Madrid Atocha/Puerta De Atocha

Madrid, (Spain)

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About the station

Madrid Atocha station can be a bewildering space to navigate if you are a first time user - hence this guide to what to look out for when arriving and departing from here by train.

Though irrespective of an interest in modern architecture, it's undeniable that Madrid's primary train station has the power to make an impression, particularly when arriving on a high speed train.

It is the scale of the Puerta de Atocha high speed station that has earned it a place on our list of Awe Inspiring Stations - and yes the indoor garden/jungle also can't fail to impress.

It's a huge building, but the trick to understanding how Madrid Atocha functions, is to set aside assumptions of how you would normally use a railway station - hence the detailed, but useful info.


Six Things Worth Knowing About Atocha Station:

(1) The signage within the station
 is comparatively easy to follow and is bi-lingual- so you can trust it to navigate your way through the vast complex.

(2) Madrid Atocha in effect three stations in one building:
(i) the main terminal, known as Puerta De Atocha - the part of the station used by the high speed trains.
(ii) the Cercanias station used by the local trains (the Cercanias trains), the Media-Distancia trains - AND the non-high speed long distance trains.
(iii) the Metro station.

(3) Atocha is also operated similarly to an airport - as arriving and departing passengers are largely kept apart.
Salidas = departures
Llegadas = arrivals

So the experience of using the station is very different if you are departing by long distance train - compared to arriving by train.

(4) Madrid Atocha is also on four levels:

Planta/Level 2:
This is the top level - it is the location of the main taxi rank.
It is located above the Cercanias station - which is to the side of the main high speed terminal.


Planta/Level 1:
This is at street level.
The main ENTRANCES into the departure hall, the 'sala de embarque' -  which provides the access to the high speed train services, are at this level.

This departure hall resembles an airport terminal for domestic flights.
It houses food/drink outlets - and has banks of seating in which you can wait for the details of your departure to be confirmed.

You can only access the vias (platforms/tracks) which the AVE, Alvia and Avant trains depart from, by passing through this departure lounge.
Though be aware that this departure hall now occupies two levels - once you have entered on level 1, you may be directed to head down to level 0 in order to wait for your train.


Planta/Level 0:
On this level you will find:
(1) The entrance to the Metro station.
(2) The concourse for the Cercanias part of the station.
The ticket machines/offices for the Cercanias trains are located here.
This Cercanias concourse also houses a departure gate for the small number of long distance 'larga-distancia' trains, which also leave from this part of the station.

(3) The main ticket office, the 'venta de billetes' - it's by the indoor garden.
(4) Most of the shops at the station.
Though the main retail area is more akin to an indoor market, rather than the malls, which can be found at some other large European stations.


Planta/Level -1:
This lowest level is where the vias (platforms/tracks) in the Cercanias station are located.

(5) You can move between the multiple levels by escalator - at Atocha the lifts are only available to those that require mobility assistance.

(6) What can make the geography of the Atocha station easier to comprehend is that the main terminal sits in a valley.
Meaning that level 0 isn't at street level - it's the exits on levels 1 and 2 which give access to the streets surrounding the station.


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Useful links

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Departing By AVE, Alvia and AvantTrains

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Accessing the AVE train departure lounge

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Buying Tickets for the AVE trains

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Departing by Other Express Trains

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Arriving at Atocha station by Larga-Distancia express train

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Accessing the City Centre and Tourist Sites from Atocha Station

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Connecting to Chamartin Station From Atocha Station By Train

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From Atocha to Barajas Airport By Train

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Convenient Hotels/Hostels

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