Spanish train services are solely run by Renfe, which is owned by the state government. Renfe trains provide regional, national and even international train routes, including the high-speed AVE train. Renfe trains primarily travel to and from Madrid or Barcelona, which makes them ideal destinations to travel to using Renfe. You can find out more information about Renfe trains below. This includes more on popular Renfe routes, tickets and timetables. Also, use our Renfe map, to see some of the popular train routes in Spain.
To give you an idea of how extensive Renfe train services are, we have drawn up a map to show you some of the major routes and destinations in Spain. While most major routes are in and out of Madrid and Barcelona, see where else Renfe travels to.
This map shows the most popular and busiest Renfe routes, however, there are thousands more that you can take.
This map shows you the most popular train routes taken in Spain. There are thousands more you can take to explore each corner of this country. Using AVE, Alvia and Avant trains, you can create the perfect trip around Spain, with this map a perfect starting point.
There are many more places to travel in Spain by train, including Cordoba, Malaga and Alicante. If you want any more inspiration around where Renfe trains can take you, then visit our trains in Spain page.
Renfe trains run frequent trains on hundreds of popular train routes in Spain every day throughout the year. Whether you are taking the AVE train from Barcelona to Madrid, or an Alvia train from Valencia to Murcia, there are a number of trains to take.
There are three Renfe train ticket types for all journeys: Promo, Promo+, Flexible. Depending on your date of travel and what type of Renfe train you take, then the ticket that suits you best may change.
The Renfe ticket that offers you the best discount is the Promo ticket. You can save up to 70% on any Renfe train, including the high-speed AVE trains. These are usually the first tickets available to buy and are released well in advance of the time of travel.
If you are sure of the time and date you want to take the train, then this is the cheapest train ticket to buy. There are limitations with the Promo ticket though. These tickets are non-refundable and non-exchangable, so if for any reason you cannot make the train, then you cannot redeem your money back, or change the time of travel.
You can save up to 65% with a Promo+ ticket, giving you a great chance to save, even if you don’t buy a Promo ticket. The difference between a Promo and a Promo+ ticket is the flexibility you can get. When buying a Promo+, you can amend the journey time by paying 20% of the cost of the ticket. If you want to cancel the ticket altogether, then that can be done at the cost of 30% of the tickets price.
If you are travelling on a route with a connection or staying in a town or city for a short amount of time, then it may be ideal to purchase a Promo+, as it gives you a bit more time to decide when to travel.
As the name suggests, buying a Flexible Renfe ticket gives you greater freedom to change your ticket, without a large price to pay, unlike the Promo+. Costing the same as a standard Renfe train ticket, you can choose to buy a more expensive ticket for this trip, with the price being the difference between the two tickets.
If you want to change for a cheaper ticket, then the cost is 15% of the price of the ticket. This ticket is available for both First and Second Class tickets.
Renfe trains offer two classes on each journey. First Class is known as Preferente, with Second Class known as Turista. When travelling on a Renfe AVE train, there is also an extra class: Turista Plus. Turista Plus is a premium economy class, with the seats of Preferente, but without access to First Class lounges or at-seat table services.
Renfe provides more than just national service across Spain. In a partnership with SNCF trains in France, you are able to take trains from Barcelona train station to cities in France such as Marseille, Lyon and Paris. Renfe-SNCF trains have very similar classes to that on normal Renfe trains, although ticket types are slightly different:
These tickets are the cheapest you can buy, and relatively flexible. You can either exchange or refund the ticket any time before departure for a 50% fee.
With the Flexi ticket, you can cancel the ticket for no charge up until 24 hours before departure. After that, you must pay 10% of the tickets price to cancel the ticket.
If you are travelling through Europe on an Interrail or Eurail pass, please note that while Renfe-SNCF trains are included in the pass, there are a limited number of spaces available on each train for pass holders. As with all stations in Spain, there are luggage checks, and this is no different for Renfe-SNCF. We also recommend having your passport ready for any inspections at the gate, as this will save not only you time, but other passengers also when trying to board.
Renfe's three major train services are AVE, Avant and Alvia. All three trains travel at high-speed, covering much of Spain on their different networks. Find out more about each different train and where it can take you, giving you a good idea on how you'll be travelling around Spain by train.
Renfe's high-speed train, AVE changed rail transportation in Spain. AVE trains have been running in Spain since 1992, and its train network has grown to cover all corners of Spain. Using Madrid as it's major terminals, AVE trains travel throughout the country, connecting the rural south to the urban centre. AVE train routes continue to expand, with the network continuing to grow in 2018 and 2019.
All classes of AVE trains come with comfortable and spacious seats, buffet carriages and entertainment onboard. If you have a long train journey ahead of you, travelling on AVE will make it an enjoyable experience.
Renfe Avant trains still operate at the same high-speeds as AVE, the distances of the journeys are just shorter. Avant routes are typically within the same region on Spain, from origin to destination. Avant trains are perfect for those who are going on day trips nearby, as the routes are much shorter, but you're still travelling at high speeds, making them time-effective.
The last of the high-speed trains in Spain, Renfe Alvia trains travel are similar to AVE, only calling at more stops on their routes. Alvia trains still call at all major cities such as Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia, but also towns and cities such as Cadiz, Pamplona and Alicante.
You can typically find Alvia trains running a majority of their services in the north of the country, making it a vital link between cities in those regions and the central hub of Madrid.
With plenty of different cultures, sight and experiences to be had across the regions of Spain, it can be difficult to get a taste of each one. While it may be impossible to see every corner of Spain, using Renfe to travel the country is a great way to see as much as possible.
If you are still looking for cities to visit in Spain, take a look at our recommendations, and maybe add it to your list of things to see!
Travelling with Renfe? Find out everything you need to know about luggage allowance, pets and other onboard Renfe facilities here