Malaga to Madrid: Tips to Use the High Speed Rail in Spain

While high-speed rail links in the UK will not be in place until 2026 at the earliest, Spain has been enjoying her high-speed links for decades!

The Malaga to Madrid line (part of the AVE system) was completed back in 2007, allowing you to fly through the countryside at speeds exceeding 180 mph.

This means that Malaga to Madrid by train takes a mere 2 hours 20 minutes on the fastest train. Perfect for the culture vulture who also likes to hit the beach or the golf course!

Here's are our tips for easy use of the Malaga to Madrid high-speed line.

Booking Tips

There is a regular service between Malaga to Madrid, but the timings tell you it's not designed for commuters. The first train departs from Madrid at 8:25 and the last one leaves at 8:35 in the evening.

While it is possible to turn up at the station and buy a ticket, in practice this could leave you disappointed, especially at busy times of the year. It's always better to book in advance, and you can usually do this 60 to 90 days ahead.

Look out for a Flexible fare (F when booking) if you'd like to select your seat or be able to get a full refund. This will cost more, but allow you full flexibility.

Cheaper fares are called Promo, or Promo +. They are only available for purchase in advance, don't allow seat selection and are non-refundable. However, they're great value and if you plan well enough in advance you can get some excellent deals.

If you're travelling with kids, then up to 14 they can get a child ticket. Be aware, though, that it is mandatory to get an infant ticket, even if they will be on your lap.

More information is available on the official Renfe website.

Seating Tips

There are two classes of carriages on the Malaga to Madrid route - first and second class. What's the difference?

Firstly, both are to a high standard and air-conditioned.

In second class, you'll get a power outlet, a buffet car and even the offer of some entertainment. In first class, you get all this and more, including food service to your seat and a complimentary newspaper (bear in mind, in Spanish).

Secondly, the price. However, bizarrely, it's not what you would expect. Check carefully, but sometimes it's possible to snag first class tickets for less than second class.

Our advice - both are to a high standard and have the all-important reserved seats. We'd recommend going with whichever offers the best value on your dates.

Bookings can be made through websites like Rail Europe and Trainline.

Timing Your Trip

The duration of the journey does vary depending on the time you travel.

The fastest trains tend to run during the morning, and then again during peak hours later in the afternoon and early evening. That means that the slowest time to travel tends to be early afternoon and the last train in the evening.

The fastest trains take only 2 hours 24 minutes, with the slowest still coming in at a respectable 3 hours 5 minutes. Not a major difference but something to take into consideration.

If you need to get to Madrid in a hurry, our advice is stick to rush hour.

The Bottom Line on Malaga to Madrid

Malaga to Madrid is an awesome connection - once you've tried Spanish trains, you'll never want to fly internally again.

With fast connections, hassle-free booking and great service, they're the way to go when travelling around Spain.

For more information on getting around in Spain, check out our driving tips blog today!