The picturesque seaside resort of San Sebastián is more than 200 miles from the Spanish capital of Madrid, but you can make the journey in five and a half hours on board Renfe’s Alvia and Media Distancia trains, each with their own comforts and conveniences for passengers to enjoy.
Arriving in the big city, feeling the inimitable energy and history of the Spanish capital all around you, you'll be mere minutes from world-famous museums, monuments, and landmarks like the Prado Museum and the Royal Palace. You could also choose to do some shopping or visit a local tapas bar for some tasty snacks. Scroll down for further details on the journey, including train times and FAQs.
Renfe is the national train operator in Spain. It has the widest network of high-speed trains in Europe, linking major cities with AVE, AV-City, Avant, Alvia, and Euromed trains. Long-distance routes are served by Altaria and Talgo trains, while regional routes are operated by Media Distancia, Regional and Express Regional trains. Renfe also operates on international routes to France and Portugal. Renfe trains offer four different travel classes, depending on the train you’re travelling on – Turista (Standard), Turista Plus (Premium Economy), Preferente (Business Class) and Club (First Class).
Renfe's Alvia services combine high-speed tracks with lower speed sections, reaching speeds of up to 155 mph (250 km/h) on international lines and 125 mph (200 km/h) on conventional lines. These trains connect the cities of Madrid, Barcelona and Alicante with the other main Spanish cities. Alvia offers two types of classes – Turista (Second Class) and Preferente (First Class). The latter has wider seats, carriages with fewer seats, offers complimentary food and drinks, free newspapers, and access to parking and Club meeting rooms.
Renfe's Media Distancia are regional trains operated by CAF locomotives that run on medium-distance routes not covered by Avant high-speed trains. Most Media Distancia trains have one class. However, there are some that will have Turista (Second Class) and Preferente (First Class). These trains also have spaces for bicycles, and all seats are equipped with power sockets and reading lights.
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 San Sebastián to Madrid by booking early.§
Many of the train services in Europe are also popular commuter services, lots of train companies increase ticket prices during “peak hours” (generally between 06:00 – 10:00 and 15:00 – 19:00 on weekdays). If you can, consider travelling outside of peak hours to find lower priced tickets.
On some of the busier routes, you might also have the option to take a slower or connecting train. It may take a little longer than some high-speed or direct services, but if you have a little extra time on your hands, you might find a cheaper fare. Plus, you'll have more time to enjoy the view of the countryside!
For specific information about how to get your hands on cheap tickets, check out our European train tickets hub.
The average journey time by train between San Sebastián and Madrid is 11 hours and 11 minutes, with around 5 trains per day. The journey time may be longer on weekends and holidays, so use our Journey Planner on this page to search for a specific travel date.
The fastest journey time by train from San Sebastián to Madrid is 6 hours and 47 minutes.
Train tickets from San Sebastián to Madrid can start from as little as €16.60 when you book in advance and are usually more expensive when purchased on the day. Prices can also vary depending the time of day, route and class you book.
Yes, it is possible to travel from San Sebastián to Madrid without having to change trains. There are 2 direct trains from San Sebastián to Madrid. Though there may be fewer direct services available depending on your exact departure date.
The first train from San Sebastián to Madrid leaves at 11:14. Times and services may vary during weekends and holidays.
The last train from San Sebastián to Madrid leaves at 19:57. Trains that depart in the early morning hours or very late evening may be sleeper services, time and services may also vary during weekends and holidays.
Trains travelling from San Sebastián to Madrid cover a distance of around 219 miles (353 km) during the journey.