7 tricks for cheap train travel in Spain

Cheap train travel in Spain is possible. In general, all railway operators offers reasonable fares for all its routes.

I always refer to the advantages of traveling by train through Spain, which has one of the best and largest rail networks on the planet.

Renfe trains connect most of the country’s tourist destinations and allows you to travel from one destination to the other quickly and comfortably.

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

However, high-speed long distance trains are more expensive.

Fortunately, there are some hacks that will help you save a fortune. Below is a list with the tricks I use when buying a high-speed train ticket to travel in Spain.

 

1. Did you find a great rate? Buy your tickets now!

Start looking for your train tickets as soon as you know your travel dates.

If you find a convenient price, purchase them as soon as possible! All railway operators in Spain have a dynamic ticketing system, so fares change constantly.

Renfe only offers a limited number of tickets with promotional prices. So when these tickets are sold, only the most expensive fares remain.

The same applies for the other operators (Avlo, OUIGO and Iryo). All of them a low-cost railway operators so the cheaper fares don’t last long!

 

2. Do your homework: use comparison sites

I know. It’s very time consuming but in the end you’ll get a reward. Actually, it’s the best way to find cheap train travel fares. You have two methods to fulfill this task.

1. Spend endless hours finding the best train fares on your own.

The first one is a classic. Grab a piece of paper, a pen and go to the websites of all the railway companies. Select the city, dates, and time. Check the websites one by one. Write down all the quotes you get and pick the lowest one.

2. Use my favorite platform and let it work for you!

The second one is using a booking site or a train ticket search engine. They usually gather the rates of a lot of companies and get a commission if you book with them. They are very useful because they compare the rate of several companies for you.

After many years traveling by train both around Spain and abroad, I find that this is the best method in terms of price and availability. And for the past few years, I’ve been using the same exact booking site. Since I started using them I have never had to worry about anything other than driving safely.

Save your time and use my favorite train tickets website!

 

3. Avoid the busiest train hours

The most expensive train tickets usually correspond to the first morning trains and the last afternoon trains, especially on AVE routes.

The reason is simple. Many executives and workers use AVE trains to travel to another city earlier in the day, conduct their business there, returning at the end of the day. These are the times of greatest occupation and so are the most expensive ones too.

You are probably looking to to catch a train early in order to enjoy a full day at the destination. But is you are looking for better prices my favorite cheap train travel trick is to look for trains departing around noon.

 

4. Avoid very busy days

Try to avoid very busy days such as Sunday (especially from 17:00 onwards), Monday (especially during the early hours) and Friday (all day). Actually, you’ll never get a cheap train fare if you plan to travel of Friday afternoon (ie. after 13:00)

 

5. Be flexible when choosing your train travel dates

Often switching from one day to another leads you to a promotional price that wasn’t displayed for the originally searched date. Try to be as flexible as possible and your chances of finding cheaper rates will be higher.

 

6. Check if two singles are cheaper than a return

Defying logic, it can sometimes be less to NOT buy a return ticket. Hopefully the website will show you those options when booking.

 

7. Benefit from a youth card or the Tarjeta Dorada (seniors)

If you are a student and you are looking for cheap train travel, use the European Youth Card or the International Youth Travel Card! It will give you a 20% discount on every ticket. However, all discounts are mutually exclusive. Thus, if you buy a ticket on a Promo fare you won’t be able to have the student discount.

If you are a senior (60+) you can purchase a Tarjeta Dorada at train stations, Renfe ticket offices and travel agencies. This card offers up to a 40% discount on your Renfe train tickets depending on the train and the date you plan to travel.

 

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. 7 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