How to buy RENFE train tickets online

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.

Book online renfe

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.

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  1. Go to Renfe’s website for start buying your train ticket online
  2. Stay on the Spanish version. I tried to make a booking on the English version and it didn’t work.
  3. Click on the options “ida” (one way), “ida y vuelta” (return) or multiple.
  4. “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.
  5. “Destino” (arrival): Let’s click on “Madrid *”
  6. “Salida”, meaning the day you would like to leave Barcelona. In this example I will choose 22nd October
  7. “Regreso”: the day you would like to come back to Barcelona. I’ll say 25th October
  8. “Viajeros”: number of travelers
  9. “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.
  10. Okay, now let’s click on “comprar” (buy).

 

booking train tickets Spain

 

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:

a. Train:

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%

This is a good option if you’re 4 people. Renfe allows you to book four tickets paying a cheaper price. You’ll be sharing a space with your colleagues and you might have the opportunity to have a nice table which will be quite useful if you’re planning to work a bit with your laptop or you need to take a few notes while travelling. Two of your colleagues will be sitting facing you and the third one will be sitting 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”.

Buy renfe train tickets

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.

buy renfe train tickets step 3

 

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”.

book renfe train tickets online

 

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.

20. Check the “ I have read and accept the General Terms and Conditions for Passengers, the General Terms and Conditions of Sale and the Privacy Policy available in Legal Information.” box. Press the Buy button.

21. Disregard the Tarjeta Tempo boxes. This is only used by people who use the frequent travel program at Renfe.

22. Check the “ I have read and accept the General Terms and Conditions for Passengers, the General Terms and Conditions of Sale and the Privacy Policy available in Legal Information.” box. Press the Buy button.

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!!!

 

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Custom travel Spain

Enjoy your trip to Spain! Appreciate your comments, opinions and let me know if you need any help for planning your trip to Spain.

 

By |2013-11-06T18:37:37+00:00November 6th, 2013|Planning your trip to Spain, Visit Spain|38 Comments

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38 Comments

  1. ivana May 30, 2014 at 4:31 PM - Reply

    Please, I have been trying to book our ticket..but we dont have passport number, we use our ID cards, and they wouldn´t take them..I dont understand, because last summer, I managed to book the tickets just fine, and I use also our ID tickets..maybe Im doing something wrong..please, help us. Ivana

    • Maria May 30, 2014 at 7:20 PM - Reply

      Hi Ivana. That’s strange… Could you please send an email to the following address info@spainatyourpace.com telling us which ID are you using and we’ll try to give you a hand. This RENFE website sometimes can become very tricky!

  2. Raj August 2, 2014 at 6:50 PM - Reply

    We are trying to book tickets online on the renfe website. They are unable to process my Visa Credit card. Getting this message “CARD HOLDER IS NOT PROPERLY AUTHENTICATED. PLEASE, CONTACT WITH YOUR CARD ISSUING ENTITY.” Spoke to customer service at Visa. There was no problem on visa end. Is there a phone number for Renfe that I can call to complete the transaction. Need Help.

    • Maria August 5, 2014 at 2:51 PM - Reply

      Hey Raj, try to talk with your bank and ask them to unblock the transfer of funds. Or try to make the payment with a debit card.
      Let me know how it goes.

  3. Brian Davies August 10, 2014 at 7:01 AM - Reply

    Hi. I am booking a return day-trip Sevilla to Córdoba. My outward journey is fixed but I’m not sure of the exact train I want to return with. If I book a particular train for the return journey how easy is it to change that to an earlier or later train whilst I am in Córdoba?

    • Maria August 11, 2014 at 3:41 PM - Reply

      Hi Brian. Thanks for your message. Having availability for changing the ticket will depend on which ticket will you buy. Basically, in ‘sreen nr 2’ you’ll see few little icons next to the prices (4m, P, P+, F). Pass your mouse over those icons and a little summary will appear showing changing (‘cambios’) and cancellation (‘anulaciones’) conditions.
      There’s a specific page in Renfe’s website where all these conditions are described. This information is only in Spanish. I have used Google translator to make things easier to you. Please, follow this link to check Renfe cancellation and ticket change conditions.
      Please, let me know if this helps.

      • Brian Davies August 12, 2014 at 8:18 AM - Reply

        Thanks María. I am interested to know how the system works once a I have purchased a suitable flexible ticket and when I am in Córdoba and I decide we want to take a train earlier than that originally booked. Can I do that at the train station just before the arrival of the required train or must changes be made online? If so how far in advance must the change be made?

        • Maria August 13, 2014 at 2:39 PM - Reply

          Hey Brian. In the link I sent about cancellation and changes policy, there’s written:

          “Tickets purchased online can be exchanged at the Compra de billetes up to 15 minutes before the train departs the station of origin of the traveler”. So, in theory, you should be able to get to this ‘cancellation and change your Renfe ticket’ page and do it online. In the left column of that page, you should click on the ‘cambio’ button and change your ticket.

          “At the stations, change must be requested (…) up to five minutes before the departure time (…) indicated on the ticket”

          However, to make sure you get the right answer to your question, I would read the entire ‘cancellation and ticket changes policy’ text and I would recommend calling Renfe: 902 320 320.

          Or, why don’t you ask at the station once you arrive to Córdoba?

          Look, from my own experience when travelling with Renfe, customer support service is not Renfe’s strenght and I would recommend avoiding making any changes.

          Does this helps?

  4. trung huynh August 13, 2014 at 7:38 AM - Reply

    i try to book the ticket from Barcelona to Madrid on 6/10/14 as your instructions but it comes up with”No information is available for journeys requiring two or more changes”, what can i do . Thanks

    • Maria August 13, 2014 at 3:08 PM - Reply

      Hi! Thanks for reading us. That’s strage… no changes are needed for going from Barcelona to Madrid… When did you get this message? Was it when choosing your departure and arrival stations in the first screen?

  5. Tina August 31, 2014 at 9:34 AM - Reply

    Thanks for all the info! One question: if you enter passport number as you advise, will the passenger be required to show the creditcard that was used for purchase at any stage? (I’m thinking – what if I purchase a ticket for my friend using my card, but don’t actually accompany her on the journey – could she get into trouble with ticket control?)

    • Maria September 9, 2014 at 7:46 AM - Reply

      Hi Tina!

      Thanks for your message. I’ve never been asked for my credit card when taking a train in Spain, and nor of my friends or other travellers I’ve helped planning their trip. However, I know Renfe can do it for security reasons when taking a high speed train (e.g. AVE). Probabilities are very low though (It’s like when you take a flight: In theory, when checking in, you could be required to show your credit card that was used for the purchase….). Happy travels!

  6. Rakesh January 27, 2015 at 8:08 AM - Reply

    Hi Maria,
    Very good page. I tried using the instructions you have given. It only gives me tourist option as I guess I am logging from outside spain. It didn’t ask me for any address details- only identification.
    I am facing 1 issue. At the last page after I submit credit card details, it gets stuck at a message – “Operation in progress”. I waited for a long time, then cancelled and tried again. Same message and same waiting.
    I hope that it is not charging my credit card in the background twice.
    Please help if you have idea about this.. Thanks.

  7. Evangelos March 11, 2015 at 7:52 PM - Reply

    Hi, we are EU residents-not Spanish which means we can travel within the EU using our IDs. What document option must we choose?

    • Maria March 12, 2015 at 8:36 AM - Reply

      Hi there,

      Ok, let me think:
      – DNI means ‘Documento Nacional de Identidad’ which refers to Spaniards’ IDs
      – Passport/Doc. Comunitario: I guess you should mark this one, as you’re using no passport but a European Union ID (‘Doc. Comunitario’ means something like ‘European Community Documentation).
      – NIE: That’s the ID for residents in Spain

      So, I would say, go on with second option (Passport / Doc. Comunitario). Let me know how it goes! 🙂

  8. mommasue March 26, 2015 at 3:44 PM - Reply

    Is it possible to reserve tickets online using the 4 journey renfe spain pass?

  9. Noom April 17, 2015 at 12:32 PM - Reply

    Hi Maria,
    I and my wife will travel to Spain. Our destinations are Madrid, Valencia and Barcelona. I’m trying to book a multiple tickets:
    – Madrid-Puerta De Atocha to Valencia Joaquin Sorolla (31 May)
    – Valencia Joaquin Sorolla to Barcelona-Sants (4 June)
    – Barcelona-Sants to Madrid-Puerta De Atocha (7 June.

    I always find problems on the last destination booking as “Estamos trabajando para mejorar la aplicación. Perdonen las molestias. Inténtelo más tarde. (F020)” and are they the right stations in each city? What will be your recommendations?

    Thanks so much..

  10. Michael S May 10, 2015 at 9:14 PM - Reply

    I am having the same problem as Raj, “CARD HOLDER IS NOT PROPERLY AUTHENTICATED. PLEASE, CONTACT WITH YOUR CARD ISSUING ENTITY” I did call my bank, as did Raj. They said the transaction was not blocked so the problem is with Renfe. Very frustrating. I’ve done this recently with no problem. Is it possible that sometimes the website just doesn’t work and you have to keep trying?

  11. KMN May 20, 2015 at 12:33 AM - Reply

    Hi Maria,

    I just booked my train ticket from Valencia to barcelona (just about 1.5 hour ago) but I still haven’t received any confirmation by EMAIL. I saved the confirmation page on the web site as a pdf and also downloaded the train ticket so I could print it later, but I’m worried about not getting an email about the purchase. Does it usually take a few days or overnight to receive the confirmation by email? (The email I entered was definitely correct). Thanks!

    Regards,
    KMN

  12. Carol Bannerman August 29, 2015 at 1:13 AM - Reply

    If I buy a ticket and reserve at the regular price but then obtain Target Dorada card when I arrive in Spain, will I be able to get the discount for seniors?

    • Maria August 29, 2015 at 3:50 PM - Reply

      No Carol, you will only get discounts for the tickets you’ll buy after getting the Tarjeta Dorada.

  13. chong September 1, 2015 at 9:15 PM - Reply

    I have tried to buy RENFE tickets on line, but failed. The home page does not look like your home page. It has been changed. Anyhow, I cannot buy them at all. The RENFE online must be wrong.

    • Maria September 2, 2015 at 9:26 AM - Reply

      This is strange. I’m looking at Renfe’s site and it looks like always. No changes have been applied. Can you check it again, please? Thx!

      • Maria September 2, 2015 at 9:32 AM - Reply

        Hey! The screenshot of Renfe’s homepage you see in this article is a zoom of the upper left part of the page. Maybe this is why you thought the website looks different.

  14. Lennart Agestam September 24, 2015 at 2:30 PM - Reply

    Hi Maria
    You seem to know a lot about Renfe. Do you know why they are so late with adding trains to the website. I try to book a train from Madrid to Fromista (over Valladolid or Palencia) on October 24, but it is only possible to find tickets until October 3. It seems as they add some trains each day. Am I forced to a higher price because the trains are not added to the website?

    Regards

    Lennart
    Kalmar
    Sweden

    • Lennart September 28, 2015 at 8:54 AM - Reply

      Forget my previous comment. Finaly the trains appeared on the renfe.com. By the help of your very good description above I managed to book my tickets. Thank you for this site!

      • Maria September 28, 2015 at 10:01 AM - Reply

        Great Lennant. Happy the article was useful. Enjoy your trip!

  15. Ping November 15, 2015 at 3:50 PM - Reply

    Dear Maria: The Renfe web site a little different from what you mentioned above, could you help to update? I like to book ticket from Barcelona to Madrid, but without english version,and the site not the same as you write, I am not comfortable to book.

    BTW, is it easy to drive in Spain, I have US drive license, is it ok for drive in Spain? or I need an internaltional drive license?

  16. Jason Bangayan November 26, 2015 at 11:37 AM - Reply

    Spanish or english, once the website passes on to the subdomain venta.renfe.com, it doesn’t work.

  17. ELENA January 24, 2016 at 7:11 PM - Reply

    Thanks so much! It worked, even though my site was half Spanish half English. I got my train tickets quickly and printed, and I’m ready to go to Spain! I was able to reserve seats, and it cost me $20 less per person vs the agencies… Gracias!

    • Maria January 25, 2016 at 9:53 AM - Reply

      Cool!!! Happy this post was useful!!! Half Spanish half English!!??? Crazy Renfe site!!!! Thanks for the message and enjoy your trip!!!

      • Glenn February 5, 2016 at 12:36 AM - Reply

        Hi: If you purchase 2 Tourist Plus Prom Tickets at the same time a month in advance are you likely to be assigned seats next to each other? I’m traveling with my daughter from Barcelona to Madrid in mid-March and I think she’d be a little unnerved to be on the train but not near me. It looks like the Renfe website doesn’t allow you to select specific seats (like you typically do when making online plane reservations). Thanks.

        • Maria February 5, 2016 at 9:30 AM - Reply

          Renfe online system purchase, allows selecting train seats for:
          – AVE, Avant, Alvia and Altaria trains AND
          – those with ‘flexible’ rates (‘rates=tarifas’ in Spanish).
          Once you have chosen the origin and destination of your journey and the trip with ‘flexible’ rate, on the next screen you’ll be able to make a seat selection (click on ‘seleccionar asiento > selección del asiento’). After entering your payment method at the end of the process, you’ll find an outline of the train’s seats for your selection.

          Trick: if you speak Spanish, you can always call Renfe and make the booking on the phone. In that case you’ll be able to pay less with Tourist / Promo tickets and still choose your seats. Let me know if you need help with this 😉

          • Tony March 1, 2016 at 4:09 AM

            Maria
            The Renfe site is giving me the same prices by class of service and promo,etc when I put in my travel date of April 28th from Barcelona to Madrid and as if I were traveling next week. I am surprised as I thought buying almost 60 days out would provide me discounts. Does this sound right to you?

          • Maria March 23, 2016 at 4:25 PM

            Yes, that’s the way it is. There are sometimes discounts, other times prices are the same. It normally depends on high/low season and tickets availability. Who knows! And if you call Renfe and you speak in Spanish, you will maybe get different prices (normally cheaper)!!! Incredible, uh!?

  18. Liah April 22, 2016 at 12:02 AM - Reply

    Hello, I just purchased four tickets for my family. When I purchased them I did not have my passport with me and just entered in “otros” for type of document. Will this be a problem when I arrive at the Barcelona Train Station? Should I try to contact them to give them my passport number ahead of the travel date? Thanks.

    • Maria April 25, 2016 at 8:30 AM - Reply

      Difficult to say… it is a bit risky. I would recommend to give them a call before traveling.

    • Julia May 19, 2016 at 4:33 PM - Reply

      Liah, please update on your findings. Did you call the train station? I was planning to do the same – purchase train tickets for 4 of us without providing passport #

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