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Every time I have visited Spain, I have found substantial changes in the Madrid train station such as locations of ticket windows, information desk, and even how you go about boarding trains.

Madrid City Guide

My general information page on Train Travel

Madrid Train Station
Barcelona Train Station
Sevilla Train Station
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Valencia Train Station

How to read a AVE Train Ticket


Rail Europe's rail map

Outside Links specific to train travel in Spain:

If you are looking for train schedules try clicking on RENFE ticket sales (sometimes, this link can be really slow and difficult)

Train Passes and prepaided train tickets can be bought at Eurail Pass: The best way to get around Europe

Currently (Oct. 2006), the Madrid Atocha Train Station is laid out more like an airport terminal than what one thinks of as an old- style train station. This very logical layout isn't overly confusing.

In Madrid there are two main train stations, the Atocha station just south of the center of Madrid (see Madrid orientation map) and a smaller station to the north, Chamartin.  The Atocha station is easily reached by the Metro via the Atocha RENFE Metro station (It's on line "1" also known as the "blue" line). As the newer, Atocha, station is the only one I used, the following information applies to it.

Photo Left - Art at the train station

The Atocha station is a modern facility. It has a large atrium with palm trees flanked by offices.  On one end of the atrium (upper floor) is the entrance to the train bays.
The Atocha atrium.
The information office (left) is not viewable in this photo.

The general layout of the train station's first floor. On my last visit (Oct. 2006) I did not recheck the placement of the "Cercanias" ticket office, so be warned--it may have been relocated.

Some, but not all, ticket agents at the Madrid train station speak English. At the information counter/s you should find an English speaking attendant. In the past the hours for staffing these information desks seemed to run from 9 AM to 2 PM.

Most of the signs in the Madrid Train Station are dual English/Spanish.

For long distance and regional trains, once you have your tickets you can check which platform (VIA) your train will be leaving from by using the long, gray, Arrivals and Departures board in the atrium.

The sign above reads, in English, "Train departures" "Boarding Lounge."
Long distance and regional train ticket holders will take the escalator-style ramps (located in the atrium on either side of the Arrivals and Departures board) up to the second floor and go through security before they are allowed to board. Boarding works just like at an airport.

Part of the magic of train travel in Europe is their high-speed rail system (AVE/Alaris). Currently there are only a few high-speed routes in Spain. One of them will get you from Madrid to Sevilla in just two and a half hours! The other one will take you from Madrid to Valencia in 3 and a half hours!

Special Note: Due to pickpockets on the Metro, when you are loaded down with luggage, it's best to hire a taxi to get to your hotel. More info on pickpockets of Spain can be found here (safe travel).
The train schedule I received for Cordoba and Malaga was in Spanish. Click here to view the train schedule as I received it written in Spanish .
Talgos - are the fastest trains and only stop at the major cities.
Rapidos - are the regular, daytime long-distance inter-regional trains.
Estrellas - are the nighttime version of Rapidos.
Cercanias - are the local commuter trains.
AVE - high-speed train from Madrid to Sevilla (2 hours 30 min.)
EUROMED - high-speed train from Barcelona to Valencia (2 hours 50 min.)
Arco - line between Barcelona and Valencia, stopping at main cities along the Mediterranean coast.
Alaris - high-speed line between Madrid and Valencia, making the journey in three and a half hours.

Maximum speed of a high speed train is 220 Km/hour.

Eurail Pass Tip:
Save some money by buying your pass before you go. Extra fees are applied in the EU.

AVE Booking Center
Rail Europe 
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Go To the Barcelona train station

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Atocha Station (Madrid):
Serves southern Spain.
Get there by:
Glorieta del Emperador Carlos V. Buses; 10, 19, 24, 26, 27, 32, 24, 37, 54, 57, 102, 112 and "Circular"; Atocha-Estación underground station.

Chamartin Train Station (Madrid):
Serves north and European destinations.

Get there by:
C/ Agustín de Foxá. Buses; 5 and 4, Chamartin Metro station


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This page last updated January 2007