The Aeropuerto de Barajas
(tel 913 058 343) is 16km east of the city, at the end of Avenida de América (the NII road). It is in the process of being extended and modernized and now has three interconnecting terminals: T1 for nearly all international flights ( vuelos internacionales
); T2 for domestic flights ( nacionales
) plus some of Iberia's flights from continental Europe; T3 for the Puente Aéreo (the air shuttle with Barcelona).
From the airport, the new metro link takes you from T2 via Line 8 into the centre in about thirty minutes (daily 6am-1.30am, 2.30am on Fri & Sat; ¬0.90), with a change at Mar de Cristal (Line 4). A more direct route straight to Nuevos Minsterios, where check-in facilities are planned, is in the works and will cut the journey time to about fifteen minutes. The route by road to central Madrid is more variable, depending on rush-hour traffic, and can take anything from twenty minutes to an hour. Outside the terminal, there is a shuttle bus every ten to fifteen minutes (5.17am-1.51am; ¬2.40) to an underground terminal in the central Plaza Colón, with pedestrian entrance from the c/Goya or Metro Serrano. If your plane arrives outside these times, there should be additional special connecting bus services. Taxis are always available outside, too, and cost around ¬12 to the centre, unless you get stuck in traffic.
Half a dozen or so car rental companies have stands at the airport and can generally supply clients with maps and directions. Other airport facilities include 24-hour currency exchange, a post office, left luggage lockers in T1 and T2, a RENFE office for booking train tickets (daily 8am-9pm), a chemist, a tourist office and hotel reservations desk.
Trains from France and north/northeast Spain arrive at the Estación de Chamartín , a modern terminal isolated in the north of the city; it has all the usual big station facilities, including currency exchange. A metro line connects Chamartín with the centre, and there are also regular connections by the commuter trenes de cercanías with the much more central Estación de Atocha; just take any cercanía headed in that direction.
The Estación de Atocha , expanded and imaginatively remodelled back in the early 1990s, has two separate terminals: one for Toledo and other local services, the other for all points in south and eastern Spain , including the high speed AVE trains.
If you're coming from local towns around Madrid, you may arrive at Príncipe Pío (aka Estación del Norte), fairly close to the centre below the Palacio Real.
Bus terminals are scattered throughout the city, but the largest - used by all of the international bus services - is the Estación Sur de Autobuses on c/Méndez Alvaro on the corner of c/Retama, 1.5km south of the Atocha train station (Métro: Méndez Alvaro)
All the main roads into Madrid bring you right into the city centre, although eccentric signposting and even more eccentric driving can be very unnerving. The inner ring road, the M30, and the Paseo de la Castellana are all notorious bottlenecks, although virtually the whole city centre can be close to gridlock during the peak rush-hour periods (Mon-Fri 7.30-9.30am & 6-8.30pm). Be prepared for a long trawl around the streets to find parking , and even then you will need to buy the coupons available at estancos if you want to avoid the threat of a fine. A better, and safer, option is to put your car in one of the many signposted parkings . Your own transport is really only of use for out-of-town excursions, so it's advisable to find a hotel with or near a car park and keep your car there during your stay in the city. If you are staying more than a couple of weeks, you can get long-term parking rates at neighbourhood garages.