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Fast trains from Madrid to Barcelona

First, my apologies if I missed postings on this topic.
We are 2 seniors planning to go from Madrid to Barcelona on Monday, March 20. One way. Will be flying home later on from Barcelona
There seems to be a plethora of confusing options and wildly ranging prices for this connection. Can anyone shed light on best sites for booking tickets and seats in advance? also on the reliability of the various operators, i;e. AVE, OUIGO, avlo, renfe., etc. Is there a class of travel that is more recommended for such a distance? Advisability of the added options offered, especially paying more for cancelling options. Any info will be greatly appeciated.trying to get this booked asap. Thank you all in advance

Posted by
859 posts

We used the Trainline to compare our options for a fast train from Madrid to Zaragoza a few weeks ago. We ended up getting tickets with Iryo and it all worked well. The train was on time and comfortable. The booking process was straightforward and included a seat reservation. We chose Iryo as it was much cheaper than Renfe. Although we only went as far as Zaragoza the train continued to Barcelona.

The other train companies are Ouigo and Renfe which runs both AVE and Avlo trains.

Posted by
35 posts

Thank you very much AussieNomad for your reassuring reply. W'e've been looking on Trainline , but weren't sure about it. Booking with Iryo now through Trainline. Thanks again. Sonia

Posted by
4644 posts

www.seat61.com/spain.htm is a good start.

But basically there a few options. Renfe, the national Spanish train operator runs regular high speed trains under the AVE brand and low cost options under the brand Avlo. Then there is Ouigo, a low cost option run by SNCF, and Iryo, a full service option. Renfe's website can be a bit tricky to handle, so Iryo can be a better option for that reason. Book direct with them, www.iryo.eu

Posted by
35 posts

Thank you Badger, for your helpful, informative response.
Sonia

Posted by
1133 posts

Hi,
We took the high speed train. Booked through RENFE. Easy, comfortable, fast. Book as early as RENFE allows, which might be 60 days.
wayne iNWI

Posted by
10 posts

Has anyone had experience on the low cost Avlo train? We are looking at a fast train from Madrid to Barcelona in June and the AVE trains vary widely in price. There is an AVLO at a good time but we are unsure about booking it.

Posted by
1733 posts

Diane-

I don’t have personal experience with the AVLo service, but a few friends have used it, and it served them fine. One did get stuck with a misaligned window after booking the cheapest possible fare. (They turned the cafe car into seating, and those windows are at standing height.)

Also, these were locals going taking the train for a night or two in the other city. So no note on space for larger luggage.

Posted by
19 posts

Sonia,

I just got back from Spain and while I wasn’t traveling between Barcelona and Madrid, I did encounter problems with trains to Madrid being cancelled due to work on the train lines. Renfe replaced the trains with buses BUT their communication about changes in the departure time was non-existent so we missed the bus. I had the Trainline app on my phone so was able to quickly find and book bus tickets all the way to Madrid. Renfe refunded me for the cancelled train and that was the end of that hiccup. Highly recommend downloading the Trainline app before you leave.

As for the question about booking options, I chose comfort seats for us with the flexibility to change reservations up to the day of our journey. It was worth the few extra dollars to not fret about last minute changes.

Posted by
859 posts

Has anyone had experience on the low cost Avlo train?

Just caught an Avlo train today from Salamanca to Madrid. Main differences from more expensive ones:

  • Seats were slightly less padded
  • No free wifi
  • No dining car
  • No luggage X-ray

Our trip was 1 Hr 40 minutes and the train was fine.

Posted by
35 posts

Thank you all for your thoughtful and informative responses. We ended up booking a 9:16 am IRYO train from Madrid Atocha to Barcelona Sants for 24.60 Euro pp senior rate, at their standard seating level. Note that prices can vary significantly depending on specific times of day. The trip took 2hrs and 45 minutes, including one quick stop at Zaragoza. Train was roomy, clean, comfortable, had great, free Wifi and a very quiet, smooth ride. IRYO is owned by a group that includes Spanish interests, and Trenitalia. I was very pleased to see that our train was actually an Italian high speed Frecciarossa (top speed 186mph). When we expressed disappointment in our IRYO assigned seats (blocked view), a friendly agent quickly found us seats to our liking. Would definitely use again. Best rates are on the IRYO official site.
Be aware that there is a security check of your person and your bags, and that you may be asked to show your passport before boarding, Enjoy your trip

Posted by
10 posts

Great to hear about positive experiences with iryo. We went ahead and booked iryo tickets from Madrid to Barcelona in June using Trainline, which was easy to use. Tickets were much less expensive then on Renfe. I did not purchase the senior tickets as I thought you needed a special pass for that.

Posted by
859 posts

I did not purchase the senior tickets as I thought you needed a special pass for that.

You only need the special pass - Tarjeta Dorada over 60 years costs €6- to buy the pass - for Renfe trains.

Posted by
35 posts

To Aussienomad: thanks for the info on the special pass. Enjoy your trip