Tourist’s guide to Madrid Metro: itinerary, fares and how to use

Madrid Metro is one of the fastest, most comfortable and most reliable means of public transport, with which you can reach not only the airport, but also the main metropolitan attractions. Despite the confusing and rather complicated scheme, it is one of the most popular ways to travel around the Spanish capital.

Madrid Metro

General information

Metro de Madrid, which together with trams, buses and regional trains forms a unified transport system of the city, is a record holder in several aspects at once. It:

  • One of the oldest subways in Spain – its official opening took place in November 1919, but the peak of development fell at the end of the 20th – beginning of the 21st century .;
  • One of the largest undergrounds on the planet – its first branch connecting the Cuatro Caminos area with the Puerta del Sol area, consisted of only 8 stations. Today, the Metro de Madrid includes 12 lines of the usual and 3 lines of the light metro, most of which is also underground;
  • The only metro in the world with 2 ring lines that are not nested;
  • One of the longest subways in Europe – its length is about 300 km, and the total number of stations has exceeded 300, which only slightly falls short of the London and Moscow metro.

Another characteristic feature of the metro is the left-hand traffic and the presence of island platforms installed in the areas of greatest traffic and allowing passengers to leave on both sides of the car. Not only that, if you look carefully at the metro map of Madrid, you will probably notice that the distance between stops is from 600 to 850 m. In this regard, 4-5 aprons can be located on the same street.

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Metro line-up

The trains here are small – each includes about 5-6 cars, although there may be even fewer trains on less busy lines. With all this, the average flow of passengers using this type of transport is from 500 to 700 million people per year. True, in contrast to the Paris metro, which has become the main prototype for the Metro de Madrid, the lobby and compositions are very clean and comfortable, bright design, modern decoration and new elements delight. By the way, not only new trains combined into one train go to the route, but also old ones whose wagons are separated from each other by special jumpers.

Interestingly, some metro stations were converted into concert venues and small exhibition halls. The most famous among them are Carpetana, Nuevos Minsiterios and Chamberi. The first is a small paleontological exhibition where you can see the remains of prehistoric plants and animals that existed on the territory of modern Madrid. These artifacts were discovered only during the repairs carried out in 2008-2010.

The second, with the advent of autumn, turns into an impromptu scene, on which the National Flamenco Festival takes place during 5 September days. But the third, the so-called ghost station, has become a popular museum, the architecture of which has not changed since the beginning of the 20th century. Another platform deserves no less attention – Opera, in the lobby of which you can see the remains of an ancient aqueduct and no less than an old fountain. Metro de Madrid has its own library, but only Spanish citizens can visit it.

Metro map

Metro map

According to the Madrid metro scheme, the subway of the Spanish capital consists of 2 ring lines. The first connects the central regions of the capital and intersects with radial branches. The second, circular, is located on the periphery and delivers passengers to satellite cities (Leganes, Coslada, Getafe and Alcobendas). In these rings, 8 separate zones can be distinguished, 6 of which belong to the city (A, C1, B1, C2, B3, B2), and the remaining 2 (E 1 and E2) – Castile-La Mancha. Each pass can only be used in its own area. Otherwise, you will need a ticket, the effect of which applies to several zones at once.

On a note! To facilitate the task, use the special mobile scheduler to find the nearest stop, to determine the arrival time of a particular train, to track changes in the work of the metro, make a route and check the map balance.

Currently, the Madrid Metro consists of 13 branches connecting various parts of the city. Each line has not only color and number, but also its own name, formed from the names of 2 points – initial and final:

  • L1: Pinar de Chamartin – Valdecarros;
  • L2: Las Rosas – Cuatro Caminos;
  • L3: Villaverde Alto – Moncloa;
  • L4: Arguelles – Pinar de Chamartin;
  • L5: Alameda de Osuna – Casa de Campo;
  • L6: Lagoon – Lucero (circle line);
  • L7: Hospital del Henares – Pitis;
  • L8: Nuevos-Ministerios – Aeropuerto T4;
  • Colorful metro station
  • L9: Paco de Lucia – Arganda del Rey;
  • L10: Hospital of Infanta Sofia – Puerta del Sur;
  • L11: Plaza Elliptic – La Fortuna;
  • L12: Puerta del Sur – San Nicacio (ring line);
  • R: Opera – Principe Pio (shuttle).

In addition to the metropolitan subway network, there are 2 more types of urban transport. In the first case, we are talking about Cercanías Renfe trains, which provide railway connections between the capital and suburban areas. The second is about Tranvía de Parla, light rail light rail vehicles launched to unload metropolitan traffic a little. In the diagram, this “light metro” operating from 04:45 to 00:45 is indicated by the lines ML1, ML2 and ML3:

  • ML1: Pinar de Chamartin – Las Tablas;
  • ML2: Hardin Colony – Estacion del Arawak;
  • ML3: Colonia Jardín – Puerta del Boadilla.

The interval between tram departures is 5 to 20 minutes, depending on the day of the week and time of day. The number of trips affects the ticket price: 1.30 € – for one and 8, 50 € – for the ticket for ten trips. Tranvía de Parla cars are equipped with the latest technology, but most importantly, they have signaling devices and platforms for passengers with disabilities.

Operating time and frequency of movement

Subway station

To find out how long the metro operates in Madrid, we turn to the metro site, which says that the Metro de Madrid is open from 6 a.m. to half past 2 a.m. In the morning and evening (the so-called peak hours, when residents of the capital travel and return from work), trains depart at intervals of 1-3 minutes. In the afternoon, you need to wait from 7 to 10 minutes, and in the dead of night – at least 15.

On a note! During repairs and reconstructions, Madrid’s work schedule may change.

Fare: types of cards and prices

Since 2018, travel in Madrid’s municipal transport has been carried out not on paper coupons, but on plastic travel cards, on which you can download almost all types of tickets. The price of such a card is 2.5 €, but the validity period extends to the whole 10 years. In addition, an unlimited number of people can use the same non-personal plastic, so it often makes no sense to purchase it for each family member.

Today, the city has several types of travel cards, but for visitors only some of them are suitable.

Tarjeta multi (Multi Card)
Tarjeta multi

Non-personal reusable card, on which you can add an additional tax for travel to the airport, coupons for 1 or 10 trips and a travel card for a tourist.

On a note! To save on Madrid metro fares, buy a multi-card at the same time as Título Turístico.

Find out RATES or book any accommodation using this form

Tarjeta Personal (TTP or Personal Municipal Transport Card)

Personal travel card containing photo and owner data, as well as your own identification number. Allows you to download all types of tickets, including travel tickets for 1 and 12 months. The only exception is the travel card.

On a note! Passengers entitled to reduced fares (people with disabilities, members of large families, etc.) can only use TTP. Otherwise, the fare is paid in full.

Children card

Free travel card for 4-6 years old children (inclusive). Applies to all types of urban transport. Requires confirmation by a special reader.

On a note! Children under 4 years old do not need to pay for travel!

Tourist pass Abono Turistico
Tourist pass Abono Turistico

It is a personal ticket in which the passenger’s personal data is entered (name and passport number). It applies to a certain number of days – 1, 2, 3, 5 or 7 in a row. Valid from the moment of first use. Sold at the box office.

The cost of the metro in Madrid on a tourist map is affected not only by its duration, but also by the zone for which it is intended:

Days and Zone one 2 3 5 7

(center of Madrid, way to the airport, ML1 light rail and some other forms of public transport)

8,40 € 14,20 € 18,40 € 26,80 € 35,40 €

(suburbs, all subway lines, ML1 light rail)

17 € 28,40 € 35,40 € 50,80 € 70,80 €

Children under 11 years old get a 50% discount.

On a note! Checking the balance of travel cards is carried out through the CRTM mobile application.

Single ticket

As for single tickets, their price is:

  • 1,50 – 2 € depending on the number of passing stops (from 5 to 13, for each station + 10 eurocents);
  • a ticket for 10 trips costs from 11.20 to 18.30 €;
  • a coupon for 1 trip remains valid for 7 days from the date of purchase;
  • In all cases, an extra charge of € 3 will apply for trips to Barajas International Airport.

The prices on the page are indicated for November 2019. More details about travel, prices and metro work can be found on the official website

Where and how to buy a ticket?

If you do not know how to buy a ticket for the Madrid metro, look in the lobby for a special machine that supports several European languages ​​(including English). With this device you can not only purchase the card you are interested in, but also upload the necessary number of coupons to it. During the purchase process, the device will prompt you to select the name of the starting and ending points – so as not to be mistaken in the names, do not forget to download the detailed metro scheme to your smartphone or tablet.

Ticket vending machine

The machine will calculate the total cost of the trip on its own, you just have to add the necessary amount to it. Paying for the metro can be done either by credit card or in cash (it is better to have banknotes with which the value does not exceed 20 €). Tickets for the subway are also sold at regular ticket offices, but there are not so many of them, so most passengers prefer automatic machines.

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Metro Rules

Subway map

To understand how to use the metro in Madrid, look at the schemes and maps installed at the entrance to the station, in the lobby and carriages. For a traveler who has arrived in the capital of Spain for the first time, it is better to have such a scheme with you – you can download it on the Metro de Madrid website or just buy it at the box office. It should also be noted that the transport system of the city is distinguished by a well-developed information service. About how to get to a particular place and how much you need to pay for it, the passenger is told at the airport. To do this, just contact the information office.

To access the platform, you need to bypass the turnstile equipped with a validator (composter). Touching the reading strip, you get a stamp with the date and time of the trip. The ticket should be stored until the final stop, because its presence can be checked on any segment of the path. If something doesn’t work out for you, contact the controllers or the staff on duty – they will show you how to use the composter correctly.

Turnstile in the subway

All stations have side platforms. Doors in most cars open automatically, but this is far from always the case. If this does not happen, press the green button or lift up the special handle. The doors are equipped with an electric drive, so even a child can cope with this task. During the trip, do not forget to follow the light displays on which the names of stops are displayed, the direction of movement and points of change. In addition, on each platform you can see large stands with images and street names located next to the metro. By the way, the entrance to the subway is indicated by the Entrada sign, and the exit to the city is Salida.

For many visitors, the Madrid metro scheme seems extremely complicated. This is not surprising – a huge number of different transitions can confuse anyone. In addition, the distribution of lines and stations in the city is irrational, therefore, in order to overcome even a relatively short distance, you will have to make one or even two transfers. But that is not all! One subway line can be divided into 2 parts by special interchange nodes. As a rule, all of them consist of 2-3 platforms located at different levels, but under one roof. In order not to get confused in all this confusion, carefully follow the signs and check your route with the electronic circuit.

Useful Tips

Before taking the Madrid metro, take a look at a few helpful tips:

  1. Many passages have very low ceilings, so people above 175 cm should be careful.
  2. At most old stations, there are no escalators at all, and those that exist only work on the way out. Instead, the Metro de Madrid has a huge number of stairs connecting the metro lines not only to each other, but also to the outside world. As for the “new buildings”, they are equipped not only with moving lifts, but also with spacious modern lifts.
  3. The entrance to the Madrid subway is marked with a company logo in the form of a rhombus with a red edging and the inscription “Metro” on a blue background.
  4. Subway entrance
  5. You can stay in the subway with bicycles on weekends and holidays. Places for their transportation are arranged in the first train cars.
  6. During the trip, it is important to remember the names of two stations – the one at which you go and the final. This will help not to stray from the right direction and quickly navigate the transitions.
  7. Carefully follow the scheme – the names of stops during the movement of trains may not be announced.

All you need to know about Madrid Metro:

Posted by: Olga Sheyko

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