About Madrid Barajas Airport (MAD)
Address: Airport Madrid Adolfo Suarez T1 Llegadas/arrivals T1 Parking, Madrid, 28042
Located in the heart of the Iberian Peninsula, the Spanish capital of Madrid is served by Madrid Barajas Airport (MAD), a mere 12 km (7 mi) the city center). Seven major airport car rental providers are found in the arrivals area of Terminals 1 and 4.
Unless you’re familiar with driving in Madrid, getting around the city by car hire is likely to be a liability rather than an asset. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t rent a car — just be forewarned: space is a very precious commodity in Madrid. Be prepared for driving among too many vehicles and not enough roadway to accommodate them, based on a confusing maze of narrow streets and routes that were not designed for modern vehicles and traffic. On a positive note, driving outside the city limits is somewhat of a more sophisticated experience.
Parking in Madrid is far and away the biggest complaint among those who drive in the city. Spaniards are relatively disdainful of their parallel street parking system, and it’s common for inconsiderate motorists to leave their cars in the street, blocking in another car. If you are driving a rental car, it’s wise to use the underground parking garages, where you’ll find very tight spots with little wiggle room to work with.
Choosing your car
Choosing your car for a visit to Madrid is going to come down to one question: Are you going to be spending a lot of time in the city? If the answer is yes, then a compact Fiat from Enterprise is ideal for navigating those narrow streets and tiny parking spots. Likewise, an economy Volkswagen offered by Sixt is great for singles and couples with modest baggage and a busy agenda. On the other hand, if you’re using (MAD) as a launch and landing pad to explore the Rioja wine region, a full-size 4-door Seat from Europcar can carry 5 passengers and 3 large suitcases. And if you’ve got the whole family in tow, a Nissan 7-9 seater minivan from Avis is a perfect combination of function and economy.
Tips and advice
Watch out for dedicated bus lanes exclusive to buses, motorcycles, and high occupancy vehicles.
(MAD) airport car rental companies frequently offer special deals and extras (free in-car Wi-Fi, GPS, bike racks, etc.), so shop around a little bit for the best deal.
When it comes to parking, locals have no compunction about repeatedly smashing into the bumpers of surrounding cars in a parallel parking space. It’s said that drivers in Madrid park “by sound” rather than sight. Either double up on your collision damage waiver, or use the paid parking garages, where your vehicle is slightly less likely to be damaged.
Spain’s network of roadways is defined by “autopistas” (toll roads) “carreteras nacionales” (national freeways), and “autovías” (divided highways).
Absolutely do not rent a car in Madrid without talking to your airport car rental company about driving restrictions in designated low pollution areas, i.e. central Madrid. And leaving the airport without a GPS in the vehicle is strongly discouraged.
Speed limits in Madrid are rigorously enforced by speed cameras. The default speed limit for any road that’s not a highway is 30 km/h.