Interested in Madrid?
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What are your options when getting around in Madrid?
-Metro: Efficient and fast. It is cheap: single fares cost €1.50 but a 10-trip ticket or Metrobus is available for €10.20
-Buses: Efficient and reliable. It is cheap: single fares cost €1.50 but a 10-trip ticket or Metrobus is available for €10.20
The 10-trip metrobus can be used indistinctively in any bus or Metro trip within central Madrid (metro trips to/from the airport have a €3.00 supplement); two or more people can share the same metrobus (just cancel two or more trips when you board). You can get it at any metro station (not at buses) from the ticket vending machines; they are multilingual, and take cash and/or credit cards.
There are special passes for visitors/tourists, for 1, 3, 5 or 7 days; for example, a two days unlimited bus, metro and suburban train (within the city) pass for central Madrid is €14.20. They can be bought at main metro stations or information offices (there is one in Barajas airport, immediately before entering the Metro station).
-Suburban train ("Cercanías"): Connects most of the train stations in the city and is included in the tourist pass (within the city). Note that Google maps directions do not pick these up as transportation options which can turn a 10 minute trip into 40 minutes.
-Taxis: Inexpensive and well regulated. Can be hailed in the street: Look for an illuminated "libre" sign or a green pilot on the roof.
Car: Crazy. Parking is nightmarish, traffic is heavy almost all the time, and the city's drivers can be frightening. August is an exception; the streets are quite empty as Madrileños leave the city on vacation. Madrid has 6 principal highways entering and leaving the city; the A-1 to A-6. It also has three major ring roads; the inner-one is known as the M30, an outer one is the M40 and the outermost is called the M50 (not closed in its north-west segment).
[Tip: If you get VERY lost in Madrid drive downhill, and you will eventually find the Castellana/Recoletos/Paseo del Pardo central axis or the M30.]
Walking: Best way to get around the compact centre of Madrid.
The points of reference that you should know when getting around are: 1) Puerta del Sol marks the center of the city. It is surrounded by the old city with the Plaza Mayor, the Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales and the Royal Palace. 2) The Gran Via is one of Madrid's principal roads. It runs from Plaza de España to Alcala Street. 3) Paseo de la Castellana which becomes Paseo de Recoletos and then Paseo del Prado. It runs from Plaza de Atocha to Plaza de la Castilla)
[Bus & Metro prices valid as of April 2013]