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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. 

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.  

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 50m to travel from Madrid to Barcelona by train, over a distance of around 314 miles (506 km). There are normally 20 trains per day traveling from Madrid to Barcelona and tickets for this journey start from $5.83 when you book in advance.
Journey timeFrom 2h 30m
PriceFrom $5.83
Distance314 miles (506 km)
Frequency20 trains per day
First train06:30
Last train20:40
Departure stationMadrid
Arrival stationBarcelona
ChangesDirect trains available
Train and bus operatorsOUIGO, Renfe, ALSA, iryo

Madrid to Barcelona train times

Check out the next trains departing from Madrid to Barcelona for Tuesday Oct 11th 2022. For the full train timetable/schedule, or to search for a later time or date, click here.
08:30 11:37 3h 7m, direct
08:35 13:20 4h 45m, 1 change
10:30 13:42 3h 12m, direct
12:00 14:30 2h 30m, direct
12:25 15:22 2h 57m, direct
13:30 16:21 2h 51m, direct
14:00 16:30 2h 30m, direct
15:00 17:30 2h 30m, direct
15:30 18:15 2h 45m, direct
16:00 18:30 2h 30m, 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.

iryo is the new high-speed train company operating in Spain: it's a consortium between the Spanish airline Air Nostrum and the train company Trenitalia, one of the great European leaders in rail transport. The first private Spanish high-speed company to operate, iryo will start with running high-speed services on the Madrid – Zaragoza – Barcelona route and connect Madrid – Cuenca – Valencia/Alicante and Madrid – Cordoba – Seville/Malaga later on. They will be doing this all with a fleet of ETR1000 model trains that will offer the highest level of comfort in Spain, with a combination of advanced propulsion and highest quality on-board services, including WiFi connection and restaurant areas. 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.

Cheap train tickets from Madrid to Barcelona

The price of train tickets from Madrid to Barcelona starts at $5.83 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.

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 50 minutes, with around 20 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 30 minutes.

How much does the train from Madrid to Barcelona cost?

Train tickets from Madrid to Barcelona can start from as little as $5.83 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 19 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 06:30. 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 20:40. 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 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.

Travelling from Madrid to Barcelona on a Renfe AVE high-speed train

Review by Jaime Campoamor Velasco

With around 25 services a day, Renfe connects the two biggest cities in Spain in just 2h 30m. For the early risers, the first AVE train leaves Madrid Atocha station at 06:10 hours and the last leaves at 21:25, arriving into Barcelona Sants station at 23:55.  

Atocha station – the busiest in Spain  

Located just a few minutes from the centre of the capital, Madrid Atocha station sees around 18 million passengers pass through its doors each year. Split across several levels, and high-speed services depart from both the upper and ground floors – boarding for trains from Madrid to Barcelona is located on the upper floor.  

For my trip, I arrived at the station just after 17:00. Although my train – the AVE 3181 – left Madrid at 18:00, I decided to arrive almost an hour earlier to have plenty of time to wander around the station and pass the security check without rushing. As I was travelling on a Friday afternoon, I assumed it would be busier than usual in the centre of Madrid.  

To Barcelona in just two and a half hours  

Before I get into the details of my trip, it’s worth pointing out that although I travel a lot by train, I’d never made the journey from Madrid to Barcelona on an AVE high-speed service before. In fact, my friends and family had spent years wondering why I normally drive to Barcelona considering how far it is and how boring the A2 is – I’ve never been able to give them a good excuse.  

So, back to the review. For this trip, I brought a Promo + ticket in Turista (Standard) Plus Class that cost me just over €90. Although it may seem a lot, travelling by car between Madrid and Barcelona is quite expensive when you consider the cost of tolls and how the time you spend driving and the difficulty of parking in Barcelona adds to your fuel consumption. Plane tickets aren’t cheap either – unless you buy in advance with a low-cost airline, the price of the Iberia Puente Aereo (a dedicated Madrid to Barcelona air route) will easily exceed the cost of round-trip AVE tickets.  

I chose a Promo + ticket because the basic Renfe (Promo) fare doesn’t allow for changes or cancellations. The Promo + fare, however, cost only €7 more and allows you to cancel the ticket up to five minutes before departure by paying 30% of the total price.  

Although the Turista (Standard) seats are perfectly comfortable for this journey, I chose the Turista Plus Class (20% extra, in this case, an extra €6.85) as the seats are wider, even more comfortable and there are fewer seats in the carriage.  

Comfortable and modern trains  

All seats on AVE trains are foldable and have footrests, armrests, folding tables and two sockets for charging electronic devices. Although most of the trains offer a WiFi connection, this service is only complementary in Preferente (First) Class. If you don’t travel in this class and want to use the WiFi during the trip, you’ll have to pay for the service. There are two levels of access – Basic and Premium (you get access from three devices, movies and live TV). 

During the trip, Renfe staff offered an à la carte catering service, with a complete menu that included all kinds of drinks and food. There’s also an onboard café carriage where you can stretch your legs while you enjoy a drink.  

The AVE trains that take just 2h 30m to travel from Madrid to Barcelona (like the one I took) make no stops along the way. Other services make stops in Guadalajara-Yebes, Zaragoza-Delicia, Lleida or Camp-Tarragona before arriving in Barcelona 

Arriving into Barcelona 

After reaching speeds close to 300 km/h we arrived into Barcelona Sants station at the scheduled time, 20:30. 

Once you’re in Barcelona, ​​don't miss the impressive Sagrada Familia or the mythical Boqueria Market. Take a walk along Las Ramblas for sure, skate at one of the skateparks in the city or wander around the Raval or Borne neighbourhoods.  

About Jaime  

Jaime is one of our trusted, hand-picked travel writers. The information for this article was recorded first-hand, based on his own genuine experience of the journey. 

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The information provided is calculated based on scheduled train services for Madrid to Barcelona for a typical week day using timetable data for 10/11/2022. On weekends, holidays or other exceptional times, fewer services may be available. The fare range provided has been found by our customers on Trainline on 08/02/2022 for travel on 08/02/2022 and for adult tickets in economy, discount cards and coach journeys excluded.

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