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MAD to Toledo — logistics check?

Greetings from a very very rainy Rome.

I am feverishly planning the impromptu 2.5-week Spain extension of my EU trip on the fly. Thanks to this forum, information about the Tarjeta Dorada is squared away. A ticket to the Alhambra on Jan 7 (10:30 entry to Nazir Palace) has been procured. All hotels are booked .... whew!

I have borrowed RSSpain2016 from my local library. Think about that: sitting in Rome, borrow a library book from NM! EPub downloads and their formats take a bit of getting used to, however ....

QUESTION: Now, do I have the following — pieced together from this forum and elsewhere — right? I need to get from MAD to Toledo.

  1. Land at MAD (AZ flight from FCO) at 1310. After passport control and customs ...

  2. Go to the Renfe train station in the lower level of T4.

  3. Buy my Tarjeta Dorada :-). I hope my Chase Sapphire Reserve Card (chip and signature) is acceptable. No issues with it thus far in IT.

  4. And here is my confusion/ question: Do I (a) buy a train ticket from MAD to Toledo, this taking the C-1 ( or C-10 ?). subway (?) to Atocha Cercancias, and then make my way to Puerto de Atocha , or do I (b) buy a train ticket from Puerto de Atocha to Toledo and take a bus from MAD to Puerto de Atocha? Simple is good ....

  5. At Puerto de Atocha, find my platform. Allow plenty of time to get lost and for baggage x-ray. The train to Toledo (AVANT, several that afternoon) may leave from the lower level....

... and then in Toledo get from the train station to Hotel Carlos V in the old town city center. I have 3N (thus 2D) in Toledo — What a fabulous way to “begin” Spain!!


Abby in ABQ

Posted by
31 posts

Right, thanks — saw that on Rome2Rio, but on some forum threads here people mentioned a bus from MAD to Atocha, so I just thought I should ask!

Perhaps the bus option is advocated for people staying in Madrid, not passing through....

Posted by
9363 posts

There is an express bus from the airport to Atocha. It costs 5 euro, and the trip takes about 20-25 minutes. It does give you a chance to see some of Madrid on the way. I usually stay in the Atocha/Cibeles area anyway, so it is my choice of how to go. Once it leaves the airport, it only stops at Cibeles, then turns the corner and stops again at Atocha.

Posted by
19161 posts

I used the bus myself. Either the bus or the train will work, and it's impossible to predict which schedule will align best with the time you clear immigration and arrive at the departure point. Since you want to buy a Tarjeta Dorada anyway, I'd plan to take the train. I bought my T.D. at Atocha Station so can't guarantee that you can buy one at the airport, but I would expect that you can.

I think the train-ticket machines take small-value euro bills as well as credit cards, so that can be your back-up plan.

Posted by
11266 posts

There are multiple ways to get between Madrid's airport and the center of town. However, since you're already going to be at the Madrid airport train station, and since your goal is to get the train to Toledo, by far the easiest way is the cercanias train, since it goes right from the airport station to Atocha station. Only if that train (for some reason) isn't running, would I think of subway, bus, or taxi (all of which will also work).

Just ask when you buy your ticket at the airport - they will sell you the whole route (airport to Toledo) and explain what's involved.

Yes, trains to Toledo leave from the lower level of Atocha. For getting to your hotel in Toledo, I recommend a taxi, particularly since you will be tired by that point. It's only about €10-15 for door-to-door service.

Posted by
4620 posts


I agree with Harold’s suggestion to take the C1 Cercanías (commuter train) directly from the airport (Terminal 4) to Puerta de Atocha’s train station.
You can easily buy your Tajeta Dorada (small paper card) and train tickets at the Renfe office in T4 and pay with your credit card.

You may also choose to buy your return ticket, from Toledo to Madrid, especially if you plan to depart Toledo in the evening as these tickets often sell out (but probably not in January)

Toledo is one of my favorite cities in Spain ;-)


Posted by
14399 posts

I'll reiterate. Buy your ticket to Toledo when you buy the TD at the airport. The agent will sell you a ticket for the next available train, taking into account the Cercanias schedule. You may even get the Cercanias ticket free - it's free when you buy AVE tickets. If not, you'll get the TD discount on the Cercanias ticket. If you know when you want to leave Toledo, you should buy the return ticket at the same time, as trains do sell out.

I'll go back to my first recommendation, spend the time in Cordoba instead Of Toledo. It's a lovely town, shouldn't be as cold as Toledo, and a shorter trip to Granada.

Posted by
31 posts

Thank you to all for the advice. I now have a clearer picture of what to do tomorrow,

Chani: no worries — my schedule is Toledo and then on to Cordoba, so I will visit both. Both towns have been on my “list” for a long time. Thank you.

Posted by
19161 posts

Do you mean will you have time to see what you want to in Toledo the day you fly from Granada to Madrid? Absolutely, positively not. Toledo has a huge historic district with a lot of worthwhile sights, many of which one would want to go inside. It's a full-day city at least. I spent 3 nights there and could have used more time because it's so interesting to wander around.

Posted by
9363 posts

From the airport to where? Into Madrid from the airport is about 20-25 minutes.

Posted by
14399 posts

I wouldn't fly. Cordoba to Granada is just over 2 hours by train. 5-10 minute taxi ride in Cordoba to the station, 5-10 taxi ride from the station to your Granada hotel. Okay, going to Madrid from Granada is more of a toss-up - about 4 hours by train, but you are right in the ATocha station; it won't be much faster (if at all) to fly by the time you add the extra time to/from the airport and wait time for the train from Barajas to Atocha. And if you have to check a bag (short flights can be skimpy with carry-on limits), add more time for check-in and baggage claim.

Posted by
31 posts

From sunny Toledo:

Update in case anyone else is wondering about logistics.

I took the shuttle bus from T2(?) to T4, which was not well signposted but the info booth people were very helpful.

In T4 the escalators down to the Renfe station are close to the street-- before the ticketing desks.

At the Renfe information desk (no ticket counter) I bought my TD (6 euro cash), C-1 ticket (cash, 2.60 euro) and Madrid to Toledo ticket (25pct discount, chip and sign Visa card).

20 min line at the info desk.

Hardest part was finding how to get to T4 from T2.

Atocha is huge! Glad I had plenty of time to take a few wrong turns.😀. Baggage screening was much simpler than airport.

Bus from Toledo station to Plaza Zocodovar easy. (1.40euro paid to driver)

Next day I walked back down to the train station to buy my 31 Dec ticket to Cordoba at the ticket office. Again easy with chip and sign, but required separate transactions for Toledo to Madrid and Madrid to Cordoba. 25 pct discount on each.

Posted by
31 posts

Rereading the entire thread there seems to have been some confusion about my schedule despite that I said in the initial post that my Alhambra ticket is 7 Jan and that I began Spain (Dec 28) by flying to Madrid and taking the train to Toledo.

So, in case anyone wants clarification:
Toledo (3N)
Cordoba (3N)
Ronda (1N)
Granada (4N) ... Probably one night too much but locked in by my Alhambra ticket on the 7th. Perhaps a day trip on the 5th or 6th?

And then a couple of more nights somewhere before flying to the UK.

So not a mad rush but quite to the contrary.

Thank you to everyone for the coaching on the MAD/ Renfe logistics.

Posted by
14399 posts

What about 2N Ronda before going on to Granada? There's enough for a full day, consider arriving late afternoon, leaving in the morning . . . or later.