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Madrid Connect > Travel

Travel

The Airport...

Madrid's Barajas International airport is a main hub for many international carriers. It is located north east of the city center and is easily accessable by public transportation. The travel time from the airport to most destinations is only about 20min by Metro. If you decide to take a Taxi, expect to pay around 12 additional euros as an "Airport Travel Fee" above your normal taxi rate. Finding your way around Barajas can sometimes prove to be difficult because it is larger than you think. Don't be afraid to ask for directions at an information desk if you are lost. And yes, they do speak English.


Train Stations...

Two train stations serve Madrid. Chamartin station RENFE serves the north end of Madrid and most destinations head northwards, connecting Madrid with Barcelona, other Spanish cities, and destinations in France. Currently no highspeed trains such as AVE connect chamartin with Barcelona, but construction is underway for such a connection and should be completed within the next two years. Train journeys between Barcelona and Madrid usually cost about 70 euros round-trip and take about 4 hours each way.
Atocha Station (RENFE/AVE) serves mainly to connect southern Spain and many southeastern costal destinations. The high speed AVE train connects Madrid with Cordoba and Sevilla and can get you there in just about 2 hours (in comfort). The price is about 115 euros for a round-trip ticket between Madrid and Sevilla. This is a good option if you have plenty of money and little time.
However if your time/money ratio is like most travelers, than maybe the bus is the right option for you. Buses are by far the cheapest mode of transportation to and from Madrid, but you pay the price in time and comfort. For example the same journey between Madrid and Sevilla will only cost you about 25-35 euros to Sevilla, but the journey may take about 7 hours. If you choose the cheap route it is advised that you book a night bus so that you can get some sleep and arrive early in the morning somewhat refreshed. The same advise goes for Barcelona as well.

Cercanias...

Cercanias are the trains that serve the greater area surrounding Madrid (Communidad de Madrid). Not many travelers know about Cercanias, but it is a fast and comfortable way to get around and you can use your metro pass (as long as you travel within your given travel zone). Cercanias is a great way to travel from the north end of the city (Chamartin Station) to the south (Atocha Station) in speed and comfort and without the hassle of crowds.

Metro and Busses...

Madrid's primary mode of public transportation within the city is the Metro. Madrid's Metro system is wonderful and is a model system for other undergrounds throughout the world. Most destinations within the city can be reached by Metro. The only drawbacks to the Metro are that you can't see the city as you travel, and pick-pocketing is frequent. I read recently that 30 pick-pocket incidents on the Metro are reported to the police daily! And that only covers people who bother to make official police reports! So always play it smart when using the Metro or Busses (especially when they are crowded). NEVER keep your wallet in your pockets and ALWAYS hold your backpack, purse or bag in your arms in front of you. Be on the lookout for thiefs who try to distract you by asking you questions or bumping you while their accomplice silently takes your things. Treat your passport like a precious jewl and never take it with you unless absolutly necessary.
Depending on how much you plan on using the Metro or busses within the city, you may want to consider buying a multi-trip pass. Generally it is a good idea to purchase the 10 trip pass if you are only visiting for a short period of time. The price of the 10 trip pass is 5.65 euros. If you are living in Madrid or are staying for more than a month you should consider buying a month pass. The unlimited month pass or "Abono de Transportes" is a good idea if you take the metro/bus at least twice a day. There are different zones of travel the further you go beyond the city center, but the main ZONE A pass will cost 34.55 euros.
If you decide to buy the month pass, you will need a few things. First you will need a small photo of yourself. You can get your picture taken in the automatic photo booths that are located in many merto stations. They charge a couple of euros. Next you will need to take your photos to a government-run tobacco shop. These shops are called "estancos". There you need to purchase a permanent plastic card that contains your photo, personal details and eventually your month pass. They will ask you which zone you want and then charge you 1.30 euros for the plastic case. Now, keep in mind that not all tobacco shops sell metro passes, so don't be suprised if they don't have them. Usually if they sell the plastic case with your picture then they will also sell you the actual Ticket (Abono deTransportes). If they don't, then you can always try the actual metro station ticket window, or automatic Abono machines.

If this all sounds confusing...well it is. Just remember your checklist:
1) Photo (machine located in metro, 2 euros)
2) Orange plastic case thing (Tobacco shop, 1.30 euros)
3) Abono Ticket (Tobacco shop, merto ticket window, machine, 34.55 eur Zone A)


Bicycles...

Madrid is not a bicycle friendly city. In fact, it can be rather dangerous to attempt riding a bicycle in the city. Bike lanes do not exist, side walks are crowded with people and the streets are packed with crazy, lawless, Spanish drivers. It is too bad because if bicycle lanes did exist, Madrid would be perfect for them. There is one exception however. If you do get access to a bicycle, Retiro Park is one of the safe heavens for riding. Casa de Campo is another great place for Mountain bikes. Casa de Campo is a large open space park that is located on the south west corner of the city and is accessable by metro lines 5 and 10.


Cars...

Finding parking in the city is extremely difficult and double parking is a major problem. Therefore renting a car is only recommended for traveling outside of Madrid. If you are planning a weekend trip to one of the many pueblos outside of Madrid, then renting a car might be a good option. Most car rental agencies charge a flat rate within a given distance and then charge extra if you go beyond that distance. Gas is also expensive. So if you decide to rent a car, plan your travel distance carefully and make sure you stay within it. Also, be careful not to leave any valuables in your car. Thiefs are notorious for breaking car windows to steal things.

Useful link: Travelcreek Madrid Guide

Total Members in Madrid: 374
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