Take Eurostar to Spain!

London to Paris by Eurostar in 2h20...

London to Barcelona by train, aboard a TGV Duplex

...Paris to Barcelona by 199mph
double-decker TGV Duplex in 6h25.

 

A first class table for two on the upper deck of the TGV Duplex train to Barcelona

To Spain in an armchair:  Watch the video!

 

Breakfast in London, lunch in Paris, dinner in Barcelona... by train!

It's easy to travel from the UK to Spain by train, it's amazing some people think you need to fly.  A morning Eurostar to Paris in 2h20, lunch at the remarkable Train Bleu restaurant at the Gare de Lyon, then the afternoon double-deck TGV Duplex to Figueres (home of the amazing Salvador Dali museum), Girona and Barcelona.  I recommend a 1st class Club Duo seat on the upper deck, put your feet up & relax, watch the pretty French villages of the Rhone Valley pass by, catch up on your reading & your emails, perhaps watch a movie on your iPhone.  You can buy some wine from the bar car or feel free to bring your own.  To anyone who has only known the stresses of airports, flights & motorways, chilling out on a high-speed train is a revelation...  It's far more environmentally-friendly, too.  Alternatively, why not sail to Spain on a Brittany Ferries luxury cruise ferry from Portsmouth or Plymouth?  This page explains the best routes, train times & fares from the UK to Spain and tells you how to buy tickets.

Select your destination:    

Train times, fares & tickets...

  London to Barcelona, Girona, Figueres - see video!

  London to Madrid & Zaragoza

  London to Seville, Cordoba, Malaga, Costa del Sol

  London to Granada

  London to Valencia & Alicante

  London to Tarragona, Salou, Benidorm

  London to Cadiz, Jerez, Almeria & Murcia

  London to Cartagena, Ronda & Algeciras

  London to San Sebastian

  London to Pamplona & Bilbao

  London to Segovia, Toledo, Salamanca

  London to Santiago de Compostela, Vigo, A Coruña

  London to Ibiza, Minorca, Mallorca

  London to Las Palmas, Tenerife & Canary Islands

  London to Gibraltar

  Starting your journey from other UK towns & cities

  UK to Spain by ferry with Brittany Ferries

  How to buy train tickets from the UK to Spain

Train travel within Spain...

  Train travel in Spain - a beginner's guide

  How to buy train tickets within Spain

  The Renfe Spain pass

  Free suburban travel with a long-distance ticket

  Barcelona Sants station facilities & Sala Club

  How to transfer between Chamartin & Atocha

International trains to or from Spain...

  Trains to Spain from other European cities

  Trains from Barcelona to other European cities

  Trains from Madrid, Malaga, Alicante to other cities

  Paris to Barcelona by TGV train

Other useful information...

  Useful country information - currency, dial code, etc

  Tailor-made holidays & tours to Spain by train

  How to cross Paris by metro, taxi or transfer

  Luggage on trains & Left luggage at stations

  Send your luggage in advance

  Taking your dog, Taking your bike, Taking your car

  Child age limits & travel with children

  Passengers with disabilities

  Train seat numbering plans

  Eurail passes - the railpass for overseas visitors

  InterRail passes - the pass for European residents

  Car hire in Spain

  Cruises from Barcelona around the Mediterranean

  Hotels & accommodation in Spain

  Travel insurance, EU Health Cards & SIM cards

Interactive map:  Click on a destination for train times & fares from the UK...

Sponsored links...

    


Country information

Train operator in Spain:

 

RENFE (originally Red Nacional de los Ferrocarriles Españoles).  See www.renfe.com for train times, fares & online booking within Spain, but first see this advice on using it - it can be easier to use www.loco2.com, www.petrabax.com/renfe or www.raileurope-world.com.  Local trains around Bilbao, San Sebastian, French frontier:  www.euskotren.es.  Local trains in northern Spain (ex-FEVE):  www.renfe.com/viajeros/feve.  To check for problems affecting trains through France (in French) see www.sncf.com/fr/horaires-info-trafic.  Paris bus & metro: www.ratp.fr.  Madrid metro: www.metromadrid.es.  Barcelona metro:  www.tmb.cat

   

Railpasses:

 

Beginner's guide to European railpasses    Buy a rail pass online

Time zone:

GMT+1 (GMT+2 from last Sunday in March to last Saturday in October).

Dialling code:

 

+34

Currency:

£1 = approx 1.15 euros  Check current exchange rates

Tourist information:

www.okspain.org     Escorted holidays by train from UK to Spain

Cars & car hire:

Taking your car by train = Motorail     Car hire in Spain

Hotels & hostels:

Find hotels in Spain    Hotel reviews see www.tripadvisor.com.

Page last updated:

4 July 2017.  Train times valid 11 June to 9 December 2017.


London to Barcelona

 

Chill out by high-speed train from London to Barcelona!

All aboard the new
high-speed train to Spain!

A morning Eurostar to Paris just 2½ hours, lunch at the remarkable Train Bleu restaurant at the Gare de Lyon, then the afternoon double-deck TGV Duplex to Figueres (home of the amazing Salvador Dali museum), Girona & Barcelona.  I recommend a first class Club Duo seat on the upper deck (pictured, above), wonderful!  Put your feet up & relax, watch the pretty French villages of the Rhone Valley pass by, catch up on your reading & your emails, perhaps watch a movie on your iPhone.  You can buy some wine from the bar car or feel free to bring your own!  To anyone who has only known the stresses of airports, flights & motorways, chilling out on a high-speed train is a revelation.  Watch the video here...

A first class 'club duo' table for two on the upper deck of the TGV Duplex train to Spain

Breakfast in London, lunch in Paris, dinner in Spain...

You can travel from London to Figueres, Girona or Barcelona by train in a single day through great scenery with a glass of wine to hand and not an airport security queue in sight...

The Perpignan-Barcelona high-speed line was completed in January 2013, and in December that year impressive 200mph double-decker TGV Duplex trains started running from Paris to Barcelona, 667 miles from city centre to city centre in as little as 6h20, no airports, no flights, no stress - and great scenery, especially viewed from an upstairs seat.  There are now two Paris-Barcelona TGV trains every day in each direction, with a third train from June to August and a fourth in July and August.  They also serve Figueres & Girona.

Stay overnight in Barcelona (I suggest some good hotels near the station here) and continue next day to Madrid in 2h30 by AVE, Alicante in 4h45 by EuroMed or to Seville or Malaga by AVE in around 5h30.

If you have lots of luggage, small kids or mobility problems and want to avoid crossing Paris, how about using the new direct London-Lyon Eurostar with a connecting AVE high-speed train from Lyon to Barcelona?  This runs between 0 and 5 times a week, see option 2 here.  Or London-Lille-Nimes, an overnight stop, then a direct Nimes-Barcelona train, see option 3 here.

Overnight trains:  Although the Elipsos sleeper trains from Paris to Barcelona & Madrid were sadly discontinued in December 2013, it's still possible to travel overnight in a couchette as an alternative to the high-speed daytime option, see option 4 here using the Paris to Latour de Carol sleeper train then a scenic local train to Barcelona through the Pyrenees.

In this section...

  Option 1, by Eurostar & TGV via Paris - fastest & most frequent option.

  Train times from London to Barcelona

  Train times from Barcelona to London

  How much does it cost?

  How to buy tickets

  What are the trains like?

  What is the journey like?

  Option 2, by Eurostar & TGV via Lyon - avoids crossing Paris, runs 1-5 times a week.

  Option 3, by Eurostar & TGV with overnight stop in Nimes - avoids crossing Paris, runs daily.

  Option 4, by overnight sleeper to Latour de Carol & local train - scenic option through the Pyrenees!

Option 1, London-Barcelona by high-speed train...

This is the fastest and most frequent option, by Eurostar from London to Paris in 2h30 and by 200mph TGV Duplex from Paris to Barcelona in as little as 6h20...

London ► Barcelona (morning departure, every day)

London ► Barcelona (late morning departure, runs 3 July to 28 Aug 2017)

London ► Barcelona (evening departure, overnight in Paris)

Barcelona ► London (early morning departure, runs 4 July to 28 Aug 2017)

Barcelona ► London (mid-morning departure, daily)

Barcelona ► London (afternoon departure, overnight in Paris)

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets to Spain...

 

 
 

Book your hotels...

Try my two favourite hotel sites...

(1) www.booking.com allows you to book your accommodation before train bookings open, at no risk with free cancellation.

(2) hotelscombined.com has just been named as the World's Leading Hotel Comparison Site at the World Travel Awards 2013:

Click here for suggested hotels in Barcelona, either near the station or in the old town.

Option 1, buy online at www.loco2.com...

Option 2, buy online at www.eurostar.com + www.trainline.eu + www.renfe.com...

Option 3:  Buy tickets by phoneUK 0844 248 248 3, overseas +44 844 2482483...

Option 4:  Holiday packages to Spain by train...

Option 5:  Take an escorted tour to Spain by train...

What are the trains like?

By Eurostar from London to Paris: See the Eurostar page for photos & information about Eurostar.

By TGV Duplex from Paris to Barcelona...    Watch the video guide

The Paris to Barcelona trains are impressive 199mph TGV Duplex double-decker high-speed trains.  You board the train through a wide sliding external door into a small hall at one end of the lower deck, where an internal door opens into a lower deck seating area.  A wide, short & easy flight of carpeted stairs leads from the entrance door to a landing at one end of the upper deck.  You walk along the train from car to car at the upper level, and the café-bar is also at the upper level.  There are toilets & luggage racks both upstairs & downstairs, and power sockets at all seats.  When booking, you can choose a seat on either upper or lower decks if you use www.trainline.eu or www.loco2.com or book by phone, but not if you book at any of the Rail Europe websites.  If you have problems with stairs or very heavy luggage, the lower deck might be best.  But for the best views (over the top of the occasional sound barrier along the high speed lines!), definitely choose an upper deck seat.  For couples in first class, an upper deck 'club duo' table-for-two is easily the best option.

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de Lyon   Upper deck second class on board a TGV Duplex.

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de Lyon. These 200 mph double-deckers link Paris with Barcelona.  Watch TGV Duplex video.

 

2nd class table for 4 on TGV Duplex upper deck...

TGV Duplex cafe-bar   TGV Duplex upper deck 2nd class seats

The cafe-bar on the upper deck in car 4, serving tea, coffee, soft drinks, wine, beer, snacks & microwave-style hot dishes....

 

2nd class seats, this is upper deck seating.  There's a mix or tables for 4 and unidirectional seating.

First class on board a TGV Duplex   An TGV Duplex at Paris Est.

1st class seats on the upper deck, with a club duo on the left, a club quatre on the right.

 

A TGV Duplex at Barcelona Sants.  The red near the door indicates 1st class, pale green indicates 2nd class.

TGV Duplex:  Stairs to upper deck   TGV Duplex:  Power outlets   TGV Duplex:  Luggage racks

The stairs to the upper deck. 9 steps, wide, shallow with double handrails.  No problem!

 

Power sockets:  All seats in both first & second class have power sockets, European 2-pin type, 230v.

 

Luggage racks.  You take your bags on board with you and put them on the racks.  There are racks upstairs & downstairs, at the car ends and (as here) between the seats.

What's the journey like?

Paris Gare de Lyon, from where the TGV trains to Barcelona leave   The Train Bleu restaurant at Paris Gare de Lyon

1.  Paris Gare de Lyon & the Train Bleu restaurant...   The train to Barcelona leaves from the magnificent Gare de Lyon in central Paris.  I recommend booking an earlier Eurostar and having lunch or at least a drink in the bar at the wonderful Train Bleu restaurant (pictured above right) inside the Gare de Lyon before catching your train to Spain.

Scenery from the train along the Rhone Valley

2.  Speeding down the Rhone Valley...  The train joins the Sud-Est high-speed line and accelerates smoothly to 186mph through the Paris suburbs, soon emerging into open country.  The train now speeds along the scenic Rhone Valley, passing pretty French villages with picturesque churches.  The dark line of the Massif Central mountains are on the far side of the valley to your right, and on a clear day you can see the snow-capped French Alps in the far distance to your left.  The TGV leaves the high-speed line towards Nîmes, continuing on the classic line.

Crossing the Rhone with views of the Chateau de Montfaucon

...Between Valence and Nîmes the train crosses a broad stretch of the River Rhone with a view of the wine-producing Chateau de Montfaucon on the right, www.chateaumontfaucon.com.

Lunch from the cafe-bar on the train to Barcelona   The hilltop cathedral at Beziers

3.  Béziers...  After calling at Nimes and Montpelier, the train passes non-stop through Béziers station and crosses the River Orb.  Look to your right for a magnificent view of Béziers' 13th century cathedral.

Time for dinner?  Above left, food from the cafe-bar, a magret de canard avec pommes de terre and some wine.  Or feel free to bring your own picnic and bottle of red!

The glistening Mediterranean, seen from the train   Countless vineyards!

4.  The Mediterranean coast...  Between Montpellier & Perpignan the train skirts the glistening Mediterranean coastline with deserted beaches & marshland...

 

5.  Vineyards.  The train passes countless vineyards.  Glass o' red from the bar car, anyone?

Watch for flamingos on the etangs in the Midi!

6.  Étangs & flamingos...  The train passes numerous étangs (lakes), where flocks of flamingos stand one-legged in the shallows.

 

7. The Fort de Salses...  Just before Perpignan, the train passes by the impressive Fort de Salses on the right, a 15th-century Catalan fortress captured in 1642 and French-held ever since, see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_de_Salses.

Mt Canigou in the Pyrenees

8.  Mt Canigou & the Pyrenees...  One of the highest peaks in the mighty Pyrenees, the 2,784m (9,137 feet) high Mt Canigou dominates the skyline on the right all the way from Perpignan to Girona, see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canigou.

X-ray baggage check at access to platforms 1-6, Barcelona Sants   Barcelona Sants

9.  Barcelona Sants station is in central Barcelona, with plenty of taxis available, and a clean & modern metro to all parts of Barcelona.  There are left luggage lockers (consigna), bars & restaurantsMore information about Barcelona Sants station.

Video guide: Barcelona-Paris by TGV...

The video takes you on a journey by TGV Duplex from Barcelona to Paris, showing the train & scenery...

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Option 2, London to Barcelona via Lyon in a day, avoiding Paris...

Crossing Paris by metro or taxi isn't that difficult when you know how, and lunch at the Train Bleu restaurant at the Gare de Lyon can be wonderful.  But if you have lots of luggage, small kids or mobility problems you can avoid having to cross Paris by going via Lille.  Southbound, you can use Eurostar's new direct train from London to Lyon, then a direct AVE high-speed train from Lyon to Barcelona.  A simple same-station change at Lyon Part Dieu with time for lunch!  The new London to Lyon Eurostar runs between 0 and 5 days a week depending on the time of year.  It's an early 7am start from London and you arrive In Barcelona only an hour earlier than leaving London at a more civilised 09:24 via Paris, but it's a useful option.  Did I mention that there's no need to cross Paris..?

On what dates does this option run, southbound?

On what days does this option run, northbound?

London ► Barcelona

Barcelona ► London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets...

On board the Lyon to Barcelona AVE...

AVE from Barcelona to Lyon   2nd class seats on the Barcelona to Lyon AVE train

This is the 08:25 Barcelona to Lyon about to leave Barcelona Sants, a Spanish S100 AVE.  It's cool, smooth and quiet on board...

 

2nd class seats on the S100 AVE.  All seats have power sockets. Panorama photo of 2nd class

1st class seats on the Barcelona to Lyon AVE train   The cafe-bar on an S100 AVE

1st class seats on an S100 AVE.  All seats have power sockets.  Panorama photo of 1st class

 

Cafe-bar on an S100 AVE serving tea, coffee, beer, wine, soft drinks, snacks & hot dishes...

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Option 3, London to Barcelona with overnight stop in Nîmes...

This is well worth considering as it runs daily, avoids having to cross Paris and you can spend a pleasant evening in Nimes if you like.  I think Nîmes makes the best stopover point given the timings and the fact that the station is right in the centre (unlike Avignon TGV, for example), but as the AVE from Nimes to Barcelona also calls at Avignon TGV, Montpelier and Perpignan, you could equally well stop for the night at any of those places instead.

London ► Barcelona

Barcelona ► London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets...

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Option 4, London to Barcelona overnight via Latour de Carol & the Pyrenees...

The scenic route!  Although the Elipsos sleeper trains from Paris to Barcelona & Madrid were sadly discontinued in December 2013, it's still possible to leave London in the late afternoon by Eurostar, sleep in a couchette on an overnight train from Paris to the Pyrenees, then take a scenic local train into Barcelona.  It's an interesting alternative to the high-speed option with great scenery through the Pyrenees, watch the video hereNote that this Paris-Toulouse-Latour night train continues to run even after other French sleeper trains were discontinued in October 2016, as it has been deemed socially necessary for the region.

London ► Barcelona

Barcelona ► London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets...

Travel tips...

What's the journey like?     Watch the Intercités de Nuit video guide

 

The intercité de nuit overnight train from Paris to Latour de Carol has 1st class 4-berth & 2nd class 6-berth couchettes, each with lightweight sleeping-bag & mineral water...

 

Into the Pyrenees.  For the last hour & a half of the journey, the train climbs into the Pyrenees...

Latour de Carol, where two nations, two trains and two track gauges meet.  On the right, the French standard-gauge overnight couchette train arrived from Paris.  On the left, the Spanish broad-gauge suburban train about to leave for Barcelona.  In Fact, there's also a third train & gauge at Latour, the narrow-gauge Petit Train Jaune to Perpignan, its platform is behind the couchette cars shown here.

The snow gives way to autumnal browns & golds as the train to Barcelona wends its way south...

Watch the video here - By slow train across the Pyrenees

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London to Madrid & Zaragoza

The Paris to Madrid Elipsos sleeper train was sadly discontinued from 15 December 2013 and will be missed, but it's still easy to travel from London or Paris to Madrid by train.  You can get from London to Madrid in a single day by high-speed trains, or break the journey up with an overnight stop in Paris or Barcelona.  If you'd prefer not to have to cross Paris, no problem, option 2 takes you London-Lille-Nimes on day 1 and after an overnight stop in Nimes, by direct high-speed AVE train from Nimes to Madrid.

Option 1, London to Madrid by high-speed train via Paris...

London ► Madrid - with morning departure, London to Madrid in a day!

Now choose one of these three options:

London ► Madrid - with evening departure & overnight stop in Paris

Madrid ► London - Madrid to London in a day, with evening arrival in London!

Madrid ► London - with overnight stop in Paris & morning arrival in London...

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets?

By Eurostar from London to Paris:  See the Eurostar page

By TGV Duplex from Paris to Barcelona:  See the photos above...

By Spanish AVE train from Barcelona to Madrid...

AVEs are now being fitted with WiFi.  It's free to all travellers in preferente class or those in turista who have signed up to Renfe's free +Renfe loyalty scheme.  Internet access costs a few euros for other passengers.

Club class on a Spanish S103 AVE train   An S103 AVE train at Madrid Atocha station

Preferente class (1st class) seating (formerly Club) on the AVE train.  A meal with wine is included on Mondays-Fridays.

 

An S103 AVE train as used between Figueres, Barcelona & Madrid, seen here at Madrid Atocha station...  See virtual tour

Turista class on a Spanish S103 AVE train   Preferente class on a Spanish S103 AVE train

Turista (2nd class) on the AVE train from Figueres to Madrid...

 

Turista Plus (premium 2nd class)  seating.

Madrid Atocha station - the tropical garden in the old trainshed   At Madrid Atocha, high-speed trains depart from a modern extension.

Madrid Atocha station...  One of my favourite stations, the grand old trainshed has been preserved and turned into a tropical garden complete with turtle pool.  High-speed trains leave from a modern extension (pictured above right), when leaving Madrid you must go up the escalators to the first-floor departures area (The photo above left is taken from the top of the escalators with the entrance to the departures area right behind me).  There's a brief X-ray baggage check at the entrance to the departures area (but no metal detectors, only your bags are scanned).  The Sala Club 1st class lounge is inside the departures area.

Classes on AVEs...

AVE trains originally had Turista, Preferente & Club class seating.  However, Club class has been discontinued and the trains are now classified as Turista, Turista Plus and Preferente, where Preferente passengers now get the former Club seating and Turista Plus is the former Preferente seating without any extra preferente service.  Meals are included in preferente class, but only on Mondays to Fridays.

Option 2, London to Madrid with overnight stop in Nîmes...

This is well worth considering as it avoids having to cross Paris and can give you a pleasant evening in Nimes if you like.  I think Nîmes makes the best stopover point given the timings and the fact that the station is right in the centre (unlike Avignon TGV, for example), but as the direct AVE from Nimes to Madrid also calls at Avignon TGV, Montpelier and Perpignan, you can equally well stop for the night at any of those places instead.

London ► Madrid

Madrid ► London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets...

On board the Nimes to Madrid AVE...

AVE from Barcelona to Lyon   2nd class seats on the Barcelona to Lyon AVE train

This is a Spanish S100 AVE at Barcelona Sants, ready to leave for France.  It's cool, smooth and quiet on board...

 

2nd class seats on the S100 AVE.  All seats have power sockets. Panorama photo of 2nd class

1st class seats on the Barcelona to Lyon AVE train   The cafe-bar on an S100 AVE

1st class seats on an S100 AVE.  All seats have power sockets.  Panorama photo of 1st class

 

Cafe-bar on an S100 AVE serving tea, coffee, beer, wine, soft drinks, snacks & hot dishes...

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London to Malaga & Seville

London to Andalucía & the Costa del Sol by high-speed train...

You can easily travel from London to Seville or Malaga by high-speed trains with an overnight stop in Barcelona.  Here's how...

London ► Malaga, Cordoba, Seville (morning departure)

London ► Malaga, Cordoba, Seville (evening departure - runs 2 June to 28 August 2017)

Malaga, Seville, Cordoba ► London (morning departure, runs 2 June to 28 August 2017)

Malaga, Seville, Cordoba ► London (afternoon departure)

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets online...

How to buy tickets by phone...  Call 0844 248 248 3 (UK), +44 844 2482483 (overseas)...

Have your trip professionally arranged...

The Torremolinos & Fuengirola connection...

The Marbella & Estepona connection...

Alternative routes & options...

By Eurostar from London to Paris:  See the Eurostar page

By TGV Duplex from Paris to Barcelona:  See the photos above...

By AVE from Barcelona to Malaga or Seville...

These superb-quality AVE high speed trains are amongst the classiest trains in Europe.  They have three classes, Preferente (true 1st class with real leather seats), Turista Plus (1st class seating) and Turista (2nd class).  AVE trains run at up to 186 mph over the new high-speed lines from Barcelona to Malaga & Seville.  Most trains on this route are the S112 type shown below, little articulated single-axle Talgo carriages sandwiched between strange-looking duck-billed power cars, hence the nickname pato, Spanish for duck.  AVEs are now being fitted with WiFi, free to all travellers in preferente class or those in turista who have signed up to Renfe's free +Renfe loyalty scheme.  Internet access costs a few euros for other passengers.

Complimentary at-seat meal in Club class & Preferente Class   AVE Club class on an S102 AVE train from Madrid to Malaga

AVE S112...  Known to staff as pato (duck).  No prizes for guessing why!

 

AVE Preferente class...  Leather reclining seats, all with power sockets...

AVE Tourist class seats on an S102 AVE train from Madrid to Malaga   AVE Preferente seating on an S102 AVE train from Madrid to Malaga

AVE Turista class...  Comfortable seats, 2 abreast each side of the aisle, mainly unidirectional but some bays of 4 around a table like this...

 

AVE Turista Plus...  Reclining seats, power sockets for laptops & mobiles, mainly unidirectional but some tables for 2 and tables for 4...

The Sala Club (1st class lounge) at Barcelona Sants station.   An S102 AVE train from Madrid to Malaga at Madrid Atocha

1st class lounge:  Preferente ticket holders (including Promo+ tickets, but not Promo) may use the Sala Club 1st class lounge at Barcelona Sants, Cordoba, Seville & Malaga, with coffee, juice & beer.

 

All aboard the train to Malaga & Seville!  This is an S112 AVE high-speed train.  All AVE trains have a cafe-bar serving drinks and snacks, or feel free to bring your own food, wine or beer on board. 

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London to Granada

London ► Granada

Granada ► London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets...

How to buy tickets by phone...  Call 0844 248 248 3 (UK), +44 844 2482483 (overseas)...

...or ask Traintours4u to book tickets for you.

...or have your trip professionally arranged.

Alternative routes & options...

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London to Valencia & Alicante

London to the Costa Blanca by high-speed train...

You may prefer comfortable high-speed daytime trains, with an overnight hotel stop in Barcelona.

London ► Tarragona, Salou, Valencia, Alicante  (morning departure)

London ► Tarragona, Salou, Valencia, Alicante  (evening departure)

Alicante, Valencia, Salou, Tarragona ► London  (morning departure)

Alicante, Valencia, Salou, Tarragona ► London  (afternoon departure)

The Benidorm connection...

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets online...

How to buy tickets by phone...  Call 0844 248 248 3 (UK), +44 844 2482483 (overseas)...

...or ask Traintours4u to book tickets for you.

...or ask Railbookers to sort all your travel & hotel arrangements.

Alternative routes & options...

On board the EuroMed train from Barcelona to Valencia & Alicante...

A EuroMed train from Barcelona to Alicante at barcelona Sants station   Turista (2nd class) seats on a EuroMed train to Alicante

At Barcelona Sants, that's a EuroMed train to Alicante on the right and a TGV Duplex to Paris on the left. 

 

Turista (2nd class) seats on a EuroMed train from Barcelona to Alicante.  The Euromed train is a type S130 pato or little duck.

Preferente (1st class) seats on a EuroMed train to Alicante   A EuroMed train at Barcelona Franca station

Preferente (1st class) seats on a EuroMed train.

 

An S130 EuroMed train at Barcelona Franca.

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London to Cadiz, Algeciras etc.

London ► Cadiz, Jerez, Almeria, Murcia, Cartagena, Ronda, Algeciras

Algeciras, Ronda, Almeria, Cartagena, Murcia, Cadiz, Jerez ► London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets online...

How to buy tickets by phone...  Call 0844 248 248 3 (UK), +44 844 2482483 (overseas)...

...or ask Traintours4u to book tickets.

...or ask Railbookers to sort all your travel & hotel arrangements.

Alternative routes & options...

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London to San Sebastian

San Sebastian is a popular destination, and rightly so, it's a wonderful city to visit.  It can help to know that it's Basque name is Donostia, as you'll often see it shown as Donostia not San Sebastian.  If your budget allows, look no further than the wonderful Hotel de Londres y Inglaterra, located right on the seafront.  The times below show the new faster TGV service from Paris to the Spanish border starting on 2 July 2017, made possible by the new Tour-Bordeaux high-speed line.

London ► San Sebastian in one day

London ► San Sebastian with overnight stop in Paris

San Sebastian ► London in a day by 09:13 TGV...

San Sebastian ► London in a day by 13:18 TGV...

San Sebastian ► London by 18:16 TGV with with overnight stop in Paris

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets online...

This is the cheapest way to buy tickets, and it's really easy.

How to buy tickets by phone...  Call 0844 248 248 3 (UK), +44 844 2482483 (overseas)...

See the London to Paris page for information about Eurostar...

From Paris to Hendaye by TGV...

The interior is styled by designer Christian Lacroix, and there are power sockets at all seats.  On the TGV Atlantique route from Paris to Bordeaux & the Spanish border, one 1st class car has a conventional open plan layout, the other two have a unique layout with bays of two seats facing across a table one side of the aisle, and semi-compartments of 4 seats around a table on the other, as pictured below.  Very civilised!

TGVs to the Spanish border at Paris Montparnasse   1st class on a TGV Atlantique showing semi-compartments

TGVs to the Spanish border waiting to leave Paris Montparnasse...

 

1st class with semi-compartments.

TGV interior by Christian Lacroix, second class   TGV bar car

2nd class on the TGV.  Most seats are unidirectional, there are some tables for 4.  See panorama photo.

 

The café-bar car, serving drinks, snacks and microwaved hot dishes.  See a typical menu here...

From Hendaye to San Sebastian by Euskotren...

Hendaye station, showing location of Euskotren to San Sebastian   Inside Euskotren station at hendaye

At Hendaye station, the little Euskotren station is outside to your right, 50 yards across the forecourt.  Buy a ticket from the easy-to-use ticket machines, which have a touch screen with English-language button and accept euro coins & notes.  There's also a staffed ticket office.  Then go through the gates onto the one and only platform.  All trains from this platform go to San Sebastian-Donostia Amara, shown on screens and timetables as San Sebastian-Donostia, shown on the ticket machines as just Donostia and shown on the station name boards when you get there as plain Amara.  It's all the same place!  The final destination of the train is usually shown as Lasarte.

Euskotren train to san Sebastian at Hendaye   Inside Euskotren to San Sebastian

These modern air-conditioned metro trains run every 30 minutes, a turn-up-and-go metro service branded Metro Donostialdea.  There's plenty of space for luggage and they even have a wheelchair-accessible toilet.  The metro trains also call at Irun, but Irun's Euskotren station is some 5-10 minutes walk from Irun Renfe mainline station, so it's much better to change at Hendaye even if your TGV goes through to Irun.

Euskotren train to san Sebastian at Hendaye   Inside Euskotren to San Sebastian

San Sebastian...  The sea front is 10 min walk from San Sebastian-Donostia Amara station, where the Euskotren arrives...

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London to Pamplona & Bilbao

This is a fast and comfortable option, with all-daytime travel by Eurostar & TGV high-speed train and an overnight stop in wonderful San Sebastian on the Basque coast.  The times below show the new faster TGV service from Paris to the Spanish border starting on 2 July 2017, made possible by the new Tour-Bordeaux high-speed line.

London ► Pamplona, Bilbao

Pamplona, Bilbao ► London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets online...

How to buy tickets by phone...  Call 0844 248 248 3 (UK), +44 844 2482483 (overseas)...

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London to Segovia, Toledo, Avila & Salamanca

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London to Santiago de Compostela, Vigo & A Coruña

The rail way to Galicia...

This is a comfortable all-daytime journey through interesting scenery with an overnight stop in a hotel at Irun on the Spanish border.  Alternatively you could also stay overnight in San Sebastian instead.

London ► Santiago de Compostela, Vigo, A Coruña

Santiago de Compostela, Vigo, A Coruña ► London

Or travel with overnight (or longer) stop in Barcelona...

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets online...

How to buy tickets by phone...  Call 0844 248 248 3 (UK), +44 844 2482483 (overseas)...

The InterCity train Camino de Santiago from Irun to Santiago de Compostela, Coruna, Vigo...

Cafe-bar on the Arco train from Irun to Santiago de Compostella & Vigo   Turista seats on the Arco train from Irun to Santiago de Compostella & Vigo

Cafe-bar on the InterCity train from Irun to Santiago & Vigo.  Courtesy of Martin Hill

 

Turista seating on the InterCity train from Irun to Vigo.  Courtesy of Martin Hill

Preferente seats on the Arco train from Irun to Santiago de Compostella & Vigo   Scenery in Galicia seen from the train

Preferente seating on the InterCity train from Irun to Vigo.  Update:  This train is now turista class only.

 

Scenery as the train enters Galicia on its way to Vigo.  Photo courtesy of Martin Hill.

Traveller's report...

Traveller Martin Hill went from the UK to Vigo this way:  "In Irun we stayed at the Alcazar hotel, a €5 taxi ride from the station. It's very quaint and basic as it's stuck in a time-warp of about 30 years ago. The staff speak little English but are very obliging. Unfortunately there was no restaurant open when we arrived around 9pm from Paris, though there is a bar.

The scenery from Irun to Vigo is very varied. The first hour or two the line follows river valleys through the Pyrenees. Due to recent storms the rivers were severely flooded and quite spectacular. Much of the journey is then across a plain with distant views of snow-capped mountains, including the southern edge of the Picos de Europa.  As you reach Galicia the journey gets exciting, as the line climbs through mountains, and at one stage does a 360-degree spiral to change levels. It follows a very attractive river and several lakes.

The InterCity train has music channels and shows a couple of videos during the journey. They bring earphones round free of charge, but you may want to have your own. There was a buffet car which was open pretty much throughout the journey with the same staff all the way. Prices were quite reasonable after the TGV. On the InterCity coffee was €1.50, cake €1, a half-bottle of wine €4.10 and a very nice microwaved pizza €4.30. There were three locomotive changes with scheduled stops of about 20 minutes each time which enabled us to visit the station buffets with a more varied selection. We recommend having a copy of the complete train timetable so that you know where the long stops are. The train changed direction twice.

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London to Ibiza, Minorca, Mallorca

  Acciona Ferry 'Fortuny' sailing from Palma de Mallorca to Barcelona
 

The Acciona Trasmediterranea ferry Fortuny leaving Palma de Mallorca for Barcelona.  Similar ferries operate from Barcelona to Ibiza (Eivissa in Catalan)...

  Balearia fast ferry 'Jaume I' about to sail from Barcelona to Minorca & Alcudia on Mallorca
 

The 17:00 Balearia fast ferry to Alcudia about to leave Barcelona.  That's the Columbus Monument at the foot of La Rambla in the background, it's that central!

  Inside the Balearia fast ferry 'Jaume I' to Alcudia
 

Inside Balearia's fast ferry Jaume I from Barcelona to Alcudia on Mallorca...

  Sunset from the Barcelona to Alcudia (Mallorca) fast ferry
 

No Ryanair, no EasyJet.  The sun sets as the fast ferry from Barcelona speeds across the Med towards Mallorca.  We spotted some dolphins earlier...

It's easy to travel from London to Ibiza, Mallorca or Minorca without flying.  You take a Eurostar to Paris & TGV to Barcelona on day 1, then take the daily overnight ferry from Barcelona to the islands arriving in the morning of day 2 - or on some dates you can spend a night and morning in Barcelona, then take an afternoon fast ferry to Mallorca arriving in the evening of day 2.

London to Palma de Mallorca (Majorca) in less than 24 hours!

London to Ibiza, often in less than 24 hours...

Fares from Barcelona to Ibiza, Minorca or Mallorca:

By overnight ferry:  From £64 return in a seat, rising to £173 return in a deluxe single cabin.

By catamaran:  £76 return in tourist class.  Club class also available.

How to buy tickets...

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London to the Canary islands

To Lanzarote, Las Palmas & Tenerife without flying...

Two ferry companies now link Spain with the Canary islands, Acciona Trasmediterranea and Naviera Armas.  Here's how to travel from the UK to the Canary Islands without flying:

Option 1:  UK to the Canary Islands by train & ferry with Naviera Armas via Huelva...

www.navieraarmas.com started a weekly ferry from Huelva in Spain to Tenerife and Gran Canaria in March 2011. It's reportedly higher quality than the Acciona ferry, but feedback is welcome!

London  ► Tenerife & Las Palmas/Gran Canaria

Tenerife & Las Palmas/Gran Canaria  ► London

Fares & how to buy tickets...

Option 2:  UK to the Canary Islands by train & ferry, with Acciona Trasmediterranea via Cadiz...

A weekly Trasmediterranea Line cruise ferry links Cadiz in mainland Spain with Arrecife (Lanzarote), Las Palmas and Tenerife in the Canary Islands, a 2-night voyage.  The whole journey from London to Tenerife will take 3 or 4 nights.

How to buy tickets...

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UK to Spain by direct ferry

  Brittany Ferries' ferry 'Pont Aven'

Cruise to Spain with www.brittanyferries.co.uk...

Why not cruise from the UK to Spain, on a luxury ferry that has more in common with a cruise liner than old-fashioned Channel ferries? 

Brittany Ferries operates three direct ferry routes from the UK to Spain with a crossing time from Portsmouth to northern Spain of just 24 hours and for much of the year an unprecedented 5 cruise ferry sailings a week.

Why not go one way by train and the other by ferry?

Click here for the ferry to Spain page...

Click to watch the video...

Pictured right:  Brittany Ferries superb flagship, the Pont Aven.

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Barcelona Sants station

See the Barcelona Sants station information page...

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Holidays to Spain by train..

 

020 3327 0761 (UK)

1-888-829-4775 (USA)

1300 971 526 (Aus)

0800 000 554 (NZ)

 

01904 527120

 

020 7619 1080 (UK)

If you want a holiday to Spain by train not plane, but want someone else to organise all the train tickets & hotels for you, several specialist companies do just that, for a holiday without airport hassles or whole days in cramped coach seats on motorways.  Railbookers & TrainTours4U offer tailor-made individual holidays with departure on any date you like, whereas Rail Discoveries & Great Rail Journeys offer escorted tours with specific departure dates.

Railbookers custom-made tours, holidays & breaks to Spain by train...

Railbookers can custom-make a flight-free holiday or city break to Spain for you, with train travel, transfers & hotels, leaving on any date you like.  For example, they can do a 2-night short break to Barcelona or an 8-night trip to Madrid, Valencia & Barcelona with standard class Eurostar and first class on the TGV to Barcelona.  If you tell them what you want, they'll advise you on the best trains, routes & hotels and sort it all out for you.  They get a lot of repeat business!

  UK call 020 3327 0761, www.railbookers.co.uk

  US call free 1-888-829-4775, www.railbookers.com.

  Canada call free 1-855-882-2910, www.railbookers.com.

  Australia call toll-free 1300 971 526, www.railbookers.com.au

  New Zealand call toll-free 0800 000 554 or see website.

TrainTours4U, www.traintours4u.co.uk, 020 7619 1080...

TrainTours4U can also tailor-make a holiday to Spain by train for you, with departure on any date you like.  They suggest a Highlights of Andalusia tour, 10 days to Seville, Cordoba, Granada, or they can do a 3-night short break to Barcelona by Eurostar & TGV.  Call 020 7619 1080 to enquire or book, please quote 'Seat 61' when you call.

Great Rail Journeys, www.greatrail.com, 01904 527120:  Escorted tours...

GRJ offers five-star upmarket rail-based escorted tours to Spain, including a tour to Barcelona, Madrid and Seville with travel from London by train and a range of departure dates.  Great Rail Journeys also offer rail-based escorted tours to other European countries.  Check the holiday details & prices online, then call 01904 527120 to book or use their online booking form.

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European Rail Timetable & maps

Thomas Cook European Timetable -  click to buy onlineTraveller's Railway Map of Europe - buy onlineThe European Rail Timetable (formerly the Thomas Cook European Timetable) has train & ferry times for every country in Europe plus currency & climate information.  It is essential for regular European train travellers and an inspiration for armchair travellers.  Published since 1873, it had just celebrated 140 years of publication when Thomas Cook decided to pull the plug on their entire publishing department, but the dedicated ex-Thomas Cook team have set up a private venture and published the first edition of a reborn European Rail Timetable in March 2014.  You can buy it online with worldwide shipping at either www.stanfords.co.uk or www.europeanrailtimetable.euMore information on what the European Rail Timetable contains.

A Traveller's Railway Map of Europe covers the whole of Europe from Portugal in the west to Moscow & Istanbul in the east, Finland in the north to Sicily & Athens in the south.  On the back are detailed maps of Switzerland, Benelux & Germany, plus city plans showing stations in major cities.  Scenic & high-speed routes highlighted.  Buy it online for £14.50 + postage worldwide (UK addresses £2.80) at www.stanfords.co.uk/Continents/Europe-A-Travellers-Railway-Map_9789077899090.htm or (in the Netherlands) for €13 + €5.50 postage from www.treinreiswinkel.nl.

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Guidebooks

Lonely Planet Spain - click to buy onlineLonely Planet Europe on a Shoestring - click to buy onlinePaying for a guidebook may seem an unnecessary expense, but it's a tiny fraction of what you're spending on your whole trip.  You will see so much more, and know so much more about what you're looking at, if you have a decent guidebook.  For the independent traveller I'd recommend either the Lonely Planet or the Rough Guide, both provide an excellent level of practical detail and useful background. You won't regret buying either of these guides!

Click the images to buy online at Amazon.co.uk...

Alternatively, download just the chapters or areas you need in .PDF format from the Lonely Planet Website, from around £2.99 or US$4.95 a chapter.

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Hotels & accommodation

Find a hotel or guesthouse in Barcelona, Madrid or anywhere else in Spain...

    

◄◄ Hotel search & price comparison.

www.hotelscombined.com checks all the main hotel booking sites at once to find the widest choice of hotels & the cheapest seller.  It has been named as the World's Leading Hotel Comparison Site in the World Travel Awards and I highly recommend it, both to find hotels in even the smallest places and to check that another retailer isn't selling the same hotel at a cheaper rate.

►► My recommended booking site:  www.booking.com

www.booking.com is my favourite hotel booking site, and unless HotelsCombined throws up major price differences I prefer doing my bookings in one place here. 

You can usually book with free cancellation - this allows you to confirm your accommodation at no risk before train booking opens.  It also means you can hold accommodation while you finalise your itinerary, and alter your plans as they evolve - a great feature I use all the time when putting a trip together.

Suggested hotels close to Barcelona Sants station...

Suggested Barcelona hotels for a longer stay...

En suite at Hotel Espana, Barcelona   Double room, Hotel Espana, Barcelona

A double room at the Hotel Espana, just off the famous Ramblas in Barcelona...

Suggested hotels close to Paris Gare de Lyon.

Other hotel sites to try...

Backpacker hostels: www.hostelworld.com...

Environmentally aware, actively ethical adventures in Spain:  www.wildsideholidays.com...

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Send your luggage in advance

Ride the trains without heavy luggage... 

Send your suitcase ahead by Luggage Mule from around £30 each way.

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Car hire

Take the train to Spain, then hire a car:  www.holidayautos.co.uk

Spanish city centres and cars don't mix well, so stick with the train for city-based tours.  But if you want to get out of the cities and into the countryside, hiring a car can be a great idea.  Start by trying Holiday Autos, www.holidayautos.co.uk, they're part of Lastminute.com so are reliable and have a wide range of locations and very good prices.

Compare 50 different car hire companies:  www.carrentals.co.uk

The award-winning website www.carrentals.co.uk compares many different car hire companies including Holiday Autos, meaning not only a cheapest price comparison but a wider choice of hire and drop off location.

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Travel insurance, health card, SIM cards

 

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

Take out decent travel insurance, it's essential...

Never travel without proper travel insurance from a reliable insurer with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover.  It should also cover loss of cash & belongings (up to a limit), and trip cancellation.  An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheapest even for just 2 or 3 trips a year - I have an annual policy myself.  However, don't expect travel insurance to bail you out of every missed connection, see the advice on missed connections here.  Here are some suggested insurers, Seat61 gets a little commission if you buy through these links, and feedback from using insurance for rail & ferry travel is always welcome.

In the UK, use www.confused.com to compare prices & policy features across major insurance companies.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65, see www.JustTravelCover.com - 10% discount with code seat61.

        If you live in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland or the EU, try Columbus Direct's other websites.

  If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

Get an EU health card, it's free...

If you're a UK citizen travelling in Europe, you should apply for a free European Health Insurance Card, which entitles you to free or reduced rate health care if you become ill or get injured in many European countries, under a reciprocal arrangement with the NHS.  This replaced the old E111 forms as from January 2006.  The EHIC card is available from ww.nhs.uk.  It doesn't remove the need for travel insurance, though.

Carry a spare credit card, designed for travel with no currency exchange loading & low/no ATM fees

Taking out an extra credit card costs nothing, but if you keep it in a different part of your luggage you won't be left stranded if your wallet gets stolen.  In addition, some credit cards are better for overseas travel than others.  Martin Lewis's www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/cheap-travel-money explains which UK credit cards have the lowest currency exchange commission loadings when you buy something overseas, and the lowest cash withdrawal fees when you use an ATM abroad.

 


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