Travelling on an AVE train

At a glance

  • High speed train
  • Spain
  • France


© Gatsi

AVE (Alta Velocidad Española) high-speed services, operated by Spanish national rail company Renfe, constitute the top-end of Spain’s range of long-distance trains, running at up to 310km/h. Playing on the spanish word for bird, “ave,” AVE trains use high-speed routes to connect major Spanish cities.

AVE trains are used on all services between Spain and France except for trains running to Paris and Toulouse (which use TGV inOUI trains). Within Spain, AVEs operate on many routes from the Spanish capital, connecting Madrid with Barcelona, Seville, Léon, Alicante, Málaga and Valencia.

They also run on inter-regional routes, for example from Barcelona and Valencia to Seville and Malaga. For stunning scenery, the Madrid to Córdoba route is hard to beat – the railway slices through the wild Sierra Morena.

With AVE trains, travellers can speed between Paris and Barcelona in 6 hrs 29 mins, Lyon and Barcelona in 5 hrs and Montpellier and Barcelona in 2 hrs 52 mins.

Practical information

© Renfe

Before you board

Tickets and reservations will be checked on the platform before boarding AVE trains. Check-in for AVE trains opens 30 mins before the train leaves and closes 5 mins before departure.

Express check-in is available, which takes 10 mins. Before boarding any train at a Spanish mainline station, travellers are required to put their luggage through an X-ray security check.


AVE trains are spacious, modern and air conditioned and their design was inspired by French TGV trains.

Free wifi is available in both First Class and Standard Class.

Power sockets are available at every AVE seat, as are at-seat radios.

There is good luggage space onboard with up to three pieces of luggage allowed onboard per person. Each piece of luggage should not exceed 85cm x 55cm x 35cm. The total weight of all three pieces must not exceed 25kg.

Bicycles are allowed onboard, free of charge. Just make sure to fold it or disassemble it and put it in a case no bigger than 120cm x 90cm. Read more about taking your bikes on trains in our Help article.

Pets under 10 kg can be taken onboard, although they must travel in a carrier that does not exceed 60cm x 35cm x 35cm.

Travellers benefit from a bilingual France-Spain High Speed train team who speak Spanish and French. Audio and onscreen messages are delivered in French, Spanish and English.

If you are travelling with small children, there is access to changing facilities and play areas onboard AVE trains.

Assistance and seat reservations are available for passengers with reduced mobility, free of charge.

Every AVE train has a café or buffet car accessible to all passengers, offering hot and cold snacks and drinks during your journey. At lunch and dinner time hot meals can be ordered. Don’t expect fine dining; you’ll either take your snack back to your seat or enjoy it while standing at one of the bar tables in the buffet car.

Booking and printing options

AVE tickets are open for bookings 90 days in advance.

AVE is a reservation-only service.

Get the lowest prices on AVE by booking early and don’t wait until the last minute as cheaper seats sell out quickly.

Opt for off-peak AVE trains when you have to travel at short notice. Off-peak AVE trains are more affordable than ones that run mornings and evenings, Fridays and Sundays or during popular holidays.

Classes of service

AVE trains offer two classes of seated accommodation: Standard Class and First Class.

Ave First Class

Upgrade to First Class (called Preferente) on AVE trains to gain access to free newspapers and a meal served directly at your seat on longer journeys (Monday-Friday only). Seating is even more spacious with three reclining seats across the aisle rather than four. Passengers with a ‘Flexible’ or ‘Promo+’ ticket have access to Renfe’s club lounges, located at major stations.

Ave Standard Class

Seating in Standard Class (called Turista) on AVE trains is arranged in pairs of airline-style seats across a central aisle. The open-plan carriages are comfortable and offer good legroom. Luggage can be stored in the racks at the end of each carriage and overhead. There are power sockets and onboard radio facilities at your seat.

Child and youth passengers

The definition of "Child" and "Youth" varies by country and operator. This is why we ask for the age of young passengers.

Sometimes children below a certain age can travel without a seat for free. If you want to guarantee a seat for child passengers, enter '6' as the age of the child.

Read more about child and youth passenger ages. See also youth discounts and railcards.