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Fast train from Madrid Airport to Barcelona

Hi, I will be arriving to Madrid in March and want to take a fast train to Barcelona as soon as I arrive. Can anyone tell me if I will have to take a taxi or other form of public transportation to get to the fast train or is there a station for the Fast Train at the airport?

Posted by
20838 posts

You'll need to get to Puerta de Atocha Station to pick up the AVE to Barcelona. I highly recommend that you simply go to the airport train station (Madrid Barajas T4) and take the local train downtown to Atocha. It takes you to the building from which you will depart for Barcelona (though the AVEs are in a different part of that building). More important, you can buy your tickets all the way to Barcelona at that airport station if you decide not to buy a cheap Promo AVE ticket ahead of time to save some money--a decision you might make due to uncertainty about when you'll actually reach Atocha Station. You do not under any circumstances want to buy your Madrid-Barcelona ticket at a staffed counter in Atocha Station. The lines are unbelievably long (as in 3 hours for me on April 9, 2019). The vending machines are just fine as long as they don't choke on your US credit card, which they might do. So make it easy on yourself and head right to the train station at the airport; there's good signage.

Posted by
2688 posts

You will need to go to into Madrid to the Atocha station. The thing about fast trains is that they don’t make many, if any, stops between cities so Madrid to Barcelona means city center to city center without stops.

The above advice about the local train is good. You could take a taxi from airport to Atocha if you prefer. Sometimes that’s easier with luggage.

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks for the advice acraven. I plan on buying my tickets in advance to get a better deal.

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks, Mira I might consider a taxi depending on how much luggage we take.

Posted by
20838 posts

No problem taking a taxi if you already have train tickets to Barcelona in hand. I've used both the train and the airport bus, both of which end up, more or less, at Atocha.

Posted by
14784 posts

I plan on buying my tickets in advance to get a better deal. That's a good deal only if everything goes smoothly. No one can predict if your plane will arrive on time, how long it will take to go through passport control, or how long you'll have to wait for checked luggage. Going into Madrid by taxi is taking a chance on traffic delays (or maybe a wait for a taxi). OTOH the Cercanias trains and metro take longer and may not be on time. You need to allow enough time at the station to find your train, go through security (usually fast but there can be lines), and board.

If you haven't allowed enough time between landing and boarding, your promo tickets will be worthless and you'll have to buy full price tickets for the next available train - and lines to buy tickets in Madrid can be really slow. If you are going to miss your train, at least buy new tickets at the airport where lines are usually short.

Allowing too much time means hanging around the train station, possibly for hours. It's not a bad place - lots of restaurants and a nice garden, but after a long-haul flight, it's not what you'll want.

How much of a gambler are you?

Posted by
20838 posts

In the event of a serious flight delay and a long series of sold-out trains, I will note that there's a left-luggage facility at the station and a number of tourist sites are within walking distance once you ditch the bags: The Prado, the Reina Sofia, Retiro Park (free), and the Botanical Garden.

Posted by
1 posts

I need to figure out the same logistics except I am headed to Seville from Madrid.

acraven - You mention that "you can buy your tickets all the way to Barcelona at that airport station." Are the lines to buy the tickets at the airport station better than at the Puerta de Atocha Station? I would prefer to purchase the tickets at the airport. I don't want to hope the vending machines will work with my US credit card at the Atocha Station.

Posted by
20838 posts

I have only had one experience at the airport train station, on April 9, 2019, so I make no guarantees, but I either walked right up to the counter at the airport or waited on one person. I have never read any comment suggesting that significant delays can be expected there, whereas the grotesque situation at Atocha should be an embarrassment to all concerned. There are vending machines at the airport, too, but I'm not sure what sort of tickets they sell. At least as of 2016 there were separate machines at Atocha for long-distance and shorter-distance tickets.

It's possible some of the vending machines take cash as well as cards--I think someone mentioned that years ago--but I've never verified that myself, and I have a vague recollection that the machines were said not to take bills larger than 20 euros. It's also possible that's something I read about Italy rather than Spain.

I'm still a bit nervous about having tickets only loaded on my cell phone. I can't help thinking that it might choose a very bad time to go splat, leaving me subject to a substantial fine. And I don't know for sure that you can buy a Spanish rail ticket and just show an e-ticket to the conductor when he comes around. It's certainly possible that you can, though. So that might be a back-up possibility.