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cheapest train fares

We will need to take a train for four days while in Spain in September and October. I understand that there is a discount for two people traveling together and for senior citizens, but I can't seem to find the correct place to check on those. I went on the
raileurope site and checked and it will be cheaper to take the point to point tickets, but I don't see an option to reserve with the discounts. Can you please tell me how to access those? Also, can I buy my tickets for October 4, 2014 now as it is of the utmost importance that we take the morning train out of Granada to Madrid and get there on time?

Here is our itinerary :

Barcelona to Toledo September 21

Toledo to Seville September 23

Then we will have a car for awhile and then train:

Algeciras to Granada on October 1

Granada to Madrid October 4

Any suggestions are very welcome regarding the train travel. I have been on trains in Italy, France and England and Japan and find that each country has its own quirks so any advice would be great.

Posted by
984 posts

'I understand that there is a discount for two people traveling together ' - Not as far as I know, what is your source?

'I understand that there is a discount for senior citizens' - Yes, the Tarjeta Dorada, available from RENFE, the national rail company - - but, if you have a fixed itinerary, it is highly unlikely the discounting will beat online advance purchase discounting on some journeys.

'I went on the raileurope site' - Very unwise to deal with this agency in any respect.

'I don't see an option to reserve' - You will certainly not be able to reserve with any body, purchase certainly.

'Also, can I buy my tickets for October 4, 2014 now' - No, you are too early, but almost certainly about 90 days prior.

'Barcelona to Toledo' and 'Toledo to Seville' are both two leg journeys via Madrid.

I strongly suggest you read a guide on the subject. This is hugely comprehensive and covers all known trials and tribulations -

Posted by
20 posts

Hi Kathi-
Have you tried for Spain tickets? I know has even cheaper tickets but I didn't want to go through the hassle of trying to purchase from them.....look at other threads. It seems like a very convoluted procedure.
Petrabax is much cheaper than RailEurope if you can get advance tickets, which it seems like you can especially since your trip is in Sept and October. Petrabax typically opens up seats 60-62 days in advance but I would even check seats now to see if any are available at the discounted prices.
As far as I know, Petrabax doesn't offer senior or group discounts but am not sure. You can always call their phone number which is posted on their website. They have an office based out in Los Angeles, CA so you don't need to speak Spanish.
They have very friendly and helpful staff. I just purchased all my train tickets from them since my trip is next month!
Good Luck and have fun!

Posted by
20 posts

Thanks for the prompt reply. I don't know where I heard of the "two people " discount so I can't tell you but I also was referring to the Tarjeta Dorada so thanks for that info. I can probably use it for most of the other trains and buy it when I get to Barcelona but I still need to make those reservations for Granada to Madrid.

So "raileurope in partnership with Rick Steves" is in his guide book as well l as his site so I am confused as to why it is a highly unreliable one to use.

I looked at your tripadvisor guide (thanks for that) and it is really intimidating but will try it if there is no other way..

If Toledo is a two leg trip, do I need to make the reservationss independently or will they connect them as I reserve like an airplane does? ( Same with seville).

Posted by
20 posts

Thanks everyone for the info. I will also check the Man at seat 61 and Petrabax.

I will try to make more clear the question about the two leg trip. I mean that if I go on the renfe site and want to go directly from Barcelona to Toledo knowing that I have to go through Madrid, do I have to book two separate trains and connections (in which case I have to allow time for changing trains and delays) or will the site automatically put me on to the two legs?

Posted by
16893 posts

Although Rail Europe's web site did have advance-discount Spanish tickets for a period, that function has not been working since Spain changed their reservation system. Perhaps it will be back in a few months. The Petrabax web site currently works better for booking advance discounts. Advance discounts are at least as good as the Tarjeta Dorada rates, so go ahead and get those, instead. You can buy tickets starting 3 moths before each departure date. Toledo-Madrid each way is a separate reserved ticket.

Posted by
6898 posts

RENFE does have the tarjeta dorado (gold card) for people over 60 years old. You purchase them at any staffed train station for 5.05Euro. We've done that. Once you have the gold card, you get a 40% discount on tickets for train travel in Spain Mon-Thur and a 25% discount for travel on Fri-Sun.

Posted by
20 posts

Thanks "Wonderful Europe" for all of that specific advice about the two trains which will definitely be what I want. I have been on the MAN AT site and have found it very helpful.

Thanks to all of you who took the time to give me all of this great advice. I am feeling much more confident and ready to move forward.

Posted by
11294 posts

"I don't know where I heard of the "two people " discount"

Maybe it was from threads dealing with German Rail. For Deutsche Bahn, advance tickets do indeed have discounts for two or more people traveling together. And Laender tickets do as well. So you're not completely making up this concept - it's just not true for Spain.

Posted by
28 posts

I too am going from Barcelona to Toledo in Sep and have already purchased the Barcelona to Madrid tickets. I used and would highly recommend it. The Madrid to Toledo leg requires a separate ticket which won't be available for purchase until 60 days or so prior to my Sep 4th date. You print your tickets at home. You can check their website and play with the dates which give you a very good idea of the train times and prices. Petrabax shows the discounted fares and by checking a box on the top left you can see all fare prices. I did discover that with the most discounted fares you cannot choose your seats but by selecting another discounted fare you can. Hope this helps.

Posted by
20 posts

Thanks so much Valinda for your reply. I was thinking of Petrabax and your recommendation confirms it. I am not going until Sept 21st so I have some time . Can I reserve the Barcelona to Madrid this early even if I have to wait to do the Toledo leg? Here is a question: I am confused when you say that I can't reserve seats on the discount train fare but if I look at another one I CAN reserve Seats. My husband and I would like to sit together if possible and I thought that you HAD to reserve seats. What does it mean to look at ANOTHER discount fare? Do you mean that you pay a little more but it is still discounted to get to reserve the seats? Thanks again.

Posted by
2979 posts

Petrabax is an agency which offers Renfe tickets that include the very good Promo fares but they tack on an agency fee. If you buy directly from Renfe you will get the best price and it is NOT that difficult. You have to register your card with Verified by Visa ( or the MasterCard equivalent) or the Renfe site will most likely reject it. But after I did that I bought lots of tickets on Renfe at great prices with no trouble at all.

There are no direct trains from Barcelona to Toledo, you must change trains in Madrid. Use Barcelona* and Madrid* and it will pick the correct stations (Sants and Atocha). The Renfe site will show you the possible connections or you can figure them out your self. You must leave enough time between the trains, like 20 minutes or more, as you cannot just walk across the platforms at Atocha to get the Toledo train. You must exit the platform, go up and around and re-enter the boarding area.

Posted by
2979 posts

I just read through your last question and see you have gotten confusing information about reserved seats. If you buy on Renfe you get a print at home ticket that has a reserved seat. Tickets bought together will have seats reserved together.

Also, note that you cannot double-dip with the discounts. If you get a promo fare ( which can be 60% off) there is no additional discount with the Tarjeta Dorada.

Posted by
20 posts

Thanks for the great info on Renfe. I have been looking around on the Renfe site and am having trouble with the following:

What is the difference between the promo fare "P" Green Square Turista and Turista Plus

and the promo plus fare: "P+" Orange Square Turista and Turista Plus besides the money?

What is Discount F. Numerosa?

What is access Access Turisticos?

I will do the verified by visa and hopefully I can get my tickets without my credit card being kicked back.

Posted by
20 posts

I GIVE UP!!!!!

I have found out what the turista - P and turista plus and the other labels are but I have just spent 2 hours on the renfe site and can not even get the schedule with prices to purchase. I went on the Man at seat 61 and followed the directions for registering exactly, but it won't let me see the trains and prices. I keep getting a schedule of times and AVE trains but when I click "purchase" or "buy" I don't get any farther.

I would hate to go Petrabax and pay more, but I think I might have to do that if I can't figure this out. I went on the renfe site this morning and got all of the info for Barcelona to Madrid and the prices but after I registered following the directions, I can no longer get that page because every time I go on the site it picks up my name and account and when I type in the destinations and date is just keeps sending me to a page that in Spanish that has something to do with the fact that it can't do trains that have another stop. This should be the Barcelona to Madrid AVE and so in 2 hr and 45 mins as shown I would think it wouldn't stop but even so when I looked at it this AM it showed all of the levels of discounts.

I also thought that maybe they were not selling for Sept. 21 (even though it showed 9/21 this a.m.) yet so I tried a June a date and a July date just to see but it kept coming up the same way.

I am so frustrated.