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AVE Trains in Spain

High-speed rail routes from Madrid and Barcelona

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Alstom vs Talgo  Renfe AVE S100 vs Renfe AVE S102 en la madrileña Estación de Atocha
Ricardo Ricote Rodríguez @ricote flickr.com Creative Commons License
On board a high-speed train in Spain

On board a high-speed train in Spain

Image: (c) Damian Corrigan

The AVE is the high-speed train service in Spain. AVE trains are luxurious and are an efficient way to get around the country. If it wasn't for the AVE, certain day trips from Madrid wouldn't be possible.

See also: Best Train Journeys in Spain

The AVE Train from Madrid to Barcelona

The most popular AVE train route is from Madrid to Barcelona, but this is actually the only route where taking the train is not necessarily the best way to travel. There is now the Iberia Air Shuttle that has advantages of its own, such as the fact you don't need to book a specific flight, you can just turn up and get on the next plane. 

Read more about Madrid to Barcelona by Plane or Train?

Buying AVE train tickets

AVE train tickets can be bought in person at Madrid's Atocha Train Station or Barcelona's Sants Station.

But the easiest thing to do is book your tickets online. You can Book AVE Tickets from Rail Europe or from renfe.es.

AVE Routes from Madrid

Most AVE services radiate from Madrid. Click on the link to see travel times for these journeys compared to travel by bus or car.

Madrid to Barcelona Visit Spain's most popular city direct from Madrid. However, this is one route where flying is also a good alternative (see above). This journey takes two hours and thirty minutes. Compare times and prices with other forms of transport: Madrid to Barcelona 

Madrid to Seville (via Cordoba) The original AVE route, you can get from the capital to the jewel of southern Spain in two hours and thirty minutes. Or stop a bit earlier in Cordoba. Read more about Madrid to Seville and Madrid to Cordoba.

Madrid to Toledo Madrid's most popular day trip is just thirty minutes from the capital. Read about Madrid to Toledo.

Madrid to Valencia (via Cuenca) Visit Spain's third biggest city from Madrid in under one-and-three-quarter hours. I heartily remember staying in Cuenca for a night to see its famous hanging houses and to visit the city's world-class modern art museums (the tiny city has three of them!). See more on Madrid to Valencia and Madrid to Cuenca. The AVE route also continues on to Alicante. Read about Madrid to Alicante.

Madrid to Malaga Visit the south coast's biggest city in just two-and-a-half hours. See more: Madrid to Malaga. 

AVE Routes from Barcelona 

There are also now some excellent routes from Barcelona.

Barcelona to Madrid See above.

Barcelona to Paris Get to the French capital in six hours and twenty minutes, giving the flight route a run for its money in terms of convenience. The route is non-stop as of December 2013. Read more: Barcelona to Paris

Barcelona to Figueres Getting to the Salvador Dali museum from Barcelona used to be quite a pain but the new AVE route takes just 53 minutes. More: Barcelona to Figueres

Barcelona to Girona Travel between Catalonia's two most popular cities in just 37 minutes. More: Barcelona to Girona 

AVE Routes to France

In December 2013, the high-speed rail route between France and Spain was finally completed. AVE trains now zip between the following routes:

Barcelona to Paris Get to the French capital in a little over six hours. More convenient than flying! More: Barcelona to Paris

Barcelona to Lyon A five-hour train journey is all that separates these two cities. Read more: Barcelona to Lyon

Barcelona to Marseille It takes four-and-a-half hours to get from Barcelona to the French Riviera. In fact, this route starts in Madrid, but you're better off flying from Madrid. Read more: Barcelona to Marseille

Barcelona to Montpellier Getting to Montpellier by train now takes three hours. More: Barcelona to Montpellier

Barcelona to Toulouse Trips to Toulouse also now take just three hours. More: Barcelona to Toulouse

Long-Distance AVE Routes in Spain

Some services now go via Madrid but don't actually stop there. So you can now get from Seville to Valencia and from Barcelona to Malaga faster than ever before.

See also: AVE Routes in Spain

Guided Tours by AVE

With such an efficient train service available in Spain, it makes sense to use it for day trips that would normally be impossible due to the distance between the cities.

The AVE makes it possible to visit Seville as a day trip. However, if you're going to rush around one of Spain's best cities in a single day, you're going to need some help to get the most out of it. A guided tour, with the AVE tickets included in the price, is the best way to see Seville in a day:

Day Trip to Seville from Madrid by AVE (buy direct)

There are some longer tours that include Cordoba and/or Caceres. The trip normally starts out with a tour bus but makes the return journey by AVE:

  1. Two-Day Trip: Seville with Stop in Cordoba
  2. Two-Day Trip: Seville with Stop in Caceres
  3. Three-Day Trip: Seville, Caceres and Cordoba
  4. Three-Day Trip: Seville and Caceres (extra day in Seville)
  5. Three-Day Trip: Seville and Cordoba (extra day in Seville)

What's So Great About the AVE Train in Spain?

Read more on why Spain's AVE is the most convenient way to travel around the country.

Train enthusiasts may also be interested in the La Robla Train, a luxury train tour through green northern Spain.

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