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barcelona and Madrid in a Spanish map

Best way to travel from Barcelona to Madrid.

If you plan to travel from Barcelona to Madrid you are probably considering the best transportation options from Barcelona to Madrid. We will compare in this post the different options based on time and price.


We summarise here first the 5 options we coer to get from Barcelona to Madrid 

1 – Barcelona to Madrid vacation package. 2,5 days. From 700 Euros

2- Barcelona to Madrid by high speed train. 2,5 hours. From 60 Euros

3- Barcelona to Madrid by plane. 1 hour (flying time) From 40€

4 – Barcelona to Madrid by bus. 7 hours. From 20€

5- Barcelona to Madrid by car. 7 hours, From 90 Euros plus car rental




Distance between Barcelona and Madrid

Before we start you may wonder what is the distance between Barcelona and Madrid.  It is 620 kilometers by motorway.


We will start with our preferred option. It is neither the fastest way to connect both cities nor the cheapest but it is for sure the option that offers a better overall experience.


Option 1. Enjoy a vacation package whilst travelling from Barcelona to Madrid.

We strongly believe that getting to know a country in depth implies getting to know more of it than just its main cities. Small villages and countryside do not offer the same retail stores or even the same type of global gastronomy that can be found at any global city now a days. Needless to say too, and this specially applies to wine country, these areas are not so visited and offer an overall relaxing experience.

Time needed: 2 days and a half or 3 days.

Budget: if you are looking for a private chauffeured tour between Barcelona and Madrid prices vary a lot depending on the number of people in your group and also on the level of hotels and restaurants you would like to see included.

We like to recommend our 3 day Barcelona to Madrid private tour. Prices vary from 700€ per person to 1,000€ depending on whether you are 4 or 2 people for instance. Hotels are 4 star, very highly rated. Luxury transportation, expert drivers and guides and a excellent selection of restaurants and wineries to visit included in the price.

The itinerary takes you to Rioja, a region famous for its small villages and fantastic vineyard landscapes and also to Ribera del Duero, another very famous wine region in Spain. With this type of tour package you can enjoy tapas at night, meals inside a winery facing the oak barrels, or guided visits to vineyards and ancient wineries that will host you at their medieval underground caves.

If you add transportation, hotel nights, activities and outstanding service this may end up being a very good option from the overall value point of view. Barcelona to Madrid vacation example

Option 2.  High speed train.

The AVE ((alta velocidad española) is the Spanish brand for high speed trains and it connects Barcelona to Madrid.

How long does the ave train take from Barcelona to Madrid? This train takes around 3 hours with some trains at given hours making the trip in as less as 2,5 hours.

 What is the price of the speed train from Barcelona to Madrid? The prices vary depending on the day and time you would choose and also on the moment you decide to book it. A rough estimate is a price range between 70 and 130 Euros for a one way standard ticket.

The train departures Barcelona from the centrally located Barcelona Sants train station and it arrives in Madrid at the also centrally located Atocha station.

Is the high speed train comfortable? This is a great option, there is no doubt about it and make local people have opted for the train instead of the plane despite the train tickets tend to be more expensive. The high speed train from Barcelona to Madrid is very punctual and offers excellent connections in both cities. You do not need to queue at airports, nor take expensive taxis to get to the city center.  

The train is also fantastic to connect Madrid with Seville, Cordoba or Granada in the south, and Barcelona with Paris. You can find schedules and prices at Spanish rail web site. Renfe

What is not so good about it? Despite this is for many people the best way to travel from Barcelona to Madrid, we believe it is excellent if your time is limited. But you will really miss a lot on the way!

Option 3. Plane

Plane was once the preffered option by all business people travelling for meetings to Madrid from Barcelona. The plane offers a quick way to connect Spain´s top 2 cities but with the plane bear in mind that you will need to find transportation to and from the airports on both ends and you will also require extra time for check-in and security purposes (despite Spanish airports are very efficient, specially when we consider local national flights)  

How long does it take to fly from Barcelona to Madrid?

The flight normally takes a bit more than an hour and price can be found for as low as 40€ (with no luggage being checked-in). You can check schedules and prices at Vueling or Iberia.

Option 4. Bus from Barcelona to Madrid

This is without a doubt the least expensive option but unless price is your main driver for the decision we would not recommend this option.

The motorway that connects Barcelona with Madrid (AP2) is excellent. As a matter of fact the quality of motorways in Spain is very high and they are really safe. This implies the bus is safer than if smaller roads were used and also it is more comfortable due to the quality of the road.

Having said this, the bus will take 7 hours and you will not really enjoy the trip. The motorway does not offer what we would define as a scenic route and there are no interesting stops on the way either.

The price for this option starts at 22€. You can check schedules and prices at Alsa.

You would normally take a bus in Sants station and be dropped off at either the airport or the intercambiador of Chamartin in central Madrid.

Option 5. By car

Driving from Barcelona to Madrid takes around 7 hours and will cost you around 90€ (55-60€ in petrol) and 35€ in tolls. To this you would need to add car rental in case you are not using your own car.

As we have mentioned for the case of the bus, the motorway AP2 that connects both cities is very well preserved. There are a few areas (near Zaragoza) in which wind tends to be strong and driving less comfortable, but the drive is overall safe.

We would not recommend driving however unless you make this part of a road trip from Barcelona to Madrid in which case you will be able to enjoy detours and profit from the smaller scenic routes and local culture and gastronomy. We have included above a link to a road trip itinerary we recommend.

We trust you have found this information on getting from Barcelona to Madrid interesting. If you are planning to travel from Barcelona to San Sebastian you may be interested also in the post we show above.



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