Fastest journey5hr 10m
It is very easy to travel by train from Madrid to San Sebastián. On most days, there are two fast Alvia trains and two slower Media Distancia (MD) services linking the two cities.
The fast Alvia trains take 5 hrs 20 mins, cutting through the hills north-west of Madrid in a long tunnel. If you are interested in some beautiful Spanish landscape, you might prefer the slower option, for the rail route over the Sierra de Guadarrama is one of the most beautiful in Spain. It’ll add two hours to your journey time but the views are worth it.
The fare on the MD trains is fixed and so there’s no real advantage to booking early. However, fares on the Alvia trains do hike up the closer you get to the date of travel. So if you’re looking for cheap tickets on the Alvia, book your journey when tickets are first released for sale, usually up to two months in advance.
The Spanish rail operator often releases tickets in batches, so if you're having trouble finding tickets contact us and we'll email you when booking opens.
Madrid to San Sebastián/Donostia
Choose between a high-speed Alvia train and slower Media Distancia train to travel directly from Madrid Chamartín station to San Sebastián. Fast Alvia trains take 5 hrs 20 mins for the run to the Basque city, stopping six to seven times along the way, including Burgos. Media Distancia trains stop at least 20 times and take over 7 hrs for the journey to San Sebastián.