Madrid is the capital of Spain and is located some 1,450km south-west from Amsterdam.
Let’s look at the options for travel between Amsterdam and Madrid by air, train and bus.
1. Flights Amsterdam-Madrid
Flying is generally the quickest and easiest option. Flights between Amsterdam Schiphol (AMS) and Madrid Barajas (MAD) airports take around 2 hours 30 minutes.
Both Spain and the Netherlands belong to the Schengen Zone meaning you do not need a passport control check when travelling between Amsterdam and Madrid.
Madrid airport is connected to the city centre by train and metro. See here for Getting from Schiphol Airport to Amsterdam.
Dutch airline KLM (Skyteam alliance) flies up to 5x daily non-stop between Amsterdam and Madrid using Boeing 737s plus the occasional ‘KLM Cityhopper’ branded Embraer aircraft.
Spanish carrier Air Europa flies a 2x daily service between Amsterdam and Madrid – using both Boeing 787 and Boeing 737 aircraft. The Air Europa business class product on the Boeing 787 is excellent and fares can be good value.
Iberia Express flies up to 2x daily between Amsterdam and Madrid using Airbus A320 series aircraft.
Return prices are broadly similar between the airlines and start from around €110 – not including checked luggage. A business class return with Air Europa is priced from around €310.
Other airlines that serve Amsterdam and Madrid indirectly are Air France (via Paris), British Airways (via London), Lufthansa (via Munich), Swiss (via Zurich) or Vueling (via Barcelona).
2. Amsterdam-Madrid by Train
There are no direct rail services between Amsterdam and Madrid and no plans in the future for such a service. However, it is possible to travel by rail from Amsterdam to Madrid using daytime services and making connections either in Paris, France and Barcelona or via Brussels, Valence and Barcelona.
An overnight stopover in either Paris or Barcelona will be required.
There are 4 components to the Amsterdam-Madrid train trip via Paris:
(1) A Thalys high speed train between Amsterdam Central and Paris Gare du Nord which takes 3 hours 17 minutes. Thalys normally runs up to 11x daily and stops at Schiphol, Rotterdam, Antwerp and Brussels.
Thalys single fares between Amsterdam and Paris start at €35 (2nd class) or €79 (1st class) for the cheapest “Standard Mini” tariff. Thalys tickets can be easily booked at the NS International site.
(2) Overnight in Paris. By the way, the transfer across Paris between Gare du Nord and Gare de Lyon is achieved in about 30 minutes using the RER D line – it is just 2 stops. Alternatively you can take a taxi.
(3) A direct TGV duplex train between Paris Gare de Lyon and Barcelona Sants which takes about 6 1/2 hours. This currently departs Paris at 1014 and arrives in Barcelona at 1653. The train makes stops at Valence, Nîmes, Montpellier, Narbonne, Perpignan, Figueres and Girona.
There is also an afternoon TGV service (in 2022 this is only running during the summer months) – it departs at 1514, arriving in Barcelona at 2154. So it is possible to do the entire Amsterdam-Barcelona train journey during the day if this train is running – but you will need to overnight in Barcelona before continuing to Madrid.
TGV one-way fares for Paris-Barcelona are priced from €39 (2nd class) or €59 (1st class). To secure the lowest fares it is essential to book well in advance.
Paris-Barcelona or Amsterdam-Barcelona fares can be booked at the TheTrainline site (but note The Trainline sometimes mixes in coach fares so make sure you choose only train options).
NS International sometimes offers Amsterdam-Barcelona through-fares – although these are not always available.
There is an alternative Amsterdam-Barcelona route that is possible by day. Early in the morning you can travel to Brussels with the Thalys. Then take a TGV train from Brussels to Valence. From Valence there is a Barcelona-bound train jointly-operated by Spanish and French Railways.
(4) A high-speed Spanish domestic train from Barcelona Sants to Madrid Atocha via Zaragoza. These run regularly through the day and the journey takes under 3 hours.
There is now lots of competition on the route with services operated either by RENFE AVE, RENFE AVLO (low cost subsidiary) or OUIGO (low cost SNCF French railways subsidiary using high-density TGV trains). Towards the end of 2022 it is expected that Iryo (a consortium of Air Nostrum & Trenitalia) will also start services on the route using Frecciarossa trains.
Barcelona-Madrid train fares can start as low as €6-10 and are bookable at the TheTrainline site – it sells tickets for all 3 operators. Book in advance to secure the lowest fares.
Madrid-Amsterdam rail journey: Travel from Madrid to Barcelona by RENFE AVE, AVLO or OUIGO and overnight in Barcelona.
From Barcelona the following day, you would take the 0910 Paris-bound TGV train which gets you into Paris Gare de Lyon at 1546. Cross over to Paris Nord via RER or taxi for the 1725 Thalys to Amsterdam with arrival time 2044.
3. Amsterdam-Madrid by Coach
Flixbus offers an Amsterdam-Madrid coach service with a change in Paris (running via Poitiers and Bordeaux) with one-way fares from around €58. Journey times are 24-27 hours and the Flixbus stops are at Amsterdam Sloterdijk and Méndez Álvaro in south Madrid.
Looking for a convenient hotel near Amsterdam Central station? Check out the stylish Kimpton-De Witt which is a short walk from the station. For those on a budget the Ibis Amsterdam Centre is literally on top of the western edge of the station platforms.
The Iamsterdam City Card (1-5 days) offers free entry and discounts to numerous Amsterdam museums and attractions. It also includes a free public transport pass, a canal cruise and bike rental as well. You can order your Iamsterdam City Card online here
This article was originally published in 2013 and has continuously been updated. Last update 25 May 2022.