Extremadura’s capital often is the first or the main destination for many travellers visiting the region, whether on a weekend gateway from Madrid or Seville, or as a stopover on their way to Portugal.

This article, aimed at travellers looking to get to Mérida from Madrid, covers three travel journey options – by car, train and bus. It includes basic details of each type of journey, advantages or reasons for choosing each means of transport, a detail car journey description, practical info and useful links.

To Mérida from Madrid

Mérida is 359 kilometres away from Madrid Barajas Airport. A typical car journey takes 3h 30min, making it the fastest way (road traffic permitting) to get to Mérida from Madrid.

Reasons for driving to Mérida from Madrid:

You can hire a car at the airport. If you’re flying into Madrid, hiring a car at the airport is a no-brainer. You avoid having to cross the city in the metro or getting a taxi to the bus or the train station.

You can leave when you want. You don’t need to kill time while waiting for a bus or train. As soon as you land, you can go get your car and leave straight away.

It can be the cheapest option. Unless you travel on your own, hiring a car is normally cheaper than public transport when you travel with others.

It’s the fastest option. Both bus and train journeys to Mérida from Madrid take longer than driving.

It gives you the most flexibility. Driving allows you to stop whenever and wherever you want. You might need regular quick rest stops, or you may want to take it slowly and visit a town or two along the way.

It may be your only option. At the time of writing this article there are no bus or train services from Madrid to Mérida after 5pm, so if you want or need to leave Madrid in the evening, hiring a car may be your only option.

Driving to Mérida

The car journey to Mérida from Madrid

The airport is located to the northeast of Madrid. The journey involves driving along the orbital M-40 road clockwise to reach southwestern Madrid, and then joining the A-5/E-90 motorway Badajoz-bound. Motorists on the M-40 display an aggressive rather than defensive driving style and traffic is fast-paced. Have someone else on the passenger seat help with directions and making sure you don’t miss your exit.

When getting off the M-40, there are two options: getting off at exit 31 (A-5/E-90 Badajoz-bound), or getting off a bit earlier at exit 27 (R-5 Badajoz-bound). The R-5 is a radial toll-road which saves you a bit of time, road traffic and stress, particularly if you’re driving in morning or evening rush hour or in key holiday dates.

If you want to factor in traffic congestion when deciding when to depart Madrid by car, take note of the usual busiest times on the road (excluding holidays): Monday-Friday from 7.30am to 9.30am and from 6pm to 8pm. Monday tends to be the busiest day on the road. Busiest times during weekends are usually Saturdays from 10am to 12pm and Sundays from 6pm to 9pm.

Once you join the A-5/E-90 motorway Badajoz-bound, the journey is an easy and comfortable ride all the way to Mérida. The motorway is in good condition. Traffic varies between low to moderate, with a fair number of trucks and lorries, many heading to Portugal. Service stations are well signposted and they normally comprise a service station itself with a little shop and an independent bar/restaurant serving cheap and reasonable-quality food.

Getting to Mérida from Madrid by train

Trains from Madrid to Mérida depart from Atocha Station – not from the main station but from the Atocha – Cercanías Station. Once inside, look for ‘Media Distancia’ services to locate the check-in area leading down to the waiting area in the lower level. Please note that trains to Mérida appear on the panels as Badajoz-bound.

Train journey durations vary between 3h 38min (Alvia service) and 7h 16min (Avant-MD service). The fastest journeys are normally the first and the last service of the day. Tickets can be purchased in advance on Renfe’s website.

Mérida’s train station is located in Calle Cardero, in the city centre, just over 10 minutes away on foot from the Roman Theatre.

Mérida train station
Mérida train station

Travelling to Mérida from Madrid by train may suit you in these cases:

You travel alone. A train ticket will be cheaper than hiring a car on your own.
You don’t drive. If you need to travel by public transport, train journeys are generally more comfortable than bus journeys.

You like trains. Some people simply love travelling by train. You can relax and read or just enjoy the landscapes from the window.

Getting to Mérida from Madrid by bus

The Madrid to Mérida route is served by bus company AvanzaBus. Buses to Mérida depart from Estación Sur de Autobuses. Tickets can be purchased in advance online. The bus journey duration varies between 4h 15min and 5h 10min.

Mérida’s bus station is located in Avenida La Libertad, s/n (west of the river Guadiana), about 15 minutes away on foot from the city centre.

Mérida bus station
Mérida bus station, Extremadura

Travelling to Mérida from Madrid by bus may suit you in these cases:

You travel alone. A bus ticket will be cheaper than hiring a car on your own.
You live or are staying in the south of Madrid. If you have an easy commute to the Estación Sur de Autobuses, you might want to travel by bus, although trains may be equally suitable, so do check and compare.

There are no train services available.

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Irene Corchado Resmella

Irene Corchado Resmella

Hi! I’m Irene (/ee-REH-neh/). Long since settled in the UK, I explore my Spanish home region of Extremadura with an inquisitive mind, a sharp eye, and the duality that comes with being both a local and a visitor. Then I write about it here to help you discover this beautiful yet overlooked part of Spain. If you have any questions after reading this article, submit a comment below! Read more about me.

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