Traveling with Renfe
Renfe is the national company for trains in Spain, the only one you can find if you want to visit this country in the Iberian Peninsula. Whether you prefer exploring the North from San Sebastian to Santiago de Compostela, the Mediterranean coast on a Barcelona to Valencia train or the beauty of the inner areas traveling from Madrid to Toledo, you will get on one of the many kinds of train offered by Renfe, among regional trains, AVE (the high-speed network) and intercity-like trains. Find the best one (or the best price) for traveling Spain and buy your tickets on Wanderio!
Renfe train routes
If it’s a fact that the Madrid to Barcelona AVE route is the most popular of the world, it is also true that Spain is much more than this and, as a consequence, Renfe lets you get to the smallest towns of the country, which are also definitely worth a visit. If you’re in Spain for a beach vacation, for instance, you can travel from Barcelona to Sitges and enjoy one of the most beautiful beaches of the coastline! It will take you just 30 minutes on a regional train to reach this sunny destination.
Discover all Spanish art cities and destinations
Renfe train schedule
Train connections in Spain are many and very frequent during the day; this is one of the reasons why traveling this country by train is rather cheap (apart from the different fares and promotions). For example, you can find more than 25 trains per day connecting Barcelona to Madrid, from 06:05 am to 09:25 pm. The Barcelona to Alicante train route instead offers 8 daily connections between 06:34 am and 05:34 pm.
What kind of trains can I find in Spain?
High speed and long-haul trains
AVE In the Iberian peninsula finding high-speed connections between the biggest cities is rather easy. The Madrid to Barcelona route is the most obvious example - it’s always been so popular to have become the train route with the highest number of passengers of the world! The capital is the hub of most of the high-speed lines of course. In fact, excluding the routes from Seville to Barcelona, from Malaga to Barcelona and from Seville to Valencia, all the others leave from or get to Madrid; from here, you can reach Seville, Barcelona, Valencia, Huesca, Malaga, Valladolid, Albacete, Alicante and León. There are also some cities that are connected to the high-speed rail network as just stops and not as final destinations, such as Cordova on the Madrid to Seville route or even Segovia, along with the line from the capital to Valladolid.
Alvia Alvia trains are long-haul high-speed trains that get you from the capital to distant cities like Alicante, about 400 km in the south from Madrid, in rather short time (even just 2.5 hours, in this case).
Altaria These are pretty comfortable high-speed trains. If you want to get from Madrid to Murcia, in the south of the country, there’s a high chance you will get on a train like this.
AV City AV City is part of the high-speed trains family but they can be defined low-cost trains, as it is only possible to travel in the cheapest classes. Among the routes served by this kind of train, you can find the Madrid to Malaga and the Malaga to Valencia routes.
Euromed Euromed is part of Renfe high-speed trains and can travel as fast as 220 km/h. Routes served by this kind of trains are all along the Mediterranean coastline and mainly go through the Catalonia and the Valencia regions. The Barcelona to Valencia route is certainly the most popular among the ones managed with Euromed trains.
Talgo Talgo trains are long-haul trains that travel at a speed that ranges from 160 to 200 km/h. These trains are very popular among Spanish people that use them to travel between the biggest cities of the country.
Intercity Renfe Intercity trains connect the main cities of Spain and, even though they are not exactly high-speed trains, they are definitely faster than a regional train.
Trenhotel These are the night trains that link the main cities of the country. We recommend you to book your seat or bunk in advance, as there can be limited space.
Popular high speed train routes in Spain
Media distancia These trains are similar to regional trains, as their network is spread all over the country and allows you to reach smaller destinations. Their maximum speed is about 160 km/h and, as you might expect, onboard services are limited with respect to AVE trains.
Avant Avant trains are part of the high-speed family but they are used for medium-haul routes, like the ones from Malaga to Seville or from Madrid to Valladolid.
Civia e cercanías These are the Spanish regional trains - they can reach a speed of 120 km/h and get you from big cities to minor towns nearby. The reservation for this kind of trains is not mandatory, unlike for all the others.
FEVE They are regional trains mainly used by Cantabria, Galicia and Asturias regions - the perfect solution if you’re planning a trip in the area of Santander, for example. At the same time, some FEVE trains are used for medium-haul routes, such as the one that goes from Bilbao to Santander.
Renfe onboard services
Pets on Renfe trains
Pets are allowed on board of Renfe trains, with some small differences. On high-speed and medium-haul trains you can travel with your small-sized pet (which shouldn’t weigh more than 10 kg) if they sit in a kennel of maximum 60 x 35 x 35 cm. Their transportation is free for those traveling in first class (seats or couchettes). Otherwise, the owner should pay an amount equal to the 25% of a second class ticket (on high-speed trains) or of a General ticket (on medium-haul and Avant trains) for the same route. On regional trains instead, your pet can travel for free and having a kennel is not mandatory, although dogs must wear a leash and a muzzle.
Each passenger can bring up to 3 pieces of baggage, whose total weight should not be over 25 kg; the biggest suitcase allowed measures 85 x 55 x 35 cm, while the total dimensions for the three pieces must be maximum 290 cm. Musical instruments are considered hand luggage as long as they are smaller than 30 x 120 x 38 cm.
Bikes on board
A bicycle for each passenger is allowed on Renfe train, even though there are different conditions based on the train you’re traveling on. It is considered hand luggage if it is folded and put in a bag no bigger than 180 cm; otherwise, only on regional and medium-haul trains, you can bring your not-foldable bike with you for € 3 on routes longer than 100 km (the service is free of charge in case the route is shorter).
Wi-fi access is available only on AVE (high-speed) trains. For those with a first class ticket or being part of Renfe+ club, Internet connection is free and you will also have access to the entertainment portal; for all other people, there are paid packages - the Basic one (€ 2) with a 20 MB connection and the chance of associating one device and the Premium one (€ 4), with a 100MB Internet connection and the chance of working with up to 3 devices.
Thanks to the wi-fi pack, you can have access to movies and music; in addition, you can read the onboard magazine Club Renfe+.
Restaurants and food service
Apart from the café, which you can find on all long-haul trains, on AVE trains it is possible to buy food and beverages from the snack bar cart while seated; for those with a Preferente (first class) ticket, this is a free service on all days except for Saturdays (this way, the ticket is cheaper).
Buying your Renfe tickets
If you purchase your tickets online (on Wanderio, for instance) or thanks to a travel agency, you need to provide your contact details. In case you need to change the name associated to the ticket, you can do it for free within 15 minutes before the departure. The e-ticket is enough for traveling on AVE, Avant and long-haul trains; with the Wanderio App, you can show your ticket even when offline - just download them once and they’ll be at hand for ever! For all other trains, printed tickets are mandatory; finally, you should know Renfe doesn’t sell regional train tickets online.
For young travelers
On Avant, long-haul and high-speed trains, children under 4 that share their seats with their accompanying person travel for free, even though they must take a free ticket with them. Those under 14 with an assigned seat have 40% off the adult fare ticket instead. Finally, on regional trains, up to 2 children under 6 can travel for free if they share their seats with their respective accompanying person.
Renfe fares, terms and conditions
AVE and long-haul trains are those with the major differences as far as fares are concerned.
Even though you pay the full price in this case, you will benefit from many advantages. For instance, in case of cancellation, there is just 5% of additional costs, while you can change your reservation details for free. Also, you can choose your seat and get on the following train if it leaves within 30 minutes from the one you reserved with no extra charges.
This type of ticket lets you save up to 65% yet being still quite flexible. In fact, you can modify your reservation by paying the difference for the new ticket - if more expensive - and adding a 20% commission; if you have to cancel it instead, you can do it by adding a 30% surcharge. Finally, you can get on the following train in case you missed yours adding a 20% surcharge to the cost of your ticket. For getting access to the Club, you just need to choose the Preferente class to your Promo+ ticket (yet, you won’t have access to the parking service). With this type of ticket, however, you can’t choose your seat.
This is certainly the cheapest fare that lets you save up to 70% off the full-price ticket. On the other hand, it is less flexible, in fact it doesn’t allow changes, cancellation, choice of your seat and access to the Club or to the parking service.
Renfe train classes
You can choose from two classes when booking a seat on a Renfe high-speed train, that mean differences in the services you can have access to.
This is the first class actually. In the Preferente class you will have free onboard food service at your seat every day but on Saturdays, when your ticket is cheaper. Before the departure, you can stay at the Club or at the lounges in the stations of Madrid, Barcelona or Girona, where you can sip a free soft drink, read the newspaper or use the wi-fi connection, which you can use for free even when on board. Seats on the train are big and comfortable, with individual sockets and tables in some cases.
Traveling in second class, you will seat on comfortable seats with individual sockets as well, and, in some cases, you can find shared tables. However, you won’t benefit from free food service - even though you can obviously purchase some snacks at the bar - the Club and free wi-fi connection (although there are cheap packages for that).
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