Would you like to get your Renfe AVE tickets online? There’s no need to go to a travel agency or ticket counter. Do it at your convenience in your home or office.
Unfortunately, the Renfe website is a pain in the back. And it gets even worse when booking from outside of Spain:
The hard truth is that in most cases you’ll need to got through the whole booking process over and over and never getting your tickets.
It can be a nightmare. I know it because I’ve been there.
The good news is that there’s a cool turnaround.
When booking from overseas (and even from Spain!), it’s much easier to buy your tickets from a ticket retailer like Trainline, who sell tickets for Spanish trains at the same price as Renfe plus a small booking fee which is added during checkout.
This post will guide you step by step through the entire booking process from start to finish.
Buying tickets on Renfe’s website is quite possibly one of the worst travel experiences one can have.
I’m sure that after several frustrating purchase attempts for your train travel in Spain, you’re probably cringing in recollection of your experiences.
Figure out what your limit is, when you reach it stop, pay a ridiculous premium fee, and move on. The headaches are not worth it.
This is why I consider that Trainline is the best way to purchase your Renfe AVE tickets:
Below you’ll find a step by step guide to help you purchase your Renfe AVE tickets through Trainline‘s website.
Contrary to Renfe’s site, you’ll be using a very user friendly interface and the purchasing process is incredibly straightforward.
Go to www.thetrainline.com.
1. Change the website language to English.
If the website isn’t displayed in English, choose the British flag in the top menu. This changes the site’s language to English.
2. Display the prices in euros (EUR).
This button also allows you to display prices in American dollars (USD), British pounds (GBP), Canadian dollars (CAD), Australian dollars (AUD), and several other currencies.
You can be charged in your preferred currency. But for the sake of simplicity, I recommend you to display the prices in euros (EUR) from the beginning.
3. Create a Trainline user account.
Even if you’re only going to buy one ticket, you should definitely create an account.
As a registered user you can log in and retrieve your booking in case
Apart form this, being a registered user allows you to
To register click on the “Sign in” button located on the right corner of the top sidebar. On the drop-down menu, click on the “New customer? Register now” link at the bottom. Fill in all the information required and click the “Register” button.
Quit this window and return to the homepage.
Make sure that you are now logged in. If not, do so.
Fill out the left sidebar form with your trip details and run a search.
1. From: Enter your origin (departure) station typing the city from which you’re leaving.
For cities like Madrid or Barcelona, you’ll see that there’s more than one station. Avoid any confusion selecting the city’s name (don’t specify the station). Once you’ve purchased your tickets, you’ll be able to check out the departure and arrival station.
2. To: Enter your destination (arrival) station typing the city where you’re arriving to.
As you did before, just select the name of the city without specifying the station.
3. Select the type of trip.
Tick “One Way”, “Return”, “Open Return” or “Seasons”.
4. Set the date and time of the Out trip.
When choosing the date, you can type the date or select it from the calendar. Choose the one that suits you best from the displayed options.
If you intend to make a one-way trip, the “Return” option will be blacked out.
Click on the “Get times & tickets” button.
5. If you want to buy a Return ticket, set the date and time of the Return trip.
6. Select the number of travelers.
Click on “1 adult (26 to 59)” to determine your age and those of the people that will be traveling with you. Add as much passengers as necessary clicking on the arrow so a drop-down menu pops up. Don’t forget to include all children, including those younger than 4 years old.
In the unlikely event that you have the Renfe loyalty card or any other loyalty card, select it from the drop-down menu.
Once you have added all the passengers that will be traveling, click on “Done”.
7. Click on the “Get times & tickets” button.
A new screen shows the departing and arriving times of the train and the fares for your trip.
If tickets are not available for the date you chose, you’ll see a “–” in the table of results indicating that there are no tickets.
1. Use the top search area to change your trip details (optional).
You can change your departure and/or destination station, the date(s) of your trip and the number and age of the travelers.
2. Select your Out trip train.
a) In the lower left area, you can see the search results for your Out trip train.
Trainline shows the results by highlighting with a “cheapest” tag the most interesting option for the time range you selected earlier. Your current selection time is displayed in blue. If you want to see more train options, click on “Earlier” (at the top) or on “Later” (at the bottom).
b) In the right area, you can see all the trip details corresponding to your current selection (highlighted in blue on the lower left area).
If you’re buying tickets for several people, the amount shown is the total value of all the tickets you’re looking to buy. For example, if you selected 3 passengers, the value shown is the total value for all 3 passengers.
You can also see the specific fare flexibility conditions and the seat options.
If you change the choice of time and train on the left side, the details displayed on the right side will change as well.
3. Click on the green “Continue” button.
When you’ve determined your preferred option, click on the green “Continue” button on the right area.
4. Select your Return trip train (if necessary).
As you did with your Out trip tickets, select your Return trip ones.
5. Click on the green “Continue” button.
Again, once you’ve selected your preferred option, click on the green “Continue” button.
1. Tick your seat and extras options.
In case Renfe allows you to select your seat preferences for that specific trip, tick your selection.
2. Click on the green “Continue” button.
1. Fill out your personal and contact details.
In case you haven’t registered previously as I advised, the system will ask you to provide your personal and contact details.
2. Double check your email address.
Please DOUBLE CHECK your email address. The tickets will be sent to the address you provide and you will retrieve them there.
3. Click on the green “Continue” button.
Confirm that everything is correct and click on the green “Continue” button.
1. Check and confirm that everything is correct.
On the next screen, you can see the information corresponding to your booking. Take your time to check and confirm that all the information is correct before making the payment.
2. Click on your preferred payment method button.
The payment procedure is pretty straightforward. You can choose to pay with your credit card, your debit card or PayPal.
Click on the green “Pay with card” button or the yellow “Pay with PayPal” button.
1. You decide to pay by card.
Fill in the information on your credit card or debit card.
Confirm with your bank that you are allowed to make online purchases with your card.
2. You decide to pay with PayPal.
A pop-up window will show up asking you to login in into PayPal and confirm the payment.
If the purchase completes correctly, a screen confirming the transaction will appear. Soon after, you’ll receive a print-at-home eticket.
Either way, make sure that you have your tickets with you. You’ll have to show them to Renfe’s staff before boarding the train.
Here is what a regular Renfe train ticket looks like:
It’s not the one you’ll receive and print but it gives you an idea of the information it should have.
As you can see, the ticket displays the following information:
Now you are ready to travel!
Sometimes, a reader writes me asking if Renfe AVE tickets can be directly purchased at the ticket office of any station.
Well, nothing prevents you from doing it.
But I believe it’s not a good idea this for the following reasons:
To sum it up, avoid buying your Renfe AVE tickets at the station.
You would probably not find seats on the train that suits you most, you would end up paying for a much more expensive fare, and you would be charged a 5.5% service fee.