Free trains in Spain for 2022: best routes
Faced with soaring fuel prices across Europe, Spain has announced a historic measure: from September 1 to December 31, multi-trip train tickets will be free.
This brand new policy aims to encourage the use of trains, and it is valid for routes operated by Cercanías, Rodalies and Media Distancia, railway lines that cover local and medium distances, usually up to 300 kilometers.
Although there is no official statement (yet) on the requirements or how users will be able to benefit from such discounts, the Spanish government has already stated that they will apply to return tickets – to the same destination – for a minimum of 10 journeys.
Note that the measure does not include long-distance train journeys or the AVE, Avant and Avlo high-speed lines.
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The capital of Spain is the main transport hub in the country, with direct trains to almost all major cities. Close to Madrid, however, there are more than a few interesting towns located in the historic region of Castile, all of which make excellent day trips from Madrid.
Toledo is perhaps the most visited city around Madrid. Home to swordsmiths and one of the largest old towns in Europe, its historic town was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986. It is made up of architectural masterpieces: the result of different civilizations who have lived in Toledo for over 2000 years, including Romans, Muslims, Jews and Christians.
Those looking for a rare culinary experience can take a train to Segovia, located less than 100 km north of Madrid, famous nationally for its cochinillo asado (roasted piglet), always served crispy and washed down with local red wine. If local food isn’t reason enough, Segovia is also home to the world’s best-preserved Roman aqueduct, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985.
If you want to escape the crowds, you might want to try Cuenca, a medieval walled city that’s also Unesco-listed for its unusual hanging houses and Spain’s first Gothic cathedral.
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The most touristic city in Spain is the ideal base for exploring the region of Catalonia.
First-timers should take the train to Girona, a 2000-year-old city founded by the Romans, which also contains one of the best-preserved Jewish quarters in the world. The tangled medieval lanes of the Old Town were also a major filming location for Game of Thrones. Continue on the same train for another 30 minutes and you will arrive in Figueres, the birthplace of painter Salvador Dalí. The city is home to its museum, which contains the largest collection of works by the artist.
An easy and short train journey from Barcelona could also be Sitges, a lively and sophisticated coastal town with whitewashed houses, filled with restaurants serving Catalan cuisine. Try xató, a local sauce made with almonds, vinegar and red pepper, usually eaten with anchovies, cod and salads. Sitges is also the center of LGTB+ tourism in Spain.
Plus, consider getting off the beaten track by visiting Vic, a rarely visited town in central Catalonia famous not only for its medieval architecture but also for producing the best fit together (pork meats) throughout the Autonomous Region. Don’t forget to buy fuet and longanissa from one of their many butcher shops. The people of Vic are also known to have the strongest Catalan identity in the entire region.
Bilbao is the most populated city in the Basque Country.
If you were to make just one train journey from Bilbao, it would have to be to San Sebastian (Donostia, in the local tongue), Spain’s finest city. The main reason to come here, however, is that most Spaniards agree that San Sebastian offers the best cuisine in all of Spain, ranging from budget pinchos (local tapas) to a wide range of Michelin star restaurants.
Wine lovers may also have heard of Rioja wines. They are all produced in a Spanish region called La Rioja, Logroño being its capital. Although the best vineyards are not in present-day Logroño, all of its bars and restaurants offer a long list of Rioja wines to try. Plus, the old town is particularly lively around 1 and 7 p.m., when locals gather over a few glasses of wine and tapas, before going to lunch and dinner respectively, making for a great local experience.
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Málaga is the most cosmopolitan city in the Andalusia region, and also a transport hub for getting anywhere in the region.
Andalusia’s capital is Seville, Spain’s fourth largest city, and an open-air museum containing countless examples of jaw-dropping Moorish and Gothic architecture, such as the city’s Alcazar and Cathedral . Andalusia is the birthplace of flamenco, so the capital has no shortage of flamenco-related activities. With that and the fact that it is home to two prominent football clubs, Sevilla FC and Real Betis, it’s no wonder Lonely Planet chose Seville as the best city to travel to in 2018.
Often overlooked by tourists, Cadiz is an ancient port city located on the southern Atlantic coast of Spain. Cadiz is known for its local and friendly nightlife, especially during the summer season. February should also be a great time to come, as their Carnival is said to be one of the best in Spain. In Cadiz, we love seafood and tend to eat it fried. An essential local specialty is camarone tortitasconsisting of a fried dough stuffed with shrimp.
Alicante belongs to the Comunidad Valenciana region, with Valencia as its capital, but Alicante has the main airport.
Valencia is the third most important city in the country. They often like to compare it to Barcelona, as they are similar in many ways but, being far less touristy, Valencia has a more noticeable local feel, making it one of the most charming and welcoming cities to visit in the country. . Remember that paella is a dish that originated in the Comunidad Valenciana so, as the regional capital, you are supposed to find the most delicious and authentic paella in the whole world here.
Very few travelers know of a city called Elche, but we think it is definitely worth taking a train trip because here you can visit El Palmeral, a veritable oasis made of date palm groves built by the Arabs in the 10th century, now considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Heritage site for its complex irrigation system.
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How to take a train in Spain
Renfe is the national railway company in Spain, which operates several types of trains, depending on region and speed.
These are the main trains running in Spain.
Cercanías: These trains connect the main cities to their metropolitan area. Cercanías operates in Alicante, Barcelona, Bilbao, Cadiz, Madrid, Malaga, Oviedo Santander, San Sebastian, Seville, Valencia and Zaragoza.
Rodalies: Same concept as Cercanías, but only operates in the Catalonia region.
MARYLAND: It usually connects different cities, towns and villages in the same autonomous region,
Regional: Same concept as MD, but with more stops, so slower (and cheaper).
Timetables can be checked on renfe.com but tickets cannot be purchased online. You have to buy them at the counter or from the respective distributors. MD and Regional also allow tickets to be purchased on the train itself, but you must bring cash.
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WAY : It is the first and main high-speed train in service in the country, connecting dozens of Spanish cities with several trains a day.
Before : Avant is the high-speed train used for short and medium distances.
Avlo: It is the brand new high-speed low-cost train.
Timetables and ticket prices can be checked on renfe.com. It is recommended to book well in advance.
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