Barcelona to Granada by Train
Simply put, Barcelona and Granada are two of the most beautiful cities in Spain. Granada sits in the scorched land of Andalucia, surrounded by snowy mountain peaks. Barcelona lives close to the border with France and overlooks the sparkling Mediterranean. From Barcelona to Granada, you’ll experience lively nightlife, fresh tapas, and a propensity for enjoying life to the full. Oh, and world famous sights such as the Sagrada Familia and the Alhambra.
There are a number of ways to split this 500 mile (800 kilometer) journey with your Eurail Pass. It just depends on what’s most important to you: comfort, time, or seeing the sights.
How to get from Barcelona to Granada by train
The fastest route involves changing at Antequera and clocks in at just over 7 hours. The most direct way to arrive is a night train along the eastern coast. If you want to see more of Spain, you can travel through Madrid. Please note that reservations are required for all of these trains and the high-speed services require a check-in, so arrive at the station with plenty of time to spare. Let’s get started.
The night train sweeps along the Mediterranean coast before turning inland, and it takes a bit more than 11 hours. Only 2nd class is available, and a reservation fee is compulsory. Remember – you’ll be traveling at night, so you won’t see very much.
Fast AVE trains make the two and a half hour journey from Barcelona to Madrid almost every hour. You can also choose to take the slower night train from Barcelona Sants to arrive at Madrid-Chamartin in the morning. From Madrid’s Puerta de Atocha, the ATR trains travel direct to Granada, stopping briefly at Cordoba and Antequera along the way. Alternatively, depending on what time you need to leave Madrid, you may have to board the high-speed AVE to Cordoba and change there to reach Antequera. Take the Interregio from Antequera to reach Granada.
Connect in Antequera
The Fast AVE train leaves Barcelona Sants at 8.30 every morning, reaching the sleepy Andalucian town of Antequera just after 2 p.m. You’ll have just half an hour to connect before boarding the Interregio train (2nd class only) which makes one stop before arriving at Granada.
Getting to Barcelona train station
There’s more than one station in Barcelona but it’s the hefty main one, Barcelona Sants, that you want. You can reach Sants by metro on either the blue or green lines, and it’s well served by local buses. It’s also only a short ride from the airport by train with your Eurail Pass.
Arriving at Granada train station
Left luggage and car rental facilities lie just outside the station. To reach the Alhambra, you can either travel by bus from the city centre or take a taxi straight from the station. There are also left luggage facilities at the Alhambra itself. (Note – you MUST book tickets in advance to see the Alhambra.)
Three distinct flavours of Spain
Depending on how you plan your route, you can stop off and see the big city lights of Madrid, the quiet backwater of Antequera or the World Heritage Site of Cordoba.
Trips to Madrid’s impressive art museums – the Prado, the Reina Sofia and the Thyssen – help round out your Spanish cultural education. After satisfying your appetite for culture, you can treat yourself to fine tapas. Find some of the best fresh jamon at the Mercado San Miguel. Madrid’s main city sights also include the Palacio Royal (the Royal Palace), the Puerta del Sol and the Plaza Mayor. One of my favourite parts of the capital is the leafy green Buen Retiro Park, the landscaped gardens in the heart of the city.
Let your heart quieten as you walk beneath the arches of the overwhelmingly beautiful Mezquita. This mosque was converted into a cathedral when the Christians conquered the Moors. Every time I visit, I’m left awed and inspired. Catch bus number 3 from the main station to reach it.
This pleasant white-washed town doesn’t make the headlines, nor even most of the guidebooks. But it does offer a more authentic view of life in the heat of Andalucia. Stop off for some unpretentious tapas and scenic village plazas.