madrid city guide
tobook Hotel Guide
City guide for Madrid

Barajas International Airport is located 13km (8 miles) from Madrid's city center, and has three terminals. Terminal one handles most of the international flights. Terminal two serves domestic flights and the Iberia international flights to Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Portugal. Terminal three is used for the Madrid-Barcelona shuttle.
The EMT airport bus departs approximately every 10 minutes for the underground bus terminal at Plaza de Colón. The traveling time is around 45 minutes to an hour. The Barajas metro (line 8) provides a fast route into central Madrid (requiring a change to line 4 at Mar de Cristal). Taxi's can be taken from the indicated taxi ranks. Don't accept offers from taxi drivers inside the terminals but use the indicated taxi ranks outside. By road, the trip takes about 45 minutes.


The national Spanish railway network is run by RENFE. Madrid has two main railway stations - Estación de Chamartín, in northern Madrid, and Estacióon de Atocha, in southern Madrid. Both provide service for long distance and Cercanias (commuter) trains. Atocha is used for most destinations to the south and west of the country, the high speed AVE trains which travel to Cordoba and Sevilla and also serves as the hub of the Cercanías network. Atocha is closer to the city center and the largest and most used train station. Note that there is a separate metro station named Atocha, which is not directly connected with the train station. Chamartín serves trains headed east and north. It is essential for travellers to book ahead for long-distance trains.
The Cercanías, the local train network, network connects outlying towns beyond the metro. Trains are frequent and reliable and there is less overcrowding than on the metro. Other Cercanías train stations in the city center include Príncipe Pío, Recoletos and Nuevos Ministerios. For ISIC student card holders there are rail passes for long distance trains within Spain (they are not valid on the high speed AVE or the EUROMED trains).
Train tickets can be purchased in the train stations, the RENFE office on calle Alcalá, or from travel agents.


The white colored taxis are plentiful in Madrid and can either be stopped in the street, at ranks or ordered in advance. All official taxis are painted white with a red diagonal stripe across the front doors and have a green light on the roof. There are surcharges for things such as extra passengers, pick-up from a phone call, pick-up at the airport, loading of luggage etc. When entering a taxi, travellers should check that the meter is not already running, as this is an occasional scam to overcharge passengers.


Madrid's Metro system is cheap, efficient, and the fastest way of getting around the city. The metro is made up of eleven lines and covers most of the city. Trains run every three to five minutes between 06.00 and 01.30. Ten-ticket passes are also valid on buses.


Buses are generally the cheapest form of transportation in Spain. The bus system, run by EMT, consists of over 150 lines and covers the entire city and outlying areas. The day buses run from 06.00 to 23.30. There are 20 night bus (called 'buhos', meaning owl) lines. All start at midnight at Plaza de Cibeles, leaving every half hour between midnight and 03:00 am and every hour between 03.00 and 06.00.

Estacion Sur de autobuses, situated south of the city center, is the main bus station for international and long distance travel. Continental Auto runs buses to the north of Spain. These buses depart from a separate terminal located near the Nuevos Ministerios and Ceranias station.
Single tickets for the city buses can be bought on board. Reduced tickets for ten rides are available at local new stands, tobacconists and EMT information kiosks at Plaza de Callao and Puerta del Sol (these cannot be used on the buses to the airport)


Motorways (Autopista) are marked by the letter 'A', national multi-lane roads connecting towns and cities by the letter 'N' and Madrid ring roads are indicated by the letter 'M'. Many motorways have tolls. The speed limit is 120kph (75mph) on motorways, 100kph (62mph) on dual carriageways, 90kph (56mph) outside built-up areas and 50kph (31mph) within towns. Madrid has 6 principal highways entering and leaving the city (N-I to N-VI). It also has an inner (M30) and an outer (M40) ring road. The NI connects Madrid with the French border, the NII with Barcelona (via Zaragoza) and the French border. The NIII heads towards Valencia and Alicante, the NIV to Seville and Cádiz, the NV to Badajoz and the Portuguese border and the N401 to Toledo. Traveling time from Barcelona is 7 hours 30 minutes; from Seville, 7 hours 45 minutes and from Lisbon, 8 hours 45 minutes. Driving in central Madrid can be slow and somewhat nerve-racking.

  Madrid's geographical location, near a mountain range, produces a more extreme climate than in other Spanish cities. Summers are hot, with temperatures reaching 32 degrees Celsius (93 degrees Fahrenheit), but the high heat levels in Madrid are often not as oppressive as one might think due to the low humidity. During the winter months daytime temperatures may drop to 7 Celsius (45 F).
  The currency used in Spain is the Euro. Notes come in denominations of €100, €50, €20, €10 and €5 and the coins in use are €2, €1, 0.50C, 0.20C, 0.10C, 0.05C, 0.02C and 0.01C.
Banking hours are generally from Monday to Friday, from 8.30 to 14.00. From October to April banks are also open on Saturday, from 8.30 to 14.00. Banks are closed on Saturdays from May through September.
Credit cards are widely accepted in Madrid, with an exception of tapas bars, cheap restaurants and low-budget hotels.
  Tipping isn't obligatory in Spain though a gratuity (usually 5 to10 percent) can be paid in acknowledgement of good service. Waiters and other service people do not earn much in Spain so your contribution will definitely be appreciated. Tip taxi's about five to ten percent of the total fare, but more for long rides or help with luggage.
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