Madrid’s subway system – el metro – is one of world’s best. Trains run daily from 6am-1:30am at 2-15 minute intervals.
Zone A, which services the city center in the broadest sense, consists of 13 interconnected lines accessible by a billete sencillo (1 trip), metrobús (10 trips), or abono mensual (unlimited monthly pass). Outer zones run on different fares, but you’ll rarely stray that far.
Even though metro stations are very safe and guarded by security officers, pick-pocketing is all too common. Be especially aware of your belongings on crowded trains. Keep bags closed and in your sight at all times – don’t carry anything behind you. If you have a backpack, swing it to the front; wallets are best kept in a front pocket.
How to Navegate the Madrid Metro System
Navigating Madrid’s metro is a cinch. Free maps are available at every ticket window and posted at the station entrance. Every line has a number and color, and is named by the last stop on each end. (e.g. line 3, yellow, Legazpi/ Moncloa). Switching between lines is free once you enter the system. It’s easy to find the correct platform, as signs in the corridors clearly list every subsequent stop in each direction. Train frequency is also posted at every platform.
How to Buy a Madrid Metro Ticket
You can buy metro passes inside the station at a ticket machine or window, or on the street at nearly any "quiosco" (kiosk) or "estanco" (tobacco shop). Credit cards may not be accepted everywhere, so it’s a good idea to keep cash on hand. To buy a monthly pass for the first time you have to complete a form, available where tickets are sold, and provide a passport-sized photo. In about a week, the vender will have prepared your personal "abono" – a plastic ID card with a slot for your ticket. Subsequent monthly passes can be bought on the spot.