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Madrid - ease of travelling from there to SDC

Jacki

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2023 - Portuguese
2024 - Francés
Looking for some advice! My daughter and I are travelling from Canada Sept 2024, landing in Madrid where we hope to chill for a few days b4 needing to meet up with a group in SdC. I’m hoping to fly but back up option is catching the early am train. It looks like a tight connection between Sol and Chamartin (3mins!) … how complicated is that and are we talking two separate trains several platforms apart? Lol.

Second question. We only have a week either b4 or after walking from Sarria to SdC so if we’re using Madrid as our departure/arrival point, would it be worthwhile to visit either Valencia or Seville for a couple of days? And which one?! Tough to make choices on only a 14 day vacation! Thx for all recommendations and advice! 🙏🏻
 
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Second question. We only have a week either b4 or after walking from Sarria to SdC so if we’re using Madrid as our departure/arrival point, would it be worthwhile to visit either Valencia or Seville for a couple of days? And which one?!
Maybe you could consider choosing a different destination or two closer to Madrid, such as Toledo and/or Segovia, to limit travel time and not to try to cram too much in.
 
Hi, @Jackie,

The connection between Sol and Chamartín is on a commuter train, and they run very frequenty. So you could leave Sol earier if you wanted to have more time for a connection in Chamartín to your train.

If you have a week to travel in Spain, I think the fast trains make two southern destnations very do-able, like Granada and Sevilla (or Córdoba, depending on what you want to see). I love Valencia and think that’d be a great destination, but I wouldn’t pair it with Sevilla. I think the fast train from Madrid to Sevilla is about two or three hours. But jungleboy’s suggestions of Toledo and Segovia are also good ideas. Other cities near Madrid that are also definitely worth visiting are Ávila (maybe harder to get to) and Salamanca. You should think about what kind of touring you want to do. These places all have very different things to enjoy.
 
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If you buy tickets in advance it will likely be cheaper to fly. I do like to take the train. Be aware that tickets for the train will not go on sale until a month or so before the trip. There are usually several trains per day back and forth from Madrid to Santiago and the trip is pretty quick at about 3 hours or so.

It is easy to take home base in Madrid and then take the train somewhere nearby.
 
Thanks so much for all the suggestions of where to visit! I only picked Valencia and Seville because I’ve heard lots about them. Personally I’d prefer visiting smaller, less touristy places that offer charm, history and beauty (a lot to ask I know 😆)and it would be nice to stay close to Madrid for the flight home. As long as they’re all easy to get to…!
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
Looking for some advice! My daughter and I are travelling from Canada Sept 2024, landing in Madrid where we hope to chill for a few days b4 needing to meet up with a group in SdC. I’m hoping to fly but back up option is catching the early am train. It looks like a tight connection between Sol and Chamartin (3mins!) … how complicated is that and are we talking two separate trains several platforms apart? Lol.

Second question. We only have a week either b4 or after walking from Sarria to SdC so if we’re using Madrid as our departure/arrival point, would it be worthwhile to visit either Valencia or Seville for a couple of days? And which one?! Tough to make choices on only a 14 day vacation! Thx for all recommendations and advice! 🙏🏻
I would give yourself more than three minutes for the connection. That seems much too tight for comfort to me.

Toledo is a great place to visit from Madrid, as is Segovia. Those would be a couple of nice day trips. While both Sevilla and Valencia are very nice, they are much further from Madrid and in the opposite directions from SdC.

I can't give advice from my own transportation from Madrid to Santiago. It was ideal for me and very rewarding but took about six weeks and I think you are looking for something a little faster.
 
Looking for some advice! My daughter and I are travelling from Canada Sept 2024, landing in Madrid where we hope to chill for a few days b4 needing to meet up with a group in SdC. I’m hoping to fly but back up option is catching the early am train. It looks like a tight connection between Sol and Chamartin (3mins!) … how complicated is that and are we talking two separate trains several platforms apart? Lol.

Second question. We only have a week either b4 or after walking from Sarria to SdC so if we’re using Madrid as our departure/arrival point, would it be worthwhile to visit either Valencia or Seville for a couple of days? And which one?! Tough to make choices on only a 14 day vacation! Thx for all recommendations and advice! 🙏🏻
I would just spend the spare time I had in Madrid. It is one of the great capital cities of the world. There is so much to see and do that a month isn’t long enough let alone a few days. If you like spending time on trains and trying to make sense of a guidebook then go ahead and try and do Spain in a week or a fortnight but while you are queuing for tickets, check in, and trying to orient yourself to another unknown town just think how much fun you could be having in Madrid.
 
For charm, history, and beauty I recommend Zamora, which has the most amazing collection of churches in Spain (my opinion) and a high-speed train north from there. But I don't know how good the train connection to Madrid from Zamora might be, as I walked it both times through.
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
I would just spend the spare time I had in Madrid. It is one of the great capital cities of the world. There is so much to see and do that a month isn’t long enough let alone a few days. If you like spending time on trains and trying to make sense of a guidebook then go ahead and try and do Spain in a week or a fortnight but while you are queuing for tickets, check in, and trying to orient yourself to another unknown town just think how much fun you could be having in Madrid.
Good point!
 
If I understand correctly, you have 14 days to: chill out in Madrid, travel to Santiago, travel to Sarria, walk to Santiago, and get back to Madrid. I wouldn't recommend adding any more destinations! If you get bored in Santiago, you can add day trip to Muxia by bus, and/or spend more time in Santiago or Madrid.
 
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If you have a week to travel in Spain, I would suggest you Salamanca and Zamora: two beautiful cities near Madrid. I loved it
 
If I understand correctly, you have 14 days to: chill out in Madrid, travel to Santiago, travel to Sarria, walk to Santiago, and get back to Madrid. I wouldn't recommend adding any more destinations! If you get bored in Santiago, you can add day trip to Muxia by bus, and/or spend more time in Santiago or Madrid.
That makes sense to me. If you go straight from Santiago to Madrid after your walk, you´ll have plenty to see and do there. If you do have spare time, Avila is a good day trip from Madrid.
 
If I understand correctly, you have 14 days to: chill out in Madrid, travel to Santiago, travel to Sarria, walk to Santiago, and get back to Madrid.
Thanks to @C clearly for once again, seeing clearly. ;) I had focused only on the issue of what to do with a week in Spain. But if @Jacki has only a total of two weeks, and will walk from Sarria to Santiago, and will have to get from Madrid to Santiago and from there to Sarria, then walk, and then go from Santiago back to Madrid, there really isn’t a whole week for traveling.

I am a very active traveler, but I think that there is a point of diminishing returns. I like @jungleboy’s recommendation of making a base in Madrid and maybe taking a day trip or two from there. Toledo and Segovia are both pretty awesome. Toledo is overly touristy and crowded during the day, but if you go and spend a night and enjoy the time after the tour buses have left, you will be gobsmacked.

If it were me, I would power through at the beginning and get up to Sarria as quickly as possible. Then leave the tourism for the end. But then I am a firm believer in getting to my Camino starting point as quickly as possible upon arrival in Spain, because I think it’s a great way to use the day of being zonked having arrived in Spain after an overnight flight.
 
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Thanks to @C clearly for once again, seeing clearly. ;) I had focused only on the issue of what to do with a week in Spain. But if @Jacki has only a total of two weeks, and will walk from Sarria to Santiago, and will have to get from Madrid to Santiago and from there to Sarria, then walk, and then go from Santiago back to Madrid, there really isn’t a whole week for traveling.

I am a very active traveler, but I think that there is a point of diminishing returns. I like @jungleboy’s recommendation of making a base in Madrid and maybe taking a day trip or two from there. Toledo and Segovia are both pretty awesome. Toledo is overly touristy and crowded during the day, but if you go and spend a night and enjoy the time after the tour buses have left, you will be gobsmacked.

If it were me, I would power through at the beginning and get up to Sarria as quickly as possible. Then leave the tourism for the end. But then I am a firm believer in getting to my Camino starting point as quickly as possible upon arrival in Spain, because I think it’s a great way to use the day of being zonked having arrived in Spain after an overnight flight.
I think you’re all so smart because it’s true, I have limited time and while I want to see it all, realistically I can’t! When I walked the Portuguese this past May I did just what you suggested…left the recovery - I mean “holiday” 😆 - for the end of the walk. Based on all these great suggestions, I think we’ll use Madrid as our home base and take the side trips that have been recommended! Thanks to all of you for such great input. 🙏🏻
 
And stick with the trains! While a plane trip seems faster, you’ll burn a lot of time getting to and from each airport in addition to having to arrive at least an hour early for security. Trains are fast, easy, comfortable, and generally affordable.

And as you have realized, 14 days is really not enough time for everything you want to do. In fact, I think even your day trips from Madrid are overly ambitious given the to/from SdC and walking from Sarria. Just stay in Madrid; so much to do there and a great place to adjust to relaxing in Spain.
 
I am taking 10 students to Spain next month. We have 15 days total. We will all arrive in Madrid on Day 1 from different locations and on different flights and at different times. Day 2 we make our way to Sarria. Day 3 we begin walking and we are taking 7 days in order to have class time in the afternoons and also stop to see a castle, iron age hill fort, and an old church or 2.

We will be in Santiago 2 nights, then take the bus to the sea at Muxia for one night. We spend our last 2 nights in Madrid. Our two weeks will be quickly gone and we'll be headed home again before we know it.

Two weeks isn't much time. Frankly when I am there for 2 months, I still feel like there's not always enough time either.
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
I am taking 10 students to Spain next month. We have 15 days total. We will all arrive in Madrid on Day 1 from different locations and on different flights and at different times. Day 2 we make our way to Sarria. Day 3 we begin walking and we are taking 7 days in order to have class time in the afternoons and also stop to see a castle, iron age hill fort, and an old church or 2.

We will be in Santiago 2 nights, then take the bus to the sea at Muxia for one night. We spend our last 2 nights in Madrid. Our two weeks will be quickly gone and we'll be headed home again before we know it.

Two weeks isn't much time. Frankly when I am there for 2 months, I still feel like there's not always enough time either.
Actually I’d love to find a pet sit and stay in Spain for at least a mont and just explore around. I agree that two weeks is nothing but all the vacation time my daughter could get off. I may head to Ireland when she goes home and do some walks over there…
 
Actually I’d love to find a pet sit and stay in Spain for at least a mont and just explore around. I agree that two weeks is nothing but all the vacation time my daughter could get off. I may head to Ireland when she goes home and do some walks over there…
We try to volunteer each year for two weeks at an albergue as hospitaleros and also do some walking. A couple of years we've also done language school in Spain. Its different every year and we always seem to fill up the time!
 
A selection of Camino Jewellery
As I recall, Sol is a subway station in downtown Madrid. Chamartin is a train station with a completely different set of tracks on the outskirts of Madrid. In fact, as I recall, one arrives at the Chamartin stop on the subway and has to take an escalator to the ground level and then walk around the building to the entrance of the train station. Then find the appropriate track. It will take longer than 3 minutes.
I did this in July of this year.
 
As I recall, Sol is a subway station in downtown Madrid. Chamartin is a train station with a completely different set of tracks on the outskirts of Madrid. In fact, as I recall, one arrives at the Chamartin stop on the subway and has to take an escalator to the ground level and then walk around the building to the entrance of the train station. Then find the appropriate track. It will take longer than 3 minutes.
I did this in July of this year.
The best way to get from Sol to Chamartín is to take the Cercanías commuter train line, not the metro. You are right that the metro is a totally different system, but Cercanías is more integrated. The Cercanías trains arrive at the same track level as other trains, and there is good signage so that you can find your train when you arrive from Sol. You will likely have to go up to the main level and then back down one flight to the track levels. I’ve made connections in 2 or 3 minutes from one line to another, but I agree that with a long distance train ride to get on in Chamartín, an earlier Cercanías would be much less stressful.
 
If you are boarding the high speed train at Chamartin you will have to go upstairs from the Cercanias train platform and go through a security screening to get to the platform for longer distance and high speed trains. They won't list the track number on the sign board until shortly before the departure. The "waiting" areas are limited in space both inside and outside of security and last summer due to construction at Chamartin the bathrooms were hard to find and not in the waiting area. If you are using a Tarjeta Dorada or some other kind of discount card, be prepared to show that when you show your ticket as well. We were asked for it a few times in the last two years, sometimes upon boarding and sometimes when the conductor came around to look at our tickets.
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
If you are boarding the high speed train at Chamartin you will have to go upstairs from the Cercanias train platform and go through a security screening to get to the platform for longer distance and high speed trains
Good point about security. In Chamartín, there is an xray machine at the bottom of the escalator down to the track level for the high speed train (security at Atocha is more complicated, with one xray machine for multiple tracks, which generates longer lines and a bit more confusion). Your baggage must go through it, not you. This sometimes gets bottled up, but these trains are remarkable in their timeliness.
 
Last summer at Chamartin there was only one security access point. I am hopeful that with the station construction they will make some changes to this and the waiting area spaces.
 
As I recall, Sol is a subway station in downtown Madrid. Chamartin is a train station with a completely different set of tracks on the outskirts of Madrid. In fact, as I recall, one arrives at the Chamartin stop on the subway and has to take an escalator to the ground level and then walk around the building to the entrance of the train station. Then find the appropriate track. It will take longer than 3 minutes.
I did this in July of this year.

If you are boarding the high speed train at Chamartin you will have to go upstairs from the Cercanias train platform and go through a security screening to get to the platform for longer distance and high speed trains. They won't list the track number on the sign board until shortly before the departure. The "waiting" areas are limited in space both inside and outside of security and last summer due to construction at Chamartin the bathrooms were hard to find and not in the waiting area. If you are using a Tarjeta Dorada or some other kind of discount card, be prepared to show that when you show your ticket as well. We were asked for it a few times in the last two years, sometimes upon boarding and sometimes when the conductor came around to look at our tickets.
Oh my gosh, you guys, this is all invaluable advice! We’re thinking we’ll plan on leaving a day earlier to meet up in Santiago with our group so that we aren’t stressing…it sounds pretty complicated! Then we have all day to get there…I still feel traveling by train gives one the opportunity to see the countryside as opposed to flying which I know would probably be a whole lot simpler and similar in price! And thanks to all of you, we’ve booked a week in Madrid and will take in some of those suggested towns.. Looking forward to walking from Sarria too although the Ingles had been my first choice lol.

Muchas gracias a todos!
 
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The best way to get from Sol to Chamartín is to take the Cercanías commuter train line, not the metro. You are right that the metro is a totally different system, but Cercanías is more integrated. The Cercanías trains arrive at the same track level as other trains, and there is good signage so that you can find your train when you arrive from Sol. You will likely have to go up to the main level and then back down one flight to the track levels. I’ve made connections in 2 or 3 minutes from one line to another, but I agree that with a long distance train ride to get on in Chamartín, an earlier Cercanías would be much less stressful.
Peregrina2000,
Thanks for the information. When I did this in July, I didn't realize that there was a commuter train from Sol to Chamartin. It looks to be a good bit easier as the commuter train arrives nearer the national train.
 
Now that all you wonderful people have given me all this information and advice about getting to Santiago from Madrid, has anyone ventured from Madrid to Sarria? Because I’m almost thinking that would make more sense…but R2R only shows one departure from Sol and again, with tight connections in Chamartin! 😬 Is Sarria worth an extra day to explore?
 
You can take a train to Sarria from Chamartin. One train per day usually. Or you can fly to Santiago from Madrid and take a bus or Taxi to Sarria.
 
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Now that all you wonderful people have given me all this information and advice about getting to Santiago from Madrid, has anyone ventured from Madrid to Sarria? Because I’m almost thinking that would make more sense…but R2R only shows one departure from Sol and again, with tight connections in Chamartin! 😬 Is Sarria worth an extra day to explore?
Just get to Chamartin whether it is by Metro or C-train. Sol is a plaza in the heart of Madrid. I don't really understand what you are talking about for a "tight connection". There are metros and trains all day to Chamartin. You just need to get there some time before your train leaves for either Sarria or Santiago.

Edit: Sarria is a small town. A few things to see, but they can be done in an afternoon.
 
Madrid to Sarria? There is one direct train per day. There are several trains with a change in Ourense. RENFE’s website is shite (polite version: not very user friendly) but still shite. It will not show you connecting trains so you have to search trains to Ourense and then trains Ourense to Sarria. Other routes are available but RENFE are resolutely unaware of them. I have had to show RENFE staff their own map of their own network to obtain agreement that I could, indeed, travel from Malaga to Jimena de la Frontera. Don’t ever try to buy a ticket from Bilbao to Llanes on the FEVE. I nearly got a police escort out of the station over that one.

Ok, rant over. Madrid direct or with one change of train but not station is very doable and perhaps even fun. Some grasp of Spanish will help but isn’t essential

Oh, just my opinion, but since R2R got acquired by OMIO it will only show you the route it can sell you a ticket for.
 
Madrid to Sarria? There is one direct train per day. There are several trains with a change in Ourense. RENFE’s website is shite (polite version: not very user friendly) but still shite. It will not show you connecting trains so you have to search trains to Ourense and then trains Ourense to Sarria. Other routes are available but RENFE are resolutely unaware of them. I have had to show RENFE staff their own map of their own network to obtain agreement that I could, indeed, travel from Malaga to Jimena de la Frontera. Don’t ever try to buy a ticket from Bilbao to Llanes on the FEVE. I nearly got a police escort out of the station over that one.

Ok, rant over. Madrid direct or with one change of train but not station is very doable and perhaps even fun. Some grasp of Spanish will help but isn’t essential

Oh, just my opinion, but since R2R got acquired by OMIO it will only show you the route it can sell you a ticket for.
Love your honesty! I’m getting a headache trying to research routes on R2R so it’s nice to know there is another website…although it sounds like it’ll only create a bigger headache if it’s “shite” haha. I was a bit surprised that R2R was only showing one train a day (not direct, through Ourense) which could be sketchy if we don’t make the transfer quick enough! When I was in Portugal travelling around, I resorted to the buses as the train schedules were so hard to figure out.

I’ll pour a glass of wine and continue the research! 🤣

🙏🏻
 
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I use Trainline for most train tickets in Spain. It is in English and shows the bus and train connections. It accepts my US credit card which Renfe the Spanish Train company will not due to some additional security levels. Some people use PayPal with success.
 
Love your honesty! I’m getting a headache trying to research routes on R2R so it’s nice to know there is another website…although it sounds like it’ll only create a bigger headache if it’s “shite” haha. I was a bit surprised that R2R was only showing one train a day (not direct, through Ourense) which could be sketchy if we don’t make the transfer quick enough! When I was in Portugal travelling around, I resorted to the buses as the train schedules were so hard to figure out.

I’ll pour a glass of wine and continue the research! 🤣

🙏🏻
The Deutsche Bahn (German Railways) App tends to be a ‘go to’ site for researching schedules across the vast majority for European countries. I can’t vouch for its use for Spain (but it’s seems to offer quite a bit of info on the route you are looking at) but it’s has proved extremely useful to me in the past. To be clear I am not taking about pricing or buying a ticket, just schedules.
 
Love your honesty! I’m getting a headache trying to research routes on R2R so it’s nice to know there is another website…although it sounds like it’ll only create a bigger headache if it’s “shite” haha. I was a bit surprised that R2R was only showing one train a day (not direct, through Ourense) which could be sketchy if we don’t make the transfer quick enough! When I was in Portugal travelling around, I resorted to the buses as the train schedules were so hard to figure out.

I’ll pour a glass of wine and continue the research! 🤣

🙏🏻
I’ve always found that a glass of wine helps. Just don’t reach for the whole bottle 😉 Remember that schedules and tickets are rarely available much more than a month in advance but that in actuality timetables rarely change by much. So, researching a train for your anticipated week day of travel for next week will likely give you a timetable that will work in 3 or 6 months time (no guarantees, Tinkers never give guarantees).

My only other comment is that while all the ticketing websites recommended by members are viable and convenient I’ve never, ever, failed to get a seat on a train in Spain as a walk-up. Then again I avoid trying to travel in Spain when every other bugger in Spain is trying to get home to see mum 😉
 
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