Whichever form of transportation you choose, you’ll have no problem finding a taxi, a metro stop, or even UberX.
Getting around Madrid is easy, convenient and fun! Wherever you are, you’ll have no problem finding a taxi, a metro stop or even walking between destinations in the city center.
Getting To Madrid From Barajas Airport:
There is a flat rate of 30 euros for taxis going to the city center from the airport.
There are two options for trains:
1. The Renfe Cercanías is the inter-city train that travels longer distances and goes much faster. It can take you to the major train stations such as Chamartin and Atocha, as well as to suburbs outside the city center. A one-way ticket to the main station of Atocha costs 2.55 euros. You can only catch the Renfe Cercanías from Terminal 4 of Barajas Airport.
2. The metro is the underground subway system of Madrid and you can take it to any metro stop in and around the city center. You will most likely have to transfer between multiple lines in order to get to your stop from the airport. The metro from the airport costs 5 euros and there are metro stops in all of the airport´s terminals.
Renting a car in Madrid is NOT recommended because the public transportation is so good and you can get anywhere within the metropolitan area using the metro, trains and buses. There tends to be a lot of traffic and the government discourages people from driving due to concerns about air pollution in the city in recent years.
If you are still interested in renting a car from Barajas Airport check out the airport’s website and check which companies require an international license and which do not.
Just make sure that if you do choose to drive, familiarize yourself with the driving laws in Spain to avoid any fines or penalties. You’ll be surprised that some unusual driving laws exist in Spain, such as you can’t drive with your headphones on or that you need to have a spare pair of glasses with you if you need them for driving.
Taxis are cheaper in Madrid than in other major European cities and there are hordes of them so you won’t ever have a problem flagging one down. It might be the most convenient form of transportation in the city. The average base fare for taxis is 2,70€ and the tariff is roughly 1.05€ per kilometer, so a trip of 10 km would cost about 13,20€. Taxi rates are slightly higher at night and on the weekends.
Private Car Services:
Uber was banned in Madrid in 2014 due to strong protests from taxi companies. But starting this year, visitors to Madrid will be able to use professional, licensed drivers with UberX which will make it a lot more convenient to find private cars while in the city.
There are shuttles that travel from Atocha train station to Barajas Airport and vice versa during the day that comes every 13-20 minutes. At night, starting from 23:50, the shuttle leaves from Cibeles to Barajas Airport and back and comes every 35 minutes. It costs 5€ to take the shuttle to and from the airport.
Madrid has an amazing metro system (the best in Europe in my opinion). It’s clean, it goes everywhere you need to go and you’re never too far from a metro stop wherever you are in the city. Usually it only costs 1.50 euros to take the metro between stops within the city center. The metro closes at 1:30 am and reopens at 6 am every day.
There are tickets with special rates tourists can buy that offer 10 single rides on the metro and bus at a discount (for 12,20€) as well as transportation passes with unlimited rides for up to 7 days (for 35,40€). Such tickets and passes can be bought at the ticket sales machines in metro stations.
Noteworthy metro stops:
- Vodafone Sol (Puerta del Sol)—Line 2, 3
- Callao—Line 3, 5
- Colon/Serrano—Line 4
- Atocha—Line 1
- Retiro—Line 2
Other than the metro there are also Renfe Cercanías trains that travel over longer distances within and out of the city center. You can catch the Cercanías to go from Atocha to Nuevos Ministerios to Chamartín, which are all major train stations in central locations and the train will also take you from any of the above to Barajas Airport. Taking the Cercanías costs slightly more than the metro, starting from 2.50 euros, but it’ll get you to where you’re going faster and it’s usually a lot less crowded.
You can also catch long distance trains out of either Atocha or Chamartín to surrounding towns such as Alcala de Henares or Toledo, as well as to other major cities and regions in Spain. Look on the Renfe website for timetables and reservations of all trains from any Spanish region.
The bus system in Madrid runs day and night, and it’s pretty easy to figure out where the lines go by looking at a map. It costs 1.50 euros for one way and there are day passes and 10 trip discounts available at the ticket machines in the metro stations.
At night you can catch any of the nocturnal service buses from Cibeles Plaza as that is the starting point for all lines starting at 23:55 at night.
For information about bus routes, timetables and itineraries look here.
You will see automated bike stands with electric bicycles available for rent all around the city from which you can rent bikes and return them to any other automated stand (for bike station locations check here. These are sponsored by the city’s transportation system and are meant to be used as a means of transportation. Therefore rates begin with 2 euros for the first hour and then increase to 4 euros for the second hour, as the city wants people to use bikes as a means to get to their destination rather than for going around to see the city. For longer bike rentals it’s better to go to an official rental company.
My personal favorite bike rental shop is at the end of the Matadero cultural center where the shop owner is the cutest and sweetest guy who is happy to help you find the perfect bike to cruise on for the day. From there you can take a gorgeous bike ride along Madrid Rio down by the river all the way through the Vicente Calderon football stadium, past the Palacio Real and finally to Casa de Campo.