15-hour layover in Madrid: tips, advice?
November 9, 2006 5:22 AM   Subscribe

I have a 15-hour layover in Madrid, 10pm-1pm on a Monday night (ouch, but definitely worth it overall in this case). General advice or any personal experience there would be much appreciated! I'm looking for spots in the airport to sit and work on my laptop (ideally even with electrical outlets) and spots for a quick nap or some sleep. I'm fine sleeping in chairs. I'll only have two small pieces of hand luggage. The airport is mostly smoke-free and I need that, so buses into the city probably won't work for me. I've seen this. Thanks!
posted by allterrainbrain to Travel & Transportation around Madrid, Spain (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Barajas is a huge airport. Its even larger now with the new terminal 4 so there should be plenty of places to go. I usually pass through it quickly and don't stay. If you read spanish you may want to read about this guy's experiences! There are places to store baggage for like 2.50 euros a day. You can then take the #8 metro to Neuvos Ministerios and find someplace to hang out there. The food places in the airport are typical of all airport food courts-bland. At least at Nuevos Ministerios you can get some decent food. A one-way metro ticket is 1.50 euros.
posted by JJ86 at 6:10 AM on November 9, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks, JJ86! Sadly I don't read enough Spanish to read the article (though I understand and am impressed by the headline!).

Do you remember (or does anybody else know) whether the Metro is non-smoking? (I can see online that it is officially, but that doesn't tell me whether it is in practice.)
posted by allterrainbrain at 8:08 AM on November 9, 2006

The metro is non smoking, yes. Laws have recently changed in the country so smoking is prohibited in more places than it used to be.
posted by JJ86 at 8:17 AM on November 9, 2006

Response by poster: Great! I'm excited to visit Madrid for whatever short time I can.

Here's the Wikipedia page on the Metro and more info on the #8 Metro.

Neither of these states operating times, so I'm guessing (especially given the late-night culture in Madrid) that it runs 24 hours. Am I right?
posted by allterrainbrain at 9:02 AM on November 9, 2006

The Metro only runs from 6am to 1:30am the next day. Not quite 24hrs a day which may put a crimp in some of your plans. There are public buses that run 24 hrs a day but that isn't as quick as the Metro. The public buses which leave from the Airport only go to Avenida de America which is an ok area. There are things to see and do there. Another alternative is a taxi but there are airport fees which drive up the cost on those. It's still reasonable to use but not as cost effective as the bus or Metro. Taxis are easily available 24 hrs/day.
posted by JJ86 at 9:09 AM on November 9, 2006

Can I piggy-back on this and ask how long it takes to get into the city from the airport? I've got an 8-hour layover there coming up, and have never been to Madrid.
posted by ruby.aftermath at 9:33 AM on November 9, 2006

ruby, by way of Metro it probably will take about 45 minutes to get to the center. You have to make a transfer from the #8 to the #10 which will take you to Plaze de Espana. If you want to get closer to the center without walking then transfer at Tribunal to the #1 which can take you to Sol. The longest time may be spent at Barajas waiting for the #8 which could be 10 minutes.

You shouldn't have to pay an extra fare to transfer in the Metro but Nuevos Ministerios is a large confusing station. If you take the wrong way through, you could be forced to pay an extra fare.

Taxi may be about the same depending on the time of day. If it is rush hour, forget it and take the Metro.
posted by JJ86 at 11:07 AM on November 9, 2006

Hmm, 10pm to 1pm on a Monday night is kind of tough. Then again, who needs sleep? Have a night on the town! There may be a random party/club night going on in a neighborhood close to the airport if you're into nightlife! And surely there will be something going on in the city center if you can catch the Metro before it closes at ~1am. Yes, it will take about 40 minutes by subway to get there, but it's pretty easy. The Spanish eat dinner late so a midnight restaurant stop would be the cultural thing to do (followed by some churros con chocolate, mmmm...The Chocolateria San Gines is well known and dependable, right in the city center).

In-Madrid is a good resource for events listings and other articles and info.

While you're at the airport though and have access to Spanish food, do experience manchego cheese. It can be hard to find and expensive in the states, but it's delicious on a crusty bocadillo de queso con aciete (sandwich with cheese and oil). Yes, even the airport version is yummy IMHO!

I studied abroad in Madrid and miss it so. Have fun!
posted by infinityjinx at 11:47 AM on November 9, 2006

Barajas Terminal 4 is pretty big and has quite a few cafes and restaurants, including seating areas with wifi. I think the food there is quite good, for an airport. It's kind of a small mall, with a lot of departure gates attached.

You might want to inquire from your airline, if you can get a one-off pass for their airport lounge, if they have one there. Comfier chairs and work tables, free snacks, fruit, coffee, etc.
posted by carter at 12:07 PM on November 9, 2006

I lived in Madrid for 2 years. If I had 15 hours in Madrid I would probably:

* Go see Picasso's Guernica in the Reina Victoria museum

* Take a walk through Retiro park, maybe get in a paddle boat with my significant other

* Eat some of the best, most-expensive Jamon Iberico (cured ham) I could find. (Probably an acquired taste, so you might skip this). I would chase it with some Rioja wine and year-aged manchego cheese.

* Spend the day at the Prado WITH A TOUR GUIDE.

* If your layover is over night, go to SOL and spend all night partying with locals and students from other countries.

* Go to an off-the-beaten track restaurant. (Casa Ricardo (if you can find it) is excellent! The restaurants in the tourist areas give Spanish food a bad name. TIP: If there is a picture of pealla out front of the restaurant, do not go in!!!

Do not try to do too much. Just pick one thing and enjoy it. You could spend two-weeks in the Prado alone and still not appreciate everything in it.

The Metro in Madrid is really, really easy and inexpensive so with a little help from a friendly person at the airport, you could get to almost anywhere you would want to go.

If you want more details, look at the Rough Guide series at your local library or bookstore to plan out your 15 hours well. They have great advice and usually try to keep expenses down.

Have fun and represent your home country well!
posted by verevi at 5:53 AM on November 10, 2006

Response by poster: --- UPDATE FROM OP ---

I had a fine (if mostly sleepless) time -- Barajas (in the new Terminal 4) is the most beautiful & comfy airport I've ever been through. I found a chair for the night (complete with electrical outlet) and had a totally peaceful worknight.

I went to Nuevos Ministerios in the morning and found some really interesting corners, especially a big memorial sculpture for José Martí that's related to one of my previous mefi questions...

Thanks again, everybody.
posted by allterrainbrain at 12:02 PM on November 29, 2006

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