Travelling by AVE – High Speed Rail in Spain

30 April 2020

Travelling by AVE – High Speed Rail in Spain

Spain’s high-speed rail network is extensive and efficient.  The fastest trains in Spain are known as Alta Velocidad Española or AVE (which translates as “bird” in English).  Trains reach speeds of 320 kph throughout Spain linking cities such as Barcelona, Madrid and Seville.


Some of the key routes covered by AVE trains are:

  • Barcelona to Madrid
  • Barcelona to Cordoba and Seville
  • Madrid to Cordoba and Seville
  • Madrid to Granada
  • Madrid to Malaga
  • Madrid to Valencia


Before you board

Importantly, AVE trains are one of the few in Europe that require a minimum check-in time before you access the platform.   You and your luggage need to pass through an x-ray machine which only takes a few minutes, so officially the minimum check-in time is 15 minutes, we would always recommend arriving at the station 30 minutes before departure.


Classes of travel

There are three classes of travel on board AVE trains: Turista, Turista Plus and Preferente.

Turista is found on all trains and is Standard Class – seats are configured 2&2 across the carriage, with tables for 4 and unidirectional 2-abreast airline-style seats.

Preferente is also found on all trains and is First Class – seats with increased legroom and fewer seats per carriage, usually configured 2&1 across the carriage instead of 2&2.  There is usually a complimentary at-seat meal and drink included if you are travelling on a weekday.

On some more popular routes you will find Turista Plus, which is essentially Preferente carriages without the at-seat service


On AVE trains there will be a cafeteria serving tea, coffee, drinks and snacks.  You can by all means take your own food and even alcoholic drinks onto the train, if you fancy a picnic instead.  Remember, if you are travelling in Preferente and it’s a weekday, you’ll be served a complimentary meal at your seat.



As with trains across Europe, you simply take your luggage onto the train and put them in the rack above your head or the luggage area near the doors.  AVE trains are unusual in that they have a 25kg limit for luggage, however, this is not enforced and luggage is never weighed – its really there to prevent people taking inordinate amounts of luggage on board and if you have a case that is 28kg you will not encounter any problems!



The more modern AVE trains have wifi and it is being rolled out across the network gradually.  If the train has wifi, it will be free in Preferente Class, and will carry a small fee in Turista or Turista Plus.