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trains revisited

We posted a similar question about a month ago and we now have a rough itinerary. We will be in Europe for one month and visiting Spain and Italy. We will spend 2 weeks in each country and will be flying from Spain to Italy for our last 2 weeks. We are looking at the 8 trip pass which is about $1000 for the 2 of us. Rough itinerary: land in Madrid, 2 nights hotel. Train to (2 nights)Seville, (1)Cordoba, (2-3 nights)Granada, Malaga, Tangiers (day trip), fly Granada to Rome and train to Florence, Venice, and Milan, fly back to Spain. The big question is, pass or buy single trip train tickets?

Posted by
1173 posts

Hi coevan. Pass for Italy is not a good value; probably the same answer for Spain. Go to and to see schedules and prices. If you know your dates, you can get very inexpensive tickets in advance online. Even if you wait and buy at last minute in country, you will likely spend more and have more hassle with a pass then buying individual tickets. Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
4535 posts

A pass almost never is a financial benefit anymore. All of the trains you will take will require a seat reservation; an extra charge on top of the pass. Especially if you know your itinerary, buying tickets ahead of time can save you significantly. In Spain, using the renfe website (not easy but worth it) can save up to 60%. Try to buy 60-90 days in advance. RENFE now accepts Paypal, and people report that it works pretty well. Trying to use your credit card directly is very troublesome and sometimes just won't work at all. Trenitalia is easier to use.

Posted by
984 posts

'The big question is, pass or buy single trip train tickets?'
Why have you not taken any notice of the advice provided in your previous thread? You clearly returned to read it. Why will the same respondents have to repeat themselves?
There is no one but you who knows your itinerary and your style of travel. Why are you not willing to make price comparisons?

Posted by
44 posts

I was more specific with our itinerary. Possibly someone else less rude would chime in and offer further advice. We have done quite a bit of research and decided buses, trains and car rental can all be used.

Posted by
16893 posts

It's pretty easy to do the basic math using the regular, 2nd class fares on our maps at Those train fares add up to about $365 per person to buy as you go. The Italy-Spain pass for 7 cays costs $414 per person, plus seat reservation fees of $15-20 per leg. You don't have enough long rides to make a pass pay off and it does not offer hop-on convenience because of the necessary reservations.

Posted by
44 posts

Thank you Laura for your advise. we know there is not much difference between 2nd and 1st class, but we will ride first class, sp please, no comments. The part we are not getting is some say buy in advance is cheaper. Others say get the Tarjeta Dorado at the train station for deeper discounts of 25-40%, yes we are seniors. Perhaps you can explain my confusion.

Posted by
1495 posts

Purchase single tickets vs a pass.
You now have lost ability to obtain great train fares due to being close to your travel dates. Still, i advise checking renfe to determine if opportunity to save exists.
Now we need you to really listen and absorb the advice........
Train accommodations are excellent in spain and spending money on first class is a waste. I do not know what you expect to obtain for purchasing a first class ticket over a second class ticket, but there is no real difference.
Highly recommend you visit the web site "the man in seat 61" and carefully absorb his counsel on train travel in europe. This guy is gold when it comes to knowledge on train travel.

Posted by
2393 posts

It is not a sin to buy a 1st class ticket contrary to what many around here think. It is not always about the $$. The biggest difference we've found between 1st & 2nd class is the type of passengers. There is usually far less children & youths in 1st which tends to create a quieter atmosphere. We usually meet other travelers in 1st, business people and more mature locals.

All the rates are for two in USD for trains after 9am - and will change as the dates get closer or you travel on a weekend - but this is a good idea of what your tickets will run.

Ticket prices For Spain - these are 1st or Business :

Madrid to Seville - Full fare $340 - with Tarjeta Dorado - $204 - M T W T & $255 on F S S

Seville to Cordoba - Full fare $39 - with TD $ 24 M T W T $29 F S S

Cordoba to Grenada Full fare $47 with TD $28 M T W T $35 F S S

Wait until you get to Spain - buy your Tarjeta Dorado at the train station - then buy your tickets.

Tarjeta Dorada Card
Passengers must show their ticket and proof that they are authorised to use it whenever requested to do so by agents or staff authorised by Renfe-Operadora, whether before boarding the train, during the journey or before leaving their destination station.

On AVE Larga Distancia

If you are 60 years old, make the most of the advantages and convenience of travelling by train and apply for a Tarjeta Dorada card. This card will entitle you to purchase tickets for any train and class. On Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays you will receive a 40% discount. On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays the discount will be 25%.

The Tarjeta Dorada card is valid for one year and can be purchased at Renfe stations, Ticket Offices and Travel Agencies for € 6. There is also the option of obtaining a Tarjeta Dorada card linked to credit and debit cards issued by some banks.

For Italy - your best savings is to buy now if you know your dates - buying ahead will save about $170

Rome to Florence - full fare $169 discounted price $105 economy rate or $78 super economy
Florence to Venice - full fare $169 economy rate $120
Venice to Milan - full fare $112 economy rate $80

Posted by
22986 posts

Perhaps you can explain my confusion. I cannot but perhaps you could explain your confusion. You have received dozens of postings (back to July) accurately addressing your questions about passes and p2p tickets. You have to do your own homework with your exact dates of travel to determine if a pass saves money or not. Christi made a noble attempt to do it for you but without dates the final numbers may not be completely accurate. Given your recent comments about flexibility my advice is BUY POINT TO POINT TICKETS once you are there.

The part we are not getting is some say buy in advance is cheaper. Yes, yes, absolutely correct. Each country's rail system has different pricing policies but most have adopted some form of the US airline pricing. Buy early for potentially cheapest tickets. But the type of discount ticket available depends on the train, time, day of week, etc. and generally need to be purchased about 90 to 120 days in advance over the internet. The number of discount tickets are limited, tend to sell out early, and come with restrictions as to changes. In Italy you have three fare levels - Super economy, Economy, and Base. No senior discounts in Italy.

Spain also has a advance purchase discount system. BUT Spain also has the Senior Discount card (Tarjeta Dorado) that is available to any Senior (except for Spain, other European countries limit their senior discounts to EU citizens) - 40% weekday, 25% weekend off walk up fares. BUT this discount is less than the advance purchases discounts available on line. For you this may be the best way to go since you do not want to commit to a fixed scheduled.

Keep in mind that even with a rail pass you have to pay additional fees for seat reservations when reservations are required. In Italy all trains, except Regionale trains, require a seat reservation.

Now, still confused? Then ask very specific questions.

PS. Your best - fastest - option between Granada and Malaga is the bus. No direct train service.

Posted by
22986 posts

Tried to work through the schedule you listed in this posting. What are your dates or at least the month you will be traveling? Second, why return to Spain from Milan? If returning home from Spain, it would be easier, cheaper, and far more convenient to return to the US from Milan. It is a very nice international airport.

Posted by
44 posts

Christi, thanks for understanding it's not always about a few extra bucks. We are traveling this October for a month. We fought the Avios game for 6 months and finally secured first class tickets from Denver to Madrid, hence flying back from Spain. Actually our last leg is Rome to Madrid, we are flying to Florence first from Granada and working our way down to Rome. At this point single tickets in Spain is the way to go. Thank you everyone for your advice and some constructive criticism. We are researching and learning. The Renfe website is not very easy to navigate and many times I get a message to try again later.