Taking an AVE train at Madrid Atocha after arriving on the Cercanias

Setting off from somewhere on the Madrid Cercanias network and want to connect to a long-haul or AVE train at Madrid Atocha? This article walks you through the connection from Cercanias to AVE at the train station.

If you’re doing the reverse and arriving on the AVE into Atocha but want to take the Cercanias onwards, here are a couple of other guides we’ve done:

First, do you need to buy a Cercanias ticket to get to Madrid Atocha?

As you’re planning to catch an AVE train, it’s worth noting that AVE and other long-distance trains from Madrid Atocha include a free Cercanias connection. This means that you can use your AVE train ticket to collect a free Cercanias ticket. To find out how, see our post on Free Cercanias connections.

Arriving on the Cercanias at Madrid Atocha

All the Cercanias trains at Madrid Atocha arrive into the same huge underground station. So this is where you’ll arrive at the station. It’s really well designed because you can quickly connect between platforms and even see the trains arriving and departing from the other platforms.

Cercanias platforms | Taking an AVE train at Madrid Atocha | Connections | Madrid-Atocha.com

A view overlooking Madrid Atocha’s Cercanias platforms

Take the escalators up to Salida and out of the Cercanias area

After leaving the platform, take the escalators up and follow the signs to Salida (Exit). You’ll end up at the electronic gates where you’ll need to use your Cercanias ticket. Remember that these tickets have magnetic stripes, which are very sensitive to losing the data on them. So do make sure you keep them well away from your phone, charger etc. You can see more on this in our post on Cercanias tickets. If your ticket doesn’t work, it’s most likely that it’s got too close to something electronic. The gate will have the message ‘Billete Defectuoso’, which means defective ticket. And if this is the case, there is a glass Renfe ticket desk in the centre of the gates. Go there with your ticket and a member of staff will be able to let you out.

Cercanias exit gates | Taking an AVE train at Madrid Atocha | Connections | Madrid-Atocha.com

The exit gates from Cercanias at Madrid Atocha

You are now on the bottom level of Madrid Atocha. Since you’re connecting to an AVE train you’ll need to check the status on the screens in the departures area. These are easy to spot.

Departures board | Taking an AVE train at Madrid Atocha | Connections | Madrid-Atocha.com

Long-haul train departures board, Madrid Atocha

Train departures: Planta Baja or Planta Primera?

The AVE & long-haul services depart from two different floors: Planta Baja and Planta Primera. On the departures board, check which floor your train leaves from (it’s under the column for Observaciones). Despite there being two floors, really, all the trains depart from the same tracks. What’s happening is that Planta Primera (First-Floor) passengers clear security upstairs before coming down onto the platforms via an escalator. Planta Baja (Ground Floor) departures clear security and then walk out, at boarding time, onto the platforms.

Planta Baja Departures

Ground Floor departures | Taking an AVE train at Madrid Atocha | Connections | Madrid-Atocha.com

Ground Floor departures entrance. Madrid Atocha Station.

When you’ve come through the automated gates, turn left and walk the left-most wall of the Cercanias area before heading into the station. Keep left and follow the signs to “Salidas Planta Baja” which is about 200 metres away on the left. You’ll enter a shopping mall and the entrance to departures is on the left.

Planta Primera Departures

There are escalators almost directly in front of the Cercanias exit gates. Go up these and bear left. You’ll see Salidas Primera Planta ahead of you to the left of the escalators.

Exit gates from Cercanias | Taking an AVE train at Madrid Atocha | Connections | Madrid-Atocha.com

Exit gates from Cercanias. The escalators are straight ahead.

Cercanias gates | Taking an AVE train at Madrid Atocha | Connections | Madrid-Atocha.com

Cercanias gates seen from the escalators going up to First Floor depatures.

Got some time to kill before your AVE train?

Embarcadero | Taking an AVE train at Madrid Atocha | Connections | Madrid-Atocha.com

The Embarcadero: a tropical garden inside the station!

Depending on your schedule, you may have some time on your hands. You can check out the station’s Shopping and Eating & Drinking options here on our website.

If you just want some peace and quiet, check out the Embarcadero area of the station. It’s the historic predecessor to the current station. And it now houses a tropical garden (complete with terrapins!) and some excellent options for chilling, away from the hubris of the station.

Enjoy your time here.