Madrid train station: Atocha practical guide

madrid train station

The main Madrid train station is called Atocha, and it’s managed by the public company Renfe Operadora. It’s the first-busiest station in Spain, servicing over 110 million travelers per year.

Have a look at a complete tutorial about train travel in Spain where you can read all the information you need to organize your train journeys around the country.

Purchase your train tickets online, as soon as you know your travel dates to Madrid!

Actually, the station is so big that it has two names:

It offers regular services to destinations all over Spain (Barcelona, Cádiz, Córdoba, Granada, Málaga, Seville, Valencia), plus the international line to Paris (France).

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

Atocha Madrid train station: Practical information

The Atocha train station is located to the south-east of the city center, on Glorieta Carlos V. It was inaugurated in 1851 under the name Estación de Mediodía.

In 1992, when Spain’s first high-speed AVE train service was launched, the original building was taken out of service as a terminal, and converted into a concourse with shops, cafés, and a stunning 4,000 m2 (43,056 sq ft) covered tropical garden. A modern terminal was also designed by Moneo, and built in adjacent land to serve all train lines departing from and arriving to Madrid.

The train station opens Monday to Sunday from 5:00 to 1:00 of the following day.

It’s the terminus station for most high-speed trains. But it’s also the main Cercanías trains station hub, where all the lines connect. Additionally, Atocha has a Metro station.

Travel hack: There’s a Madrid tourist office managed by the regional government (Comunidad Autonóma de Madrid) that covers not only Madrid but all the region.

How to purchase your train tickets

The Renfe ticket office is open Monday to Friday from 10:00 to 20:00. It’s located at the main hall in front of the shops. However, you’ll be charged a fee for every transaction.

So you should buy your train tickets online. Follow a step by step tutorial if you need help with that.

To get your Cercanías train tickets, you can go to the Renfe ticket office. A much faster alternative is to use the vending machines located in the main concourse. Unfortunately, you cannot purchase them online.

Getting to/from Atocha Madrid train station

The train station is also an intercambiador de transporte, or public transportation hub. It includes the Metro (subway), city buses, Cercanías trains, high-speed trains and other long distance trains.

Metro

There is a Metro station inside the premises, Atocha Renfe, with access to line 1 (light blue).

Unfortunately, there are no Metro direct routes from/to Barajas airport. Therefore if you have lots of luggage it might be preferable to use an alternative.

Bus

You can reach the station taking the 10, 14, 24, 26, 32, 37, 54, 57, 59, 85, 86, 102, 121, 203 and C2 Madrid city buses.

Cercanías

Almost all Cercanías lines depart from or stop at Atocha. These are C-1 (light blue), C-2 (dark green), C-3 (purple), C-4a (dark blue), C-4b (dark blue), C-5 (yellow), C-7 (red), C-8 (grey), and C-10 (light green).

That is all, except line C-9 (orange).

Private transfer

You’ll be glad to book an exclusive ride from the train station to your accommodation.

It provides a much need comfort and rest after a long trip. Your driver will meet you at the main terminal and will walk you to an executive sedan. Your transfer will be safe and sound. On top of it, you can ask for an English speaking driver.

If you have a larger party, up to eight people, the transfer can be arranged in a luxury minivan.

Use a private car from Atocha train station to central Madrid when you arrive to avoid waiting long lines at the bus and waste a precious time.

Alternatively, you can book a private car from your accommodation to Atocha train station.

Car rental

If you’re considering renting a car you’ll find a bunch of car rental offices at the Madrid Atocha train station.

However, my favorite choice to get the best cheap car rental rates is to book your rental car from home before setting a foot in Madrid.

Taxi

The cabs are located in front of all the train station main entrances. You will have to pay a surcharge for traveling from the train station.

Madrid receives a lot of foreigners every year and taxi drivers know it. Taxis at Atocha generally have a very bad reputation.

Please, make sure you know the exact address you’re going to. Do some research in advance and spend some time in front of a map to get an idea of your route. If you can, provide some directions to the driver. At the end of the trip check the final fare and the change you receive!

I definitely don’t recommend taking a cab at Atocha. Unless you are in a hurry or you have no other means of transport, avoid taking a taxi!

However, in other areas of the city, catching a taxi is fine. Here is some practical advice to avoid bad surprises using the Madrid taxi service.

Your own car

Atocha train station is located in one of the main avenues of the city center so it’s pretty easy to find it.

There is only one car park located on the left side of the main building. The entrance is on Paseo Santa Isabel. There always a lot of free spots.

How to go from Madrid train station Atocha to Madrid Airport

Atocha is very well connected with Barajas airport.

If you need to go from Atocha to Barajas airport you have 4 options:

  • You can catch the Barajas airport express bus 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 at Terminals 1, 2 and 4 (T1, T2 and T4).
  • 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 departs from Terminal 1 or 2 (T1 or T2) you’ll need to catch the free shuttle bus connecting them to Terminal 4 (T4).
  • You could also use the subway but, as I said before, you need to change lines twice (line 1 > line 10 > line 8 or line 1 > line 6 > line 8), so it’s not very handy if you are carrying lots of luggage.
  • The most comfortable and reliable option to catch your flight on time is to book a private car.

For more information, have a look at how to exit the airport and how to get to the airport.

How to go from Madrid train station Atocha to Chamartín train station

Chamartín is the city’s second most important train station.

To get there from Atocha, the easiest and fastest way is to catch a Cercanías train using lines C-1 (light blue), C-2 (dark green), C-3 (purple), C-4 (dark blue), C-7 (red) and C-10 (light green).

Alternatively, you can use the Metro as line 1 (light blue) connects both train stations.

Finally, you can also get there by bus.

Exit Atocha train station and walk to Paseo del Prado. There’s a bus stop at the beginning of the avenue, on the right hand sidewalk. First take a bus on lines 14, 27 or 45. Stop at Emilio Castelar and take bus line 147.

Or you can book a private car and enjoy a relaxed drive.

This article is part of a complete tutorial about train travel from Madrid where you can read all the information you need to organize your train journeys from the city.

Here is a complete summary of all the guide:

1. Getting to Madrid by train
2. How to purchase Renfe tickets online
3. 7 tricks to get cheap train tickets in Spain
4. A complete guide to Madrid Cercanías trains
5. How to get your Madrid Cercanías tickets
6. The Combinado Cercanías ticket
7. The Atocha train station
8. The Chamartín train station

Start planning your upcoming trip to Madrid

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