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The best way to get around Madrid is by metro or bus. If public transportation is not for you, hail one of the many metered-cabs or take advantage of this pedestrian-friendly city.
Give serious thought before renting a car in Madrid where parking is expensive and driving is challenging. The public system of metro, bus and suburban rail is extensive, efficient and inexpensive, and many of the sights you want to see will be within walking distance. Should you decide to rent, major international and local companies have offices at the airport and around town.
Madrid now has a public bike system called BiciMad with electric powered bikes and bike lanes along the city's main streets available for a fee per 30 minutes. Instructions at the bike stations are in English and Spanish.
If you prefer something more organized, a number of bike tours cycle past Madrid's main attractions with stops for photo ops, ranging from a couple of hours to full day. Or non-electric bike rentals are available per day, half day, weekend and week.
You can buy individual tickets for travel anywhere for 1.50 euros at the station ticket offices and automatic ticket machines or from newspaper stands or tobacco shops. Or save money and hassle with the Metrobus 10 journey ticket for 12.20 euros or the Tourist Travel Pass, valid for 1 to 7 consecutive days of unlimited travel on all forms of public transportation. Metrobus tickets have no expiration date and only covers trips within zone A, which includes most of the major tourist attractions. Free maps are available at the ticket offices.
The red EMT Madrid buses will get you to any part of the city. They can get pretty crowded but are clean, safe and efficient. Service runs regularly from 6 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. but slows down considerably at night. Purchase a single ride for 1.50 euros or 10 trips for 12.20 euros at metro stations, newspaper stands or tobacco shops (not available on the bus).
Hopping a cab is an easy way around the city but will cost more than other options, particularly if the drivers choose the longest route to run up the meter or starts adding on surcharges. Read up on current cab fares, peak and non-peak rates before you travel. Most locals will tell you to take the metro or subways. Best to pay in cash.