We are flying in and out of Madrid for our tour. Can we wait until the day we arrive and the day we leave to purchase train tickets Madrid to Barcelona (4/16/20) and Sevilla to Madrid (5/2/20).
Generally you can, provided you accept the cheaper "promo" fares are very likely to be sold out. I can understand you would want to wait until you arrive in case your aeroplane is delayed, but is it also necessary to wait for your departure journey as presumably that is fixed?
My slight concern is that 2/May is in the middle of three events that might mean services are fuller than usual as families move around - 1st is Labour Day, a national holiday, 2nd is Madrid's regional fiesta and 3rd is Mother's Day.
Hello from Wisconsin,
International flights usually get take off and landing preferences, so that is in your favor of arriving close to your expected time. I would at least look at ticket offerings and if the price difference between advance and on the spot purchases is great, I would book tickets with hours of slack between when you think you will clear passport and get to the station and when the train boards..
And train ticket purchasing is difficult online. The National Rail system is just crazy. So I go to loco2.com. even though they don't exist anymore, having sold out for a profit. The link will get you where you want and the extra ticket charge is less than the grief of RENFE, the national rail of Spain.
We were in Barcelona and planning to visit a nearby city using the train. We didn't book our tickets before we arrived. Big mistake, the lines were very long. We waited in line for 45 minutes and the line only moved a little bit. We gave up and went to a museum instead.
I haven't used the Renfe site for a couple of years, but I didn't have trouble with it before. It doesn't like most US credit cards but Paypal always worked fine.
Looks like you are arriving a couple nights pre-tour. You could spend your first night in Madrid, enabling you to buy tickets now for the 17th. The current promo price is about €68-81/pp depending on which train. The full price for the same ticket is €109/pp. That's up to €80 difference for 2 people. Your choice.
There's no reason not to buy the Sevilla-Madrid tickets now. The promo prices are about €30-40. Full price is €77.
You want Barcelona-Sants station and Sevilla-Santa Justa.
Do not under any circumstances plan to buy a train ticket at a staffed counter in Madrid's Atocha Station. I waited in a 3-hour line to do that last April. The vending machines are not hard to use as long as they accept your credit card.
If you want to wait until arrival to buy your ticket to Barcelona, buy that ticket at the Madrid-Barajas (airport) train station so you don't have to spend hours at Atocha.
I would not want to wait until you are in Spain to buy your ticket. I was just in Spain last week and bought my tickets online about a month in advance. It is easy to do with raileurope or with Renfe. I was warned that renfe was difficult to use but it works for me. (I was using a Chase Visa.) And you get a booking number just like an airline ticket so you can go in and make a change if need be. Of course if you think you're going to change then buy a flexible ticket without a cancellation penalty.