Madrid – Barcelona

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  • Swissdiver

    Dear all,

    Will probably have to travel between Madrid and Barcelona any time soon. I see three options but wonder which one should I select:
    – Flying (IB I presume)
    – AVE (Spanish high speed trains)
    – Iryo (Italian high speed trains – a Frecciarossa 1000) gave me some hints. Still, I wonder. Any experience to share?

    Thank you!


    Hello Swissdiver,

    I have reported many times on HS (high speed) rail within Spain.

    There are four HS operators on the route: Renfe AVE, Iryo, Ouigo and Avlo.

    Only the first two are considered conventional.

    Personally, from what I have seen via YouTube and have read, I would recommend Iryo and its Haizea class.

    (Of course I am assuming you will be travelling downtown-downtown)

    I would expect the teething troubles to which I referred in 2022 have now been solved.

    Iryo joins Ouigo and Renfe in Spain

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    Hi Swissdiver. I have taken both the AVE and IB from BCN to Madrid before. I actually did a trip review of IB a few months ago which covered BCN-MAD and then MAD-LHR, the domestic in Y and the London flight in C/J. I hope this is of some help:-

    Iberia A320 & A330 short-haul trip reports

    Some thoughts

    When booking seats on the AVE if I recall correctly in both standard and premium/first re seat numbers the website selects the seat numbers for you. You do not self select a specific seat like on most airline websites. I find this frustrating and have been given duff seats before.

    Not sure if you know yet what direction you are going in yet (east or westbound) but BCN airport is very easy to get to/from the centre and the Aerobus is very easy indeed and fast too.

    IB lounges at MAD are pretty good. There is also Air Europa but due to their website and calling them making it impossible to make a booking as mentioned in my report, cannot give you up to date advice on their service. Maybe you will have more luck than me and it is worth remembering that they have 787 on some of their flights versus IB’s A320 etc. IB A320 after row 6 is the tightest seating pitch I have ever come across.

    The train itself is very nice and a beautiful way to see the landscape across north west Spain and of course you go from city centre to city centre.

    Please let us know what you choose and what the experience is like.

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    Take the train every time!! Centre to centre and very comfortable (in premium). Scenery is great! Cost varies enormously with date and departure time (what’s new!). Do your research and choose the most direct service. Both Iryo and AVE are good Iryo has better food! Metro systems in both cities very convenient to tie in if needed. Trainline are good for information.There are also some good ‘You-Tubes’ of this route.
    Probbably will do this in September. BA into MAD out of BCN.

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    Indeed BPP. If you refer to the piece I wrote in 2022 – see above – I described the Iryo product and suggested booking Haizea class.

    On the particular journey by the YouTube vlogger there were one of two issues with the ride quality and there were a couple of Hitachi engineers on the train who were monitoring performance.

    Yes as you say Trainline is a good and neutral source to compare the HS offerings on this route.

    I say that because, in mainland Europe, rail operators’ booking systems remain biased … unlike the UK where all operators must display the others.

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