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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
    Train Ride |
    "A wonderful experience. The train station was within walking distance to our hotel, even though I took a taxi. some members of the group walked "

  • Convenience
    Convenient and Confortable |
    "All in all the trip was convenient and confortable. But most of all, it is a very quick which is very important. If the ticket was less expensive it would be the perfect way to travel !!! "

  • very good |
    "I have traveled from Cyprus to Gandia as a participant of the ERASMUS .I have used all transportation to arrive to my destination.It was very easy to use all types of transport in Spain. The service was excellent.All transports in time without delay.Clean buses and trains and the drivers offered to us all the information we needed just to be early to our destination.I am thankful. "

  • Convenience
    Easy to book, board and travel |
    "Found the whole experience excellent. Booked on line in New Zealand - train station in Barcelona was more like an airport terminal and very straightforward to find our platform and then our seats. Trip was smooth, super fast and interesting as well. Can't fault it and look froward to the next European train ride. 2nd class was more than acceptable. "

  • Convenience
    A great way to travel ! |
    "My family and I (4 people in all) had an excellent time traveling on the AV 03103 train from Madrid to Barcelona, * It was easy to book on the rail-europe website (no hidden fees and good prices) * The process of taking the train from Madrid was very straightforward with the online printed tickets * The 1st Class compartment was very comfortable and we were able to easily take and store the 4 large suitcases and our carry-on bags (nice to see trolleys being made available). * The food and wine/beverages were tasty * The train ride was very comfortable and traveling at 300km/hour was great ! I would recommend it anytime ! Thanks, Ravi "

  • very good |
    "It was a good experince ,the only inconvienet we fell that there was no sufficeent space to store our lugggage. "

  • Convenience
    Great service but improvements |
    "This is a great service between Madrid and Barcelona. We travelled 1st Class and our only complaint would be pre-lunch drinks when we asked for red wine and were told that only white wine was available for that drink service - yet everyone else was asking for red wine and getting it ? we pointed this out but it made no difference - the staff member would not change her mind.All drinks were available when the lunch was served. "

  • Convenience
    Nice and fast and on time. |
    "Recommend this way of traveling between Malaga and Madrid, just as fast and not more expensive. "

  • Convenience
    Madrid to Malaga AVE |
    "This is the first time I have travelled in Spain on AVE Train. We booked 1st class seats which were large and comfortable, and the coach was well laid out. Both of our trains were exactly on time, and we also made use of the train running from Madrid Airport to Atocha Station, which was included in the price of our AVE ticket. Overall very impressed and will definately travel again this way in the future. (Unfortunately was not able to allocate stars for value for money but would rate as very good). "

  • Convenience
    Online purchase of tickets |
    "Purchasing the ticket online made the trip convenient. "

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