Have an idea of sites you want to visit and things you want to do during your trip. Do some research on travel blogs and communities. You should ask friends and family who have traveled before about places they enjoyed the most. Read through site-specific guide books like Lonely Planet, Let's Go, Rough Guide, Rick Steves, or Frommers.
Book all travel far in advance. However, do not book anything until after the first week of classes. You may find there are NYU-sponsored trips already in place.
Some helpful sites:
"I went on an 18 day adventure to Austria, Czech Republic, Greece and Italy. My favorites - which I highly recommend - are Salzburg, Vienna and Prague. While every city and country that I visited is culturally unique, Salzburg and Vienna were highly unassuming cities that took me by surprise. They weren't outrageous or completely exotic, but they were both so beautiful in their own breathtaking ways. Prague is a gorgeous city with an array of building, architecture and sites that combines old Prague with its very interesting recent history."
- Olivia, NYU Madrid student
If you are planning weekend travel, then flying from city to city may be your cheapest option. With flights, the earlier you book, the cheaper it will be. Be aware that the taxes for the flight may be more money than the cost of the actual flight. Many of the cheapest flights leave very early in the morning from airports outside of the city.
In some places it can be difficult and expensive to travel to these airports at these very early times because public transportation may not run all night. If you go on a low-fare airline, expect to pay a fee for any stowed luggage you bring.
Rail Pass lists all your train options and information about the different European countries.
If you are planning on traveling (especially after your semester) you may find that Eurail is the best option. It is a train pass that gives you train travel within 18 European Countries. Not only is it a cheap, convenient way to travel around Europe, but also many Euro trains are super comfy! Buy your tickets in the US as they are more expensive in Europe.
For travel within the Madrid and throughout Europe, you may be interested in purchasing a ticket through Eurolines.
Busabout is designed for back-packers which makes it a great way to meet people, and a cheap way to get around—it may be more appropriate if you plan to do more traveling during the summer.
Student recommendations from Fall 2009. Let us know if this list should change!