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Train tickets for just after arriving

My old itinerary was "open jaw". My trip is in March. I am now flying round trip to and from Madrid. I won't or can't try changing my plane tickets again. If you want I can explain what happened further but it isn't directly relevant.

The summary of my itinerary is: My plane arrives in Madrid at 8:45am on a Sunday, then that same day I am taking a train (probably a train and not a bus, I haven't bought tickets yet) to Seville; (after Seville my second town is Granada, then Cordoba, then Madrid and probably a day trip to Toledo).

I am looking for train (probably all train, possibly bus) tickets to buy in advance. Should I buy my train ticket from Madrid to Seville, in advance, or should I try buying this ticket at the last minute after I arrive?

Posted by
452 posts

Your question is: "Should I buy my train ticket from Madrid to Seville, in advance, or should I try buying this ticket at the last minute after I arrive?"
And, the most straightforward answer to your question is to buy your rail ticket from Madrid to Sevilla in advance of your arrival in Madrid.
Happy landings, enjoy your visit.

Posted by
811 posts

The challenge with buying your train ticket from Madrid to Seville in advance is that your flight can be delayed, causing you to miss your train if you don’t leave enough time in between. Also keep in mind that you need to get from the airport to the train station (Atocha). You can go via a bus, or you can take the metro. But you will need a separate ticket for the train.

When I travelled from Madrid to Granada via train in 2019, I used an app called TheTrainline to purchase tickets. I had read that buying tickets in person at the Atocha station can be a real headache. Maybe this has changed with apps being so much easier. You can find lots of good info on trains in Spain on the site seat61.com. My experience with using the app to buy tickets was very easy.

I would definitely buy tickets for the other trains in advance using the app.

Posted by
20797 posts

The long-distance-ticket line (for the staffed counters) at Atocha Station was still a nightmare in 2019. But tickets can be purchased at the airport train station, so that's a good alternative if you decide to wait until after arrival to buy the ticket.

The need to weigh the uncertainty of flight arrival time (and Immigration clearance time) against the likely substantially higher cost of a day-of-arrival ticket is why I often suggest that travelers head just to Toledo or Cordoba on arrival day. Those cities are a lot closer to Madrid, so last-minute tickets are much less expensive than Seville tickets. In fact, train tickets to Toledo are the same price no matter when they are purchased, currently 13.90 euros one-way.

One other potential issue is that trains on the major Madrid-Cordoba-Seville line and on the spur line from Madrid to Toledo do occasionally sell out, so there's a bit of a risk that if you land at Madrid-Barajas without a pre-purchased train ticket, you may not be able to get on the next departing train. But if you pre-purchase your day-of-arrival ticket, you need to pay attention to the refundability/chageability options and fees, since missing the designated train will be possible.

Posted by
8064 posts

Consider staying overnight in Madrid after your arrival, then you can purchase that train ticket ahead of time for travel the next day and get the better price and don't have to stress about catching the train. Do you really want to sit in a train after a long flight? I know I don't enjoy this.

Posted by
3885 posts

My concern was already mentioned; what if your flight is delayed or the departure time is changed by the airline. Not to Spain, but for my March trip the airline changed the airport my flight departs from, then changed the departure time. There must be a reason, but I don’t understand the Sevilla to Granada then backtracking to Córdoba part.

I like the idea of going straight to Toledo. You could get your ticket to Sevilla in advance with less chance of the airline messing you over causing you to miss the train, since you’d be heading to Atocha station from Toledo.

Posted by
759 posts

I bought my plane tickets from American Airline, because I wrongly thought I should only buy plane tickets from a United States-based airline. I was originally going to travel in October, but I rescheduled my trip for March. Originally, I was going to take flights from Detroit to Seville. or Detroit to Granada. When I convinced the airline staff to let me change my travel dates, the trip with flights ending in Granada was not available anymore, the trip to Seville required changing planes in Madrid with less than 2 hours to change planes. I figure I am just as well off taking the train from Madrid to Seville than trying to get my passport stamped and switch planes in a hurry at the airport in Madrid. Maybe I was wrong. If I had bought plane tickets from Tap Portugal or another airline, I could have arrived by plane in Granada or Seville without first changing planes in Madrid. My reason for not going to Toledo right after arriving in Madrid is because the two former synagogues that are museums now, are closed on Mondays and/or Tuesdays, and I doubt whether I would arrive in time to see them on the Sunday I arrive.

If I take the bus from Seville to Granada, the bus will go far south of Cordoba, which won't seem like backtracking, and it should be cheaper than the train and not significantly longer. Unless I am wrong.

I am thinking of buying my first train ticket in advance. I don't want to find out at the last minute that I have to find a place to spend the night in Madrid and try changing my itinerary, at the last minute, because I can't buy a train ticket to Seville at the last minute on the day I arrive.

Posted by
5221 posts

Mike, you'll save money by buying these train tickets in advance. The Madrid-Seville train takes about 2.5 hours. Since your flight is scheduled to land so early in the day, I suggest that you choose a train arriving there in mid- to late afternoon. That will give you a time cushion in case there are delays in landing, immigration and customs, or getting from the airport to Atocha station. And if everything goes smoothly and you get to Atocha well ahead of the train departure, you can check your bag there and explore the neighborhood a little.

I see why your overall plan makes sense, and I think you'll have a great time. EDIT -- I see that Nick is giving you about the same advice.