A complete guide to Spanish trains

Spanish trains are fast, reliable, and super comfortable. Whether you want to travel to a long-distance destination or somewhere nearby, Renfe and other railway operators offers you several options.

Ticket fares for most Spanish trains are regulated by a dynamic pricing system. In a nutshell, train ticket prices vary just like any airline fares.

That means that the best way to save money is purchasing your train tickets in advance.

Save time and money getting your Renfe train tickets in advance. You can purchase them online!


A complete guide to Spanish trains

I love traveling by train. And it’s something that I do very often, especially between Madrid and Seville thanks to Renfe’s wonderful AVE high-speed trains.

Every day I get dozens of emails asking me about train travel in Spain, how to purchase Renfe tickets online and what’s the best itinerary possible using the train. That’s why after many years using Renfe trains myself, I decided to come up with a complete guide related to Spanish trains based on my own experience.

The following section contains all the information that you need to know to make the most out of the Spanish train service.

Here is a complete summary of all the guide:

1. Spain trains: everything you need to know
2. How to purchase Spain train tickets online
3. 7 tricks to get cheap train tickets in Spain
4. Renfe: Spain’s state-owned railway company
5. AVE trains: Renfe high-speed trains in Spain
6. The Combinado Cercanías ticket
7. The Renfe Spain Pass
8. Avlo: Renfe’s high speed low cost trains
9. OUIGO trains: SNCF’s high speed low cost company
10. iryo: Spain’s low cost high-speed rail operator
11. 7 packing tips to comply with your train baggage allowance


Why should you travel using Spanish trains?

Traveling by train is the quintessential method for touring Spain and rightfully so. It’s romantic. It’s inspiring. Some might say it’s almost magical. And to those of you who don’t live in a country where train travel is prominent, it’s a little mysterious too…

Train is the best means of transportation to travel around Spain. The country benefits from a wide railway network, especially in terms of high-speed trains. As a matter of fact, this network covers the main tourist destinations in Spain and is used by millions of travellers each year.

And it has many advantages too!


1. Benefit from Spain’s high-speed rail competition

Since 2021 there are several open access operators competing with state-owned Renfe on the high-speed network, all bookable online so you can compare prices:

  • Avlo is a low cost subsidiary of Renfe.
  • OUIGO is a low cost subsidiary of SNCF (the French national train company).
  • iryo is a joint venture of Trenitalia (the Italian national rail operator), Globalvia and Air Nostrum


2. Arrive right in the center of town

Unlike airports, Spanish train stations are most of the time located right in the middle of town. So compared to getting to/from Barajas airport, you don’t have to spend time and money traveling into the city because you’re already there.


3. Skip long check-in and security lines

Forget about lengthy check-in procedures for train travel: there is no need to go through any security screening. You can simply show up a few minutes before the train leaves and hop on the car where your seat is.


4. Spain has a huge rail network and many different trains

Spain’s rail network is huge, and you can travel to even the smallest of towns by train. Most destinations offer multiple trains a day. The most popular routes usually have a train each hour, which really increases your travel options.


5. It’s a very comfortable way of traveling

Spanish train seats are usually a little larger than planes seats (especially when compared to many low-cost airlines). You’re also free to move about the train whenever you feel like it.

Many trains also have seats that face each other and have a table between the seats. These are perfect for groups or if you just like table space.


6. Spanish trains are reliable and on schedule

Spanish trains run on schedule well over 90% of the time, while flights are only on schedule around 65%. It makes a huge difference when you are on holidays, don’t you think?


7. Trains are peaceful and quiet

The train is the perfect place to sit back and relax. There is something very peaceful about staring out the window as you ride silently through the Spanish countryside. The train is also a good time to read a book, write in your journal, or continue planning your future travels.


8. Renfe has a few luggage restrictions

Although officially Renfe has some luggage restrictions, the truth is I’ve never seen anyone paying extra fees for exceeding weight limits or for multiple pieces of luggage.

Unfortunately, all high-speed trains operators (Avlo, OUIGO and iryo) are very restrictive.


9. Enjoy some beautiful views

Spain has a lot of amazing countryside, and traveling by train is a great way to see some fantastic views.

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