Trains in Spain give you the chance to explore one of the most vibrant and colourful destinations in Europe. With great weather and great railway transport systems, it's never been easier to explore Spain by train and purchase your tickets with Trainline. Read on and see the Spanish train map, learn about the various destinations you can travel to by train and see which types of tickets you should buy.
Spain has a modern, complete and varied railway network. Thanks to the introduction of the AVE (Spanish High Speed) trains at the beginning of the 1990s, today the Spanish high-speed network is the largest in Europe and the second largest in the world.
When going by train, it's possible to visit several Spanish cities in only a few days or weeks. With AVE, for example, you can travel from Barcelona to Madrid in 2 hours and 30 minutes, meaning you can have breakfast on the beach of Barceloneta and eat lunch in the Capital's Plaza Mayor without having to spend many hours on the road or going through security controls at the airport. With Renfe you can have it your way. If you get on the train at Madrid-Atocha station you can be by the Mediterranean Sea in Valencia in under two hours, or enjoy a spot of fishing in Malaga in 2 hours 33 minutes.
Journey time: 2h 30 minutes
The Madrid to Barcelona train connects the stations of Atocha and Sants in the blink of an eye. Thanks to the AVE, travelling by train between both cities has become the preferred form of transportation for many. Find out more about high-speed AVE routes and other fast European trains by visiting our high-speed trains in Europe page.
Journey time: 44 minutes
They are two of the most beautiful cities in Spain and, although they are separated by 145 kilometres, with an AVE, AV City or Avant service, you can travel from one to another in less than 45 minutes.
Journey time: 5h 10 minutes
In addition to being a Unesco World Heritage Site since 1985, Santiago de Compostela is one of the most important Christian pilgrimage sites in the world. The city, capital of the autonomous community of Galicia, has an imposing cathedral dedicated to the Apostle Santiago el Mayor and a university with more than five centuries of history.
Check out the most popular journeys among other travellers in Spain. Read journey times and check which routes are served by the high-speed AVE.
|Route||High-speed train?||Fastest journey time|
|Madrid to Valencia||Yes||1h 40m|
|Madrid to Sevilla||Yes||2h 21m|
|Malaga to Madrid||Yes||2h 28m|
|Barcelona to Sevilla||Yes||5h 15m|
|Madrid to Alicante||Yes||2h 22m|
|Madrid to Granada||No||5h 15m|
|Granada to Sevilla||No||3h 12m|
|Barcelona to San Sebastian||No||5h 33m|
Spain is the fourth biggest country in Europe, behind only Russia, Ukraine and France. Despite this, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Did you know that the prices of train tickets increase as the departure date of trains approaches? At Trainline, our goal is to help you save. Because of this, we explain how to find cheap train tickets in Spain. Remember that, on average, train tickets purchased in advance can be 43% cheaper than normal tickets. If you're travelling around Europe in general, don't forget to check out our cheap European train tickets page for more tips.
In Spain, train tickets usually go on sale at least 3 months before the date of travel. If you book early, make sure you buy the cheapest tickets because they are the first to run out. Did you know the same also applies for buses in Spain? Read our guide to travelling the country by bus and coach.
When travelling in Spain, try to avoid rush hours. At that time the tickets are usually more expensive and the trains are more congested.
Check out our offers and discounts section. If you travel with your family you can benefit from the rates for groups and children. Always try to specify your date and time of return, since flexible tickets tend to be more expensive.
The Spanish railway operator Renfe offers both normal tickets and tickets at special prices. Discounted tickets are usually put on sale well in advance, and their number is limited. For that reason, when the cheapest tickets are sold out, the price of the rest usually increases progressively until the day of departure of the train. For example, Renfe Promo tickets offer discounts of up to 70% compared to normal rates. Their number, however, is limited and does not allow changes or refunds. Another option is Promo + tickets, whose discount can be up to 65% on the usual price and they do admit changes and refunds paying a commission for management expenses.
In Europe, the type and price of train tickets vary from one railway company to another. To travel from Paris to Madrid for example, you'll have to buy a ticket from the Renfe-SNCF service to travel from Paris to Barcelona, and another from Renfe to travel from Barcelona to Madrid. To avoid the inconvenience of making several reservations, it's best to buy your tickets through Trainline. If you download the Trainline app you can check train schedules and buy tickets from different operators on the same website.
If you already know where you're going, it's best to visit our Renfe page. There you can gather information about schedules, services on board and routes of the Spanish operator, and you can buy your tickets. If this is the first time you travel by train in Spain, do not worry. In most stations, there will be staff that will help you find the right platform for the train.
In general, we recommend that you arrive at the stations well before your train departs. Trains in Spain are relatively punctual, sometimes they are delayed or replaced by others that will take you to your destination. For that reason, try to be on time and look out for possible delays or cancellations. If you are travelling on AVE, you may have to check-in well in advance.
Most Spanish railway stations have electronic panels where you can check schedules, departure platforms and destination of the trains and the status of services. In addition to many of them communicate relevant information to travellers through public address, the main ones have ticket information and offices, luggage storage compartments, toilets, shops and restaurants.
The tourism sector is one of the engines of the Spanish economy. In fact, the country closed the year 2017 with record figures: 82 international tourists visited Spain last year, which represented an 8.9% increase compared to 2016. Known for its cultural diversity, the country has a varied offer tourism with plans, destinations and landscapes for all tastes. With regard to cities, Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Seville or Bilbao are famous worldwide for their historical and cultural heritage as well as for their gastronomy or festivities.
The capital of Spain always surprises those who visit it for the first time. Thanks to its mixture of architectural styles, its abundant parks and elegant boulevards and its good climate, Madrid is a city that you can instantly fall in love with.
Madrid's cultural influences stand out for its diversity and its rich collections of Spanish and European art. The Prado Museum - one of the largest art galleries in the world - the Reina Sofía National Art Centre Museum - specializing in contemporary art - and the Thyssen-Bornemisza make up the so-called Art Triangle, a group of museums located at both sides of the Paseo del Prado.
Located nearby to the Paseo del Prado is the Retiro Park, the lung of the capital. Opened in 1868, it has several neoclassical buildings and a pond where you can rent rowboats.
On the other side of the Paseo del Prado rises the Madrid of the Habsburgs, the heart of the city. Its centre, the Plaza Mayor, is an important tourist spot from which it is easy to reach the Gran Vía, the neighborhoods of La Latina and Huertas, known for their abundance of terraces and nightlife, and the Puerta del Sol, headquarters from the Casa de Correos and the clock from which the famous New Year’s Eve bells are rung.
If you like football, do not forget to visit the Santiago Bernabéu, home of Real Madrid football club.
The city of Barcelona is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Spain and Europe. Thanks to its rich history, its characteristic architecture and its privileged location, on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea and less than two hours from the Pyrenees, Barcelona is a city with so much to offer.
Its cultural offerings have to be seen to be believed. Museums such as the Joan Miró Foundation or the Picasso Museum, the famous Sagrada Familia or Gaudí Park Güell are some of the city's most treasured hallmarks.
La Rambla - also known as Las Ramblas - is the main avenue in the city and connects the Plaza de Cataluña with the old port of the city. On either side of La Rambla, you’ll find two of the oldest neighbourhoods in Barcelona: Raval and the Gothic Quarter.
Close to the sea stands the district of Barceloneta, located between the beach of the same name and the port of the city.
To see the city from above there are different options: Montjüic Mountain, with the National Art Museum of Catalonia, the Joan Miró Foundation or the Botanical Garden of the city; or the Tibidabo, with its famous amusement park and the neo-Gothic temple of the Sacred Heart.
The capital of Andalusia represents the cultural essence of southern Spain. Erected on both banks of the Guadalquivir River, with the Torre del Oro on one side and the Triana neighbourhood on the other, Seville is the third most visited city in the country. Its old town is the largest in Spain and the third in Europe in terms of size, just behind those of Genoa and Venice, and has numerous buildings and World Heritage sites to visit, including the Royal Alcazar, the Cathedral or the Archivo de Indias. The old Jewish quarter and now the most emblematic neighbourhood of the city, Santa Justa, is easy to reach on foot from the Santa train station. Through its narrow and winding streets, you can reach the famous Giralda, the bell tower of the Cathedral of Santa María de la Sede and icon of the city. The Alcázares, as mentioned above, are formed by gardens and walled palaces that mix several architectural styles namely Gothic, Mudejar, Renaissance and Baroque. The Plaza de España and the María Luisa park are two main points of the city. The historic square and its decorative fountain are surrounded by the exuberant nature of Maria Luisa's gardens, dedicated to the wife of the Duke of Montpensier, Antonio de Orleans. Crossing the San Telmo bridge, you reach the Triana district, known for its colourful and busy streets. The nearby Triana bridge gives access to the famous La Maestranza Bullring.
With the Eurail Pass, you can travel by train to more than 10,000 destinations in Spain and Europe. To be able to enjoy the experience and visit the cities and cultures that coexist on the continent, you must first decide which Eurail Pass is best for you, depending on whether you want to visit a particular country or several within a month. Below we explain the benefits of each type:
The Eurail Global Pass is the ticket for the most adventurous. With one in your hand, you can get on trains and ferries from 30 different European countries. To learn more, visit Eurail Global Country Pass.
If your idea is to visit several countries, then buy a Select Pass and travel by train in 2, 3 or 4 different countries saving 20% on each of them. To learn more, visit Eurail Select Country Pass.
Are you the type of person who enjoys immersing yourself into one country at a time? Do you have a thing for history and culture? If your answers are yes, get a One Country Pass and discover the ins and outs of the country in question. To learn more, visit Eurail One Country Pass.