Madrid is easily one of the best European capitals, and that’s a hill I’m willing to die on. It’s a lively city filled with culture and hidden gems. It’s got big-city energy mixed with the tranquility of a small town. You’ll never find yourself bored on the weekend. There’s just so much it has to offer. But we can dive into all that another time. One of the greatest things about Madrid is that it allows you to access transportation to the rest of Spain with incredible ease. Whether you want to venture just outside Madrid or hit up one of Spain’s many coastal cities, there are many ways to get there.
1. Spain’s High-Speed Rail, AVE
Want to spend some time in another Spanish city? The AVE is a fantastic way to get to other parts of the country without eating up too much time. San Sebastian? Valencia? Malaga? Maybe somewhere in between? Taking the high-speed train will get you to the farthest reaches of Spain in as little as four hours. The ride on the AVE is comfortable and smooth and even has a car designated for food and drinks. You can also catch a movie on your journey (in Spanish of course).
The tickets can be a little pricey, but many times throughout the year you can find discounted fares to take advantage of. My only qualm with the AVE is that it doesn’t have a line to one of my favorite regions of Spain, Extremadura. Transportation in Spain is all the easier with country-wide connections.
Want a cheaper alternative to exploring Spain? BlaBlaCar is a ride-sharing app that connects you with drivers who are making a similar journey as you. I used this app hundreds of times while living in Spain and swear by it. Because of its growing popularity, you’ll always find a ride to whatever city or region you’re trying to get to at a fraction of the price of the AVE. This is also a great way to travel to places in Spain that aren’t connected to the train. Furthermore, it’s a superb option for practicing your Spanish on the way to your destination. It can be a little daunting at first as you’re stuck in a car with a bunch of strangers, but truthfully, I’ve never had one bad experience using BlaBlaCar. I’ve learned so much and made many friends by using this app.
3. Regional Trains – Cercanías
The Cercanías is a regional train system that connects the entire community of Madrid. This not only includes the city itself but also the many surrounding towns that are, without a doubt, worth a visit. To the south, you have Aranjuez which is known as the Royal Estates to the Crown of Spain. Up north lies El Escorial, a historical residence of the King of Spain and, as of 1984, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Over to the east, there’s Alcalá de Henares, my favorite town in the community of Madrid. The birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes, Alcalá’s center is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Please note that Cercanías is a completely different system than the Metro, although many Cercanías stations are located within Metro stations. Tickets for the regional trains are purchased at different kiosks than the Metro. Transportation in Spain is easy, especially in Madrid!
If there’s one thing Spain does right, it’s bus transportation. Head down to the nearest bus hub, and you’ll find routes and schedules to almost any part of the country. Prices may vary based on the company or class of the bus, but all in all the value is worthwhile. In Madrid, there are many locations the buses can take you every hour that the trains cannot.
For as little as €5, take the bus from Moncloa station to the beautiful city of Segovia and see its world-famous aqueduct, cathedral, and palace all while surrounded by picturesque mountains. From Plaza Eliptica, take a little day trip to the wonderful city of Toledo. Get lost in the city’s medieval streets and then head to the Mirador del Valle to take in the breathtaking view of the entirety of Toledo. It’s seriously incredible how cheap and easy you can get to the beautiful places that surround Spain’s capital.
Maybe you just want to stay in Madrid? I don’t blame you. Like I said in the introduction, Madrid is a fantastic city full of novelties around every corner of the city. Although the metro, train, and bus schedules are easily laid out, they can make your head swirl sometimes. So why not try out the app, Citymapper? All you have to do is plug in where you want to go, and Citymapper will lay out a perfect route to get there. It will tell you exactly what mode of transportation to take, and even display the arrival intervals of whatever mode you choose. This allows you to plan your journey accordingly and avoid missing the next metro, bus, or train.
Transportation in Spain Is Easier Than You Think
So there you have it! Whether you want to explore other parts of Spain or stick around the capital, Madrid is the perfect hub for getting on your way. Its many transportation options will fit your needs and preferences. During my time in Madrid, I never once felt like I couldn’t fulfill my inner exploring needs. All I had to do was pull up BlaBlaCar, the train or bus schedules, or Citymapper, and I was on my way!