Finding your way around Madrid is a breeze thanks to the Metro.
Madrid Metro is the second biggest in Europe after London, even though the city of Madrid is actually relatively small. This means that you can get around the city easily and cheaply on the Metro anytime from 6am to 1:30am.
As always in a foreign country it can be a little confusing at first, understanding different zones and tickets and working out where you need to go and whether it’s easier just to walk. We can help you unpick the confusion and let you navigate around the city like a pro!
How to get around the Metro system
The Madrid Metro has 13 lines covering the entire city and slightly beyond. In addition there are 4 tram lines and an extensive commuter rail system – Cercanias – that operates above ground.
Metro Madrid produces a number of maps that can help you get around. The main map is a typical schematic map, similar to the Tube Map in London, that has straight lines to simplify things. In addition to that there are proper maps showing how the lines run in the real world and, best of all, a tourist map (pdf) showing the major tourist highlights and how to get to them.
The system is divided into Zones A, B1, B2 and B3 though the vast majority of your journeys will be in Zone A.
Major tourist attractions: Which Metro station?
Line 1: As well as running right through the Puerta del Sol – the exact centre of Madrid – Line 1 is what you’ll need for the main museums – Prado, Reina Sofia, Thyssen-Bornemisza and Caixa Forum. Finally, you’ll find it useful for Gran Via, Malasaña and the Puerta de Europa
Line 2: Also stopping at Sol, you’ll want Line 2 for Opera station which is the closest to the Teatro Réal and the Palacio Réal. Handy too for the Puerta de Alcalá and the Plaza de Toros las Ventas.
Line 3: The final line to go through Sol will get you to Lavapiés for El Rastro and also up to the Edificio Capital and Plaza de España.
Line 4: This goes close to the Plaza de Colón – the monument to Christopher Columbus
Line 5: As well as stopping at Ventas, Gran Via and Opera, this line will get you to Chueca and La Latina as well as the Puerta de Toledo and the Casa de Campo
Line 6: This is a circular route around the city centre and its main highlight is probably the Planetarium.
Line 7: Nothing to see here! Well…nothing that can’t be seen better elsewhere anyway!
Line 8: Vitally important if you’re going to and from the airport, otherwise not so much.
Line 9: See Line 7.
Line 10: As well as calling at the Casa de Campo, Line 10 is the one you’ll want if you’re heading to the Bernabéu for a football match or stadium tour.
And that’s about it. 11 and 12 operate mostly outside the city centre and the 13th line – Linea R – is a branch line running from Opera to Principe Pio, a distance of less than a mile that most people are better off just walking!
Tickets for the Madrid Metro
A single journey ticket in Zone A costs €1.50 for up to 5 stations and then €0.10 per station up to a maximum of €2. If you know you’re going into other zones then you’ll want a €3 combined ticket – otherwise it’s €1.50 per zone – but mostly you’ll be fine with just a Zone A ticket.
Travelling to and from the airport has a €3 supplement so the cost of a single ticket from the airport to wherever you want to go in the city is €5. If you’re travelling extensively you can buy a 10 journey ticket that brings the cost down to €1.22 per journey.
Alternatively, the best value option for major travelling is the Tourist Card. These cards represent great value for money as they’re valid on Metro, E.M.T. buses and Cercanias commuter trains and, perhaps best of all, you don’t have to pay the airport surcharge!
There’s one for Zone A and one for all zones and they come in 1, 2, 3, 5 and 7 day cards. Prices range from €8.40 for 1 day to €35.40 for 7 days in Zone A. If you’re getting the Metro from the airport then you only need to make 2 journeys per day on the Metro over the course of the week and you’re saving money.
Tickets are available in all stations and you’ll need your passport to buy the Tourist Card.