The Ultimate Guide to Public Transport in Madrid! (Metro/bus system)

So, you've made it to Madrid and started your Spanish course at AIL. Fantastic! Now that you're here, you might have a few questions about getting around. Let us lend you a hand...

I'm finally in Madrid! Now, how do I move around?

Arriving in a new city can be overwhelming, even if you've done your research. Luckily for you, Madrid doesn't have to be anything but easy when it comes to public transport. AIL Madrid is here to help you navigate!

Cool, tell me about it!

Madrid is home to what is widely considered to be the most modern and complete urban public transportation network in Europe. The metro it is affordable, eco-friendly, efficient, and easy to use. The metro system (comprised of 12 lines and more than 200 stations) is complimented by a reliable and regular bus services (currently 194 lines), an urban train network called Cercanías (10 lines), and enjoys a light railway system (3 lines) as its newest addition.

So, how do I use it?

The transport network is divided up into various zones, formed by concentric circles spreading out from the heart of Madrid. Zone A is the most central, surrounded by zones B1, B2, B3, C1, C2 E1 y E2. The price of your ticket will increase as you move away from zone A. However, with the help of the metro map (which clearly outlines the different zones) you will always know exactly what ticket you need.

Unless you are planning an excursion to the nearby mountains, or to the neighbouring towns (Alcalá de Henares, Arranjuez, Toledo etc.), you are unlikely to ever venture out of zone A as all the main tourist sites, places of interest, AIL Madrid, and your accommodation (if we organize this for you) are located here.

This is all so exciting! But… where do I get a map?

Metro Maps can be picked up at AIL Madrid or in the metro stations, making your new Madrid life even more convenient. Grab a map and the city is yours!

Sounds great, but what about the summer heat?

Fear not! All forms of public transport are air conditioned and visitors often comment on how spacious and open the metro feels, especially compared to the "claustrophobic" sensations experienced in neighbouring London and Paris. Welcome to Madrid!


1. How much does the metro ticket cost?
We recommend you to choose between these three ticket options:

  • Single metro pass: each journey costs between 1.50€* and 2€*, depending on the length of your journey.
  • 10 journeys metro pass: for 12.20€* you can travel everywhere inside the zone A.
  • Monthly metro bus: A metro/bus pass for Zone A costs 54.60€*. Under 26, you qualify for a young person's pass (valid from zone A - E2), which costs 20.00€*. For people over 65 metro Madrid offers a monthly metro pass for just 12.30€*.

The length of stay and expected use of public transport will determine which option will work out best for you.
*Price applicable for the year 2019.

2. What is the metro time schedule?
Up early or out late? Don’t worry! The Madrid metro runs every day from 6am till 2am. The metro trains depart every 3 minutes at peak times (from 7am-9am and from 6pm-8pm). You can also check the schedule and frequency of the metro and find the shortest metro route online, so you've no excuse for arriving late to class!

3. How do I get a monthly metro bus pass?
If you want to get a monthly metro bus pass you will need the following documents scanned (for online application) or printed (for standard application in tobacconists, known as "estancos") or the metro main office:

  • Original and photocopy of identity card, passport or residence permit.
  • A recent photograph, in color and passport size (excluding applications at main metro office, where your picture is taken on-site).
  • If you apply at a tobacconist ("estanco"), you will have to fill out the application form on-site.

AIL Madrid recommends applying for your Metro bus pass online, since the process is simple and you can do it from the comfort of your own home. Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Go to
  2. Choose the type of card you need and press "Aceptar". The options are: Young person's pass (under 26 y/o), Standard pass and Senior citizen's pass (over 65 y/o). You can choose what zone: A, B1, B2, B3....
  3. Now type in your passport number or ID number. Once you press "Aceptar", you can choose between arranging an appointment to go to the metro main office ("Pedir cita previa") or you can apply for it online ("Iniciar solicitud online")
  4. If you choose to apply for it online, you will have to complete the form with your personal details and your "Spanish address". It is very important that you provide your correct email and phone number so the metro office can contact you. Before you go on the next step you will have to tick the option "First time application" ("Primera solicitud primera tarjeta")
  5. The next step is to upload the documents required and mentioned above (photocopy of passport, ID card, recent photograph). If you have a disability, you can also upload the certificates to check if you qualify for a discount.
  6. Once you upload all the documents, you should check that all the information provided is correct and then tick on the box that says: "El firmante de esta solicitud declara". Then type in the verification code and begin payment.
  7. Your payment will include the price of your monthly metro/bus pass, plus 4€ for your new transportation card.

4. Anything else I should know?
Tourist passes are available for one week or less, and you can also obtain an annual pass with a larger discount. AIL Madrid will be happy to explain these options in more detail if you are interested. If you have any more questions about the Madrid metro/bus service, obtaining your metro pass, or if you want to double check that you have the required documentation, our Student Care Team will be more than happy to help.