To buy train tickets within Spain, use the official Spanish Railways website www.renfe.com (but see this advice first)  It's easier to use Raileurope.com (in €, £ or $) or www.petrabax.com (US$).

bullet pointI want to go from Spain to...

    

     Click here for journeys starting in other countries

     See COVID-19 information & update

     Click here for Madrid Atocha station information

This page explains how to travel by train from Madrid, Malaga, Granada, Seville, Alicante, Valencia and other cities in Spain to other key European cities, and how to buy tickets the cheapest way.  Train information is current for 2020.

bullet pointBefore you buy your tickets...

Take a moment to read these tips for buying European train tickets.  It answers all the usual questions, "Do I need to book in advance or can I just buy at the station?", "Can I stop off?", "Are there Senior fares?" and that old favourite, "Should I buy an $800 railpass or just buy a €35 point-to-point ticket online?".  Click here to understand how far ahead you can buy train tickets.

bullet pointEuropean train travel FAQ...

An introduction to European train travel

 

Senior fares (over 60)

 

Guide to Eurail passes (overseas visitors)

Important tips for buying European train tickets

Youth fares (under 26)

 

Guide to Interrail passes (for Europeans)

How to check European train times

Child fares & child age limits

 

Couchettes & sleepers on night trains

Do I need to book in advance?

Luggage on European trains

 

Train seat numbering plans

How far ahead can I book?

Luggage storage at stations

 

Wheelchairs & special needs

Can I stop off on the way?

Taking a bike by train

 

Real-time service updates

Should I travel 1st or 2nd class?

Taking a car by train

 

Hotels & accommodation

How long to allow for connections?

Taking dogs & pets by train

 

Changing stations in Paris by metro or taxi

How early to arrive at the station?

Maps of the European rail network

 

What to do when things go wrong...


Buying train tickets for journeys within Spain See the train travel in Spain page...

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Spain to London from €91...

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Spain to Paris...

Madrid to Paris by high-speed TGV...

Option 1, Madrid to Paris in a single day - early departure from Madrid, arrival in Paris after lunch...

Option 2, Madrid to Paris in a single day - mid-morning departure from Madrid, evening arrival in Paris.

Option 3, Madrid to Paris in a single day, late morning departure from Madrid, late evening arrival in Paris.  Runs 29 May to 30 August 2020.

Option 4, Madrid to Paris with overnight stop in Barcelona - a time-effective option!

Option 5, Madrid to Paris with overnight stop in San Sebastian - alternative route, slower but cheaper, great stopover opportunity...

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de Lyon

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

Dinner from the cafe-bar...

 

View from the train, passing Bιziers...

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/CanigouMore photos of what to see on the Paris-Barcelona train journey.

Malaga, Seville, Granada, Alicante, Valencia to Paris...

Option 1, Spanish cities to Paris in a single day...

Option 2, Spanish cities to Paris with overnight stop in Barcelona - breaks the trip up nicely, recommended...

Option 3, in a single day.  Runs 29 May to 30 August 2020.

San Sebastian to Paris...

Santiago de Compostela, Vigo & A Coruna to Paris...

Option 1, by daytime trains with overnight stop at the French border.

Option 2, by sleeper train to Barcelona, day there, then late afternoon TGV to Paris...

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Spain to Bordeaux...

Option 1, Madrid to Bordeaux in a single day.  Lunch in San Sebastian?

Option 1, Madrid to Bordeaux with overnight stop in San Sebastian.  A morning to explore San Sebastian?

From Valencia. Alicante, Seville, Cordoba, Granada, Malaga you'd take a fast train to Madrid Atocha, transfer to Madrid Chamartin by suburban train, then travel Madrid to Bordeaux as above.  Check times at either Raileurope.com or www.thetrainline.com or renfe.com.

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Spain to Toulouse...

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Spain to Avignon, Marseille, Cannes & Nice...
 

2nd class seats on the S100 AVE, all with power sockets.  Luggage goes on the racks at the car ends or above the seats.  Panorama photo of 2nd class

 

These S100 AVE trains operate the TGV/AVE services from Madrid to Marseille, Barcelona to Lyon, Toulouse.  This is the morning train to Lyon, at Barcelona Sants.  More photos & info about AVE S100.

 

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

1st class seats on an S100 AVE.  Panorama photo of 1st class

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Spain to Brussels from €68...

Option 1, Spain to Brussels in a single day...

Option 2, with overnight stop in Barcelona...

Option 3, by high-speed TGV with overnight stop in Paris...  Runs from 29 May to 30 August 2020.

Second class seats on board a 'Thalys' high-speed train to Cologne 1st class seats on Thalys A Thalys for Amsterdam about to leave Brussels Midi...

2nd class (Comfort 2) seats...

1st class (Comfort 1) seats...

A Thalys at Brussels...

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Spain to Amsterdam from €74...

Option 1, by high-speed TGV with overnight stop in Barcelona...

Option 2, by high-speed train with overnight stop in Paris...

Option 3, by high-speed TGV with overnight stop in Paris - with later departure time, runs 29 May to 30 August 2020.

Second class seats on board a 'Thalys' high-speed train to Cologne 1st class seats on Thalys A Thalys for Amsterdam about to leave Brussels Midi...

2nd class (Comfort 2) seats...

1st class (Comfort 1) seats...

A Thalys at Brussels...

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Spain to Luxembourg...

By daytime TGV trains...

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Spain to Switzerland from €59...

Option 1, by high-speed trains with overnight stop in Barcelona...

Option 2, Madrid to Avignon or Marseille in the afternoon, overnight stop & morning free, then afternoon TGV to Geneva...

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Spain to Italy from €81...

Option 1, by high-speed train from Madrid to Marseille, overnight stop, Thello train from Marseille to Milan.

Barcelona to Marseille by AVE high-speed train...

 

2nd class seats on the S100 AVE, all with power sockets.  Luggage goes on the racks at the car ends or above the seats.  Panorama photo of 2nd class.

 

These S100 AVE trains operate the TGV/AVE services from Barcelona to Marseille.  See more photos & information about these AVE-S100 trains.

 

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

 

1st class seats on an S100 AVE.  Panorama photo of 1st class

Mt Canigou in the Pyrenees

Mt Canigou & the Pyrenees...  Seen from the train and one of the highest peaks in the mighty Pyrenees, the 2,784m (9,137 feet) high Mt Canigou dominates the skyline all the way from Girona to Perpignan...

The Vieux Port at Marseille

Bonjour Marseille!  The Eglise Notre Dame de la Garde, overlooking the Vieux Port.

Marseille to Milan by Thello train...

Thello train from Marseille & Nice to Milan, at Marseille St Charles   1st class seats on Thello train from Nice to Milan

The Thello train at Milan Centrale...  It uses comfortable air-conditioned Frecciabianca carriages, see more photos & information.

 

1st class seats on Thello.  All seats have power sockets.  Plenty of luggage room on racks & between seat backs...

2nd class seats on the Thello train from Nice to Milan   Cafe counter on the Thello train from Nice to Milan

2nd class seats on the Thello train.  All seats have power sockets, with plenty of luggage space on racks and between seat backs.

 

The small cafe-bar counter on the Milan to Nice & Marseille Thello train serving tea, coffee, wine, beer, soft drinks and snacks.

Coastal views from the train between Toulon and Nice

The view from the train between Marseille & Nice...

Option 2, by TGV to Geneva & scenic train through the Alps to Italy.  Runs every day.

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Spain to Portugal:  Madrid-Lisbon from €33, Barcelona-Lisbon from €78...

Madrid to Lisbon option 1:  By direct sleeper train Lusitania...

En route to Morocco by train: gran classe 2-bed sleeper (day mode)   en route to Morocco by train: Gran Classes 2-bed sleeper (night mode)   Paris to Madrid & Barcelona by trainhotel: Gran Classe sleepers have a private shower and toilet   Trainhotel at Madrid

Gran Clase sleeper, in evening mode with the seats folded out...

 

...return from dinner to find the attendant has made up the beds...

 

Gran Clase sleepers have a private toilet & shower...

 

The trainhotel from Madrid to Lisbon is an articulated Spanish Talgo train.  Seen here at Madrid Chamartin station.

Sud Express trainhotel cafe-bar...    

The trainhotel's cafι-bar serves drinks & food.  Grab a barstool early, it gets crowded later on!

   

4-berth tourist class sleepers (Turista Cama) are cosy & inexpensive...  They convert from beds to seats as shown.

Madrid to Lisbon option 2:  By daytime trains...

Since August 2017 it's once more possible to travel between Madrid and Lisbon by comfortable daytime trains, albeit with 2 changes.  Here's how:

Seats on the train from Madrid to Badajoz   Train from Madrid to Badajoz, at Madrid Atocha

The modern air-conditioned train from Madrid to Badajoz, at Madrid Atocha.  Courtesy of DiscoverByRail.com

Scenery between Badajoz and Madrid

Wonderful arid scenery on the Spanish plateau between Badajoz and Madrid.  Photo courtesy of DiscoverByRail.com.

Allan railcar from Badajoz to Entroncamento   Inside the Allan railcar

The single-coach Allan railcar from Badajoz to Entroncamento.  It's comfortable and looks modern, but in fact dates from 1954-55.  Photo courtesy of DiscoverByRail.com

Madrid to Porto or Faro...

Malaga, Cordoba or Seville to Lisbon...

San Sebastian to Lisbon...

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Spain to Andorra...

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Spain to Germany from €79...

Option 1, with overnight stop in Barcelona...

Option 2, with overnight stop in Paris...  Runs from 29 May to 30 August 2020.

Option 3, with overnight stop in Marseille...

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Spain to Vienna, Salzburg, Innsbruck & Austria from €88...

Option 2, Spain to Geneva by TGV, Zurich to Vienna by Night sleeper train - the most time-effective option...

    Double-deck sleeping-car on Vienna-Zurich Nigtjet at Zurich

4-berth couchettes, ideal for families.

 

2-berth standard sleeper with washbasin

 

Double-deck sleeping-car on the Vienna-Zurich Nightjet, at Zurich. Courtesy of DiscoverbyRail.com.

Option 2, Spain to Geneva by TGV, overnight stop, Geneva to Austria next day - the scenic option...

The morning RailJet train has arrived in Vienna.   Premium class seats on the Munich-Vienna RailJet train   Economy class seats on the Munich-Vienna RailJet train

"The RailJet has landed..."  A Railjet has arrived in Vienna spot on time.

 

Business class costs €15 more than normal 1st class...

 

Economy class on RailJet, comfortable open saloons with large picture windows.  Some seats are around tables, some unidirectional.

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Spain to Copenhagen, Stockholm, Oslo...
125 mph tilting 'X2000' from Copenhagen to Stockholm, at Copenhagen station 2nd class seats on the X2000 train from Copenhagen to Stockholm The self-service buffet on the X2000 train from Copenhagen to Stockholm...

Step 3, take a 125 mph X2000 train from Copenhagen to Stockholm....

 

2nd class seating on the X2000.  All seats have power sockets for laptops & mobiles...

 

Self-service buffet car on the X2000 to Stockholm.

More information about X2000 trains

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Spain to Prague...
City Night Line standard (economy) sleeper   City Night Line standard (economy) sleeper in day mode   Standard sleeper compartment, washstand   Comfortline sleeper corridor
Standard sleeper set up as a 2-berth, with blind down & washstand open.  Each room can be used with 1, 2 or 3 beds.   The same sleeper with berths folded away & seats folded out, washstand closed.  Very similar to a deluxe, but without the shower & toilet.   Economy sleeper compartments have a washstand with hot water, fresh towels, drinking water & soap.   Just like a hotel corridor...  The corridor in a Comfortline sleeping-car...

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Spain to Budapest...
Couchette car on the Kalman Imre to Budapest   4-berth couchettes on train to Budapest   6-berth couchettes on train to Budapest

The Zurich-Budapest sleeper at Zurich...

 

4-berth couchettes

 

6-berth couchettes...

Sleeper compartment in the Hungarian sleeping-car from Munich to Budapest   The sleeper train to Budapest

2-bed sleeper.  Larger photo

 

The Zurich-Budapest sleeper, at Budapest Keleti.  Watch the Hungarian sleeping-car video...  Courtesy of Matthew Williams.

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Spain to Ljubljana, Zagreb & Belgrade...

Option 1, using the Zurich-Zagreb sleeper...

Option 2, via Marseille & Venice...

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Spain to Warsaw, Kiev & Moscow...

Option 1, using the Paris-Moscow Express, runs once a week, recommended.

Option 2, via Paris & Warsaw, runs every day.

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bullet pointRailbookers custom-made tours

If you just want to buy train tickets at the cheapest price, book online as shown on this page.  However, if you want someone to sort out your whole trip for you, arranging all your trains, hotels and transfers, and to look after you if anything affects your arrangements, talk to Railbookers.  Railbookers can custom-make a train trip around Europe to your own specification.  Just tell them what you want and they'll advise you on the best trains, routes & hotels.  They get good reports and a lot of repeat business!  They now have offices in the UK, North America and Australia.

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.

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bullet pointFind hotels in Europe

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.

Other hotel sites worth trying...

Backpacker hostels...

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bullet pointTravel insurance & VPN

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

 

Confused.com logo

Always take out travel insurance...

Never travel overseas without travel insurance from a reliable insurer, with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover.  It should also cover cancellation and loss of cash and belongings, up to a sensible limit.  An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheaper than several single-trip policies even for just 2 or 3 trips a year, I have an annual policy myself.  Here are some suggested insurers.  Seat61 gets a small commission if you buy through these links.

UK flagIn the UK, reliable insurers include Columbus Direct.

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

UK flagYou can use Confused.com to compare prices & policies from many different insurers.

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

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

A Curve card saves on foreign transaction fees...

 

Curve card

Most banks give you a poor exchange rate, then charge you a currency conversion fee.  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 at time of writing.  The balance goes straight onto one of your existing debit or credit cards.

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 have a Curve Blue card myself - I get some commission if you sign up to Curve, but I'm recommending it here because 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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