Europe Trains Guide

Spain (RENFE)

Country info: Spain (Espana)

Rail companies: Renfe (Red Nacional de los Ferrocarriles Españoles)

Tickets to/from France can also be purchased via French Railways website

Spanish Rail Network Map 

Currency: Euro 


Train travel in Spain: train types, tickets, fares, discounts & other useful info


National Train Service:

Train types in Spain: Commuter/Suburban, Regional (medium distance), long distance (Arco/Talgo/Alaris/EuroMed/Duirno/Estrella), high-speed (AVE/Alvia/Altaria), TrenHotel & international TGV trains


  • Commuter/Suburban (marked as 'Cercanías' on Renfe website): commuter & short-distance service around major Spanish cities (Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, etc.), no seat reservation required
  • Regional (marked as 'Media Distancia', 'Avant', 'TRD', 'R-598' on Renfe website): mainly medium distance trains on regional & interregional service (in some cases can be express trains, e.g. 'Catalunya Express' or ' Andalucia express'), no seat reservation required
  • Arco / Alaris / EuroMed / Duirno / Talgo: daytime & overnight long-distance trains, mainly operate on up to 200km/h speeds and serve various routes between major and minor Spanish destinations, seat reservation compulsory
  • AVE / Alvia / Altaria: high-speed trains operating with speeds more than 200km/h and serving major Spanish rail routes (e.g. Madrid to Barcelona, Seville, Malaga, etc.) and some international routes (Madrid to Marseille via Barcelona, Barcelona to Lyon, Barcelona to Toulouse), seat reservation compulsory
  • TrenHotel: national & international overnight sleeper trains, seat/sleeper reservation compulsory. Currently there is 3 domestic routes ('Rias Gallegas' from Madrid to A Coruña, Pontevedra & Ferrol; 'Alhambra' from Barcelona to Granada and 'Galicia' from Barcelona to A Coruña) & 2 international routes ('Lusitania' from Madrid to Lisbon & 'Sud-Expresso' from Lisbon to Irun/Hendaye, 'Joan Miro' from Barelona to Paris (service suspended), 'Pau Casals' from Barcelona to Zurich (service suspsended), 'Salvado Dalí' from Barcelona to Milan (service suspended) & 'Francisco de Goya' from Madrid to Paris (service suspended)
  • TGV Duplex: high-speed trains connecting Barcelona and Paris, seat reservation compulsory

 Discounts, special offers & ways to save money for passengers traveling by train in Spain:

  1.  Early purchase --> best ticket fares is a golden rule for almost any rail company in Western Europe, Spain & Renfe is not an exception. Spanish Railways for many connections (daytime and overnight) offer a limited amount of special discounted tickets under campaign "Promo" (previously known as Tarifa WEB), which gives up to 70% discount from the standard ticket price, "Promo" tickets are non-exchangeable & non-refundable. Similar offer, but with possibility to change/refund ticket, offered for high-speed AVE and other long distance trains is called "Promo+", it gives passenger up to 65% discount. On Renfe website "Promo" tickets will be shown as Promo:  Eleccion de asiento - No  Cambios - No  Anulaciones - No, while "Promo+" as Promo +:  Elección de asiento - Sí  Cambios 20%  Anulaciones 30%
  2. Another relatively simple way to save 20% on train ticket fare in Spain is to purchase Return Tickets (Billete de Ida y Vuelta). Return ticket discount only applies when passenger travels on the same route & both journeys are done in less than 60 days). On Renfe website return tickets with 20% discount will be shown as Tarifa Ida y Vuelta:  Cambios 0%  Anulaciones 40%
  3. Passengers planning multiple trips in Spain can take advantage of Billete Múltiple offer: tickets for 3 different trips which start and end in the same place (e.g. Barcelona-Madrid, then Madrid-Valencia and finally Valencia-Barcelona), with Billete Multiple there will be 20% discount from the standard price on each leg.
  4. Renfe also offers special family discount (from 20% up to 50%) on both medium & long-distance services (including high-speed), offer is called Familia Numerosa (=Large Family)
  5. Special group/family discount applies for AVE high-speed trains only, it allows up to 60% discount for groups & families when 4 passengers occupy 4 seats facing each other, offer is called Tarifa 4 Mesa. On Renfe website "Mesa" tickets will be shown as Mesa:  Cambios - No  Anulaciones 50%
  6. Another simple & easy way to save money on train tickets in Spain is use regional (Media Distancia) trains instead of more expensive high-speed service. Obviously regional trains are slower and in many cases you'll need to change trains on route, but as a bonus, tickets for regional trains are much cheaper & can be purchased even before departure. For instance, on journey from Madrid to Valencia standard full fare ticket for the direct regional train cost only 27,40 euro, while standard full fare ticket for high-speed AVE train bought before departure is 72,40 euro. So if you aren't in big hurry, then why not to save some money?
  7. For passengers planning multiple journeys within Spain Renfe offers special Spanish Pass. The rail pass is valid for one month (from the date of your first journey) for 4, 6, 8, 10 or 12 trips. Spanish Pass is offered in two classes: Business/Club or Tourist and can be bought online via Renfe website. Prices for Spanish Pass start from € 163 (adult, 4 trips) to € 392 (adult, 12 trips) in Tourist Class & from € 229 (adult, 4 trips) to € 550 (adult, 12 trips) in Business/Club Class
  8. For those who don't want to limit themselves in number of trips or "hunt" discounted Promo/Promo+ Renfe tickets months before the trip can think about purchasing Eurail (non Europeans) or Interrail (Europeans) rail pass. Taking into consideration rather high standard fare on Renfe trains rail pass can actually be worth it even for couple long distance journeys or itineraries that include not only Spain, but neighboring countries.


International Train Service:

a) Regular discounts

Portugal: 20% discount on all the return tickets from Spain to Portugal on overnight TrenHotel trains (from Madrid to Lisbon & from Irun to Lisbon)

b) Special offers (SparSchiene)

France: discounted tickets for direct AVE & TGV high-speed trains: Barcelona to Paris (from 59 euro), Barcelona to Lyon (from 49 euro), Barcelona to Toulouse (from 39 euro), Madrid to Marseille (from 89 euro)

Portugal: Promo & Promo+ discounted ticket for the overnight Trenhotel trains from Spain to Portugal (e.g. Madrid to Lisbon from 24,20 euro (seats) 33,60 euro (4 bed sleeper), Irun to Lisbon from 27,60 euro (seats), 37,60 (4 bed sleeper), etc.); from Vigo to Porto (TrenCelta) one-way 14,75 euro

c) CityStars

Not available

Besides the discounted tickets for direct train connections from Spain to France (AVE, TGV) it is also possible to cross the border very cheaply using regional trains from Barcelona to Cerbere (first French station after Spain/France border). Ticket from Barcelona to Cerbere cost only 14,70 euro, while from French Cerbere passengers can easily catch French domestic trains to multiple destinations in France & buy discounted SNCF domestic tickets


Passenger <26 or >60 years old planning to travel extensively to/from Spain (& between other European countries) also might consider purchasing Rail Plus Card (allows you to save 25%)



How to Buy Train Tickets in Spain:

Domestic (national) & certain international tickets (including offers) can be bought online via official Renfe website -


Tickets for trips between Spain & France can be also purchase via


Do you still have further questions or want to share your own travel experience? You are welcome on our Forum



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