Madrid to Barcelona by Train: Discovering Things to See & Do

madrid to barcelona on AVE

High-speed AVE train traveling through Spain. Photo source: RENFE

Experiencing High-Speed Train Travel from Madrid to Barcelona

Madrid and Barcelona are two of Spain’s most visited cities, and for good reason too! Not only are both cities bustling metropolises with so much to see and do! but both are easily reached by train.

Thanks to RENFE’S high-speed service on AVE trains, travel from Madrid to Barcelona is a breeze. Travel time is as little as 2 hours, 45 minutes.

Wake up refreshed in Madrid, indulge in an amazing breakfast. No worries, if you are short on time to catch your train, you can purchase an array of snacks and goodies on-board the sleek AVE train.

AVE will whisk you away from Madrid to Barcelona and you’ll arrive in time for some tasty tapas – a specialty in the city! Spend the afternoon strolling through Barcelona, taking in all the sites around you. When the day comes to an end, you can choose to hop on the train back to Madrid for the night, or perhaps Barcelona will inspire you to stay a little longer, and you choose to spend a night or two. Whatever you choose to do, the train will be ready to get you where you want to go – and fast!

Things to See & Do in Madrid and Barcelona

Here’s a great list of must-see & do activities when you travel from Madrid to Barcelona, do one or all, the choice is yours!

madrid to barcelona

Plaza Mayor – main public square in Madrid, Spain

10. The plaza Mayor - Take some time to sit and people-watch in Madrid’s main square – the Plaza Mayor. You can find a selection of places to grab a bite to eat, and perhaps try one of Spain’s fine wines, as you sit and watch the city go by.

9. FC Barcelona museum & Camp Nou stadium – For all the football fans out there (and by football, naturally we are referring to soccer) a trip to Barcelona would not be complete without a visit to the Camp Nou Stadium and the FC Barcelona Museum. The museum hosts a magnificent collection of photos, documents and trophies from the club’s amazing history of legendary teams and players. A stop at the stadium and museum is a definite GOAL on your travel scorecard!

8. A visit to the Royal Palace - Explore Madrid’s Royal Palace – the largest royal palace in Western Europe! You can enjoy priority access to the Royal Palace with your Madrid Card. In this museum you will find furniture, tapestries, ceramics, paintings and more. You’ll want to pencil some time in on your itinerary for the Royal Palace, it’s certainly worth it!

Parc Guell by Antonio Gaudi, Barcelona - Spain

Parc Guell by Antoni Gaudi, Barcelona – Spain

7. Park Guell by Gaudi – Explore some of the top works of Gaudi by walking around the Park Guell. Donated to the city of Barcelona in 1923, this park attracts many travelers annually. The park is on Carmel hill so seeing this attraction means some uphill walking. You can reach the park by using the Barcelona Bus Turistic from Rail Europe. Park Guell is one of the stops on this hop-on hop-off tour.

6. Discover Madrid Guided Walking Tours - Using your Madrid Card, take advantage of the guided walking tours of the city that are available to you. You’ll walk with a knowledgeable guide and get to know the city better, see the stunning architecture and become more familiar with the art, food, history, culture and legends of the city. A great advantage to purchasing the Madrid Card!

5. Stroll Down Las Ramblas - Las Ramblas starts at Plaza Catalunya and ends at the Monument of Columbus at the Port Vell harbor of Barcelona. Las Ramblas is Spain’s most famous Boulevard, lined with architectural delights—as well as street performers and La Boqueria, Europe’s oldest fresh air market. It’s been said that if you’ve not strolled down Las Ramblas, you cannot say you have been in Barcelona.

4. Watch a Flamenco Show - If you want to treat yourself to the best flamenco in Madrid , then a trip to the Corral de la Moreria “tablao” flamenco restaurant should be on your list. This restaurant has been widely recognized as being the premier flamenco restaurant in the city. It is home to quality artists and offers some of the most amazing Spanish food you’ll find in Madrid.

madrid to barcelona

La Sagrada Familia by Antoni Gaudi, located in Barcelona, Spain

3. La Sagrada Familia Church - The fabulous unfinished church of La Sagrada Familia by Antoni Gaudi is by far one of the top sights in Barcelona. This very unusual construction is Barcelona’s most famous and most visited tourist attraction, over 3 million travelers a year make a stop at the infamous cathedral. La Sagrada Familia is a stop on the hop-on hop-off tour using the Barcelona Bus Turistic.

2. The Prado Museum This museum is Madrid’s top cultural sight, and one of the world’s greatest art galleries. Located on El Paseo del Prado, its dazzling display of works by great European masters such as Velázquez, Goya, Raphael, Rubens, and Bosch (among other major Italian and Flemish artists), is housed in an 18th-century Neo-Classical building which was opened as a museum in 1819. Entry to the Prado Museum is included with your Madrid Card – you can skip the lines too with priority access!

1. Travel at high-speed - The best way to experience both of these Spanish icons is to travel high-speed on AVE. The service and high standards of the train are as impressive as the speeds you’ll be traveling at. Taking the train from Madrid to Barcelona will certainly be one of the highlights on your trip to Spain!

For many travelers to Spain, Madrid and Barcelona are at the top of the itinerary. With high-speed train travel on AVE, you don’t have to choose one city over the other, you can easily see both. Both Madrid and Barcelona are very active cities offering something for everyone. From parks and museums, to delectable foods and intricate dance, you will find just the right activities to ensure you have a fantastic time.

For a vacation full of culture and fun, consider taking a trip from Madrid to Barcelona, trust us, you won’t be disappointed! Be sure to share your Madrid and Barcelona travel stories with us – and any additional items you think should be on a list of must sees!

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