Spain Train Travel and Rail Passes
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Rail Europe in Spanish and Rail Europe Canada

You can or use the RailEurope booking form to the upper right to book point to point train travel for Spain and Europe. (relationship disclosure)

While train travel in Spain can be a little confusing, most rail systems now seem to have been consolidated under Spain's national train company, RENFE.

Part of the magic of train travel in Europe is its high-speed rail system. You can not take a high-speed trains to every destination in Spain but more high speed rail is being added each year and many of Spain's top tourist sites can now be reached by a high-speed train. One high-speed rail line is known as the AVE, take it south out of Madrid for two and a half hours and you will arrive in Seville. Or, for the same 2 and half hour travel time head north on the AVE, out of Madrid, and end up in Barcelona. You can drive the Madrid to Barcelona distance by car but you would be looking at a 6 hours excursion to cover the 430 mile trip. Read more about Spain's high speed trains, AVE routes and Travel Times/ durations .

 

info on using RENFE for figureing out connections and booking tickets
Spain Train Station Articles:
Top Destinations for Spain
More places to explore in Spain
Malaga, Spain
Use the Spain Map to Select a city
Spain Cities Near Madrid:
Avila
Cuenca
El Escorial
Salamanca
Segovia
Toledo
 

My train ride was a pleasant experience. The AVE train to Cordoba was outfitted with a television so you had a choice of watching the scenery or a movie (in Spanish, of course).

 
- Spains high speed train system 
 
 
 
(relationship disclosure)

What you need to know - arriving at the Train Station:
When it comes to trains in Spain you may find the variety of train types confusing (see the column to the right and down), but when you arrive at the train station all you really need to know is what ticket window (Billetes) will get you a ticket to your destination.

Photo Left: Barcelona train station on a light traffic day.

Entering the Madrid and Barcelona Train Stations can be disorienting--people rushing here and there, Regionales signs, signs for EuroMed, AVE, Cercanias and (non-staffed) information booths all compete for your attention. One of the big changes from my first visit to Spain is that now many Spain Train stations have signs in both English and Spanish. You may still find the train stations a little confusing but for the non-Spanish, English speaker, the stations have become a little more navigable.

You are less likely to find English-speaking ticket agents in the smaller train stations then at the larger train stations. Younger clerks are more likely to speak some English than older clerks. To be on the safe side, if you don't speak Spanish, it is a good idea to write down the name of your destination or have a train schedule handy on which you can point out your city destination. It is also a good idea to note to the ticket agent if you want a "one way" (de ida solo) or "round trip" (de ida y vuelta) ticket, something I always seem to forget.

For traveling out of the Madrid and Barcelona train stations, you might consider either arriving at the station early or visiting the station the day before your date of travel. By doing a quick walk around, you can locate the manned information booth(s), the Regionales (Regional Trains), Cercanias (local commuter trains), and Largo Recorrido (long distance trains) ticket windows. At this time, pick up train schedules for potential destinations and determine which ticket window sells train tickets to your particular destination.

It seems as if every time I go back to the train station in Madrid the floor layout changes and information desk and ticket window locations are modified. Information you find here may be outdated by the time of your visit.

If you are confused at all, check with the information desk. Both the Barcelona and Madrid Train Stations have helpful English-speaking clerks manning their information booths.

Stop- Before getting into line for a ticket or information, look around. Do you see a machine dispensing "take a number for service" tickets? If so, you need to acquire a number before stepping into line.

Photo left -"SU TURNO" (your turn). This number dispenser at the Barcelona train station is used for the information line.

Once you have purchased your train ticket it is time to locate your departing train's platform. At many train stations you will find a "Departures" and "Arrivals" sign, sometimes big (like the one in Madrid, shown in the photo below) sometimes just a chalk board or TV monitor. Locate your departure train on the monitor, eventually the train platform you will be leaving from will show on the screen.

While AVE high speed trains are capable of reaching speeds of 186 miles per hour (300 km/hr), many high-speed trains like the ALVIA do not exceed 220 km/hour ( 130 mph), the AVANT can obtain speeds of 160 miles per hour (250 km/hr).
At the large train stations signs like the one to the right, can be found at the train platforms. This sign on platform #2 is announcing the arrival of a Cercanias (short distance) train in 2 minutes. Train travelers need to watch this sign closely, as in a 45 minute period several trains, all going to different destinations, may use the same platform.
The short distance trains like the one below (Cercanias) are not as comfortable as the Talgos and make a lot more stops. A trip from Segovia to Madrid takes a little over two hours.

Here are two Talgo 200's in their bay. These high-speed trains can reach speeds of 135 mph, allowing one to travel from Madrid to Cordoba in less than 2 hours.

Next: More info on Spain's high-speed trains; AVE Train Routes and Travel Times between Cities

 


Book Your Hotel for Spain
A selection of Hotel booking resources.
Unique Accommodation Archive
If you want quality accommodations of character and value you will want to check out this section of my website
More Train Travel Resources from Rail Europe:
Check out the Spain Car Rental options at AutoEurope
Additional Travel Recourses:
From DHR- Discount Hotel Reservations
 
 
 
 
Information on hotels accommodating families can be found at:
Larga Distancia or Largo Recorrido - are the long distance trains; they transverse Spain and can take you in to the rest of Europe
Talgos - are the fastest trains and only stop at the major cities.
Rapidos - are the, regular, daytime long-distance inter-regional trains.
Estrellas - are the night time version of Rapidos.
Cercanias - are the local commuter trains, short to median distance
AVE - high speed train from Barcelona to Seville, with connection in Madrid. Can achive speeds of 186 mph.
EUROMED - high speed train from Barcelona to Valencia (2 hours 50 min.)
Arco - line between Barcelona and Valencia, stopping at main cities along the Mediterranean coast.
 
 
 

 

 

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This page last updated January 2012
The information on this page comes from my five visits to Spain.