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Travel from Madrid airport to train station

We arrive in Madrid at 6:10 am on a Thursday morning and will be heading to the train station for travel to Zaragoza. How much time should we give ourselves? We'll be buying our train tickets soon.
Thank you!

Posted by
7516 posts

This is an age old question on this forum, for just about every arrival city. It comes down to how well you tolerate risk and what "plan B" can you develop.

The problem is that there are too many variables to account for, meaning you will likely either miss your train, or be sitting for hours at a train station waiting in your jet lagged haze for the train you booked. These include delays in arrival of your plane, delays in going through immigration, what terminal you arrive at, delays in getting to the station, getting lost,

For Zaragoza, you will need to get to Madrid Atocha station (There is more than one train station), it take most of an hour to get there by bus, train, or metro. I usually arrive at terminal 3, on a good day, just walking off the plane to the metro station takes a good 30 minutes, immigration? maybe 30 minutes, maybe an hour.

Since I know where I am going, I can probably make it there in 2 hours from landing, maybe less, maybe more.

You also need to allow a little time at the station, to get to the high speed trains, you must go through a quick, but none the less line waiting security check.

So, would 3 hours be safe?

You may consider reducing any worry and stress by either waiting until you arrive to purchase tickets (via app) or purchase the Premium class ticket that allows you to change your departure, in case you are early, or so late you miss your train.

Posted by
6514 posts

Not the norm, but it took me 1.5 hours to clear immigration last September. Also take into consideration if your plane is late arriving. We always take the metro into the city and that takes 45-50 minutes.

Posted by
7258 posts

We were just in Madrid. We were going a distance longer than the airport to Atocha Station, and we just did an Uber. We used several Ubers while in Spain. We flew out of Madrid instead of arrived in Madrid, so I can’t give you an approximate amount of time.

Posted by
27063 posts

One factor not yet mentioned is that the express trains on the Madrid-Zaragoza-Barcelona line do sometimes sell out. You can't hop on and stand because seat reservations are mandatory. I have sometimes seen many fast trains on the same day sold out when I've checked renfe.com for schedules between Barcelona-Zaragoza-Madrid-Cordoba-Seville. I'm sure some days are worse than others (probably around holidays, maybe times when business traffic is high, etc.), but when it happens, there would be a problem switching to a different train even if you had a flexible ticket. I'd try hard to make a reasonable selection on that initial purchase to minimize the risk of needing to change and finding no seats available for hours.

Posted by
255 posts

Take the train from terminal 4 to Atocha station. On a Thursday morning, inbound Madrid traffic will be horrendous and it will take at least twice as long by car. Taxis from the airport to Madrid are a flat rate of 30 euros making them less expense than Uber in this instance. Regardless, traffic will make the journey longer than by train.

Do consider using Iryo train lines instead of Renfe for your Madrid-Zaragoza route. Their pricing is often less and their cancellation/refund policy much more generous. Depending on class of service, up to 95% refund for cancellation just minutes prior to departure.

Posted by
1405 posts

Allow two hours to go through passport control and collect your luggage after arriving at Madrid Barajas Airport. Then one hour to get to Madrid Atocha train station on any of the “Cercanias” commuter trains departing from the train station underneath Terminal 4. Look for signs saying “Aeropuerto T4.” There are shuttle buses linking the other Airport terminals to Terminal 4. The trains depart every 15 minutes and the train journey takes 31 minutes. (This will be much faster than a taxi mid-morning on a weekday). For Madrid’s Atocha train station, allow a generous 30 minutes to make your way to the luggage security checkpoint for high-speed trains departing from Madrid Atocha. This is only a screening of your luggage and takes just a few minutes.
Iryo has train 🚂 tickets on sale now for departures through December 14, so you can buy tickets at www.Iryo.eu. You can see Renfe and Ouigo Espana ticket prices, schedules and availability at www.TheTrainline.com