Steph Sievers is a student at The College of New Jersey and a CISabroad Madrid featured blogger! She is currently studying in Madrid for the Spring 2017 semester.
Madrid has an exceptional transportation system; it was one of my most pleasant surprises upon arriving here. The Metro is very clean, and well-organized. As the seventh largest metro system in the world, it has 12 lines, so I have never been further than a ten- or twelve-minute walk from a station, and I have never waited more than six minutes for the next train to arrive. Though not as easily affordable for other Madrid citizens, the Abono student pass is merely 20 euro per month, and what would have been a tedious process to obtain it was made easy by CIS Abroad providing the card upon our arrival. At first, I was disappointed that this pass was only usable in Zone A, but I quickly learned that this covers almost the entire city, and I have never needed or wanted a line outside of Zone A. Some of the stations are not easily accessible for wheelchairs, but since 1995 any new stations built must be, so a fair amount have elevators and wheelchair access. I highly recommend anyone studying abroad – Madrid or elsewhere – download the app called CityMapper. After you enter your starting location and desired destination, it gives you walking directions to the nearest metro, the line, stop, and fastest exit at that stop, and then walking directions to your destination. It also includes train and bus information, and it has never led me wrong.
Unfortunately for me, the metro line that connects to the airport has been closed since a few weeks before my arrival, but my friend was clever enough to realize that Line 5’s last stop, Alameda de Osuna, is only a ten-minute walk from the airport’s Terminal 1. Another easy way to get to the airport is through the airport express shuttle. It operates 24 hours a day, so even when the metro to the airport is up and running, it is still extremely helpful from 1:30 to 6 AM, and it only costs five euro. It makes three stops in the city center before heading to each of the airport’s terminals. Besides this bus, I have only ever ridden Bus 67, which goes up and down La Castellana, the longest street in Madrid and a beautiful one at that. Because of the metro system’s efficiency, I have never felt the need to take a bus to my destination, but like the Metro, bus stops are often close and the routes are easy to navigate.
Cabs are everywhere, but I seldom use them. A cab to the airport is thirty euro flat fare from anywhere in the city, but as I mentioned, there are much cheaper options. Though Madrid is mostly safe to walk through at night, cabs are often your best bet when heading home at night without a friend, if the metro is already closed. Most cab fares home have only been around six euro, which goes to show even further the steepness of the thirty euro fare to Madrid-Barajas.
Above all else, walking is your best bet in Madrid. As a city, it boasts being completely walkable, and it’s easily the coolest way to get to know any city. You could walk from one end of Madrid to the other, and in fact you should – there is so much to see here, and despite the metro’s convenience and speed, you won’t want to be underground for long.