Stop navigating from one website to another, and read ALL the information you need before you leave home.
For price and convenience, the Madrid subway – also called Metro, can’t be beat. It has some 300+ stations throughout the city, so chances are there is a Metro station near where you want to go.
The best and easiest way to use the Metro is with the help of a map.
The Madrid Metro is quite safe most of the time; there is no need to be paranoid about it. However, be cautious in deserted stations late at night and, a rule of thumb, use your common sense and follow some recommendations. As a tourist, you can be an easy target.
Madrid has 12 subway lines. A number and a color identify each one. The large majority of the lines cross the city center and most of them are intertwined, allowing you to arrange endless combinations.
The Metro lines are:
There is an additional short line, called Ramal, linking Opéra and Príncipe Pío.
Line 8 (pink) connects the city center with Madrid airport. Here you have all the details:
Apart from the subway, certain suburbs are connected to Madrid city center by Metro Ligero. The Metro Ligero de Madrid is a light rail tram system that has 3 lines with 38 stations.
The Metro Ligero lines are:
Check all the information related to the Metro Ligero, in case you need to use it.
Metro stations are indicated by a red, blue and white sign.
The trains run from 6:00 to 1:30 all year round. This is valid except for the Pitis station (line 7, orange), the section between Puerta de Arganda-Arganda del Rey and accesses with special opening hours. Have a look at the timetables if you need to use it early in the morning.
As a general guide the trains arrive every 2 to 4 minutes during working hours. At weekends and in the evening they are less frequent, and you may have to wait up to 10 or 15 minutes, depending on the time.
On most journeys, you will have to change lines at least once. Even if you have to change twice, trains arrive and depart so frequently, and operate so fast, that this shouldn’t be a problem. Nevertheless, the walk between lines can be long (5 to 10 minutes), particularly in some large stations such as Sol, Nuevos Ministerios or Avenida de América.
There are different types of Metro tickets. You can have a look at all of them, including the updated prices at the Metro de Madrid tickets page.
Here is what I consider the most interesting possibilities for someone like you, visiting Madrid for a few days.
The Madrid Multi Card. The Madrid Multi Card is not personal, so anyone can use it. If you are traveling in a group all of you can use the same Multi Card until you have no credit on it.
Another option is to buy a Madrid Tourist Travel Pass (Tourist Ticket or Billete Turístico), which allows you unlimited travel on all forms of public transport (subway, light rail, buses and trains) within Madrid and its region (comunidad autónoma). The pass is available for 1, 2, 3, 5 and 7 days, and it is personal and non transferable.
This should be your choice if you intend to use the Metro (and the bus) massively, which is rather probable. It’s also a best seller for day trips to Toledo, Aranjuez, Alcalá de Henares and El Escorial.
Always validate your Multi Card or Tourist Travel Pass. You can get a fine of 80€ for being caught without a ticket.
The Madrid subway one of the many alternatives you can use to reach or exit the airport. Read more on the subject.