Want to spend some time in the Spanish capital and looking for more information on how to take the train from Barcelona to Madrid? You’ve come to the right place!
On average, the journey time by train between Barcelona and Madrid is 2h 42m, with around 15 trains per day. If you want to reach Madrid in a hurry, the quickest journey time from Barcelona to Madrid is 2h 30m if you travel on a high-speed Renfe AVE train.
Covering a distance of just over 500km, the first train departs Barcelona Sants station at 5:50 and the last at 21:15 before arriving at Madrid’s main railway station, Madrid Atocha. On this route, you’ll be travelling on a service provided by either Renfe or OUIGO.
Travelling from Barcelona to Madrid by train is one of the easiest ways to get to the Spanish capital. Popular with locals and tourists, travelling by train is quicker than flying and puts you right in the heart of the city at Madrid Atocha station.
Ready to start your journey? Begin your search for cheap train tickets from Barcelona to Madrid in the Journey Planner at the top of the page, where you’ll find train times and ticket prices. If you want to find cheap tickets, we’ll highlight the cheapest fares on your travel date. Keep reading for more information about this journey, including tickets prices and FAQs.
Renfe is the national train operator in Spain. It operates trains on the longest high-speed railway network in Europe, and the second-longest in the world. The country's major cities are linked up by the high-speed AVE and Avlo trains, while other long-distance routes are served by Altaria, Talgo, Alvia and Euromed trains. Renfe also operates cross-border services into neighbouring Portugal and France. Depending on which service you are travelling on, you'll usually find two classes on Renfe trains - Estándard (Standard Class) and Confort (First Class). Fare types range from the cheapest (but least flexible) Básico fare, to the more flexible Elige fares, to the Premium fare for seats in Confort carriages.
AVE is Renfe's flagship high-speed service, with trains capable of reaching up to 193 mph (310 km/h). It’s one of the fastest trains in Europe and connects the main cities of Spain. Most AVE trains offer two comfort classes – Estándard (Standard Class) and Confort (First Class equivalent, with 1-1 configuration, ultra-wide seats, gourmet food and drink and lounge access). All AVE trains have air conditioning, power sockets, free WiFi and a buffet carriage serving a selection of food and drinks. There are three fares for AVE services: the cheapest but least flexible Básico fare, the Elige fare (slightly pricier but more flexible), and the Premium fare for seats in Confort Class.
OUIGO is the low-cost, high-speed train service operated by the French national train company SNCF. Despite having only one class on board, OUIGO trains offer the same comfort as Second Class seats on TGV trains, although OUIGO tickets are only available to purchase online. To make your journey as smooth as possible, arrive at least 30 minutes before departure and bear in mind that there's an additional fee for bringing a suitcase with you, having a seat with power sockets and travelling with a stroller/buggy.
Most of the train companies across Europe release their tickets around three to six months in advance, many of which can be cheaper the earlier you book. If you know the dates you want to travel, you may be able to find some cheaper train tickets from Barcelona to Madrid by booking early.§
Many of the train services in Europe are also popular commuter services, lots of train companies increase ticket prices during “peak hours” (generally between 06:00 – 10:00 and 15:00 – 19:00 on weekdays). If you can, consider travelling outside of peak hours to find lower priced tickets.
On some of the busier routes, you might also have the option to take a slower or connecting train. It may take a little longer than some high-speed or direct services, but if you have a little extra time on your hands, you might find a cheaper fare. Plus, you'll have more time to enjoy the view of the countryside!
For specific information about how to get your hands on cheap tickets, check out our European train tickets hub.
The average journey time by train between Barcelona and Madrid is 3 hours and 14 minutes, with around 18 trains per day. The journey time may be longer on weekends and holidays, so use our Journey Planner on this page to search for a specific travel date.
The fastest journey time by train from Barcelona to Madrid is 2 hours and 30 minutes.
Train tickets from Barcelona to Madrid can start from as little as $6.30 when you book in advance and are usually more expensive when purchased on the day. Prices can also vary depending the time of day, route and class you book.
Yes, it is possible to travel from Barcelona to Madrid without having to change trains. There are 17 direct trains from Barcelona to Madrid each day. Though there may be fewer direct services available depending on your exact departure date.
The first train from Barcelona to Madrid leaves at 06:20. Times and services may vary during weekends and holidays.
The last train from Barcelona to Madrid leaves at 20:15. Trains that depart in the early morning hours or very late evening may be sleeper services, time and services may also vary during weekends and holidays.
Trains travelling from Barcelona to Madrid cover a distance of around 314 miles (506 km) during the journey.
The AVE train from Barcelona to Madrid is one of the most important high-speed routes in Spain. Even if you can travel by plane, car or bus between the two cities, the train is definitely the best way to do so. Thanks to the AVE high-speed service, you can take a train from Barcelona city centre and get off in Madrid after only 2h 45m.
Barcelona Sants train station
Since its inauguration in 2008, this train has seen more than 35 million passengers between the two cities. About 25 Renfe trains run daily between Barcelona and Madrid, with possible variations based on the day and time of year.
Even if most of the AVE trains stop in cities like Guadalajara, Zaragoza, Lleida or Tarragona, some trains are direct and take 2h 45m rather 3h 10m to get to the final destination.
Located in the Sants-Montjuïc district, Barcelona Sants is the second most important train station in Spain both for connections and passenger traffic. The station is served by Renfe’s regional trains (Rodalies), long and middle-distance trains and high-speed trains that go to many Spanish cities as well as many international destinations, including Paris and Marseille.
My last journey from Barcelona to Madrid was very fast and comfortable. For work reasons, I had to go to Barcelona on a Tuesday and work from there for a couple of days. However, on Wednesday evening I was told to go to an important meeting in Madrid on Thursday early morning. Luckily I managed to find a quite cheap train ticket to Madrid with an AVE train departing from Barcelona at 07:00.
Since you need to go through security checks before boarding an AVE train, I got to Barcelona Sants at 06:30. After a nice coffee and security checks, I went to the platform from which my train was leaving. In my case, it was the AVE 3072 departing at 07:05.
As I bought a last-minute train ticket, I couldn’t choose the 07:00 train which goes directly from Barcelona to Madrid in only 2h 30m. For this reason, I had to pick the next available train and a Promo ticket in Second Class (Clase Turista), which doesn’t allow any refund or cancellation.
Once I got to my seat, I used the two available plug sockets to charge my cell phone and laptop. The seats had armrests, footrests, reclining tables, coat hooks and luggage racks.
Train stop in Zaragoza
The AVE train from Barcelona to Madrid can reach speeds of more than 300 km/h. While I was working, the staff came to offer coffee, tea and an a la carte breakfast. Unlike First Class (Clase Preferente), Second Class (Clase Turista) train tickets neither include meals nor free WiFi. If you want one of these services, you’ll need to pay an extra fee.
Jaime is one of our trusted writers. The information for this review was obtained first-hand and is based on his own travel experience.