How to Get from the Airport
to the City Center
If you’re travelling to Madrid, you would most likely arrive in Madrid Barajas Airport (MAD). Once you get here, its going to be quite a challenge to get to the city center if its your first time.
From the airport we have a few options, some cheaper and some are more expensive. Some faster and some slower options. Here are some options, depending on your situation 😉
MADRID-BARAJAS ADOLFO SUÁREZ AIRPORT
The city of Madrid has a big airport called Madrid-Barajas Adolfo Suárez (MAD). This is the second largest airport in Europe behind Charles de Gaulle (CDG) in Paris. The airport is located in the northeastern region of Madrid, just 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) from the city center.
The airport has four passenger terminals (T1, T2, T3 and T4), an executive terminal, an air cargo center and two main hangar areas. And it has four runways that runs parallel.
Options to Get from the Airport to the City Center:
Urban Line: The cheapest way for those on shoe-string budgets is to take one of the EMT city buses. Line 200 joins the Avenida de América Interchange at the four terminals. Buses run from 5.00am till midnight. The price is about €2.00 per person, per way. But at peak hours, the bus can be quite full/packed and it is not convenient if we carry a lot of luggages. But if you don’t carry too much, this may be a good option.
Airport Express Line: these buses passes through Atocha Station at Terminals 1, 2 and 4. It also stops at Plaza de Cibeles and O’Donnell at Doctor Esquerdo. They operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and its priced at €5.00/person and that already include airport-route fees. Tickets can be purchased on the bus itself. The journey takes about 30 minutes. This is the option that we use most of the time, because when we go to Madrid, we have to go to Atocha to catch a train to go to our town in the South. The buses are wide, comfortable and equipped with luggage storage compartments.
SUBWAY / METRO
This is a good option because it is fast and the trains runs every 5-10 minutes. The only problem is, the Madrid metro has many lines and the fares varies on destination-zone. So, it can be a little confusing to get tickets for the Metro.
The airport has two metro stations: one at Terminal T4 and one at terminals T1, T2 and T3. The last station is closer to T2, but it is walkable from T1 or T3. There’s also a free-shuttle to travel between the terminals, if you need it.
It depends on your destination, you’re most likely going to do one or more transfers, because this subway line usually doesn’t go directly to the city centre.
The Madrid Metro lines are recognizable by numbers and colour codes. The line that arrives at the airport is Line 8, is Pink. There are three stations where you can connect to this line: Mar de Cristal (Line 4), Colombia (Line 9) and Nuevos Ministerios, where the airport line ends. At all of these stations, you can change to a different line that takes you to other areas of the city.
As we’ve mentioned before, the fares depends on the area where you enter the Metro and the destination station. So, here’s a map of the Madrid Metro with all the lines and areas for you to plan your journey:
-> Metro Madrid Maps <-
To give you a rough idea, the price of a single-way ticket in the same zone/area is about €2.00/pax. This rate increases if you travel between zones. Our advice is, if you are going to use the subway several times to move around the city, you should buy the 10-Trips Ticket because it’s much cheaper than single-journey ones. And this ticket can be used by several people sharing the same ticket at the same time/entry.
On our last visit to Madrid, we bought one of these tickets and used it between the both of us to go from one place to another. It’s the best option to tour the city.
Another option if you prefer to travel by Metro is to get the Red Metro Transport card. You can buy it at the metro station from the vending machines or at the service counters. It costs €3.00/each. You’ll have to reload/refill credits on this card and your money will be automatically deducted on every exit from the train stations.
You should be aware that every journeys to and from the airport has a €3.00/way surcharge.
At this point you may be thinking that its messy to travel by Metro. But if you’ve used trains in other cities, and you’re familiar with the rail system, it’s pretty much the same 🙂
In Terminal 4, as an alternative to the subway/tube line, there is also a suburban train system station.
Lines C1 and C10 stops in the center of Madrid such as Chamartín, Nuevos Ministerios, Atocha or Méndez Álvaro. This train is fast and cheap and you might be interested if your destination is close to one of these stops.
If your plane lands in another terminal, don’t forget that there is a FREE shuttle-bus that connects all the terminals.
Cercanías trains run from 6.00am to approximately 11.00pm and costs about €2.60 for a single-journey ticket.
Uber / Taxi
Of course, the most comfortable and faster options are to take a taxi or hail-a-ride service like Uber or Cabify. But, of course… these options are also not suitable for everyone, since the costs would be higher.
Taxis have a fixed rate of €30.00 as long as you go downtown and the destination is within the M30 ring road.
Uber or Cabify prices depend on the destination and the type of vehicle hired. You may download the app to compare.
As you can see, there are many options that you have to travel from the airport to the city center. Pick one that fits your budget, your destination and your duration of stay in the city.
-> If you are travelling to Madrid, you might also be interested in our post: Top Things to Do in Madrid!