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Set on the south eastern coastline of Spain, on what is known as the Costa Blanca, is the capital of the region, Alicante. Known for its beautiful old town, the imposing Santa Barbara castle on the hilltop overlooking the city and not to mention stunning beaches, Alicante is definitely a firm favourite for many travellers visiting this region!
If you happen to be planning a trip here and first starting off in Madrid or perhaps combining a visit to both cities, then this travel guide will help shed light on how you can travel from Madrid to Alicante (or vice versa).
Below I will outline in detail the various modes of transport available, whether by plane, train, bus or car!
Journey Duration: 1 Hour / 1 Hour 25 minutes flight time
Even though Spain is a fairly big country, you can still get around quite easily, in large part thanks to an established air travel network.
Considering the flight time being just over an hour, taking a Madrid to Alicante flight is probably your best and quickest bet in terms of travel between these two cities.
Currently both Iberia and Air Europa operate a number of daily flights between Alicante and Madrid (approximately 6 flights per day).
Flights start in the morning and throughout the day until the early evening, meaning you can hopefully tie in this local connection with your in-bound international flight if needed.
Not only is this a fairly quick option, but it’s pretty cost effective too. I’ve seen some insanely cheap flight prices, with a one-way ticket starting at just over €20.
As such, it definitely helps to book in advance in order to snag these low fares!
Tip: Normally though, these heavily discounted tickets don’t include any luggage, so, be sure to include it if you do need to.
Madrid-Barajas Adolfo Suárez Airport:
The main international airport in Madrid is known as the Madrid-Barajas Adolfo Suárez Airport. It is located a little way out of Madrid’s main city centre and it takes around 40 minutes to get between the airport and the centre when using the Metro de Madrid (Madrid’s subway system).
Click to view Madrid Airport’s website here.
Alicante-Elche Airport is also located slightly out of the city centre, 9 km’s southwest to be exact.
But the airport is still pretty accessible with the C6 Bus line connecting the airport to the tram stations of Luceros and Mercado. From here you can switch onto the Tramway system and connect onwards to where you will be based.
Go here to view Alicante’s Airport website.
Journey Duration: 2 hours 22 minutes to 4 hours 40 minutes
Although the actual flight time is probably much shorter, when one considers the time taken to travel to the airport as well as all the formalities, such as check-in, passing through security and then waiting time to board, you may end up losing more time in transit versus taking the train.
The Madrid to Alicante train service is operated through the Spanish rail provider Renfe. It is worth noting that most of these services are on the high-speed AVE line with an average journey time of around 2 and a half hours.
There are however other slower regional trains that take much longer, more in the region of 4 hours 40 minutes.
As such, take note when consulting the schedule or booking online to select the correct and faster service.
Madrid Alicante Train:
The Madrid to Alicante train services offers daily departures starting from as early as 07:45 am and running up until 21:25 pm at night, on weekdays.
On weekends there is a slightly reduced service, either starting with departures later in the morning or ending departures slightly earlier.
Booking well in advance (noting that you can only do so around 3 months ahead), will definitely help as you will be able to secure much cheaper fares.
Starting from just shy of €20, fares can drastically increase to over €60, subject to availability.
The Renfe site is very easy to navigate and you can also book your tickets online without any hassles.
Alicante to Madrid Train:
Upon the return, the Alicante to Madrid train service offers more or less the same frequency but starts departures slightly earlier.
Trains start running from as early as 06:08 am in the morning and all the way up to 20:10 pm at night on weekdays. Weekend schedules to differ somewhat.
Madrid Train Station:
Departures out of and arrivals into Madrid take place from/to the Madrid-Puerta De Atocha train station. It is connected to the Metro de Madrid subway network through Line 1 and metro station “Atocha Renfe”. From here you can travel into the city centre of Madrid in under 10 minutes.
Alicante Train Station:
The Alacant Terminal train station located on Av. Salamanca is conveniently located and quite central within Alicante. With both bus and trams in close proximity of the station, you will find it very easy to get exactly where you need to be.
Journey Duration: Between 4 hours 50 minutes to 5 hours 35 minutes
Finally, you may decide to take the Madrid Alicante bus. But, in all honesty, this would probably be my last resort, simply because the journey time is pretty much double that of traveling by air or train.
This service is managed by the bush company ALSA, a well known operator within Spain that also offers a wide route network across the country.
On average the journey time ranges between 4 hours 50 minutes to as long as 5 hours 35 minutes, depending on the bus route and number of stops it makes along the way.
Madrid to Alicante by Bus
The Madrid to Alicante bus service has around 7 departures daily from Madrid, with the first departure around 09:30 am in the morning and the last one at 00:30 am the following morning.
Ticket prices for a one-way range from €12.85 to anywhere upward of €40 or more. Booking in advance does help to secure these cheaper fares and can easily be booked directly on ALSA’s website.
Tip: I have to also point out that some of these cheaper priced tickets are often non-changeable and also non-refundable. So, they cannot be changed or cancelled. But this will be clearly indicated online when booking.
Alicante to Madrid by Bus
On the return, the Alicante to Madrid bus usually starts with departures around 09:15 am and up until late afternoon, although again, there is a very early morning departure set for 01:45 am too.
Madrid Bus Station
Most of these buses arrive into and depart from Madrid’s Estacion Sur bus station.
Although, one or two also do make the journey to Madrid’s airport, which would be quite useful if you plan on connecting to an onward flight.
The departure and arrival stations are also indicated online when searching and booking through the ALSA site.
From the Estacion Sur you can connect to the rest of Madrid through the underground metro system, with the closest metro station being the Méndez Álvaro stop on Line 6 of the metro.
Alicante Bus Station
Arriving into or departing from Alicante would take place from the Estació D’autobusos D’Alacant, situated in Muelle de Poniente.
It is only about a kilometre from the Renfe train station and as such also located quite centrally within Alicante, making getting to and from the station fairly easy.
Journey Duration: Generally, around 4 hours
If you are planning on completing the journey from Madrid to Alicante by car, then you would be looking at a journey time of just over 4 hours, if driving directly through.
The approximate distance from Madrid to Alicante is around 420 kilometres and you would likely travel either via the A-3 and A-31 motorway or alternatively on the AP-36 and A-31.
A tip on Spanish motorways, is that you will encounter both paid / tolled highways as well as free highways.
Spain has a vast road network, so, to make things easier I found this awesome Spanish highway network map online which very nicely lays out the different roads and also gives an indication as to which roads are free versus which are tolled.
Renting a car
Haven’t booked your car rental as yet?
Check out rates & availability on RentalCars.com.
If you haven’t used them before, they are a great comparison site that shows a range of rates & availability for different providers.
You can also quite easily book directly on the site. Thus, you don’t have to go hunt through a ton of different sites to get a good rate!
Need to book your accommodation in Alicante or Madrid?
If you are also interested in adding some awesome tours & activities to help spice up your travel plans, then check out availability on popular Alicante tours & activities here.
Have you travelled between Madrid and Alicante before? If so, then I would really love to hear your feedback or any alternative suggestions you may have that hasn’t already been covered in this post.
Feel free to add your comment in the comments section below!
Welcome! I'm Marco Santos a.k.a Travel-Boo. A South African & Portuguese travel blogger connecting with my Portuguese roots. Since I've moved to Portugal from South Africa permanently a few years ago, I've decide to share my story of discovery of all things Portugal travel related. So follow along and see what makes this beautiful country so very special!
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