The Madrid metro is indispensable to the tourist in Madrid and the perfect way to avoid the city's endless traffic congestion. On your first day in the city, we'd recommend using a Hop-On-Hop-Off Sightseeing Tour Bus, but after that, the metro should be your preferred mode of transport. It runs until 1 A.M. after which night buses run along the same routes as the metro.
There are multi-ticket types available, be sure to buy the right one. Change the display at the machine into English and you'll see a number of options. Most of them pertain to areas of the Metro you are unlikely to use, so ignore them.
Read on for details of how Madrid tickets work or save yourself the hassle buy a tourist pass in advance:
Standard Madrid Metro Tickets
The two types of ticket you are most likely use are:
- Single: The simplest ticket, but more expensive than the many money-saving options available to you. Only buy this on your final day when you won't be using the metro much more.
- Ten-Journey Metrobus: No longer the good value it used to be (it used to cut the price of a journey in half). But it will still save you standing in line every time and it can be used over several days and shared between people too.
Note: The ticket is a little more expensive from the airport. When buying the ten-journey ticket (which, remember, can be shared), you will be asked how many passengers will be traveling from the airport and will add the right fare accordingly.
Madrid Metro Tourist Tickets
There are also a number of tourist tickets available. The tickets available are:
- Tourist Ticket 1 Day: Much better value than the Barcelona Metro equivalent, but you still need to be making at least six journeys a day for it to work out cheaper than the 10 Journeys ticket. Work out your itinerary for the day and decide for yourself.
- Tourist Ticket 2 Days: Virtually the same price as the 10 Journeys ticket. If you'll be making more than 10 journeys over two days, this is the ticket to buy.
- Tourist Ticket 3/5/7 Days: These tickets are usually thought of as less valuable than the others as you need to be using the metro a lot over a number of days.
Other Ways of Getting Around Madrid
Though the Madrid metro is an excellent way to get around Madrid, if you spend all your time underground you'll never realize just how close together many of these sights actually are (ignore the Madrid metro map for judging these distances; they aren't to scale).
Best Metro Stations for Central Madrid Sightseeing
This is not a complete list of Metro stations in Madrid, but most of the more famous sights in the city are located near them. If at all possible, stay close to one of these stations.
Metro Alonso Martinez: Close to the nightlife zones of Chueca and Malasaña as well as the chic Barrio Salamanca.
Metro Anton Martin: Half-way between Puerta del Sol and Atocha train station and a short walk from the Reina Sofia museum. One of the best places to stay in Madrid.
Metro Arguelles: A short-ish walk to Plaza España (as well as the party district of Malasaña).
Metro Atocha: Madrid's main train station is here, as are the Reina Sofia and Prado museums. Not far from the hip Lavapies part of town.
Metro Bilbao: Close to the cool Malasaña and Lavapies parts of town.
Metro Banco de España: At the point where two of Madrid's biggest boulevards - Gran Via and Paseo del Prado - (nearly) meet, at the point of one of Madrid's most iconic sights (the Post Office).
Metro Callao: At the heart of Madrid on Gran Via and a short walk from Puerta del Sol.
Metro Chueca: Nominally Madrid's gay district, but not exclusively so. Close to Gran Via and Sol.
Metro La Latina: La Latina is one of the most popular districts to visit in Madrid, with a classy (but not prohibitively expensive) vibe.
Metro Lavapies: A mixture of arty and studenty types and a large immigrant population. Good for interesting nightlife and curry. Close to Atocha train station.
Metro Gran Via: On Madrid's most famous boulevard, between the cool districts of Malasaña and Chueca and Puerta del Sol.
Metro Opera: Near Madrid's main opera house and the royal palace. Close to Puerta del Sol and the old Madrid de las Austrias district.
Metro Sevilla: Very central, close to Puerta del Sol and a short walk to Gran Via.
Metro Sol: Not only as the center of Madrid, but the center of Spain (all distances are measured from here).
Metro Tirso Molina: A short walk south of Puerta del Sol - close to Lavapies and the Huertas areas of town.
Metro Tribunal: In the heart of the Malasaña district of town and a short walk to Chueca. This metro station is a popular meeting point for young Spaniards on their way out for the night.
Metro Noviciados: In the quieter end of Malasaña and close to Plaza de España and Gran Via.
Metro Retiro: Madrid's nicest park.
Best Metro Stations for Business District and Real Madrid Matches
Metro Chamartin: Madrid's secondary train station.
Metro Estrecho: Not a lot of interest here, but a cheap place to stay if want to visit the Santiago Bernabeu stadium for a Real Madrid game.
Metro Nuevos Ministerios: A business and commercial district, but a good transport hub.
Metro Santiago Bernabeu: A stadium that is home to Real Madrid, Europe's most successful soccer team.
Metro Plaza Castilla: A transport hub, with little of interest to the tourist but with a direct line to Santiago Bernabeu station.
Other Notable Metro Stations in Madrid: Other stations that are of some minor interest.
Metro Casa del Campo: The big park to the west of Madrid - a bit away from the action and not really any hotels. The zoo and amusement park are here.
Metro Colon: Between Chueca and Barrio Salamanca.
Metro Conde de Casal: Mainly a residential area, there is a local bus hub here.
Metro Cuatro Vientos: Out of the center and only good for the air museum.
Metro Ruben Dario: The open-air sculpture museum is here, but little else.
Metro Delicias: South of the center, but not too far from Lavapies and Atocha. The railway museum is here.
Metro Lago: At the lake in Casa del Campo. Not to be confused with the lake in the Retiro park.
Metro Las Ventas: The Madrid bullring is found here.
Metro Mendez Alvaro: Madrid's main bus station and close to the planetarium.
Metro Moncloa: Some local buses leave from here.
Metro Plaza España: At the end of Gran Via.
Metro Principe Pio: Mainly a shopping center and bus station, but you're not likely to need any of the buses.
Metro Serrano: In the heart of old chic Barrio Salamanca.
Metro Valdebernardo: Outside the center of the city, only really good for the Faunia wildlife park.
Metro Ventura Rodriguez: Close to Plaza de España and the cool nightlife district of Malasaña.