A few days ago I completed my second trip to Madrid by train from Malaga, and finally prepared this detailed transport guide to give you all the insights you need to make this trip easy, convenient and affordable!
Distance Between Malaga & Madrid
The distance between Malaga and Madrid is approximately 530 km (not exactly a day trip material).
Malaga to Madrid Train Journey
Taking the train from Malaga to Madrid is one of the easiest and most convenient ways to travel, if you prefer to skip flying. Just for comparison, a flight to Malaga would take around 1 hour and 15 minutes, so you’re saving an hour of travel time, but you need to add in the time and cost of commuting to the airport and also time spent at the airport, usually 2 hours before departure.
Here are is a basic overview of the journey, and I will break down the details for each in the paragraphs that follow:
- The trains to Madrid depart from Malaga Maria Zambrano station and run regularly a number of times per day.
- It’s not the standard train, but the high-speed train travelling at a crazy speed of up to 280 km/hr. This trip was the second time I used such a train and I was impressed by the services offered and how comfortable it was. Even though the train travels at an insane speed, you really don’t feel any difference compared to a normal train.
- Seats are always assigned for each journey
- You have the option to upgrade to business class (check below for how to get an invoice for business travel)
- Foodservice operates twice on the journey and there is a restaurant carriage usually in the middle of the train.
- The journey takes just around 2.5 hours, and normally there are one or two stops.
- The train has also electric sockets for charging your phone or laptop and they play a movie during the journey (they will provide free headphones so you can listen in).
- Luggage storage facilities are available throughout the train, and so are toilets
- Once you get off at Madrid Atocha, you can take a local metro from there, bus or a taxi from outside of the station.
- The service and stop announcements are in both Spanish and English
- Compulsory luggage security checks at both Malaga Maria Zambrano and Madrid Atocha stations
Malaga to Madrid Train Tickets
The best way to get your tickets is to do it online, preferably in advance of your trip.
Book directly from the renfe website and not the promoted paid placements you see in top search results – you might end up paying extra booking fees if you use them.
When you buy your tickets online, you get to select your seat and they also have a small selection of business class seats.
You can check online in advance how the ticket prices are changing and select the most convenient and cheapest option for you. The price of the trip will also vary quite a bit depending on which train you take on the given day.
The tickets can be printed or you can simply save them on your phone and show the QR code before you enter the train.
Keep an eye on your email in case there are any alterations to your journey or seat allocation – it happened to me and it wasn’t a nice surprise.
They cut down the number of coaches, and I got the new seats assigned for my husband and my son, but my seat was in the non-existent coach number. I didn’t get their email notification with the new seat assigned and the renfe office assistant in Madrid was next to useless in helping to find the right one. I ended up travelling at the front of the train in first class, separated from my family until the staff memeber came mid-journey to tell me which was my correct seat.
Where to Buy Train Tickets
It’s best to buy your tickets online and directly from Renfe website to avoid extra fees.
To make the purchase online, they will ask for your ID number, such as your passport number, your contact details like email and phone so they can notify you in case there are any changes to the journey.
The tickets are then sent to your email or you can download them on the purchase confirmation page. The website is available also in English, you can change the language by clicking on the little globe icon on the top.
Business Travel – How to Get an Invoice
In case you’re travelling for business and need an invoice, there is a dedicated page where you have to request it by filling in their form, you can find it here (under travel menu – online invoice) and the correct form to fill in without registration is here.
Just a little note – it takes them a few days to get this back to you, so you have to be patient! To get the invoice, you will need to provide the ticket numbers for each journey, and the booking code, the site will indicate where on the tickets you will see these. Don’t forget to fill in your company details correctly.
Cost of Train Tickets
For my trip in November, a one way ticket for one person from Malaga to Madrid cost around 40 euros, but the price may vary depending on the season, time of the week and how far in advance you buy the tickets. For the trip in March, I paid around 50 euros one way, as these were bought with just a couple of weeks notice.
Generally, if you purchase them a few weeks in advance, and travel during the week and not at weekends, they tend to be cheaper.
What to Do at the Station
Once you get to the station, either in Malaga or Madrid, you will need to find your departure platform and then pass the luggage security scan before you enter the train.
In Malaga Maria Zambrano, the luggage scan is before you enter the area with platforms, and there are two scanners for all the platforms. In Madrid, your security scan is at the platform itself, with two scanners available.
You need to put all your luggage and bags to the scanners, and also take off your coat so they can manually scan you too.
Before you get to the platform they will scan your ticket, but normally don’t ask to see your ID anymore. No more ticket checks are carried out on the train.
Malaga Maria Zambrano Train Station
Maria Zambrano is the biggest and main station in Malaga, and has lots of facilities as its built as a small mall with the train station attached.
If you’re travelling very early in the morning and want a breakfast at the station, the small cafe under the escalators is normally open and they also do takeaway. Other restaurants open normally for 1pm for lunch, and the big Mercadona supermarket should be open around 9am each day.
The station also has a variety of different shops where you can buy souvenirs, food, magazines, luggage, gifts and more.
Madrid Atocha Train Station
The trains arrive at Atocha train station in Madrid, which is the main train station.
From there, you can simply walk to catch a local bus or get a taxi to your destination. There were dozens of taxis waiting when my train arrived, so you don’t have to worry about catching one.
You also have an option to use an Uber in Madrid, it’s slightly cheaper than a taxi in some cases, but the journey might take longer especially if you’re going to a central part of the town (like Gran Via) where only taxis can use the designated faster lanes reserved for buses.
Atocha train station has a few small food places where you can get a sandwich as you head back, and a couple of souvenir shops. There is one small restaurant serving the usual tourist menu consisting of burgers and pizza.
The station has access to the local metro too.
Malaga to Madrid Train: Frequent Questions
How long is the train from Malaga to Madrid?
The train journey from Malaga to Madrid takes 2.5 hours.
Is there a high speed train from Madrid to Malaga?
Yes, the high speed train from Madrid to Malaga runs a few times a day, and travels at a speed of up to 280 km/h.
Can I book a train ticket from Malaga to Madrid?
Yes, you can book this train connection directly at Renfe website.
Can I get to Malaga from Madrid by train?
Yes, you can! There is a high speed train connection available with a number of departures per day, and the train journey lasting only 2.5 hours.
Explore More in Madrid
Visiting the Madrid Royal Palace (Palacio Real)
Winter Morning at Plaza Mayor, Madrid
Taste of Italy in Spain: Ôven Mozarella Bar in Madrid