AVE, Spain's high-Speed Railway System

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Spain train map - AVE - High speed train

The AVE is Spain’s uber-comfortable, high end high speed railway system. Most of the peninsula is connected by these trains and its the easiest and quickest way of getting around in Spain. Now AVE is even coming out with a low cost service so everyone can enjoy the high-speed life style. Find out more below, including a Spain train map (with AVE and AVLO) connections.

Alta Velocidad Española translates to “Spanish High Speed”, but the initials are also a play on the word ave, meaning “bird”. in August of 2017 the AVE network became the second longest in high speed railway in the world behind China’s with over 3,240 km of track. 

The trains run of tracks owned by ADIF that manages most of the countries rails.  The first high speed line opened in 1992, connecting the cities of MadridCórdoba and Seville. The majority of the tracks in Spain use a broad gauge network. This was done originally as a strategy so that potential invading forces could not use the railway to travel through the peninsula.  The AVE uses standard gauge permiting direct connections to the French railway network at the Perthus Tunnel.

AVE Trains in Spain

How to book trains in Spain?

There are several ways to book trains in Spain, including through the official website of RENFE. But most of these, including RENFE’s website, are frustrating to say the least. Many are outdated and offer confusing information and it can be hard to navigate.

However, our guides have found that there is one site that is easy to use, has up-to-date information, and offers a variety of solutions that for every kind of Budget.

Omio is the best way to book trains, buses, and even flights in Spain. It is the aggregator with the most comprehensive info for traveling in Spain specifically. Check out their site by clicking here: 

Experts choice

AVE  map 2020

Here you can check out the full AVEtrain network map across Spain and find the best rout for you:

– AVE Madrid-Barcelona (Madrid-Zaragoza-Lleida-Tarragona-Barcelona) * algunos trenes continúan hasta Girona-Frontera francesa
– Avlo Madrid-Barcelona (Madrid-Zaragoza-Barcelona). This is our recommended connection for this Barcelona to Madrid vacation
– AVE Madrid-Sevilla (Madrid-Ciudad Real-Córdoba-Sevilla). This is the first AVE connection opened in Spain. This is connection is perfect for this Madrid to Seville vacation trip
– AVE Madrid-Granada (Madrid-Córdoba-Granada)
– AVE Madrid-Valencia (Madrid-Cuenca-Valencia)
– AVE Madrid-Valladolid (Madrid-Segovia-Valladolid)
– AVE Madrid-León (Madrid-Segovia-Valladolid-Palencia-León)
– AVE Madrid-Málaga (Madrid-Córdoba-Málaga) This is the perfect way to enjoy a city-break in Malaga

– AVE Madrid-Huesca (Madrid-Guadalajara-Zaragoza-Huesca)

– AVE Madrid-Albacete (Madrid-Cuenca-Albacete)
– AVE Madrid-Alicante (Madrid-Cuenca-Albacete-Alicante). This is very much used in Spain for locals with secondary homes in Alicante. 
– AVE Madrid-Castellón (Madrid-Valencia-Castellón)
– AVE Málaga-Barcelona (Málaga-Córdoba-Zaragoza-Tarragona-Barcelona)
– AVE Barcelona-Sevilla (Barcelona-Tarragona-Lleida-Zaragoza-Ciudad Real-Córdoba-Sevilla)
– AVE Barcelona-Granada (Barcelona-Tarragona-Lleida-Zaragoza-Córdoba-Granada)
– AVE Valencia-Sevilla (Valencia-Cuenca-Ciudad Real-Córdoba-Sevilla)

The AVE is Spain’s high-speed train system and one of the best ways of traveling across the Iberian peninsula. The main hub for the AVE trains is Madrid and from here you can get to most of the large cities in Spain: Barcelona, Córdoba, Seville, Granada, etc., and in many cases faster than traveling by plane.

The AVE trains are spacious and comfortable and the perfect way to take day trips a little out of car driving range. Spain boasts the second-largest high-speed network in the world, second only to China, so no matter where you are headed in Spain, there is probably a high-speed train that can get you there. 

The AVE high-speed network is also in constant expansion, improving the connectivity across the peninsula. Recently, the region of Galicia was connected to the Madrid – Valladolid line, making it easier than ever to visit the many spectacular cities of this region.  A new expansion project has been approved by the Spanish government and will be completed by 2025.  

7 Popular Routes


Madrid – Cordoba – Seville

This was the first AVE rout connecting the capital to two of the most beautiful cities of Southern Spain.

Córdoba, home to the famous Mezquita, is just 1 hour and 45 minutes from Madrid, making it a great place for a day trip if you are staying in Madrid. Seville is just slightly further south and about a 2-and-a-half-hour train ride. Seville is vibrant and romantic, filled with excellent bar and restaurants an many cool things to do and see. If you planning on traveling down to Seville form Madrid, you might want to set aside a weekend.

Madrid – Zaragoza – Tarragona – Barcelona

This is the most popular AVE route. It connects Madrid and Barcelona with several stops along the way the most important being at Zaragoza, the amazing “windy city” of Spain, between Madrid and Barcelona, and just south of Barcelona at Tarragona, a popular and beautiful beachside city. 

There is a Madrid- Barcelona plane shuttle that will get you to Barcelona in an hour, but the train is much less of a hassle and in general a more romantic experience than the plane. 

Madrid to Toledo 

Another great day trip option. Toledo is a spectacular medieval city, just south of Madrid and the high-speed train will get you there in just half an hour.

Toledo is a day trip you can take from Madrid that is absolutely worth taking especially considering that it is so quick and easy to get there from Madrid’s Atocha train station. We highly recommend making the trip down.

Toledo looks like something straight out of Game of Thrones: a medieval city that sits atop a rocky hill, surrounded by a natural moat created by the Tajo river. Toledo is filled to the brim with historical sites to visit, including the famous Cathedral of Toledo and on every corner, you will find a sword shop, as Toledo has long been famous for it’s metal work. 

Madrid – Cuenca – Valencia 

This route is pretty interesting and very much underrated. If you wanted to you could plan an overnight trip to the picturesque city of Cuenca located in the northeast of the region Castilla La Mancha. and be there in under an hour. Cuenca is home to the famous hanging houses and is the perfect place to enjoy some of the delicious traditional Castilian food. 

The next, and last stop on the trip would be Valencia. Valencia is one of the largest and most beautiful cities in the country. Valencia is the birthplace, and the best place in Spain to enjoy a paella and has tons of sites to see including the City of Arts and Sciences, and the magnificent cathedral of Valencia. It is also the site of the famous Fallas bonfire celebration that is held every year from the 15th of March to the 19th. 

Madrid – Córdoba – Granada or Málaga

A straight connection between the capital to the jewels of Andalucía. In just under 2 hours you can hop on a train in Madrid and arrive in Córdoba, home to the magical Mezquita (the Grand Mosque) of Córdoba, and the famous Patios. Córdoba is one of the essential stops when visiting Andalucía. 

From there, you can then choose to head to Granada or Málaga. Granada is an hour and twenty minutes away and Málaga is just a 50-minute ride. Both of these cities are spectacularly beautiful and full of history, and Málaga also is on the beach. 

Granada is one of the most romantic cities in the world and home to the spectacular Alhambra. Málaga, on top of offering several spectacular beaches, is home to the Alcazaba of Málaga and an ancient roman theater so there is a ton of history and culture to experience as well. 

Madrid – Segovia – Valladolid – Santiago de Compostela

This is one of the newest high-speed routes you can enjoy in Spain. From Madrid’s Chamartin train station you can hop on a train that will take you across the peninsula and get you to the northwestern region of Galicia

The train makes several stops along the way that a worth checking out. First is the medieval city of Segovia. Segovia is spectacularly beautiful and has several historical sites that a more than worthy of a visit. You have to check out the iconic roman aqueduct, the fary-tale-book-worthy Alcazar and the gorgeous Cathedral of Segovia

The next stop on the trip is the city of Valladolid, one of the largest and most beautiful cities in Castilla y León, located in the heart of the Ribera del Duero wine region

The last stop on the route is the spectacularly beautiful city of Santiago de Compostela. Santiago de Compostela is famously the last stop on the Camino de Santiago and home to the world-famous Cathedral of Santiago. it is also a gastronomic hub and one of the best places to indulge in traditional Galician cuisine. 

Madrid – Cadiz

This route will take you through Seville on your way to a very unique city on the Spanish coast: Cádiz. The city of Cádiz is located on a small peninsula that jets out into the waters where the Atlantic ocean and the Mediterranean sea meet. It has long been an important strategic location to control naval transit. 

Because of this, Cádiz is one of the oldest settlements in the Iberian peninsula, dating back over 3 thousand years. Cádiz has some very nice beaches where you can kick back and relax, as well as several historic sites that are worth visiting including the spectacular cathedral of Cádiz.   

Other destinations

Aside from these more popular stops along the high-speed train network, there are still a ton of other places worth visiting that the AVE can get you to in a heartbeat. If you are one of those people that prefer to visit places slightly off the beaten path you might want to check out these destinations: 


Huesca is located in the northeast quadrant of Spain, near Catalonia. Huesca is part of the autonomous community of Aragón, whose capital city is Zaragoza which has already been mentioned in this article. 

Huesca is the name of both a city and a province. The city of Huesca (where you will find the AVE train station) is charming and picturesque and is definitely worth, at least a day exploring.

The province of Huesca on the other hand enjoys a unique natural beauty that is absolutely worth exploring. Huesca is home to the Ordesa y Monte Perdido National park. The National Parks of Spain enjoys the highest category within the country’s park system because of their unique beauty, history, and ecosystems. 

Ordesa y Monte Perdido is one of the most visited of Spain’s National Parks. The park is located in the Pyrenees and attracts over half a million visitors every year. It‘s that beautiful. It is the oldest protected natural space in Spain. It became a national park all the way back in 1918. The park is also a Biosdera reserve and a UNESCO world heritage site


León is one of the most underrated destinations in all of Spain. León is the Capitol of the region of Castilla y León. It is located in the northernmost portion of the region and shares a border with Asturias.   

León has been a settlement since 24 AC and it became the capital of what was then the Kingdom of León in 910. It is safe to say that it is a city with a rich history, and it is chock full of sites to visit including several Gaudi-designed houses, a gorgeous Basilica, and a spectacular cathedral. Definitely worth a visit. 

A Coruña  

Another beautiful city in the region of Galicia. Galicia in general is very different from the rest of the country, with very specific and delicious gastronomy and is more lush and green than most of Spain.

A Coruña in particular is one of the most beautiful cities in the region, with tones of history and some of the best food you will taste in all of Galicia. 

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