Madrid is a large city. You can see the main tourist areas of the city by foot. However, you will depend on public transportation to get around during most of your study abroad experience. Madrid’s public transportation is clean, fast, safe, extensive and efficient. It includes 13 metro lines, more than 170 bus lines (EMT) and 10 lines of Cercanias (local trains that link the city center with the suburbs).
Madrid has a great metro system, with metro stops throughout the city that makes Madrid fairly easy to navigate. The operating hours of the metro are from 6:00 am to 1:30 am every day of the year. The frequency varies according to the line, time of day and the day of the week. However, it typically runs every 3 minutes at rush hour and about every 5 minutes during all other hours of the day. At night, trains run every 10-15 minutes. The metro is normally very safe, at any time of day or night but, some pickpockets operate in touristy stations (especially Sol). Please, pay attention to your bag, wallet and mobile phone. Prices vary depending on zone, but getting a monthly abono (pass) is highly recommended. Visit the website for a downloadable map, prices, the official app for your smart phone, and more information.
EMT buses are blue and run every day from 6:00 am to 12:00 am, every 5 to 15 minutes. The frequency may vary according to the time and the bus line. Being a nocturnal city, Madrid has a system of night buses, known as the “buhos,” that run after 11:45 pm until 6:00 am, with a frequency of 15-30 minutes. Many of them depart from Cibeles Square (metro station: Banco de España) and others do approximately the same journey of the metro lines. Visit the website for more information and the official app for your smart phone.
3. Cercanias Trains
The Cercanías suburban trains are cheap and fast, making them the best option for getting to and from towns near Madrid. They are ideal for going on day trips to places like the Guadarrama Mountains, Aranjuez, or El Escorial. You can also take a Cercanías train within the city, making trips like the one between Chamartín and Atocha, for example, much faster on this suburban line than by Metro.The Cercanias railway is connected to the metro at Atocha, Chamartín, Nuevos Ministerios, Príncipe Pío, Delicias, Pirámides or Méndez Alvaro stations. Another station in downtown (not connected) is Recoletos. The trains run from 6.00 am to 11:00pm, every 3 to 5 minutes. Check the website for more information.
Taxis in Madrid are white with a diagonal red band on their front door bearing the emblem of the city. They have a green light that is on when they are free. To hail a taxi all you need to do is raise your hand. There are also several taxi stops around the city, indicated by a blue sign with a white letter ‘T’. Taxis must be taken from the corresponding stops at train stations, bus stations, and at the airport. Throughout the rest of the city they can be easily stopped on the street. Fares vary and are usually paid in cash. If you need to pay with credit card, make sure the taxi accepts cards before taking the ride. There is a fixed airport rate for journeys between the airport and the city center of 30€. You can call for a taxi ahead of time, although you should keep in mind that the meter will be turned on with the driver starts heading to your location, not when you enter the taxi. (Radio Taxi: 933 033 033).
BiciMAD is a bicycle borrowing service in Madrid. You must register at any of the bike stations for a yearly ticket or as an occasional card. As an occasional user you’ll be issued with a card that lasts for 1, 3 or 5 days and you’ll be billed at the end of the period for the number of times you used the service. One of the great things about BiciMAD is that it employs information technology to make users’ experience easier, telling them in real time if any bikes are available at the nearest pick-up point when they check the app on their mobile devices or on the touch screens at the hire stations. How do you start using the bikes? It’s very easy, to pick up a bike the base must be showing a green light. To return a bike, the base must be showing a red light. If the light is blue it means that the bike has been reserved by another user. For more information visit the website.