If you’re heading from Madrid Barajas Airport (MAD) to Atocha Station and you’re wondering how to get from the airport to the the train station you are in luck because it’s one of the easiest methods of transportation I’ve come across yet.
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Before I go into my recommendation, there are other options. You can take a taxi, which will run you about €30 or you can look into booking private transfers (helpful if you’ve got a lot of luggage).
The cheapest option is to take the metro which costs about €2, but comes with the hassle of having to transfer to at at least one station to get to Atocha. I don’t want to completely discount the Metro as we didn’t use it to get to Atocha; however, I had a great experience with the route we took so I’m going to pump that option up here.
I believe the Línea Exprés Aeropuerto, which runs 24 hours and during peak times come around every 15 minutes, is the easiest option. This bus will only take a couple of stops on your way to Atocha Station but it’s a great option at only €5 per person. Just make sure that you have the cash on hand because the bus driver will only take cash (and I don’t think you can purchase tickets ahead of time online).
We landed at T4 and took the bus from there but I’m pretty positive it also stops at T1 and T2 but don’t remember it going to T3 so check ahead if you think you’ll be arriving at that terminal. A few sites reported that it would take about 40-45 minutes to get to Atocha Train Station but I recall it taking us about an hour to get there so plan accordingly. The ticker and routes maps inside the bus were a little confusing so when we made a couple of stops I wasn’t exactly sure where we were stopping at. However, when you finally do arrive at Atocha you will know you are there as the station is so large it’d be impossible to not know you were at Atocha.
The bus stop for the Exprés Aeropuerto will be on your right as you exit from T4. Just head to where the busses are and look for the yellow post pictured below. You really can’t miss the bus once it shows up. Also, the bus never got really packed when we boarded it going into the city or even coming back so hopefully that’s the norm and you won’t have to worry about any major crowds.
One last tip: don’t get confused when you are ready to head back to MAD airport. On the post at Atocha Station, the sign will say that Terminal 4 is only for arrivals. I’m not sure why that signs says that but you can definitely depart from Terminal 4 like we did. If for some reason you don’t have your ticket with you and you’re not 100% sure which terminal you will be departing from there is a list of all of the airlines and their corresponding terminals on the bus driver’s window, inside the bus. So just check that list out and you should be fine.
Finally, if you’re looking for an easy and convenient way to get around Madrid, then consider booking a hop-on-hop-off tour bus. Although it might seem too “touristy” to some people, it’s one of the easiest and cost-effective ways to get around Madrid, so I’d look into it.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC.