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Getting Around Madrid

The best way to get around Madrid is by metro. A handful of metro lines extend as far north as the Madrid-Barajas Airport (MAD) as well as into the city's southern suburbs. Buses are an option, too, as are metered taxis, which can be hailed on the street or found in ranks throughout the city. Renting a car is another alternative, but you should note that it's nearly always rush hour in Madrid. 

To get from the airport into Madrid, you can take the metro (line No. 8) for 4.50 to 5 euros (around $5.25 to $6). Taxis charge a flat fare of 30 euros (approximately $35). There are also several car rental companies located at the airport.

Metro

Madrid's metro system is clean, easy to use and extensive, with 12 numbered and color-coded routes that transport passengers throughout the central city, to the airport and suburbs. Fares are figured by a zone system with the cheapest one-way ticket costing 1.50 or 2 euros (about $1.75 to $2.30). 

Visitors looking to use the metro often should purchase a Tourist Card for the number of days that they're traveling throughout the city; cards are sold in one-, two-, three-, four-, five- and seven-day quantities. The cost of the cards range from 8.40 euros to 35.40 euros for Zone A travel (Madrid's main attractions and popular neighborhoods are all located in Zone A). The metro is open daily from 6 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. and tickets can be purchased at all metro stations.  

Bus

There are more than 200 bus lines tracing the city, with the cheapest one-way ticket costing 1.50 euros (about $1.75). Tickets can only be purchased on the buses, and the fleets of buses typically operate Monday through Friday, from 6 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., and on weekends from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. The city's night buses, which operate from about 11:30 p.m. through the wee hours of the morning, are especially helpful to tourists who want to experience Madrid's nightlife and don't want to spring for a taxi. There is also 24-hour bus service from the airport to the city center.

Taxi

You can hail metered taxis on the street or find them lining up in queues throughout Madrid. The ones that are available will have an illuminated green light on the roofs. The meter starts at about 2 euros and adds a euro or so for every kilometer traveled. A word of warning: Make sure the taximeter is switched on. Some drivers deliberately keep it off to swindle tourists out of a few extra euros. You should also only ride the official cabs, which are white with the city's emblem and a red diagonal stripe across the driver and front passenger side doors. The Uber ride-hailing app also operates in Madrid.

Car

Although it's not the best way to get around (tons of traffic, impatient drivers, high parking fees), renting a car is another option. Car rental agencies have offices in the airport and in the city, but make sure that you obtain an international driving permit before your trip.

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