Spain by train
Fancy leaving the driving gloves at home on your next tour of Spain?
Spain is renowned for excellent driving experiences due to good road conditions and stunning landscapes, but did you know you can explore this beautiful country by rail just as easily?
Travelling by train in Spain is very simple and the country has an excellent network of railways for both leisurely and high-speed journeys. Train travel allows you to relax and enjoy the passing scenery, and Spanish trains are efficient and kept in excellent condition, allowing you to enjoy your journey in comfort.
The state-owned rail company, Renfe, operates train lines across the country managing regional services and inter-city connections, including the AVE fast trains. The Renfe website (which is available in English) is quite easy to navigate around and provides comprehensive information regarding timetables and prices; there are even special tourist rates on some journeys.
If you are planning to explore Paradors by train, the best-connected routes are the areas around Madrid and the various towns and cities in Andalusia and, as more people are finding it easier to explore Spain by rail, we have come up with some suggested itineraries.
As the country’s capital, Madrid is naturally one of the best-connected locations for travel by train and you can reach some excellent Paradors within just a couple of hours. The satellite cities of Alcalá de Henares, Segovia, Toledo and Avila all have regular train services and there is a very good route from Madrid to Salamanca that includes stops at Avila and El Escorial.
In addition to the standard train services connecting cities and towns, there are a number of specialised tourist trains offering unique experiences including the ‘Medieval Train’ to Sigüenza which leaves from Madrid-Chamartin and includes a guided visit of Sigüenza’s historic points of interest and medieval-style entertainment en route. The ‘Tren de la Fresa’ (Strawberry train) was the first railway in Madrid, connecting the capital to the historic Royal City of Aranjuez. Today the train follows the same route and for those on board, you can enjoy the sight of staff in period-dress handing out strawberries along the way.
There are also a number of luxury routes where guests can step back in time and travel in style on a 5* hotel on wheels such as the luxury ‘el Transcantábrico Gran Lujo’ travlling between San Sebastian and Santiago de Compostela, and the Al Andalus train, lovingly named a "Palace on Wheels" due to its opulent décor and service, which traverses the plains of Andalucia.
To make train travel for tourists easier, Renfe have introduced a 'Spain Pass' which you can purchase to cover 4, 6, 8 or 10 journeys and is valid on most AVE Long Distance and Medium Distance journeys. They have a number of suggested routes where you can enjoy stays at spectacular Paradors including:
Train travel around Spain is easy, affordable and gives travellers the opportunity to relax and enjoy the rolling landscapes.
For information on the Spain Pass visit: http://www.renfe.com/EN/viajeros/viajes_internacionales/spainpass/index.html
For general information on timetables and pricing, visit Renfe’s website http://www.renfe.com/EN/viajeros/index.html