Salamanca and Madrid are both popular tourist destinations in Europe, and since it's relatively easy to travel between them by bus, train, or rental car, you can experience both on your trip to Spain.
With transit time taking upwards of two hours each way, you might want to stay the night, but Salamanca can be a nice day trip from Madrid. Either way, make sure to plan enough time to see the top attractions in Salamanca like the Old and the New Cathedrals of Salamanca, Casa Lis, and the University of Salamanca.
When traveling from Madrid, each form of transit takes about the same amount of time, but taking the train or bus is significantly cheaper than renting a car. However, if you want to stop and check out other great Spanish cities, renting a car is the best way to get around the country on your own schedule.
There are only three forms of transportation between Salamanca and Madrid. Depending on your itinerary and budget, you can either rent a car or take a train or bus.
The train from Madrid to Salamanca takes about two and a half hours and costs under 20 euros, which is similar to the bus. There is also a direct train which takes about an hour and a half. However, the train station in Madrid, Chamartin Station, and the station in Salamanca are closer to the city centers than the bus stations are in each city.
Alternatively, there are regular buses throughout the day between Madrid and Salamanca. However, tickets can only be booked on the Avanza Bus website or in person at the Mendez Alvaro bus station, where all buses depart.
If you rent a car instead, the 133-mile (215 km) drive will take about the same amount of time. You can take the A-6 to the AP-6, then switch to the AP-51 and AP-50 to access Salamanca from Madrid. It's best to spread this trip over an entire day, stopping at other cities and towns along the way.
If you have a bit of extra time on your trip to Spain, there are several places you can stop along the way between Madrid and Salamanca including Segovia, Avila, and El Escorial.
Accessible by car, train, or bus from Madrid, Ávila takes about an hour and a half to reach, then another hour to get to Salamanca. If you add this stop, you can get lunch in Madrid then stop by Ávila to see the Medieval city walls, the Palacio Polentinos, and the Museum of Ávila before stopping in Salamanca for the night.
Segovia is also about an hour and a half away from Madrid by car, train, or bus, and it might be even more worthy of exploration than Salamanca. Consider heading to Segovia early, staying the night at one of the hotels there, then heading out to Salamanca the next morning instead.
El Escorial is also accessible by train, bus, and car, but it's a little more complicated to get to the Spanish Catholic basilica and memorial called the El Valle de los Caídos. It's much easier to access El Escorial and El Valle de los Caídos by car, so consider this trip only if you're renting a vehicle.