31 Jul, 2023 @ 14:23
2 mins read

MADRID: How to get around (without a taxi)


By plane: Airport Express  (Exprés Aeropuerto). The shuttle bus connects Barajas airport with the city centre 24 hours a day. There are stops at T4, T2 and T1, and O’Donnell, Plaza de Cibeles (24 hours) and the Atocha Station (6am-23.30pm). The journey takes 30-40 minutes and costs €5 (payable on the bus). 

By train: It couldn’t be easier. Madrid is at the centre of the extensive Renfe railway network, providing access into the city from all over Spain. The two main stations are Atocha and Chamartín. It is also the hub for international trains to and from France and Portugal.

Madrid is also a hub for Tren Altaria, Tren Alvia, AVE, and Talgo Train.

Excitingly, you can also get the first-class TrenHotel between Galicia and Madrid – luxury complete with private compartment and bed.

A high-speed budget option (with prices starting from €7) is available between Zaragoza, Barcelona and Madrid on Renfe’s Tren Avlo, and additional low cost fares are available on the fast-expanding Ouigo service which currently has services to destinations including Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Alicante. Visit the dedicated section on Welcome to Madrid for full details on routes and journey times, and links to train companies.

By car:  Like all cities and large towns in Spain, Madrid has Low Emissions Zones (ZBEs) and is progressively adding more. All vehicles registered in Spain are assigned an environmental rating (and should have the relevant environmental sticker on display). The vehicle rating determines which zones you can drive into, and where you will receive a fine.

Don’t know your car’s rating? Enter your car registration on the Madrid 360 site, and you’ll get the rating and information plus a map, detailing where you can go. Be warned that A-rated vehicles are forbidden to access any public urban roads inside the M-30. 


Map: Yes, you have your phone, but this Tourist Map – available to download – marks out the top tourist sites with big icons. Useful.

Metro: Cheap and easy to use. Download the map here.

Bus: Other apps are available, but EMT, the Madrid Transport network, provides an interactive Bus Map. 

Bikes: You’ll find a list of bike rental companies on the dedicated section on the Madrid tourism site. Alternatively, sign up and rent an electric bike from one of over 250 docking stations around the city. Full information available on Bicimad, but here are the most convenient of the 50 stations in Madrid Centro:

  • Plaza del Cordón
  • Plaza del Carmen
  • Palacio de Oriente
  • Plaza de Pedro Zerolo
  • Plaza de las Salesas
  • Metro San Bernardo
  • Calle de Augusto Figueroa
  • Plaza de San Miguel
  • Calle de Miguel Moya
  • Calle de San Vicente Ferrer
  • Calle Colegio Arquitectos
  • Plaza de la Provincia
  • Metro Banco de España
  • Frente a la Casa Encendida
  • Calle Jacinto Benavente
  • Calle de San Andrés
  • Calle Hortaleza
  • Plaza de Nelson Mandela
  • Calle Prim
  • Metro Antón Martín

Sorrel Downer

Sorrel is a journalist based in Spain who writes for The Guardian, and whose bylines include The Telegraph, The Times, Financial Times, Conde Nast Traveller, Business Life, Business Insider, Reader's Digest, Evening Standard, and the BBC.

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