London to Madrid by train

3 April 2019

London to Madrid by train

Take a train from London to Madrid and experience the Spanish capital’s lively street life and insatiable appetite for art and music without the need to step foot on a plane. You’ll arrive at your destination refreshed and ready to explore Madrid’s cosmopolitan city centre, world-famous art galleries and, of course, authentic neighbourhood tapas bars!

With Tailor Made Rail, the journey is always a part of the holiday and, if you’re thinking of taking the plunge, read the diary of my recent journey to hear what you what you can expect from your train to Madrid:

London to Paris

After a celebratory glass of bubbly at Searcys Champagne Bar to mark the beginning of our exciting travels, it was time to step on board the Eurostar for the first stage of our journey to Madrid.

Settling down in my comfy seat, the excitement was already building. I unpacked my Madrid travel guide for some last minute trip planning and practiced the Spanish phrases I’d memorised just a few days before.

The high speed rail network lived up to its reputation and, before I knew it, we were pulling into Paris Gare du Nord. Even as we disembarked the train, I couldn’t quite believe that just 2 hours and 15 minutes had gone by and we were in a different country, with no long security queue or baggage reclaim in sight!

Changing stations in Paris

After our arrival into Paris, here came the leg of the journey that I was slightly apprehensive about: navigating the city’s metro system with no French language skills to my name.

Luckily, my fears quickly dissipated as I spotted the numerous signs guiding us to the next leg of our journey. With were given a whistle stop tour of Paris’s RER (Rapid Metro System) as we took the two stops from Gare du Nord to Gare de Lyon. Much faster and easier than I had anticipated, we even had time to buy some famous Parisian pastries and provisions for our journey before the next train!

Paris Gare de Lyon

Walking towards our second train of the day, we passed platforms filled with trains departing to European cities in all directions. Just a few platforms down, there was a train bound for Milan and the departure board displayed trains headed to Geneva and Zurich.

Everyone in the station was going somewhere and there was a thick atmosphere of excitement in the air. However, Barcelona was where we were headed today.

Paris to Barcelona

We boarded the “TGV Duplex” train and took our seats on the upper deck. Soon after leaving Paris Gare de Lyon behind, we were travelling at speeds of up to 200mph!

As we sped towards Spain, the countryside started to unfold outside of my window with more and more palm trees springing up as we travelled further south. I was lucky enough to have a seat on the left hand side of the train. This meant that I managed to catch a few glimpses of the Mediterranean, which really helped to put into perspective just how far we’d come in one day!

Before boarding the train, we’d had time to stop off to buy some cheese and wine (when in France!). After seeing the prices of the on-board bistro, we were certainly relieved that we’d had this foresight! We tucked in, watching the world go by outside of our window and excitedly chatting about how we were going to spend our morning in Barcelona tomorrow.

A few chapters of my book and a short nap later and we were racing through the Tunnel de Perthus and emerging out into Spain! We eagerly watched out of the window as we passed through our third country of the day. Before we knew it, we were disembarking into Barcelona’s modern Sants station.

Barcelona

Sleepy after a day of excitement, we were grateful that there was no need to wait in long taxi queues once we arrived at the station. Our lodgings for the evening were conveniently located right over the top of the station at the excellent “Barcelo Sants” hotel.

After a long and well-deserved sleep, we awoke early to make the most of our time in Barcelona. Our first stop was La Rambla, Barcelona’s most famous and popular boulevard. Having visited the street previously when it was buzzing with tourists and locals at midday, it was great to enjoy the street at a slower place while the street entertainers and market stall holders were just setting up. Our early-morning stroll also took us to Plaça Catalunya where we were able to admire the fountains and grand surrounding buildings before the square became too busy.

Barcelona to Madrid

Having got a little carried away with the delights of Barcelona, we arrived back at the station just 15 minutes before our next train was due to depart! Luckily, the security arrangements were extremely quick and efficient and we were on the train with plenty of time to settle down before departure.

As we unwinded in our comfortable seating, the “in-flight” radio played some lovely classical music which provided the perfect soundtrack to the scenery speeding past outside of our window. Soon we were whizzing across the Spanish country at high speeds, seemingly even faster than those we had experienced in France!

After a brief stop in Zaragoza, we arrived into our final destination smoothly and hassle-free. We disembarked at Atocha station, which is in the centre of Madrid only a short walk from the Prado Museum. Whilst our first adventure had come to an end, our second one had only just begun!