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Madrid Airport: Everything You Need to Know

Madrid Airport: Everything You Need to Know

Madrid Airport, officially called Madrid Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport (code: MAD), is the main airport in Madrid.

Whether you are flying from inside the Schengen Zone, from the UK, or from further afield like the USA and Canada, it’s relatively easy to find direct flights to Madrid Airport.

It is the only international airport in Madrid, so if you are flying to Madrid, this is the only place that you are going to land. 

Terminals in Madrid Airport

There are four Terminals in the Madrid Barajas International Airport, however, Terminals 1, 2, and 3 are all inside the same building. Terminal 4 is broken into two parts, Terminal 4 and Terminal 4a, they are both inside the same building.

These are not always the case, but they are the general rule of each terminal. Always check your ticket information to be 100% sure of which terminal you are flying into or out of.

  • Terminal 1: This terminal is mostly for international flights to the Middle East and Asia.
  • Terminals 2 and 3: They are essentially the same terminal and tend to serve Schengen Zone, domestic flights, and other European destinations.
  • Terminal 4: Opened in 2006, this is the newest terminal in the Madrid Airport and it services flights to North and South America as well as other international and domestic flights.

Airlines in Terminals 1-3

Aegean Airlines, Aerolíneas Argentinas, Air Arabia, Air Canada, Air China, Air France, Air India, Air Malta, Air Serbia, Air Transat, Alitalia, Almasria Universal Airlines, Blue Air, Brussels Airlines, China Eastern, Cubana Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Easyjet, Egyptair, Israir Airlines, KLM, Korean Air, Laudamotion, LOT-Polskie Linie Lotnicze, Lufthansa, Norwegian Air, Pegasus Airlines, Ryanair, Saudia, Swiss International Air Lines Ltd, TAP Air Portugal, Tarom, Transavia.com, Tunisair, Turkish Airlines, United Airlines, Wamos Air, and Wizz Air.

Airlines in Terminal 4

Aeroméxico, Air Algerie, Air Baltic, Air Europa, Air Nostrum, American Airlines, Avianca, Boliviana de Aviación, British Airways, Bulgaria Air, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Finnair, Iberia Express, Iberia, LATAM Airlines, Luxair, Plus Ultra, Qatar Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Royal Jordanian Airlines, and Vueling Airlines.

inside the terminal at Madrid airport along a moving sidewalk.
There is a 10-minute walk between terminal 1 and terminals 2 and 3, but it is well sign-posted.

Getting Between the Terminals

If you have a connection at the Madrid Barajas Airport and you need to get from one terminal to the other, it can take time, but it is free and relatively easy.

You can walk between terminals 1, 2, and 3. It is about a 10-minute walk between Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 and 3 which are right next to each other.

If you need to get between terminals 1-3 over to terminal 4, there is a shuttle bus that stops outside the entrance to all four terminals.

If you head out of the terminal that you arrive in, you will look for the green shuttle bus. It is free between each of the terminals.

To get from Terminal 1 to Terminal 4, look for the bus stop on Floor 1. If you are in Terminal 2 and want to go to Terminal 4, the bus stop is outside of floor 2 near the departures area.

If you are going from Terminal 4 to Terminal 1 or 2, the bus stop is on floor 0 outside of Arrivals.

iberia airlines plane.
Iberia airlines operate many flights out of the Madrid Airport.

Arriving From Internationally in Madrid Airport

If you are arriving from outside of the Schengen Zone when you land at the Madrid Airport, you will have to go through customs before you get to the baggage area.

When you arrive into the Schengen Zone for the first time, you will be stamped into the zone (unless you are a citizen/passport holder of a country that is within the Schengen Zone.

Passport holders from the United States, Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and other countries on this list, do not need to apply for a visa before arriving in Spain (or any other Schengen Zone country).

The visa waiver allows you to spend 90 days within a 180-day period within the Schengen Area, which includes all of Spain.

It is possible that UK citizens arriving from the UK into Spain may be asked for an onward flight, proof of enough funds for your trip, and/or proof of your hotel or Airbnb booking. You can read more about the British travel requirements to Spain here.

madrid flight information on a ryanair screen.
You can also find plenty of budget airlines like Ryanair and Wizzair directly to this airport as well (rather than one that is much further away from the city center like usually happens with these airlines).

Arriving Domestically or From Within the Schengen Zone

If you are arriving from within the Schengen Zone or from another part of Spain, you will arrive directly into the departures terminal.

If you are transferring within the same terminal, you will not have to leave the terminal and go through security again, you can simply head to the gate of your next flight.

If you have to change terminals, follow the signs for connecting or transferring flights.

If you are exiting the airport, follow the signs for the Exit/Salida. It can be a bit confusing in Terminal 1, so be sure to keep an eye out for the Salida and baggage claim signs.

Is There WiFi at the Madrid Airport?

Yes, there is free WiFi at the Madrid Airport in all terminals.

The WiFi connection is available both in arrivals and departures. It is not particularly strong or fast, but it is good enough to check emails, send WhatsApp messages, or scroll on social media.

floor markings for directions inside an airport.
Follow the markings on the floor to find the other terminals or the metro station.

How to Get to Madrid from the Madrid Barajas Airport

The Madrid Barajas Airport is very well connected to the city center where you can enjoy plenty of great things to do in Madrid for a long weekend.

The fastest and cheapest way to get to the city center is to take the metro.

There is one stop for Terminals 1, 2, and 3 and a separate stop for Terminal 4.

If you do not already have a Madrid transport card, you will need to go to the machines that say “Passengers without a travel card” or Viajeros sin tarjeta de transporte in Spanish.

Everything at the airport and inside the metro stations are in both Spanish and English and you can put the machine into English when you purchase your ticket.

It costs €3 simply to leave the airport and then you will pay for either a single journey which costs €2 or you can purchase a 10-journey ticket which saves you a bit of money if you plan to take the metro a lot during your trip to Madrid. The 10-journey ticket costs €12.20.

The Madrid metro runs from 6:00 am-1:30 am.

ticket machines at the madrid metro
Purchase your tickets from these machines inside the metro station.

If you are arriving outside of those hours, you can either take a taxi directly to your hotel (the most expensive option), or you can take the 24-hour Airport Express Bus.

This bus goes to O’DonnellPlaza de Cibeles, and Atocha, however, it only stops at Atocha between 6 am and 11:30 pm.

The Airport Express Bus costs €5 and can be purchased on-board the bus. You can only pay in cash, so be sure to go to an ATM before you leave the airport terminal if you need to.

The Airport Express Bus runs every 15 minutes during the day and every 35 minutes at night and it takes 45 minutes to reach the city center.

Flying From Madrid Barajas Airport

If you are flying from Madrid Barajas Airport, whether to other parts of Spain or internationally, it is pretty straight forward.

You can find all of the desks for check-in at the departure area of each terminal. If you have already checked in online and don’t need to check a bag, you can go straight through security.

If you are taking the metro from Madrid city center to the airport, be sure to give yourself enough time to walk from the metro to the gate. It is about a 15-20 minute walk from the metro stop at Terminals 1, 2, and 3 to reach the departures area of Terminal 1.

looking out of the window on an airplane as you land.
Landing into Madrid Airport.

What is Inside the Terminals?

Once you get through security, you have access to quite a lot of restaurants, fast food, convenience stores, and bars.

Like any airport, the cost of things inside the terminals is much higher than in the city. Coffee is still reasonably priced at around €2, but food and other drinks around the airport are quite expensive.

The terminals all have plenty of toilets, baby changing areas, charging areas for electronics, and water fountains which also have special bottle-filling stations.

Before going through security (or after coming out into arrivals), you will find ATMs, money exchanges, more toilets (but no water fountains), and a few cafes to grab food and drink.

The terminals are all very well signposted in both Spanish and English.

Is there Luggage Storage at the Madrid Airport?

If you arrive at Madrid Airport and you would like a place to leave your luggage for the day or simply for a few hours, each terminal does have a luggage storage area, however, it is cheaper to get into the city with your luggage and use a storage place in the city center.

I always use the App Bounce (for iOs here, for Android here). This allows you to find the nearest place for baggage storage at the lowest price around. You can pay by the day or by the hour.

ryanair airplane on the runway with people boarding the plane.
Preparing to fly with Ryanair to Madrid airport.

Madrid Airport Hotels

If you have a late arrival or an early flight from Madrid Airport, you have a huge selection of nearby hotels to choose from. It’s not one of the more central places to stay in Madrid, so you won’t want to book it for your whole trip, but it’s great for a quick stopover before your flight.

Many hotels in the area offer free shuttles to and from the airport, but it’s always best to double-check by calling the hotel before you book just to be 100% sure that not only do they have a shuttle but also that it will be running at the time of your flight.

Some hotel shuttles only run once an hour or they only run from 8 am-8 pm (or some version of this) and they don’t always say the time schedule on their websites.

A good alternative is to stay at a hotel that is very close to the Barajas metro so that you can simply hop on the metro in the morning and go one stop to your desired terminal.

These are our top picks for each price range.

  • Budget Hotel: Hostal Viky is a clean and affordable airport hotel. It is located a 5-minute drive from the airport and this family-run guesthouse offers a free 24-hour shuttle service. Single rooms start at €60 and double rooms start at €70. Book a stay at Hostal Viky here.
  • Midrange Hotel: The Ibis Madrid Aeropuerto Barajas is located less than a mile from the airport and is only a 10-minute walk to the Bajaras metro station. Rooms are very nice and the hotel breakfast is fantastic. Call ahead to find out if their shuttle service is back up and running again. Rooms start at €90 per night. Book a stay at the Ibis Madrid Aeropuerto Barajas here.
  • Luxury Hotel: Melia Barajas is the perfect way to end your vacation in Madrid (or start your vacation if that’s the case!). The rooms are plush and comfortable, the breakfast is exceptional, and there is an onsite bar, a fitness center, a swimming pool, and a restaurant for dinner in the evening as well. The free shuttle operates from 4:30 am to 1:00 am. Rooms start as low as €120 if you book in advance. Book a stay at Melia Barajas here.

John LeBlanc

Saturday 3rd of June 2023

Thanks for the info, but can you tell me how to get from the arrivals level of terminal 2 (Madrid airport) to the departures level of terminal 2 (Madrid airport) in order to catch the shuttle bus over to terminal 4 (Madrid airport). Last time I was there, it seemed like you couldn't simply go upstairs from the arrivals level after picking up your luggage (all stairways were marked no entry) and you had to continue outside and take a long, circuitous walk before you could go up to the departures level of terminal 2 to catch the shuttle. Is this the case or is there and easier way? I've looked everywhere online and can't find an answer to this question. Thanks for any help you can provide.