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Public Transportation in Madrid

Learning how to get around using public transportation in Madrid is an important step in adjusting to life in Madrid. In this article, we cover the local public transportation options.
|-Public Transportation in Madrid

Madrid, the capital city of Spain, is known for its efficient and extensive public transportation system. The city offers a variety of public transportation options including the Metro (subway), Cercanías (commuter trains), buses, and taxis. The Madrid Metro is one of the most extensive and fastest-growing metro networks in the world. The Cercanías is a network of commuter trains that connect Madrid with its suburbs and other towns in the region. The city also has a comprehensive bus network, operated by the Madrid Municipal Transport Company (EMT Madrid), and a large fleet of taxis. With such a wide range of public transportation options, it is entirely possible for an expat living in Madrid to comfortably live without a car.


The Madrid Metro is a convenient and efficient way to get around the city. It is safe to use at any time of the day or night, and is generally considered safe for women travelling alone and for children. The metro operates from 6:00 am to 1:30 am, and covers most areas of the city. A single journey costs €1.50 to €2.00 depending on the number of stations travelled, but there are also various types of travel cards available that offer unlimited travel for a certain period. The metro system is well-signposted in both Spanish and English, making it easy for non-Spanish speakers to navigate.


The Cercanías is a network of commuter trains that is ideal for travelling longer distances, such as to the suburbs or to nearby towns. The trains are comfortable and reliable, and offer a great way to escape the city for a day. The Cercanías operates from approximately 5:00 am to midnight. The cost of a journey depends on the distance travelled, but a single ticket from Madrid to the nearby town of Alcalá de Henares, for example, costs €3.40. The Cercanías is also safe to use, although it is advisable to be cautious of pickpockets during peak hours.


Madrid has a comprehensive network of buses that cover the entire city. The buses are a great way to see the city, as they often pass through areas that the metro and Cercanías do not reach. The buses operate from 6:00 am to 11:30 pm, with a limited night service (known as the “búhos”) operating from midnight to 6:00 am. A single journey costs €1.50, regardless of the distance travelled. The buses are generally safe to use, although, as with any public transportation, it is advisable to be aware of your surroundings and keep an eye on your belongings.


Taxis are a convenient but more expensive option for getting around Madrid. They can be hailed on the street or booked in advance. The starting fare is €2.40, with an additional charge of €1.05 to €1.20 per kilometre depending on the time of day. Taxis are generally safe to use, and all taxis are required to display a license and a meter. However, it is advisable to check the fare before starting your journey to avoid any surprises.

In conclusion, Madrid’s public transportation system is extensive, efficient, and safe. Whether you’re commuting to work, exploring the city, or heading out of town for a day trip, you can rely on Madrid’s public transportation to get you where you need to go. So, if you’re an expat living in Madrid, you can definitely live comfortably without a car.

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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