Fastest journey7hr 40m
There are various options for your train journey from Barcelona to Granada, with daytime routings via Valencia and Madrid, usually with one change of train along the way. The night train from Barcelona to Granada is presently suspended.
The daytime journey from Barcelona to Granada by train is very easy. The route we recommend is less than 8 hrs long, not bad for a journey of almost 1200 km. The best option is the once-a-day connection via Antequera-Santa Ana. You start with the longest leg of the journey, travelling from Barcelona to Antequera on a high-speed AVE train. Along the way, you’ll skirt Madrid and cut through the rugged Sierra Morena to reach Andalucía. The second leg of the journey is on a regional train from Antequera-Santa Ana to Granada.
Bookings for this itinerary normally open a couple of months in advance. If the timings of our preferred route do not suit you, it is possible to depart Barcelona at lunchtime and travel via Madrid. It does however take a little longer. There is also, though not every night of the year, a direct overnight train from Barcelona to Granada.
The Spanish rail operator often releases tickets in batches, which means they can come available 120 days or more in advance. If you're having trouble finding tickets, contact us and we'll email you when booking opens.
Barcelona to Antequera
The high-speed AVE train from Barcelona Sants will get you to Antequera-Santa Ana in about 5 hrs 30 mins. Only two trains a day make this long journey from the Catalan coast to the south of Spain, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The fast AVE service makes seven stops along the way, including at Zaragoza and Córdoba.
Antequera to Granada
The station at Antequera-Santa Ana was built to give rural communities in Andalucía access to Spain's high-speed network. Take a Media Distancia train to travel to Granada, famous for the Alhambra Palace. An additional Altaria service runs at midday. All in all, there are about eight trains a day plying the route. The Altaria service goes non-stop, while Media Distancia trains stop once or twice on the way (including at Antequera-Ciudad). Both trains will get you to Granada in about 1 hr 30 mins to 2 hrs. The route becomes increasingly hilly as you travel east.
We are still awaiting confirmation as to whether this overnight service will run in spring and summer 2016. This train was suspended in September 2015 and we do not yet know if it will be reinstated.
Travel in comfort with the Trenhotel night train from Barcelona to Granada. The direct overnight train takes its name from the famous Moorish palace in Granada: the Alhambra. It runs nightly in summer but less often in other seasons - and sometimes not at all in winter. So check schedules well in advance. The journey takes 11 hrs 30 mins. Bookings normally open two months prior to travel.
One of the highlights on this journey is the moment when, by crack of dawn, the train slips through Despenaperros Pass to reach Andalucía. Once famous for brigands and bandits, this rugged chasm is still the stuff of romance.
Barcelona to Granada (night train)
The seasonal Trenhotel night train leaves Barcelona Sants station in the evening and gets into Granada by breakfast time next morning. The train stops 8 times on its overnight journey to Andalucía, including Tarragona, Valencia and Albacete. The reclining seats (butaca) are comfortable enough for hardy types, but if you treasure your sleep, it would be wise to invest in a sleeping berth (cama).
The daytime journey from Barcelona to Granada by train is very easy. The route via Madrid takes just over 8 hrs, and involves an easy change of train at Atocha station. Your journey starts with a lunchtime high-speed journey to Madrid on an AVE train. The second leg of the journey is on an Altaria service from Madrid to Granada, getting you into Granada in the late evening.
If the timings of this route via Madrid to Granada do not suit you, it is possible to depart Barcelona earlier in the day and reach Granada by late afternoon. This is via Antequera-Santa Ana rather than Madrid (and is actually even quicker than the Madrid route). There is also, though not every night of the year, a direct overnight train from Barcelona to Granada.
Bookings for this itinerary normally open about four months in advance, though the Spanish rail operator will often release tickets in batches. If you're having trouble finding tickets, contact us, as the cheapest tickets are usually found when booking opens. We'll send you an email when tickets are released.
Barcelona to Madrid
Take a high-speed AVE train directly from Barcelona Sants station to Madrid Atocha. At peak times Barcelona to Madrid trains depart every 30 minutes, with the fastest services taking just 2 hrs 30 mins to reach the Spanish capital. Trains that stop up to four times along the way may take 30 to 40 minutes longer. This journey along Spain's premier high-speed rail route reveals a variety of passing landscapes as you speed from Catalonia through Aragon to the Spanish heartland.
Madrid to Granada
Board one of the twice-daily high-speed Altaria trains that leave Madrid Atocha station for the direct run to Granada in Spain's Andalusian region. The train stops three to four times along the way, including a halt at Córdoba. The last part of the journey is a bit slower after the train leaves the dedicated high-speed line at Antequera-Santa Ana for the final run through the hills to Granada. The train station at Granada is a 20-min walk from the city centre.
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Image credits: Alhambra, Granada, Spain Elena Shchipkova