A complete guide to Madrid Airport: Barajas

madrid airport

Madrid Airport’s official name is Aeropuerto Adolfo Suárez-Madrid Barajas, so people refer to it as “Barajas” to make it shorter. The IATA airport code for Madrid is MAD.

Contrary to other European capitals, Madrid has a unique airport serving all the routes arriving to and departing from the city.

The airport is located in the district of Barajas, hence the name. Barajas is in the northeast, approximately 20 km (12.5 mi) from Puerta del Sol.

Madrid Airport is Spain’s biggest and most important airport. It currently has five terminals (T1, T2, T3, T4 and T4S) and three control towers. Each year 40+ million of passengers use it. In addition to this, almost 80 airlines operate here and more than 250 routes are served.

Alternatively, you may be interested in reading about getting to Madrid by plane.

Arriving at Madrid Airport

If you’re arriving at Madrid Airport, you should definitely check out my Arriving at Madrid Airport guide. It’s a complete guide that explains in detail how to exit the airport to get to the city center.

Getting to Madrid Airport

If you’re taking public transportation, you can get here by bus (various options and lines; but about 45 minutes from Atocha train station) or train (the Cercanías C-1) among several alternatives.

The fastest option will depend on exactly where you’re staying. Check out my guide on how to get to the airport for more information.

How to go from Madrid Airport to Atocha train station

Madrid Airport is very well connected with Atocha train station.

If you need to go from Madrid Airport to Atocha, you have three options:

  • You can catch the Airport Express Shuttle running from 6:00 to 23:30 (between 23:30 and 6:00 terminus is at Plaza de Cibeles) all year round with only two stops on the route. The bus stops are located on Terminals 1, 2 and 4 (T1, T2 and T4).
  • Or you can take a Cercanías train on line C-1 (light blue). Despite this is a much faster option remember that the airport train station is located in Terminal 4 (T4). So if your flight arrives to Terminal 1 or 2 (T1 or T2) you will need to catch the free shuttle bus connecting them to Terminal 4 (T4).
  • You could also use the subway, but you need to change lines twice (line 8 > line 10 > line 1 or line 8 > line 6 > line 1), so it’s not very handy if you are carrying lots of luggage.

The Madrid Airport terminals

The Madrid Airport has five terminals. However, this division does not correspond to the number of buildings composing the airport.

There are two big complexes. The old premises reunite Terminals 1, 2 and 3. These were initially built in the 1950s (current T2), expanded in the 1970s (current T1), and refurbished over time. The new premises, more than a couple of kilometers away, were inaugurated in 2007 and include Terminals 4 and 4S.

  • Terminal 1 (T1). It is mainly used for international flights (non Schengen routes) of airlines outside the Oneworld alliance, mainly SkyTeam and Star Alliance, and low cost carriers.
  • Terminal 2 (T2). This terminal generally serves domestic and Schengen flights of airlines outside the Oneworld alliance.
  • Terminal 3 (T3). It is seldom used and acts basically as a T2 extension, not as an independent terminal. It is unlikely that you will use it.
  • Terminal 4 (T4). Oneworld airlines operate their flights from T4. Generally, most domestic and Schengen flights depart and arrive here.
  • Terminal 4 Satélite (T4S). Oneworld airlines operate most of their international flights arrive from T4S. Please note that even if your flight lands here, you will claim your luggage and exit the airport through T4.

Check the list of the airlines working at the airport and the terminal from which they operate.

How to move around the Madrid Airport terminals

The shuttle bus connecting the terminals is free and operates 24/7.

TerminalGo toMeans of transportEstimated timeBus stop location
Terminal T1Terminals T2 and T3Free shuttle bus1.30 minutesTerminal T1, Floor 1 (check-in)
On foot4 minutes
Terminal T4Free shuttle bus7 minutesTerminal T1, Floor 1 (check-in)
Terminals T2 and T3Terminal T1Free shuttle bus8 minutesTerminal T2, Floor 0 (arrivals)
On foot4 minutes
Terminal T4Free shuttle bus6 minutesTerminal T2, Floor 0 (arrivals)
Terminal T4Terminal T1Free shuttle bus9 minutesTerminal T4, Floor 0 (arrivals)
Terminals T2 and T3Free shuttle bus6 minutesTerminal T4, Floor 0 (arrivals)
Terminal T4 SatéliteRemote-controlled Train3 minutesTerminal T4, Floor -2
Terminal T4 Satélite (Satellite)Terminal T4Remote-controlled Train3 minutesTerminal T4 Satélite,  Floor -2

You can also see all the internal connections between the airport terminals.

Madrid Airport services

As any major airport Madrid-Barajas offers an extensive range of services. Here is a list of the most useful ones.

  • Car rental companies. Sixt, Avis/Budget, Europcar-InterRent, Hertz-Firefly, Goldcar-InterRent, Enterprise and Record Go have desks on both T1 and T4.
  • Parking. All terminals have low cost, long stay and regular car parks. T2 has also an express car park. T4 has also a VIP car park. You can book online a spot.
  • Shops and Duty Free. If you are interested in a particular shop, search for it.
  • Eating. The airport has a wide range of restaurants and cafeterias.
  • Left luggage office. There is one office at T1 floor 0 arrivals located outside the main terminal. The other one is at T4 floor 0 arrivals, located in the main concourse. Both open 24/7. There is a third one at T2 floor 1 departures on the hallway leading to the car park. It opens from 5:00 to 22:00.
  • Currency exchange offices, ATMs and bank branches. Don’t forget to bring your travel money card with you!
  • VIP lounges. There are a total of 6 VIP lounges and a Premium Lounge at the airport. It’s quiet, the chairs are comfortable, and there’s tea, coffee, cookies, and blankets. The reclining chairs are great for napping. A perfect solution for long-haul flights!
  • VAT refund. The Value Added Tax (VAT) procedure is electronic, through the DIVA system.
    • When leaving Spain and always before checking in your luggage, you must validate electronically  all the purchases’ reimbursement electronic documents. To do so, you must  go to the DIVA screens located in the airport check-in areas.
    • If you cannot validate the DIVA Tax Free form on the screens, you will have to show the documents and merchandise, you must present the goods purchased and the “tax free” invoices for these to be stamped at the airport’s duty reduction office. There are 3 offices: at T1 floor 1 departures, at T4 floor 2 departures and at T4S floor 2 boarding area.
  • Wi-Fi. There is a free Wi-Fi service offered by Aena when you connect to the ‘AIRPORT FREE WIFI AENA’ network. You can register via email, Facebook or LinkedIn. The login is quick, does not require codes, and gives you the option to register multiple devices.
  • Police. National Police offices are located at T1 floor 1 in the check-in area and T4 floor 2 in the check-in area. Local Police is only at T4 floor 0 in the arrivals hall. Guardia Civil is at T2 floor 1 next to the boarding area D.

Madrid Airport hotels

If you have an early morning flight, where you stay the night before makes a huge difference in your day. Or, if you have a late arrival, you might like to stay at the airport for a night instead of trying to figure out trains the moment you touch down. Airport hotels are perfect for times like this.

If you need additional information, here is my recommended accommodation for Madrid Airport.

This article is part of a complete tutorial on how to fly to Madrid where you can read all the information you need to organize your flights.

Here is a complete summary of all the guide:

1. How to find very cheap international flights
2. Looking for cheap air flights to Spain?
3. Getting to Madrid by plane
4. Madrid Airport guide: Aeropuerto Adolfo Suárez-Madrid Barajas
5. Guide on Madrid Airport transfers
6. Arriving at Madrid Airport: exit the airport after landing
7. Getting to Madrid Airport: go to the airport from the city center
8. Madrid Airport hotels

Start planning your upcoming trip to Madrid

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