Travel guide for Spain

Your guide to Spain’s high-speed train travel

If you’re planning to travel around Spain, in addition to buses, you should consider taking a ride on one of the country’s high-speed trains.

Spain’s high-speed rail system is one of the best in the world, as it offers travelers a fast and convenient way to explore this gorgeous Mediterranean country. 

With speeds reaching up to 300 km/h, these trains can take you from Madrid to Seville in just 2 hours and 30 minutes, making it an attractive alternative to flying or driving.  

To make the most of your high-speed train experience, we’ve listed a few things to know below.

Renfe’s AVE high-speed trains

AVE Renfe trains

Renfe’s AVE trains are the backbone of Spain’s high-speed rail system. AVE’s 3100 km of tracks connect major Spanish cities such as Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, and Seville, and plans are underway to expand the rail to other areas. 

They travel at speeds of up to 310 km/h, which means you can travel the 620km between Madrid and Barcelona in about 2 hours and 30 minutes. 

The AVE system is one of the most extensive and advanced high-speed rail networks in Europe, and it has been instrumental in reducing travel times and increasing connectivity throughout the country. 

The AVE trains are designed to offer passengers a comfortable and convenient mode of transportation, making it easy to sit back and relax during your journey. The trains are comfortable and spacious, with plenty of legroom, onboard catering services and free Wi-Fi, so you can stay connected and use your travel time to work or study – and maybe even use this time to learn Spanish

The system also boasts state-of-the-art safety features, including automatic train protection and braking systems. Similar high-speed rail systems exist in other European countries, such as France’s TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse), Germany’s ICE (Intercity-Express), and Italy’s Frecciarossa.

Advantages of AVE Trains: 

The most significant advantages of taking an AVE train are the speed and the number of routes they offer. These high-speed trains can reach up to 310 km/h, making them one of the fastest ways to travel between many cities in Spain.

Renfe’s AVE trains also offer a comfortable and modern travel experience, with spacious seats, free Wi-Fi, and onboard catering.

Classes and Fares

Renfe’s AVE trains offer two different classes: 

  • Standard: with a 2:2 configuration, these seats are the most budget-friendly option and offer an enjoyable journey. The seats are spacious and well-appointed, with air conditioning and plenty of legroom.
  • Comfort: these first-class seats with 2:1 configuration offer the most luxurious and comfortable experience. They are generally wider, have more legroom, and offer a more private and exclusive atmosphere. First class is the way to go if you’re looking for the ultimate comfort.

Renfe fare types:

Renfe recently launched a new fares structure for long-distance trains, including the high-speed AVE, providing passengers with more options and flexibility. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Basic Fare (Básico): The Basic Fare is the cheapest option for travel in Standard Class. This option is perfect for travelers on a budget who don’t require any extra amenities or services. These tickets are not flexible, so you can’t change their dates or names or get a refund. 
  • Choice Fare (Elige):  The Choice Fare is a semi-flexible option that allows you to select between a 2nd class seat (Elige) or a 1st class seat (Elige Confort) for a higher price. This option is great for travelers who want a little more comfort but want to keep costs down. It’s good to know that these tickets are more flexible than basic fare tickets, so you can change them at no cost, get a 70% refund if you wish to cancel your trip and get a new ticket for 30% of the price for missed trains.  
  • Premium fare: The Premium Fare is the most flexible option available. This fare provides a 1st class seat (Comfort) and the option to add an at-seat meal if available. This option is ideal for travelers who want the highest level of comfort and flexibility. It also includes unlimited date changes, name changes, 100% refund, ticket exchange in case of missed trains, seat selection and other features. 

renfe asientos

Luggage Policy

When traveling on Renfe’s AVE trains in Spain, passengers can bring up to three pieces of hand luggage with them – a very generous and flexible policy. However, the sum of the three pieces of luggage must not exceed 25 kg or 290 cm in size. The maximum dimensions allowed for each piece of luggage are 85x55x35 cm in height, width, and depth. 

Pet Policy

Renfe’s AVE trains allow pets to travel on board for a fee (no fee for premium tickets). Pets must be placed in a carrier that meets Renfe’s size requirements. See more information here. 

In conclusion, Renfe’s AVE trains offer a fast, comfortable, and efficient way to travel between cities in Spain. With three different classes, a flexible rescheduling policy, and a pet-friendly attitude, AVE trains are a great choice for travelers who want to explore all Spain offers.

OUIGO trains

If you’re looking for an affordable way to travel around Spain, OUIGO trains are a good option. These low-cost, high-speed trains started operating in Spain in 2018 and have quickly become popular among budget-conscious travelers.

Ouigo España operates two routes in the country:

  • Madrid (Atocha station) – Zaragoza (Delicias station) – Tarragona (Camp de Tarragona station) -Barcelona (Sants station) – 5 daily departures each way
  • Madrid (Chamartín station) – Valencia (Joaquin Sorolla station) – 3 daily departures each way
  • Madrid (Charmartín station) – Albacete (Los Llanos station) – Alicante (Alacant terminal station) – 2 daily departures

Despite having fewer routes, Ouigo trains are a great choice for travelers who want to travel from one city to another quickly, comfortably and affordably.

OUIGO advantages

One of the main advantages of traveling on Ouigo trains is the cost. They offer lower-priced tickets than many other high-speed rail options in Spain, making them a great choice for budget-conscious travelers. 

Ouigo trains are equipped with free Wi-Fi and plenty of legroom, making them a great option for travelers who want to work or relax during their journey. They also have onboard catering, so you can grab a snack or a drink during your trip.

Ouigo trains
OUIGO’s XL seats

Good to know

OUIGO is a low-cost company, so there are a few important rules and policies to be aware of. Here’s a rundown of OUIGO’s fares, luggage rules, pet policy, and rescheduling policy.

Fare types

OUIGO has two types of fares:

  • OUIGO Essential: the most affordable fare includes 1 handbag and 1 suitcase per person.
  • OUIGO Plus: this fare includes priority allocation of XL seats, seat selection, 1 handbag and 2 checked bags. 

Luggage policy

OUIGO has specific luggage rules that passengers must follow. Passengers of Essential class can bring one hand luggage and one checked luggage, both of which must meet certain size and weight requirements. The hand luggage must not exceed 36 x 27 x 15, and the checked luggage must not be bigger than 55 x 35 x 25cm. If you need to bring more luggage, you must pay for an additional piece of luggage (usually 30€). OUIGO Plus passengers can bring two checked pieces. 

Pet Policy

OUIGO has a pet policy that allows passengers to bring up to two small pets in carriers that meet OUIGO’s size requirements. Pet owners must also respect a few other requirements. You can check all the requirements here

Rescheduling

If you need to reschedule your OUIGO train journey, you can do so up to 30 minutes before your departure time. However, there is a rescheduling fee of 30€, unless you have a Flex ticket, and the new ticket price may be higher than the original price. It’s important to note that OUIGO tickets are non-refundable, so if you need to cancel your trip, you will not be able to get a refund.

OUIGO train tickets are cheaper, but their rules are less flexible. So it’s good to know them so you can plan your travels accordingly. 

Despite the restrictions, Ouigo trains still offer a comfortable and modern travel experience.

Iryo trains

If you’re looking for something a little different, you might want to check out iryo trains. This brand-new train company started to operate in Spain late in 2022 and promises to offer a unique experience. 

Traveling at high speeds (360km/h), these trains are efficient and reliable, providing seamless travel across the country, making them a great choice for travelers who want to relax while they travel.

Iryo stands out from competitors such as AVE, Avlo, and OUIGO Spain, by offering a premium onboard service. Right now, the company offers two routes, but they’re planning to very soon add new options to their itineraries. 

  • The first route connects Madrid, Zaragoza, and Barcelona, with 16 daily departures each way. 
  • The second route connects Madrid, Cuenca, and Valencia, with four daily departures each way. 
  • Launched in March 2023, Madrid – Córdoba – Seville route offers 6 daily departures. 
  • Since June 2023, the company has included trips to Albacete and Alicante, from 4 to 6 times a day. 

Iryo trains are not only fast and quiet, but also prioritize sustainability. The company has ensured that its trains meet the latest environmental standards to provide eco-friendly transportation. These trains are made from 95% recyclable materials and run on 100% renewable energy, making them more sustainable than traditional train options.

What to expect from Iryo trains

With Iryo’s modern trains, superior customer service, and reliable security protocols, travelers can expect a comfortable and safe journey. Plus, Iryo’s expansion is expected to boost Spain’s tourism industry, making it easier and faster for visitors to reach major cities and attractions.

Fare types

The Iryo trains offer four classes of seating to cater to every passenger’s needs. 

  • Infinita: Infinita class includes flexible tickets, missed train coverage, and refunds. Passengers will enjoy comfortable, extra-wide seats, seat selection, bistro menus, lounge access, and pet fare. 
  • Singular Only You: class is a workspace that’s perfect for entrepreneurs and companies. It includes all the amenities of Infinita, with different refund rules and food menus. 
  • Singular: For a more affordable yet premium experience, the Singular class offers comfort, technology, and 5G. 
  • Inicial: Finally, the Inicial class is designed for every type of traveler, with the most affordable tickets, but less flexibility in case of missed trains and exchange fees.

Iryo Luggage policy

Iryo’s luggage policy is designed to make travel as convenient as possible. Passengers can bring up to three pieces of luggage on board, including one piece of hand luggage (36x27x15cm) and two suitcases (85x55x35cm each). The total weight of all three pieces of luggage cannot exceed 25kg.

Passengers are encouraged to check the dimensions of their luggage before arriving at the station to ensure that they comply with Iryo’s guidelines. With this generous luggage policy, Iryo is making travel more comfortable and accessible for everyone.

Pets on Iryo’s trains

Iryo welcomes pets on board their trains, allowing passengers to travel with their furry friends. Passengers can bring one pet per person, as long as it weighs no more than 10kg. This policy ensures that pets and their owners enjoy a comfortable and stress-free journey. For more information on Iryo’s pet policy, passengers can click here

A flexible rescheduling policy

Iryo has one of the most flexible rescheduling policies in the industry. The rules change according to your type of ticket, but even the most affordable tickets (Inicial) include exchanges in departure time on the day of travel (subject to availability of tickets + price difference). Travelers of this fare can also change their date of travel for 15% of the ticket price plus the fare difference. There’s also a refund of 80% of the ticket cost when canceled more than 7 days before the trip and 70% if 7 days before departure time. 

The other types of fare are even more flexible, so you can be sure to travel at ease, knowing if you change your plans, you won’t lose your money or have trouble getting to your destination. how to choose a train

How to choose a high-speed train company?

When it comes to choosing the best high-speed rail company for your travels in Spain, there are a few factors to consider. Your destination, travel goals, and budget will all play a role in making the right decision. 

Renfe’s AVE trains offer a premium experience with a wide range of destinations, while OUIGO Spain provides affordable prices and a straightforward ticketing system. The new kid on the block, Iryo Trains, provides a luxury experience with a focus on sustainability. 

The best way to find the best ticket for your needs is by comparing them all in one place. Busbud is an official supplier of train tickets in Spain, so you can compare prices, schedules, ratings, and destinations and find the best solution for your travel needs. 

Whichever company you choose, rest assured that Spain’s high-speed rail system is reliable, efficient, and an excellent way to travel around the country.

Book your tickets on Busbud.com or download the Busbud app on the App Store or the Google Play store