Spain train travel: learn about train routes in Spain

Spain train travel is a great way to get from one destination to another. In fact, trains are an increasingly cost-effective alternative to planes, particularly if you’re going a relatively short distance or if you’re traveling in the one of the high-speed long distance trains.

Nowadays several companies compete to offer the best train service of the country.

But which one suits better your travel plans?

Have a look at a complete guide on how to purchase your train tickets online.

Below you can find a list of all the railway companies operating in Spain and the routes that they cover.


Railway companies operating in Spain

Who operates trains in Spain?

The deregulation of the railway sector has led to the different operators gaining access to the Spanish railway network. After decades of monopoly, the state-owned company Renfe Operadora competes with several private operators.

Here is a list of the current railway operators in Spain:

  • Renfe. It’s the Spanish state rail operator, which until recently operated a monopoly in Spain. It also operates through Avlo, its low-cost subsidiary.
  • OUIGO. It’s French SNCF’s low-cost service high-speed trains, offering long-distance services on core routes of the Spanish rail network.
  • Iryo. It’s operated by ILSA, which is part of a consortium made up of Spanish airline Air Nostrum and Italy’s main train operator Trenitalia.

Now… You may be asking yourself, which one is better?

Well, all of them are valid options. It’s just a matter of availability (as you’ll see below, Renfe still offers the widest range of routes) and price (Renfe tickets are still the most expensive ones).

So, do your research and compare fares here and there! And there’s a great site for that.

Purchase your train tickets online with the best booking platform.


Spain train travel: high-speed long distance routes

With a 3,100km track network the Spanish high-speed trains operate on the longest high-speed network in Europe. Running at speeds of up to 310 km/h this extensive network allows for fast connections between cities in Spain.

As you can see, the central hub of the high-speed long distance routes in Madrid is the train station Puerta de Atocha. In Barcelona these trains depart from the Barcelona Sants train station. And in Seville, they depart from Santa Justa train station.



Currently Renfe has 10 AVE routes departing from Madrid:

  • Madrid Atocha – Calatayud- Zaragoza – Lleida – Tarragona – Barcelona
  • Madrid Atocha – Guadalajara – Calatayud – Zaragoza – Tardienta – Huesca
  • Madrid Atocha – Ciudad Real – Puertollano – Córdoba – Sevilla
  • Madrid Atocha – Ciudad Real – Puertollano – Córdoba – Antequera – Loja – Granada
  • Madrid Atocha – Córdoba – Puente Genil – Antequera – Málaga
  • Madrid Atocha – Cuenca – Valencia – Castellón
  • Madrid Atocha – Cuenca – Albacete – Villena – Alicante
  • Madrid Chamartín – Cuenca – Albacete – Villena – Alicante
  • Madrid Chamartín – Segovia – Valladolid – Palencia – León
  • Madrid Chamartín – Zamora – Ourense

Apart from AVE trains, Avlo is Renfe’s low-cost high-speed long-distance train service operating 2 long distance routes:

  • Madrid – Guadalajara – Calatayud – Zaragoza – Lleida – Tarragona – Barcelona
  • Madrid – Cuenca – Requena – Valencia

In addition to this, Alvia trains connect Madrid with other Spanish cities such as Cádiz, Bilbao, San Sebastián and La Coruña.



French SNCF’s low-cost high-speed OUIGO trains now operate on 2 routes:

  • Madrid Atocha – Tarragona – Zaragoza – Barcelona
  • Madrid Chamartín – Valencia

OUIGO Spain services will gradually be extended to other high-speed lines in Spain.



Iryo is the new brand from railway operator ILSA. The company is made up of the partners of the Spanish airline Air Nostrum, and Trenitalia, the Italian state-owned railway operator.

It operates on a single route:

  • Madrid Atocha – Tarragona – Zaragoza – Barcelona

They are also expected to run between Madrid, Cuenca, Valencia/Alicante and between Madrid, Córdoba, Seville and Málaga in the near future.


Spain train travel: Media Distancia routes

The Media Distancia (regional trains) and Avant trains cover the whole country. These trains are also very modern and quite punctual but they are not as fast as the long distance ones.

The following maps show you in detail all the routes corresponding to a certain geographical area of Spain:

The following routes are currently available using the Avant trains:

  • Avant Madrid – Segovia – Valladolid
  • Avant Málaga – Córdoba – Seville
  • Avant Madrid – Ciudad Real – Puertollano
  • Avant Madrid – Toledo
  • Avant Barcelona – Tarragona – Lleida
  • Avant Calatayud – Zaragoza
  • Avant Ourense – Santiago – A Coruña
  • Avant Barcelona – Girona
  • Avant Barcelona – Figueres Vilafant
  • Avant Valencia – Requena Utiel


Spain train travel: Cercanías routes

The Spain for commuter rail services or suburban trains are called Cercanías. These local trains are only operated by Renfe.

They either cover large cities (including Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, Seville and Valencia) or small regions (Asturias, Murcia).

The following maps show you in detail all the routes corresponding to a certain geographical area of Spain:


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