Madrid Airport to Atocha - how much time to allow

Hi All, The reply I read on this was quite old, so I'm asking for an . I've read there is a bus from Madrid Airport to Atocha where I can catch the train to Malaga. My concern is buying a train ticket in advance and missing my departure. Question: how much time do I allow for customs (I arrive at 7:40 am April 9th), and then getting to the bus and to the train station? Is two hours reasonalbe (one hour customs, one hour transit)? The bus seems most direct. I read the metro is an option, but requires transfering twice. Still true? And then there's a taxi. Best, Ramona

Posted by Jeff
Bend, OR, United States
1159 posts

All of the current information is here: This is the easiest way. If you have an intermediate stop in Europe you will go through Immigration there. If you are able to check your bags through to Madrid you will be the same as a domestic passenger and will not have to go through customs or immigration in Madrid.

Posted by DH
San Antonio, TX, USA
67 posts

Ramona, This is info from October '12. There is a light rail system in Madrid named Cercanias. It is separate and apart from the Madrid metro. It is relatively new and under used. The leg to the airport is new enough that is does not apear on my little 4.5"x7.5" Michelin Madrid 150 page street atlas. Most maps of Madrid show terminal T4 being served by Metro line 8 and do not show the Cercanias line at all. Google CERCANIAS MADRID and you will see line C1 connecting the airport and Atocha Station without a train change. So with its newness it should be nearly empty. We drove to the airport from south of the city centr to return our rent car and took the light rail back to Atocha. Very, very pleasant. As the light rail is under utilized you should get plenty of help at the airport. The connection in on the ground floor level of Terminal 4. I would estimate transit time to be 15-20 minutes. I do not know wait time to catch c-1 - maybe it's on line

Posted by DH
San Antonio, TX, USA
67 posts

Ramona - I was so in love with Cernacias Light Rail that I forgot to address your other question. Getting through Barajas airport in Madrid: Well it is colossal, lavish, and impractical airport. There is a devilish system of having you to go up and down, changing floors to clear customs and immigration. When a dear friend and international business man of some 50 years told it was the worst modern airport in his experiences I thought he was joking. No it's just plain stupid. So when we arrived we had the airport layout to deal with, and we had luggage claim problems. Our luggage and ourselves came in Iberia Airlines. But TA-DA the two bags arrived on two separate luggage claim areas - not even physically close. So where I am going with all this - I would arrive in Madrid between 7 & 8 am and plan a noon train out of Malaga. This will give you time to deal with any disasters at the airport and then to have lunch and adjustment to Spain, etc. I am very familiar with Spanish but communicating in Madrid was more difficult than I had expected. There will be less English spoken than you may be used to in France, Germany, etc. Plan for things to a little more time. And FYI the Spanish do NOT excel at putting signs on things. Be prepared for getting a little lost from time to time. DH

Posted by Sasha
Bainbridge Island
1954 posts

Your train choices are 9:35, 11:35, 12:35, or later. No way can you count on making that 9:35 train. You need to allow extra time before boarding an AVe train for security. And what if your plane is late? Besides, it can take 20 minutes after landing before you are off the plane. Impersonally would pick the 12:35, and if that allowed extra time I'd have lunch or go for a walk.

Posted by Ramona
San Rafael, California, USA
4 posts

Thanks All, I spoke with an airline representative who said 'allow 3 to 4 hours in Madrid to clear customs and immigration'. Thanks a lot! This has changed my mind about trying to 'save time' by taking a train to Malaga. I have a connecting flight and I might as well keep it. Thanks fellow travels, Ramona Rey

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
8336 posts

Three to for hours to get out of the airport?? When I arrived there last May, it took maybe 20 minutes to get my checked bag, a quick stop at passport control, and I was out the door (maybe 45 min all together). You could also take the Aero City Van service. It's direct and costs €20 or so - more than the bus but less than a taxi. The ride from the airport to Atocha is just about 30 minutes.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
12687 posts

I agree with Nancy. He either doesn't know anything or misunderstood the question. Even returning to the US which has always taken much more time to clear immigrations and custom than anywhere else in Europe, does not need three to four hours. Thirty minutes would be tops and often much less. Our last trip to Madrid two years ago was five minutes in line to see the immigration officer, quick stamp, thank you,a straight walk by the nothing to door and into the airport lobby. The only possible hang up could be a line at immigrations if several planes landed at the same time but that would be measured in minutes, not hours.