Road travel in Spain | Driving in Madrid

Driving in Madrid and surrounding areas

Puerta Alcalá, Madrid The traffic system in Madrid is complex and demands careful planning if you are not familiar with the city. Once you have arrived, our main piece of advice is to leave your car in a safe place and use the public transport system. Although Madrid is an important city both politically and financially for the whole of Spain, its road signs are just not good enough, congestion is a major problem on access roads during rush hours and holiday periods, roadworks are seemingly never-ending and parking in the city center is limited and very expensive. Here is some advice on driving in and around Madrid (see google map below).

Driving on Madrid's ring roads (M-30) (M-40) y (M-50). As well as these three main ring roads there are also the M-45, M-31, M-21 etc which are smaller ring roads that allow you to travel to different parts of the city without having to cross through the middle of it. Furthermore given Madrid's geographical position in the centre of the country these ring roads are necessary in order to travel between different cities without having to cross it (from Alicante to Vigo or Segovia to Albacete for example). However driving on these roads can be stressful because of the high volume of traffic. Here are a few useful tips to help you:






  • M-30. Don't count on an easy drive along the M 30 which stretches for 33 kms around Madrid and is now almost inside the city given that the city has spread outwards since the ring road was built. Apart from the density of traffic - it is the busiest road in Spain with approximately 600,000 cars using it everyday -much of it is full of road works especially the southern section around Ribera del río Manzanares, Avenida de Portugal etc. which is in the process of being renovated and placed underground. The provisional roads are deficient with confusing signs and making it quite a dangerous drive even for the most experienced driver.

  • Madrid's other major ring roads M-40, M-50... Bear in mind that during the morning and afternoon rush hours the circulation on these roads can collapse for any reason like an accident, road works, bad weather... Give yourself plenty of extra time for your journey if you are planning to drive on one of these roads. (there are often problems around Boadilla del Monte in the morning rush hour and at other points where there are companies with a large workforces).

  • Other roads that circle the city (R-2, R-3, R-4, R-5) These are circular roads with pay tolls which offer an alternative road system to roads such as the A-2, A-3, A-4, A-5 etc to travel into the capital from the rest of Spain. Being pay roads the density of traffic is much less and you can get to certain central points in the capital without too much difficulty. They also offer a good way of getting out of theMadrid. In our opinion these roads should be considered a priority especially if you are travelling on days when traffic jams are expected like the start of the summer holiday or long bank holiday weekends when many of Madrid's citizens head elsewhere for a short break. See our work calendar to find out more Calendario Laboral 2007.
Traffic and driving in Madrid: Here is some advice on driving within the capital itself:
  • The Paseo de la Castellana (See Paseo de la Castellana en Google Maps) is an easy way of getting your bearings in the capital as it crosses from the North to the South of the city. At its most Southern point, it continues as the Paseo del Pardo and later the Paseo de las Delicias.

  • Other important streets in Madrid run parallel to the Paseo de la Castellana. These are: Príncipe de Vergara, Serrano, (East), Bravo Murillo- Santa Engracia (West). Gran Vía, Sagasta, Cea Bermúdez, Reina Victoria (West) and O´Donnell- Alcalá, Avenida de América (airport exit) Costa Rica, (East) run perpendicular to the Paseo de la Castellana.

  • The centre of the old Madrid consists of a complex maze of streets and if you need to drive through this area you should use the main roads that cross it such as the Gran Vía.

  • Driving around Madrid is complex if you don't have a good sense of direction and are not familiar with the city's roads. You need to know when to turn left or right in order to negotiate the capital's main roads. Like in any other major Spanish cities, drivers can get very impatient, don't tolerate cautious (or lost) drivers very well - and can be expected to protest loudly when behind a slow or unsure driver (Spanish drivers can - and do - user their horn at their will). So if you do get lost, the best thing is to find somewhere to stop, get clear instructions and start again.

  • Using a GPS can be a great help in a city like Madrid, except when there are road works and diversions are in place.

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