How to Travel From Madrid to Barcelona

This post includes affiliate links. That means that if you purchase something we recommend, we may earn a small commission (which we’ll definitely spend on tapas). Rest assured that we only recommend a place or company if we honestly love it!

What could be more fun that a few days in Madrid? A few days in Madrid AND a few days in Barcelona.

After you’ve ogled the Royal Palace, checked out Guernica at the Reina Sofia museum and strolled through the Plaza Mayor, it’s time to discover Barcelona. Barcelona is one of the world’s most popular destinations and for good reason! To help made this journey easier, we’ve put together the best tips for planes, trains and automobiles to make your journey from Madrid to Barcelona hassle free!

Coming to Spain? Want to see the capital and the coast? Why not spend a few days in Madrid then head across to Barcelona? Here is our guide on how to travel from Madrid to Barcelona, hassle free!

Photo Credit: Francesc_2000

1. By train

The journey takes only two and half hours and leaves from the Atocha train station in the center of Madrid. The AVE or high-speed train is perhaps the most comfortable choice to travel from Madrid to Barcelona. There are frequent trains throughout the day.

  • AVE trains are comfortable and modern and allow you to watch the countryside side speed by!
  • You’ll arrive at the Barcelona Sants train station and from there it’s a quick trip to see sights.
  • Please note that you might not be able to use a non-Spanish credit card to buy tickets on the Renfe website (Spanish rail service) but you can pay with PayPal.
The AVE is a great way to travel to Barcelona from Madrid
Take the high-speed train to Barcelona, 2.5 hours from Madrid! Photo Credit: Sharon Hahn Darlin

2. By plane

The Puente Aereo or Air Bridge from Madrid to Barcelona is another popular option. A number of companies including several low-cost operators fly frequently between the two cities.

  • The flight is about one hour and ten minutes.
  • Once at the Barcelona airport you can take a train, bus or taxi into the city center (about 25 minutes, depending on the time of day).
  • If you buy your tickets in advance, you can find great deals.
Driving is how to travel from Madrid to Barcelona
Take the scenic route from Madrid to Barcelona with a road trip! By: JasonParis

Once you arrive in Barcelona, there are several ways to get to the city center.

  • Metro: Line L9 Sud connects the airport to Barcelona proper.
  • Bus: The popular AeroBus runs between the airport and Plaça Catalunya.
  • Rodalies: Barcelona’s commuter train network serves the airport on the R2 Nord line.
  • Private transfer: Welcome Pickups allows you to secure your ride in advance, giving you one less thing to worry about when you’re jet lagged. After you reserve online, you’ll get an email with your driver’s photo, contact details and the meeting point a few days before your trip, and once you arrive, they’ll be waiting for you with a sign with your name on it. Drivers even monitor your flight status in case of delays. And all this comes at a comparable price to an airport taxi!

3. By car

You can rent a car either at the airport or in central Madrid. The drive from Madrid to Barcelona takes about six hours on an easy to navigate highway.

  • Have cash ready to pay tolls or you can use a credit card. Be aware that many toll roads only accept chip-and-PIN cards.
  • Consider stopping for lunch in Zaragoza to enjoy the city’s famous roasted lamb called ternasco.
  • Another beautiful option is to drive to the coast and stop in Valencia for paella or fideuá (a paella style dish made with pasta!) then head North to Barcelona.

No need to say goodbye—add your email address in the form below to stay up-to-date on all things Devour Tours.

6 Comment

  1. Travelinho says
    July 20, 2018 at 12:51 pm

    Good tips!
    You missed the bus option, though. It will be much slower (around 7.5h), but it can also be much cheaper. And if you take a night bus, you don’t “waste time” and save one hotel-night. Not a bad deal for low-budget travellers. 😉

    In we have developed a travel search engine that compares all transport modes in just one view. This can be very convenient to avoid missing any interesting option. Feel free to visit it at

    1. Devour Tours says
      July 20, 2018 at 1:55 pm

      Great tip!

  2. August 11, 2018 at 10:20 am

    Nice blog. It’s very informative topic. Thanks!

  3. says
    December 8, 2018 at 1:27 pm

    Pretty! This has been an incredibly wonderful post.

    Many thanks for providing this info.

  4. Grahame Colditz says
    February 28, 2020 at 5:02 am

    Thanks for this. I visited Spain for the first time in January 2020, travelling from Barcelona to Madrid, Cordoba, Seville and Granada using Renfe. I had no problems pre-booking tickets from Australia. The service is excellent, the trains comfortable and the service efficient. We flew back to Barcelona from Granada and was impressed by the pilot’s ability to safely land during storm Gloria, with incredible and slightly terrifying cross winds. Overall, Spain has great transport options between major centres as well as superb metros (particularly Madrid) and bus systems locally. I could write for hours about how much I loved the country and people, but that would be off topic.

    1. Devour Tours says
      March 2, 2020 at 8:17 am

      Thans for reading, Grahame—it sounds like you had a wonderful trip to Spain earlier this year! Getting around the country certainly is easy, efficient and affordable thanks to the vast public transportation network.


Leave a Reply