Travelling by train in Madrid: commuter train (Cercanías) & high-speed train (AVE)

Cercanías Chamartin by

The most convenient way to travel in Spain is by train. The country has been investing in train infrastructure for many years now and as a result, we have one of the largest train and high-speed train systems in the world. Spain’s high-speed train, called the AVE, travels long distances across the country, while Madrid’s suburban train, called the Cercanías, covers medium distances.

Thanks to the AVE, you can get to cities like Barcelona, Valencia or Alicante in just a couple of hours. Unlike flying into the country’s airports, the AVE picks you up and drops you off in train stations located right in the city center. And thanks to the Cercanías, you can cross the city in a matter of minutes and visit Madrid’s surrounding towns in no time. Plus the Cercanías is connected to Madrid’s underground metro system.

Here’s all the info on Madrid’s train services: 

1. Suburban train services or Cercanias

The suburban train system — Cercanías — goes across the city connecting the main stations of Madrid with other cities near the capital. The service runs from 5am or 6am (depending on the line) until 12am. Cercanias has 10 different lines and some of them are connected to the normal metro system, which is really good because you can combine them to make your trip even faster. Before I start talking about the price, let me remind you that Madrid’s pubic transportation is divided into zones (A, B1, B2, B3, C1, C2, E1 and E2). Zone A includes Madrid’s city-center while E2 takes you all the way to cities like Guadalajara or Toledo.

Mapa Zonas by

There are three different types of tickets that you can use on the suburban train system.

  1. A single trip costs 1,65€ (one/two zones) – 5,40€ (Seven zones).
  2. You can also buy a 10-journey train ticket and its price can also vary depending on how many zones you’ll buy it for (9,85€ for 1/2 zones to 37,75€ 7 zones).
  3. Finally, you can also use your monthly travel card (abono).
  • Full map
Mapa de Cercanias by Renfe

Mapa de Cercanias by Renfe


2. High speed train or AVE

AVE Atocha by

AVE Atocha by

AVE is the Spanish high-speed-train system. These trains get you to some of the biggest cities in Spain in just few hours or less. Although prices aren’t cheap, there are some ways to get them cheaper: the most advisable is to take 4 seats (a table). That way you’ll save 40-50%. Also, it’s good to remember that train stations are in the city center, so you won’t spend money and time getting to and from the airport.

Renfe, Spain’s train company, has an App for IPhone and Android called Renfe Ticket

Red española alta velocidad by Wikipedia

Red española alta velocidad by Wikipedia

Feature photo by

For more info on travelling around Madrid, check out these posts: