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Trainline is in Spain!

Welcome to our guide on trains in Spain! You can buy tickets for Spanish trains using our app and website. We’re a trusted partner of Renfe, Spain’s national train operating company, meaning every ticket bought on Trainline will always be valid for travel. We connect directly to their ticketing system – so it’s as if you’re buying tickets direct from Renfe.

Trains in Spain give you the chance to explore one of the most vibrant and colourful destinations in Europe. With great weather and a stellar high-speed railway network, Spain is a great country to explore by train.

This guide will show you how to book Spanish train tickets, how to find the cheapest advance fares, whether you need an Eurail pass, and how to understand your Renfe ticket. You'll also see what it's like on the inside of a high-speed AVE train, how to travel to France from Spain by rail, and helpful FAQs at the end.

Spain train tickets

All tickets bought through Trainline are valid for travel on trains in Spain. As a trusted partner of Renfe, our clever tech connects directly to their ticket inventory – we don’t buy and re-sell tickets.

Train companies in Spain

Renfe is Spain’s state-owned train company. It runs high-speed AVE trains which connect Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Valencia, Cordoba, Malaga and other Spanish cities at speeds of up to 310km/h. The AVE route from Barcelona to Madrid is the busiest high-speed service in Spain.

How far in advance do Renfe train tickets go on sale?

In theory, all Renfe tickets should be available 60 days ahead of time. AVE tickets are usually on sale slightly earlier, 90 days before the date of travel.

However, in practice this isn’t always the case. Renfe will often release tickets in large blocks and not always 60 days in advance. If you search for a journey over a month in advance and you don’t see as many departures as you’d expect, it’s likely the trains aren’t open for booking yet. Renfe can open bookings quite late when making bi-annual timetable changes. These take place on the 2nd Saturday in June and 2nd Saturday in December, when the furthest you can book in advance is just 30 days.

Renfe fares explained

Thankfully, the fare system in Spain is quite simple. There are three types of fares – Promo, Promo+ and Flexible. These apply to high-speed AVE trains and long-distance trains. For regional services, the only ticket type on offer is the Flexible fare.


Promo tickets are the cheapest fare. They work like advance tickets in the UK – you can save up to 70% on high-speed and long-distance trains. There are a limited number of Promo fares for any given train so they will often sell out for busy routes. These tickets are non-exchangeable and non-refundable.


These are very similar to Promo tickets but slightly more expensive. Booking Promo+ tickets far enough in advance can earn you savings of up to 65%, and they come with more flexibility than the cheapest fare type. Should you not be able to make your train, a Promo+ ticket entitles you to a refund of 70% of the ticket value, up to 5 minutes before departure.


As the name suggests, Flexible tickets offer the most flexibility to amend or refund your booking. Tickets are refundable for 95% of the value up to 5 minutes before departure. However, these tickets are the most expensive of the three. Flexible tickets can come in handy if there’s a chance you might miss your scheduled train.

Benefits of buying tickets in advance

Booking tickets in advance is a great way to access Renfe’s discounted Promo and Promo+ fares. Plus, you’ll have more chance of reserving a seat by the window. Here are some of the benefits of booking ahead of time.

Discounted fares

For high-speed AVE and Alvia trains, ticket prices work in a similar way to airline tickets, becoming more expensive as the travel date approaches. If you time your purchase perfectly, you can achieve discounts of up to 70% off the full price of a Promo fare, and 65% on Promo+ fares. These heavily discounted tickets can sell out very quickly, so we’d recommend setting a reminder in your calendar 60 days before you plan on travelling (or 90 days if it’s an AVE route).

Seat reservations

You don’t have to pay extra for a seat reservation on Spanish trains. A seat reservation is automatically included with your ticket. However, by booking in advance you can specify seating preferences (rather than be randomly allocated a seat). Secure yourself a window seat to watch the countryside roll by!

As well as offering the choice of window/aisle, we allow you to request a solo seat and specify whether you would like to face the direction of travel. We’ll try our best to fulfil all seat preferences but that totally depends on how many seats have already been reserved by other passengers. All the more reason to book nice and early.

Print your ticket at home

We will email your ticket as a printer-friendly PDF. It will have your seat reservation, departure & arrival station, coach number and train number listed on it.

While the ticket will be completely valid if you show the PDF on your phone (or better yet, keep it in our app), who doesn’t like the peace of mind that comes with a paper copy? Below, we’ll show you exactly what your ticket will look like.

How to book Renfe tickets online

We make it easy to book train tickets in Spain. Here’s what you’ll see when you search for tickets with Trainline.

When you make a search in our Journey Planner, we will list all the trains running on your chosen day of travel. For each train, we'll show you the following info:

Lowest price

By default, we select the cheapest fare option available on that service. In this case, it's Renfe's "Promo" fare - a cheap, non-refundable advance fare. However, you can opt for a semi-flexible fare or a fully flexible fare for an additional cost.

Train number

Underneath the fare options is the train number for that service. This will be displayed on your ticket. 'AVE 2361’ means that you'll be taking a high-speed AVE train.

Departure time and station

Finally, we will show you the time this train is meant to depart and the departure station. Some cities have more than one station – Madrid Atocha is different to Madrid Chamartin! – so this is important! For most Renfe routes, you must catch the specific train you've booked. Don’t just jump on the first one that arrives on the platform!

Understanding your Renfe train ticket

Did you know that your ticket includes a code giving you free public transport access to your departure station? Learn how to read a Renfe e-ticket.

CombinadoCercanías code – One of the first things you'll see on your ticket is the 5-digit CombinadoCercanías code. This gives you free travel on the Cercanías suburban commuter train network (present in 12 Spanish cities) to your departure station and onwards from your arrival station. Use the ticket machine in your nearest Cercanías station to redeem CombinadoCercanías. Usually, you'll simply be asked to scan the barcode on your ticket but older machines may ask you to manually input the code. This English-subtitled video does a good job of explaining how to use CombinadoCercanías.

Train number and carriage number – Your train number denotes the exact service you have to take with your ticket – this will be displayed on the departure boards in the station. The Coche number specifies which carriage your seat is in.

Departure time – Shown in the top right corner of the ticket. This is non-negotiable (unless you exchange your ticket), so make sure you get on the right train!

Seat Number Shown as Plaza on the ticket. This is your seat reservation, guaranteeing a seat on the train.

Buying tickets at the station

Ticket machines in Spanish stations look something like this! To switch to English, use the language buttons at the bottom of the screen. The machine will instruct you in English how to book your tickets. Of course, we'd love you to buy them online (if only to save paper!) but we’ll let you off if you occasionally forget!

Tickets for short regional journeys will cost the same on the day as they would in advance, so there's no harm in buying them at the station before you depart.

Popular Spanish railway stations:

Madrid AtochaBarcelona Sants | Sevilla Santa Justa | Valencia Estació del Nord

Ticket machines at Barcelona Sants station.

Security checks for high-speed trains

If you're travelling on an AVE service from a mainline station, you will have to pass through a quick X-ray security check. The security guards will only scan your luggage, not you.

This should only take a few minutes but can be longer for busy services. Factor this into your planned arrival time at the station – we'd like to think you'd be leaving yourself plenty of time anyhow!

Security checks at Barcelona Sants station.

Interrail and Eurail passes in Spain

What’s the difference between Interrail and Eurail?

Interrail passes are only available for European citizens. Eurail passes are for everyone else. Simple! Both passes cost the same and work in exactly the same way when travelling. For brevity, we'll use 'Eurail' to refer to both passes from now on.

Eurail passes give the holder unlimited train travel in one country (One Country Pass) or multiple countries (Global Pass). It's valid in 33 countries, including Spain. Eurail passes work on all Renfe trains, including high-speed AVE trains, Media Distancia, Regional and Cercanías public transport. You can't just hop on whichever train you feel like, however. For the majority of trains in Spain, you have to book a seat reservation ahead of time. More on that below.

Eurail pass prices

The One Country Pass for Spain starts at €148 for travellers aged between 12-27, €170 for adult travellers and €153 for senior (60+) travellers. The pass entitles you to unlimited train travel on a set number of days in a month.

You can also choose between a 1st Class Pass – giving you unlimited travel in First Class – or a 2nd Class Pass. The table breaks down the prices* of each Eurail option.

Whichever pass you choose, make sure you always carry proof of identity (a passport or equivalent ID document), as the pass is invalid without proper identification documents. Failure to produce a passport can land you with a fine of up to €200 and you may be required to pay for a full-price ticket. Check out the latest Eurail Conditions of Use for more info.

*Prices correct at the time of writing – January 2020.

Traveller age 1st Class 2nd Class
Youth (12-27) €182 €148
Adult (28-59) €227 €170
Senior (60+) €204 €153
Traveller age 1st Class 2nd Class
Youth (12-27) €210 €171
Adult (28-59) €263 €197
Senior (60+) €237 €177
Traveller age 1st Class 2nd Class
Youth (12-27) €235 €191
Adult (28-59) €294 €221
Senior (60+) €265 €199
Traveller age 1st Class 2nd Class
Youth (12-27) €258 €210
Adult (28-59) €323 €242
Senior (60+) €291 €218
Traveller age 1st Class 2nd Class
Youth (12-27) €299 €243
Adult (28-59) €374 €281
Senior (60+) €337 €253

Do I need a Eurail pass in Spain?

Not as useful for - Planners and bookers-in-advance

If you have a very good idea of where you want to go in Spain, and when, a Eurail pass won't be as useful for you. All high-speed and long-distance trains need a seat reservation to go with a Eurail pass. But reservations are difficult to book ahead of time. And they're not free. Reservations cost €10 on high-speed services and €23.50 in First Class. The best way to book a seat reservation is in the station, but obviously you can’t do this in advance!

Verdict: the seat reservation system makes it difficult to book seats ahead of time. If you're a meticulous planner who likes to have an itinerary ironed out before landing, book point-to-point tickets.

Recommended for - Travellers without a fixed itinerary

Eurail passes offer unrivalled flexibility – even with the seat reservation system. It's not quite hop-on-hop-off, but it's the next best thing. If you're someone who isn't fussed about having a travel itinerary mapped out in advance, a Eurail pass may well be perfect for you. Madrid too crowded for your liking? Hop on the next train to Toledo. Málaga's seaside not quite what you expected? Jump on a train to Cordoba. Plus, no reservations are required for suburban Cercanías public transport trains, making it super-easy to explore a city in a day. Just hop on and flash your Eurail pass.

Verdict: the flexibility of a Eurail pass shines through if you're not worried about booking stuff in advance. Just wander into a station and buy a seat reservation to a destination that takes your fancy. Point-to-point tickets bought on the day can also be quite expensive, so you'll be saving money by using a pass.

Eurail seat reservation prices

Reservations will cost around €10 on average in Spain, varying slightly across different train types. First Class reservations are more expensive and trains without First Class carriages charge a flat rate of €4 for a reservation. The only services which you can simply walk on are Cercanías suburban services and Regional trains.


Train type Reservation needed? 1st Class fee 2nd Class fee
AVE Yes €23.50 €10
Alvia, Euromed, Altaria Yes €23.50 €6.50
AV City Yes €6.50 €10
Avant, MD Yes N/A €4
Regional Expres Yes N/A €4
Regional No - -
Cercanias No - -

High-speed AVE trains – interior, classes and routes

AVE trains are the fastest trains on the Spanish railway network, capable of speeds of 310km/h (193 mph). AVE stands for Alta Velocidad Española, translating to "Spanish High Speed", but the name is also a play on the Spanish term for "bird" - ave. AVEs are the pride of Renfe's fleet.

The first AVE service ran in 1992 and since then, Spain's high-speed network has become the second-largest in the world. Travelling over 3,240km of high-speed railway lines, AVE trains can get you from Barcelona to Madrid in 2h 30m, Madrid to Seville in 2h 21m and Málaga to Cordoba in 48m.

All trains have First Class carriages, a cafe-bar and trains on the main routes have been fitted with WiFi. First Class (known as Preferente Class) contains reclining leather seats arranged in a 2+1 formation, plus power sockets. Seat reservations on AVE trains are included with your ticket at no extra cost so you won't be left standing in the aisle – your ticket will tell you where you're sat.

Learn more about the AVE.

High-speed domestic trains

The following high-speed services run in Spain:

  • AVE trains are the primary high-speed service in Spain, linking major cities and capable of reaching speeds of 310km/h.
  • Alvia trains run on long-distance routes into the north of Spain, travelling at a maximum speed of 250km/h.
  • Altaria trains connect Madrid to cities in southern Spain, including Algeciras and Cádiz and Granada.
  • Euromed trains run along the “Mediterranean Corridor” at 220km/h, connecting Barcelona, Valencia and Alicante.
  • Avant trains cover short and medium-distance routes at high-speeds and are used heavily by commuters.

Check out our Spain Train Map for more info on where high-speed services in Spain can take you.

What's it like onboard?

Most AVE services have two comfort classes – Turista (Second Class) and Preferente (First Class). The occasional AVE will have a middle class, Turista Plus.


Turista class is the cheapest on AVE trains. Seats are comfortable and there is luggage storage space above the seats. If the train is equipped with WiFi (look out for the WiFi symbol on the side of the train), it costs Turista passengers a few Euros to connect.

  • Seat reservation included with ticket
  • Fabric seating
  • Power sockets
  • 2+2 formation

Turista Plus

Turista Plus is only available on a handful of routes, such as Barcelona to Seville. It is an intermediate class between Turista and Preferente. Layout in Turista Plus is similar to Preferente, with seats arranged in 2+1. Seats are also wide and comfortable (not leather, though). The big difference is that you won't receive a complimentary meal in Turista Plus, nor will you have access to Renfe's pre-departure lounges.

  • Seat reservation included with ticket
  • Reclining fabric seating
  • Power sockets
  • 2+1 formation


Preferente is available on all AVE trains. Wide, reclining leather seats come as standard. You will be served a complimentary meal at seat (except for Saturdays) and will have free access to onboard WiFi.

  • Seat reservation included with ticket
  • Reclining leather seats
  • Power sockets
  • 2+1 formation
  • Complimentary food and drink
  • Access to Renfe pre-departure lounges

Food on board the AVE

All AVE trains are kitted out with a cafe-bar carriage, serving hot and cold meals, coffee, soft drinks and alcohol. Preferente passengers will be served an in-seat complimentary meal on weekdays and Sundays. And of course, feel free to bring your own food on board - it's a train, after all!

In-seat meal service

A Preferente Class ticket entitles you to an in-seat meal service on weekdays and Sundays. Depending on what time you're travelling, you'll be served breakfast, aperitivo (snack), lunch, merienda (a mid-afternoon snack) or dinner. While this isn't a hard and fast rule, trains departing before 11:00 will be serving breakfast, 13:00 to 14:00 is lunch, and 19:00 onward is dinner. Aperitivo is on offer between breakfast and lunch, and a merienda comes between lunch and dinner. Mealtimes are probably an hour later than what you're used to in Spain – get used to it!

To check what meal will be served on your train, you will have to use the Renfe website. Use the timetables widget to find your train and click on the + icon. Under the Prestaciones heading click on Más detalle. The resulting pop-up will list whether you will be served desayuno (breakfast), aperitivo, almuerzo (lunch), merienda or cena (dinner).

On Saturdays and public holidays, the in-seat meal service is replaced by a snack wagon. Preferente tickets on these services are usually cheaper.

Restaurant carriage

All AVEs contain a cafe-bar carriage where you can order hot/cold drinks, sandwiches, hot meals and salads. There is space to stand and eat – great for stretching your legs on a long journey. On Saturdays, a snack trolley will also be in use, so you'll still be able to order from your seat.

Other train types in Spain

Renfe operates several other passenger services in Spain which feed into its high-speed network. These include medium-distance services, slower regional trains and suburban commuter trains.

Long-distance, high-speed trains connecting major Spanish cities. Nicknamed Patitos (‘little ducks’) due to their duck-billed power cars, Alvia trains can hit speeds of up to 250km/h (155 mph). Alvia trains are built to run on the high-speed rail lines and regional standard gauge lines – switching between the two during journeys – linking up more remote stations to the high-speed network.

Slower regional trains, generally connecting areas in the same Autonomous Community (like Andalucía, Catalonia or Aragón). Media Distancia is an umbrella term for lots of train types, including Avant (high-speed trains for journeys under 200km), Regional (stops at lots of regional stations), Regional Express (same trains as Regional, calling at fewer stations) and MD.

Long-distance trains connecting Madrid to southern Spain. Altaria trains can travel up to 200km/h (125mph), running into to the southern regions of Murcia and Andalucía. Main routes include Madrid-Algeciras and Madrid-Murcia-Cartagena.

High-speed trains designed for medium-distance and short journeys, capable of 250km/h (155 mph). Helpful for travelling into big cities from surrounding towns, and used heavily by commuters.

A service connecting Barcelona and Alicante. Running along the “Mediterranean Corridor” at speeds of 220km/h (137mph), Euromed trains call at Barcelona, Tarragona, Castellón, Valencia and Alicante.

A low-cost alternative to the AVE. AV City trains are high-speed trains that only run between a handful of cities – Madrid, Málaga, Seville, Zaragoza and Valencia. Instead of First Class carriages, AV City trains have a less luxurious (but cheaper) Standard Plus class.

Commuter rail systems present in major Spanish cities. Cercanías trains run within Spanish cities and surrounding suburban areas. At present, there are twelve Cercanías networks in Spain, including Madrid, Barcelona (administered by the Catalonian government – known locally as Rodalies), Madrid, Seville and Valencia. Long-distance train tickets include free Cercanías travel from/to a Renfe suburban station at the beginning and end of your journey respectively.

Alvia train in Spanish station

Trains from Spain to France

Spain's high-speed rail network extends over the border into France, making train travel between the two countries easier than ever. Cross-border trains are run by Renfe-SNCF, a collaboration between Renfe and France's national railway operator, SNCF.

What is Renfe-SNCF?

Renfe-SNCF looks after cross-border trains between Spain and France. Known officially as Renfe-SNCF en Cooperación, the company uses French TGV InOui trains on all its lines. They are modern, comfortable and extremely fast!  With Renfe-SNCF, you can reach Perpignan, Toulouse, Marseille, Lyon and Paris from Barcelona and Madrid! When you're searching for tickets, look out for the Renfe-SNCF logo next to your train time – that's how you know you've got the right train.

TGV InOui trains

TGV InOui trains are the refurbished train sets from SNCF's high-speed TGV fleet, used for all routes from Spain to France. They come equipped with a cafe-bar, plug sockets at each seat and free WiFi access. Seats in First Class are arranged in a 2+1 formation and are very spacious.

Ticket types for Renfe-SNCF

There are two ticket types for Renfe-SNCF routes between Spain and France:


The cheaper of the two ticket types. You can refund or exchange 50% of the value of the ticket, before departure only.


More expensive but offering greater flexibility, a Flexible ticket is 100% refundable up to 48 hours before departure and 90% refundable after that.

Travel inspiration for Spain

Spain is the fourth biggest country in Europe, but travelling from end to end is relatively easy thanks to the train. Whatever your tastes, Spain has a lot to offer visitors. Here we present some of its most known regions.


History / Gastronomy / Fiestas / Coast

Famous for its Arab heritage, its beaches and, above all, its people, Andalusia is one of the most representative autonomous communities in Spain. Known for its traditions and festivals, Andalusia has been recognised on numerous occasions by UNESCO.

Enjoy monuments such as the Alhambra, the Generalife or the Albaicín neighborhood, in Granada, the historic centre and the mosque of Cordoba, the Cathedral, the Alcázar or the Archivo de Indias, in Seville, as well as the monumental ensembles of Úbeda and Baeza, in Jaén, were declared World Heritage years ago.

In addition, with protected areas such as the Doñana and Sierra Nevada national parks, the olive groves of Jaén or the beaches of Cádiz, Almería and the Costa del Sol make Andalusia a very attractive region for nature lovers.

Finally, it’s worth highlighting Andalusian gastronomy. With such famous dishes like fried "pescaíto", the salmorejo from Córdoba, the ham from Huelva or internationally renowned products such as the olive oil or sherry make Andalusia an unmissable destination for followers of good cuisine.

Trains to Sevilla


Coasts / Culture / Gastronomy / Architecture

The autonomous community of Catalonia is one of the most visited destinations in Spain. The spectacular beaches of the Costa Brava, the art of Gaudi or Dali, its cuisine and the cosmopolitan population make Catalonia an essential destination for any tourist. Located in the northeast of the country, it borders on the north with France and Andorra, west with Aragón, south with the Valencian Community and, east with the Mediterranean Sea. Although it has more than 500 km of coastline, Catalonia is a very mountainous region, in which the Cordillera Prelitoral, the Cordillera Litoral and, above all, the Pyrenees stand out. The Mediterranean climate of the coast - tempered in winter and hot in summer - contrasts with the high mountain of the Pyrenean area - very cold in winter and mild in summer. Although many rivers pass through the region, the main one is the Ebro, the largest in Spain and that flows into Tortosa to form the so-called Delta del Ebro, which is of great importance on an ecological level. In Catalonia, in addition to Spanish, there are two other official languages: Catalan and Aranese, spoken in the Valle de Arán area. Its capital, Barcelona, has an archaeological, cultural and architectural wealth recognized worldwide that has made it one of the most famous and visited cities in Europe.

Trains to Barcelona

The Basque Country

Gastronomy / Nature / The Sea

If you like food, the Basque Country should be your next destination. Basque gastronomy, appreciated throughout the world, has become the best example of this region of northern Spain.

The famous "pintxos" – the small snacks served in most bars, Rioja, the meat and the fish from the Cantabrian Sea have put many restaurants and chefs from the Basque Country on the culinary map. In fact, two San Sebastian restaurants appear regularly among the 10 best restaurants in the world and the city has the most Michelin starred restaurants, per square metre anywhere in the world.  

The Basque Country isn’t just about the food. The coastal cities of San Sebastián, Zarautz or Getxo, and the interiors of Vitoria or Bilbao, are must-sees. When in Bilbao don’t leave without visiting the famous Guggenheim Museum, designed by Frank Gehry and an audacious piece of architecture and museum all-in-one. If you’re a film buff, the San Sebastian International Film Festival is held every year at the elegant Kursaal Palace.

Trains to San Sebastián


Coasts / Gastronomy / Religion / Culture

If you still do not know Galicia, what are you waiting for? Its capital, Santiago de Compostela, is the final destination of the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage carried out by thousands of Christians and non-Christians every year in honour of the apostle Santiago.

The region, characterized by its green valleys, cliffs and incredible beaches, is full of fishing villages, coastal cities such as Vigo, Pontevedra, La Coruña or Ferrol, and inland towns such as Orense, Santiago or Lugo, and a group of islands, among which are the Cíes, which belong to the National Park of the Atlantic Islands of Galicia.

Galician gastronomy is a benchmark nationwide. And, thanks to seafood, Galician veal, octopus or the cake of Santiago, Galicia will delight lovers of good food. To harvest all that food, Galicians rely on the Ribeiro and Albariño wines and their homemade brandy, the queimada.

Trains to Santiago de Compostela

Castilla y León

History / Culture / Nature / Mountains

"Castilla y León is life" is the slogan that Spain uses to promote tourism in the largest autonomous community in the country. With an enormous natural diversity, historical cities, World Heritage sites such as Ávila, Salamanca and Segovia, and emblematic monuments such as the Cathedral of Burgos, Castilla y León does not leave anyone disappointed.

The rich history of the region is evident in prehistoric sites such as Atapuerca or the aqueduct of Segovia, one of the many vestiges of the Roman occupation of the Iberian Peninsula.

Castilla y León also has more than 40 protected natural areas, including the Picos de Europa National Park in the province of León.

As far as gastronomy is concerned, the community is famous for such typical dishes as roast suckling pig, lamb, black pudding and the wines of the Ribera del Duero.


Trains to Segovia

Airport transfers in Spain

Instead of taking an expensive taxi, consider using Spain’s excellent Cercanías suburban railway system to get to/from the airport. It’s cheap, easy and trains are designed to accommodate travellers with large bags. Here’s how to transfer to/from Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia and Málaga airports.

By train

Trains from El Prat airport to Barcelona city centre run from a station next to Terminal 2, via the R2 Nord line. T2 connects to the train station via a covered footbridge – directions to the station will be signposted. If you're arriving into T1 – very likely, as it's the bigger, busier terminal – you can hop on the free shuttle bus to T2. The shuttle bus is green and runs for 24 hours a day, departing every 5-7 minutes for most of the day. 

The train to catch is the R2 Nord (R2N) service. This is part of the Rodiales commuter rail service, which serves Barcelona and the rest of Catalonia. R2N calls at Barcelona Sants station and Passeig de Gràcia, both of which put you right in the city centre.

  • Frequency – every 30 minutes
  • Cost – €4.60 for single ticket
  • Time to city centre – 20-25 minutes
  • Where to buy tickets – at the station, not available online

By bus

The Aerobús service is a convenient alternative to the train or a costly taxi transfer. It leaves from both terminals and caters specifically for airport travellers, with each bus containing lots of space for luggage and free WiFi. Look out for the bright blue bus with 'AEROBÚS' painted on the side!

The A1 bus departs from T1 and the A2 service from T2, taking you directly to the city's main square, Plaça de Catalunya. You can buy tickets through our app or website – just enter 'El Prat' as your origin and 'Plaça de Catalunya' as your destination.

  • Frequency – every 5 minutes
  • Cost – €5.90 for a single ticket
  • Time to the city centre – 35 minutes
  • Where to buy tickets - online or from the bus driver (cash only)

Barcelona Lowdown has an excellent guide on airport transfers from El Prat.

By train

Trains from the airport depart from floor -1 of Terminal 4, calling at Atocha station in the city centre and Chamartín station in the north of Madrid. This route is served by the Cercanías commuter rail service – you'll want to catch either the C-1 line towards Príncipe Pío or the C-10 line towards Villalba. If you're arriving into T1, T2 or T3, take the free shuttle bus to T4. This runs 24 hours a day, every 5-10 minutes.

Tickets for the Cercanías are not available online so you will have to buy them at the station.

  • Frequency – every 15-20 minutes
  • Cost – €2.60 for a single ticket
  • Time to the city centre – 30 minutes
  • Where to buy tickets – at the station

Read more on Madrid Airport's website.

By bus

The Exprés Aeropuerto (Airport Express) bus service runs from T1, T2 and T4 into the city centre, stopping at Plaza de Cibeles and Atocha station. The bus is recognisable by its distinctive yellow colour. Designed specifically for airport users, the bus contains luggage racks for bag storage. Buses run for 24 hours a day except for the 24th, 25th and 31st of December, and 1st of January when the service runs on a reduced timetable. The journey to the city centre takes 30 minutes from T1, 35 minutes from T2 and 40 minutes from T4.

You can only buy tickets in person but the bus accepts contactless card payments as well as cash.

  • Frequency – every 15-20 minutes (35 minutes at night)
  • Cost – €5 for a single ticket
  • Time to the city centre – 30-40 minutes
  • Where to buy tickets – from the bus driver by card or cash (denominations over €20 not accepted)

Málaga Airport is super-close to the city centre, just three stops on the Cercanías from the centre of Málaga. From the arrivals section, walk out of the airport past the bus interchange and you'll reach the station. Take the C-1 line towards Málaga Centro Alameda, alighting at either María Zambrano station (8-minute journey) or Centro Alameda (12-minute journey) for the city centre. If you're heading down the coast to reach Fuengirola, head in the opposite direction on the C-1 line towards Fuengirola. Tickets to the city centre will cost €1.80, while a ticket to Fuenginrola will cost €2.70.

  • Frequency – every 20 minutes
  • Cost – €1.80 for a single ticket
  • Time to the city centre – 8-12 minutes
  • Where to buy tickets – in the station

By bus

The "A Express" Bus departs from just outside Terminal 3 on the arrivals floor. It runs every 25 minutes towards the centre, 24 hours a day. The route runs via María Zambrano station and ends at Plaza del General Torrijos – the city-centre stop. The journey takes about 15 minutes depending on traffic.

  • Frequency – every 25 minutes
  • Cost – €3 for a single ticket
  • Time to the city centre – 15 minutes
  • Where to buy tickets – from the driver

By metro (underground)

While Valencia has its own Cercanías network, it does not run to Valencia Airport. Luckily, the MetroValencia underground system makes for an excellent alternative. Lines 3 (towards Rafelbunyol) and 5 (towards Marítim Serrería) both run towards the city centre, alight at Àngel Guimerà station (abbreviated to À. Guimerà on the underground map) and you'll be in the heart of Valencia. The journey takes just under 20 minutes.

The metro is priced according to travel zones, ranging from D (outskirts) to A (city centre). You'll be travelling from zone D to A – at the ticket machine, choose an ABCD ticket. A single journey costs €3.90.

  • Frequency – every 5 minutes
  • Cost – €3.90 for a single ticket
  • Time to the city centre – 20 minutes
  • Where to buy tickets – at the metro station

By bus

The 150 bus (also called the MetroBus) departs from the airport to the city centre every 15 minutes. Stay on the bus until the last stop, Avenida Barón de Carcer, to get to the centre of Valencia. While the bus is the cheapest option, it's also the slowest – taking 45 minutes to travel the 8km to the centre.

  • Frequency – every 15 minutes
  • Cost – €1.40
  • Time to the city centre – 45 minutes
  • Where to buy tickets - from the driver

Woman waiting at Spanish airport for train

Good to know

If you’ve made it this far and still need answers, we’ve got answers to some of the most commonly asked questions by rail travellers in Spain.

What if I get on the wrong train?

If you have a non-exchangeable Promo/Promo+ ticket and you take a different train to the one listed on your ticket, you could face a fine or possibly being asked to get off the train. If you want to stay on the service, you will likely be asked to pay the difference.

What if I miss my train?

Tough luck! You'll have to buy another ticket to reach your destination. If you've bought a Flexible fare ticket, you can exchange your ticket for a later service ahead of time if you know you won't make your train. The cheaper Promo fares do not give you this flexibility, however.

The exception to this rule is if you miss a connection because your first train was late/delayed. You will normally be allowed to catch the next available service and your right to do so is protected under European Law.

Are there security checks for Spanish trains?

Major Spanish railway stations have security checks for passengers on high-speed trains. They won't X-ray your person - only your baggage. These checks only take a few minutes but factor this into the time you plan to arrive at the station.

Is it cheaper to buy Spanish train tickets in advance?

In most cases, yes - it's cheaper to buy tickets in advance for Spanish trains. The cheapest Promo fares for high-speed AVE services tend to be available for purchase around 90 days in advance, but this depends entirely on when Renfe decide to upload blocks of tickets to their online inventory. Be patient and wait for trains to become available for purchase. If you time your purchase right, you can save up to 70% on the price of a full ticket.

Are trains in Spain punctual?

According to the Administrator of Railway Infrastructures (ADIF), 98.5% of trains in Spain reach their destination on time. Similarly, a report commissioned by the European Commission recorded a punctuality rate of around 95%, the best among European countries with a large railway network.

What is the fastest train in Spain?

The AVE (Alta Velocidad Española) is the fastest train type in Spain. It can reach speeds of 310km/h (193mph).

Do infants need a train ticket?

As per Renfe's guidelines, children under the age of 4 who aren't using their own seat can travel for free. However, they must have a Niño gratuito ('Free Child Ticket') to go with your ticket. You can easily do this on Trainline by adding a 'Youth' passenger to your booking. Don't worry – we won't charge you anything, but you will see two passengers on your booking overview before paying for your ticket.

Do children need a train ticket?

Children under the age of 14 get a 40% discount on the price of a full adult ticket. Simply add them as a passenger to your booking as you're searching for tickets. Their ticket will appear as a Niño fare in your booking overview.

Learn more about train travel in Europe

So, you've got to the end of our guide about trains in Spain. We've covered how to buy Renfe tickets, the different fares available, whether you should consider an Eurail pass, high-speed AVE trains and cross-border travel. Hopefully, this will give you the confidence to travel across Spain by rail!

If you're ready to book, why not start a search in our Journey Planner at the top of the page. If not, there's still plenty to learn about rail travel in Spain and beyond - why not have a look at our other useful resources? Gracias!

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