Get around Madrid public transport

Getting Around Madrid By The Easy Public Transport

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The article helps you understand how to get around Madrid easily without struggling in the complicated ticket price system.

Madrid Public Transportation System

madrid public transportation network structure

When you travel in Madrid, you will realize how easy it is to use the local public transport to get around the city. In the historical center of Madrid, it’s a wonderful city trip by foot. For many other interesting attractions that are in longer distance, travelers can benefit from an underground network consisting of 12 underground lines plus 3 light Metro lines. The network is 294 km long and consists of 277 stations. It is the third largest network in Europe, after Moscow and London, two considerably larger cities than Madrid. Travel tips of madrid public transportation will be explained in details.

Metro Line 1 is the main way to explore Madrid, cutting the city from north to south. It stops in the main railway station of the capital “Atocha” and in other important stations such as “Chamartin”. It also stops at the “Sol” station that located in the heart of the historic center, near the Plaza Mayor.

In addition to the size of the network, public transport offers tickets at competitive price. Tickets can be bought in tobacco shops and in the automatic machines found in each metro station. The entire transport network is managed by the Consorcio Transportes de Madrid.

Those staying in the Spanish capital can consider buying the rechargeable “Multi” card. The card itself costs 2.5 euro, you can charge the card according to your needing. This can be used on the means of transport in the Community of Madrid, without weighing down the wallet with too many tickets.

Madrid public transport zones

The transport lines are distinguished by two different zones that modify the cost of tickets. Zone A includes only the Municipality of Madrid. Sometimes, zone A is divided into two, zone A itself and zone 0, which corresponds to the historic center. The other areas called T includes B1, B2, B3, C1 and C2 ( T= B1 + B2 + B3 + C1 + C2). Zone T includes the municipalities around the capital that belong to the Community of Madrid.

Madrid public transport zones
image from wikipedia (Zonas_Abono_Transportes_Madrid)

We have bolded key points in the article as general solutions for travelers. You can also choose the best solutions according to your practical situation and needing.

Metro Tickets

Although Madrid’s transport network is easy to use, there are numerous types of tickets that can be very confusing.

There are three important types of tickets for travelers: the single trip, the 10-journey ticket and the tourist ticket. Almost all means of transport offer these three types.

Metro and Metro Ligero (Light Metro) Single Tickets

To understand how tickets work, let’s start with the subway and light Metro. You can see the map here.  We remind you that the metro works from 06:00 am to 01:30 am with a frequency of trains between 2 and 15 minutes. You need to consider that you can use the single ticket only on the purchasing day.

The calculation of the cost of the single ticket is the first problem to be faced. In fact, the basic ticket costs 1.50 euros and is valid for journeys with a maximum of 5 stops. If you intend to take the metro for 6 stops the cost is 1.6 euros, 1.70 euros for 7 stops, 1.80 euros for 8 stops, 1.90 euros for 9 stops. If your ride exceeds 10 stops, the cost of the ticket is always 2 euros.

You can also travel for 1.50 euro in the metro section included in zone T, therefore outside the Municipality of Madrid, at the ends of Line 7 (MetroEste), Line 10 (MetroNorte) and Line 12 (MetroSur). The section of Line 9 (TFM, Transportes Ferroviarios de Madrid) that travels in the T zone costs 2 euros.

In theory, if your route starts in zone T and reaches zone A, you should buy two tickets: the first valid for zone T and the second valid for zone A. Fortunately, for 3 euros, you can buy a ticket combined that includes both the underground and the light Metro.

Finally, it must be remembered that the light Metro 1 (ML1) is operated by Metro de Madrid and tickets cost 1.50 euros, like the other metro lines. On the contrary, the ML 2 and ML 3 lines are managed by the Metro Ligero Oeste company and the ticket always costs 2 euros.

Metro 10-journey ticket

To navigate this jungle of prices, travelers can buy a 10-journey ticket. Again, there are different options. The 10-journey ticket is valid to enter zone A with Line 12 (MetroSur), Line 10 (MetroNorte) and Line 7 (MetroEste) costs 11.20 euros. The ticket to enter zone A with Line 9 (TFM) costs 12.20 euros. At the same price you can buy a ticket for 10-journey valid only on the Light Metro 2 and 3 (ML 2 and ML 3).

However, the most important solutions are two:

1) The ticket for the entire zone A of the Metro de Madrid, the Metro Ligero 1 and the EMT urban bus lines (blue bus) costs 12.20 euros;

2) The combined metro ticket is valid for travel on the metro line system throughout the Community of Madrid (zone A + T), including Metro de Madrid, TFM, ML 1 and ML 2 and ML 3 costs 18.30 euros.

EMT Bus tickets

Madrid is served by a dense and efficient network of blue city buses. Bus tickets for the whole Madrid Community cost 1.50 euros but must be bought every time you get on the bus, regardless of the length of time.

The 10-journey ticket costs 12.20 euros and can also be used in the metro zone A. You can also buy a 10-journey ticket at a cost of 18.30 euros and you don’t need to valid your ticket each time even when you want to change a bus, though you are only allowed to change once within 60 minutes.

Travelers could move within an area of ​​Madrid other than zone A (for example within zone B1). In this case, the cost of the single ticket is 1.30 euros and 10-journey ticket is 8.50 euros.

Railway Tickets

The Cercanias railway network is managed by the national operator Renfe. Local railways help to connect Madrid with the rest of Spain as they offer significant direct interconnections with the main train stations, in particular with “Atocha” and “Chamartin”. The service operates from 05:30 am to 11:30 pm. You can see the map here.

The price of tickets varies by the number of zones that your route cross. The ticket for one or two zones costs 1.70 euros while the corresponding 10-journey ticket costs 10 euros. The most expensive ticket can cross all seven zones and costs € 5.50 for a single ticket and € 38.45 for the 10-journey ticket. Tips: 1) it is not possible to load these types of tickets on the Multi card; 2) the ticket must be used within two hours of purchase.

The railway line also allows you to reach other important places located in the community of Madrid. For example, the Cercanias railways take travelers to the royal residence El Escorial or the university town of Alcalà de Henares, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

In particular, railway lines C7, C8 and C2 constantly connect Alcalà de Henares to the “Atocha” station in about 40 minutes at a cost of 3.40 euros because the journey touches 5 zones (0, A, B1, B2, B3). Trains from “Atocha” to Alcalà de Henares start approximately every 10 minutes.

The C3 line takes about 1 hour and 10 minutes to connect the “Atocha” station to El Escorial at a cost of 4.05 euros, because the journey cross 6 zones (0, A, B1, B2, B3, C1). However, the rides are more rarefied and sometimes there is only a train per hour.

Intercity bus tickets

To get to El Escorial it can be convenient to use the interurban transport service offered by the Alsa company marked by green buses. It’s more convenient to go El Escorial by bus than by train. For example, from the “Moncloa” metro station (metro line 3 terminal) you can take bus 661 to get to El Escorial in about 50 minutes. Buses depart approximately every 20 minutes and travel from 06:55 am to 11:15 pm.

Bus 223 leaves from the “Avenida de America” ​​Metro stop (change with metro lines 4, 6, 7, 9) to get to Alcalà de Henares. The journey takes about 40 minutes. Buses run from 05:30 am to 11:00 pm with departures every 20 minutes.

The ticket price depends on the arrival area. Alcalà de Henares is located in zone B3 so the cost of a one-way ride is 3.60 euro. The ticket price to reach El Escorial is 4.20 euros because the royal residence is located in zone C1. It is also possible to purchase a 10-journey ticket for intercity bus tickets.

Tips: it is not possible to load these types of tickets on the Multi card

Tourist Travel Pass

The tourist ticket becomes the simplest solution for those who need to take more public transport in a day. In fact, you can buy daily tourist tickets that can be used in all Madrid means of transport. Obviously, tickets have a different cost if they are used only in zone A (coinciding with the Municipality of Madrid) or in the entire Community of Madrid (zone A + T).

The day ticket for zone A costs 8.40 euros, the 2-day ticket 14.20 euros, etc. The maximum price is € 35.40 for a 7-day ticket. Tourist tickets valid for zone A + T cost around double. Tourist tickets can be fully loaded onto the Multi card. They also allow you to travel on the “Cercanias” railway line managed by Renfe and on the intercity bus lines, whose single tickets cannot be loaded onto the Multi card.

You can buy the tourist ticket at all metro stations, the tourist information offices located in the airport and the managerial offices of the “Atocha” and “Sol” train stations.

Note: Schedules and prices reference time mentioned in the article is 12 november, 2022

Written by Enrico and translated by Hua

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