Madrid-Seville AVE Trains
Madrid and Seville are 536 km or 340 miles apart, a distance that translates into at least six hours of driving time. Flying takes only an hour, but airport transportation, check-in, and security lines can easily triple that figure. The quickest way to get from Madrid to Seville--or vice versa--is on an AVE train operated by Renfe, the Spanish national railroad.
These Alta Velocidad Española trains (with an acronym that spells "bird" in Castilian) reach speeds of up to 300 km/h or 186 mph, and they're so reliable that Renfe will refund the price of your ticket if the train arrives more than five minutes late.
But AVE train travel between Madrid and Seville is't just quick and reliable: It's more comfortable than flying. Preferente or first-class seats are in a 1 + 2 configuration, while Turista or second-class carriages have 2 + 2 seating. The latter coaches provide special "family areas" and facilities for wheelchair users.
AVE trains also have bar and club cars, and both first-and second-class passengers have access to special departure lounges. (I visited the Club AVE lounge at Atocha Station in Madrid, which was similar to a VIP lounge at an airport with comfortable seating areas, free drinks, complimentary newspapers, stylish lavatories, and other perks for travelers with first-class tickets or with rail passes from Eurail and InterRail.)
Buying tickets for AVE trains:
You can buy AVE tickets in Spanish railway stations and many local travel agencies (including those in major department stores such as El Corte Inglés. If you live in the U.S. and are obsessive about reserving seats ahead of time, see "How to buy train tickets for Spain" at Seat61.com.
Seat reservations are required on all AVE trains, whether you're traveling on a point-to-point ticket or a rail pass (see below). Reserve seats at least 24 hours, but no earlier than 62 days, before your travel date.
If you're traveling with children or in a group of four, consider reserving facing seats with a table in either Turista or Preferente class. There are only a few of these in each car, so book early if you can.
If you're traveling on a Eurail or InterRail pass, you won't need a ticket, but you will need a seat reservation in Clase Turista or Clase Preferente, depending on whether you have a second- or first-class pass.
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