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Get from Madrid to Barcelona by train in 2h 30 m with Trainline 🚆

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

   

Want to take the train from Madrid to Barcelona and looking for more information about the journey? Start your journey now! 

On average, the train journey from Madrid to Barcelona takes 3h, but can take just 2h 30m on the fastest Renfe Ave services. As there are direct trains available, you won’t need to worry about making any changes along the way. Each day, there are around 16 trains running from Madrid Atocha station to Barcelona Sants station. There are now 4 high-speed trains to choose from on this route – OUIGO, Avlo, AVE and iryo trains:

  • OUIGO trains are double-decker and come with Standard Class only, with an onboard bar car
  • AVE offer Standard and First Class comfortable seating and free WiFi
  • Avlo trains come with Standard Class only, but also include free WiFi and power sockets
  • iryo are the new high-speed trains operating on the Madrid - Barcelona route. Reaching speeds of up to 223 mph, their Frecciarossa 1000 trains are super-quiet trains that offer latest-generation 5G WiFi and an onboard restaurant service.

As two of the biggest and most popular cities in Spain, it’s no surprise that Madrid to Barcelona is one of Spain’s most popular train routes with locals and tourists. Travelling from Madrid to Barcelona by train means your journey starts and ends in both city centres, cutting out the hassle of airport transfers and waiting around before your flight. Want to travel in First Class? AVE Preferente passengers enjoy reclining leather seats and complimentary snacks.  

If you’re travelling to the Catalan capital, there’s no shortage of things to do, such as wandering along Las Ramblas or admiring La Sagrada Familia. Need somewhere to stay and cool off? Check out Barcelona's best hotels with pools! Or if you're looking to trek a little further afield, take a look at our guide to exploring the Costa Brava without a car so that you can see the region's best beaches.

Ready to book your cheap train tickets from Madrid to Barcelona? Start your search in our Journey Planner at the top of the page. If you want more information first, keep reading for FAQs about the journey and tips on how to find cheap train tickets.

Madrid to Barcelona by train

It takes an average of 2h 39m to travel from Madrid to Barcelona by train, over a distance of around 314 miles (506 km). There are normally 35 trains per day traveling from Madrid to Barcelona and tickets for this journey start from $7.87 when you book in advance.

First train

6:15 am

Last train

9:10 pm

Departure station

Madrid

Arrival station

Barcelona

Journey time

From 2h 29m

Distance

314 miles (506 km)

Frequency

35 trains per day

Changes

Direct trains available

Price

From $7.87

Train and bus operators

OUIGO, iryo, Renfe, ALSA

Madrid to Barcelona train times

Check out the next trains departing from Madrid to Barcelona for Tuesday Jun 25th 2024. For the full train timetable/schedule, or to search for a later time or date, click here.
DepartsArrivesDuration
9:30 am 12:15 pm 2h 45m, direct
10:25 am 1:10 pm 2h 45m, direct
10:30 am 1:42 pm 3h 12m, direct
11:25 am 2:10 pm 2h 45m, direct
12:00 pm 2:30 pm 2h 30m, direct
12:25 pm 3:22 pm 2h 57m, direct
12:50 pm 3:35 pm 2h 45m, direct
1:15 pm 3:45 pm 2h 30m, direct
1:30 pm 4:20 pm 2h 50m, direct
2:00 pm 4:29 pm 2h 29m, direct

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

You can travel from Madrid to Barcelona 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 Madrid to Barcelona

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

Onboard services on iryo, AVE, OUIGO and Avlo

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

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 Bistró Class, you can enjoy the Infinita Bistró food 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 Madrid to Barcelona

The price of train tickets from Madrid to Barcelona starts at $7.87 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 Madrid to Barcelona 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Got questions about your train trip from Madrid to Barcelona? We've got answers.

Timetables for trains from Madrid to Barcelona

Traveling from the airport to central Madrid

If you’re flying to Madrid from abroad, you will almost certainly land at Madrid-Barajas Airport. If you want to get from the airport to central Madrid, keep reading for more details.

How to get from Madrid-Barajas Airport to central Madrid

Madrid Barajas Airport is the main international airport serving the Spanish capital and can be easily reached by Metro, bus or train. Read our detailed guide to trains to and from Madrid Airport for more information.  

Metro from Madrid-Barajas Airport

The Metro is the quickest and easiest way to get from Madrid-Barajas Airport to the city center. From 6:00 am to 2:00 am, you can take the Metro from Terminal T2 or Terminal T4. Jump on Line 8 and go straight to Nuevos Ministerios Metro station in the center of Madrid in just 12 minutes. From here, you can jump on another Metro and reach just about every part of Madrid!

Buses from Madrid-Barajas Airport

Running 24 hours a day, the Exprés Aeropuerto (Airport Express) stops at O'Donnell, Plaza de Cibeles and Atocha – home to Madrid’s largest train station. During the day, buses run every 15 minutes and during the night, every 35 minutes. You can jump on the bus at terminals T1, T2 and T4. In total, the journey takes approximately 40 minutes.

How to get to Madrid Atocha station from central Madrid

Situated in the heart of the city, Madrid Atocha station is easy to get to because of the city’s easy, fast and reliable public transport system. You can get there by:

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

Looking to travel from Madrid Airport to Madrid Atocha station? You can take a Renfe train, which takes around 35 minutes in total.

What’s on offer at Madrid Atocha station?

Want to grab something to read or find something to eat? There are plenty of things to do at Madrid Atocha station while waiting for your train to arrive.

  • Restaurants and cafés
  • Shops
  • Newsstand
  • Cash machines
  • Toilets
  • Police station
  • Post office
  • Tourist Office
  • Parking

For more information, check out our guide to navigating Madrid Atocha train station.

What are Renfe’s Club Lounges?

If you opt to travel with AVE in First Class, you can take advantage of Renfe’s Club Lounge at Madrid Atocha station. Before your journey, you can take advantage of the following:

  • Free WiFi
  • Complimentary drinks
  • Free newspapers
  • Modern, comfortable spaces
  • Power outlets for charging devices

Arriving at Barcelona Sants station from Madrid

No matter which train operator you decide to travel with, you’ll arrive at Barcelona Sants station, a short journey from the city center.

In Barcelona, you’ll want to start soaking up the city’s atmosphere as soon as possible. The center of Barcelona is easily accessible due to the city’s extensive public transport network. You can get there by:

  • 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 Barcelona Sants station to the city center.
  • Walk: From Barcelona Sants station, La Rambla in the city center is a 42-minute walk.

Want to travel from Barcelona Sants station to Barcelona Airport? You can simply catch the Renfe train, which takes around 20 minutes. Find out more about trains to and from Barcelona Airport here.

Using public transport in Barcelona

Barcelona is a sprawling city with many different areas, but it boasts a modern public transport system to help you navigate the city.

Taking the Metro in Barcelona

Barcelona’s Metro is the easiest way to get around the city and consists of 12 lines and 186 stations.

When traveling on the Metro, there are various tickets, including a Single for just one journey and a T-Dia, for unlimited travel for a whole day. The Metro runs 365 days a year, operating from 05:00 am until 12:00 am, except on Friday when it closes at 02:00 am and Saturday when it does not close.

Taking the Bus in Barcelona

Travel by bus to take in excellent city views. In Barcelona, over 230 bus lines run from 05:00 am until 10:00 pm.

Taking the tram in Barcelona

Barcelona’s tram system is a quick and convenient way to get around the city. Known locally as El Tram, Barcelona’s trams run through the city’s heart. If you’d like to travel via tram, you can purchase tickets from the machines at tram stations.

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 Barcelona, 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. Check out our guide to Eurail in Spain for more info.

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 Madrid to Barcelona

Want to know more about your journey from Madrid to Barcelona? 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 Madrid to Barcelona take?

The average journey time by train between Madrid and Barcelona is 2 hours and 39 minutes, with around 35 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 Madrid and Barcelona by train?

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

How much does the train from Madrid to Barcelona cost?

Train tickets from Madrid to Barcelona can start from as little as $7.87 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 Madrid to Barcelona?

Yes, it is possible to travel from Madrid to Barcelona without having to change trains. There are 35 direct trains from Madrid to Barcelona each day. Though there may be fewer direct services available depending on your exact departure date.

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

The first train from Madrid to Barcelona leaves at 06:15. Times and services may vary during weekends and holidays.

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

The last train from Madrid to Barcelona leaves at 21:10. 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 Madrid and Barcelona by train?

Trains travelling from Madrid to Barcelona 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 Barcelona to Madrid.

Tips and tricks from our Trainline team

We love helping our customers find inspiration for their next train journey. Discover some travel stories written based on our employees' experiences.

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

Buying my ticket

This was the return part of my trip back to Barcelona after spending the day in Madrid. I’d booked my tickets ahead of time to save some money, the ticket was a bit more expensive than the one on my way out, but it was a more popular travel time (early evening). I had the ticket as a PDF on my phone, which meant I could make the most of my time in the city without having to rush back early to the station to try and get my ticket printed.

Getting to Madrid Atocha station

As the weather was so nice, I walked back to the station from the city centre via El Retiro Park, which was so lovely and scenic and the perfect way to end my day in Madrid. Madrid Atocha station is also well connected with public transport if you need it.

Inside the station and boarding my train

I’d remembered the way that I came into Madrid Atocha station earlier that day, so headed back into that same entrance, although there were a few different ones which could be confusing.

Madrid Atocha train station

I grabbed a bottle of water and a snack from a café before heading through security, which everyone needs to do to travel on high-speed trains. It was a very quick process though, I showed my ticket to the inspector, then put my backpack through the scanner and then was on my way to join the queue for my platform.

What to expect when traveling AVE Estándar (Standard Class)

The AVE train I traveled on had a modern interior including air-conditioning, comfy leather seats and dimmed lighting – which was perfect for watching the sunset as we whizzed through the Spanish countryside. There was a sizable luggage rack in my carriage and plenty of space on shelves above the seats as well. I only had a backpack with me and had plenty of legroom to store it under my seat. There was also a plug, reading light and fold-down table that was big enough to fit my laptop and my drink on it. It was easy to connect to the free WiFi although it did cut out at some points.

AVE Standard Class seating

During the trip I walked through to the onboard bar carriage which sold hot and cold drinks and snacks and had lots of space to stand and look out at the views out of the window – I loved this detail which is something UK trains just don’t have.

The journey was direct and took 2 hours and 30 minutes to travel from Madrid to Barcelona. Along the way, all the announcements were made in Spanish and then English, which was very useful!

Arriving at Barcelona Sants station

We arrived on time at Barcelona Sants station. The high-speed platforms are situated downstairs in the station so after a quick trip up the escalators I was back in the main station area and ready to head to my hotel, which was just a 15-minute walk away.

Overall, I really enjoyed traveling by train between Madrid and Barcelona – it was quick, comfortable and I got to see lots of the Spanish countryside along the way. Who needs to fly when you can take the train?

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

The comfiest train ride for my day trip to Barcelona

I recently took the train from Madrid to Barcelona with Renfe, traveling on an AVE train in Estandár (Standard Class). It took around three hours to get from Madrid Atocha station to Barcelona Sants station by train, though the fastest services can take just two and a half hours.

A photo of the escalator going down to the platform where you board the train in Madrid Atocha station

What I enjoyed about the journey

I was impressed with how clean the train was. On top of that, the seats were comfortable and there was a good amount of legroom. I could sit back and enjoy the good views. This was one of the comfiest train rides I've ever had and I felt it was the best value for money for the trip!

I was also happy that, like all AVE services, the train offered free WiFi and air-conditioning on board.

Sitting on board a Renfe AVE train - you can see the legroom available as the woman in the photo sits slouched, with her legs crossed

What I didn’t like about the journey

Unfortunately, my train was delayed so we didn’t arrive in Barcelona on time.

In summary, I’m really glad I took this day trip! Though my train was delayed, I was still happy about the fast journey time and all the positives about my trip definitely outweigh this. I had a great time traveling with Renfe.

 

About Deena

Deena, a Trainline employee, chose to share their experience of the journey between Madrid and Barcelona. The review has been written by one of our travel writers, based on a survey including multiple-choice questions regarding pros and cons of the journey.

Traveling in OUIGO Standard Class

Buying my train ticket

Buying a train ticket for my journey between Madrid and Barcelona was simple. I compared rail companies, times and prices, then bought the one that was right for me. You can even pay in dollars, so you know exactly how much the ticket costs. I got an e-ticket which was convenient and easy to find on my phone when I needed it.

Catching the train at Madrid Atocha

To catch a high-speed train like a OUIGO service, you’ll first need to go through security. Your baggage will be scanned (no liquids limit here!) before you’re able to access the departures area.

I got through security and found myself in the station’s departures area, where there were a few shops and cafés to grab a drink or a bite to eat before catching my train. Once my train was ready to board, I headed to the correct platform, got my ticket checked and got on the escalator down to my train.

It was easy to find the right car and my allocated seat – all high-speed trains in Spain have a seat reservation included in the ticket, so you won’t be left standing for the whole journey.

Exterior side view of a OUIGO train

Inside a OUIGO train

An interesting thing about OUIGO Spain’s trains is that they’re double decker! The views are pretty good from either deck so don’t worry too much about where you’ll sit – though you can pay extra when buying your ticket if you do want to choose your seat. This is handy if you want to guarantee a power outlet, as not all seats have these.

There’s baggage storage at the end of each car, as well as spaces to store smaller bags near the seats. Standard tickets have a baggage allowance of one small bag (like a backpack or handbag) and one cabin bag (no larger than 55 x 35 x 25 cm, or 21.6 x 13.7 x 9.8 inches). However, you can pay to take more baggage on board when you buy your ticket. Similarly, there is a slow WiFi connection, but you can pay for access to faster WiFi.

What’s the most important thing about any trip? Snacks. Nothing worse than finding out you’ve got a long, hungry journey ahead of you. Luckily, OUIGO trains have an onboard café bar (called OUIBAR) on the top deck of cars 4 and 12. You can sit in this coach and watch the world go by while sipping on a cold cerveza or choose from a range of drinks and light refreshments.

Menu for OUIBAR onboard cafe bar on OUIGO Spain

The journey from Madrid to Barcelona

The train left Madrid Atocha station and soon we were speeding through the Spanish countryside. Did you know that a OUIGO train’s top speed is an eye-watering 300 km/h (186 mph)!?

One thing I love about traveling by train is being able to discover a new landscape, all from the comfort of my seat. I sat and watched the world go by for a bit while reading my book, and before I knew it, we were getting close to our destination, Barcelona Sants station.

Arriving at Barcelona Sants station

It only took around two and a half hours to get from Spain’s capital to Barcelona. I hopped off the train and walked into Barcelona Sants station, where again I found some shops, fast-food restaurants and cafés, as well as a pharmacy.

I enjoyed my trip with OUIGO Spain – it was affordable, and the train had everything I needed for my journey. Overall, I’d recommend OUIGO to budget-conscious travelers, though it might not suit those needing to bring extra baggage due to the added cost.

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

Traveling in Avlo Economy Class

Booking my ticket 

Having already traveled to Madrid by train, it was finally time to undertake the return leg to Barcelona. Around a week before my trip, I booked my digital return tickets.

There are 4 train companies to choose from on this route, including AVE, iryo, Ouigo and Avlo. I went for the latter as they generally offer the cheapest train tickets, although it’s worth bearing in mind that the journey is slightly longer.

I booked my tickets in a few simple taps and before I knew it, I received a confirmation email immediately. Another bonus is that you don’t have to worry about lining up at the station for a paper ticket, as your digital ticket is attached as a PDF in the booking confirmation email.

Around 24 hours before my trip, I received a helpful email from Avlo with plenty of details about my journey, such as my seat number, when to arrive at the station and baggage allowance restrictions. Traveling by train in a foreign country can be a daunting experience, but it’s small details like this that filled me with confidence and made the whole journey a lot easier.

Getting to Madrid Atocha train station

On an extremely hot afternoon, after a day of exploring Madrid, I walked to Madrid Atocha station. The station is easy to find as it’s located right next to El Retiro Park – which is definitely worth a visit. Although the station is easy to find, there are various entrances so it can be difficult to know which one is the right one for you.

Boarding the train

Before the journey, I had to go through security before making my way to the platform. There was a small queue for security checks but it moved very quickly.

Once I had gone through security, I found the station’s departure area. Here, there is a wide range of shops, cafés, and restaurants. I used the departure boards to check my platform and headed down the escalator to board my train. I found the car numbers clearly labeled on the side of the train, so I found my car and seat quickly.

Avlo train exterior front of train

The journey from Madrid to Barcelona

I traveled to Barcelona in Economy Class – the only class offered by Avlo. I was impressed with the interior of the train, the car was spacious, clean and modern. I stored my bag in the overhead baggage space and took advantage of the leather seats and generous legroom. Added onboard amenities included a fold-down table, adjustable footrest and most important of all considering the temperature – air conditioning.

Just after 6:30pm, the train departed Madrid Atocha station. I connected my phone to the free WiFi, which seemed sufficient although I didn’t use it much as there weren't any power outlets on board.

Halfway through the journey, I used the onboard toilet, which was clean. As the journey went by, the sun began to set over the mountains and the views were quite simply, breathtaking.

On our way back to Barcelona, we stopped in a few cities, including Zaragoza and Tarragona. Although there isn’t a food and drink service offered on board Avlo trains, there is a vending machine serving a variety of hot and cold drinks and snacks. I purchased a soft drink and some snacks and returned to my seat to enjoy the scenery and read my book.

Interior of Avlo train economy class seating

Arriving at Madrid Atocha station

Three hours after setting off, the train arrived at Barcelona Sants station. After disembarking the train, I didn’t have to go through any security or ticket checks, so I simply left the station and went to find some tapas.

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

Traveling in iryo Standard Class

Buying my train ticket

I bought my ticket about a week before my trip from Madrid to Barcelona. The route is operated by different train companies, so I compared ticket prices and got a ticket to travel in iryo’s Standard Class called Inicial.

The booking process was super simple – after payment, I received a confirmation email with my PDF ticket attached, ready to be used on my phone right away.

Getting to Madrid Atocha station

After spending a great day in Madrid, it was time to head back to Barcelona. As the weather was amazing, I had a nice walk around El Retiro Park before heading to Madrid Atocha station – my train was leaving from there. The park is only a 10-minute walk away from the station, so I made sure I got to Madrid Atocha at around 6:15 pm as my train was leaving at 6:35 pm.

Boarding my iryo train

iryo train at platform in Madrid Atocha station

Before boarding, I had to go through security checks – I simply showed my digital ticket to a member of staff and put my bag through the security scanner.

After security, I accessed the station’s departure area, where I found a wide range of shops, cafés, and restaurants. I checked my platform from one of the departure boards available at the station and headed down the escalator to board my train.

What to expect when traveling in iryo Inicial Class

power outlets in iryo inicial class

Upon boarding, I found my seat nestled within a cozy arrangement – a table surrounded by four seats. While I was initially concerned about not having a solo seat, I immediately realized there was still plenty of space as there were only 2 passengers sitting opposite me, and nobody was sitting next to me. Also, the table was quite big so I could fit my laptop and a drink on it, and there was a small bin under my seat, as well as a power outlet and USB port.

During the journey, a member of staff came with a trolley offering snacks and drinks – these were not complimentary. If you want more food or drinks, you can also head to the bar in car 3.

Arriving at Barcelona Sants station

The train didn’t make any stops along the way. Overall, the journey lasted 2 hours and 30 minutes – we reached Barcelona Sants station at around 9 pm, right on time to get some delicious tapas.

If you're looking for an exceptional way to travel between Madrid and Barcelona by train, iryo’s Inicial Class is a great choice that promises a combination of comfort and unparalleled service.

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


* 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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