The coastal city of San Sebastian, part of Spain’s Basque country and located on the Bay of Biscay, is approximately 280 miles (452 km) from Spain’s capital city, Madrid. The quickest way to get from Madrid to San Sebastian would be via plane. There are daily nonstop flights departing Madrid-Barajas airport to San Sebastian, and flying time is about an hour and 15 minutes.
Traveling by car or private transfer would be the second-fastest option. The drive is about 4.5 hours, and will take you through some of Spain’s most beautifully country, including the historic region of Castile and city of Burgos.
The slowest mode of travel between the cities would be by train. There are daily departures from Madrid to San Sebastian and travel time ranges from 5.5 to 7 hours, depending on whether you get a nonstop train or have to transfer.
If you want to expand your adventures, check out this 8-day road trip that starts in Madrid, with visits to the Royal Palace and a Flamenco show, and continues on to the cities of León, Vigo and Santiago. And this 5-day itinerary of Basque Country highlights the cities of Bilbao, Getaria and San Sebastian, with outings to the famed La Concha beach and the Miramar Royal Palace.
Duration: 1 hour 15 minutes
There are usually several flights a day from Madrid’s Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas airport to San Sebastian. The main airport in San Sebastian is located in the province of Hondarribia, which is about 13 miles (21 km) from the city center. Taxi service is available from the airport, and it’s a 20-minute drive. You also have the option of flying from Madrid into the city of Bilbao, a quick one-hour flight, but you’ll then need to drive from Bilbao to San Sebastian, a distance of 62 miles (100 km) that takes approximately an hour and 15 minutes.
By Rental Car or Private Transfer
Duration: 4.5 hours
From Madrid, you’ll take highway A-23 and connect to highway E-5 and then AP-1 to San Sebastian. The roads between the cities are usually in good condition and it is considered a fairly easy drive. During the drive, you’ll pass through the city of Burgos, the capital of Castile. Burgos is home to sights such as the Cathedral of Burgos, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Las Huelgas Monastery, and there are plenty of restaurants and cafes where you can relax and grab a bite to eat.
Duration 5.5 – 7 hours
Most of the trains from Madrid to San Sebastian depart from Madrid’s Chamartín rail station, which is located near the city center and offers daily service between the cities. Travel time ranges from 5.5 to 7 hours, depending on transfers. Madrid Atocha station also has service to San Sebastian, but most require at least one transfer and can take from 7 to 9 hours. Train tickets can be purchased in advance or at the station, and the majority of the trains have either a full bar/restaurant car or offer smaller portable cart service with snacks for purchase.