Los mejores portales donde comprar billetes de tren para España

The smoking hot writer of this website waits for a Spanish train with the Osprey Convertible 50L/22in. The handy daypack is separated from the main piece.

By researching to find the cheapest tickets and the easiest way to buy them, we have reviewed all the options to buy train tickets for Spain, from the  official Renfe website  to various private portals.

Let’s admit it: compared to others, Spanish trains are usually quite comfortable, but the  website of the railway company gives many problems (error messages, credit card rejection, improper charges…).

As we have seen for  FranceItaly 1in English and especially when  crossing the European continent by train 2in English, there are better ways to book online, and our favorite booking portal is the same for Spain than for the other countries. Below, we explain all the ways to book Renfe tickets, but our first choice is far ahead of all the others. In reality, more and more Spaniards are switching from the Renfe website to this platform.

The best way to book train tickets for Spain

The  Trainline search engine , with its clear and functional design, is the best of the many websites we have tried to buy train tickets for Spain. Offers:

  • Exactly the same prices as the official Renfe website , and sometimes with even better prices thanks to its advanced search engine (that said, it adds a commission of a couple of euros in some transactions)
  • No error message like Renfe
  • A practical ticket sale : you print your tickets or show a code on your mobile
  • Smarter and cheaper routes for complex trips

Take a look at Trainline

A similar option is RailEurope , but it has less complete coverage.

Updates of this article

The first version of this article in Spanish was adapted from the English version on December 20, 2018. We updated it on November 16, 2019.

The best way to buy train tickets for Spain

Here we are, traveling through Spain with a ticket booked by Trainline with our favorite wheeled backpack .

We have tried all the main ticket sales portals and price comparison sites for train tickets for Spain and, unlike many articles we write, in this case the choice was not difficult. Trainline outperforms private portals when it comes to finding routes. It is also light hours away from Renfe’s own page, and for good.

Trainline merged with CaptainTrain in 2016 and has been the leading train search engine for Europe ever since. For this reason, it is endowed with more data and resources, so it is not surprising that it tends to offer the best routes and that it manages to untangle the mess of incompatible European national railways.

The advantages of Trainline to buy train tickets for Spain

Here’s what Trainline does better than Renfe and other competing portals:

  • Trainline te ofrece los mismos precios para las rutas que cuando compras a través de Renfe (y, a veces, incluso resulta más económico): dicho esto, en algunos trayectos Trainline añade una comisión de un par de euros, pero es menos de lo que cobran otras plataformas privadas. Ocurre lo mismo al reservar billetes en Trainline para Francia, Alemania, Eurostar (París-Londres), Italia y otros países. Como el sistema de reserva de Renfe no es especialmente inteligente, por decirlo suavemente, puede que te cobre más que Trainline para rutas complejas dentro de España.
  • Trainline te muestra opciones combinadas de bus y tren con las que puedes ahorrar dinero y llegar a lugares inaccesibles en tren.
  • Sobre todo si debes cruzar fronteras, el sitio web de Renfe resulta inútil debido a sus frecuentes errores. En numerosos casos, no pudimos seleccionar los billetes que el sitio web de Renfe supuestamente ofrecía.
  • Trainline presenta muy buenas opciones para rutas internacionales por Europa: en una de nuestras pruebas recientes3en inglés, fue capaz de encontrar la ruta más barata y eficaz para desplazarse de Madrid a Berlín solo en tren, algo que no pudo proporcionar ninguna de las opciones de los buscadores de las compañías nacionales.
  • La página web de Trainline no da problemas y es funcional: la versión en español tiene algún gazapillo, pero está bien redactada, acepta tarjetas de crédito de cualquier país (de tipo Visa, MasterCard, American Express y también PayPal) y tiene un diseño intuitivo y agradable.
  • Atención al cliente rápida y de calidad: Trainline supone una valiosa ayuda para desenvolvernos en los complejos sistemas ferroviarios europeos cuando algo va mal. Su servicio no está al nivel de, pongamos por caso, una agencia familiar que te cuenta qué ver en Madrid o Barcelona, pero es mucho mejor que las compañías ferroviarias nacionales y los portales privados de venta de billetes.
  • Cancelaciones fáciles: si compras un billete reembolsable, puedes zanjar el asunto directa y fácilmente a través de la web de Trainline en vez de tener que lidiar con Renfe.
  • Asientos de clase turista del AVE. Foto de Tim Adams.

    Elección de asiento y clase: Trainline gana por goleada a los portales privados, en gran parte gracias a darnos a escoger pasillo, ventana o asientos monoplaza cuando los hay, además de asientos orientados en dirección a la marcha.

  • Sin anuncios: a diferencia de otros portales privados, al navegar por Trainline no te salen ventanas emergentes ni otros anuncios para hoteles, alquileres de coches y demás. Vas a la página para comprar billetes y Trainline te lo pone fácil, sin venderte extras.

Algunos inconvenientes (que no nos echan para atrás)

Despite everything, Trainline has four disadvantages:

  • For now, Trainline does not have a flexible dates option that shows the prices of several days at the same time, but neither does Renfe or other options to buy train tickets for domestic journeys.
  • Trainline does not have the «table» option offered by Renfe to seat 3 or 4 people together at a table.
  • A small commission is charged for a few other countries:  while tickets for Spain, Portugal, France, Germany and most other rail networks cost no more than what the national companies themselves charge, on Trainline you will pay a little more for banknotes from the Benelux countries, Austria, Denmark and the Czech Republic, usually between 1 and 4 euros. It is compensated by the fact that the websites of these countries are very inaccessible for foreigners with foreign credit cards.
  • Trainline charges a commission in some cases . This commission is generally around 3% in our tests. It is generally considerably less than what the other platforms charge.
  • For now, Trainline does not offer the large family discount: we can only obtain it through the Renfe website, but we know that Trainline is still working to access this discount.

Other options to book train tickets online to travel around Spain

Above we have commented on why the  Renfe page  is a nuisance to compare train tickets. It doesn’t hurt to take a look, but Trainline connects directly to the Renfe system and in all our tests it managed to offer exactly the same prices.

The website of the French national carrier,   SNFC Connect  (formerly «Voyages-SNCF»), does not normally work very well in Spain, and we have  discussed the problems that foreigners run into  when using it for France itself, but SNFC Connect can be useful for booking tickets from Barcelona to Paris or Lyon, especially if you speak French and manage not to be redirected to its sister site  RailEurope , with much higher prices and annoying ads. If you are outside of Europe, to ensure you stay on SNFC Connect, do not agree to switch to your «local» page if prompted, and do not choose «Rest of World» in the language menu.

If you are going to travel from Spain to France on a one-way trip without a return date, the SNCF «flexible dates» function can sometimes be useful to show you the most suitable date. However, the page gave us critical error messages in our latest tests when we tried to book within SNCF for journeys that started or ended in Spain. In the end, we went back to our favorite portal to make the reservation.

RailEurope (not to be confused with RailEurope, mentioned above) is almost as interesting as our first choice, but charges a commission of £4.95, €5.95 or $5.95, depending on the currency you choose for your purchase.

For Spain, RailEurope offers practically the same options as Trainline. So we think it’s a good choice, but in our tests with complex routes through several countries, Trainline gave better results than RailEurope , as the routes it proposed were cheaper, shorter and with less transfers. We are attentive in case they make any improvements.

Rome2Rio  has a useful search option that compares everything you can think of: cars, buses, planes and trains. However, it does not have complete train routes and charges a commission. You can take a look at it if you hesitate between taking the plane, the bus, the train, etc.

GoEuro : This website also compares planes, buses and trains for some routes in Spain, but it is much less complete for trains compared to Trainline, especially for complex routes and when you have to cross borders. In addition, for train tickets they charge you the reservation fees.

Trenes.com : more of the same, but you only realize that reservation costs are incurred when you hit the button to buy.

Catch it : if you have a Maestro card, you will get a hefty discount (the first price you see, which seems to be for everyone). If not, the prank will be much more expensive than on other platforms.

Conclusion: the easiest and cheapest way to book train tickets to travel around Spain

After our tests, we concluded that, in general,  Trainline  is the best bet for its comfort, route options and prices for traveling by train in Spain.

RailEurope and GoEuro came  in second and third place respectively, and we hope we never have to go back to  Renfe  to buy tickets unless the website improves substantially.


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