There is a very frequent connection by plane with Barcelona ("puente aereo") by Iberia and Air Europa airlines (a plane every 30-60 minutes). Flight takes about 45 minutes. There are domestic flights to most of the cities, but frequencies are low except to Palma de Mallorca (Balearic islands).
Seville is 2 hours 30 minutes from Madrid in the high-speed train AVE (a 300 km/h=185mph high quality train, similar to the French TGV and the German ICE). They are very frequent and give a money back guarantee if the delay is bigger than 5 minutes.
Other touristic cities like Toledo, Avila or Segovia are within a range of about 1-1.5 hours by train, bus or car from Madrid.
There are two railway stations for long distance trains: Chamartin (in the north) and Atocha (in the south). Observe that unlike other west European countries, booking a seat is compul- sory in all Spanish trains (except in commuters). Therefore the date and hour of the train the passenger has to take is fixed. Quality is similar to west European trains.
Intercity buses are very cheap, but sometimes different companies have different stations in the same city.
Renting a car is not as cheap as in the US. Automatic cars are rare. All modern gasoline cars (e.g. rental cars) run on unleaded petrol only. Signaling is standard European.
Generic speed limits are:
50 km/h in villages, towns and cities
90 km/h in roads without shoulders
100 km/h in roads with shoulders
120 km/h in highways.
There are two kinds of multiple lane roads: autopistas (pay roads) and
In roads with shoulders you will many times find a slow vehicle lane on the
right when going uphill, so there are two lanes going uphill and one going
i) Please observe that in multiple lane roads, you should use the fast lane (the one most to the left) only for overtaking (and then return to one further right).
ii) Turning right at a red traffic light (as in some states) is not allowed.
Please be careful at zebra crossings: many Spanish drivers are not very respectful of them.
Public city transportation is efficient and cheap. A 10 trips bus & subway (Metro) ticket costs about 4.50 US$ (there is only one fare). Metro network is dense and easy to use. Buses are red or blue (urban services) and green (suburban services).
Taxi is cheaper than in most European cities. There is a "taxi meter" that is switched on when the passenger enters the taxi and shows the amount all the time. Taxis are normally owned by the driver or a small company, but fares are absolutely fixed and equal for all taxis (in fact taxi meters are controlled periodically by the local authorities). There are also fixed supplements for pickups at the airport and railway stations, for carrying luggage... (they all appear explicitly in a sticker in the windows of the rear doors). Taxis are white with a diagonal red line in the front doors. If free there is a small green light turned on on the roof or a "libre" (free) plate is visible through the windscreen.
Madrid is in general a safe city (for being a big one). Anyway be careful about pickpockets at touristic places or crowded places and ask in your hotel if going somewhere late at night (after, let's say, 11pm).
Unfortunately the English level of the population is in general low. For instance showing your taxi-driver a paper with the name and address of the hotel written on it can be a good idea (if you don't speak Spanish).
Return to the ACA'99 main page.