My husband and I will be arriving in Madrid on Friday, November 29th. Our flight is scheduled to arrive at 8:45 am. We will be immediately heading to Toledo for two nights and plan to purchase our train tickets to Toledo at the airport. I've already purchased our train tickets for Toledo/Madrid/Sevilla for December 2nd. I'd like to go ahead and purchase our train tickets from Madrid to Toledo but am not sure how long it will take us to get out of the airport when we land in Madrid (and there is always the possibility of the flight arriving late - it's a Delta flight from Atlanta to Madrid). I've read that sometimes trains to Toledo sell out. Does anyone have any idea what our chances are of being able to get tickets upon arrival in Madrid for the first train to Toledo that we can make? I guess if we waited til we arrived in Madrid and the train we wanted was sold out we could always take a bus. Just don't want to waste time waiting around. We are very excited about Toledo. Originally we had only planned one night there but decided to bump it up a night. The rest of our trip will include Sevilla, Cordoba, Granada and back to Madrid. Thanks for any input.
Buy when you get there. The train ticket booth in the airport is very convenient. Buy your senior card, if you qualify, at the same time. I cannot believe that every train to Toledo ever sells out. Maybe on special holidays but the 29th is not special.
That's a great decision to spend two nights in Toledo. One night would have been mainly jetlag recovery.
I've just looked at the schedule, and I see that the morning trains from Madrid to Toledo depart (from Puerta de Atocha Station) hourly at 20 minutes after the hour. After 1 PM the departure time shifts to 50 minutes after the hour. If you find the train you want is sold out (unlikely), I would take the next train rather than going to the trouble of getting to the bus station. The buses take about 30 minutes longer than the trains, and a traffic-related delay would be possible. The buses do not depart from near Atocha Station, but rather from Plaza Eliptica about 2 miles SW, so you'd lose some time getting there from Atocha unless you opted to taxi from the airport straight to the bus station. I don't remember the situation at that particular bus station, but often there's a bit of a walk from the taxi drop-off point into the station; at Estacion del Sur last year I had to trundle my bag to a crosswalk and then across a multi-lane road. And it's standard practice for ticket counters to stop selling tickets X minutes before the scheduled departure time. I think "X" is 5 but cannot guarantee it. Much easier to stick with a train.
Atocha Station is a sprawling place that some of us find rather confusing. Be sure you don't buy a ticket at the airport that gives you too little time to get through the station to your platform; the ticket sellers at the airport know what they are doing, so it's unlikely they'd give you too little time. I think there's a brief security check (luggage scan), too. If you have extra time at Atocha, you can kill a good bit of it by walking around. There's even a small interior garden area. As always in a train station, watch your belongings.
I can't say I understand the difficulty around the Atocha station, but clearly people find it confusing. You need to also keep in mind that there is a security check, like the airport, so it could be 10 minutes to get through there. Also, in my laziness by the time I got to Madrid, even though it was quiet, trying to ask questions in English at the ticket counter, I was punted to the one guy that spoke English which meant a delay of about 15 minutes. If you can translate the ticket machine, that might be a better option to the ticket office.
As far as selling out, more of a chance for the returns to Madrid than the outgoing to Toledo...once outside of commuting hours.
If you do need to wait another train, there is a lovely conservatory to spend some time, some food shops as well. Oh, if I remember, the toilets require coins. Hopefully you have Euros/coins from other Europe trips.
For what it’s worth, we tried to go to Toledo last week and all of the morning trains were sold out. Also, most of the ticket machines could not process our credit card as they were tap only. The line to buy tickets was huge. We ended up not going to Toledo due to all of this.
Hmm Warst's experience may change advice. I still think by late November that things won't be as busy, but realistically, the cost of the tickets are not cost prohibitive if you book ahead and miss the train. At least there will be tickets in hand. Err on an early afternoon train (not Noon), or take advantage of the Airport kiosk on arrival where it might be less hectic.
I highly recommend buying the Toledo ticket at the airport. I believe the staffed counters at Atocha for Toledo tickets are different from the counters used for long-distance trains, but the latter are a nightmare. I spent 3 hours in line back in April (not Holy Week). It's an unbelievable situation that has gone on for years. Since it appears the ticket machines have been updated and are now more finicky, it's even more important to try to avoid having to buy tickets at Atocha. It's possible, though, that some of the machines take currency--maybe only notes up to 20 euros. I'm not sure about cash machines, but I remember references to paying with cash in a post on this forum several years ago.
I can't imagine the station being so busy. I was there mid November 2017 and at one time, though it was 8 a.m., I was the only one in the entire ticketing office and only 2 tellers. There were often ticket machines free for any walk up. I already had my Toledo ticket when transiting from Cordoba to Toledo, so didn't look at numbers mid day on a Tuesday, but security lines were maybe 10 people deep.