Serving more than 50 million passengers every year, Madrid-Barajas International Airport is Spain's busiest national and international travel hub. With four passenger terminals served by dozens of airlines, the spacious, modern facility is the single most important gateway between Spain and the rest of the world.
The sheer size of the Madrid Airport can make it overwhelming, though, especially for first-time visitors. This guide will break down everything you need to know, so your trip can go off without a hitch—and so you can spend less time at the airport and more time enjoying Spain.
Madrid Airport Code, Location, and Contact Information
Know Before You Go
Madrid Airport is large and busy, but generally efficient and easy to navigate overall. It has four passenger terminals, one of which (T3) is currently not in use as of June 2019. Terminals T1, T2, and T3 are all located in the same building, but T4 (and its satellite terminal, T4S) is separate. A free shuttle bus connects the four main terminals and runs every five minutes during the day.
- Terminal T1
- Departures: first floor (in Europe, the "first floor" usually refers to the first story above ground level)
- Arrivals: ground floor
- Terminal T2
- Departures: second floor
- Arrivals: ground floor
- Terminal T4
- Departures: second floor
- Arrivals: ground floor
- Terminal T4S: If your flight departs from or arrives at T4's satellite terminal, you will check in at (or pick up your bags from) the main T4 building. T4S is only accessible via a remote-controlled train called the Automatic People Mover (APM).
Madrid Airport Parking
Madrid Airport has more than a dozen different parking options available, each at a different price point depending on the location and services offered. Short- and long-term parking are available at all terminals, as are VIP options with valet services. Most parking spaces are housed in multi-story garages, but some outdoor parking lots are also available (in which most spaces are covered). All parking options can be booked in advance online.
Driving between the airport and the city center will take about 20 to 30 minutes on the M40 freeway. Keep in mind that traffic in Madrid can be pretty heavy at any time of day, so give yourself a little extra time if you plan on driving to or from the airport.
Public Transportation & Taxis
If you don't have access to a car, no worries—getting to and from the airport is a breeze on public transportation.
- Airport Express Bus: Connects the airport to Madrid's Atocha train station via Plaza de Cibeles. The total journey time takes between 30 and 40 minutes on average. Luggage racks are available. Tickets cost 5 euros and can only be purchased on the bus.
- Cercanías (Commuter Train): Line C1 travels between Atocha train station and Terminal T4 (no other terminals, although you can always stop at T4 and take the free shuttle to your terminal) in under 30 minutes. Tickets cost €2.60 for a single journey and €5.20 for a return trip, and can be purchased from the machines inside any cercanías station. The trip is free for passengers who have a long-distance (AVE) train ticket.
- Metro: Line 8 connects the airport to the Nuevos Ministerios station in Madrid proper. A general metro ticket, which can be purchased from the machines at the station, costs between €1.50 and 2 euros depending on the distance, but all airport trips also include a 3-euro supplement.
- Taxis: All terminals have clearly marked taxi stops outside. Official Madrid taxis are white with a red diagonal stripe on the door.
Where to Eat & Drink
Madrid's airport is home to dozens of drinking and dining options. Whether you're looking for a relaxed, sit-down experience or just want to grab and go, here are a few top choices.
- La Bellota: Unfortunately, many countries will confiscate your Spanish acorn-fed Iberian cured ham once you arrive. Get your fix before you leave at this classy joint with a menu focused entirely around Spain's prized pork products. (Terminal T4, departures, second floor, public zone)
- Kirei by Kabuki: An offshoot of the renowned Kabuki group (three of their five restaurants are Michelin-starred), this upmarket Japanese-Mediterranean fusion spot is famous for their show cooking and made-to-order sushi. (Terminal T1, departures, first floor, boarding area B)
- MasQMenos: A trendy beer and tapas joint with an excellent selection of Spanish wines to boot, this place offers a relaxed, friendly atmosphere that still feels posh and polished. (Terminal T4, departures, first floor, boarding area J)
- Farine: Traditional French bakeries meet modern Spanish fare at this cute cafe, which serves up everything from delectable pastries to healthy, colorful salads. (Terminal T2, arrivals, ground floor, public zone)
- Mahou Sports Bar: The perfect spot to indulge in one of life's simplest pleasures as you wait for your flight: tapas and beer while watching sports on the big screen. (Terminal T2, departures, second floor, public zone)
Where to Shop
In addition to your standard duty-free shops, Madrid's airport offers a wealth of other options, from high-end luxury brands to quirky souvenir outlets. Here are a few standouts.
- Official Real Madrid Team Store: Pick up a memento for the soccer fan in your life at this one-stop shop for all things Real Madrid. (Terminal T4, departures, first floor, boarding area J)
- Thinking Madrid: A colorful assortment of souvenirs from Spain's capital, ranging from books to food to artwork and more. (Terminal T1, departures, first floor, boarding area C)
- Relay: Nothing is worse than boarding your flight and realizing you don't have any reading material, or that you forgot your headphones. Stock up on entertainment essentials here before you go. (Terminal T2, departures, second floor, public zone)
- Dodo: Beautiful yet practical jewelry for men and women alike. Each piece contains a single gram of gold. (Terminal T4, departures, first floor, boarding area J)
- Adolfo Dominguez: The Spanish fashion designer's eponymous brand has been associated with class and style for more than 30 years. (Terminal T2, departures, first floor, boarding area D)
The Madrid airport offers six different lounges spread out across all passenger terminals, including the satellite terminal T4S. Many, but not all, require passengers to be in possession of a boarding pass for a flight departing from that terminal in order to access the lounge.
The airport's online lounge reservation service is currently unavailable, but passes can be purchased at each lounge's reception the day of if space allows.
Wifi & Charging Stations
Free wifi is available throughout the airport on the network "AIRPORT FREE WIFI AENA." However, it can run a bit slowly at times. Many airport restaurants and cafes, such as Starbucks, offer their own public networks, which tend to work better.
The only designated charging stations are available in Terminal T4, but power outlets are available throughout the airport, including in cafes and restaurants.
Madrid Airport Tips & Facts
- The airport was Spain's first and is the second-largest in Europe in terms of size, behind Paris's Charles de Gaulle.
- Terminal T4, which opened in 2006, doubled the airport's passenger capacity. Its signature design is courtesy of a team of architects commandeered by Antonio Lamela.
- If you want to relax or grab a shower during your layover, the Air Rooms service in Terminal T4 offers nearly two dozen clean, contemporary rooms available to rent for up to six hours during the day. Overnight stays are also available.