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Time needed to catch train in Madrid to Barcelona

We arrive at the Madrid airport from London at 12:45 and need to catch a train to Barcelona. We have the option of catching a 15:00, 15:30, 16:30 or 17:00 train. How much time do we need to get luggage, passport stamped and travel to the Madrid train station?
Thanks, K

Posted by
6412 posts

Either buy it when you get there or if you have to buy it in advance gamble on buying the one at 17:00

Posted by
16771 posts

If you opt to wait and buy the ticket after arrival (which will likely cost more if your trip is well in the future at this point), do that at the airport train station. Do not plan to buy the ticket at Atocha Station downtown. You'd likely be able to use the vending machines, which are fine, but if they happen not to like your credit card, you could be in the ticket line for hours (three hours for me in April 2019).

We usually recommend that people wait to buy their day-of-arrival tickets after they land and, ideally, get through Immigration (which can be a bottleneck), but I admit that I've seen a fair number of Spanish AVEs shown as sold out on the Renfe website on the day of travel and sometimes earlier than that. Therefore, there's at least a slight risk you might not be able to buy a ticket on the train you want to take.

Posted by
7124 posts

May I ask the obvious question, why on earth are you not flying from London directly to Barcelona ?

I would go for the 17:00 departure. Allow an hour for getting thru Barajas, an hour for getting to Atocha, and an hour for AVE checkin and boarding. I always factor in a minimum hour additional for ‘just in case’. This of course is all immaterial if your flight is severely delayed.