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Atocha Station in Madrid

Atocha Station, located just 10 minutes away from Prado Museum, is the main railroad station in Spain.

However, unfortunately, the station is famous worldwide for the terrifying attack occurred on 11th March, 2004 when nearly 200 people were killed. This attack (CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE) shocked the country and marked the history of this fantastic train station.

On the upper floor of the station there is a memorial to the victims (click here) of this despicable act.

Atocha Station Useful Information

The transformation of the Atocha Station

The station, opened in 1892, was designed by Alberto de Palacio who was pupil of Gustave Eiffel from whom he learnt to dominate iron structures.

With the passage of time Madrid was growing and the station increased dramatically its passengers. This situation forced the Government to expand existing facilities on numerous occasions.

Atocha Train Station in Madrid
Atocha Train Station in Madrid was built in the 19th century. Today it is the busiest train station in Spain | Image credits: OgoTours

The biggest transformation undergone by Atocha Station took place in 1992 with the advent of the high-speed train (AVE).

Between 1985 and 1992 the great architect Rafael Moneo designed a spectacular project: the old platforms were converted into a huge garden and a completely new station was built behind the old station.

And if this were not enough, Rafael Moneo linked the metro station with Atocha and designed a new commuter train station. With this transformation Atocha Station entered directly in the 21th century.

Where is located Atocha Station?

Atocha Station (high speed train station) is located at Plaza del Emperador Carlos V, which is very close to the historic center. A 5-minute walk from the Reina Sofia Museum or 15 minutes from the Prado Museum.

The station is also perfectly connected to the rest of the city by metro line 1, a multitude of urban bus lines, and 10 commuter train lines.

Buy train tickets at Atocha Station or online?

It’s certainly a great question.

Atocha Station has two offices for train ticket sales. One of them located in the Tropical Garden and the other one very close to the commuter train station.

When you arrive at the ticket office you will have to specify if you want a ticket for a train departing the same day or for a different day.

After that you will have to wait for your turn. Usually, the line is quite long, and you will have to wait 40 minutes – an hour to be served (depending if it is a weekend, high season, etc.).

Therefore, my recommendation is to always buy tickets online. Of course, the price if you buy online or at the ticket office is exactly the same. However, by buying your train ticket online, you won’t have to wait in line, you can compare prices of different trains, conditions, schedules, etc.

How to buy your train tickets online?

To buy train tickets online you have two options:

  1. Visit the operator’s website. In Spain the train service is liberalized, and several companies compete with each other (RENFE, OUIGO, IRYO, etc.). This method requires large doses of patience as you will have to navigate from one website to another to check prices and schedules.

  2. Our recommendation is to use the website omio. This website is very easy to use and allows you to compare prices among different operators, schedules, etc. You can even check bus fares. All in one website.

Atocha Station is divided into 5 areas

Boarding Area

This area is restricted only and exclusively for passengers with a train ticket for the same day. To access this area, you must pass through a security checkpoint where your luggage will pass through x-ray scanners.

It is not necessary to arrive too early to the boarding area. It is usually sufficient to arrive at the boarding lounge 25-30 minutes before the train departs.

About 15-20 minutes before the departure of your train, the platform to which you should go will appear on the screens.

The boarding area has all kinds of cafes, restaurants, and a Relay Store (newspapers, magazines, books).

Commercial Area

The commercial area of Atocha Station is located on the lower level of the station.

This area is home to a number of shops (newsstands, souvenirs shops, and clothing stores), cafes and restaurants.

The restaurants in the commercial area include fast food options, as well as sit-down restaurants.

Logically the price of restaurants is slightly higher than outside the train station. Keep in mind that rents at Atocha Station are very high and Adif (the public company that manages the train station) charges a percentage on the profits of each business.

Tropical Garden

The Atocha Station Tropical Garden is one of the most unique places in Madrid. This hidden gem (designed in 1992) is located on the former train station platforms, and is home to over 300 different species of plants from the Americas, Asia, and Australia.

This tropical garden is open to the public from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. and is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.

Access to this garden is free of charge.

In this part of the Atocha Station you will also find cafes, and restaurants (including Burger King).

The station’s left luggage and the ticket office are also in this part of the Train Station.

Atocha Train Station Madrid
The former platforms of Atocha Train Station were converted into a beautiful tropical garden | Image credits: OgoTours

Commuter Trains (Cercanías Trains)

Strictly speaking, Atocha Station integrates two stations in one.

On the one hand we have the station for long distance trains such as Barcelona, Seville, Cordoba, or Valencia.

On the other hand, we have the station for commuter trains. These trains connect towns near Madrid and neighborhoods far from the center of Madrid with the city center.

Madrid has an excellent network of commuter trains (370 km) that includes more than 90 stations. In total there are 10 Cercanías train lines and all of them depart from Atocha Station.

Atocha Commuter Train Station has a traffic of more than 80 million passengers per year. Adding this to the more than 20 million long distance passengers, this means that the annual traffic of Atocha Station exceeds 100 million passengers per year!!!

Metro Station

Finally, the Atocha Station also has its own metro station, which is very convenient as you can take the metro without having to leave the station.

Metro line 1 connects Atocha Station with the North of Madrid, including emblematic places of the city such as Puerta del Sol, Gran Via or Chamartin Train Station.

If you are carrying heavy luggage do not worry, the Atocha metro station is equipped with escalators and elevators.

Is Atocha Station safe?

Absolutely. We can almost say that Atocha Station is one of the safest and most guarded places in Spain.

You just have to take the basic precautions of any large tourist city, such as not place your belongings out of sight on the floor or not showing large amounts of cash.

The station is also equipped with security cameras and a lot of police officers. There are even numerous plainclothes policemen patrolling the station.

How to get to Atocha Station?

Atocha Station is perfectly connected to the historic center thanks to Madrid’s excellent public transport network, one of the best in Europe.

-Metro. Just take line 1 at Gran Via or Puerta del Sol and get off at the metro station “Atocha Renfe“.

The Madrid metro works really well and is very safe. Although sometimes there is petty purse snatching or pickpocketing, especially to tourists.

The operating hours of the Madrid metro are from 6AM to 1:30AM.

Price: 1.5€.
Travel time: 10-15 min.

-You can also take a Commuter train (lines C3, C3a, C4, C4a, C4b) from Puerta del Sol. Commuter trains in Spain are called Cercanías. Just follow the instructions at Puerta del Sol Station to find the platforms for the commuter trains. 

Commuter trains are even faster than the metro and takes only five minutes (or even less) to get to Atocha station.

The operating hours of the suburban train network in Madrid are from 5:30AM until approximately 12AM.
Price: 1.7€.

-If Commuter train is the fastest way, the most comfortable way is to take a cab or a transfer that take you from your hotel to Atocha station.

Travel time by cab or transfer from Madrid city center to Atocha Station is approximately 10-15 min depending on traffic.

The cab fare from the center of Madrid to Atocha is approximately 10€. You don’t really need to book the cab in advance. There are plenty of cabs available at any time in the center of Madrid. The available cabs have a green light. Just raise your hand to hail a cab.

If you prefer a more exclusive and comfortable service, you can book a transfer to pick you up at your hotel at a specific time. Among the many transfer services in Madrid, we recommend this one (click here), as it is very easy to book, and you can check the latest customer reviews.

Unlike most cab drivers, the drivers of this transfer service usually speak English.

-Our least favorite option is undoubtedly the urban bus. The bus is the slowest – and least comfortable – way as it makes many stops.

If you are in Puerta del Sol, you can take line 32 (Pavones) from Plaza Jacinto Benavente. Travel time 20 minutes / Price: 1,5€

If you are in Gran Via you can take line 001 to Atocha Station. This bus line, recently inaugurated by the local government to promote public transport, is totally free. Travel time: 20 – 25 minutes.

Another disadvantage of city buses in Madrid is that they are not designed for passengers with suitcases and luggage. So, the trip is very uncomfortable, and you will probably have to stand all the way.

-You can also walk from the historic center. From Puerta del Sol you have two options:

  • Paseo del Prado: This is the most interesting way as you will admire beautiful buildings and interesting places such as the Spanish Parliament, the fountain of Neptune (18th century) and the Prado Museum. You will arrive at Atocha Station in approximately 40 minutes.

  • Atocha Street: Near Puerta del Sol is Atocha Street, not a very nice street. However, it is the fastest way to get to Atocha Station from Puerta del Sol. Take Atocha street and you will reach the train station in about 30 minutes. The great advantage of this street is that it is downhill, which is very convenient if you have luggage 😅 😅.

Public transportation in Madrid works very well. If you want to go from Madrid airport to Atocha Station you have multiple options:

Commuter Train from Madrid Airport to Atocha Station

If you arrive at Madrid airport terminal 4 – the largest and most modern of the airport – you have two commuter train lines (C1 and C10) that connect Madrid airport with Atocha station.

The price of the commuter train (“Tren Cercanías” in Spanish) from Madrid airport to Atocha Station is 2,60€ and the travel time is approximately 30 minutes.

Don’t worry if you have a lot of luggage, these trains have space specially designed for passengers with suitcases.

Direct Bus from Madrid Airport to Atocha Station

If your plane arrives at terminal 1 or 2 you can take a special bus (Aeropuerto Express) that connects Madrid airport directly with the city center and ends its route at Atocha Station. This bus is easily identifiable by its yellow color.

This bus runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and its frequency is 15-20 minutes during the day (6AM – 11:30PM), and every 35 minutes during the night (11:30PM – 6AM).

These buses are also designed to travel with luggage.

The fare from the Airport to Atocha Station is 5€. You can pay by credit card. If you want to pay in cash, try to pay the exact amount as the bus drivers do not have change if you pay with large banknotes (50€ or 100€).

Travel time by bus from the airport to Atocha Station: 30-40 minutes depending on traffic.

By the way, this bus can also be taken at T4, not only at T1 and T2

Taking a taxi from Madrid Airport to Atocha Station

Although Madrid’s public transport system is excellent, sometimes taking a taxi is the most convenient option – especially if you’re carrying luggage.

Getting from Madrid Airport to Atocha Station by cab is a relatively straightforward journey and shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes in normal traffic conditions.

When you exit the arrivals hall at Madrid Airport, you’ll see a line of waiting cabs. Give your destination to the first driver in the line.

The official fare from Madrid Airport to Atocha Station is 30€. If the cab driver tries to charge you more than 30€, he is trying to rip you off. Unfortunately, some cab drivers (NOT ALL) at the airport try to overcharge tourists. You can either pay by cash or card – most taxis in Madrid now accept payment by card.

Private Transfer from Madrid Airport to Atocha Station

Finally, you can also book a private transfer. This is undoubtedly the most comfortable and exclusive option.

The driver will be waiting for you at the arrival’s terminal holding a sign with your name on it. Once you meet the driver, he will help you with your luggage. 

These private transfers are usually very comfortable and spacious cars. In addition, the drivers speak a little English, enough to communicate with the clients.

Another positive point is that you pay in advance, so you don’t have to argue about the price as sometimes happens with some cab drivers.

Should I book the transfer service online?

You should always book online your transfer service from the airport to Atocha Station, since at the airport the only service available are cabs.

Undoubtedly booking your transfer service online has great advantages.

When booking online, you can choose the type of vehicle you want, and you can also check the reputation of the transfer company.

The price of a private transfer service from the airport to Atocha Station is approximately 40€ (up to 4 people).

There are many transfer services in Madrid. Our favorite, if you want to take a look, is this one (CLICK HERE). It is easy and very intuitive to use and is available in many languages.

Madrid has two main train stations: Atocha (South) and Chamartín (North). The distance between them is approximately 10 kilometers.

Traditionally, Atocha served the south of Spain, including cities such as Seville, Cordoba, or Malaga, while Chamartín served the north of the country (Castilla Leon, Barcelona, or the Basque Country).

However, it now depends on the type of train (high speed or standard trains) rather than the destination. That is why it is very important that you double check your tickets to be sure from which station your train departs.

Atocha and Chamartín train stations are perfectly connected by public transportation:

  • Commuter Trains (Tren de Cercanías in Spanish). This is the fastest and easiest way. The lines C1, C2, C3, C4 and C10 connect Atocha and Chamartín. These trains are actually much more comfortable and modern than the subway and have ample space for luggage. Travel time is approximately 20 minutes, and the price is 1.70€.

  • Subway (Metro). The subway is another good option, but the travel time is much longer (40-50 min). Also, at rush hour the subway is usually crowded. Price: 2€

  • Of course, you can also take a cab, which will take approximately 20-25 minutes depending on traffic. Price: 15-20€. You will have no problem finding a cab in Atocha Station. Usually there is a huge line of cabs waiting for travelers.

Frequently asked questions about Atocha Station in Madrid

Does Atocha Station have a place to store luggage?

Atocha Station has a special area to leave your luggage, which is located in the Tropical Garden.

For security reasons, to access the luggage room, you will first have to pass your luggage through a scanner.

The price of the luggage room depends on the size of your luggage. But prices range from 3€ to 5€.

Atocha Station Left-luggage Office hours:

Mon-Sun from 5:30 a.m. to 10:20 p.m.

Another option is “Lock and Be Free“. This company offers locker services in different parts of Madrid. Fortunately, they have a locker very close to Atocha Station, just 5 minutes walking from the station.

Price: from 5€ per day

We recommend booking online www.lockandbefree.com (webiste available in English).

Is there parking available at Atocha Station?

Of course. In fact, you have several options.

In the center of Madrid it is really difficult (almost impossible) to find a place to park. For this reason, the construction of underground car parks has become a booming business in the Spanish capital.

If you need to park your car to catch a train at Atocha Station, our recommendations are:

-Saba Adif

It is the official parking of the train station. The price is approximately 4€ per hour.

If you book on the weekend (Friday to Monday) they have a special price (Saba Weekend), whose price is 65€.

You can try to book online, but the website is horrible and is not translated into English.

-Aparcandgo

This parking is located 300 meters from Atocha station.

Price: the first day the price is 18€. However, they have flexible rates and the longer the stay of the vehicle, the cheaper the price per day.

***IMPORTANT*** We recommend booking online. Do not worry because the website is very intuitive and is translated into English. 

Undoubtedly, this parking is a great option to park your car.

-Hiomarsa

This parking is a bit more expensive than Aparcandgo (22€ per day), and it is also located 5 minutes walking distance from Atocha station.

Discounts apply after the third day.

When is Atocha Station open?

Atocha Station is open daily from 05:00 a.m. to 01:00 p.m., however individual stores, restaurants, cafes, etc., and holiday hours may vary.

Station cafes are usually open from approximately 6:30 a.m. and close at 10 p.m.

Atocha Station Customer service hours: every day from 06:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

What accommodations are made for visitors with disabilities at Atocha Station?

As a public transportation facility, Atocha Station is is fully adapted for travelers with disabilities.

-Wheelchair ramps: There are ramps and elevators throughout the station to provide access to all areas for individuals using wheelchairs or mobility devices.

-Accessible restrooms: There are accessible restrooms available for use by travelers with disabilities.

-Assistance for passengers with mobility impairments: There is staff available to assist passengers with mobility impairments with boarding and disembarking trains.

-Audio and visual information: There are audio and visual displays throughout the station providing information about trains, destinations, and other important information for travelers.

-Service animals: Service animals are allowed in the station and on trains.

How to request the assistance service for people with reduced mobility?

When you purchase your ticket, either at the ticket office or online, you must specify that you need assistance service.  You can also call the telephone number (+91 214 05 05.) to request the assistance service.

Are there public restrooms in Atocha Station?

Yes. There are public restrooms at Atocha Station. But you must pay 1 euro for access (payment by credit card is allowed). However, these are not just any public restrooms. We could say that they are PREMIUM public restrooms. 😆😆

The toilets are extremely clean, it smells good, there is piped music and there is always toilet paper 😅. Employees take care every minute that the facilities are in perfect condition.

This service came to solve a problem at Atocha Station decades ago. In the old free public restrooms the hygiene was terrible. They were always very dirty, there were peeping toms, huge queues, etc. It was even sometimes a dangerous place, especially for women.

***IMPORTANT*** Once you enter the boarding lounge, the toilet is free and perfectly clean. Inside the trains the toilet is also free of charge.

Are pets allowed at Atocha Station?

Dogs and cats are allowed in the building if they are on a leash. If you go to a restaurant or cafeteria inside Atocha Station your pet must be kept in a pet carrier.

Regarding traveling by train with your pet, you must buy a special ticket and it must always be in its carrier during the trip. In any case, we recommend you checking the policy of each train company before purchasing your tickets.

Are bikes allowed in the building?

You can access the building with your bicycle or electric scooter, but you can’t ride them.

Nearest Bus Station to Atocha

The closest bus station to Atocha is Mendez Alvaro Station (1,5 kilometer distance, or 1 mile). This bus station, the most important in Spain, serves more than 1,500 destinations throughout Spain. Also, from Mendez Alvaro there are buses to many European cities, even to North Africa. 

The combination of Atocha (more than 20 million passengers per year!!) and Mendez Alvaro bus station (more than 10 million passengers per year) makes this part of Madrid a real passenger hub.

From Atocha you can walk to Mendez Alvaro station, it will take you about 15 – 20 minutes.

The fastest option is to take a commuter train (Cercanías) from Atocha station. Just take line C1, C5 or C10. It will take you 5 minutes to get there. Once at the Mendez Alvaro Cercanías station you only have to walk 5 minutes to the bus station. Price: 1,70€

You can always take a cab from Atocha to the bus station. It takes about 5-7 minutes, and the price is approximately 5€ – 10€.

You can go by metro, but it is not really convenient as you will have to change lines and it will take about 20 minutes.

Atocha station madrid
Mendez Alvaro is the nearest bus station to Atocha Station. Both stations are perfectly connected by public transportation | Image credits: Luis García (Zaqarbal) | Wikipedia License C.C.

What to visit near Atocha Station?

Atocha Station is located right in the center of Madrid, so there are many interesting places to visit nearby.

Reina Sofía Museum (300 meters)

The Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid is a must-see for art lovers. It houses an impressive collection of modern and contemporary art, including works by Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró, Juan Gris, and many more.

Don’t miss “El Guernica” (Pablo Picasso), one of the most emblematic paintings of the 20th century.

The museum also features a library, auditorium, and temporary exhibitions. With its stunning architecture, beautiful galleries, and inspiring works of art, the Reina Sofia Museum is a must-visit for anyone looking to soak up the culture of Madrid.

Ministry of Agriculture Building (100 meters)

The Ministry of Agriculture building, erected in the 19th century, is renowned for its imposing façade.

The building is crowned by three impressive bronze sculptures of the Glory and the Pegasus.

On weekends the building is open to the public, and there are guided tours.

Atocha station Madrid
Ministry of Agriculture | Image credit: M.Peinado (Wikipedia / License C.C.)

Retiro Park (600 meters)

Retiro Park (125 hectares) in Madrid is one of the city’s most popular attractions, and for good reason. This stunning park condenses nature and culture. A vibrant and peaceful oasis in the bustling Spanish capital.

There are numerous fountains, and sculptures scattered throughout the park, making it a perfect place to relax and unwind.

Retiro park is also home to a wide variety of attractions, from the beautiful Palacio de Cristal to the tranquil lake.

Stroll through the park’s gardens, take a boat ride on the lake, or simply sit back and relax in one of the park’s numerous cafes. No matter what you choose to do, Retiro Park is sure to provide an unforgettable experience in Madrid.

Prado Museum (900 meters)

The Prado Museum (19th century) is one of the most famous and amazing art museums in the world (over three million visitors each year)

The collection spans from the 12th century to the early 19th century and includes masterpieces from Velázquez, Goya, Titian, El Greco, Rubens and many others. In total Prado Museum contains over 5,000 works of art.

If there is a painting that you cannot miss, this is undoubtedly “Las Meninas”, the most emblematic work of Diego de Velazquez (17th century)

Atocha Bombings Memorial

On March 11, 2004 the city of Madrid experienced one of the saddest days in its history. A series of coordinated terrorist bombings targeted Madrid’s commuter train system, killing 193 people and wounding 1,800 others.

The explosions, which were caused by 10 backpacks filled with explosives, and detonated by cell phones, occurred on four separate trains at rush hour as they arrived at Atocha Station.

Two additional unexploded bombs were later discovered. The attacks were carried out by a group of Islamic terrorists affiliated with al-Qaeda and they were aimed at Spain’s pro-American government.

This attack was the deadliest terrorist attack in European history at the time.

Memorial to victims

The Atocha bombing memorial stands a tribute to the victims of this horrible terrorist attack. The memorial, inaugurated in 2007, consists of a cylindrical structure built with glass bricks (11 meters high).

Inside there is a large open-plan room, on the walls of which are engraved the names of the victims and messages of condolence in several languages.

Atocha Memorial Opening Hours:

-Monday closed

-Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

-Free entrance

If you are interested, in the Retiro Park, very close to the Atocha Station, you can visit the Forest of Remembrance. An area with 193 trees, one for each victim of the attack.

About Javier

Hola! My name is Javier Redondo, tour guide in Madrid for more than 8 years.
As a good "Madrileño", I love football (I support Atlético de Madrid), eating tapas and walk the cobblestone streets of old Madrid 🙂

This Madrid blog is where I share tips on popular attractions, local food and off-beat spots.

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