Renfe luggage requirements and restrictions

Renfe luggage requirements are ample and rarely enforced. You and each person traveling with you are allowed to bring on three bags, with a total weight of 25 kg (55 lbs) and a total size of 290 cm (114 inches).

However, I have taken countless train trips and have never seen anyone actually enforce this rule. In fact, I have never actually noticed a scale at any point in the process in any of the train stations I have been to (e.g., Madrid Atocha, Madrid Chamartín, Barcelona, Córdoba, Seville, Málaga, Zaragoza, Alicante).

There is obviously no limit on liquids and your luggage stays with you in the train car within your sight. So don’t risk losing you bags or getting robbed.

Here is a step-by-step tutorial to help you purchase your Renfe train tickets online.

 

Renfe luggage requirements and restrictions

As a rule of thumb, try to travel light. Renfe’s requirements and restrictions are very clear:

  • All ticketed passengers may carry up to three pieces of luggage.
  • The sum of the dimensions of the three items may not exceed 290 cm (114 inches).
  • The largest of the three may not exceed the following dimensions: 85 x 55 x 35 cm (width-height-depth).
  • The total weight of the three may not exceed 25 kg (55 lbs).

Renfe does not offer the possibility to buy extra baggage allowance.

After many years train traveling around Spain, I’ve never seen a member of Renfe’s staff verifying the size or weight of any piece of luggage, no matter how heavy or bulky this looked. However, there is no baggage check-in option, so when a train is fully loaded with passengers, luggage storage space can become scarce.

Moreover, boarding a long distance train at any train station is a lot like going through security at an airport. Luggage will be x-rayed so you are expected to load it on the conveyor belt.

It has occurred to me seeing passengers coming straight from the airport with huge suitcases not having room inside the train to store them. Although I’ve never seeing it myself, the conductor could force you to leave the train for security reasons.

You know what they say: “prevention is better than cure”.

 

Luggage tips and tricks when boarding the train

If you need to travel with heavy luggage when travelling by trains, these tips should be a help!

 

1. Respect the maximum luggage allowance

In Spain the maximum allowance set by the national rail operator Renfe is no more than 3 baggage items; each piece of luggage does not exceed 85 cm x 55 cm x 35 cm. The total weight of the 3 baggage items must not exceed 25 kg and the length 290 cm.

 

2. Don’t overestimate overhead racks

There are luggage racks at the ends of each car for large luggage pieces, and smaller hand luggage and backpacker packs easily fit in the overhead racks above the seating.

As the overhead luggage racks are the easier option also consider the weight of the bag, before leaving home test to see if you can easily lift it above your head. If you can’t, then think about splitting it into smaller bags to lighten the load per bag.

 

3. Split your luggage

Two smaller (carry on size) bags or suitcases is usually a better option than one medium bag. And a smaller bag plus 1 medium sized bag is definitely a better option than one large bag, suitcase or rucksack etc.

Large bags, particularly suitcases, won’t fit easily on the luggage storage shelves which are available on some trains.

And if you’re thinking “how am I supposed to wheel two or more bags around a station?”, just travel with bags that can be stacked.

 

4. Board the train as soon as possible

Doing your utmost to ensure that your among the first to board can seem a tad extreme. But if your luggage is too large or heavy to be placed in the above seat luggage racks on a train, you’ll be competing with your fellow passengers for the easiest storage space.

 

5. Be smart when boarding

My golden rule is to look for space in the luggage storage area and then find your assigned seat, or an available seat.

The majority of the storage space for larger items of luggage is by the entrance to the seating area, usually on the other side of the sliding door. So if you have a medium or large sized bag with you, make your initial priority checking whether you can find space on the luggage racks/shelves by these doors.

 

6. Be careful with your luggage

When you take luggage on board a train with you, you should always put the luggage in the overhead rack across the aisle from you – so you always have direct eye contact with your bags. Don’t put it on the rack over your head – you can’t see it there.

After many many years traveling by train around Spain, my luggage has never been stolen from the dedicated shelves at the entrance of the car.

However, if you have to leave your luggage unattended, or if you plan on sleeping, you may feel safer locking your luggage, backpack, or other travel bags down with a security anti-theft luggage cable to the luggage shelf. Travel cables are discreet, lightweight and small.

 

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