budget – What’s the cheapest way to travel from Madrid to Barcelona?

The normal train is, as described by santiago, still available. You can check the tickets in www.renfe.com. They are not very comfortable, but at least you can walk around and, eventually, spend some time in the bar. The travel time on these regional trains is around 8 h and price is around 50 euros.

You can also get a fast train, AVE, that takes around 3 h. The prices are quite higher in this case, but you may get lower prices if you buy in advance. ALVIA is similar, only that a bit cheaper and slower.

I would also recommend you to check the buses. ALSA is the main company and has a lot of connections every day. The price is around 32 euros and it takes almost 8 h. They normally stop after 4 hours around Zaragoza in a rest area where you can go to the toilet, get some food…

In order to compare, I did try to buy a single train and bus ticket from Barcelona to Madrid for next Sunday 6th of June.

System Lowest price Departure time Travel time
AVE 32€ 6am 3h 10 min
AVE 84,30€ 7.05/8/9am 2h 45 min
regional 33,45€ 9am 8h 52 min
ALVIA 35,30€ 4.30pm 5h 42 min
bus 32,46€ 1/7/8/9.30/10…am 7h 20 min

Based on this, I would suggest you to adapt to what matches:

  • If you don’t want to care about the quality of the transport and get a constant price no matter when you buy the ticket and how much in advance, go for the bus.
  • If you can travel on strange, bad hours, and get the ticket in advance, go and get an AVE.