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Modern Madrid is a vivid contrast of old and new, where narrow, medieval alleyways and centuries-old chapels border modern Manhattan-style boulevards and soaring skyscrapers. It is an easy city to explore on foot as it is mostly flat and the important sights like palaces, cathedrals and museums are all closely located in the Austrias district. And if you need a break from the hustle and bustle of the city then the beautiful Retiro and Casa de Campo parks are only a 15 to 30 minute walk from the Puerta del Sol.

By Metro

With 16 lines, all easily identified by their different colors, Madrid's metro system is by far the quickest, easiest and cheapest way to travel around the city. There are 12 normal lines, numbered from 1-12, the Ramal connector (noted by the letter R), and three Metro Ligero lines (ML-1, ML-2 and ML-3). Service begins at 6 a.m. (7 a.m. on Sunday) and closes around 1:30am with trains running every 3 to 5 minutes during the day and every 10 to 15 minutes at night.

The central converging point is Sol station (Puerta del Sol) and fares are determined by number of stations traveled. The fare is €1.50 for a one way trip within zone A (up to five stations away), a €0.10 rise per station after that, until it is €2 for zone B stops (10 stations away or more). You can save money by purchasing a combined 10-ride Metrobus ticket (€12.20), which covers zone A stops as well as travel on red metropolitan buses; a 10-ride Metro/Metro Ligero ticket (€18.30); or the Abono Turístico (Tourist Pass), which allows unlimited use of the metro and public buses for one (€8.40) to seven (€35.40) days. It's important to note that the Abono is valid only for the ticket holder and you have to show photo ID when you buy it, whereas two people can share a single Metrobus ticket. Tickets can be purchased at any metro station as well as at most estancos (tobacco and stamp shops) and at many newsstands.

Please note: It is recommended that you try to avoid using the metro during the rush hours from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Madrileños are very aggressive when entering and exiting the subway cars so don't hesitate - just push right through.

By Bus

Madrid and its suburbs are serviced by an extensive (217 line) network of red buses, with routes clearly shown at each stop. Traveling along special lanes allows the buses to be fast and efficient. Bus schedules are varied, but generally operate every 5 to 20 minutes between 6am and 11:30pm. Night service operates every 30 minutes from midnight to 3am and hourly from 3am to 6am, with departure points at Cibeles and Sol.

Bus prices are similar to the Metro, and a 10-ride Metrobus ticket will allow you to ride the Metro and the bus system at the same time. Tickets are available at metro counters, vending machines, estancos (tobacconists), and newspaper kiosks as well as at Empresa Municipal de Transportes, Alcántara 24 (tel. 91-406-88-00), where you can also buy a guide to the bus routes. Madrid has no central bus station; however the local Estación de Avenida de América and Estación del Sur have metro stops (Avenida de América and Méndez Álvaro).

By Commuter Rail

In addition to bus service, the Cercanias (Suburban Line) Train operates efficiently along 9 lines (C-1 to C-5 and C-7 to C-10) to a variety of key towns outside the capital. Atocha station is the best departure point for southerly destinations (Alcalá de Henares) and Chamartín station is the best departure point for northerly destinations (El Escorial). Trains also run between the two stations. Fares on the cercanías run €1.70 to €8.70, depending on zone. Tickets can be purchased from station ticket offices or from clearly marked vending machines.

Please Note: Cercanías are not included in the Abono Transportes Turistico or the Metrobus pass.

By Taxi

Taxis in Madrid are easy to recognize as they are black or white and have a red band with a small insignia of a bear and madroño tree (symbols of Madrid) on the side. You can hail a taxi in the street or catch one at taxi stands across the city. A green light on the roof indicates that they're free (libre). All tariffs are listed on taxi windows, but always make sure the meter is turned on when you get into the car. The meter should register €2.40 from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. or €2.90 9pm to 6am; for every kilometer thereafter, the fare increases between €1.05 and €1.20. A flat rate is charged to and from the airport (€30); a supplement is charged to go to and from the railway station (€3), the bullring or the football stadiums, as well as on Sunday and holidays (€1.20). If you take a taxi outside the city limits, the driver is entitled to charge you twice the rate shown on the meter. It's customary to tip at least 10 percent of the fare. To call a taxi, dial Radiotelefono Taxi at tel. 91-547-82-00 or Radio Taxi Independiente at 91-405-12-13.

By Car

Driving in Madrid is potentially dangerous because of traffic congestion and should be avoided if possible. It always seems like rush hour and parking is next to impossible except in expensive garages. On the other hand, if you are planning on taking any day trips then we suggest you pick up your rental car as you depart the city to avoid excessive rental/parking expenses. Alternatively, you may consider renting the car in a town where you will be visiting and then traveling there by train and picking up the car once you arrive.

Warning: Small items such as hand luggage, cameras and laptops are commonly stolen from parked cars. Don't leave anything in a parked car and keep doors locked, windows up, and valuables out of sight while driving!