Whenever you want to travel in Spain either for leisure or for work, we recommend you take the train because Spain has one of the fastest rail networks in Europe. Locally known as AVE (Spanish high-speed train) it can reach speeds of up to 350 km/h (217 mph). The AVE is what makes travelling from Barcelona to Madrid so easy.
Despite being separated by almost by 700 kilometres of Spanish countryside you can go from the heart of Barcelona to the city centre of Madrid in just 2 hours and 30 minutes by train. But the high-speed trains don't just end there. Spain is Europe's leading country in terms of high-speed connections with the most kilometres of high-speed rail track on the continent (3,100 km) and second only to China globally. Taking into account the most popular routes in Spain by the total number of passengers, the benefit of high-speed train travel can be found throughout much of the country. For example, you can make the following journeys with Renfe: AVE Madrid to Valencia in 1 hour and 38 minutes, AVE Madrid to Seville in 2 hours and 30 minutes, AVE Madrid to Malaga in 2 hours 20 minutes and AVE Zaragoza to Madrid in 1 hour and 19 minutes.
Through Spain's AVE train service you'll be able to explore the different corners of the peninsula in less time than perhaps you imagined.
What services does Renfe offer?
Renfe trains have space for bikes, toilets, power sockets and Wi-Fi on the AVE services. You may also travel with pets and Renfe offer an unaccompanied minors service. They also offer a number of tickets as well including; Flexi rates allowing you to make changes or cancellations, or Promo and Promo+ rates to buy the ticket at the best price. In Spain, you'll also find two different classes. First class which is called Preferente, with all the comforts and advantages that these seats offer or a second class ticket called Tourist.
Types of Renfe trains
Long and medium distance at high speed
AVE is characterised by comfort and has the following classes onboard: Club, Preferente and Tourist. It has video monitors with entertainment programs and information about the trip. The seats are comfortable and have an individual light, folding table and plug. There is dedicated seating space for people with reduced mobility. There is free Wi-Fi connection for first class passengers and for those with + Renfe card and paid Wi-Fi for the second class. There is also a travel service for unaccompanied minors. Each AVE train has a restaurant and cafeteria
There is free Wi-Fi connection for first class passengers and for those with +Renfe card and paid Wi-Fi for the second class passengers. There is also a travel service for unaccompanied minors. Each AVE train has a restaurant and cafeteria onboard offering a variety of hot and cold food, snack and drinks. For the first class traveller, there is a catering service in the seat offered every day except Saturdays. First class passengers can also pre-order food at least 24 hours in advance and this includes special dietary requests including diabetic, celiac, vegetarian, etc. If you're seeking a quieter journey there is the option to travel in a quiet coach.
AVE most popular routes
These long distance trains connect all of Spain. They have several features such as reclining seats, folding tables, individual lights, audio and video, air conditioning and a buffet car. The Alvia has both first and second class (Tourist) tickets available. Free daily newspapers are also available for first class (Preferente) and a service for unaccompanied minors can be provided.
They are high-speed trains for short and medium distances. They can reach a top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph). They have air conditioning, plug sockets, individual lights, dedicated bicycle area, reclining seats, audio and video, a buffet car, folding tables, space for people with reduced mobility and baby changing facilities.
These are the high-speed trains that connect the Mediterranean region of Spain and travel across the Catalonia and the Valencian Community. They travel at a speed of 220 km/h and have two classes: Preferente and Tourist (first and second class). For first class passengers, they have free newspapers and catering included in the price for longer trips. This also includes a special menu option which you should pre-order at least 24 hours before departure. Typically this train has audio and video, a buffet car and an onboard service for children without accompaniment.
Long distance and sleeper trains
If you're looking for long distance train travel and want to experience a sleeper train service of the highest quality then Trenhotel is a great option. These services weave their way along the Spanish countryside connecting Madrid to Coruña, Ferrol, Pontevedra and Barcelona. There is also an international service between Madrid and Lisbon in Portugal to name just one.
When travelling on a Trenhotel service you will be able to book four different classes of accommodation to suit all budgets. They are:
Plazas sentada - a standard seat with a super comfortable reclining chairs available both in first and second class services. A toilet and wash room are located within this carriage as well.
Cama Gran Clase, a high-end single or double room service with ensuite facilities. You'll also experience those extra moments to make the trip more enjoyable. Passengers can also use the complimentary wake-up service, free newspaper and service lounge at the train station.
Cama Preferente: The 2-bed sleeper offers more space than the 4-bed and if you're travelling alone can be booked for single occupancy, so no sharing!. You can also book adjacent rooms with a connecting door if you need the extra space as well. Booking this cabin also gives you access to Renfe's passenger lounges at numerous station and free newspapers. In your cabin, you'll also have a toilet and shower.
Cama Turista: A 4-bed sleeper cabin has a bathroom and two bunk beds which are ideal for families or a group of friends travelling in a group. All cabins include reading lights, bedding and pillows. If you only book a single berth you should expect to share the room with fellow travellers of the same sex.
These are long distance trains that connect the regions around Madrid with the South of Spain. They reach a speed of up to 200 km/h. Altaria joins together Madrid with cities like Murcia, Cartagena and Algeciras. There are two classes available on this service: Preferente and Tourist. Onboard you will find a buffet car, accessible seating, toilets, audio and video facilities.
They are long distance trains that connect the main Spanish cities with speeds between 160 and 200 km/h. It has two types of classes: Preferente and Turista. First class passengers can access the club lounge with is included in the ticket price. All passengers also have access to audio and video outlets and an onboard cafeteria.
These trains connect provinces of the same autonomous community (region) together and make frequent stops. You do not need to reserve a seat and not all services can be booked online. The Suburban (Cercanias) trains that connect the suburban network of a city, can not be booked online. To travel on this particular service you can only buy these tickets at the train station.
Types of Renfe fares
- Promo: There is a specific and maximum number of tickets for this rate. Discounts up to 70% on the overall price of the ticket. The discount rates vary by train type and time of purchase. Ticket not exchangeable or refundable. No choice of seat.
- Promo +: Discounts up to 65% on the overall price of the ticket. The discount rates vary by train type and time of purchase. Possible choice of seat. Changes: to pay the 20% of the ticket for expenses of management of change. Cancellations: 30% of the ticket for cancellation expenses.
- Flexible: Same price as general rate. Choice of seat. Changes: no cost. Pay the price difference if the new ticket is more expensive, if it is cheaper, 15% of the price of the ticket to be paid for exchange costs. Cancellations: pay 5% of the ticket for cancellation expenses. Available for first and second class.
- Tarifa Mesa para 4 personas: Fare for 4 people in 4 seats with a table in the middle. 60% discount on the general price of the ticket. Change: not allowed. Cancellation: possible but paying 50% of the total of tickets for cancellation expenses.
- Round trip: 20% discount on each ticket. Changes: possible without any charge on an individual basis. If the new ticket has a higher price will have to pay the difference. Cancellations: possible individually but with a surcharge of 40% of the total price of the ticket that has been canceled. If both tickets are canceled, the surcharge will be 15% of the total amount of the tickets.
Luggage in the trains Renfe
All passengers travelling on any Renfe train may carry a maximum of three suitcases. The total of the three packages can not exceed 25 kg and 290 cm. And the largest of the three packages can not exceed the following dimensions: 85 x 55 x 35 cm. It is considered luggage also the baby seats, folded bikes with a cover that do not exceed the dimensions of 180cm and musical instruments.
Special baggage: Only one special equipment per passenger can be carried: ski equipment or a team of golf clubs with their sheath. Along with this luggage, you can only carry a case with maximum dimensions of 55x35x25 cm.
Travelling with animals on Renfe trains
Regulations for AVE, long and medium distance trains and Avant:
Small aminals (dogs, cats, ferrets, birds) are allowed if they do not exceed 10 kg. You need to have the necessary documentation and hygienic conditions about your pet with you. They must go inside a cage or box that do not exceed 60 x 35 x 35 cm. Each passenger can carry a maximum of one animal. It will be free if the passenger has a ticket of any kind of first class: Club, Preferente, Cama Gran Clase, Cama Preferente. If the passenger travels with class Tourist (second class) he will have to pay 25% of the total price of the the ticket. The animal can not occupy another seat.
Guide dogs that accompany people with limited vision can travel on all trains for free.
Travelling with children on Renfe trains
- Children under 4 years who do not occupy a place:
They travel free. It is necessary to show the child ticket before going on the train, which is possible to get it through the Trainline page. If the child travels free, he needs to share the seat with an adult. If you prefer that the child occupies a single place, you will have to buy a fare ticket for children over 4 years old.
- Children up to 14 years old who on board a place:
They will have 40% discount on the ticket, choosing child rate, every day of the week and at any time.
- Unaccompanied minors:
Renfe offers this service for trains: AVE, Euromed, Altaria and Alvia. To request this service, you must buy a ticket of Preferente class just in the train station with at least 48 hours in advance.
Travelling with bikes on Renfe trains
What do you need to do to take your bike in your train?
Regional Trains: You will be able to travel on board with your bike and place it in the specific space for bikes. If your journey is more than 100 km, you will have to pay 3 euros.
AVE, Long Distance and Avant: it is free but you must fold it and put it in a holster. The dimensions can not exceed 120 x 90 x 40 cm.
Trenhotel (Night train): If you book an entire room, you can take a maximum of two bikes. If you reserve a bed in a shared room with bunk beds, only two bikes will be allowed per room. You do not have to pay for the bike, even if you have to get the corresponding ticket to travel with your bike.
Parking at the train stations Renfe
Renfe train stations have a car park. This is usually payable, especially at the larger stations. However, if you are holding a Renfe loyalty card: + Renfe, + Renfe Plata, Oro or Premium you can have free parking or discounts. Normally with these cards, the beneficiary will be able to have free parking between 24 and 48 hours if they have a one-way or one-way return ticket for AVE, Long Distance for all cards and Avant for Renfe Gold and Premium cards.
To get the discount you must go to the ATM machine in the parking, scan the parking ticket and the bar code of your train ticket.
🛂 Security check
There is a security baggage check in most of the Spanish trains except for the Regional ones. You will have to pass a security check similar to the airport but it is not necessary to show passport or identity document. You must show up at the security line no later than 15 minutes before departure.
Main train stations in Spain
European destinations by train from Spain
If you want to travel from Spain to France you can take the Renfe-SNCF Barcelona-Paris, Barcelona - Lyon or Barcelona - Marseille trains. Or travel to the neighboring country Portugal: Madrid - Lisbon in the Lusitania TrenHotel (night train), or the Vigo - Porto train if you travel from the North of Spain. Don't forget the Surexpreso TrenHotel to cross the peninsula from Irún to Lisbon.
But if you also want to travel beyond the Spanish borders, you have a wide range of possibilities in Trainline. Choose routes between countries such as Paris-London, Amsterdam-Brussels, Munich-Prague or if you want to travel around a particular country you can choose between France, Italy, Germany, Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg.