Madrid to León by train

How to take the rail journey from Madrid to Leon

When an overall improvement is made to a rail service, there can be losers as well as winners.
Leon has seen the number of direct high speed trains it receives reduced in recent years, as trains heading from the capital to the far north-west of Spain have been diverted away from the city to a new more direct high-speed route.
Though despite the fewer number of departures to choose from, heading to Leon from Madrid is an easy journey, and twice as fast as used to be, pre high-speed trains.



From Madrid Chamartin to Leon

Journey Summary

Travel Time
1hr 56min - 2hr 17min
Travel Information

Up to 2 x departures by day are AVE services, with the rest of the departures are Alvia services.

Both services travel on the high speed line between Madrid and Leon and have the same journey times.

Final Destination:
AVE trains = Leon
Alvia trains = Gijon or Santander

All trains also call at: Valladolid

Monday to Thursday: 7 x trains per day
Friday: 8 x trains
Saturday: 6 x trains
Sunday: 7 x trains


Book early and save: Yes

Online bookings open: up to 6  months ahead of the travel date - depending on the time of year.

The online booking window can be shorter between late July and early October.

On this route, prices are set per departure according to demand, hence the lack of price info below.

It can pay off to be as flexible as possible regarding departure and arrival times, because for these trains on this route it’s not unusual for a few departures to be available at much cheaper price, regardless of how far ahead you will be booking.
The limited numbers of tickets released for sale at very cheapest prices also inevitably sell out, so if possible book more than a couple of months ahead and you’ll be more likely to find them available.
Though from the moment the tickets are placed on sale, some departures will be cheaper than others.

Whether you will be travelling on an AVE or Alvia train doesn't affect the ticket price, some AVE departures can be cheaper than the Alvia trains and vice versa.

Seat Reservations:

Seats will automatically be assigned when booking tickets for this journey.

Rail Pass Users:

Rail pass users will need to pay reservation fees prior to boarding these trains.

They are also not available on the Eurail/Interrail reservation service for journeys within Spain.
The only option, other than booking them at a station in Spain, is to pre-reserve seats by calling Renfe phone sales: +34 91 232 03 20.

Pre-reserving a seat is possible up to 24 hours before a train's departure. You will receive a PNR code which you must use to pick up and pay for your reservation at a local station ticket office, making sure to show your Interrail Pass. You must collect your reservation within 72 hours. After this time the pre-reservation will expire.
Please note that a pre-reservation is not the same as a reservation. It only holds a seat for you for 72 hours.

Don't target travelling by the Alivia trains in the expectations of making a saving, the rail pass reservation fees on the Alvia trains are usually cheaper, but not on a route shared with AVE trains, such as this.

Where to book
Ticket Provider Approximate Cost
Trainline (Spain) *

Trainline (Spain) Guide

Renfe *

Renfe Guide

Renfe is the national rail operator in Spain and it has recently simplified the range of tickets it sells for express and regional train journeys in Spain.
Which is convenient as there are big savings to be made if you book ahead online.

On this journey

Journey Features

High Speed (total journey)

Good to Know

Users of Eurail and InterRail pass users can avoid the higher rail pass reservations fees payable on the AVE and Alvia trains, by taking the MD train which typically departs daily at 18:27 from Principe Pio station in Madrid.
Though it has a journey time of more than 4hr 30min.

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