All flights from the U.S. and other overseas countries arrive at Madrid’s international airport, Barajas, which lies 15km (9 miles) east of the center. It’s usually best to allow half an hour to get from the center to the airport.
If you are a stranger to Madrid getting around in a hired car is not recommended. Finding parking is one thing and then there is the traffic itself; a nightmare of the worst kind. However, many of the nation’s highways radiate out from Madrid which are: the A6 – Segovia, Salamanca, Galicia; the A1 – Burgos and the Basque Country; the A2 – Guadalajara, Barcelona, France; the A3 – Cuenca, Valencia and the Mediterranean coast; the A$ – Aranjues, La Mancha, Granada and Seville; the A42 to Toledo and the A5 – Talavera de la Reina, Portugal.
Madrid is surrounded by the M30, M40 andM50 ring roads from which you pick up the various highways. There are also toll highways which are the ‘R’ highways: R2, R3, R4, and R5. These bypass the major highways and the A41 (a toll highway connecting Madrid and Toledo).
Madrid is located in the very center of Spain and all major train lines either depart from or pass through one of the two main train stations: Chamartín and Atocha. The third station is mainly for commuter trains (Norte Station). If you are planning on heading for Segovia or Toledo you may find that the bus is more convenient although, if you really want to get there as quickly and as comfortably as possible you could choose the rather more expensive high-speed train.
If you have decided on the high-speed train you can purchase your tickets online. But for all other tickets it is best to use the electronic ticket machines at the stations. You will find these at the cercanías area.
To Sergovia: from Atocha station will take approximately 30 minutes – The same for Toledo. A return ticket for the same day will cost 22€. But remember that once you get there you will need to catch either a bus or taxi to get to the old quarters of either of these destinations.
To Barcelona: The AVE line will take less than 3 hours.
Pre-booked tickets: If you purchase your ticket more than two weeks in advance you could pay less than 50€ each way, but this usually involves booking online and when a 60% discount is on offer. However if you are lucky enough to find a discounted fare it is well to take the amendment and cancellation policy into account. Usually however, the fare is between 106€ and 128€ each way and if you take the non-stop service the fare will be higher.
Estación Charmartín: C. Agustin de Foxá s/n, Chamartin: 91/315-9976: Station Charmartin.
Estación de Atocha: Glorieta del Emperador Carlos V, Atocha: 91/528-4630: Station Atocha
Estación de Principe Pío (Norte): Paseo de la Florida s/n, Moncloa: 902/240202 for RENFE: Station Príncipe Pío.
Long-distance buses run regularly from major capitals of Western Europe to Madrid, but the service is not popular, as it’s quite slow. The journey from London’s Victoria Station to Madrid is provided by two services. The faster one is the Express Service 180, which departs from London daily at 9pm, and arrives at Madrid’s Estación Sur the following day at 9:30pm. (This station is also known as Mendez Álvaro—see more on this station and others below if you want to explore either the immediate area or Spain in general from there.) The slower one is Service 181, which leaves London at 9pm on the first day and arrives at Estación Sur at 12:30am on the third day.