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Everything you need to know about Renfe

Choosing Renfe with Virail

Servicing some of Spain's most popular cities and towns with an efficient high-speed rail service, Renfe is the operator all travelers use to explore España by train. Its many routes connect Barcelona with Madrid, Alicante, Sevilla and beyond. Wherever you want to visit in Spain, you can use our platform to plan your Renfe journeys and craft a convenient travel itinerary. When using Virail, you’ll find the best possible offers, including one-way tickets, round trips and international routes. Once your trip is sketched out, we’ll redirect you automatically to Renfe’s booking platform for a hassle-free planning experience.

About Renfe

Renfe is Spain’s main rail carrier, operating passenger and freight travel across the country and the continent. Founded in 1941 from the remains of a network completed in the 1870s, Renfe modernized in the late-1970s. When you travel across Spain with Renfe, you can also connect with Europe at large, including direct trains to Portugal, France and beyond. What’s more, you’ll benefit from prized views of the country from the passenger window, taking in picturesque vistas of the mountains, forests, lakes, and beaches that make up the beautiful Spanish landscape.

Main routes and stations

As Spain’s main rail operator servicing every corner of the country, there are very few places you can’t get to with Renfe. From Oviedo on the Bay of Biscay to the pilgrimage town of Santiago de Compostela, Renfe transports visitors through breathtaking scenery in style with everything from cheap and cheerful carriages to fancy sit-down dining. Renfe services six key areas with many lines and routes, including:

Renfe Central: Linking central cities and towns like Madrid with Huesca, Badajoz, Jaén, Soria, Segovia, and Ciudad Real, Renfe Central is one of the most-used service areas. Renfe North: The northern routes connect Madrid with the north, including Salamanca, Ávila, Zamora, León, Oviedo, Santander, Pamplona, and Zaragoza. Renfe Catalunya: This zone services Catalonian cities and towns, connecting the regional capital of Barcelona with Tarragona, Lleida, Zaragoza, Girona, and other towns. Renfe Andalucia: Travel in the southern zone connects Sevilla, Málaga, Granada, Almería, Córdoba, Jaén, and Cádiz. Travel between the zones is easy, with high-speed cross-country routes connecting Sevilla through Barcelona to Madrid and beyond, through France.

Renfe ticket pricing and categories

There’s a simple structure to train fares relating to their flexibility: Flexible: These are known as F at the point of booking. They are full-price tickets that are both refundable and changeable before travel. Promo: The cheapest bookable tickets on offer by Renfe are listed as P on the ticket. These offer zero flexibility: No refunds and no cancellations. Promo+: Like the standard Promo ticket with limited changes and refunds. These are cheap advance tickets, which you can change with a small fee.

Aside from the aforementioned fares, there are also three classes:

Preferente: The first-class option. You have access to the Sala Club lounges plus a host of onboard benefits, including a meal and drinks. Turista: The second-class option offers zero perks, just access to the train and a seat. Turista+: The second-class plus option is only available on high-speed trains. Travelers have access to first-class seats without the meal service or station lounge access.

Main Transportation types used by Renfe

Renfe operates across the whole of Spain with some 12,000 km of railway track. New high-speed networks interconnect with other European networks. The company is divided between new high-speed trains known as AVE, a mixed high-speed and conventional route (Alvia), and EMU-class medium to short-distance routes, and local and intercity trains. The most popular routes are those operated by AVE, connecting all major cities in Spain with high-speed trains.

Main amenities offered by Renfe

  • Sleeping berths on Trenhotel services.
  • A range of seating accommodation depending on the ticket level.
  • A range of dining options.
  • Bicycles and pets allowed on some routes.
  • Wi-Fi available on most routes.
  • A quiet car available on many routes.
  • Toilets on all long-distance trains.

Renfe – Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any boarding rules? Tickets are checked before boarding the train. You should aim to arrive at least 30 minutes before departure. How do I book a ticket? Select your dates and destination with Virail and you will be automatically taken to Renfe’s booking pages to complete your transaction. How do I choose my seat? Seating is assigned at the time of booking. Some local and medium-distance services do not allocate seats, and only first-class services allow you to choose your seat preference. How can I change or cancel my ticket? Provided you have a flexible ticket, you can change your travel date or cancel your booking through Renfe’s online booking page. How can I get a refund? The refund process with Renfe is simple. Enter your details in the Changes/Refunds section of their website and fill out your details.

How can I reach Renfe's customer service? Renfe’s customer service can be reached via an online form. Alternatively, you can contact Renfe by phone on +34 91 232 03 20. What is Renfe’s luggage policy? Renfe uphold simple luggage requirements: Up to 3 items of hand luggage, including suitcases, baby seats, folding bicycles, and other bags, and one special-sized luggage piece per person What is Renfe’s pet policy? Small pets are allowed on many of Renfe’s services, subject to terms. For AVE and long-distance trains, pets travel for free on First Class, Grand Class and Grand Comfort seats. For all other classes and on all Avant and medium-distance services, a fee is charged. Passengers must keep their pets under control in a carrier or on a leash which does not obstruct other passengers. Does Renfe offer reduced mobility support? An Atendo service is available for travelers with reduced mobility. You can book assistance at the time of ticket purchase or by calling +34 91 214 05 05. For the best service, first head to the Meeting Point 30 minutes before departure to be taken onto the train. Tips to travel cheaper with Renfe Booking early is crucial to finding the best travel deals. Alternatively, opt for the Promo fare. Round trips often receive a 20% discount, just look for the double arrow at the point of booking.

Your journey with Renfe

Renfe trains are the perfect way to explore the best of Spain. Take in spectacular landscapes with the meandering Transcantabrico, La Robla or Tren de la Fresa services, and plan your next journey through Spain by rail today with Virail.

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