Booking a train ticket at RENFE’s website can be very annoying, as the website is not the best concerning bookings and often the English version doesn’t work properly. But it is worth booking your ticket in advance through Renfe’s site and without a travel agency help, as you’ll be able to save money. To help booking your train tickets in Spain, here you’ve got a step by step guide on how to buy Renfe train tickets online.
How to book Renfe train tickets online, step by step guide.
Explaining how to make an online booking at Renfe’s can be a bit complicated, but I will try to keep it simple. Let’s start with an example of buying an AVE ticket Barcelona-Madrid.
- Go to Renfe’s website for start buying your train ticket online
- Stay on the Spanish version. I tried to make a booking on the English version and it didn’t work.
- Click on the options “ida” (one way), “ida y vuelta” (return) or multiple.
- “Origen” (departure) in this example we will choose “Barcelona *”. Why the asterisk option? Renfe’s website will show you all the stations in Barcelona. But not all the trains that depart from Barcelona to Madrid stop on all those stations. If you choose for example “Barcelona – Plaza de Catalunya”, the result will be “there are no trains for this selection”. You better click at the Asterix option and like this, Renfe will show you all the results.
- “Destino” (arrival): Let’s click on “Madrid *”
- “Salida”, meaning the day you would like to leave Barcelona. In this example I will choose 22nd October
- “Regreso”: the day you would like to come back to Barcelona. I’ll say 25th October
- “Viajeros”: number of travelers
- “Tarjeta joven” and “Tarjeta dorada”: don’t pay attention on that thing. It is just for Spaniards below 25 or retired who get discounts on public transport.
- Okay, now let’s click on “comprar” (buy).
Easy until now. Let’s see the next steps! Sreen #2
11. You’ll see now a table with all the different options and tickets you can choose for going Barcelona-Madrid by train. Pay attention you’ll see two tables: the first one “ida” titled, which means “leave”; if you scroll down, you’ll see the second table titled “vuelta”, coming back.
Here the description of what the columns mean:
i. AVE: it is the name of the high speed train in Spain. (Alta Velocidad Española). You’ll get to Madrid in 3 hours approximately
ii. Express: it’s a normal train. 9 hours for arriving to Madrid
iii. LD-AVE con transbordo: it means you’ll have to change the train at Valencia.
iv. ALVIA: It is quite a nice train too, but it will take more than 5 hours to get to Madrid due to lots of stops.
b. Next 3 colums: Salida (departure time), llegada (arrival time), duración (duration)
c. “Turista” (economic class), “Turista plus” (but with only 3 seats per row, compared to 4 seats per row on tourist class. The seats have 20% more space), “Preferente” (business class) and “Club” (First class).
12. Now… let’s describe what those small icons next to the different prices mean. If you put the cursor on those icons you’ll get a small explanation of what that means. Here the translation:
a. “Tarifa 4 mesa 4 plazas enfrentadas con o sin mesa” translation:
“Tarifa 4 mesa: 4 plazas enfrentadas con o sin mesa. No admite cambio. Anulaciones 50%”
Translation: 4 tables rate: 4 seats faced with or without table. Change is not allowed. Cancellations 50%
Renfe allows you to book your ticket picking up your seat with a nice table which will be comfortable if you’re planning to work a bit with your laptop or taking few notes while travelling. Two more people will be sitting facing you and another one next to you.
b. “Promo: elección de asiento – NO. Cambios – NO. Anulaciones – NO”.
These tickets are the good ones. The cheapest. Even if you cannot choose the seat, you’ll not be able to change your booking and not allowed to cancel it.
c. “Promo +: Elección de asiento – SI. Cambios – 20%. Anulaciones – 30%”.
Not that cheap as the “promo” ones but with better condicions. You’ll be able to choose your seat, if you want to make any change Refne will charge you 20% of the value of the ticket and if you want to cancel, they will charge 30% of the value.
d. “Flexible”: You’ll be able to change your booking for 0 fees and you’ll be allowed to cancel it for only 5% cost.
13. Choose now the ticket that you like most. In this example I’ve clicked on two AVE-promo tickets. Then scroll down to the end of the page and click on “Continuar”
NOTE: you can download the timetables clicking at “Descargar como pdf”.
Okay, we’ve done the hardest part. Let’s keep booking your train tickets! Screen #3
14. In this screen you’ll see a summary of your ticket. The platform still gives you the opportunity to change the ticket that you’ve choosen. I would say, leave it like this. Don’t touch anything.
Scroll down at the bottom of the page and click on “continuar”
NOTE: If you scroll down, you’ll see the following options
- Include handicap passengers and ask for some assistance
- Select a seat
- Include pets
All these three options have an extra cost. Remember to click on the purple button “Recalcular el precio de la compra” for asking the site to show you the total final price.
Only two more steps for finishing your train ticket booking! Sreen #4
15. It is time now to introduce your personal data. The fields with an (*) are mandatory.
a. “Tipo de documento”: choose passport
b. Nombre: first name
c. Primer apellido: Family name
d. Segundo apellido: Spaniards put in their mother’s maiden last name also. I case you don’t have a second surname (which that’s probably most of the cases!), I would recommend you to introduce in the “Primer apellido” box your second name, and in the “Segundo apellido” box, your family name.
e. Nacionalidad: your nationality
f. País: your country
g. Población: your city
h. Domicilio: your addresse
i. Numero: the number of your home
j. Correo electronico: email address.
k. Provincia: State
l. Código postal: PO box
m. Telefono movil: put in any 9 digit number. Phone numbers in Spain have 9 digits. Use only digits, with no dashes.
n. Do not check the box that says, “I agree to receive publicity about Renfe offers and promotions.” Mark this box if you want to receive advertising material or register for information about Renfe’s offers and promotions. Most people do not need more junk mail!
16. Click on “continuar”.
And the last step!!! Here we go! Sreen #5
17. Fill in the Credit/Debit Card information. The field that says Card Holder means your name, as shown on the card. You only need to fill ion any fields marked with *.
a. Correo Electronico (*) = E-mail address
b. Nombre (*) = First Name
c. Appellido 1 (*) = Last Name
d. Tipo de Documento (*) = Type of Document (Choose Pasaporte)
e. Numero Documento (*) = Number of Document (Put in your passport number)
f. Direccion = Address
g. Codigo Postal = Postcode/Zip
h. Poblacion (*) = Town
i. Provincia (*) = District/County/State
j. Pais (*) = Country
k. Telefono 1 (*) = Telephone number
l. Check this box: He leído y acepto las Condiciones Generales Viajeros ( I have read and accept the General Terms of Passengers)
m. Tarjeta de Credito/Debito = Credit card/Debit card
n. Numero de Tarjeta (*) = Card number
o. Titular de la Tarjeta (*)= Name of Card Holder
p. Fecha de Caducidad (*)= Card expiry Date
18. CVV/CID is the security number at the back of your credit card, usually consisting of 3 numbers.
19. Disregard the Tarjeta Tempo boxes. This is only used by people who use the frequent travel program at Renfe.
21. Disregard the Tarjeta Tempo boxes. This is only used by people who use the frequent travel program at Renfe.
23. You will then get a message that Renfe is connecting with your bank.
24. You will then go to the Ticket page. This will have your purchase code no., a summary of your trip purchase and schedule, and a Print Tickets button, which you should hit.
25. You will see the tickets in a PDF format, which you need to print. Your ticket will give you the train station name (such as Atocha or Chamartin for Madrid departures), the date and time when the train leaves, the date and time of arrival at the destination, the train number (such as AVE 02093), the class of service, the car number (coche), and the seat number (plaza). With this you can go to the gate directly when you go to the railroad station and use the ticket to board. The ticket should have two DataMatrix symbols on it. Go to the station half an hour before your train leaves because you have to go through a security checkpoint, similar to the one in airports. Then you need to look for the platform you leave from. The AVE trains are very punctual. At the bottom of the ticket, there is a box titled Datos Del Cliente (Client Data). Ignore this, you do not have to fill the box.
Done it! Don’t forget your ticket when taking your train!!!
- Are you planning to book an Inter-rail or Eurail ticket? Maybe you’d be interested on reading this post: Spain by train: Inter-rail or Eurail?
Enjoy your trip to Spain! Appreciate your comments, opinions and let me know if you need any help for planning your trip to Spain.