Spain, one of the world’s most popular destinations, is the Western European country that occupies most of the Iberian peninsula. Along with Alsa, the main bus provider of the country, and its capillary network of buses in Spain, trains are the most comfortable and the cheapest way to travel within the Spanish boundaries. The railway network is quite extensive and perfectly links the main cities of the country, especially when leaving from the capital, which is in fact located in the center. From Madrid to Barcelona, from Alicante to Seville, up to the Basque country, the most beautiful cities of the Iberian Peninsula are all easily reachable by high-speed trains. And if you want to explore Spain’s most authentic towns and villages, just get on a cercanía, a regional train. Traveling Spain by train is enchanting, comfortable and cheap. For instance, if you want to visit the historical hidden gem of Segovia, less than two hours by regional train from the capital, train tickets cost just € 8.25. Instead, if you prefer traveling on Spain’s (and the world’s!) most popular train route, as many Spanish people and tourists do, it will take you approximately three hours on an AVE train, which is a high-speed train, to get from Madrid to Barcelona or vice versa - and tickets start from just € 49.55!
Popular train routes in Spain
Railway map in Spain
The railway company
In Spain, the only train provider is the national railway company, Renfe. It was established in 1941 and its functions always included both passengers and goods transportation as well as the infrastructure management until a European law imposed the division of the two activities in 2005. Since then, Renfe keeps on offering a transportation service which is affordable and useful for every destination, while ADIF works on the infrastructure.
Rail companies in Europe
Most popular train routes in Spain
Apart from the already mentioned Madrid to Barcelona route, there are many others that are popular both among local people and tourists. For instance, you can get from Barcelona to Valencia by train and discover the world-renowned City of Arts and Sciences and then reach the capital city. Another rather popular route is the one that goes from Madrid to Seville by train (even though the Andalusia capital is easily reachable from Barcelona as well). Finally, trains from Madrid to Santiago de Compostela or from Barcelona to Girona will make you discover other parts of the country, one popular among pilgrims, while the other is well known for beaches and nightlife - you only have to choose your next destination.
Discover Spain with Renfe
In Spain there are a lot of trains to choose from. All the kind of trains are actually divided into high-speed (called AVE in Spanish) and long-distance trains, medium-haul trains which are specific for interregional routes, and Cercanías, very similar to regional trains, that link main cities to minor towns nearby.
Getting on an AVE train, you can reach the most important cities of the country in little time. For instance, the Madrid to Barcelona train will get you to your destination in less than three hours! Also the Barcelona to Valencia route is served by the high-speed network.
If your next stop is in Malaga and you’re already in Seville, the Andalucia capital city, then you have to choose a medium-haul train. Do you want to pamper yourself in Sitges beautiful beaches for a day trip from Barcelona? Get on a regional train!
Buying your train tickets in Spain
Even though you can buy your ticket at the ticket office, there’s the chance of limited availability, especially for high speed and night trains; moreover, prices could pretty high. On the contrary, buying your train tickets online a few weeks in advance not only will make you save money, but you will also have more chances of finding the best seats and fares. Book on Wanderio, so you can also compare train prices to buses and flights; in any case, you will receive your ticket in pdf via email: you just need to print it and you can get on board without validating it. Moreover, you can always view your tickets on the Wanderio App, even when offline.