I am planning a trip to Sevilla for Holy Week, March 25-30, 2013. Should I get train tickets now for AVE trip from Madrid to Sevilla or can I get them when I arrive in Madrid on March 23?
You can do either. Buy now if discount tickets are still available but that locks you into a schedule. Or buy when you get there but at full fare.
There are still quite a few Promo fares left for March 25 (and some but fewer for March 24) if you can commit to a particular train. The savings amount to 30 to 38 euro per ticket, depending on the train you pick. Full flex fare is 75,50; Promo fares are 37,75, 45, 30, and 52 euro. If you decide to buy them online now, read the detailed instructions on buying Renfe tickets on Tripadvisor or Man in Seat 61, and register your card with Verified by Visa to avoid frustration. Or buy from the agency Petrabax.
If your schedule is fixed - and it sounds like it is, you should buy the tickets sooner than later. I just looked at the trains for March 25, and some are already sold out for tourist class Read this guide on tripadvisor first. http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g187514-c80518/Madrid:Spain:Buying.Renfe.Tickets.Online.html For instance, it explains that the "P" price is lower than the "P+" price, but you can't choose seats. Very important: If you are going to use a Visa card, sign up with the Verified by Visa program first. If you are going to use a Mastercard, sign up with the Mastercard SecureCode program first. Once I registered my credit card, I had no trouble buying tickets online.
As you are going there during Holy Week, I suggest getting the tickets now if at all possible. This is the biggest week in Sevilla each yeer!! The tickets will have the car number and the seat number printed on them. A great 2 1/2 hour trip. There is a snack bar on the train as well. Enjoy yourself!
You have the comprehensive guide and an important reminder of advice contained in it on credit cards from Chani. I will also reiterate - if you want peace of mind (during this period, for this route) you should purchase promptly.
I keep reading about the verified by visa program, but when I called VISA through Chase was informed that they no longer had that program, it had been discontinued. After spending a day on this went ahead and used RailEurope
Unfortunately RailEurope is now a bad choice for Renfe tickets, if you want the Promo fares. Petrabax is a better option. Or Rumbo.es. both offer REnfe fares. I just checked a random date in mid-May. RailEurope showed all AVE trains from Madrid to Sevilla as $111. Petrabax offers the Promor fares of $37 to $61, depending on th etrain. Pick the 13:00 departure and go for $37.
I used Petrabax (California travel agency that specializes on Spain and Portugal travel,to get my AVE tickets from Madrid to Sevilla during Holy Week. Their system was not working adequately so I talked to their agent and tried a different time and rate and was able to get my tickets. They sent the tickets via email to print immediately. The tickets were more expensive but I received them and now doing have to worry about this. If you are going to Spain during a holiday period you should get your train tickets ASAP and take advantage of cheaper rates.