Fastest journey2hr 30m
Travelling by train from Barcelona to Madrid is easy and so fast that the train is now taking a lot of trade away from Europe's busiest air route. This new rail route opened in 2008, and on every weekday about two dozen smart AVE trains speed between Barcelona and Madrid. On Saturdays and Sundays, you'll still have a choice of about 16 trains in each direction.
The 621-km journey from Barcelona to Madrid is very popular, so you'll need to book well in advance if you want to get a cheap ticket. Note that bargain fares are few and far between on peak-time departures from Barcelona on this prime business route. You're more likely to strike a good deal if you travel very early in the morning, in the middle of the day or in the evening. Booking normally opens about four months prior to travel.
There is also a once-a-day Regional Express from Barcelona to Madrid. With three dozen stops en route, it takes nine hours. The train leaves from Barcelona França, then stops also at Sants and arrives in Madrid at Chamartin. The overnight Estrella train from Barcelona to Madrid was withdrawn in April 2015.
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.
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Image credits: Royal Palace, Madrid © Lucavanzolini