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Madrid-Seville AVE Trains

AVE trains photo

ABOVE: AVE trains in Seville's Santa Justa Station. INSET BELOW: Atocha Station in Madrid is the hub of Spain's AVE high-speed train network. Its amenities include an indoor public park.

Atocha station photoMadrid 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.

Atocha Station photoAVE 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:

AVE train photo

ABOVE: An AVE train speeds through the Spanish countryside.

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.

Reservations

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.

Tip: 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.

Rail passes

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.

More Web resources

For more information about Spanish rail tickets and reservations, visit the English-language Renfe Web site or Seat61.com: See Spain by train.

To learn about rail passes that can be used in Spain, visit Eurail.com (if you live outside Europe) or InterRailnet.com (if you're a European resident).


Also see:
Madrid Travel Guide
Lisbon - Madrid Night Train
European Rail Travel Index

Top inset photo copyright © Harryfn
AVE train in countryside photo © Rail Europe.