Take the train from the UK to Spain!

UK to Spain without flying:  London to Paris

by Eurostar in 2h20 from £78 return...

London to Barcelona by train, aboard a TGV Duplex

...then Paris to Barcelona by 320 km/h (199 mph)

TGV Duplex in 6h25 from €39 each way.

 

First class table for two on upper deck of TGV Duplex train to Barcelona

To Spain in an armchair:  Watch the video!

Buy train tickets to Spain

 

Railbookers.com for holidays to Spain by train

small bullet point  Holidays to Spain by train not plane

 

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

It's easy to travel from the UK to Spain by train.  Take a morning Eurostar to Paris in 2h20 from £52 one-way or £78 return, lunch at the remarkable Train Bleu restaurant at the Gare de Lyon, then the afternoon double-deck TGV Duplex from Paris to Figueres (for the Salvador Dali museum), Girona & Barcelona from €39 each way with cafe-bar & free WiFi.  Buy some wine from the cafe-bar (or bring your own!), put your feet up & relax, watch the pretty French villages of the Rhone Valley pass by, catch up on your reading, perhaps watch a movie on your iPhone.  Compared to the stress of airports & flights, it's a revelation and far more environmentally-friendly.  This page explains the best routes & trains between the UK & Spain and how to buy tickets.

Select your destination:    

UK to Spain by train...

small bullet point  London to Barcelona, Girona, Figueres

small bullet point  London to Madrid & Zaragoza

small bullet point  London to Seville, Cordoba, Malaga

small bullet point  London to Granada

small bullet point  London to Valencia & Alicante

small bullet point  London to Tarragona, Salou, Benidorm

small bullet point  London to Cadiz, Jerez, Almeria & Murcia

small bullet point  London to Cartagena, Ronda & Algeciras

small bullet point  London to San Sebastian

small bullet point  London to Pamplona & Bilbao

small bullet point  London to Segovia, Toledo, Salamanca

small bullet point  London to Santiago de Compostela, Vigo, A Coruña

small bullet point  London to Ibiza, Minorca, Mallorca

small bullet point  London to Las Palmas, Tenerife & Canary Islands

small bullet point  London to Gibraltar

small bullet point  Starting from other UK towns & cities

small bullet point  UK to Spain by ferry with Brittany Ferries

small bullet point  How to buy train tickets from the UK to Spain

Train travel in Spain...

small bullet point  Train travel in Spain - a beginner's guide

small bullet point  How to buy train tickets within Spain

small bullet point  Trains between Barcelona & Madrid

small bullet point  The Renfe Spain pass

small bullet point  Free suburban travel with a long-distance ticket

small bullet point  Barcelona Sants station facilities & Sala Club

small bullet point  How to transfer between Chamartin & Atocha

International trains to & from Spain...

small bullet point  Trains to Spain from other European cities

small bullet point  Barcelona to other European cities by train

small bullet point  Madrid, Malaga, Alicante to other cities by train

small bullet point  Paris to Barcelona by high-speed train

small bullet point  Madrid to Lisbon by train

Other useful information...

small bullet point  Useful country information: currency, dial code...

small bullet point  Holidays & tours to Spain by train

small bullet point  How to cross Paris by metro, taxi or transfer

small bullet point  Luggage on trains & Left luggage at stations

small bullet point  Taking your dog - Taking your bike

small bullet point  Child age limits & travel with children

small bullet point  Passengers with disabilities

small bullet point  Train seat numbering plans

small bullet point  Eurail passes - the pass for overseas visitors

small bullet point  Interrail passes - the pass for Europeans

small bullet point  Car hire in Spain

small bullet point  Cruises from Barcelona

small bullet point  Recommended guidebooks

small bullet point  Hotels & accommodation in Spain

small bullet point  Travel insurance, Curve Card & VPN

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

Route map, UK to Spain by train

large bullet pointCountry 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.thetrainline.com or www.petrabax.com.  Local trains around Bilbao, San Sebastian, French frontier:  www.euskotren.eus.  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/itineraire-reservation/itineraire.  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.spain.info.    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:

22 November 2022.  Train times valid 11 Dec 2022 to 9 Dec 2023.


large bullet pointLondon to Barcelona

 

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

All aboard the
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 table for two on 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 2013 and impressive 320 km/h (199 mph) double-deck TGV Duplex trains now run from Paris to Barcelona in around 6h30, 667 miles city centre to city centre with cafe-bar, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi, passing some great scenery, especially viewed from an upstairs seat.  There are two Paris-Barcelona TGV trains every day in each direction, with a third train in summer.

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.

Avoiding Paris...  If you have lots of luggage, small kids or mobility problems and want to avoid crossing Paris, you can go London-Lille-Nimes, overnight stop, then Nimes to Barcelona by AVE or TGV see option 3 here.

Sleeper trains...  The Elipsos sleeper trains from Paris to Barcelona & Madrid were sadly discontinued in 2013, but it's still possible to travel overnight in a couchette between Paris & the Spanish border, see option 4 here using the Paris to Latour de Carol sleeper train then a scenic local train to Barcelona through the Pyrenees or option 5 using the Paris-Perpignan/Cerbère overnight train.

Which route to choose?

small bullet point  Option 1, by Eurostar & TGV via Paris - fastest way, multiple departures...

    Train times London to Barcelona

    Train times Barcelona to London

    How much does it cost?

    How to buy tickets

    What are the trains like?

    What is the journey like?

small bullet point  Option 2, by Eurostar & TGV with overnight stop in Nimes - also avoids crossing Paris...

small bullet point  Option 3, by overnight sleeper to Latour de Carol & local train - scenic option through the Pyrenees!

small bullet point  Option 4, by overnight sleeper to Perpignan or Cerbère - another overnight option...

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 320 km/h (199 mph) TGV Duplex from Paris to Barcelona in around 6h30...

London ► Barcelona (morning departure)

London ► Barcelona (evening departure, overnight in Paris)

Barcelona ► London (morning departure, every day)

Barcelona ► London (afternoon departure, overnight in Paris)

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets...

 

Buy train tickets London to Spain

  Buy train tickets to Spain at Raileurope.com
 

Book your hotels...

www.booking.com lets you book accommodation with free cancellation - so you can safely book with zero risk before train bookings open.  Any hotel with a review score over 8.0 will usually be pretty good.

Booking.com logo

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

Or book at www.thetrainline.com...

Or book at www.eurostar.com + sncf-connect.com + www.renfe.com...

Or have your trip arranged as a package...

How to buy tickets by phone...

What's the journey like?

1. London to Paris by Eurostar...

Eurostar trains link London & Paris in 2h20, travelling at up to 300 km/h (186 mph).  There are two bar cars, power sockets at all seats and free WiFi.  Standard Premier and Business Premier fares include a light meal with wine (or breakfast, on departures before 11:00).  There's a 30-minute minimum check-in at London St Pancras (45 minutes minimum at Paris Nord) as all border formalities are carried out before you board the train.  More information about Eurostar including check-in procedureSt Pancras station guide Paris Gare du Nord station guideHow to change trains & stations in Paris by metro or taxi.

Eurostar e320   Eurostar e320 first class seats

A Eurostar e320 about to leave London St Pancras...

 

Standard Premier/Business Premier. Larger photo.

Eurostar e320 2nd class   Eurostar e320 cafe-bar

Standard class seats.  Larger photo.

 

One of two cafe-bars, in cars 8 & 9.  Larger photo.

2. Paris to Barcelona by TGV:  See video guide

The Paris-Barcelona trains are impressive 320 km/h (199 mph) TGV Duplex double-deck 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.  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 nicest option.  Free WiFi is coming to these trains at some point.  Paris Gare de Lyon station guide Barcelona Sants station guide.

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de Lyon

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de Lyon. These 320 km/h double-deckers link Paris with Barcelona.  Watch TGV Duplex video.

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

Cafe-bar on upper deck car 4, serving tea, coffee, soft drinks, wine, beer, snacks & microwaved hot dishes....

 

2nd class seats on upper deck with a mix of tables for 4 & unidirectional seating.  360º photo.

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

1st class upper deck seats, club duo on the left, club quatre on the right.  360º photo.

 

A TGV Duplex.  The 1 near the door indicates 1st class, a 2 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.

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.

The Fort de Salses seen from the train   View from the train

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.

Barcelona Sants station concourse   Barcelona Sants station

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 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 Nîmes if you like.  I think Nîmes makes the best stopover point, but you could equally well stop for the night in Montpellier instead.

London ► Barcelona

Barcelona ► London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets...

What's the journey like?

1. London to Lille by Eurostar...

Eurostar trains link London & Lille in 1h22, travelling at up to 300 km/h (186 mph).  There are two bar cars, power sockets at all seats and free WiFi.  Standard Premier and Business Premier fares include a light meal with wine (or breakfast, on departures before 11:00).  There's a 30-minute minimum check-in as all border formalities are carried out before you board the train.  More information about Eurostar including check-in procedureSt Pancras station guide Lille station guide & tips on changing trains.

Eurostar e320   Eurostar e320 first class seats

A Eurostar e320 at St Pancras.  More about Eurostar.

 

1st class:  Standard Premier or Business Premier.

Eurostar e320 2nd class   Eurostar e320 cafe-bar

Standard class seats.  Larger photo.

 

One of two cafe-bars, in cars 8 & 9.  Larger photo.

2. Lille to Nimes by TGV...

TGV or Train á Grande Vitesse is French Railways high-speed train, with 1st & 2nd class and a cafe-bar.  They come in various types, some single-deck, some double-deck TGV Duplex, you could get either on cross-France routes from Lille.  Most have power sockets at seats, most now have free WiFi.  The photos below show a single-deck TGV with the Christian Lacroix designer interior.  The direct TGVs from Lille to Lyon by-pass Paris on a high-speed avoiding line via Charles de Gaulle Airport station.  More information about TGV.

2nd class on a Paris-Milan TGV   TGV from Paris arrived at Luxembourg

2nd class with mix of unidirectional seats & tables for 4.  Seats 2+2 across car width. Larger photo.

 

The business end of a TGV...

Cafe-bar on the Paris-Milan TGV   1st class on the Paris-Milan TGV

Cafe-bar selling tea, coffee, beer, wine, cold snacks & microwaved dishes.  Larger photo.

 

1st class with a mix of unidirectional seats, solo seats, tables for 2 & for 4.  Seats 2+1 across car width.  Larger photo.

3. Nimes to Barcelona by TGV Duplex

The Paris-Barcelona trains are impressive 320 km/h (199 mph) TGV Duplex double-deck 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.  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 nicest option.  Free WiFi is coming to these trains at some point.  Paris Gare de Lyon station guide Barcelona Sants station guide.

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de Lyon

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de Lyon. These 320 km/h double-deckers link Paris with Barcelona.  Watch TGV Duplex video.

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

Cafe-bar on upper deck car 4, serving tea, coffee, soft drinks, wine, beer, snacks & microwaved hot dishes....

 

2nd class seats on upper deck with a mix of tables for 4 & unidirectional seating.  360º photo.

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

1st class upper deck seats, club duo on the left, club quatre on the right.  360º photo.

 

A TGV Duplex.  The 1 near the door indicates 1st class, a 2 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.

Mt Canigou in the Pyrenees

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 Girona to Perpignan, see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canigou.

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Option 3, London to Barcelona overnight via Latour de Carol & the Pyrenees...

The scenic route!  The Elipsos sleeper trains from Paris to Barcelona & Madrid were sadly discontinued in December 2013, but 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 here See route map.

London ► Barcelona

Barcelona ► London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets...

What's the journey like?

1. London to Paris by Eurostar...

Eurostar trains link London & Paris in 2h20, travelling at up to 300 km/h (186 mph).  There are two bar cars, power sockets at all seats and free WiFi.  Standard Premier and Business Premier fares include a light meal with wine (or breakfast, on departures before 11:00).  There's a 30-minute minimum check-in at London St Pancras (45 minutes minimum at Paris Nord) as all border formalities are carried out before you board the train.  More information about Eurostar including check-in procedureSt Pancras station guide Paris Gare du Nord station guideHow to change trains & stations in Paris by metro or taxi.

Eurostar e320   Eurostar e320 first class seats

A Eurostar e320 about to leave London St Pancras...

 

Standard Premier/Business Premier. Larger photo.

Eurostar e320 2nd class   Eurostar e320 cafe-bar

Standard class seats.  Larger photo.

 

One of two cafe-bars, in cars 8 & 9.  Larger photo.

2. Paris to Latour de Carol by French overnight train...

The intercité de nuit overnight train from Paris to Latour de Carol has 1st class couchettes in 4-berth compartments & 2nd class couchettes in 6-berth compartments, each bunk supplied with lightweight sleeping-bag & mineral water.  More information about intercité de nuit trainsWatch the video guide Paris Austerlitz station guide.

Intercite de nuit overnight train in Paris

An intercité de nuit sleeper train boarding at Paris Gare d'Austerlitz.  Photo courtesy of Philip Dyer-Perry.

InterCite de Nuit 1st class couchette, 4-berth   InterCite de Nuit 2nd class couchette, 6-berth   French couchette car corridor

1st class 4-berth couchettes, as recently refurbished.  Courtesy of @Bristol_Phil.  Photo in 2nd class courtesy Dan Chester.

 

2nd class 6-berth couchettes

 

Couchette car corridor.  Courtesy Dan Chester.

InterCite de Nuit 2nd class upper berth couchettes   InterCite de Nuit couchette

Upper berths, 2nd class, showing compartment lighting & temperature controls above door.  Courtesy of Dan Chester.

 

Each couchette is provided with pillow, lightweight sleeping bag, bottled water & kit with ear plugs and eye mask.

Mountains in the Pyrenees

The sleeper train heads into the Pyrenees beyond Foix...

L'Hospitalet station in the Pyrenees   Scenery in the Pyrenees

More mountain scenery in the Pyrenees...

The huge international station at Latour de Carol

Latour de Carol, where two nations, two trains and three track gauges meet.  This is the huge international station building.  The station bistro is on the forecourt, just out of shot to the left.

Bistro at Latour de Carol   Bistro at Latour de Carol

The inexpensive Bistro de la Gare (above right) on the forecourt at Latour de Carol is ideal for breakfast or a coffee between trains, check opening hours at www.facebook.com/bistrotdutrainjauneCourtesy of Adrian Fuentes.

3. Latour de Carol to  Barcelona by local train...

This is a simple local train, technically classified suburban (Cercanias in Spanish, Rodalies in Catalan) even though this is a very rural route.  2nd class only, no catering so have some supplies with you.

Night train from Paris and local train to Barcelona at Latour de Carol

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 air-conditioned local train from Latour to Barcelona.  2nd class only.  Bring your own food & drink.  The 'R' stands for Rodalies, Catalan for suburban network.

Scenery from the local train to Barcelona

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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Option 4, London to Barcelona overnight via Perpignan/Cerbère...

This is similar to option 4 above, but instead of going straight through the Pyrenees using the overnight train from Paris to Latour de Carol, you travel in Paris-Perpignan-Cerbère portion of the same night train and go around the southern end of the Pyrenees.  The sleeper runs along the scenic Côte Vermeille coastline through Collioure & Port-Vendres to Cerbère, you then take a local train from Cerbère to Figueres, Girona & Barcelona.  The Paris-Cerbère sleeper is a useful alternative to the Paris-Latour de Carol train, as sometimes the Paris-Cerbère train runs when the one to Latour de Carol is affected by engineering work.  However, the Paris-Cerbère sleeper isn't daily all year, it's daily in summer, usually only on Fridays & Sundays at other times.  See route map.

London ► Barcelona

Barcelona ► London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets...

Travel tips...

What's the journey like?

1. London to Paris by Eurostar...

Eurostar trains link London & Paris in 2h20, travelling at up to 300 km/h (186 mph).  There are two bar cars, power sockets at all seats and free WiFi.  Standard Premier and Business Premier fares include a light meal with wine (or breakfast, on departures before 11:00).  There's a 30-minute minimum check-in at London St Pancras (45 minutes minimum at Paris Nord) as all border formalities are carried out before you board the train.  More information about Eurostar including check-in procedureSt Pancras station guide Paris Gare du Nord station guideHow to change trains & stations in Paris by metro or taxi.

Eurostar e320   Eurostar e320 first class seats

A Eurostar e320 about to leave London St Pancras...

 

Standard Premier/Business Premier. Larger photo.

Eurostar e320 2nd class   Eurostar e320 cafe-bar

Standard class seats.  Larger photo.

 

One of two cafe-bars, in cars 8 & 9.  Larger photo.

2. Paris to Perpignan or Cerbère by French overnight train...

The intercité de nuit overnight train from Paris to Perpignan & Cerbère has 1st class couchettes in 4-berth compartments & 2nd class couchettes in 6-berth compartments, each bunk supplied with lightweight sleeping-bag & mineral water.  More information about intercité de nuit trainsWatch the video guide Paris Austerlitz station guide.

Intercite de nuit overnight train in Paris

The intercité de nuit sleeper train boarding at Paris Gare d'Austerlitz.  Photo courtesy of Philip Dyer-Perry.

InterCite de Nuit 1st class couchette, 4-berth   InterCite de Nuit 2nd class couchette, 6-berth   French couchette car corridor

1st class 4-berth couchettes, as recently refurbished.  Courtesy of @Bristol_Phil.  Photo in 2nd class courtesy Dan Chester.

 

2nd class 6-berth couchettes

 

Couchette car corridor.  Courtesy Dan Chester.

InterCite de Nuit 2nd class upper berth couchettes   InterCite de Nuit couchette

Upper berths, 2nd class, showing compartment lighting & temperature controls above door.  Courtesy of Dan Chester.

 

Each couchette is provided with pillow, lightweight sleeping bag, bottled water & kit with ear plugs and eye mask.

View from the sleeper train along the coast

Wake up to coastal views like this...  Photo courtesy of Philip Dyer-Perry.

3. Cerbère to Figueres, Girona & Barcelona by local train...

This is a simple local train, technically classified suburban (Cercanias in Spanish, Rodalies in Catalan).  2nd class only, no catering so have some supplies with you.

Inside the local train between Portbou & Barcelona   Inside the local train between Portbou & Barcelona

The local train from Cerbère to Barcelona.  Courtesy of Philip Dyer-Perry.

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large bullet pointLondon to Madrid & Zaragoza

The Paris to Madrid Elipsos sleeper train was discontinued in December 2013 and is sadly missed, but it's still easy to travel from London or Paris to Madrid by train, 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.  Also worth considering is the northern route in option 3 with an overnight in San Sebastian, this can often be cheaper.

Which route to choose?

small bullet point  Option 1, by Eurostar & Paris-Barcelona TGV with overnight stop in either Paris or Barcelona - fastest way, with two departures per day...

small bullet point  Option 2, by Eurostar & Lille-Nimes TGV, with overnight stop in Nimes - avoids crossing Paris if that's important to you...

small bullet point  Option 3, by Eurostar & Paris-Hendaye TGV with overnight stop in San Sebastian - often cheapest, with a chance to see Basque country.

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

London ► Madrid - morning departure with overnight stop in Barcelona

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

Madrid ► London - Madrid to London in a day...

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

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets?

What's the journey like?

1. London to Paris by Eurostar...

Eurostar trains link London & Paris in 2h20, travelling at up to 300 km/h (186 mph).  There are two bar cars, power sockets at all seats and free WiFi.  Standard Premier and Business Premier fares include a light meal with wine (or breakfast, on departures before 11:00).  There's a 30-minute minimum check-in at London St Pancras (45 minutes minimum at Paris Nord) as all border formalities are carried out before you board the train.  More information about Eurostar including check-in procedureSt Pancras station guide Paris Gare du Nord station guideHow to change trains & stations in Paris by metro or taxi.

Eurostar e320   Eurostar e320 first class seats

A Eurostar e320 at St Pancras.  More about Eurostar.

 

1st class:  Standard Premier or Business Premier.

Eurostar e320 2nd class   Eurostar e320 cafe-bar

Standard class seats.  Larger photo.

 

One of two cafe-bars, in cars 8 & 9.  Larger photo.

2. Paris to Barcelona by TGV Duplex...

Sit back with a glass of red and enjoy the ride - book an upper deck seat for the best views.  The train is equipped with power sockets for laptops & mobiles at all seats in both classes, and a cafe-bar serves drinks, snacks & microwaved hot dishes.  More information about Paris-Barcelona TGVsParis Gare de Lyon station guide Barcelona Sants station guide.

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de Lyon

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de Lyon. These 320 km/h double-deckers link Paris with Barcelona.  Watch TGV Duplex video.

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

Cafe-bar on upper deck car 4, serving tea, coffee, soft drinks, wine, beer, snacks & microwaved hot dishes....

 

2nd class seats on upper deck with a mix of tables for 4 & unidirectional seating.  360º photo.

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

1st class upper deck seats, club duo on the left, club quatre on the right.  360º photo.

 

A TGV Duplex.  The 1 near the door indicates 1st class, a 2 indicates 2nd class.

Mt Canigou in the Pyrenees

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.

3. Barcelona to Madrid by AVE...

AVEs have a cafe-bar, power sockets at all seats, and they're now being fitted with free WiFi.  Madrid Atocha station guide.

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

Comfort XL class (premium 1st class) seating on the AVE train, meal with wine included on some trains.

 

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

Standard (2nd class) on the AVE train.

 

Comfort (1st class)  seating.

Scenery between Barcelona & Madrid

Scenery from the high-speed AVE between Barcelona & Madrid.  Courtesy of DiscoverByRail.com.

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.  See the Madrid Atocha station guide for more information.

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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, 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...

What's the journey like?

1. London to Lille by Eurostar...

Eurostar trains link London & Lille in 1h22, travelling at up to 300 km/h (186 mph).  There are two bar cars, power sockets at all seats and free WiFi.  Standard Premier and Business Premier fares include a light meal with wine (or breakfast, on departures before 11:00).  There's a 30-minute minimum check-in as all border formalities are carried out before you board the train.  More information about Eurostar including check-in procedureSt Pancras station guide Lille station guide & tips on changing trains.

Eurostar e320   Eurostar e320 first class seats

A Eurostar e320 at St Pancras.  More about Eurostar.

 

1st class:  Standard Premier or Business Premier.

Eurostar e320 2nd class   Eurostar e320 cafe-bar

Standard class seats.  Larger photo.

 

One of two cafe-bars, in cars 8 & 9.  Larger photo.

2. Lille to Nimes by TGV...

TGV or Train á Grande Vitesse is French Railways high-speed train, with 1st & 2nd class and a cafe-bar.  They come in various types, some single-deck, some double-deck TGV Duplex, you could get either on cross-France routes from Lille.  Most have power sockets at seats, most now have free WiFi.  The photos below show a single-deck TGV with the Christian Lacroix designer interior.  The direct TGVs from Lille to Lyon by-pass Paris on a high-speed avoiding line via Charles de Gaulle Airport station.  More information about TGV.

Boarding a TGV   TGV bar car

Boarding a TGV...

 

Cafe-bar...

TGV interior by Christian Lacroix, second class   TGV 1st class by Christian Lacroix

2nd class with a mix or unidirectional seats & tables for 4.  Seats are 2+2 across car width. 360 degree photo.

 

1st class with a mix of unidirectional seats, solo seats, tables for 2 & for 4.  Seats 2+1 across car width.  360 degree photo.

3. Nimes to Barcelona by TGV Duplex

The Paris-Barcelona trains are impressive 320 km/h (199 mph) TGV Duplex double-deck 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.  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 nicest option.  Free WiFi is coming to these trains at some point.  Paris Gare de Lyon station guide Barcelona Sants station guide.

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de Lyon

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de Lyon. These 320 km/h double-deckers link Paris with Barcelona.  Watch TGV Duplex video.

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

Cafe-bar on upper deck car 4, serving tea, coffee, soft drinks, wine, beer, snacks & microwaved hot dishes....

 

2nd class seats on upper deck with a mix of tables for 4 & unidirectional seating.  360º photo.

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

1st class upper deck seats, club duo on the left, club quatre on the right.  360º photo.

 

A TGV Duplex.  The 1 near the door indicates 1st class, a 2 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.

Mt Canigou in the Pyrenees

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 Girona to Perpignan, see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canigou.

4. Barcelona to Madrid by AVE...

AVEs have a cafe-bar, power sockets at all seats, and they're now being fitted with free WiFi.  Madrid Atocha station guide.

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

Comfort XL class (premium 1st class) seating on the AVE train, meal with wine included on some trains.

 

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

Standard (2nd class) on the AVE train.

 

Comfort (1st class)  seating.

Scenery between Barcelona & Madrid

Scenery from the high-speed AVE between Barcelona & Madrid.  Courtesy of DiscoverByRail.com.

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.  See the Madrid Atocha station guide for more information.

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Option 3, London to Madrid with overnight stop in San Sebastian...

This is slower than options 1 or 2, but often cheaper.  And what's not to like about a stopover in San Sebastian?

London ► Madrid

Madrid ► London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets online...

How to buy tickets by phone...

What's the journey like?

1. London to Paris by Eurostar:  See the Eurostar page

2. Paris to Hendaye by TGV Duplex:  See TGV Duplex Océane information

3. Hendaye to San Sebastian by Euskotren:  See the photos in the San Sebastian section below

4. San Sebastian to Madrid by fast Alvia train:  See the AVE S100 page

These smart Alvia trains have a cafe-bar and power sockets at all seats.  There's great scenery winding down out of the Pyrenees after leaving San Sebastian.  Alvia trains have adjustable axles so they can leave San Sebastian on the classic Iberian-gauge line, then run on the standard-gauge high-speed line at up to 250km/h the rest of the way to Madrid Chamartin.

Comfort (1st) class seats   Alvia train at Madrid Chamartin

Comfort class (1st class)

 

An Alvia at Madrid Chamartin...

Standard (2nd) class seats   The cafe bar

Standard class seats (2nd class).

 

The cafe-bar does an excellent cafe con leche...

Scenery between San Sebastian & Barcelona

The train descends from the foothills of the Pyrenees onto the plain below...

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large bullet pointLondon to Malaga & Seville

Which route to choose?

Here are three good options for travel from the UK to Andalusia & the Costa del Sol.  Option 1 is fastest, simplest and usually cheapest, if you don't mind changing trains & stations in Paris.  It's too far to do in a day, so an overnight stop is necessary in Barcelona.  Option 2 takes a little longer, but involves a same-station connection in Lille so avoids having to cross Paris.  The overnight stop is in Nimes in the south of France.  Option 3 uses a French couchette train so avoids having to stop overnight in a hotel and involves some nice scenery.  You can of course go out one way and back another.

small bullet point  Option 1, London to Cordoba, Seville, Malaga by Eurostar & TGV via Paris, with overnight hotel stop in Barcelona.  Simplest, fastest, usually cheapest.

small bullet point  Option 2, London to Cordoba & Seville by Eurostar, French sleeper train & onward connections - the sleeper option!

Option 1, London to Seville & Malaga with overnight stop in Barcelona...

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

Malaga, Seville, Cordoba ► London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets online...

How to buy tickets by phone...

...or ask Byway to arrange it as a package...

...or ask Railbookers to arrange it as a package.

Torremolinos & Fuengirola...

Marbella & Estepona...

Other routes & options...

What's the journey like?

1. London to Paris by Eurostar...

Eurostar trains link London & Paris in 2h20, travelling at up to 300 km/h (186 mph).  There are two bar cars, power sockets at all seats and free WiFi.  Standard Premier and Business Premier fares include a light meal with wine (or breakfast, on departures before 11:00).  There's a 30-minute minimum check-in at London St Pancras (45 minutes minimum at Paris Nord) as all border formalities are carried out before you board the train.  More information about Eurostar including check-in procedureSt Pancras station guide Paris Gare du Nord station guideHow to change trains & stations in Paris by metro or taxi.

Eurostar e320   Eurostar e320 first class seats

A Eurostar e320 at St Pancras.  More about Eurostar.

 

1st class:  Standard Premier or Business Premier.

Eurostar e320 2nd class   Eurostar e320 cafe-bar

Standard class seats.  Larger photo.

 

One of two cafe-bars, in cars 8 & 9.  Larger photo.

2. Paris to Barcelona by TGV Duplex...

Sit back with a glass of red and enjoy the ride - book an upper deck seat for the best views.  The train is equipped with power sockets for laptops & mobiles at all seats in both classes, and a cafe-bar serves drinks, snacks & microwaved hot dishes.  More information about Paris-Barcelona TGVsParis Gare de Lyon station guide Barcelona Sants station guide.

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de Lyon

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de Lyon. These 320 km/h double-deckers link Paris with Barcelona.  Watch TGV Duplex video.

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

Cafe-bar on upper deck car 4, serving tea, coffee, soft drinks, wine, beer, snacks & microwaved hot dishes....

 

2nd class seats on upper deck with a mix of tables for 4 & unidirectional seating.  360º photo.

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

1st class upper deck seats, club duo on the left, club quatre on the right.  360º photo.

 

A TGV Duplex.  The 1 near the door indicates 1st class, a 2 indicates 2nd class.

Mt Canigou in the Pyrenees

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.

3. Barcelona to Malaga, Cordoba or Seville by AVE...

These superb-quality AVE high speed trains are amongst the classiest trains in Europe.  They have three classes, Comfort for Premium ticket holders (true 1st class with real leather seats), Comfort (1st class seating) and Standard (2nd class).  AVE trains run at up to 310 km/h (193 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 free WiFi.

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

AVE S112, known by Renfe staff as pato, Spanish for duck.  No prizes for guessing why...

 

AVE Comfort class:  Leather reclining seats arranged 2+1 across the car width...

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 Standard class:  Comfortable seats arranged 2+2 across the car width, mainly unidirectional, but with some bays of 4 around a table.

 

AVE Comfort class:  Reclining seats arranged 2+1 across the car width, mainly unidirectional but some tables for 2 and tables for 4, all seats with power sockets...

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

1st class lounge:  Premium ticket holders 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 & snacks, or feel free to bring your own food, wine or beer. 

Option 2, London to Cordoba & Seville via sleeper train

The Paris-Barcelona trainhotel was sadly discontinued in 2013, but you can still use a French sleeper train between Paris and the Spanish border, then onward trains.  This can be a useful alternative to using daytime TGV service, which requires an overnight stop along the way.  You can of course go one way by TGV, the other way using a sleeper train, just remember to book the Eurostar as a round trip, because Eurostar return fares are significantly less than two one-ways.

London ► Cordoba, Seville, Malaga

Seville, Cordoba ► London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets...

Intercite de nuit overnight train in Paris

An intercité de nuit sleeper train boarding at Paris Gare d'Austerlitz.  Photo courtesy of Philip Dyer-Perry.

InterCite de Nuit 1st class couchette, 4-berth   InterCite de Nuit 2nd class couchette, 6-berth   French couchette car corridor

1st class 4-berth couchettes, as recently refurbished.  Courtesy of @Bristol_Phil.  Photo in 2nd class courtesy Dan Chester.

 

2nd class 6-berth couchettes

 

Couchette car corridor.  Courtesy Dan Chester.

InterCite de Nuit 2nd class upper berth couchettes   InterCite de Nuit couchette

Upper berths, 2nd class, showing compartment lighting & temperature controls above door.  Courtesy of Dan Chester.

 

Each couchette is provided with pillow, lightweight sleeping bag, bottled water & kit with ear plugs and eye mask.

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large bullet pointLondon to Granada

London ► Granada

Granada ► London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets...

How to buy tickets by phone...

...or ask Railbookers to arrange it as a package.

Other routes & options...

What's the journey like?

1. London to Paris by Eurostar...

Eurostar trains link London & Paris in 2h20, travelling at up to 300 km/h (186 mph).  There are two bar cars, power sockets at all seats and free WiFi.  Standard Premier and Business Premier fares include a light meal with wine (or breakfast, on departures before 11:00).  There's a 30-minute minimum check-in at London St Pancras (45 minutes minimum at Paris Nord) as all border formalities are carried out before you board the train.  More information about Eurostar including check-in procedureSt Pancras station guide Paris Gare du Nord station guideHow to change trains & stations in Paris by metro or taxi.

Eurostar e320   Eurostar e320 first class seats

A Eurostar e320 at St Pancras.  More about Eurostar.

 

1st class:  Standard Premier or Business Premier.

Eurostar e320 2nd class   Eurostar e320 cafe-bar

Standard class seats.  Larger photo.

 

One of two cafe-bars, in cars 8 & 9.  Larger photo.

2. Paris to Barcelona by TGV Duplex...

Sit back with a glass of red and enjoy the ride - book an upper deck seat for the best views.  The train is equipped with power sockets for laptops & mobiles at all seats in both classes, and a cafe-bar serves drinks, snacks & microwaved hot dishes.  More information about Paris-Barcelona TGVsParis Gare de Lyon station guide Barcelona Sants station guide.

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de Lyon

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de Lyon. These 320 km/h double-deckers link Paris with Barcelona.  Watch TGV Duplex video.

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

Cafe-bar on upper deck car 4, serving tea, coffee, soft drinks, wine, beer, snacks & microwaved hot dishes....

 

2nd class seats on upper deck with a mix of tables for 4 & unidirectional seating.  360º photo.

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

1st class upper deck seats, club duo on the left, club quatre on the right.  360º photo.

 

A TGV Duplex.  The 1 near the door indicates 1st class, a 2 indicates 2nd class.

Mt Canigou in the Pyrenees

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.

3. Barcelona to Granada by AVE...

These superb-quality AVE high speed trains are amongst the classiest trains in Europe.  They have three classes, Comfort class for Premium ticket holders (true 1st class with real leather seats), Comfort (1st class) and Standard (2nd class).  AVE trains run at up to 310 km/h (193 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 free WiFi.

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

AVE S112, known by Renfe staff as pato, Spanish for duck.  No prizes for guessing why...

 

AVE Comfort class:  Leather reclining seats arranged 2+1 across the car width...

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 Standard class:  Comfortable seats arranged 2+2 across the car width, mainly unidirectional, but with some bays of 4 around a table.

 

AVE Comfort class:  Reclining seats arranged 2+1 across the car width, mainly unidirectional but some tables for 2 and tables for 4, all seats with power sockets...

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

1st class lounge:  Premium ticket holders may use the Sala Club 1st class lounge at Barcelona Sants, with coffee, juice & beer.

 

All aboard!  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 along. 

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large bullet pointLondon to Valencia & Alicante

Which route to choose?

Here are three good options for travel from the UK to Valencia, Alicante, Benidorm and the Costa Blanca.  Option 1 is fastest, simplest and usually cheapest, if you don't mind changing trains & stations in Paris.  It's too far to do in a day, so an overnight stop is necessary either in Paris or Barcelona.  Option 2 takes a little longer, but involves a same-station connection in Lille so avoids having to cross Paris, with an overnight stop in Nimes.  Option 3 uses a French couchette train so avoids having to stop overnight in a hotel and involves some nice scenery.  You can of course go out one way and back another.

small bullet point  Option 1, London to Valencia & Alicante by Eurostar & TGV with overnight hotel stop in either Paris or Barcelona.  Simplest, fastest and usually cheapest.

small bullet point  Option 2, London to Valencia & Alicante by Eurostar & TGV with overnight hotel stop in Nimes.  Slightly slower, but avoids crossing Paris.

small bullet point  Option 3, London to Valencia & Alicante by Eurostar, French sleeper train & onward connections - the sleeper option!

Option 1, London to the Costa Blanca by high-speed train...

This is the fastest and most comfortable option, by high-speed train with an overnight stop in either Paris or Barcelona.

London ► Tarragona, Valencia, Alicante (morning departure)

London ► Tarragona, Valencia, Alicante (evening departure)

Alicante, Valencia, Tarragona ► London (morning departure)

Alicante, Valencia, Tarragona ► London (afternoon departure)

The Benidorm connection...

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets online...

How to buy tickets by phone...

...or ask Railbookers to arrange it as a package.

...or ask Byway to arrange it as a package.

Other routes & options...

What's the journey like?

1. London to Paris by Eurostar...

Eurostar trains link London & Paris in 2h20, travelling at up to 300 km/h (186 mph).  There are two bar cars, power sockets at all seats and free WiFi.  Standard Premier and Business Premier fares include a light meal with wine (or breakfast, on departures before 11:00).  There's a 30-minute minimum check-in at London St Pancras (45 minutes minimum at Paris Nord) as all border formalities are carried out before you board the train.  More information about Eurostar including check-in procedureSt Pancras station guide Paris Gare du Nord station guideHow to change trains & stations in Paris by metro or taxi.

Eurostar e320   Eurostar e320 first class seats

A Eurostar e320 at St Pancras.  More about Eurostar.

 

1st class:  Standard Premier or Business Premier.

Eurostar e320 2nd class   Eurostar e320 cafe-bar

Standard class seats.  Larger photo.

 

One of two cafe-bars, in cars 8 & 9.  Larger photo.

2. Paris to Barcelona by TGV Duplex...

Sit back with a glass of red and enjoy the ride - book an upper deck seat for the best views.  The train is equipped with power sockets for laptops & mobiles at all seats in both classes, and a cafe-bar serves drinks, snacks & microwaved hot dishes.  More information about Paris-Barcelona TGVsParis Gare de Lyon station guide Barcelona Sants station guide.

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de Lyon

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de Lyon. These 320 km/h double-deckers link Paris with Barcelona.  Watch TGV Duplex video.

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

Cafe-bar on upper deck car 4, serving tea, coffee, soft drinks, wine, beer, snacks & microwaved hot dishes....

 

2nd class seats on upper deck with a mix of tables for 4 & unidirectional seating.  360º photo.

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

1st class seats on upper deck, club duo on the left, club quatre on the right.  360º photo.

 

A TGV Duplex.  The 1 near the door indicates 1st class, a 2 indicates 2nd class.

Mt Canigou in the Pyrenees

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.

3. Barcelona to Valencia & Alicante by fast EuroMed train...

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. 

 

Standard (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

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

 

An S130 EuroMed train at Barcelona Franca.

Option 2, London to Valencia & Alicante with overnight stop in Nîmes...

This is well worth considering as it runs daily all year and avoids having to cross Paris.  I think Nîmes makes the best stopover point, but you could equally well stop for the night at Montpellier.

London ► Valencia, Alicante

Alicante, Valencia ► London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets...

What's the journey like?

1. London to Lille by Eurostar...

Eurostar trains link London & Lille in 1h22, travelling at up to 300 km/h (186 mph).  There are two bar cars, power sockets at all seats and free WiFi.  Standard Premier and Business Premier fares include a light meal with wine (or breakfast, on departures before 11:00).  There's a 30-minute minimum check-in at London St Pancras (45 minutes minimum at Paris Nord) as all border formalities are carried out before you board the train.  More information about Eurostar including check-in procedureSt Pancras station guide Lille station guide & tips on changing trains.

Eurostar e320   Eurostar e320 first class seats

A Eurostar e320 at St Pancras.  More about Eurostar.

 

1st class:  Standard Premier or Business Premier.

Eurostar e320 2nd class   Eurostar e320 cafe-bar

Standard class seats.  Larger photo.

 

One of two cafe-bars, in cars 8 & 9.  Larger photo.

2. Lille to Nimes by TGV...

TGV or Train á Grande Vitesse is French Railways high-speed train, with 1st & 2nd class and a cafe-bar.  They come in various types, some single-deck, some double-deck TGV Duplex, you could get either on cross-France routes from Lille.  Most have power sockets at seats, most now have free WiFi.  The photos below show a single-deck TGV with the Christian Lacroix designer interior.  The direct TGVs from Lille to Lyon by-pass Paris on a high-speed avoiding line via Charles de Gaulle Airport station.  More information about TGV.

2nd class on a Paris-Milan TGV   TGV from Paris arrived at Luxembourg

2nd class with mix of unidirectional seats & tables for 4.  Seats 2+2 across car width. Larger photo.

 

The business end of a TGV...

Cafe-bar on the Paris-Milan TGV   1st class on the Paris-Milan TGV

Cafe-bar selling tea, coffee, beer, wine, cold snacks & microwaved dishes.  Larger photo.

 

1st class with a mix of unidirectional seats, solo seats, tables for 2 & for 4.  Seats 2+1 across car width.  Larger photo.

3. Nimes to Barcelona by TGV Duplex

The Paris-Nimes-Barcelona trains are impressive 320 km/h (199 mph) TGV Duplex double-deck 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.  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 nicest option.  Free WiFi is coming to these trains at some point.  Paris Gare de Lyon station guide Barcelona Sants station guide.

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de Lyon

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de Lyon. These 320 km/h double-deckers link Paris with Barcelona.  Watch TGV Duplex video.

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

Cafe-bar on upper deck car 4, serving tea, coffee, soft drinks, wine, beer, snacks & microwaved hot dishes....

 

2nd class seats on upper deck with a mix of tables for 4 & unidirectional seating.  360º photo.

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

1st class upper deck seats, club duo on the left, club quatre on the right.  360º photo.

 

A TGV Duplex.  The 1 near the door indicates 1st class, a 2 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.

Mt Canigou in the Pyrenees

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 Girona to Perpignan, see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canigou.

Option 3, London to Valencia & Alicante via sleeper train

The Paris-Barcelona trainhotel was sadly discontinued in 2013, but you can still use a French sleeper train between Paris and the Spanish border, then onward trains.  This can be a useful alternative to using daytime TGV service, which requires an overnight stop along the way.  You can of course go one way by TGV, the other way using a sleeper train, just remember to book the Eurostar as a round trip, because Eurostar return fares are significantly less than two one-ways.

London ► Valencia, Alicante

  • Step 3, travel from Barcelona to Valencia or Alicante by EuroMed train, leaving Barcelona Sants at 16:10, arriving Valencia Joaquin Sorolla at 18:50 & Alicante at 20:37.

Alicante, Valencia ► London

How much does it cost?

  • London to Paris by Eurostar starts at £52 one-way or £78 return in standard class, £115 one-way, £199 return standard premier (1st class).

  • Paris to Latour de Carol or Cerbère starts at €20 in a reclining seat, €35 in a 6-berth 2nd class couchette or €63 in a 4-berth 1st class couchette.  A couchette is recommended whatever your budget, for comfort & security.  Like Eurostar, fares vary dynamically.

  • If you go via Latour de Carol, Latour to Barcelona costs a fixed-price €12.  If you go via Cerbère, Cerbère to Barcelona costs a fixed-price €14 or so.  No reservation or pre-booking is necessary or possible for these tickets.

  • Barcelona to Valencia or Alicante starts at around €23.  Fares vary like air fares, book ahead for the cheapest prices.

How to buy tickets...

  • Step 1, book from London to Latour de Carol or Cerbère at www.raileurope.com or www.thetrainline.com and add to basket.  Anyone can use these sites, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, and you can print your own tickets or show them on your smartphone.  Small booking fee.

    Although you can book from London to Latour or Cerbère all in one go, it's better to split the booking like this:  First book from London (or any station in Britain) to Paris and back, add to basket, then book the overnight train from Paris to Latour de Carol or Cerbère one-way and add to basket, then book Latour de Carol or Cerbère to Paris one-way and add to basket.

    This way you can mix & match a 2nd class seat on Eurostar with a 1st class 4-berth couchette on the overnight train, and you can book an earlier Eurostar if it has cheaper seats available or if you'd like more time in Paris.  Always allow at least 60 minutes between trains in Paris, when catching a sleeper I'd allow more than this, say 2 hours.

    Alternatively, you can book from London to Paris at www.eurostar.com, then book the Paris to Latour couchette train at the French Railways website www.sncf-connect.com, this is more work and www.sncf-connect.com can be more fiddly to use, but there's no booking fee.

  • Step 2, still on www.raileurope.com or www.thetrainline.com, book from Barcelona to Valencia or Alicante, add to basket & check out.

    Alternatively you can book this at the Spanish Railways website www.renfe.com, in €, much more fiddly, see my advice for using it.

  • Step 3, the local ticket from Latour de Carol to Barcelona cannot be booked online and doesn't need to be booked in advance.  It can't even be bought from the SNCF ticket office at Latour de Carol.  Southbound, simply get on the train and pay the conductor on board, no reservation necessary, it cannot sell out.  I repeat, simply get on the train and pay on board!  Northbound, buy a ticket to Latour de Carol on the day at Barcelona Sants station and hop on the next train.  It cannot sell out, it's only a local train.

    Similarly, Cerbère to Barcelona can be bought at the station on the day.

Intercite de nuit overnight train in Paris

An intercité de nuit sleeper train boarding at Paris Gare d'Austerlitz.  Photo courtesy of Philip Dyer-Perry.

InterCite de Nuit 1st class couchette, 4-berth   InterCite de Nuit 2nd class couchette, 6-berth   French couchette car corridor

1st class 4-berth couchettes, as recently refurbished.  Courtesy of @Bristol_Phil.  Photo in 2nd class courtesy Dan Chester.

 

2nd class 6-berth couchettes

 

Couchette car corridor.  Courtesy Dan Chester.

InterCite de Nuit 2nd class upper berth couchettes   InterCite de Nuit couchette

Upper berths, 2nd class, showing compartment lighting & temperature controls above door.  Courtesy of Dan Chester.

 

Each couchette is provided with pillow, lightweight sleeping bag, bottled water & kit with ear plugs and eye mask.

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large bullet pointLondon to Cadiz, Algeciras etc.

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

  • Day 1, travel from Paris to Barcelona by TGV Duplex, leaving Paris Gare de Lyon at 14:56 and arriving Barcelona Sants 21:25.

    The TGV Duplex is a 320 km/h (199 mph) double-deck high-speed train with 1st & 2nd class, café-bar, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  I recommend an upper deck seat for the best views, any seat number >60 is upper deck.

    The train speeds along the Rhône valley past pretty French villages & picturesque churches, then look out for colonies of flamingos on the étangs in southern France, the Fort de Salses on the right approaching Perpignan and great views of Mt Canigou as the train rounds the southern end of the Pyrenees.

  • Stay overnight in Barcelona, see suggested hotels near the station.  The Hotel Barcelo Sants is the top choice.

  • Day 2, take an air-conditioned train from Barcelona into the heart of Spain...

    For Algeciras & Ronda:  Travel from Barcelona to Madrid by AVE S-103 high-speed train leaving Barcelona Sants at 11:00 and arriving Madrid Atocha at 13:45, then travel from  Madrid to Algeciras by Intercity train, leaving Madrid Atocha at 15:05 and arriving Ronda at 19:02 & Algeciras at 20:32.

    For Murcia:  Travel by direct Intercity train leaving Barcelona Sants at 12:00 arriving at Murcia at 19:00.

    For Cartagena:  Travel by direct Intercity train leaving Barcelona Sants at 15:00 arriving Cartagena at 22:55.  Earlier departures are available with a change of train.

    For Almeria:  Travel from Barcelona to Almeria leaving Barcelona Sants by air-conditioned Intercity train at 09:30, making a simple change of train at Alcazar de San Juan and arriving Almeria at 21:59.

    For Jerez & Cadiz:  Travel from Barcelona to Jerez or Cadiz with a simple change at Seville, leaving Barcelona Sants by AVE S-112 high-speed train at 08:30 and arriving Jerez de la Frontera at 15:47 and Cadiz at 16:27.

  • Remember that at Spanish stations there's a brief X-ray baggage check at the entrance to the platforms for long-distance & high-speed trains.  If you have a 1st class ticket you can use the Sala Club 1st class lounge at Barcelona Sants for up to 2 hours before your train leaves.

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

  • Day 1, take an air-conditioned train to Barcelona...

    From Algeciras or Ronda:  Travel from Algeciras to Barcelona, leaving Algeciras at 10:30 & Ronda at 12:24 by regional train, changing at Antequera Santa Ana and arriving Barcelona Sants at 20:22.

    From Cartagena or Murcia:  Take the direct Intercity train leaving Cartagena at 12:46 or Murcia at 13:47 arriving Barcelona Sants at 20:40.

    From Almeria:  Leave Almeria at 07:05 by Intercity train, change onto another Intercity at Linares-Baeza and arrive Barcelona Sants at 20:00.

    From Jerez or Cadiz:  Leave Cadiz at 12:40 or Jerez de la Frontera at 13:15 by Media Distancia regional train and change at Seville onto an AVE S-112 high-speed train arriving Barcelona Sants at 20:22. 

  • Day 2, travel from Barcelona to Paris by TGV Duplex, leaving Barcelona Sants at 10:33 and arriving Paris Gare de Lyon at 17:18.

    The TGV Duplex is a 320 km/h (199 mph) double-deck high-speed train with 1st & 2nd class, café-bar, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.

    Book an upper deck seat for the best views as the train rolls past Mt Canigou in the Pyrenees, colonies of flamingos on the étangs in southern France, then speeds along the Rhone Valley towards Paris.  In Barcelona, there's a brief X-ray baggage check at the entrance to the platforms.

    Cross Paris by metro or taxi, just 2 stops on RER line D.  Why not have an early dinner in Paris and catch a later Eurostar?  The Brasserie Terminus Nord (www.terminusnord.com) is good and typically French, and it's directly opposite the Gare du Nord.

How much does it cost?

  • London to Paris by Eurostar starts at £52 one-way or £78 return in standard class, £115 one-way, £199 return standard premier (1st class).

  • Paris to Barcelona starts at €39 each way in 2nd class, €59 each way in 1st class.

  • Barcelona to Cadiz, Jerez, Algeciras or Ronda by AVE+IC train starts at around €55 in Standard class.

  • Fares vary like air fares, so book as early as you can and shop around for the cheapest departure.  Children under 4 free.

How to buy tickets online...

  • Buy tickets from London or any station in Britain to any station in Spain using raileurope.com as explained here.

  • If overnighting in Barcelona, you should book from London (or another British station) to Barcelona on day 1, add to basket, then book from Barcelona to Cadiz, Algeciras etc. on day 2, add to basket and check out, paying for both journeys as one transaction.

  • If overnighting in Paris, you should book from London (or any other station in Britain) to Paris on day 1, add to basket, then book from Paris to Cadiz, Algeciras etc. on day 2, add to basket, and check out, paying for both journeys as one transaction.

How to buy tickets by phone...

  • It's better to book online to avoid additional phone booking fees and so you can see for yourself which departures are cheapest for each stage of the journey.  Most ticketing agencies only work office hours on weekdays, but online booking is possible 24/7.  However, if you want to book by phone, see my list of UK ticketing agencies with phone numbers & opening hours.

...or let Railbookers arrange it.

  • If you need hotels as well, the easy option is to get specialist agency Railbookers to arrange your whole trip as a package, with trains, hotels & transfers sorted in one phone call.  As they are selling you a package they'll look after you if anything happens such as a strike or major delay.  Tell them when and where you want to go and they'll advise you on the best trains, routes & hotels.  They get very positive reviews.

    UK flag  UK call 0207 864 4600, www.railbookers.co.uk

    US flag  US call free 1-888-829-4775, see website.

    Canadian flag  Canada call free 1-855-882-2910, see website.

    Australian flag  Australia call toll-free 1300 971 526, see website

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

Other routes & options...

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large bullet pointLondon to San Sebastian

To Basque country by train...

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 a day, by 07:01 Eurostar

  • Step 3, travel from Hendaye to San Sebastian Amara station on the excellent air-conditioned Euskotren metro, www.euskotren.eus.

    At Hendaye, you walk out of the main station exit and the small Euskotren station is to your right in the corner of the forecourt, see the photo below.  Buy a ticket from the machines or staffed ticket office, go through the ticket gates and hop on the next train.  The station only has one platform and all trains go to San Sebastian, a 37 minute journey.  Metro trains leave every 30 minutes until about 23:00.  The station in central San Sebastian is San Sebastian-Donostia Amara, called San Sebastian-Donostia on the information screens but plain 'Amara' on the station nameboards when you get there.  The final destination of the train is usually shown as Lasarte.  See the Euskotren photos below

London ► San Sebastian in a day, by 07:55 Eurostar on Saturdays

  • Step 2, travel from Paris to Hendaye by TGV Duplex Océane, leaving Paris Gare Montparnasse at 14:06 & arriving Hendaye at 18:47.

    This runs on Saturdays.  The impressive double-deck TGV Duplex Océane has a cafe-bar, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi, see the TGV photos below.  I recommend an upper deck seat for the best views, any seat number >60 is upper deck.  Times vary so check for your date at www.raileurope.com or www.thetrainline.com.  Hendaye is on the French side of the Spanish border.

  • Step 3, travel from Hendaye to San Sebastian on the excellent air-conditioned metro run by Euskotren, www.euskotren.eus.

    At Hendaye, you walk out of the main station exit and the tiny Euskotren station is to your right in the corner of the forecourt, see the photo below.  Buy a ticket from the machines or staffed ticket office, go through the ticket gates and hop on the next train.  The station only has one platform and all trains go to San Sebastian, a 37 minute journey.  Metro trains leave every 30 minutes until about 23:00.  The station in central San Sebastian is San Sebastian-Donostia Amara, called San Sebastian-Donostia on the information screens but plain 'Amara' on the station nameboards when you get there.  The final destination of the train is usually shown as Lasarte.  See the Euskotren photos below

London ► San Sebastian in a day, by 10:22 Eurostar, daily except Saturdays

London ► San Sebastian by 20:01 Eurostar, overnight stop in Paris

San Sebastian ► London in a day by 09:36 TGV...

San Sebastian ► London in a day by 12:59 TGV...

San Sebastian ► London by 18:12 TGV with overnight stop in Paris

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets...

How to buy tickets by phone...

...or let Railbookers arrange it.

What's the journey like?

1. London to Paris by Eurostar...

Eurostar trains link London & Paris in 2h20, travelling at up to 300 km/h (186 mph).  There are two bar cars, power sockets at all seats and free WiFi.  Standard Premier and Business Premier fares include a light meal with wine (or breakfast, on departures before 11:00).  There's a 30-minute minimum check-in at London St Pancras (45 minutes minimum at Paris Nord) as all border formalities are carried out before you board the train.  More information about Eurostar including check-in procedureSt Pancras station guide Paris Gare du Nord station guideHow to cross Paris by metro or taxi.

Eurostar e320   Eurostar e320 first class seats

A Eurostar e320 at St Pancras.  More about Eurostar.

 

1st class:  Standard Premier or Business Premier.

Eurostar e320 2nd class   Eurostar e320 cafe-bar

Standard class seats.  Larger photo.

 

One of two cafe-bars, in cars 8 & 9.  Larger photo.

2. Paris to Hendaye by TGV...

Paris-Hendaye trains are now double-deck TGV Duplex high-speed trains.  Most on this route have the new Océane interior, with cafe-bar, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  There are now automatic ticket gates at the entrance to the platforms at Paris Montparnasse, just scan the barcode on your ticket.  Paris Montparnasse station guide.

TGV from Paris Gare Montparnasse to Hendaye, for the train to San Sebastian

Boarding the TGV Duplex at Paris Montparnasse... Click the images below for larger photos...

TGV Océane cafe-bar   TGV Océane 2nd class seats

TGV Océane cafe-bar, upper deck car 4 (or 14)

 

TGV Océane 2nd class...

TGV Océane 1st class seats   TGV Océane 1st class seat   TGV Océane 1st class drop-down table

TGV Océane 1st class.  An innovation on TGV Océane, all 1st class seats (except the end ones) rotate to face direction of travel, or can be rotated to make a face-to-face group of 2 or 4 seats.  The drop-down tables open to reveal USB & 2-pin power sockets.

TGV from Paris arrived at Hendaye

The TGV Duplex arrives at Hendaye after a dash across France at up to 300 km/h.  Incidentally, Hendaye station is where Hitler met Franco on 23 October 1940.  You'll be treading the same platforms!  Photo courtesy of Alan Uxbridge.

3. Hendaye to San Sebastian by Euskotren...

At Hendaye station, the little Euskotren station is outside to your right, 100m 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 or buy at the staffed ticket counter.  Then go through the gates onto the platform.  All trains 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.

Hendaye SNCF station   Hendaye station Euskotren ticket machine

At Hendaye, get off the TGV, walk off the platform through the SNCF station ticket hall...

 

...there's an Euskotren ticket machine to the right of the exit doors, you can either buy a ticket here or in the Euskotren station...

Hendaye SNCF & Euskotren stations

Walk out of Hendaye station & turn right.  The Euskotren station is 50m across the forecourt.  Courtesy of Geoff Phillips.

Hendaia Euskoten station, for trains to San Sebastian   Inside Euskotren station at Hendaye

The new Hendaye Euskotren station, for trains to San Sebastian.  Photo courtesy of Geoff Phillips.

 

Hendaye Euskotren station, looking back towards the station building.  Photo courtesy of Nicholas Brooke.

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

There are now two platforms.  It's where the trains start, so no worries, you can't get on the wrong train, they all go to San Sebastian-Donostia Amara!  These air-conditioned metro trains leave every 30 minutes, a turn-up-and-go metro service.  There's plenty of space for luggage and they even have a wheelchair-accessible toilet.

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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large bullet pointLondon 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...

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large bullet pointLondon to Segovia, Toledo, Avila & Salamanca

Train from Madrid to Toledo   2nd class on train from Madrid to Toledo

The train from Madrid to Toledo, at Madrid Atocha station.  Courtesy of DiscoverByRail.com.

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large bullet pointLondon to Santiago de Compostela, Vigo & A Coruña

Via San Sebastian or via Barcelona?

Option 1 is to go via San Sebastian, a lovely city for a stopover.  This is the quickest and usually cheapest route.  However, if you'd like a simpler journey with fewer changes and a chance to stop off in Barcelona, consider option 2.  Why not go out one way and back another?  Apart from the London-Paris Eurostar (which should always be booked as a round trip as return fares are significantly cheaper than two one-ways), all these trains are one-way ticketed, so there is no cost penalty in going out one way and back the other.

Option 1, London to Galicia via San Sebastian...

This is a comfortable all-daytime journey through interesting scenery with an overnight stop in a hotel in lovely San Sebastian. 

London ► Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña, Vigo

Vigo, A Coruña, Santiago de Compostela ► London

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

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets...

How to buy tickets by phone...

What's the journey like?

1. London to Paris by Eurostar...

Eurostar trains link London & Paris in 2h20, travelling at up to 300 km/h (186 mph).  There are two bar cars, power sockets at all seats and free WiFi.  Standard Premier and Business Premier fares include a light meal with wine (or breakfast, on departures before 11:00).  There's a 30-minute minimum check-in at London St Pancras (45 minutes minimum at Paris Nord) as all border formalities are carried out before you board the train.  More information about Eurostar including check-in procedureSt Pancras station guide Paris Gare du Nord station guideHow to cross Paris by metro or taxi.

Eurostar e320   Eurostar e320 first class seats

A Eurostar e320 at St Pancras.  More about Eurostar.

 

1st class:  Standard Premier or Business Premier.

Eurostar e320 2nd class   Eurostar e320 cafe-bar

Standard class seats.  Larger photo.

 

One of two cafe-bars, in cars 8 & 9.  Larger photo.

2. Paris to Hendaye by TGV Duplex Océane...

Paris-Hendaye trains are now double-deck TGV Duplex high-speed trains.  Most on this route have the new Océane interior, with free WiFi & cafe-bar.  There are now automatic ticket gates at the entrance to the platforms at Paris Montparnasse, just scan the barcode on your ticket.  Paris Montparnasse station guide.

TGV from Paris Gare Montparnasse to Hendaye, for the train to San Sebastian

Boarding the TGV Duplex at Paris Montparnasse... Click the images below for larger photos...

TGV Océane cafe-bar   TGV Océane 2nd class seats

TGV Océane cafe-bar, upper deck car 4 (or 14)

 

TGV Océane 2nd class seats...

TGV Océane 1st class seats   TGV Océane 1st class seat   TGV Océane 1st class drop-down table

TGV Océane 1st class seats.  An innovation on TGV Océane, all 1st class seats (except the very end ones) rotate to face the direction of travel, or can be rotated to make a face-to-face group of 2 or 4 seats.  The drop-down tables open to reveal USB and 2-pin power sockets.

TGV from Paris arrived at Hendaye

The TGV Duplex arrives at Hendaye after a dash across France at up to 186mph.  Photo courtesy of Alan Uxbridge.

3. Hendaye to San Sebastian by Euskotren:  See the photos in the San Sebastian section above

4. San Sebastian to Santiago de Compostela, Coruna, Vigo...  If you get any more photos of these trains or the journey, please let me know!

Alvia & Intercity trains at Vittoria

The connection at Vitoria-Gasteiz:  On the right, the Intercity train from San Sebastian has arrived at Vitoria/Gasteiz.  On the left, the Alvia train from Barcelona to Galicia picks up passengers.  These Alvia-S130 trains are nick-named Patito (little duck) by staff, no prizes for guessing why.  They have adjustable axles so can run on standard-gauge high-speed lines at up to 250 km/h or on Iberian broad gauge classic lines at lower speed. Photo courtesy of Ekain Munduate.

Turista seats on the intercity train   Turista Plus seats on an Alvia train

Standard class seats on the Intercity train, 2+2 across the car width.

Comfort class seats on an Alvia train, 1+2 across the car width.

Scenery in Galicia seen from the train

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

Option 2, London to Galicia via Barcelona...

This takes a couple of hours longer overall compared to option 1 and usually costs a few euros more, but it's a simpler journey using a direct train from Paris to Barcelona and a direct train from Barcelona to Galicia, with no need to walk across San Sebastian!

London ► Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña, Vigo

Vigo, A Coruña, Santiago de Compostela ► London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets...

How to buy tickets by phone...

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large bullet pointLondon 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 Menorca without flying.  You take a Eurostar to Paris & TGV to Barcelona, then take the daily overnight ferry from Barcelona to the islands.  Alternatively, there's an even easier route from the UK to Menorca & Alcudia in Mallorca using an overnight ferry from Toulon in the south of France which runs several times a week in summer.

London to Ibiza...

London to Mallorca via Barcelona...

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.

London to Mallorca & Menorca via Toulon...

This is in many ways the most convenient option, using a summer-only ferry which sails several times a week from Toulon in the south of France.

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large bullet pointLondon 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 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.

Option 3:  UK to the Canary Islands by train & ferry, with Fred Olsen via Huelva...

Fred Olsen Ferries sails twice a week all year round from Huelva in southern Spain to Tenerife & Gran Canaria.  It's a joint service with Balearia Ferries, which started in 2018.  The service uses a comfortable modern ship.

How to buy tickets...

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large bullet pointUK to Spain by ferry

  Brittany Ferries' ferry 'Pont Aven'

Cruise to Spain with www.brittany-ferries.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-school 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?

See the ferry to Spain page...

Watch the video...

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

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large bullet pointHolidays to Spain by train..

 

Railbookers logo

0207 864 4600 (UK)

1-888-829-4775 (USA)

1300 971 526 (Aus)

0800 000 554 (NZ)

 

Great Rail Journeys logo

01904 527120

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 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 flag  UK call 0207 864 4600, www.railbookers.co.uk

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

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

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

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

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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large bullet pointEuropean 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 set up a private venture and resumed publication of the famous European Rail Timetable in March 2014.  You can buy it online at www.amazon.co.uk (UK addresses) or www.europeanrailtimetable.eu (shipping worldwide).  More information on what the European Rail Timetable contains.

Rail Map Europe is the map I recommend, covering all of Europe from Portugal in the west to Moscow & Istanbul in the east, Finland in the north to Sicily & Athens in the south.  Scenic routes & high-speed lines are highlighted.  See an extract from the map.  Buy online at www.europeanrailtimetable.eu (shipping worldwide) or for £9.67 at www.amazon.co.uk (UK addresses).

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large bullet pointGuidebooks

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!

Amazon logoClick 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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large bullet pointHotels & accommodation

Find hotels at Booking.comMy favourite hotel search site: www.booking.com

www.booking.com is my favourite hotel booking site and I generally prefer booking my hotels all 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 feature I use all the time when putting a trip together.  I never book hotels non-refundably.  I have also come to trust their review scores - you won't be disappointed with anything over 8.0.

Tip:  It can pay to compare prices across multiple hotel sites:  HotelsCombined.com is a price comparison site which compares hotel prices on Booking.com, Hotels.com, Expedia, Accor, Agoda and many others.  Though if there's not much in it, I prefer keeping all my bookings together in one place at www.booking.com.

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...

AirBnB:  www.airbnb.com...

www.airbnb.com began in 2008 when two designers who had space to share hosted three travellers looking for a place to stay.  AirBnB is a platform which connects hosts with guests, so you can now book a room in people's homes, or an apartment, flat or house which people want to rent out.  It can be nicer than a hostel, cheaper than many hotels.

Backpacker hostels: www.hostelworld.com...

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

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large bullet pointCar hire

Car Hire logoCompare 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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large bullet pointTravel insurance & VPN

 

Staysure travel insurance

 

Confused.com logo

Always take out travel insurance...

You should take out travel insurance with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover from a reliable insurer.  It should cover trip cancellation and loss of cash & belongings up to a reasonable limit.  These days, check you're covered for covid-19-related issues, and use an insurer whose cover isn't invalidated by well-meant but excessive Foreign Office travel advice against non-essential travel. An annual policy is usually cheapest even for just 2 or 3 trips a year, I use an annual policy myself.  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, I get a little commission if you buy through these links, feedback always welcome.

UK flagwww.staysure.co.uk offers enhanced Covid-19 protection & covers you even if the FCDO advises against non-essential travel.

UK flag

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65, see www.JustTravelCover.com.

UK flagYou can use www.confused.com to compare prices & policy features across major insurance companies.

 US flag If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

 

Curve card

Get a Curve card to save on foreign transaction fees...

Banks often give a poor exchange rate, then charge a currency conversion fee as well.  A Curve MasterCard means no foreign transaction fees and gives you the mid-market exchange rate, at least up to a certain limit, £500 per month as I write this.  The balance goes straight onto one of your existing debit or credit cards.  And you can get a Curve card for free.

How it works:  1. Download the app for iPhone or Android.  2. Enter your details & they'll send you a Curve MasterCard - they send to most European addresses including the UK.  3. Link your existing credit & debit cards to the app.  4. Now use the Curve MasterCard to buy things online or in person or take cash from ATMs, just like a normal MasterCard. Curve does the currency conversion and puts the balance onto whichever of your debit or credit cards you choose.  You can even change your mind about which card it goes onto, within 14 days of the transaction.

I use a Curve Blue card myself - I get a little commission if you sign up to Curve, but I'm recommending it here because I think it's great.  See details, download the app and get a Curve card - they'll give you £5 cashback through that link, too.

 

Express VPN

Get a VPN for safe browsing.  VPNs & why you need one explained...

When you're travelling you often use free WiFi in public places which may not be secure.  A VPN means your connection to the internet is encrypted & always secure, even using unsecured WiFi.  In countries such as China where access to Twitter & Facebook is restricted, a VPN gets around these restrictions.  And lastly, you can select the geographic location of the IP address you browse with, to get around geographic restrictions which some websites apply - for example one booking site charges a booking fee to non-European visitors but none to European visitors, so if you're not located in Europe you can avoid this fee by browsing with a UK IP address using a VPN.  VPNs & why you need one explainedExpressVPN is a best buy and I use it myself - I've signed up as an ExpressVPN affiliate, and if you go with expressvpn.com using the links on this page, you should see a special deal, 3 months free with an annual subscription, and I get a small commission to help support this site.

 


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