Train Travel in Spain
In terms of geography and landscapes, Spain is a country of great scenic contrasts. Travelling through Spain by train is one of the best ways to take in its varied landscape, from lush forests to vast plains of wheat fields and from mountainous resorts to sandy beaches. The Spanish rail system has expanded rapidly in recent years, and now high-speed AVE trains link its major cities at speeds of up to 186mph. The national train operator, Renfe, operates train routes nationwide, connecting the various parts of the Peninsula with its high-speed services. The opening of the railway market to the private sector - planned to take effect in 2015 - will likely offer travellers much more extensive options for rail travel in Spain.
Popular Train Journeys in Spain
The largest and most visited cities in Spain are accessible by AVE (high-speed trains) including Madrid, Seville and Barcelona. The Ciudad Condal, as Barcelona is known in Spanish, is the country's most visited city, largely due to the modernist architecture of Gaudí and its extensive art scene. The Sagrada Familia, Casa Mila, Park Güell and Barceloneta Beach are other attractions popular with travellers. Madrid, the second most visited destination, is particularly popular among those looking to delve into the country's art scene, housing some of the most important galleries in the country including the Art Triangle: the Prado Museum, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía and Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. Sevilla comes in third place in terms of the most visited cities in Spain. The Andalusian capital is home to the largest old town in the country, including World Heritage sites such as the Alcazar or Giralda monuments.
Major Train Providers in Spain
Renfe is a state-owned company which dominates the Spanish rail market. It operates passenger trains throughout certain regions in Spain, including the Transcantábrico (which runs along the Cantabrian coast), Tren Al Andalus (which offers the possibility to travel to the north and walk the Camino de Santiago), as well as several cities in Extremadura and Andalusia. Many services connect Spain with its neighbouring countries, Portugal and France. There are various types of trains in operation in Spain, though the rail network is most typically made up of regional and intercity trains. Media Distancia trains link regional destinations with the country's larger cities with long-distance high-speed trains while Cercanias (suburban trains) operate in and around the country's major cities such as Barcelona and Valencia. There are a number of different AVE trains in operation, all of which are modern and offer high-speed services between Spain's main cities. There are also a number of domestic Estrella and Trenhotel trains, as well as international night trains connecting Spain with France, Portugal, Luxembourg and Switzerland.