The Spanish government wants to relieve the household coffers – from tomorrow, train journeys of less than 300 kilometers in Spain will no longer cost anything.
Tickets are available to both tourists and Spanish residents for bookings on Cercanias (commuter) or Media Distancia (medium-distance) trains operated by Renfe, the national operator. However, the country’s AVE high-speed journeys are excluded.
The new regulation applies to “multiple journey” tickets and can be spread over several days. They are not for single trips.
The Spanish government wants to relieve the household coffers – from tomorrow, train journeys of less than 300 kilometers in Spain will no longer cost anything
Ticket passes can be arranged at train stations after registering online for a Mas Renfe card at renfe.com, which will provide you with a QR code to view the station staff. A refundable security deposit of £8.45 is required.
Half-price tickets are available on many routes for journeys over 188 miles. Traveling through Spain’s remote locations by train can be extremely rewarding. But where? Here’s our guide to some great lesser-known rides – for free.
Montserrat to Manresa
Make the Benedictine Monastery in Montserrat (above) the first stop on a rail exploration from Barcelona, then travel inland between crimson mountains to Manresa
Tucked away in the mountains 80km northeast of Barcelona, the Benedictine monastery of Montserrat is home to a famous abbey and an icon of the Black Virgin.
Make this the first stop on a railroad exploration from Barcelona, then travel inland between crimson mountains to Manresa, home to ancient churches, plazas and the cave where St. Ignatius experienced revelations in 1522. From there, the rest of Catalonia opens up.
Trip: 37 minutes, 13 miles.
Start from: Barcelona.
Possible regional stops: Tarragona, Vilanova i la Geltru, Lleida, Figueres.
Oviedo to Ferrol
This cathedral city of Oviedo is famous for its medieval centre, Museo de Belles Artes and fun sidrerias (cider bars).
Renfe operates fantastic narrow gauge trains across the north coast from the French border to Ferrol, a naval port on the Atlantic.
One of the most scenic drives is along the Oviedo route. This old cathedral city is famous for its medieval centre, Museo de Belles Artes and cheerful sidrerias (cider bars). The drive to Ferrol in the Galicia region winds through undulating hills before hugging the dramatic coastline.
Trip: 6h 14m, 157 miles.
Start from: Oviedo.
Possible regional stops: Ribadeo, A Coruña, Santiago de Compostela, Leon.
Badajoz to Merida
The drive to Merida (above) travels through arid landscape and arrives at a magnificent Roman aqueduct
The Extremadura region is tucked away in southwestern Spain and this drive from Badajoz takes you through sparsely populated countryside to the ancient Roman city of Merida.
Badajoz has a beautiful cathedral and a Moorish castle. The journey to Merida passes through an arid landscape and arrives at a magnificent Roman aqueduct.
Trip: 45 minutes, 39 miles.
Start from: Seville.
Possible stops nearby: Llerena, Caceres, Almaden, Cordoba.
Aranjuez to Cuenca
Cuenca’s old town is perched on a cliff with “hanging houses” towering over a gorge
Aranjuez, 56km south of Madrid, is known for its royal estate dating back to 1560 with picturesque palace gardens and peaceful squares. The slow train to Cuenca, 90 miles east, traverses a beautiful, remote landscape of wheat fields and orchards before entering rugged mountains. Cuenca’s old town is perched on a cliff with ‘hanging houses’ towering over a gorge, as well as numerous art galleries and a medieval cathedral.
Trip: 2h 14m, 91 miles.
Start from: Madrid.
Possible stops nearby: Alcázar de San Juan, Albacete, Ciudad Real, Valencia.
Xativa to Alcoy
From Xativa (above) a railway winds between the peaks to reach the hidden town of Alcoy
The town of Xativa, 40 miles south of Valencia, is dominated by a hilltop castle overlooking the Alicante mountains. From Xativa a railway winds between the peaks to reach the hidden town of Alcoy. In the old town, perched on a ridge, there is a museum explaining the fascinating history of the 19th-century workers’ uprisings and the ornate houses of former factory owners.
Trip: 1h 32m, 32 miles.
Start from: Valencia.
Possible stops nearby: Gandia, Alicante, Benidorm, Murcia.
TO THE SOUTH
Bobadilla to Algeciras
Bobadilla (above) is home to an old-fashioned train station cafe where locals exchange gossip and watch train passengers (and trains) come and go
Bobadilla is a small village that acts as a stopover on lines connecting Malaga, Seville and Algeciras. It’s home to an old-fashioned train station cafe where locals exchange gossip and watch train passengers (and trains) come and go.
The relaxing drive south from here traverses a tomato-red landscape dotted with cacti, meandering between hills and alongside rivers. Algeciras is an interesting port with a Moroccan flair (it’s only 30 miles by ferry from Tangier).
Locals smoke hookahs in cafes, with Gibraltar and Africa on the horizon.
Trip: 2h 38m, 104 miles.
Start from: Seville.
Possible stops nearby: Ronda, Cadiz, Granada.
Tom Chesshyre is the author of Slow Trains Around Spain: A 3,000-Mile Adventure On 52 Rides.