How to Get to Leon from Madrid, Barcelona, Valladolid, Pamplona & more

Leon is where 'central Spain' meets 'the north wast'

Leon cathedral
(c) Damian Corrigan

Here are the best ways to get from Leon to Pamplona in Spain by train, bus and car.

If heading northwest from Madrid, perhaps on your way to Galicia or Asturias, Leon is an excellent stop on your way. Leon appears in my Must-See Sights in Spain: City by City for the tapas bars of its Barrio Humedo area of town. 

Why Visit Leon and How to Fit Leon Into Your Itinerary

The 'Barrio Humedo' (literally 'wet quarter') is home to some of the best tapas bars in Spain - and, what's more, tapas in Leon comes for free with every drink you order.

A little tip - though in most of Spain 'una caña gets you the smallest beer the bar serves', in Leon you can ask for something even smaller - 'un corto'. Why would you want smaller? Because the tapa that accompanies it won't be any smaller! You can eat more for less beer this way.

Leon's cathedral is also particularly attractive.

Also, a great day trip is to Astorga, home to one of the few Gaudi buildings outside Catalonia.

Another great thing about Leon is its location - on the long journey from Madrid to Oviedo or from the capital to Santiago de Compostela, Leon is on the way, meaning why wouldn't you visit? It's also on the way to Galicia when traveling east to west, from Barcelona, Burgos or Logroño.

As long as you're not driving, a stop in Leon for a few glasses of wine and some tapas is a great way to spend an afternoon. You don't need to stay long in the city - a look and the cathedral and something to eat is enough. If you are driving, visit in the evening for tapas and stay the night.

How to Get to Leon from Madrid

Train ticket prices can vary but can be as low as 27 euros. The journey takes just under two hours, using the AVE trainBook tickets from Rail Europe. Trains from Madrid depart from Chamartin station, which is not the main station in the city. Read more about Madrid's Train and Bus Stations.

Bus prices start from 25 euros and take between three-and-a-half and five hours, depending on the exact route.

Book from movelia.es. Most journeys depart from the main bus station, Estacion del Sur, but the quickest actually leave from Moncloa station.

The journey by car takes around three hours, traveling on the A-6. Note that there are tolls on this route. Read more about Renting a Car in Spain.

Stops en route Burgos and Salamanca are only slight detours, but with no direct public transport, they're only realistic stops when traveling by car.

If traveling by train, stop in Segovia on your way.

How to Get to Leon from Barcelona

The quickest way to get from Barcelona to Leon is by AVE train. You'll need to change trains in Madrid, but the whole journey takes just six hours, rather than around eight hours when traveling direct. The AVE option is more expensive, though.

The bus takes even longer (around ten hours).

Stops en route Considering the length of the journey stops on the way are a must. The quickest connection is to take the high-speed train to Madrid and then spend a few days there. Alternatively, visit Logroño and Burgos on the way.

Directions from Other Cities in Central and Eastern Spain

If traveling towards the northwest of Spain, start from any of the following cities. Unless otherwise mentioned, the bus will be a little cheaper but slower.

  • Salamanca to Leon Drive, or go via Segovia, as there are no direct buses or trains. Alternatively, take the bus to Zamora, see the Romanesque churches there and then head up to Leon by bus or train.
  • Pamplona to Leon  There are two trains a day, taking just over four hours. Tickets are around 40 euros.
  • Burgos to Leon  The train take around two hours.
  • Valladolid to Leon Trains from Valladolid to Leon take about 1h30 and cost about 20 euros.
  • Logroño to Leon There are a couple of buses per day, taking around four hours. 

    How to Get from Leon to Asturias and Galicia

    As mentioned above, Leon is a great stop for getting to the northwest of Spain. 

    • Leon to Oviedo  The train takes around two hours and costs about 15 euros.
    • Leon to Santiago de Compostela  The train takes around five hours and costs about 35 euros.