Details of how to get from Madrid to Bilbao by various forms of transport.
Madrid to Bilbao by BusThere are regular buses throughout the day between Madrid and Bilbao. The journey takes five hours and costs about 30 euros. The train journey is of a similar length but more expensive (and less frequent) - take the bus.
Buses from Madrid to Bilbao depart from Avenida de America bus station. Read more about Bus and Train Stations in Madrid.
You can book most bus tickets in Spain online at no extra charge. Just pay with a credit card and print out the e-ticket.
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Madrid to Bilbao by TrainThere are two trains a day from Bilbao to Madrid, taking five hours. It costs about 45 euros. The bus is better.
This ticket can only be booked online from Renfe.es, Spain's official rail website. This site is a mess and has been described as "like Alice in Wonderland, where nothing seems to be what it really is" by Trip Advisor. I would recommend buying your tickets in person.
Trains from Madrid to Bilbao depart from Chamartin train station. Read more about Bus and Train Stations in Madrid.
For all other train tickets in Spain, residents of Canada and USA should instead use Rail Europe and get their tickets delivered to their home address. Citizens of other countries should also use the link below to check timetables but buy tickets in person.
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Madrid to Bilbao by CarIt takes 4 hours to drive the 400km from Madrid to Bilbao, following the A-1, AP-1 and AP-68 Note that AP roads in Spain are toll roads.
Consider a stop in Burgos to break up the long journey.
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Flights from Madrid to BilbaoThere are regular flights from Madrid to Bilbao and they can be very cheap if booked in advance.
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