Fastest journey5hr 21m
Travelling by train from Barcelona to Salamanca requires a change of train in Madrid. The first leg from Barcelona to Madrid follows a modern high-speed route on an AVE train. The second part of the journey, from Madrid to Salamanca, is a relaxed run through the hills on a comfortable regional train service. Along the way, you'll see the scenic Sierra de Guadarrama. Connecting between the two trains in Madrid requires an easy change of station (from Atocha to Chamartín). The entire journey can be done in 6 hrs 30 mins.
Bookings for journeys from Barcelona to Salamanca open a couple of months before travel. It's worth buying the Barcelona to Madrid leg as soon as it goes on sale (usually four months before travel), when you'll find the cheapest tickets. The ticket for the Madrid to Salamanca leg is sold at a fixed price and can therefore be purchased without penalty much closer to your departure date.
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 interchange: Madrid Atocha to Madrid-Chamartin
Arriving at Madrid Puerta de Atocha, you'll need to transfer to Chamartín station. In order to get to Chamartín, follow the signs to Atocha Cercanías to take a local suburban service (called Cercanías). It is about a 10-min walk. The suburban station is on the same premises as Puerta de Atocha and is well signed. Cercanías trains depart about every 5 mins. It is only 3 stops to Chamartín and the journey will not take more than 15 mins. Don't forget to buy a ticket for the Cercanías train. It will only cost you a couple of euros.
As everywhere at main stations in Spain you need to check in and be ready to board the train a few minutes before the advertised departure time. Allow 1 hr for the total transfer between Atocha and Chamartín.
Madrid to Salamanca
The Media Distancia trains to Salamanca all depart from Chamartín station in Madrid. This is a one-class service with up to nine departures daily. All trains make three stops along the way. In Salamanca, your train stops twice. The first station is called 'Salamanca'. While this is the best bet if you are connecting to other trains or local buses, travellers bound for the centre of town should stay on the train for an extra 3 mins and alight at 'Salamanca-La Alamedilla'. This second station is much closer to the Plaza Mayor and the Old Town.
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Image credits: Plaza Mayor, Salamanca © Demachy