yes, we Spaniards like very long names). You must know that, unlike NYC or London, this is the only airport located in Madrid, and – lucky you- is very close to downtown.
Metro is probably the easiest and cheapest way to reach the city. You must know there’s a special ticket you must buy, but it’s only 3€. It looks like this:
Metro is opened from 6AM to 1:00AM (although some of the longest lines end they services by 2:30), so it’ll probably be available by the time of your arrival. Metro is quite easy to understand. It only has 11 lines that connect all Madrid’s main districts. Each line has a number and a colour. You can check this map to figure it out.
The official Metro website allows you to calculate how long does it take to go from the airport to your destination, to check the different tickets available, view maps of the Metro network and many other services. I personally recommend the app Madrid Metro Bus Cercanías: it provides you very accurate information about Metro, buses and trains available. If you are going to be offline, I also suggest the app City Maps 2 Go.
#MadridHack: if your plan is to go walking everywhere, it’s better you take a single ticket. It’s price it’s about 1,5€, but it will depend again on where do you want to go. For instance, if there’s a transfer, it may be a bit more expensive (up to 2€). If you plan to stay some days and take Metro if you just need it, the most comfortable option is the 10-trip ticket, which costs 12,2€; you can also use it in the blue buses. You can even share it with your partner, it’s not mandatory a ticket per person.
If you expect to be a heavy Metro user, it would be better to choose tourists cards. Follow this link to get more detailed information.
#WARNING: Always take the metro ticket with you. From time to time, the Metro Authority does random controls in several stations. If you are caught without tickets, it will cost you some money (at least 20€ per person without ticket).
#UPDATE Until recently, they were required different tickets to move in different public transports. For instance, you can use the same ticket to take the metro or the blue bus, but you needed a different ticket to take the train (Cercanías) or take a green bus (the ones that connect Madrid city to other cities close to Madrid). Since last 7th july, it’s available a single multi use ticket called Tarjeta Multi, but it’s only for people who has a permanent residence in Madrid (it would be useful if you plan to spend some months in Madrid doing your Erasmus, an internship or whatever). You can apply for it following this link.
Hope this information is useful for you! See you Madlocals!