Barcelona to Malaga: Practical Transport Guide [2024]

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Barcelona to Malaga: Practical Transport Guide [2024]

Are you planning a trip from Barcelona to Malaga?

If you’re wondering whether it’s best to drive, take a train or fly, this article will give you all the answers you need to plan the perfect trip.

Best of all – as I live in Spain (near Malaga), I have plenty of experience navigating public transport and car rentals. I will share lots of practical local tips from personal experience that will save you a lot of time and hassle.

Let’s dive in!

Barcelona to Malaga Journey Overview

Here is a quick glance overview of all your options available, followed by a detailed breakdown of your chosen transport:

Transportation Mode Details
Car Travel 9.5 hours travel time
Train Travel 45 – 80 euros, 6 – 7 hours travel time
Bus Travel 38 – 102 euros, 15 hours or more
Air Travel 25 – 40 euros, 2 hours travel time

Distance Between Barcelona and Malaga

The driving distance between Barcelona and Malaga totals about 612 miles, or roughly 985 kilometers.

If you’re driving the coastal route should be quite scenic, with plenty of beach communities along the way and the city of Valencia at the halfway point. 

horse carriages in Malaga, Spain

Barcelona to Malaga Transportation Options 

1. Barcelona to Malaga by Train

Operated by Renfe, Spain’s leading train service, the high-speed AVE train service is a fast and easy way to reach Malaga from Barcelona.

Trains travel at speeds up to 193 (or 310 km) per hour and feature WIFI, meals, and power access to ensure your journey is as comfortable as possible. Safe and well-maintained, and Spain’s train system is highly regarded among both locals and tourists.

Prices for Trains from Barcelona to Malaga

The AVE price system has three tiers, starting with the cheapest Basico option and ending with Premium fares. Standard and comfort classes are available, with comfort being similar to first class. 

AVE trains allow passengers to bring along 3 luggage items in adherence to the company’s size regulations. Children under 3 years old travel free, while children under 14 receive a 40% discount on tickets. Bicycles and scooters are allowed onboard. Small pets can also travel with you, but they need a special pet ticket. 

Train tickets for this particular route can fall anywhere from 45 to 80 euros.

Depending on how far in advance you book and what season it is, you can find standard-class tickets for quite affordable rates. It all depends on when you plan to ride and when you book, so be sure to reserve tickets in advance if possible.  

Malaga Muelle Uno

Barcelona to Malaga Train Departures

Trains from Barcelona to Seville run about 12 times a day, though this also may depend on timing and season. Since the ride takes all day, opting for an early departure makes the most sense.

Trains depart from Barcelona’s Sants train station, and the frequency of departures makes it easy to pick the one that matches your schedule.

Travel Time from Barcelona to Malaga

Train rides from Barcelona to Malaga usually take between 6 to 7 hours, depending on the departure you choose. While direct routes are available, others may include a stop along the way. 

Where to Buy Train Tickets

You can get your train tickets directly at Renfe website – it sometimes gets stuck and the English translations dont always work too well. You can book the same tickets also through Trainline.

Book Your Train Tickets

2. Barcelona to Malaga by Bus

Spain’s extensive bus system connects both large cities and smaller communities. This will likely be much slower than driving or taking the train but it still makes a good backup option in case you can’t find the right train tickets.

As with train tickets, the further in advance you book your bus ride, the less money you will end up spending.

Alsa, Avanza and FlixBus are some popular long-distance bus companies in the country, but not all companies offer the same routes. Omio is a great online resource that will match you with any of these bus companies depending on where you are going. 

Barcelona to Malaga by Bus Travel Time

The average travel time for the bus route from Barcelona to Malaga starts at about 15 hours, meaning the journey is bound to take you all day. 

This is by far the slowest way to travel between the two cities, so pack plenty of snacks, water and activities to pass the time onboard.

Some of these connections are night buses, so they might be convenient if you’re on a budget and would like to get there overnight.

Hotel Parador de Málaga Gibralfaro

Barcelona to Malaga by Bus Departures

Here are some Alsa bus company examples of departures and arrival times from Barcelona to Malaga. Please keep in mind these were valid in September and subject to change.

  • 00.25 departure – arrival at 9pm in Malaga
  • 01.00 am departure – arrival at 9pm in Malaga
  • 1.25 am departure – arrival at 9pm in Malaga
  • 7.00 am departure – arrival 10pm in Malaga
  • 12.00 pm departure – arrival 5pm in Malaga
  • 5.00 pm departure – arrival 8am in Malaga
  • 23.59 pm departrure – arrival 9pm in Malaga

Barcelona to Malaga by Bus Tickets

Bus tickets for this trip generally cost between 38 to 102 euros.

Keep in mind that while prices vary, the bus can make a good back-up option if there are no trains available. However, buses will usually not have as many amenities as trains and can take twice as long. 

Where to Buy Bus Tickets

Omio lists updated departure and arrival times and is easy to use for English speakers planning a bus journey. For this trip, Omio recommends riding with Alsa, a reliable nationwide bus company. 

Book Your Bus Tickets

3. Barcelona to Malaga by Car

Renting a car in Spain is a unique way to tour the country, as it allows you more freedom to completely customize a day by day itinerary. When driving between Barcelona and Malaga, for example, drivers have plenty of opportunities to spend time in another city along the way or enjoy coastal communities. 

Additionally, if you’re still craving beach days once in Seville, you’ll be able to drive to seaside destinations and nearby cities and natural attractions.

The drive from Barcelona to Malaga should take around 9.5 hours and cover just over 600 miles. With the city of Valencia sitting halfway through the drive, it’s easy to incorporate sightseeing into the journey.

Some cons of renting a car include paying for gas and dealing with traffic and tolls around major cities.

You do have to be at least 21 to rent a car in Spain, so younger travelers should look for other options. If you are not a European Union citizen, you’ll need to get an International Driver’s permit. While inexpensive, securing these permits might require advance planning on your end. 

cropped-malaga-cathedral-spain-andalusia-2.jpg

You will also have to consider where you’ll be dropping off your rental while planning your trip. While drop off locations are available in different cities, this might be inconvenient if you’re not planning to end your trip where you started it. 

Car parking can also be quite expensive in city centers, so choose parking spots outside of popular districts if you want to save money.

Driving in Spain is easy to get used to, as most roads and highways are well-maintained and clearly marked. As in any location, abiding by the speed limit is crucial- you might need to get used to a new metric system, as the speed limit is in kilometers.

Be sure to pay attention to parking and vehicle-related signage, especially if you’re not used to reading rules in Spanish. Familiarize yourself with common regulations beforehand to avoid tickets. Many cities have resident and paid parking spots, so keep an eye out for both.

Discover Cars is an easy-to-use website that can help you find the ideal car rental service.

The website is convenient for English speakers and lists various reliable rental companies throughout the country, as well as rates and more.

Get a quote via the link below.

Get a Quote for Car Rental

4. Barcelona to Malaga Flights

An additional option for traveling between Barcelona and Malaga is to book a short flight between the two destinations.

Both RyanAir and Vueling Airlines offer low-cost flights ranging from 25 to 40 euros one way.

Nonstop flights take just under two hours, making this your speediest way to travel. There is a range of departure times available daily, making it much easier to find a flight that fits your schedule. 

Flying can be a viable option when you’re in a pinch, but don’t forget to factor in travel time to and from busy airports and security screening. The Barcelona and Malaga airports may be especially busy, as these are both highly popular tourist destinations.

The flight itself may be short, but getting in and out of the airport usually isn’t. Since flights between these two cities are infrequent, you’ll likely have to adjust your plans to account for flight schedules.

As usual, booking your flight in advance means lower prices. When it comes to flights, keep an eye on the weather, as planes are often more sensitive to storms and other weather conditions than ground transportation.

Malaga central

Budget-Friendly Travel Tips

Keeping your getaway affordable and budget-friendly is all about proactively thinking ahead.

The earlier you start booking tickets and lodging, the more money you’ll save. The same goes for transportation costs- train tickets are generally affordable, but with enough research, you might be able to find a bus trip or even a direct flight for a similar or lower price. 

If you want to explore by car, your daily transportation costs will be higher. Booking a multi-day rental will usually help you save on the final rental price, so consider sticking to the car for your entire trip. 

Traveling with Special Requirements

If you have special requirements or are taking a trip with someone who has them, you’ll likely want to make sure your trip will be as comfortable as possible ahead of time. 

Disabled travelers, for example, can request a train station wheelchair by calling Renfe’s customer assistance hotline. Renfe also offers a service known as Adif Acerca, which provides physical assistance, information on traveling while disabled and guidance services around train stations.

Many of Spain’s museums, historic sites and other attractions are accessible as well, meaning everyone can enjoy the best of each city. 

If you’re traveling with little ones, look for deals on tickets. AVE trains, for example, offer discounts of up to 40% for children younger than 14. Children younger than 3 travel free of cost. 

If you’re planning to bring your pet along, look for pet-friendly transportation options or consider the comfort of renting your own car. Many trains do allow pets on board, provided they have their own pet ticket. Buses and flights may have different rules, so be sure to do advance research. RyanAir, for example, does not allow traveling with pets unless they are service dogs.

Malaga old town

Arriving in Malaga

Malaga Train Station

Before arriving in Malaga, make the effort to familiarize yourself with the city’s main stations and airport.

The city’s main train station is the Maria Zambrano Station, located slightly west of the city center. Renfe’s regular and high speed AVE trains stop here, and the station offers easy access to multiple public bus routes.

Aside from 12 train platforms, the station has a pharmacy, a grocery store, shops, eateries, parking areas, cafes and ticket offices. The station also has a regular train service connecting to Malaga Costa del Sol Airport.

Malaga Bus Station 

Malaga’s main bus station, Paseo de los Tilos, is located right next to Maria Zambrano Station.

Therefore, many of the train station’s amenities are also easily accessible from the bus station. The bus station has 38 platforms and a centrally located information point.

Malaga Airport

Malaga’s airport is about 9 kilometers or 5.6 miles away from the city’s train and bus stations.

The airport offers taxi services and access to trains and buses that run to the city’s center. Look for the Linea Express A bus line or the C1 train line. A train ride into the center of the city should take no more than 15 minutes. 

Conclusion

If you’re departing from Barcelona, Malaga is reachable by air, train, bus or rental car. Some options are cheaper and faster, while others may be ore scenic or leisurely.

When choosing the right mode of transportation, consider your budget and time frame, but also how much you want the actual journey to be a part of the experience.

No matter how you get there, your time in Malaga will be a perfect complement to a Barcelona adventure.

Southern Spain Travel Tips

BEST CAR RENTAL

To rent a car, I highly recommend Discover Cars, an award winning price comparison site for car rentals.

BUS & TRAIN TICKETS

To get the cheapest bus or train tickets, take a look at Omio to find the timetables and prices.

LOCAL TOURS

Local travel companies offer many day trip options from almost all the destinations in Southern Spain. You can check them out here.

HOTELS

I have been using booking.com for all my trips in Spain and abroad, and it’s the best place to book your hotel.

LUGGAGE STORE

If you would like to leave your luggage behind to explore the city on your last day, you can use Radical Storage service, which lets you book luggage storage in all the destinations in Spain.

LOCAL SIM CARD

If you want to avoid surprising extra charges from your operator, you can use a service like Airalo, where you can buy digital packs for e-sim cards.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links – if you decide to book using one of the links, I will earn a small commission that helps me run this site. This is at no extra cost to you.

Southern Spain Travel Tips

Find Best Hotels

Find Hotels

I have been using booking.com for all my trips in Spain and abroad, and it’s the best place to book your hotel.

Find Car Rental

Find Car Rental

To rent a car, I highly recommend Discover Cars, an award-winning price comparison site for car rentals.

Book Your Tour

Local travel companies offer many day trip options from almost all the destinations in Southern Spain. You can check them out here.

Book Local Transport

To get the cheapest bus or train tickets, take a look at Omio to find the timetables and prices.

Find Cheap Flights

Get the best flight deals when you book early via Skyscanner.com

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links - if you decide to book using one of the links, I will earn a small commission that helps me run this site. This is at no extra cost to you.

Hi, I'm Lucia

The founder and writer of Viva La Vita, a blog about traveling in Spain.

On these pages, you will find many practical tips and recommendations from someone who lives in Spain and travels around Spain often.

Filled with my images and unique local perspective, I hope these pages will offer you plenty of inspiration, insights & ideas to plan a wonderful trip to Spain.

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