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Spain’s geography is quite unique in Europe : Madrid, its centrally-located capital city, stands surrounded by a host of regional capitals spread along the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts.

Spain’s geography is quite unique in Europe : Madrid, its centrally-located capital city, stands surrounded by a host of regional capitals spread along the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts, including Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, and Bilbo. And that’s probably why planes would easily have replaced trains if not for two major rail rejuvenation projects in the Eighties : the AVE, super-fast trains that run up to 220mph while linking major cities with Madrid, and hotel-trains, Spain’s “hotels on wheels” that serve routes with lesser traffic. Both are highly convenient, offer a superior experience, and boast one of the best on-board (fresh) food service in Europe.

Seasoned American travelers typically use AVE when visiting Madrid, Barcelona, and Seville. Yet, why not be a bit inventive and explore such hidden gems as Valencia, Bilbo (a city re-energized by contemporary art), and Malaga. Don’t hesitate to hop on a hotel train (Premier compartments offer privacy and comfort, with shower), and discover what makes Spain so wonderfully diverse.

And if you want to seriously venture off the beaten-track, take an AVE train from Madrid or Barcelona to Zaragoza. There, take “El camello” (the camel), a back-in-the-day regional train. The track snakes between medieval castles in the ocher-tinted Aragon desert and ends up in a stunningly surreal place in the heart of the Pyrenees Mountains : Canfranc Railway Station. The largest in Europe when it opened in 1928, it was an ambitious project meant to link the France and Spain network. But the Great Depression and the Spanish civil war affirmed its demise. Yet, its architecture remains incredible, and you’ll feel like you’re frozen in time as you walk past abandoned tracks, buildings, and carriages. As for the Spanish rail-side, it’s now being restored to its original glory, with a luxury hotel and casino. Did we hear someone say “dinero ?”

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Reviews & ratings

  • Convenience
    Couldnt get better |
    "Chose first class instead of 2nd, as the fare difference was negligible ! What comfort and class ! Expensive by Indian standards, but in the overall scheme, worth every Rupee spent ! Will always prefer travelling this way, time and cost permitting ! "

  • Convenience
    Great easy trip. |
    "Very scenic ride through the Spanish back country. Very pretty. The seats were very comfortable and roomy. Very clean cabin. The train tickets were a bit pricey but I reckon because it was during the week before Easter Sunday. "

  • Convenience
    First timer |
    "First time using the service and it was a fantastic experience. Would definitely consider utilizing the mode of travel during our next visit in Spain.Well done ! "

  • Convenience
    Great |
    "It was a comfortable ride and the price was fine. I couldn't click the "value for money" stars though. "

  • Value for money
    all very good |
    "Journey was very good, very smooth and cheap "

  • Convenience
    Highly recommended |
    "I think it is the best way to travel within Europe cheap, comfort and very easy. "

  • Convenience
    BCN-Val-BCN |
    "Good train, good service, train on time. "

  • Convenience
    Comportable trip to Madrid  |
    "The entire trip was a wonderful experience in terms of quality of train service. It was easy for the entire process including booking, boarding,etc,. Everything is on schedule. There are many station staff around to respond to the questions that the passsengers might have. One minor issue is that you need to walk a long way to find the right exit gate. Anyway, it deserved a 5-star ranking ! "

  • Convenience
    Hasslefree Experience |
    "Booking via raileurope was a hasslefree experience. boarded train without any delay. Trip was smooth and nice. "

  • Convenience
    Missing direction signes |
    "The signs to the train picup location were very poor... we hardly found it "

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