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Spain By Train


Trains are the perfect way to travel in Spain. The country is filled with lively cities, cultural curiosities, lovely beaches, and great food. Your Eurail Spain Pass is your ticket to amazing rail adventures, from the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Andalusia to the unspoilt beaches of the Costa Brava.


Train types in Spain

The majority of trains you'll take on the Spanish rail network are run by RENFE, the country's national train company. High-speed and night trains connect Spain to other European countries. You can search for Spanish train times in the Eurail timetable as well as on the RENFE website.

Map with main train connections in Spain
Map with main train connections in Spain

Regional and Intercity trains

Media Distancia (RE)

  • Connects larger cities with smaller destinations over medium distances.

  • Fast trains making frequent stops along their routes.


Cercanías (RE)

  • Suburban trains serving Spain's largest cities such as Madrid and Valencia. In Catalonia, around Barcelona, these trains are branded as Rodalies.

Domestic high-speed trains

Avant (AVN)

  • High-speed services for short journeys along short to medium routes.

  • Faster and more comfortable than Media Distancia with similar coverage.



  • Covering Europe's largest high-speed rail network, these trains travel on speeds of up to 310 km/h (193 mph).
  • Takes you from Madrid to Barcelona in under 3 hours.


Alvia (ALV)

  • Comfortable, long-distance trains connecting Madrid and Barcelona to destinations throughout Spain.


Intercity (IC)

  • Comfortable, long-distance trains connecting Madrid to destinations in the south of Spain.


Euromed (EUR)

  • High-speed, air-conditioned trains running along the Mediterranean coastline of north-eastern Spain.

  • Connects key cities in the Levante region: Barcelona to Valencia in just over 3 hours then onwards to Alicante.

International high-speed trains in Spain


  • TGV INOUI Trains operated by the French railways.
  • Barcelona – Paris.


Celta (IC)

  • Intercity trains that link Spanish train station Vigo Guixar with Porto in Portugal.


Other International routes to France 

Rodalies (RE)

  • Barcelona – Latour de Carol (France) see timetable.
    • From Latour de Carol, connecting trains go to Toulouse.
    • From Latour de Carol, Intercités de Nuit directly runs to Paris.
  • Barcelona – Cerbère (France)
    • From Cerb1ere, connecting trains go to Perpignan, Montpellier, Nîmes, and Avignon (France).
    • From Cerbère, Intercités de Nuit directly runs to Paris. 


Alvia (ALV) Madrid – Irun

  • Madrid – Valladolid – San Sebastian – Irun (French border).
    • A 3km walk from Irun to Hendaye (France) to take direct trains to Bordeaux and Paris.


Other International routes to Portugal

IC & Regional train (RE)

  • Madrid - Lisbon/Porto(Portugal). See our Rail Planner.
    • Madrid – Badajoz by IC.
    • Badajoz – Entroncamento.
    • Entroncamento – Lisbon/Porto with connecting trains.

Night trains

Intercités de Nuit (NT)

  • Night trains connecting the Spanish border to France.
  • The following routes are useful for travellers to France:
    • Latour de Carol – Paris (France).
    • Cerbère – Paris (France).
  • You need to reserve sleeping accommodation prior to taking this train. Places are limited, especially during peak season from May to September, so it's worth making your reservation as soon as possible.


Popular connections

Here are approximate times between Spain's most popular cities when taking direct high-speed trains.

Route Duration

Barcelona to Madrid
(AVE high-speed train)

2h 30m

Barcelona to Malaga
(AVE high-speed train)

2h 30m

Madrid to Granada
(Altaria high-speed train)

3h 30m

Madrid to Valencia
(AVE high-speed train)

1h 50m

Madrid to Santiago de Compostela
(Alvia high-speed train)

3h 15m

Madrid to Seville
(AVE high-speed train)

2h 30m

Barcelona to Valencia
(Euromed high-speed train)
2h 50m
Madrid to Irun
(Alvia high-speed train)
5h 50m


By traveling with slower regional trains you do not need to make reservations. For example, there's a direct regional train ride from Barcelona to Madrid that takes 9h 06m. That's 6 and a half hours longer than the high-speed train journey.

You can travel to and from Spain from popular cities in the following European countries:

Route Which train? Duration Reservations
Barcelona to Paris (France) SNCF 6h 50m Required
Vigo to Porto (Portugal) Celta 2h 15m Required
Madrid to Lisbon (Portugal) via Badajoz IC + RE + IC 9h  Required (Madrid – Badajoz & Entroncamento – Lisbon)
Madrid to Porto (Portugal) via Badajoz IC + RE + IC 11h Required (Madrid – Badajoz & Entroncamento – Lisbon)
Madrid to Porto (Portugal) via Vigo ALV + RE + IC 11h Required (Madrid – Pontevedra)



How can I make reservations for trains in Spain?

More often than not, you need to make advance reservations for trains in Spain. Fees vary depending on the type of seat or bed you choose. 


Eurail reservation self-service system

  • Eurail
  • TGV Barcelona-Paris (international tickets only)
  • All domestic trains cannot be booked here


At a local railway station

  • From February 2020, reservations for domestic and long-distance trains in Spain can only be made locally at the ticket desk of a Spanish Long Distance railway station. Find a list of long distance train stations  here. You can make reservations on the day of travel or for up to 3 months in advance.
  • The international TGV’s connecting Barcelona with Lyon and Paris in France, can only be booked at train stations in France and in the Eurail reservation self-service system.


By calling RENFE phone sales

  • +34 91 232 03 20
  • Pre-reserving a seat is possible until 24 hours before a train's departure. You will receive a PNR code which you must use to pick up and pay for your reservation at a local station ticket office, making sure to show your Eurail Pass. You must collect your reservation within 48 hours. After this time the pre-reservation will expire.
  • Please note that a pre-reservation is not the same as a reservation. It only holds a seat for you for 48 hours.


If you have a disability or reduced mobility and you want to travel by train in Spain, you can request help from Atendo Service. You can contact them by phone:

  • Phone number: +34 91 214 05 05
  • Opening hours: 24/7


Other locations

  • In Portugal, the following stations have international ticket desks where you can make reservations for RENFE trains departing from Badajoz and Vigo: Lisbon Santa Apolónia, Lisbon Oriente, Lisbon Rossio, Porto Campanhã, Porto São Bento, Aveiro, Coimbra and Faro.
  • At a Deutsche Bahn ticket office. You need to provide the train number.
  • Via Deutsche Bahn by phone (+49 30 2970 or directly to the English line +49 30 311682904). Collect at a DB ticket machine or receive via post (€5.90 per order). You need to provide the train number.
  • Via a Swiss ticket office or by phone (scroll down to Switzerland).


You can get more detailed information about train reservations in our reservation guide.


Get your Pass for Spain

Spain Pass


Spend your whole vacation to discover Spain by rail.

Standard prices from $ 169

Global Pass


Have the freedom to visit Spain and up to 32 other Eurail countries.

Standard prices from $ 211


Tips and tricks

Quick facts

  • Capital: Madrid

  • Population: 47.2 million

  • Language: Spanish

  • Currency: Euro (EUR)

  • Dialing code: +34


Spelling of city names

On Spanish train timetables and at train stations in Spain, you'll usually find the local spelling of Spanish cities and stations.


Here is the local spelling of some popular Spanish cities:

  • Alicante = Alacant

  • Seville = Sevilla

Spanish hub stations

Spain's main hub stations are Madrid Puerta de Atocha-Almudena Grandes, Barcelona Sants, Irun and Portbou. At these train stations, it's possible to connect to trains to Spain's main cities and many international destinations.


Station facilities

Stations in Spain usually have excellent facilities, often including:

  • Luggage lockers

  • Foreign exchange desks

  • Restaurants and cafés

  • Tourist information offices

  • ATM cash machines

  • Elevators and escalators

  • Access for disabled passengers


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