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Traveling from Barcelona to Madrid by train in 2h 30m

   

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 train. There are now 4 high-speed trains to choose from on this route – OUIGO Spain, Avlo, AVE and iryo trains.

First-hand experience

If you want to compare different experiences to find the train that best suits your travel style, we've got you covered. This video, created by one of our hand-picked travel writers, gives you a rundown of all four rail companies that operate services on this route, including what's offered on board each train and the differences between each company. 

If you're interested in more information about what it's like to travel on any of these services, keep reading for more reviews from travelers on the journey from Barcelona to Madrid - we've got reviews for every train service on this route.

 

 

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 traveling on a service provided by either Renfe or OUIGO.  

Traveling from Barcelona to Madrid by train is one of the easiest ways to get to the Spanish capital. Popular with locals and tourists, traveling by train is quicker than flying and puts you right in the heart of the city at Madrid Atocha station.  

There’s plenty to see and do in Madrid, but we’d recommend checking out the world-famous Bernabéu Stadium, or spend an afternoon wandering in the greenery of Retiro Park. If you're heading to Europe for the first time, have a look at our top 3 tips for planning a European vacation. And if you're heading to Madrid over the holidays, we've got all you need to know about traveling from Barcelona to Madrid at Christmas.

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. 

Barcelona to Madrid by train

It takes an average of 2h 42m to travel from Barcelona to Madrid by train, over a distance of around 314 miles (506 km). There are normally 40 trains per day traveling from Barcelona to Madrid and tickets for this journey start from $7.97 when you book in advance.

First train

05:45

Last train

21:25

Departure station

Barcelona

Arrival station

Madrid

Journey time

From 2h 29m

Distance

314 miles (506 km)

Frequency

40 trains per day

Changes

Direct trains available

Price

From $7.97

Train and bus operators

OUIGO, iryo, Renfe, ALSA

Barcelona to Madrid train times

Check out the next trains departing from Barcelona to Madrid for Sunday Feb 25th 2024. For the full train timetable/schedule, or to search for a later time or date, click here.
DepartsArrivesTrainDuration
06:30 Barcelona Sants09:15 Madrid Atocha6470 Get tickets2h 45m, direct
06:35 Barcelona Sants09:20 Madrid Atochaavlo 6302 Get tickets2h 45m, direct
06:45 Barcelona Sants10:30 Madrid Atochaave 3930 Get tickets3h 45m, 1 change
07:55 Barcelona Sants10:40 Madrid Atocha6080 Get tickets2h 45m, direct
08:00 Barcelona Sants11:12 Madrid Atochaave 3082 Get tickets3h 12m, direct
09:00 Barcelona Sants11:45 Madrid Atochaave 3092 Get tickets2h 45m, direct

AVE, OUIGO, iryo and Renfe trains from Barcelona to Madrid

You can travel from Barcelona to Madrid on AVE, OUIGO, iryo and Renfe trains. When you search for times and tickets, we might also show you some other options with multiple connections or operators if they’re available.

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.

PhotoCramos, under licence CC BY-SA 4.0

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.

Operating since the end of 2022, iryo is a new high-speed train company in Spain. It’s a consortium between the Spanish airline Air Norstrum and the train company Trenitalia, one of the greatest leaders in European rail transport. The first private Spanish high-speed company to operate, iryo runs high-speed services on the Madrid – Zaragoza – Barcelona route and connects Madrid – Cuenca – Valencia/Alicante and Madrid – Cordoba – Seville/Malaga. They are doing this all with a fleet of ETR1000 model trains that offer the highest level of comfort in Spain, with a combination of advanced propulsion and highest quality onboard services, including WiFi connection and catering service. 98% of the parts of the trains are 100% recyclable, making this trip sustainable as well!

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.

iryo, AVE, OUIGO and Avlo classes from Barcelona to Madrid

Compare the different travel classes offered by iryo, AVE, OUIGO and Avlo when traveling from Barcelona to Madrid.

Onboard services on iryo, AVE, OUIGO and Avlo

Discover more about the onboard services offered on trains from Barcelona to Madrid.

LuggageLuggageBaggage

You can carry up to 3 pieces of baggage on iryo trains, as long as they do not exceed 25kg (55.1lbs) in total. These 3 pieces can be 2 suitcases with a maximum size of 85 x 55 x 35cm (33.4 x 21.6 x 13.7 inches) and a backpack or handbag that does not exceed the dimensions of 36 x 27 x 15cm (14.1 x 10.6 x 5.9 inches).

RestaurantRestaurantFood and drink

iryo offers different menus with high-quality products in all classes. You can buy your favorite meal from their onboard restaurant/bar car, which is usually near car 2. If you’re traveling in the Infinita Class, you can enjoy the Infinita Bistró service – your meal will be served straight to your seat. Please note that you’ll need to book your meal at least 24 hours in advance.

WiFiWiFiEntertainment

You can enjoy free WiFi in all classes on iryo trains, as well as an onboard entertainment platform providing a wide selection of movies, TV series, live news and Spotify.

ChildPassengerChildPassengerTravel with children

Kids aged 0-3 travel for free on all iryo trains. Kids aged 4-13 get a discounted ticket while those aged 14-18 need to pay the full price. Please note that kids aged under 18 need to be accompanied by their parents or legal guardians.

ModeOfTransportBikeModeOfTransportBikeBikes

You can take your bike on board iryo trains for free if it’s folded and does not exceed 90 x 120 x 40cm. Also, your bike must travel without the pedals and with the handlebar rotated 90 degrees.

PetPetPets

iryo allows pets that do not exceed 10kg (22lbs) in weight, as long as they travel inside a carrier with a maximum size of 60 x 35 x 35cm (23.6 x 13.7 x 13.7 inches). You'll need to buy a ticket for your pet in advance. In addition, guide dogs can travel at no additional cost.

WheelchairWheelchairSpecial Assistance

There are 2 seats for people with reduced mobility on iryo trains. Step-free access is also available both when boarding and when getting off the train.

LuggageLuggageBaggage

With AVE, you can travel with up to 3 pieces of baggage that do not exceed 290cm (114.1 inches) and 25kg (55.1 pounds). In total, the maximum measurements of each piece of baggage are 85 x 55 x 35cm (33.4 x 21.6 x 13.7 inches). Musical instruments also count as hand baggage as long as they do not exceed the dimensions 30 x 120 x 38cm (11.8 x 47.2 x 14.9 inches) and are stored in a case.

RestaurantRestaurantFood and drink

If you’d like to stretch your legs and grab a coffee during your journey, AVE trains have an onboard dining car. If you’d prefer to stay in your seat, AVE staff will pass through each car with a food and drink cart.

WiFiWiFiEntertainment

On AVE trains, you can take advantage of PlayRenfe – their free WiFi and entertainment pass. Giving you access to exclusive content and fast connection speeds, PlayRenfe can be downloaded from the app store on your phone. Once you’re connected, you can access the PlayRenfe portal, where you’ll find exclusive live sport, news, films and TV series.

ChildPassengerChildPassengerTravel with children

Children under 3 years old travel for free with AVE, as long as they do not occupy a seat and have their free child ticket. Children from 3 to 14 years old can take advantage of a 40% discount on ticket prices.

ModeOfTransportBikeModeOfTransportBikeBikes

On all AVE trains, each passenger can take one bicycle or scooter on board, as long as it’s folded and carried inside a case. Also, the pedals must be removed and handlebars turned 90 degrees. Lastly, if the sum of the dimensions of the case is less than 180cm (70.8 inches), it's considered as hand luggage. However, if it’s bigger, it will be considered as special luggage (max dimensions 120 x 90 x 40 cm or 47.2 x 35.4 x 15.7 inches).

PetPetPets

With AVE, you can travel with a pet as long as it weighs no more than 10 kg (22 pounds) and travels inside a cage or carrier that measures max 60 x 35 x 35 cm (23 x 13 x 13 inches). Your pet must have their own pet ticket, unless you’re traveling with a Premium ticket, in which case the pet ticket is free. Guide and assistance dogs travel for free.

WheelchairWheelchairSpecial Assistance

AVE offer a free assistance and care service for people with reduced mobility. To request the service, passengers should contact AVE directly.

LuggageLuggageBaggage

One piece of hand baggage (36 x 27 x 15 cm) and one piece of cabin baggage (55 x 35 x 25 cm) can be taken onboard. You can take additional or larger bags with you (max. 30kg) for an extra fee or by paying for OUIGO Plus.​

RestaurantRestaurantFood and drink

On OUIGO trains in France: an at-seat service of snacks is available on Train classique services. This service is not available on high-speed OUIGO trains.
On OUIGO trains in Spain: OUIBAR is located in car 4 of each train and offers a selection of hot and cold drinks, plus snacks.

WiFiWiFiEntertainment

WiFi (OUIFI) and an entertainment portal (OUIFUN) are available at an additional cost.

ChildPassengerChildPassengerTravel with children

For OUIGO trains in France: Passengers under 12 years old pay a fixed price for tickets all year round - €5 for journeys on Train classique services, and €8 for high speed services.
For OUIGO trains in Spain: Passengers under 12 pay €5 for all journeys.

ModeOfTransportBikeModeOfTransportBikeBikes

You can take your bicycle on board OUIGO trains if you add the 'Bike' option onto your ticket for an additional fee of at least €5. Your bike must be folded or dismantled and placed in a storage bag for transport.

PetPetPets

Pets are only allowed on board OUIGO trains if the 'Pets' option is added to your ticket at the time of booking. (1 pet per adult, per booking, €10 per pet.)

WheelchairWheelchairSpecial Assistance

For disabled passengers or those with reduced mobility, you can request assistance through 'Accès Plus'. With this service, a member of staff will meet you at the station and help you get to your seat on the train. To book assistance, contact Accès Plus after you book your tickets (and no later than 48 hours before your train is due to depart).

LuggageLuggageBaggage

Traveling with a Básica ticket on an Avlo train? You can travel with 1 piece of hand baggage and 1 suitcase. Both pieces of baggage are not subject to a weight limit, but the hand baggage cannot exceed 27cm (10.6") x 36cm (14.1") x 25cm (9.8") and the suitcase cannot exceed 55cm (21.6") x 35cm (13.7") x 25cm (9.8") in dimensions. If you’d like to add 1 extra piece of baggage, you’ll need to pay a fee of €10 if you buy it at the time of purchase and €30 if you get it at the station.

RestaurantRestaurantFood and drink

On Avlo trains, there is no onboard dining service. However, you will find a vending machine, serving a diverse variety of hot and cold drinks and snacks. Please note that the vending machine only accepts card payments.

WiFiWiFiEntertainment

If you’re traveling with Avlo, you can enjoy free WiFi through the PlayRenfe platform. As soon as you’re connected you can enjoy films, television shows, newspapers and much more.

ChildPassengerChildPassengerTravel with children

Children under 3 years old travel for free with Avlo, as long as they do not occupy a seat. Children under 14 travel for €5 (maximum of 2 child tickets per adult).

ModeOfTransportBikeModeOfTransportBikeBikes

Only folding bikes and scooters are allowed on board Avlo trains, as long as they do not exceed the dimensions permitted for suitcases – 55 x 35 x 25cm (21.6" x 13.7" x 9.8").

PetPetPets

You can travel with your pet for only €10 ($11.01), provided that you have a small pet, such as a dog, cat, ferret or bird (not poultry). Your pet must not weigh more than 10 kg (22 lbs) and must travel inside a cage or carrier, which must not exceed dimensions of 60 x 35 x 35 cm (23.6" x 13.7" x 13.7").

Please note there is a maximum of 1 pet per person and all pets must always travel with their own pet ticket and not take up a seat. Guide and assistance dogs are allowed on the train free of charge.

WheelchairWheelchairSpecial Assistance

With Avlo, passengers with reduced mobility can request the assistance service. For more information, contact Avlo directly.

Cheap train tickets from Barcelona to Madrid

The price of train tickets from Barcelona to Madrid starts at $7.97 one-way for a Standard Class ticket if you book in advance. Booking on the day is usually more expensive and costs can vary depending on the time of day, route or class.

Book in advance

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.§

Be flexible with your travel times

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.

Choose a slower or connecting train

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!

Look out for special deals

Take a look at our handy guides to find out when train operators release their special deals and offers to see if you can find cheap European train tickets for your journey.

For specific information about how to get your hands on cheap tickets, check out our European train tickets hub.

§Some train companies may not offer any Advance ticket types or cheaper deals for early bookings. On rare occasions, train companies may choose to release special offers closer to the date on last-minute or late-release tickets. This is dependent on the individual train operating company you travel with.

Traveling from Barcelona airport to central Barcelona

When flying from abroad to Barcelona, you will almost certainly arrive at El Prat Airport, more commonly known as Barcelona Airport. Continue reading for more details on how to get from the airport to central Barcelona.

How to get to Barcelona Sants station from central Barcelona

If you're traveling from Barcelona to Madrid, your train will depart from Barcelona Sants station. 

Located in the heart of the city, Barcelona Sants station is easily accessed via the city’s public transport. To get there, you can use:

  • Metro: Green Line L3 and Blue Line L5 link the city center with the train station’s metro, Sants Estació.
  • Bus: There are various buses available from the city center to Barcelona Sants station.
  • Walk: From La Rambla in the city center, Barcelona Sants station is a 42-minute walk.

As previously mentioned, if you want to travel from Barcelona Airport to Barcelona Sants, you can simply catch the Renfe train from Barcelona Airport station to Barcelona Sants station, which takes around 25 minutes.

Everything you need to know about Barcelona Sants station

As you wait for your train, there are plenty of things to do at Barcelona Sants station. Read on to find everything you need to know, including information on facilities and first class lounges.

Arriving at Madrid Atocha station from Barcelona

Whichever train operator you decide to travel with, you will arrive at Madrid Atocha station, in the city center.

Once you’ve left the station, you can start to explore Madrid’s most legendary landmarks. From Madrid Atocha station, it’s easy to get to central Madrid thanks to public transport. You can get there by:

  • Metro: From Atocha Renfe metro station, you can take Metro Line 1 to the city center.
  • Bus: There are various buses available from Madrid Atocha station to the city center.
  • Walk: From Madrid Atocha, you can get to Puerta del Sol in central Madrid on foot in around 25 minutes.

If you want to travel from Madrid Atocha to Madrid Airport, you can take a Renfe train, taking around 35 minutes in total.

Using public transport in Madrid

In Madrid, the public transport system is easy, fast, safe and reliable.

Taking the metro in Madrid

The underground system, known as the Metro, is the easiest way to get around the city. Comprised of 12 lines and over 300 stations, Madrid’s Metro is one of the most accessible metro systems in Europe.

Typically, the Metro runs from 6:00 am until 1:30 am, with trains arriving every 2-15 minutes. Generally, a single journey on public transport costs between €1.50 and €2, making it a very low-cost way to navigate the city.

Taking the bus in Madrid

Madrid’s Metro system is integrated with the bus system, meaning that you can travel on the Metro and the bus with the same ticket. Roughly, there are over 200 bus lines with over 2,000 buses in operation. The city’s EMT buses are blue and offer excellent views of the city as you travel to your destination.

Taking the tram in Madrid

Madrid’s tram system, also known as the Metro Ligero, is an overground metro connecting the city through 4 lines and over 50 stations. If you want to travel from the city center to Madrid’s suburbs, or vice versa, the Metro Ligero is what you’re looking for.

Things to see and do in Madrid

When visiting Madrid, there are so many things to see and do, it can be difficult to know where to start! To help you find inspiration, here are some ideas for things to do in Madrid:

Free travel on Cercanías trains with a long-distance train ticket

If you buy a ticket for one of Renfe’s long-distance services, such as AVE, you can benefit from free travel on Cercanías and other regional trains before and after your journey. This is known as a Combinado Cercanías ticket.

This means that if you need to get to the station where your long-distance journey starts, or if you want to travel onward from your destination station, you may be able to use regional trains at no extra cost!

You’re also able to get a Combinado Cercanías ticket if you’re traveling with iryo.

Find out more on our dedicated Combinado Cercanías page, which contains information about eligible tickets and the cities included in the offer.

Explore Europe by train with a Eurail Pass

After visiting Madrid, why not continue exploring Europe by train? With a Eurail Pass, you can travel across 33 European countries as much as you want on participating European train networks for a set amount of travel days.

You can use a Eurail Pass if you’re not a European citizen or resident. If you're a European citizen or a non-European who is an official legal resident of a European country, you can use an Interrail Pass instead.

 

FAQs for Barcelona to Madrid

Want to know more about your journey from Barcelona to Madrid? We've compiled some of the most frequently asked questions by our customers to help you plan your journey.

How long does the train from Barcelona to Madrid take?

The average journey time by train between Barcelona and Madrid is 2 hours and 42 minutes, with around 40 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.

What's the fastest journey time between Barcelona and Madrid by train?

The fastest journey time by train from Barcelona to Madrid is 2 hours and 29 minutes.

How much does the train from Barcelona to Madrid cost?

Train tickets from Barcelona to Madrid can start from as little as $7.97 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.

Is there a direct train from Barcelona to Madrid?

Yes, it is possible to travel from Barcelona to Madrid without having to change trains. There are 40 direct trains from Barcelona to Madrid each day. Though there may be fewer direct services available depending on your exact departure date.

What time does the first train from Barcelona to Madrid leave?

The first train from Barcelona to Madrid leaves at 05:45. Times and services may vary during weekends and holidays.

What time does the last train from Barcelona to Madrid leave?

The last train from Barcelona to Madrid leaves at 21:25. 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.

What's the distance between Barcelona and Madrid by train?

Trains travelling from Barcelona to Madrid cover a distance of around 314 miles (506 km) during the journey.

Looking for more information?

If you’re looking for the return train journey, check out trains from Madrid to Barcelona.

Tips and tricks from our Trainline team blog

We love helping our customers find inspiration for their next train journey. We also believe about taking those journeys and sharing our experiences with you, so you can sit back, relax and get the most out of your trip.

Traveling Standard Class on a Renfe AVE train from Barcelona to Madrid

Buying my ticket

I’d booked my ticket for my trip from Barcelona to Madrid in advance to help save some money, which meant I got a one-way Standard ticket on a Renfe AVE train for just £21.16 - not bad! Booking in advance also meant I had my PDF ticket instantly on my phone, so I didn’t need to worry about finding somewhere to print or collect it at the station.

Getting to Barcelona Sants station 

I was staying in a hotel close to the station – around a 15-minute walk away – so getting to the station was very easy. I could have a relaxing morning walk in the sunshine before spending a couple of hours on the train, which was due to depart at 11:00. Once you’re in sight of the station the huge Barcelona Sants sign on top of the building will let you know you’re in the right place!

Outside Barcelona Sants station

Inside the station and boarding my train

As the main train station in the city, Barcelona Sants had everything I needed before my trip, including cafes, fast food (I love how McDonalds in Spain serves things like macarons) and shops.

I didn’t realize until I got there, but you need to go through security in order to get through to the boarding area for high-speed trains. You also can’t go through security until an hour before your train is due to leave. It didn’t take long and the queue moved quite quickly – I just needed to put my bag through a security scanner and show my ticket to the staff.

After security, there’s another waiting area, where people started queuing at the check-in desk before boarding started. I joined the queue but thinking about it I had a seat reservation so didn’t really need to! Once boarding started I headed down an escalator and onto the platform where the train was waiting. It was easy to find the right coach as the number was clearly labeled on my ticket and on the side of the train.

The queue for security at Barcelona Sants train station

What to expect when traveling AVE Estándar (Standard Class)

I think the AVE train I was on was quite a new one: the interior was modern, with wide leather seats, air-conditioning, and comfortable dimmed lighting. There was plenty of room in the baggage racks above the seats for my backpack and jacket and my fold down table was wide enough to fit my laptop and a drink on it. I could also use outlets under my seat to charge my phone and there was free WiFi – although I did keep getting disconnected from it.

Renfe AVE standard seating

As the train started to speed away from Barcelona, I walked through to the next car which had an onboard bar selling hot and cold drinks and snacks. There was plenty of space to stand and watch the views whisk by which I thought was really great – much better than UK trains.

We made one stop along the way at Zaragoza-Delicias during the 2 hour and 45-minute journey, which was just for a few minutes. I also found it really useful how all the announcements were made in Spanish first and then English, so I knew what was going on.

Arriving at Madrid Atocha station

My train arrived on time into Madrid Atocha train station at 13:45. It was quite a long walk from the platform to leave the station, but it was my first visit to the city, so I was just excited to get out there and explore.

Outside Madrid Atocha train station

Overall, I really rated the AVE and would definitely recommend it to anyone planning a similar trip!

Jorja, a Trainline employee, chose to share their experience of the journey between Barcelona and Madrid.

Traveling in OUIGO Standard Class

Catching the train at Barcelona Sants

To catch a train from Barcelona to Madrid, I traveled from Barcelona-Sants station. As it’s a high-speed route, I had to go through security first, so I arrived about one hour before my train was scheduled to leave. After security, I had to wait to access the platform as boarding only begins 30 minutes before departure. The waiting area was quite crowded, but the line quickly disappeared when boarding opened.

The platform staff scanned my e-ticket on my phone at the gate, so I didn’t need to bring a printed copy of my ticket. OUIGO also asks you to bring your passport, though mine wasn’t checked on the journey – but it’s a good idea to keep it with you just in case.

Inside a OUIGO train

OUIGO trains are known for their signature pink and blue color scheme, so they’re easy to recognize! Seat reservations are included with your ticket, so I headed to my assigned seat on the lower deck of car 3 to get settled.

Since OUIGO trains are usually double-decker trains, I thought it might be dark downstairs, but I was impressed at how light both the upper and lower decks were.

At my seat, I had a fold-down table and footrest, and I was pleased to find a power outlet – you can pay extra on OUIGO Spain trains to guarantee getting one, but this time I was lucky! There was a slow WiFi connection on board, plus the option to buy faster WiFi and movie streaming services. There were also baggage storage racks at the end of each carriage, as well as some smaller storage spaces within the seating area.

OUIGO side of train

The journey from Barcelona to Madrid

We left on time at 10:40am. Soon after we left the station, you could see the Catalonian landscape whoosh by as we sped through the countryside (a OUIGO train’s top speed is 300km/h!). We stopped once at Zaragoza-Delicias for a few minutes, and then we were back on our journey.

Onboard announcements were in both Spanish and English, and the crew also spoke both languages, so you could order your café con leche without needing to know the local lingo.

OUIBAR, the onboard café-bar, was on the top deck of car 4. It provided a good selection of food and drink for the journey ahead. There’s no at-seat trolley service on OUIGO trains, so this is the place to go if you want to pick up some snacks before arriving in Madrid. I liked that there was space to sit and eat while watching the gorgeous Spanish countryside go by from the top deck!

Arriving at Madrid Atocha station

The train pulled into Madrid Puerta de Atocha station on time, and we arrived in Spain’s capital at 1:25pm, just 2 hours and 45 minutes after leaving Barcelona. Overall, I was impressed with OUIGO Spain especially considering I paid just €19 for the almost three-hour journey – and it was much less hassle than flying!

OUIGO train interior

Kristina, a Trainline employee, chose to share their experience of the journey between Barcelona and Madrid.

Traveling in Avlo Economy Class

Booking my ticket 

Just over a week before my trip, I booked my train ticket to Madrid online.

On this route, there are 4 train companies to choose from. Despite the slightly slower journey, I opted for Avlo, as they generally offer the cheapest fares.

The booking process was simple and I received a confirmation email as soon as I purchased the ticket. My digital ticket was attached as a PDF in the booking confirmation email, so I didn’t have to worry about queueing up at the station for a paper ticket!

On the day before my trip, I received an email from Avlo with lots of helpful information about my trip, such as my seat number, when to arrive at the station and baggage allowance restrictions.

Getting to Barcelona Sants train station

On a warm May morning in 2023, I walked from my hotel to Barcelona Sants station. Finding the station entrance was very simple, as it’s next to a large square called Plaça dels Països Catalans. On top of the station building, there’s a huge Barcelona Sants sign – which is pretty hard to miss!

Boarding the train

Before my journey, I purchased some snacks from one of the various shops inside Barcelona Sants station. If you’re hungry, there are plenty of cafés and fast-food restaurants too.

To travel from Barcelona to Madrid, you have to go through security before making your way to the platform. However, you can’t go through security until an hour before your train is due to depart, so don’t arrive too early, or too late either! I joined the line for security checks and it moved very quickly. They checked my ticket and rucksack before pointing me in the direction of my platform.

I then joined another line for the check-in desk to board the train. I was both surprised and impressed by the number of times my ticket was checked before accessing the platform. The queue moved quickly and before I knew it, I was heading down the escalator to my platform where the Avlo train was waiting for me. The car numbers are clearly labelled on the side of the train, so I found my car and seat without a fuss. Despite the lines at the station, the train was surprisingly quiet.

Avlo train exterior front of train

The journey from Barcelona to Madrid

When traveling with Avlo, there is only one class to choose from – Economy Class. Despite what the name suggests, I was very impressed with the interior of the train. The car was modern, clean and spacious. After storing my bag in the overhead baggage space, I took advantage of the leather seats, generous legroom, fold-down table, adjustable footrest and, most important of all considering the time of year – air conditioning.

Once the train had departed at 10am, I connected my phone to the free WiFi, which was more than sufficient for messaging friends, checking social media and replying to emails. Unfortunately, there weren't any power outlets on board, so I had to use my phone sparingly.

After a while, I used the onboard toilet, which was fine, albeit quite small. As the journey went by, the sun started to shine directly into my eyes, so I simply pulled the blinds down.

On our way to Madrid, we stopped in a few cities, including Tarragona, Lleida and Zaragoza. As I ate my lunch, I marveled at the impressive views of the Spanish countryside, comprised of picturesque villages and dramatic mountain ranges.

Interior of Avlo train economy class seating

Arriving at Madrid Atocha station 

At 1:17pm, just over three hours after setting off, the train arrived at Madrid Atocha station. After disembarking the train, I walked for a long time before finding the station exit. Unlike at the start of my journey, I didn’t have to go through any security or ticket checks. I simply walked straight out of the station and began exploring Madrid. One of the highlights of my trip to Madrid was a visit to El Retiro Park, which is close to Madrid Atocha station – make sure to visit! 

Charlie, a Trainline employee, chose to share their experience of the journey between Barcelona and Madrid.

Traveling in iryo First Class

Buying my train ticket

I bought my train ticket about a week before traveling from Barcelona to Madrid – I decided to travel in the Infinita Class (iryo’s First Class) as the ticket cost only a couple of dollars more than the Standard Class one. Booking my ticket online, I was able to get it instantly on my phone, without having to worry about printing it or joining the line at the station’s ticket office. 

Getting to Barcelona Sants station

My train to Madrid was leaving from Barcelona Sants at 09:50 so I arrived at the station half an hour in advance, just to give myself enough time to find my train and have no issues when boarding. As my hotel was only a 15-minute walk away, I decided to walk to Barcelona Sants – that was a great choice as I got to enjoy the sunny weather while taking in the city’s beautiful architecture!

Once I entered the station, I had to go through security before boarding my train. It didn’t take me too long though – I just had to put my bag through the security scanner and show my digital ticket to a member of staff.

Boarding my iryo train

After security, I went down the escalators to access the boarding area of my train and joined another line before getting on board – it was very quick though. There are several departure boards at the station where you can check which platform your train is leaving from, as well as clear signs to the different platforms, so you won’t get lost!

The train journey from Barcelona to Madrid

solo seat in iryo infinita class

My seat was in car 2, where the Infinita Class is usually located. It was a solo seat with plenty of legroom, a fold-down table, and an adjustable footrest. It also came with a power outlet, 2 USB ports and a small bin, which I found very convenient.

The onboard WiFi worked very well too – I just had to connect my phone to iryowifigratis and I was able to stay online without any connection issues throughout the whole journey.

There was also a QR code at my seat – you can scan it to see the onboard menu, access iryo’s entertainment portal, and read all about Club Yo (iryo’s loyalty program). There’s even a guide to your destination!

Now here comes the best part – if you travel in Infinita Class, you can make the most of the Infinita Bistró service, the in-seat meal service provided by iryo. A member of staff will come to your seat and serve a meal and drink of your choice. Make sure you choose your meal at least 24 hours in advance when booking your ticket online – I didn’t know I had to book my meal in advance, so I couldn’t enjoy this service, but I went to the bar in car 3 to get a Cola Cao (or hot chocolate) so I was very happy overall.

We only stopped once during the journey – the train pulled into Zaragoza-Delicias station for a few minutes before whisking us through the beautiful Spanish mountain ranges and countryside.

Arriving at Madrid Atocha station

The train arrived at Madrid Atocha station at 12:25pm, 10 minutes earlier than expected. As I needed to wait for some of my friends to arrive, I decided to wander around the station a bit more and explore its famous tropical garden. After following the signs to the exit, I had to cross the road to get to the station’s entrance, where the garden is located.

Tropical garden at Madrid Atocha station

As soon as I entered the station, I was pleased to find a large and beautiful garden with tropical plants (I even saw some bananas on a banana tree!) and a pond, all surrounded by the metal structure and glazed roof that were covering the station’s platforms. There were also lots of benches, as well as several restaurants and cafés – that’s perfect if people want to grab a bite and relax while surrounded by nature. Make sure you visit this part of the station; you won’t regret it!

Paola, a Trainline employee, chose to share their experience of the journey between Barcelona and Madrid.


* Based on European average monthly visitors to Trainline’s app and website from 1.1.2023 to 10.31.2023 vs other independent retailers.

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