Car parking in Madrid can be a challenge because on-street parking is paid and controlled. Moreover, Madrid Central has a very limited access.
Actually, I don’t recommend using a car in Madrid. It’s often quicker to move around the city using public transport, whether it’s the subway, a bus, or a taxi.
The only reason to rent a car in Madrid is just because you plan to travel out of the city and go to other great destinations in Spain (Seville, Granada, Cordoba, Barcelona or the coast where you can spend a few days at some gorgeous beaches…).
But if you still want to travel by car, check this complete guide on where to book your rental car online.
Parking your rental car in Madrid is complex and demands careful planning if you are not familiar with the city. So…
Car parking in Madrid can be a challenge due to fact that the City Hall is implementing all sorts of regulations to deter the use of private vehicles and encourage the use of public transport.
Nevertheless, there are still a few options where you can park your rental car in Madrid.
Madrid has 25 dissuasive car parks (and some 70 in the region or Comunidad Autónoma) open to the public (most of them free of charge). They are the best option to avoid entering the city center suing your car. Instead, you can park there and use the public transport.
You will avoid the hustle of traffic jams, getting lost and spending a fortune in a paying car park or because of a fine.
There are currently 3 main free car parks:
This online tool can prove useful if you are looking for public underground car parks. It’s only available in Spanish but it’s extremely easy to use.
All you have to do is type the location (city, address, zip code…) where you want to park your car. Then, choose the arrival and departure dates and times. Finally, click on the blue button (buscar means search).
The website will show you the best results according to this particular location. You can sort them by distance (distancia) or price (precio).
Each result shows the name of the car park, the total number of car spots, how much it will cost you and how far it is. Moreover, if you click on a specific car park and then on the get directions (conseguir direcciones) button, you’ll be sent to Google Maps.
If you park in any of these subterranean car parks, take note of where you are, and what landmarks there are as you exit. It’s easy to forget where you have left your car.
Sure, you can park your rental car on the street. But…
Madrid’s entire street parking is regulated by zones (also called Servicio de Estacionamiento Regulado or SER). There are blue or green dashed painted lines on the side of the road where parking is available.
These zones operate during the following times:
You can find parking meters (parquímetros) everywhere in the parking regulated zones. Here is where you must purchase your ticket. Once you have it, place it in a visible area on the dashboard of your car.
You can pay with coins. Note that meters neither accept bills nor provide change. You must have the exact change. Unfortunately, most shops do not provide change when asked, so make sure you have plenty of coins with you.
Alternatively, you can also pay with:
Currently, the available smartphone apps are:
If you park your car in a blue area, you must purchase your ticket from a blue parking meter. The same goes on for parking in a green area.
Make sure you purchase your ticket from the right meter; otherwise you will get a fine. Some streets have a green area on one side and a blue one on the other.
Madrid Central is a Restricted Access Area (RAA) located in the city center. It aims to turn the center of Madrid into an area free of traffic jams, smoke and noise.
The boundaries are the following streets: Calle Alberto Aguilera, Glorieta de Ruíz Jiménez, Calle Carranza, Glorieta de Bilbao, Calle Sagasta, Plaza de Alonso Martínez, Calle Génova, Plaza deColón, Paseo de Recoletos, Plaza de Cibeles, Paseo del Prado, Plaza de Cánovas del Castillo, Paseo del Prado, Plaza del Emperador Carlos V, Ronda de Atocha, Ronda de Valencia, Glorieta de Embajadores, Ronda de Toledo, Glorieta de la Puerta de Toledo, Ronda de Segovia, Cuesta de la Vega, Calle Mayor, Calle Bailén, Plaza de España, Calle Princesa and Calle Serrano Jover.
The whole perimeter is perfectly delimited by painted red lines.
The DGT (Dirección General de Tráfico) introduced environmental labeling for cars in 2016 which classified vehicles depending on their environmental impact.
This was designed to make it easier for authorities to restrict the worst polluting traffic during environmental alerts.
The labels will now determine who can access Madrid Central and how. The following vehicles may enter Madrid Central:
Avoid parking on the Carga y descarga (loading and unloading) areas, unless the times are clearly displayed. The times allowed for parking on these spots are limited and different from the Green and Blue zone hours.
Do not park in pedestrian crossings, corners, or in front of entrances and exits.
Do not double park.
As a rule of thumb, avoid committing any offense. In Madrid controllers are everywhere (literally) and you will get fined or your car could be towed away. Better not getting one, traffic fines are heavy!
If you exceed your time in a regulated parking area and are fined, you can often cancel the fine by paying a penalty. You must, however, do it within a limited period.
Purchase a ticket called anulación aviso de sanción from a parking meter. You are generally asked to ‘post’ it in a special slot in the ticket machine. Read the instructions on the parking meter to learn how to proceed.
If your car has been towed away, there may be an adhesive sticker by the side of the road indicating this. As a non-resident you must first pay the fine in cash before paying the towing (grúa) charge, usually at two different places.
The amount of the fine will vary depending on the size of the car, the area it was parked, and how long it has been impounded.
You will need to ask a policeman or parking controller where the car pound is.
Having your rental car stolen can ruin your trip, especially if your luggage and personal items were in the vehicle.
Here are some tips to prevent theft and break-ins while you are away. These are valid not only while you are in Madrid, but at all times should you decide to go on a road trip around Spain.
If by any chance your rental car is stolen, you must report the stolen vehicle as soon as you notice it. Call the police or go to the nearest police station. Give them all the information about your vehicle (model, license plates, color, etc.) and report any stolen items.
If you don’t speak any Spanish ask a local to help you.
Then, call your insurance company to report your stolen or damaged car.
Finally, call the rental car company to inform them of the situation and ask to get another rental vehicle.
This article is part of a complete tutorial about car rental in Madrid where you can read all the information you need to organize your road trip around the country.
Here is a complete summary of all the guide:
1. Should you rent a car or take the train?
2. Driving in Madrid: rules and recommendations
3. Do you need an International Driver’s Licence?
4. How to book your rental car online
5. How to find cheap rental rates?
6. Getting to Madrid by rental car
7. Visiting Madrid by rental car
8. Car parking in Madrid