Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Madrid: Making the Most of a 5-Hour Layover


Arriving at Madrid-Barajas Airport, with 5 hours to spare before my onward flight to Lisbon.

My nonstop ATL-MAD flight on Delta landed in sunny Spain around 9:00 am, and I am due for my Air Europa flight to Lisbon, Portugal at 2:30 pm. I would be back to Madrid the following day, but I had planned on spending that day mostly in Segovia. Time to hit all the main sights in the capital using their Metro...and fast!


On board one of Madrid's several Metro subway lines. This one's coming from the airport, the 8.

Only one subway line juts out of Madrid-Barajas Airport, and that's line [8]. The Sol station (for Puerta del Sol) is served by [1] [2] and [3]. These three lines and [8] don't connect at all! So then you'll have to use [4] [6] [9] or [10] to even get on the [1] [2] or [3], and obviously there will be several combinations possible. The combination with the least number of stations is [8]-[10]-[1]; ten stations from the airport and you're in the heart of Madrid!


The heart of Madrid, Puerta del Sol, is served by Metro lines 1 2 and 3.

At Puerta del Sol, you can enjoy this iconic town square and then walk a short block down to the bustling Plaza Mayor. Then only one station away west from Sol on [2] is the Opera station, access to the Royal Palace, Almudena Cathedral and Sabatini Gardens. From Opera, head back east and then exit at the Banco de España station. From here you can marvel at two landmarks, the Metropolis Building at the end of the Gran Vía and the Palace of Communications, with the elegant Cibeles Fountain on the front. Just a couple of blocks south on the Paseo del Prado is - you guessed it - the world-famous Prado Museum, home of the Las Meninas and other priceless works of art.


The landmark Metropolis Building and the Gran Vía behind it. Metro line 2, exit Banco de España.

A short walk east of the Cibeles Fountain along Calle de Alcalá, or one station away on the [2], is the Puerta de Alcalá archway, which is on the northern perimeters of Retiro Park. While at Retiro, don't miss the Alfonso XIII Monument and the Statue of the Devil.


Soaking up the heat at the Alfonso XII monument and pond. Retiro Park is on Metro subway line 2.

Unlimited 1-day and 2-day tickets are available at all station vending machines. After seeing all the main sights, it was time to head back to Barajas Airport so I don't miss my onward flight to Lisbon.

Metro Line 8:
Airport (end) <> Nuevos Ministerios (end)

Metro Line 10:
Chamartín  <> Nuevos Ministerios <> Tribunal

Metro Line 1:
Chamartín  <> Tribunal <> Sol

Metro Line 2:
Opera <> Sol <> Banco de Espana <> Retiro

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