Planes and trains


Madrid

Getting away from Madrid - our preferred method.

Over the course of our visits to Madrid, we refined our preferred method of getting out of the city.  For much of the information that follows, I’m most grateful to Juan Merallo of Pedalibre, www.pedalibre.org . Among their achievements as representatives of cyclists’ interests, Pedalibre have succeeded (after three years of lobbying), in getting some access for cycles on the Madrid Metro. The web site provides much useful information. The site is in Spanish so this may mean using one of the automated translation services via Google or Alta Vista. In preparation by Pedalibre is a report on cycle access to Madrid airport. This will be published at www.pedalibre.org as soon as it is available.

In summary, that was to get from the airport to Chamartin station using the Aerocity shuttle service. Their standard service was booked direct on their web site and was used at both ends of our trip much simplifying travel arrangements. Each journey was around 20 euros for two people and bikes which seemed like good value and far preferable to the alternatives. Just ‘phone them to confirm the pick up and a vehicle is dispatched. We always flew into Madrid airport midweek.  Had we arrived on a weekend, we could have used the metro to get ourselves and our bikes to Chamartin station. Either way avoids the need to cycle through busy streets in hot weather.

After our first experience of how easily bikes could be transported on some of the trains, we started two tours by getting a Regionale train to Avila from Chamartin. The same approach could of course be used for other station/destination combinations.

As well as being an effective way to get away from Madrid, the train journey to Avila is a delight. The train climbs through the mountains giving great views and a relaxing journey. Avila is an attractive historic town with plenty to interest the visitor. At 1100m above sea level, it is Spain's highest provincial capital and a great place from which to start a cycle tour.

Returning to Madrid - our preferred method.

Basically a reverse of the above.  Depending on whether or not arrival by Regionale train is at a time whe bikes can be taken on the metro, either use the metro or book an Aerocity shuttle pick up. We returned from Aranjuez to the airport using the train plus metro in about one and a half hours. You just walk onto the train with your bike and there are various spaces where you can stand the bike.  The Arunjuez train delivers you to Atocha station.  From there is is necessary to connect with the metro by using any of the many trains for the short journey to Nuovos Ministerios.  Returning via Avila and Chamartin station, we phoned Aerocity who picked us up as part of their standard shuttle service.

Arrival/departure at Madrid airport and trains - general information.

Madrid airport seems to be notorious in terms of ease of access for cyclists. The alternative methods of travel described here are based on information correct at the time of our visits. This may have changed. 

If possible, time your arrival/departure for weekends or public holidays. Between 0600 and 1600 you can take your bike on the metro direct from the airport. This will connect you with the Nuevos Ministerios metro station and from there to either of the main railway stations Chamartin or Atocha. There are indications that additional times for travel to and from the airport will be available.

On our first visit, we wanted an easy start and chose to be driven to a hotel in Torrelodones, north west of Madrid from where we could start some pleasant cycling. This was low-stress but expensive, although at a fixed price may be attractive for a party of four say. Our return to Madrid used the train/metro method described above and this is highly recommended. Our advice to anyone that is determined to cycle to/from the airport is not to bother unless you want to take in a tour of Madrid. Swallow your pride! You are likely to have the best part of a day at either end of your tour taken up with not particularly pleasant cycling and the stress of busy roads.

Outside of the above times you need to travel by other means to Chamartin train and metro station, which is nearer the airport. (Atocha station can be easily reached from Chamartin.). According to the tourist information office at the airport, bikes can be taken on the buses as luggage. This was not tested and Pedalibre indicate that getting buses to carry bikes seems to be at the discretion of the driver. Taxis apparently are unlikely to take bikes, which leaves either riding to the station (busy, stressful) or the transport service (expensive). Further details, including costs and other information, can be obtained via www.gomadrid.com.

If you do ride your bike from the station, getting onto a non-motorway road can be achieved by following the road outside international arrivals at terminal 2, keeping to the right and after a right hand bend a slip road lead up towards the area of Barajas. From there you’ll need a map and some strong nerves, although it’s not too far. A search for up-to-date information on this is also recommended as the airport has changed significantly over recent years.

The good news is that from Chamartin station you can get to a good range of destinations with your bike at very low cost. Bikes travel free. The Cercanias train network will deliver you to places such as El Escorial to the north of Madrid or Aranjuez to the south.  The Regional trains also take bikes and going north from Chamartin and south from Atocha, the arrangements for putting the bike on the train are the same. Going further afield on the Regional trains, for example Madrid Atocha to/from Extremadura, bikes go in a compartment at the rear of the train.

A map of the Cercanias network is available at www.renfe.es/empresa/cercanias/ and further information on train travel, including timetables is available via the Spanish National Railways site www.renfe.es.

If you need to stay near the airport on your first or last night, there are a few hostales in nearby Barajas. There is also the Best Western Villa Barajas and the Barajas Hotel. Both of these have a shuttle service to/from the airport. If you are traveling at the weekend, there are many accommodation options available in Madrid via the metro.

Valencia

Our arrival/departure at Valencia airport.

With one of us traveling from Scotland and the other from Canada, we chose to stay at the main airport hotel (Melia Confort Azafata) at the start and end of the tour. An attractive and cheaper alternative would be to use the metro train system to get to Lliria or one of the other outlying towns. If arriving early enough to cycle, simply getting on the train at the airport and taking the brief journey to the station past Riba-Roja avoids busy roads. The bus link to the city centre run by Metrobus, did not take cycles (2001).