Night buses in Madrid
Life at night is part of the appeal of Madrid, a time when the streets are often as busy as they are during the day, just with more laughter, shouting, and high heels. However, once the clock chimes 1:30, the trusty metro system turns into a proverbial pumpkin: if you aren’t on a train by this hour, there is a good chance there won’t be another one until 6 AM. Thus, understanding the Night Buses in Madrid. This system is an integral part of staying out late and getting home in one piece.
There are two types of night buses:
- N-buses, or Los Búhos (the Spanish word for owls – cute, huh?): These are 24 buses named with an N in front, all of which center their operations on the Plaza de Cibeles in the center of town and radiate out. These are a good choice if you have been out in the center and everyone in your group is heading home in different directions without prior planning; the various bus stops around the plaza clearly advertise where each búho goes and can help you find the one that will take you home. After your first trip on a búho, save that number: if the N7 bus takes you home, start mentally noting the stops so you don’t always have to head back to Cibeles in order to catch the N7 home.
- L-buses, or the Metro Replacement Lines: These buses run the approximate above-ground routes of the metros, stopping at or near as many metro stations as possible. These are good for a variety of reasons: they come every 15 minutes, their names correspond to the line number of the metro they replace, and they don’t force you to trek to Cibeles if you are hanging out a long walk away from there. Be aware, your particular metro stop might have been cut from this route (for instance, I lived at the end of the line 1 metro for a while, and the L1 bus doesn’t go all the way up there, and it is impossible to walk the difference.)
Obviously, taxis in this city are not that expensive, and it is always a good idea to cultivate friends in the middle of town who have comfy couches or extra bedrooms where you can sleep off a long evening of fiesta, but knowing your above-ground options allows you to prolong your night. A good option if you don’t have time to memorize a new bus route before a night out is to download the Android app that lets you look up bus routes near your location.