One of the most visited cities in Europe, Barcelona is a majestic metropolis that benefits from a magnificent Mediterranean climate and gorgeous natural surroundings. In addition to some of the most inspiring architecture on the continent, and plenty of cultural attractions, there's a thriving social scene that ensures visitors will never be short of something to do during a visit in Barcelona. The main railway station is Barcelona Sants, and it is operated by Adif. The station is an important public transport hub in the Catalan region, and it connects the city to other major settlements across Spain and beyond. The train to Barcelona from Madrid is an incredibly convenient service, with direct routes taking as little as 2h 30m.

Taking the train to Barcelona

Thanks to the wide rail network operated by Renfe, Barcelona is well-connected to the main cities in Spain. Keep reading for more information about the most popular national and international routes to Barcelona and the train types serving them.

High-speed trains to Barcelona

There are three high-speed trains connecting Spain's major cities to Barcelona:

  • AVE: Travelling at speeds of up to 310 km/h (193 mph), AVE trains connect Madrid to Barcelona, Málaga to Barcelona, Zaragoza to Barcelona and Cordoba to Barcelona.

  • Alvia: Alvia trains are engineered to run on high-speed and conventional railway lines, switching between the two during journeys. You can typically find Alvia trains in the north of the country, making it a vital link between cities in those regions and Barcelona.
  • Avlo: On 23rd June 2021, the low-cost Avlo joined Renfe's high-speed fleet, connecting Madrid, Barcelona and Figueres. Check out our Avlo page for more information.
  • OUIGO: On 10th May 2021, the French low-cost OUIGO Spain began operations between Madrid and Barcelona. Learn more about OUIGO Spain.
  • TGV INOUI: On 11th December 2022, SNCF's TGV trains began operations from Paris to Barcelona.

New iryo trains from Madrid to Barcelona: book your tickets now with Trainline

From the 25th of November 2022, the new high-speed iryo trains started operating on the route from Madrid to Barcelona. They travel between Madrid Atocha and Barcelona Sants stations and stop in Zaragoza along the way.

Their latest-generation Frecciarossa 1000 trains can reach speeds of up to 223 mph (360 km/h), so you can travel with iryo from Madrid to Barcelona in just 2 hours and 30 minutes. And that’s not all! With iryo, you’ll get to travel in the most comfortable way thanks to their super-quiet trains, latest-generation 5G WiFi and onboard restaurant service. iryo trains are also good for the environment as 98% of the parts of the trains are 100% recyclable, making this trip sustainable as well!

Find out more about iryo trains.

Regional trains to Barcelona

There are two types of regional trains connecting the other Spanish cities to Barcelona:

Visiting Barcelona

Barcelona is synonymous with Catalan culture, and it is an ideal destination for those looking to sample first-rate cuisine, eclectic artistic attractions, and a diverse social scene too. Each of its different neighbourhoods has its own personality, with the Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter) standing as a particular highpoint. Separated by a 10-minute walk, Las Ramblas is the next neighbourhood to head to, especially for shopping as it’s known for its market, La Boqueria. There's a host of iconic cuisine options to savour here, including Escalivada (a delicious dish of grilled vegetables served with fresh olive oil), and Canelons (a Catalan take on the Italian favourite). Another key feature in Barcelona is its architecture. The Sagrada Familia, a 40-minute walk from the market through this splendid city, is a celebration of Modernist style, while the sculpted columns of Parc Güell represent another local icon. The Pedralbes monastery is an example of Gothic architecture in Catalonia, and today it houses religious artefacts and artworks from across the centuries in its exhibitions.

However, these attractions are spread around Barcelona and better accessed via public transport or on different days. For those travelling with the family and in need of a day-long excursion, how about the Tibidabo? This amusement park is set on one of the highest points in the city, with gorgeous views overlooking Barcelona itself. It’s the perfect final call on any tour of this majestic city, and it’s a great way to burn off any excess energy too! So, why not catch the train to Barcelona this summer?

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