Train travel from Madrid is extremely easy, comfortable and safe. Whether you want to travel to a long-distance destination or somewhere nearby, Renfe and other railway operators offer you several options.
Ticket fares for most Spanish trains are regulated by a dynamic pricing system.
What is the main principle of the dynamic pricing system? The higher the demand and the fewer the seats, the higher the ticket price.
The fare depends not only on the distance and popularity of the route, but also on such factors as:
- Train category (Larga Distance or high-speed train, Alvia, Media Distancia, etc.).
- Time of year, day of the week, and time of departure.
- The number of seats offered in the train.
- The date of purchase of the ticket (ie. the number of days before the departure of the train).
So the best way to save money is purchasing your train tickets in advance.
A complete guide to train travel from Madrid
It’s super easy to take advantage of Madrid’s extensive network of regional and long-distance trains, but it can be a little dizzying or confusing the first time you arrive if you don’t know what the heck you’re doing…
In this tutorial, I’ll share with you everything you need to know about Spanish trains, and most importantly for you, how to train travel to and from Madrid.
You’ll also learn about the main divisions of the network (e.g., commuter vs. cross-country), big stations and regional hubs, the current state of the high-speed network, a breakdown of the various fares you can buy, and how to actually buy a ticket online!
Here is a complete summary of all the guide:
1. Spain trains: everything you need to know
2. How to purchase Renfe tickets online
3. 7 tricks to get cheap train tickets in Spain
4. Renfe: Spain’s state-owned railway company
5. AVE trains: Renfe high-speed trains in Spain
6. The Combinado Cercanías ticket
7. The Renfe Spain Pass
8. Avlo: Renfe’s high speed low cost trains
9. OUIGO trains: SNCF’s high speed low cost company
10. iryo: Spain’s low cost high-speed rail operator
11. 7 packing tips to comply with your train baggage allowance
Train travel from Madrid to other destinations
Since Madrid is located in the center of the country, it has traditionally been the hub between different areas of Spain and is therefore very well connected to all major Spanish cities by train.
From Madrid to other destinations in Spain
From Madrid you can easily reach Alicante, Barcelona, Córdoba, Málaga, Seville, Valencia and Zaragoza thanks to Renfe’s modern and extensive network of AVE high-speed trains.
In addition to this, you can travel to Bilbao, Salamanca, San Sebastián, and Valladolid although the trip will take longer than catching a flight.
From Madrid to nearby destinations
There are many superb day trips from Madrid by train. My favorites include Toledo, Segovia, El Escorial, Ávila and Alcalá de Henares.
Some of these, such as El Escorial or Alcalá de Henares rely on local trains, so you don’t need to get your Cercanías tickets in advance.
But other destinations (e.g. Toledo) are served by AVE high-speed trains. Therefore, book your tickets as soon as possible. These trains can quickly fill up on peak days.
Madrid train stations
The 2 main stations in Madrid are:
- Atocha. Madrid’s main train station is 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.
From there you can catch long distance, high speed, medium distance, and suburban trains.
Read more information on how to get around Madrid by train.
Advantages of train travel from Madrid
As a seasoned international traveler, I have to say that trains are perhaps my favorite way of getting around. Many of the inconveniences and problems that I associate with flying or driving are often avoided when going by rail.
That’s not to say that trains are always appropriate or practical, but train travel from Madrid does offer many benefits when the circumstances are right.
- Spanish trains go where you need them to go and are fast, frequent, and affordable. Lace this network together to create the trip of your dreams from Madrid, which is right at the center of country!
- Madrid train schedules have trains running at regular intervals, giving you lots of options for when to travel.
- Train travel, though not as flexible as driving, can be less stressful. On a train, you can forget about parking hassles, confusing road signs, speed limits, bathroom stops, and local drivers. Watch the scenery instead of fixing your eyes on the road.
- It’s also quite time-efficient, especially with Spain’s ever-growing network of super-fast trains. As long as you’re on board when the train leaves, you’re on time.
- Tiresome procedures such as checking in your baggage, negotiating numerous long lines and undergoing the extensive security measures that one finds in airports are typically avoided. Just take your baggage to the station and get on the train.
- Forget about being shoehorned into a cramped car or an economy-class airline seat. On the train, you can walk around, spread out in comparatively wide seats, and easily retrieve an extra sweater from your luggage.
- Unlike Madrid airport which is located many kilometers away from the city center, Madrid train stations (especially Atocha) are usually centrally located, making them easier to access by car, taxis, bus, or subway.