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The information provided here is from my experience in Madrid. Use the Metro; it is a fast and convenient way to move around Madrid. (Note: Links to metros in other Spanish cities can be found below.)
Using the Metro/Subway: 

If you have used a major subway system (Metro),  you should find the Madrid Metro system easy to use.  If you are going to stay in Madrid for a few days, get the 10 rides pass.  Most ticket attendants don't speak English, but I was able to get a ten usage pass by just saying the number "10" in Spanish. The attendant looked a little confused but once he realized I had no idea what he was saying to me, he gave me a 10 rides pass (transfers are free).  If you're going to use the Metro, it's smart to get a map of the metro system before you go; most books include one.


Above - Waiting for a subway train to arrive. Usually a train will arrive every 10 to 15 minutes.

The people on the other side of the platform are waiting for the same Metro line, but they are heading in the other direction.

To the left is a photo of a sign from one of Madrid's metro stations. These signs are located past the ticket gates. Remember there are usually two different signs for each line, one for each platform.
The sign above is for the Brown Line (also known as Line Four). The sign here shows the stops between this station and Pque. de Sta. Maria, the last stop. If I wanted to go to any of the stations (Avenida del la Paz, Diego de Leon, etc.) listed on the left side of this sign I would follow the arrow and take the stairs to the right. If the Brown Line station I was going to was not on this sign, I would move on and look for a second Brown Line sign.
Metro Web sites:
Barcelona Metro TMB
 

 

 
The Madrid Metro is open from 6:00 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. You now can take the Metro to and from the Madrid Airport on line No. 8. (takes about an hour) .

One caution-pickpockets are known to hang around the metros. If you are carting luggage, it is best to take a cab to your hotel. Never get on a packed metro train unless you are prepared to hold onto your wallet and fend off the thieves.

 
Madrid Metro sites:

Madrid Metro Official website (In Spanish)


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