Purchasing your Madrid Cercanías train tickets is essential since you can’t use any bus or subway ticket on the Madrid commuting train network.
The suburban or Cercanías trains will take you to the outer Madrid areas that don’t have Metro connections.
Here’s all the information you need to know about how to get Cercanías train tickets.
What are the Madrid Cercanías trains?
The Madrid suburban train system is called Cercanías. It goes across the city connecting the main stations of city with other surrounding towns. So it’s a great option if you plan to do one or several day trips from Madrid.
Plus the Cercanías networks is connected to Madrid’s underground metro system.
Types of Madrid Cercanías train tickets
There are 5 different types of tickets that you can use on the suburban train system.
- A single ticket allowing you a one-way trip inside one to seven zones.
- A return ticket allowing you return trip inside one to seven zones.
- You can also buy a Bonotren (10-journey train ticket) and its price can also vary depending on how many zones you’ll buy it for.
- Finally, you can also use your personal travel card or pass (abono). There are different passes depending on your needs.
- Alternatively, you can purchase a Madrid Tourist Travel Pass, if you want to avoid the hassle of getting tickets every time or plan to use public transport frequently.
Cercanías fares are based on a zone system: the further you travel to, the more you have to pay. In Madrid and the rest of the region, areas are numbered from A to E2 where A is the city center and E2 is the furthest area from the capital.
It’s easier to understand if you have a look at a map with all the Cercanías lines.
How to get your Madrid Cercanías train tickets
Enter the station that serves the Cercanías line you want to use. Chances are you will likely use one of the stations located in the center of the city (e.g. Sol, Nuevos Ministerios, Recoletos), or one of the main train stations (Atocha or Chamartín).
Cercanías train tickets can be bought from machines at the train station and if available, ticket windows where Renfe staff can help you out. It’s easier to use the machines, but you can always go to a ticket window if you speak a bit of Spanish and need extra help.
Metrobús tickets are not valid on Cercanías services. So you need to buy a specific train ticket to get on the train.
Using the machine is easy.
- Select your preferred language.
- Select the type of ticket. You will probably need a single ticket (billete sencillo), but you can also get a Bonotren (10 trips). A Bonotren is not personal, so you can share it with the rest of the group you are traveling with.
- Choose your origin and destination.
- Pay for your ticket. You can do so using cash or your travel debit card.
Keep your ticket, as you will need it to exit the station at the end of your journey.
Validating your Madrid Cercanías train tickets
Cercanías train tickets have a magnetic strip that is read by electronic turnstiles at the station. You must insert your Cercanías ticket in to a card reader to release the turnstile before boarding your train.
In rare occasions, you might find no turnstile, just a card reader. If that’s the case, follow the example of other passengers and use the card reader immediately before heading to your train platform.
Getting to your Madrid Cercanías train
Follow signs indicating your Cercanías train platform.
Either before getting to the platform or at the platform itself, have a look at the printed train schedules posted in each station, or the monitors and electronic signs. All show the trains departing from that platform.
Cercanías trains don’t have seat assignments. So you can seat wherever you want.
Remember to keep your Cercanías train ticket until you are outside your arrival station: you will need it to exit the station.
Madrid Cercanías train tickets to or from Madrid Airport
Line C-1 (light blue) connects the city center with Madrid airport.
If you’re traveling from central Madrid to Barajas airport, buy your Cercanías ticket before beginning your trip.
You need to pay an extra fee and if you don’t do so at the beginning of your trip, you will get a fine once you get to the airport Cercanías station.
If you need extra help, here are two complete tutorials with all the details: