Madrid’s public transport system is without a doubt, fantastic. It is fast, safe, clean and very reliable. In comparison with other European cities, Madrid’s public transport is also considered cheap and very efficient, which makes getting around Madrid very easy. Madrid’s public transport consists of the Madrid Metro (underground), day & night buses, the ‘Metro Ligero’ (Madrid light rail) as well as the regional train system known as the ’Cercanías’ which are the suburban trains that connect the city of Madrid with rest of the Madrid region. So, no matter where you are going, Madrid’s public transport system will get you there.
Are you moving to Madrid for a longer period and would like to get a monthly pass? Get ahead and order your personal public transport card in advance.
There are also great alternatives to Madrid’s public transport when it comes to getting around Madrid. Alternatives like, Madrid’s taxis, Uber or Cabify as well as car & scooter rental services and car sharing options. Since June 2014, Madrid has also been offering public, electric bikes that you can rent at your convenience all over the city.
To keep reading all about Madrid’s transport options, check out the content overview and feel free to click on the topics you are most interested in. Each chapter contains relevant information regarding getting around Madrid. From details on how to get from and to the airport, ticket options, prices, schedules & transport zones to details on the various means of transportation available and how use them.
Furthermore, in our FAQ section at the bottom of this ’Getting Around Madrid’ guide, we will clarify some of the most common questions and doubts regarding Madrid’s public transport.
Important: The Citylife team has collected & compiled the information on this page via intense research and investigation. It does not replace your own research!
1. Getting Around Madrid by Public Transport – Ticket Options & Prices
As previously mentioned, Madrid’s public transport system is very accessible and efficient. You can get all over the city centre by using just the Madrid metro and bus. The Madrid metro and bus systems are integrated, meaning that you can access the Madrid metro lines and the EMT bus lines with the same ’ticket’. Other available transportation means like the Cercanías and Renfre trains and the suburban buses which take you outside the city will have different ticket types and different tariffs. The beginning of this article will focus more on the main transport within the city center (metro & city bus), however if you wish to read more on Madrid’s Light Rail system, suburban buses and long distance options, you can skip ahead.
To start with, there are various ticket options available for the Madrid public transport system. Some of which are better for those staying in the city for mid to long-term periods while others are perfect for those visiting for a short-term period. In the section below we will explain each ticket option in detail.
1.1 Monthly Pass for Mid to Long-Term Stays
If you are coming to Madrid for a longer period – to study or work, for example – it is very likely that you will move around by public transport on a regular basis. In this case we highly recommend getting your personal public transport card. This card will give you access to the the monthly transport pass, known as the ’Abono’. Using a monthly pass is by far the cheapest and most convenient way as it gives you full access to all of Madrid’s public transport for 30 day periods.
When it comes to getting your public transport card, we highly recommend ordering it online in advance. Ideally about 15 days before you plan to arrive to Madrid. By doing this you will avoid long wait times to book an appointment as well as simply skipping the need to attend an appointment in the first place. By ordering online, your card will be delivered to you. For more details on how to order you public transportation card online either continue reading, or click here to skip ahead.
Download the Madrid Metro Map and check out various other maps for Madrid bus routes, light rail train lines and regional train lines in our chapter called Madrid Transport Options – A Comprehensive Outline, or skip ahead.
Monthly Pass – Prices & Where to Buy
As we mentioned above, to get the monthly pass you must first get your personal transport card. This card costs 4€ and once you have it in your possession, you can then top it up with the monthly pass (’Abono’). The price of your monthly pass depends primarily on your age and the transport zones of Madrid you would like to have included – there are no special prices for students. Finally, every 30 days you will need to top up your personal public transport card with your new monthly pass to be able to continue to use Madrid’s public transport system. You can do so conveniently at one of the many metro stations at the machines either with cash or credit card.
Abono Joven (Monthly Youth Pass)
If you are under 26 years of age, you will be able to use the youth pass, known as ’Abono Joven’. With this pass you will only need to pay 20€ a month and you will be able to use all of Madrid’s transport options between all transport zones! You can move freely by metro and bus all over the city, to its outskirts as well as to the airport without paying a supplement.
Abono Normal (Monthly Standard Pass)
If you are aged 26 or older you will have access to the standard monthly pass, known as ’Abono’. This pass requires users to pay per transport zone. The base price which covers zone A, currently costs 54,60€. If you need to include more zones, the price will rise. Click here for more information of each of Madrid’s zones.
If the monthly pass is what you need, you can skip ahead in this article for instructions on how to order your public transport card online.
Above you see a price chart per-zone, however there are also inter-zone packages which combine certain zones together under one price. This is a great option for those who don’t often visit the more central zones and therefore do not want to pay for access to them. For more details on all pricing options, click here.
1.2 Single & 10 Trips Tickets
If you happen to be visiting Madrid for only a few days or weeks, or if you don’t need to use the public transport system on a daily basis, you can use Madrid’s more short-term option known as the Multi Card. As with the personal public transport card, you will first need to purchase the card itself (only 2.5€), then you top up the short-term pass of your choice onto the card. The Multi Card offers two options: Single tickets and 10 trip tickets.
Single & 10 trips tickets – Prices & Where to Buy
A single journey on public transport in Madrid will usually cost between 1,50€ and 2€, making it very budget friendly. If you don’t want to top up your card every time you need it, you should consider buying a 10 trip ticket which costs just 12,20€. Both tickets work on metro and bus systems within zone A. As the Multi Card is not personalized, it can be shared with others.
Buying the Multi Card and it’s corresponding tickets is incredibly easy. All you need to do is go to any metro station in Madrid and place your order at any of the ticket machines there. These machines look like ATMs but will have the branding of the Madrid metro on them. Once there you can pay either in cash or with credit card.
Please be aware that you may change freely between various metro lines once you are inside the metro system. But changing from metro to bus or from one bus to another means that you have to use your card again. That being said, you can also top up your Multi Card from the bus driver – but only in cash.
To read more about the Multi Card, please click here.
1.3 Madrid Tourist Travel Pass
The Madrid tourist travel pass gives you unlimited usage of zone A and T between 1-7 days. This is a very practical and very affordable way to get around Madrid on a short-term basis. This is especially true because the majority of Madrid’s most popular locations for visitors and tourists are located within zone A. Additionally, zone T is perfect for those planning to make day trips to some of the small cities located outside of Madrid.
Madrid Tourist Travel Pass – Prices & Where to Buy
Prices are determined by number of days and by desired zones. Check out the table below for a price breakdown of each. To buy the Madrid tourist pass you simply visit any metro station and use the ticket machines located there. Alternatively, you can buy these passes at the sales points at the Madrid airport. The Madrid tourist pass comes with the Multi Card included. Once the pass expires, you can top up the Multi Card with single or ten trips tickets and keep using it. Finally, please keep in mind that Madrid tourist pass cannot be shared between several people. Therefore, each person in your group must hold their own card. For more details on the Madrid tourist pass, please click here.
2. How to Get your Personal Public Transport Card
As we mentioned at the top of this article, we recommend that your order your personal public transport card online – ideally about 3-4 weeks before your arrival. It will save you time, money and hassle. To make the process of ordering your public transport card online as simple as possible, we’ve created a step by step guide. Continue reading below for all the details.
2.1 Step by step Guide – How to Order your Public Transport Card Online
Order your public transport card online by filling out the official request form. Once your request has been processed by the Consorcio de Transportes de Madrid, your card will be sent to the indicated shipment address usually within 10-15 working days. Here is a step by step description:
- Access the CRTM webpage here!
- Select the value “Quiero obtener una Tarjeta Transporte Público” and proceed to the next screen. Indicate your your age and click “Aceptar”.
- Select the correct age range (younger than 26 year of age or 26 years and older)
- On the next screen you have to choose between “pasaporte” (if you have a passport) or “DNI no español” (if you have a valid national ID card. Proceed by clicking “Aceptar”.
- In order to continue the request of your public transport card online, select “iniciar solicitud on-line”. Alternatively, you can request an appointment in person for the time of your arrival at one of the offices of the Consorcio de Transportes de Madrid. In this case please follow the instructions provided online.
- If you choose “iniciar solicitud on-line”, on the next screen, you will need to fill out all mandatory personal data. Please keep in mind that you can only give a Spanish address and a Spanish phone number to continue successfully. Don’t worry if you don’t have either – you can use our details and send your card to our office (continue reading for all the details).
- You will be asked to upload a standard passport sized photo in colour, as well as a scanned copy of your passport or ID card.
- Once uploaded, you need to accept the terms and conditions at the bottom and continue by clicking on “Siguiente”.
- Last but not least, you will be asked to review and confirm the information you have provided. You will also have to pay the mandatory standard fee of 4€ to the Consorcio de Transportes de Madrid for issuing your public transport card. If the process is completed successfully you will receive a confirmation email.
2.2 Have your Transport Card Delivered to the Citylife Office for free
The Consorcio de Transporte de Madrid only delivers personal public transport cards to Spanish addresses. Additionally, you can only input a Spanish phone number on the application form. To keep things stress free, you can indicate the Citylife mobile phone number and use our office address as the shipment location. We will happily store the card for you free of charge until you are able to pick it up.
While at our office you you can also take advantage to ask all your questions, activate a free Spanish prepaid SIM card, open a free Spanish bank account, get free advice on housing or simply some hints & tips to explore this beautiful city.
To ensure that you correctly complete the online form when ordering your transport card, make sure to read the text above and have a look at the example image we included. We’ve also included the Citylife details that you will need to fill out the form and to ship it to our office for free storage, below:
IMPORTANT: Once you’ve ordered your card online and indicated our address as shipment address, please send us a short confirmation via WhatsApp to our official mobile phone. This way we are aware of it too and can notify you once it has arrived! Please don’t forget! Once you have picked up your public transport card upon your arrival, you can top it up with your monthly pass at any machine located in one of the many Madrid metro stations around the city.
If you couldn’t request the public transport card ahead of time or the online order didn’t work, send us a WhatsApp with your full name and arrival date. We will make an appointment for the day and time that is convenient for you at no cost!
3. Madrid Transport Options – a Comprehensive Outline
The following sections of this article will outline everything you need to know about getting around in Madrid by public transport. From all Madrid’s modes of transport and how to use them to convenient alternatives. In addition to a detailed and comprehensive explanation we will also include promo codes for Uber and Cabify at the bottom of this article, which will help you save money along the way!
3.1 Madrid Metro – Zones, Lines & All Available Passes
The Madrid metro is the most popular way to get around Madrid. Its 12 metro lines, 300+ stations and several other unique connections to some of the harder to reach places makes it one of the most accessible metro systems in Europe. Continue reading for a complete breakdown of the Madrid metro system.
Madrid Metro – Zones, Lines & All Available Passes (CLICK TO OPEN)
Metro Operating Hours
Typically, the metro runs from 06:00 – 01:30 with trains arriving every 2-15 minutes. Frequency is dictated by the city’s rush hours.
The Madrid metro will take you to zones A, B1, B2 & B3. In most cases you will only need access to zone A to enjoy Madrid, especially as a tourist. However you might find that your workplace, university campus or home is located in Madrid’s farther zones. We go into detail on what tickets you need and their prices above, however we have summarized the ticket options for you.
Metro Tickets & Prices
- Single Ticket (Zone A) – 1.50€ – 2.00€.
- 10 Trip Ticket (Zone A) – 12.20€.
- Unlimited Monthly Metro Pass – Please refer to our chart above by clicking here.
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3.2 Madrid Buses (EMT) – Routes, Night Buses & Airport Shuttle
The Municipal Transport Company of Madrid (EMT) is in charge of Madrid’s ultra efficient bus system. Comprised of over 200 bus lines with roughly 2,000 buses in operation, the bus system in Madrid is a great way to get around the city as it can take you to many places that the Madrid metro can’t reach. The EMT buses are blue city buses that operate within the central zone of Madrid – meaning they do not travel throughout the entire province of Madrid, but only the city of Madrid. Skip ahead for more info on how to travel through the Madrid province by bus.
Madrid Buses (EMT) – Routes, Night Buses & Airport Shuttle (CLICK TO OPEN)
Bus Operating Hours
Typically, buses run from 06:00 – 23:30 with frequency ranging from every 5-20 minutes on weekdays. On weekends and holidays they run from 07.00-23:30 and with less frequency.
Madrid’s night buses, known as Búhos or Owls, run from 23:30 – 6:00 in 27 different routes. All routes start and end at the central Plaza de Cibeles. You can find the night bus schedule at bus stops in the city. Also check out the night bus map here.
Bus Tickets & Prices
You can access the bus with both your monthly transport card and the Multi Card which we cover above. If you have 10 rides loaded to your Multi Card you simply board the bus and tap your ticket. If you need to purchase a single ride you can do so right from the bus driver.
Though you can certainly get to the airport via the standard metro and bus routes, there is a great airport shuttle available as well. It runs every 15 minutes during the day and every 35 during the night, stopping at Cibeles and Atocha. Tickets for the shuttle cost 5€. For more details, click here.
Madrid is introducing eco friendly buses to the city, starting with lines 001 and 002 which operate within some of Madrid’s more heavily used routes.
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3.3 Metro Ligero Madrid – The Light Rail of Madrid
The Metro Ligero is Madrid’s Light Rail system. It’s an above ground metro system that connects Madrid through 4 lines and over 50 stations. However, this transport system is different from the Madrid Metro as it connects travelers to the less central areas of the city. You will find them more in the suburban areas of Madrid, connecting Zone A with zone B1, B2 and B3.
Metro Ligero Madrid – The Light Rail of Madrid (CLICK TO OPEN)
Light Rail Operating Hours
Metro Ligero lines ML1-ML3 share the same hours as the Madrid Metro day hours (6:00 – 01:30. And line ML4 runs from 5:00 – 00:45.
Light Rail Lines
Get a better look at how the Metro Ligero connects with the Madrid Metro by checking out each of the four lines below. The CRTM has layed out all the Metro Ligero lines, stops and connections for you to easily plan your commute around Madrid.
Additionally, make sure to take a look at each individual stop on the Metro Ligero routes.
Light Rail Tickets & Prices
- With the standard Multi Card pass and zone A monthly pass you will have access to the ML1 line. Single tickets cost between 1.50€ – 2.00€ and 10 ride tickets cost 12,20€.
- To access the ML2 and ML3 lines you will need to top up an additional pass to your Multi Card or pay a supplement with your monthly pass. Single tickets/supplement costs 2.00€ and 10 ride tickets cost 12,20€.
- If you plan your trip ahead you can combine your Madrid Metro access and your Metro Ligero access in one top up. Single combo tickets cost 3.00€ and 10 ride combo tickets cost 18.30€.
- To access the ML4 (Parla Tram) you will need to top up an additional pass to your Multi Card or pay a supplement with your Monthly Pass. Single tickets cost 1.30€ and 10 ride tickets cost 8.50€.
For all details on these tickets and fares, please refer to the official website of the Consorcio de Transportes de Madrid.
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3.4 Cercanías Madrid – The Regional Trains of Madrid
Like the Metro Ligero, the Cercanías Madrid is an above ground train system. However, the Cercanías system takes travellers through the entire region of Madrid. Not just the suburbs of the of Madrid city, but the actual province of Madrid. The Cercanías trains operate in partnership with Spain’s high speed train network – called Renfe – allowing it to be fast, reliable and comfortable. With 9 lines and over 90 stations, Cercanías offers great connections to the small towns and areas within the Madrid region.
Cercanías Madrid – The Regional Trains of Madrid (CLICK TO OPEN)
Cercanías Operating Hours
The Cercanías Madrid trains run everyday from 5:30 – 23:30.
Get a better look at how the Cercanías system connects with the Madrid Metro by checking out each of the 9 lines below. The Concorcio de Madrid has layed out all the Cercanías lines, stops and connections for you to easily plan your commute around Madrid.
Cercanías Tickets & Prices
- If you have the monthly transport pass you will have access to the Cercanías stations that are located within the zones that your pass covers. If you need to go beyond the zones of your monthly pass, you will need to pay a supplement that covers the distance you will be going. Prices vary based on where you start and end your journey, so please check the detailed pricing table here.
- The Cercanías system is operated by Renfe, which means that you cannot access these trains with your Multi Card. They have their own ticket systems and zones. For a detailed pricing info please check the pricing tables here.
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3.5 Autobuses Interurbanos – The Suburban Buses of Madrid
Unlike the rest of the Madrid public transport system, the suburban buses are run by a network of private companies that travel throughout the region of Madrid. There are over 300 lines in operation with roughly 20,000 operations each day. These buses depart from various central stations in Madrid, connecting travelers to hundreds of stops outside of the city.
Autobuses Interurbanos – The Suburban Buses of Madrid (CLICK TO OPEN)
Suburban Bus Operating Hours
Typically the suburban buses run between 6:00 – 23:30. However some buses will operate at night as well. Please refer to the official time table for each region here.
Suburban Bus Lines
Use the trip calculator facilitated by the Consorcio de Transportes de Madrid to get all the information on the suburban bus lines that you need to take.
- View the Suburban Bus Line Calculator
You can access these suburban buses at the following major stations in Madrid: Plaza de Castilla, Avenida de América, Plaza Elíptica, Príncipe Pío and Moncloa
Suburban Bus Tickets & Prices
- If you have the monthly public transport pass you will have access to the suburban bus lines that are located within the zones that your pass covers. If you need to go beyond the zones in your monthly pass, you will need to pay a supplement that covers the distance you will be going. Prices vary based on where you start and end your journey so please check the detailed pricing table here.
- Single tickets and 10 trip tickets are available but are not associated with the same Multi Card that we have mentioned throughout this article. The suburban bus system has it’s own tickets and pricing system. Single ride tickets can be purchased directly from the bus and 10 trip tickets can be bought at the bus stations and other licensed ticket points.
For all details on these tickets, fares and where to buy them, please refer to the official website of the Consorcio de Transportes de Madrid.
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4. Traveling Long Distance Around Spain
Long Distance Trains
Renfe is Spain’s high speed train network that connects travelers all over Spain. The trains can also take travelers across the border form Spain to Portugal and France. Check out the official Renfe website to learn more.