Experience an AVE train trip before setting foot on the train!

Would you like to know how is an AVE train trip?

For those of us, frequent train travelers, catching a train becomes a routine like taking a bus or a plane. But if it’s your first time traveling in a high-speed train, you may still have some questions.

This is a full description of how it is to travel in an AVE or any other high-speed train.

The only thing that I won’t be able to reproduce is the thrill of traveling at more than 300km/h!

Do you know how you can purchase Renfe train tickets online?


The train station

On the day of your trip, make sure that you have your tickets with you, either printed or downloaded in your smartphone or tablet. You will be requested to show your ticket before boarding the train.

The access to the platforms is usually different than the rest of the trains. In some stations, such as Atocha in Madrid, you even do so through a different area located in the 1st floor.

Have a look at the monitors to check your train’s departure platform number. If you have a Prémium ticket, go to the VIP lounge (Sala Club) where you can wait comfortably. Make sure that you can access the Sala Club before going through the security control, in some stations (e.g. Atocha in Madrid you need to go through security first).


The access to the platform

The boarding generally starts 15-20 minutes before the train actually leaves the station.

You are going to go through 2 controls in every station:

1. A security control. At the control, you must x-ray all your belongings (luggage, backpacks and bags) and show up your train ticket upon request.

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2. A platform access control. Here a member of Renfe will scan your ticket.

This procedure varies from one station to the other.

  • In Barcelona-Sants the luggage control is done first; you then access a waiting hall before going downstairs to the platform where the train is and where your ticket will be scanned.
  • In Madrid-Puerta de Atocha the luggage control is done first. You then access a waiting hall with several gates. Your ticket will be scanned at one of these gates before going downstairs to the platform where the train is.
  • In Sevilla-Santa Justa you are first asked to show the ticket before accessing the ramp leading to the platform. Once downstairs, you go through the luggage control and finally, a Renfe staff member scans your ticket.
  • In Toledo both the luggage and access control are done at the platform where the train is.
  • In Zaragoza-Delicias the luggage control is done first; you then access a waiting hall before going downstairs to the platform where the train is and where your ticket will be scanned.

When the Renfe staff member scans your ticket, she will tell you your car’s location.


Accessing the train

Once you are at the platform where your train is (or will stop at), have a look at your car number. All trains have a screen displaying the car number, the train number, the origin and the destination.

If your train is not at the platform but it’s about to arrive, please wait for the passengers that are inside to exit the car before you enter it.

Every car has either one or to steps depending on the train model. Mind the gap between the train and the platform and be careful with the steps if you are carrying a heavy piece of luggage.

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Look for a place to store your luggage

As soon as you enter the train, you should look for a place to store your luggage. Make sure you travel as light as possible as I recommended when explaining Renfe luggage restrictions.

The baggage store shelves are generally at the beginning and end of each car, although this varies depending on the train model. In general there is not a lot of space so it fills up rather quickly, especially if the train is full.

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In addition to this, you can also store your hand luggage, backpack or bag at top shelves located over the seats.

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Your seat

Before your AVE train trip starts, you have to find your seat. Depending on the class of your ticket, the car will have the following configuration:

  • 2 seats | corridor | 2 seats
  • 2 seats | corridor | 1 seat


Train services

Every car is equipped with toilet facilities located at the end of each car. They are usually next to the doors and easily spotted thanks the toilet signs.

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Most high-speed trains have a cafeteria car with a large area where you can purchase drinks, snacks and sandwiches that you can eat there or at your own seat.

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Prices charged at the cafeteria are extremely expensive. Whenever you can, try to avoid it and bring your own food and drinks on board.

The cars are equipped with small TV monitors where movies are generally played. You can choose to either watch the movie dubbed or in original language by selecting the audio channel. At the beginning of the trip the crew distributes complimentary headphones.


Intermediary stops

Depending on the train, it can stop once or several times along the trip. The stops are very brief, only a few minutes so that other passengers can get out and in the train.


Getting to your final destination

As soon as the train reaches your final destination, make sure you take all your belongings with you. Exit the car paying special attention to the steps and the gap between the train and the platform.

Now all you need to do is follow the rest to exit the platform and enter the main terminal. Your AVE train trip is over.


This article is part of a complete tutorial about train travel in Spain where you can read all the information you need to organize your train journeys around the country.

Here is a complete summary of all the guide:

1. Renfe and the different types of trains
2. The main routes covered by Renfe trains
3. The different types of train seat classes
4. Renfe train tickets: price structure
5. How to purchase Renfe train tickets online
6. Renfe train tickets availability. When is it best to get yours?
7. 10 tricks for cheap train travel in Spain
8. Renfe luggage requirements and restrictions
9. The Combinado Cercanías ticket
10. Renfe’s punctuality commitment
11. Experience an AVE train trip before setting foot on the train!
12. The Renfe Spain Pass
13. Traveling with children or a disability


Disclaimer: This post was written in partnership with Espanha Total, a specialized online tourist guide about Spain in Portuguese.