The Madrid metro is the most reliable and cost effective way to move around the city, and when traffic is tough, it’s also the fastest. Madrid’s metro is made up of 12 lines that travel to every corner of the city, some even travel outside of the city to nearby commuter towns. Additionally, the metro system recently added two “Metro ligero” lines, that travel above ground connecting commuter towns to the west of Madrid with the rest of the capital’s metro system.
The frequency of the trains depends on the hour of the day. Early in the morning and late at night, trains run anywhere between every 7 to 18 minutes. However from about 8:00AM to 9:00PM, they run every 2 to 5 minutes. Even running this frequently, the trains are packed during rush hour, so sometimes two or three trains have to pass before you have room to board.
Madrid’s metro system is extremely inexpensive when compared to other European capital cities. A single fare (billete sencillo) is 1 euro, but a 10 ride ticket (Bono de diez viajes) is a mere 7.40 euros. If traveling outside of the city limits, to nearby towns connected by the metro, you have to buy a “billete combinado” (combined ticket) which costs 2 euros. A ten ride combined ticket costs 14.50 euros. For people who ride public transportation (metro, buses and commuter train or bus) five days a week and pay for three or more rides per day, the best option is to buy a monthly pass (abono). The cost of monthly passes depends on two factors: age and destination.
Aside from the average monthly pass, there are passes for riders under the age of 21 and senior citizens. The area covered by public transportation is divided into zones. Zone A is all of metropolitan Madrid. If you don’t plan on leaving the city, all you’ll need is a zone A pass. Zones B, C and E are all destinations within the Autonomous Community of Madrid, but outside of the Madrid municipality. The further you go from the city, the more expensive the pass. A zone A monthly pass for young adults is 29.50 euros, for adults 46 euros and for senior citizens 10.90 euros.
Before buying your monthly pass, you will have to take two passport photos and a passport or NIE to any estanco (tobacco shop). There you must fill out a brief form and pay a small fee in order to receive a metro ID. You will need this ID in order to buy your monthly pass. Plus, whenever there are random ticket checks on the metro, you will have to show both your monthly pass and metro ID.
Both tickets and monthly passes can be purchased at any metro station, either from the ticket machines or the customer service desk. Metro maps are also given out at the customer service desk, and can be found online at http://www.metromadrid.es/es/index.html.
The metro is open from 6:00AM to 1:30AM, 365 days a week.