How to get by train to Madrid: practical information (2024)

train to madrid

Do you want to know how to get by train to Madrid?

That’s an excellent idea…

Madrid’s central location, coupled with Spain’s investment in high-speed rail infrastructure, makes it a supremely accessible city from anywhere in the country.

All train operators in Spain have a dynamic fare model (like those of airlines).

So I can’t recommend you enough to purchase your train tickets, as soon as you know your travel dates to Madrid!

If you want to plan your train trips around Spain, have a look at a complete tutorial about train travel in Spain. There you can read all the information you need to organize your train journeys throughout the country.

Additionally, you can also read more information about getting around Madrid by train. This is particularly interesting if you are planning one or some day trips from Madrid.

Take advantage of the best train network in Europe

Catching a train is the easiest and most comfortable way to travel around Spain. The country has currently almost 16,000 km (10,000 mi) of railway infrastructure and more than 1,550 stations.

Renfe, a public company, is in charge of managing most the passenger train routes throughout Spain. It used to have the monopoly in the high-speed lines, but nowadays you can use other railway operators (Avlo, OUIGO and iryo).

Is it easy to get to Madrid by train?

Definitely!

Here’s why Madrid is such an easy reach by train from across Spain:

  1. Its central location. Geographically, Madrid is almost at the center of Spain. This strategic positioning makes it a natural hub for the Spanish railway network, allowing direct train lines from all corners of the country. Whether you’re coming from the rugged coasts of Galicia in the northwest, the balmy shores of Valencia in the east, or the Andalusian heartlands in the south, Madrid is just a train ride away.
  2. Spain has an extensive high-Speed network. Spain boasts one of the most extensive high-speed train networks in the world. Madrid is the cornerstone of this network, with high-speed lines connecting it to major cities like Barcelona, Seville, Valencia, and Málaga.
  3. Highly frequent services. The frequency of trains to and from Madrid is another factor that makes it so accessible. Major routes have trains leaving every hour (or even more frequently), which means you can easily find a train that fits your schedule without long waits.
  4. Two modern and well-connected stations. Madrid’s main train stations, Atocha and Chamartín, are modern, well-equipped, and easy to navigate. These stations are not only points of departure and arrival but also bustling centers connected to local metro and bus services, making further travel within Madrid straightforward.

You can get by train to Madrid using 3 services

There are different types of trains linking Madrid to other cities and towns in Spain.

  • Larga Distancia. High-speed trains, very comfortable and extremely reliable.
  • Media Distancia. Traditional trains with multiple stops along the way.
  • Cercanías. It’s the city’s commuter rail network and covers local trains in and around the city.

Long distance routes (Larga distancia)

Being right in the middle of the country, Madrid is the city with the largest number of long distance routes.

And the best part of it all is that most of them using high-speed trains. These trains reach more than 310 km/h (193 mi/h) allowing you to get to your destination extremely fast.

As I said before, apart from Renfe, there are other railway operators (Renfe’s low-cost Avlo, OUIGO and iryo) covering several routes in Spain.

Fortunately, all of them include Madrid.

Renfe AVE trains to Madrid

Currently Renfe has 10 AVE routes departing from Madrid:

  • Madrid Atocha – Calatayud- Zaragoza – Lleida – Tarragona – Barcelona
  • Madrid Atocha – Guadalajara – Calatayud – Zaragoza – Tardienta – Huesca
  • Madrid Atocha – Ciudad Real – Puertollano – Córdoba – Sevilla
  • Madrid Atocha – Ciudad Real – Puertollano – Córdoba – Antequera – Loja – Granada
  • Madrid Atocha – Córdoba – Puente Genil – Antequera – Málaga
  • Madrid Atocha – Cuenca – Valencia – Castellón
  • Madrid Atocha – Cuenca – Albacete – Villena – Alicante
  • Madrid Chamartín – Cuenca – Albacete – Villena – Alicante
  • Madrid Chamartín – Segovia – Valladolid – Palencia – León
  • Madrid Chamartín – Zamora – Ourense

In addition to this, Alvia trains connect Madrid with other Spanish cities such as Cádiz, Bilbao, San Sebastián and La Coruña.

Avlo high-speed trains to Madrid

Apart from AVE trains, Avlo is Renfe’s low-cost high-speed long-distance train service operating 2 long distance routes:

  • Madrid – Guadalajara – Calatayud – Zaragoza – Lleida – Tarragona – Barcelona
  • Madrid – Cuenca – Requena – Valencia

OUIGO high-speed trains to Madrid

French SNCF’s low-cost high-speed OUIGO trains now operate on 2 routes:

  • Madrid Atocha – Tarragona – Zaragoza – Barcelona
  • Madrid Chamartín – Valencia

OUIGO Spain services will gradually be extended to other high-speed lines in Spain.

Iryo high-speed trains

iryo is the new brand from railway operator ILSA. The company is made up of the partners of the Spanish airline Air Nostrum, and Trenitalia, the Italian state-owned railway operator.

It operates on a single route:

  • Madrid Atocha – Tarragona – Zaragoza – Barcelona

They are also expected to run between Madrid, Cuenca, Valencia/Alicante and between Madrid, Córdoba, Seville and Málaga in the near future.

Moderate speed trains (Media distancia)

Madrid has moderate speed train connections with 20+ cities along the country, as well as many other stops along these routes.

All these routes are operated by Renfe exclusively, and covered by comfortable and reliable trains. While Renfe offers very convenient fares, it’s true that these trains are considerably slower than AVE and Alvia ones.

Alternatively, you can catch a regional bus. Prices are also very cheap for what you get: the vehicles are generally very comfortable and modern (most companies offer free Wi-Fi on board), and they are rarely late (traffic permits).

Madrid Cercanías trains (commuter rail network)

The Cercanías or commuter service is operated by Renfe exclusively. It comprises 9 railway lines that run all over the Madrid region (comunidad autónoma).

How to get your Madrid train tickets

Fortunately, buying any Madrid train ticket is extremely easy. It only depends on the type of train you plan to catch.

Long distance and moderate speed trains

As I already mentioned, Long Distance train fares have a similar system to those of the airlines. They vary depending on

  • The railway operator you choose to travel with.
  • The date and time you plan to travel.

So the best way to find cheap train tickets for all train journeys is buying your tickets in advance, as soon as you know your travel dates.

In addition to this, Renfe charges you an extra fee if you purchase your tickets at any train station ticket office.

Save time and money getting your Long Distance or Moderate Speed train tickets online!

Madrid train network: Cercanías

Cercanías train tickets can be bought from machines at the train station and if available, ticket windows where Renfe staff can help you out. It’s easier to use the machines, but you can always go to a ticket window if you speak a bit of Spanish and need extra help.

You can’t use any bus or subway ticket on the train network, so you must purchase your Cercanías train tickets before boarding any commuter train.

The Renfe Spain Pass

If you want to explore the regions of Spain using the local train service, you might want to consider a Renfe Spain Pass. The Pass lets you hop on and hop off local trains at your convenience. These local trains arrive and depart frequently and are nicely comfortable.

A Renfe Spain Pass gives you unlimited travel throughout Spain. Choose from 4, 6, 8, 10 or 12 journeys of train travel from Madrid – that can be used consecutively or separately.

Madrid has 2 main train stations

The city has 2 main stations.

You can catch long distance, high speed, medium distance, and suburban trains from both of them. If you need so, you can check my tutorial on how to get around Madrid by train.

Atocha

Located in the south, Atocha it’s the largest railway station. It’s the primary station of most of the AVE and Alvia routes, and serves mainly the south and east regions of Spain, as well as the international line to Paris and some Cercanías lines.

It’s also very well connected with Barajas airport. For more information, have a look at how to exit the airport and how to get to the airport.

Chamartín

Located towards the north, Chamartín is the second major station. It hosts the railway routes connecting Madrid and north-western Spain, a couple of AVE routes, and some Cercanías lines, plus the international line to Lisbon.

This article is part of a complete tutorial about train travel from Madrid where you can read all the information you need to organize your train journeys from the city.

Here is a complete summary of all the guide:

1. Getting to Madrid by train
2. How to purchase Renfe tickets online
3. 7 tricks to get cheap train tickets in Spain
4. A complete guide to Madrid Cercanías trains
5. How to get your Madrid Cercanías tickets
6. The Combinado Cercanías ticket
7. The Atocha train station
8. The Chamartín train station

Start planning your upcoming trip to Madrid

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