Public transportation in Madrid: metro, streetcars and trains
Metro, streetcars and trains in Madrid

Public transportation in Madrid: metro, streetcars and trains

If there is a more confusing subway in the world than Moscow’s, it might be in Madrid. At the same time, the very consortium that runs Madrid’s buses and metro considers its transportation system to be one of the most convenient in the world. Let’s find out how the Madrid metro works.

Madrid Metro

The Madrid Metro includes 13 lines (12+R) within the city and 4 light rail lines (high-speed streetcars).

  • Metro trains run from 06:05 to 02:00 with an interval of 3 -15 minutes: it depends on the time of day and the line.
  • Usually car doors open automatically, but there are trains where you have to press a special button from outside or inside the car to open the doors.
  • When going down to the subway, pay close attention to the signs: they indicate the direction of the trains. The platforms at the stations are separated by rails, and if you confuse the platform, it takes quite a long time to get to the other side.
  • To buy a single ticket for a trip, you need to select the final station in the machine: the cost of the ticket will depend on the length of the trip.
Inside a subway station, you can
Inside a subway station, you can’t change from one platform to another

Madrid Metro Scheme

Buying tickets on the Madrid metro seems like a quest at first. To buy a single ticket, you need to know the number or name of the line and the name of the station. You can pick up a free diagram (plano del metro) at the ticket office at any station or save yourself a picture. You can find all current metro maps here.

The route planner is available on the metro website and in iPhone and Android apps. The subway board indicates the final station of the incoming train, so you need to remember the final stops of the desired line.

Madrid Metro Map
Madrid Metro Map

High-speed streetcars in Madrid

Streetcars in Madrid are part of the metro network and are called the «light metro» (Metro Ligero). On maps it is labeled as ML (light metro).

There are 4 light rail lines operating with travel intervals ranging from 4 to 20 minutes depending on the time of day and line:

  • Line ML1 «Metros Ligeros de Madrid»: runs between Pinar de Chamartín and Las Tablas stations. Operates from 6:00 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. Website: ML1, timetable here.
  • Lines ML2 and ML3 «Metro Ligero Oeste»: connect the municipalities of Posuelo de Alarcón and Boadilla del Monte with Madrid at Colonia Jardín station and Metro Line 10. The lines operate from 06:00 to 02:00. The timetable is here.
  • Line ML4 «Tranvía de Parla»: circular line connecting different areas of the municipality with Parla station and the C-4 Renfe-Cercanías line. Operates from 04:45 to 00:45.Website.

The ML1 to ML3 lines are included in the Madrid metro plan, but the stops of the ring line are not marked on it. Therefore, it may be useful to have a separate diagram of the stops through which the ML4 streetcar passes.

ML4 light metro in Madrid
ML4 light metro in Madrid

Subway tickets

The hardest part of using the Madrid Metro is not even finding the right platform, but figuring out the fares. Because of the huge number of travel options and several fare zones, calculating the cost of a trip in advance can be a mental challenge.

The Madrid Metro has 4 zones: A, B1, B2 and B3. The city center and the main attractions are in zone A.

  • A single metro ticket within Zone A, including the ML1 light rail line, which falls entirely within this zone, costs 1.5 € per trip up to 5 stops. For a trip between 6—10 stops, an additional 10 euro cents per stop is charged. For example, if you have to travel 7 stops, the ticket costs €1.70. Journeys from 10 stations or more cost 2 €. With a single ticket you can transfer within the subway.
  • A ticket for MetroEste, MetroNorth and MetroSur is €1.5.
  • Single ticket for a trip on ML2 and ML3 lines — 2 €.
  • A single ticket for a ride on the Tranvía de Parla circular line is €1.3.
  • Single combined ticket — 3 €: entitles you to travel on the entire metro, TFM and light rail network within all zones.

Important: All single tickets are valid only on the day of purchase.

It is more advantageous to buy 10 tickets: they are credited to a single transport card that can be used by several people at once. To buy a ticket for 10 trips, you need to buy a Tarjeta Multi card: it is valid for 10 years, costs 2.50 €, and can be transferred to other people or paid for by friends if you travel together.

Prices for 10 rides:

  • In Zone A on the metro, EMT and ML1 bus networks it is 12,2 €
  • On streetcars ML2 and ML3 — 12,2 €
  • For the circular streetcar — 8,5 €
  • On MetroEsta, MetroNorth and MetroSur, it’s €11.2;
  • Combined ticket for all metro zones and types — 18,3 € for 10 trips.

Madrid-Barajas Airport is also in Zone A, but the regular 1.5—2 € ticket is not valid for this direction. For getting off at stations with the word «Aeropuerto» in their names, you have to pay 3 € extra to the regular ticket price. The total cost of the trip will be from 4.5 € to 5 €: 1.5—2 € for traveling within the city and 3 € for getting off at the airport stations. When traveling from the suburbs, you have to buy a combined ticket for 3 € and pay an extra 3 € for getting off at the airport.

You can buy a surcharge ticket immediately upon boarding from a ticket machine or pay the surcharge when you exit the airport station. You will not be able to leave the station without this ticket: the ticket must be presented at the turnstile. Learn more about all the ways to get to Madrid Barajas Airport.

The entrance to the subway is marked with a recognizable logo
The entrance to the subway is marked with a recognizable logo

Where to buy metro and streetcar tickets

You cannot buy a metro ticket from the driver, unlike bus tickets. Single tickets are valid for one day, so there is no point in buying them in advance — in this case it is more convenient to use the Tarjeta Multi transport card.

Where to buy a ticket:

  1. At subway and light rail stations,
  2. In newsstands and tobacco stores,
  3. At some Bankia ATMs that have a special marking.

At all points of sale you can buy single tickets and multicards or you can top up your multicard.

Up to 3 types of tickets can be credited to the multicard at the same time: for example, a pass for 10 trips in zone A, an airport supplementary ticket and a suburban trip.

The elevator in the Madrid subway
The elevator in the Madrid subway

Suburban trains (electric trains)

The electric trains (called Cercanías in Spain) take you all over the province of Madrid. The trains run from 05:00 to 00:00. You can only buy train tickets at train stations: they are not credited to the transportation multicard.

The suburban train network includes 10 lines. You can build a route on the carrier’s website, and the regular schedule for each line is here.

A single ticket is valid only for 2 hours after purchase. When purchasing a round-trip ticket, the first trip must be started within 2 hours and the return trip within one day.

  • The fare for one and two zones is 1.7 €. It costs the same price to travel between two neighboring stations, even if they are in different zones.
  • Travel through three zones costs €1.85; four zones, €2.6; five zones, €3.4; six zones, €4.05; all seven zones, €5.5. A ticket to travel inside the C-9 Green Zone costs 8.7 €.
  • The 10-trip ticket, the Bonotren, is significantly more cost-effective than single trips: it costs from €10 for 10 trips within one or two zones to €38.45 for 10 trips through 7 zones. The Bonotren is valid on all lines except C9 and can be used by several people at the same time.
  • If you need a monthly pass, it’s even better. For more information on fares and monthly passes for suburban trains in Madrid, visit the CRTM website.
  • Children under 6 years of age ride free if in the arms of a chaperone.
Madrid suburban electric trains in Madrid
Madrid suburban electric trains in Madrid


The Madrid cable car is not part of the metro system and has only 2 stations: Rosales and Casa de Campo. The cabins ride 40 meters above the ground. Travel time is 11 minutes. The funicular’s website.

The cable car ticket is valid only on the day of purchase:

  • Adult 4,50 €,
  • Children (4 to 12 years old) — 4 €,
  • Under 4 years of age, transportation is free.

How to get to the cable car:

  • Rosales station: EMT bus #21 and #74 or take the metro #3, 4 and 6 to Estación Arguelles.
  • Casa de Campo station: bus #33 or metro line #10 to Estación Batán.

Мадрид: что еще почитать