Spain is hostile for InterRailers

Krzysztof @ 09-08-2008 13:30

First of all, the supplements: the highest - right after Greece - in the whole IR network. Even higher than the brochure you get with your ticket states: you pay the €6.50 and €0,25 for gastos gestion, which stands for administrative costs I believe. But that's at least what you expect before you go. Who would expect that there are also supplements for regional trains? I had already travelled a few regional trains which were marked on the timetables at the stations with the letter R for reserva simply ignoring it, as virtually ALL trains were marked with it and assuming that reservation was possible but not obligatory on these trains. It was all right - I mean the ticket inspectors were satisfied with the IR global passes we presented and did not require anything else - till the day we wanted to travel from Salamanca to Avila and the timetable plainly read: reserva obligatorio. The cashier confirmed and informed us that the price was €4. Too much for a short trip on a regional train I believe, especially that a regular one-way ticket on this route costs only €8,25! Our decision was not to pay supplements for regional trains unless somewhere was clearly stated that reservation is obligatory. It worked, but on our last trip the ticket inspector demanded reservations from us. We acted dumb, showing him the InterRail information leaflet where regional trains are not listed as subject to supplements. He finally said OK, but warned us for the future that we also need reservations for regional trains.

So the truth about RENFE is that you can travel comfortably on high-speed (mine never reached more than 180 kph) trains (and watch pretty new Hollywood blockbusters on DVD, dubbed) for €6,75 (French TGV, really fast, costs €3 unless you travel at peak time, then it's €10; German ICE, really fast, is free - reservation possible, but not obligatory). On regional trains you might only expect some discount - what can I call the necessity to pay €4 reservation if the ticket is €8.25, and return ticket even cheaper. Truly free are only Cercanias (suburban) trains... They are frequent but slow and they only run around few major cities (map and list here:

Another thing: the connections. They can be scarce. Examples: if you want to head mainland from Gijon on the north coast, you can only choose from five trains throughout the day, including a night train (all subject to supplements); from Salamanca to Ciudad Rodrigo - just one train a day, at 04:51, book at least a week before the journey as it's the only train from the north of Spain to Portugal... And generally: I do believe that they do not know what convenient connection with a change is. At least this is not a common practice there: if you have have to wait 60mins you might consider yourself lucky.

The network: some routes are operated by companies independent from RENFE and, as such, do not participate in InterRail. This is irritating especially when you are exploring the north coast. The very useful line along the coast is operated by FEVE. If you want to travel from Bilbao to Santander (distance of not even 100km) you can make a round trip of about 400km by RENFE through Miranda de Ebro, Burgos and Palencia - at least 8hrs 16mins and at least two supplements or a direct trip by FEVE: a bit shorter than 3hrs for €7.25. The choice seems obvious - just don't forget to ask yourself the question What on earth did I buy my IR pass for!?

The information: the first thing I buy on arrival to another country is the timetable. No problem in the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic, Hungary, Portugal. Available even in Poland, for a horrid price of €18 though. It does make planning easier. But not in Spain. No book timetable available. You can only collect free leaflets at the stations when you arrive there. There is a separate leaflet for each route from the station, for example connections with a major city eastward and another leaflet for connections with a major city northward. For high-speed trains stopping at the station there separate leaflets. Cercanias, the suburban lines, have their own leaflets of course. Not all stations display timetibles. The Gijon-Cercanias station only displays the nearest departures and arrivals on TV-panels, no leaflets available to be taken from a stand when the ticket window is closed. If you like playing hide-and-seek you'll surely find the timetables for suburban and high-speed trains, in two different places. But there are also at least two regional trains - I only know that because I arrived on one of them from Leon!

The ticket windows: the service is extremely slow. In Salamanca I entered the hall at 17:58. Three customers were being served at three windows. It was 18:12 when the queue moved and another customer was able to approach the window. Fortunately there were only three people before me in the queue, so I was served within 30mins. Things were slightly better in Gijon: one window, three people before me (one only asked briefly for information) - 20mins. I recommend booking early.

And something positive before I finish, so that nobody could say I'm biased: you can use use the toilets at the stations for free.

kamikatze @ 01-02-2009 15:23

so do you think it would actually be cheaper to travel without interrail ticket in spain?? (we want to go to the south cost (barcelona area) as quick as possible from the french border at the northeast cost)
and could you tell me if it's possible to camp on the beach in most spain cost areas? that would be cool... 🙂

Pete @ 02-02-2009 13:01

from the French border (coming from Perpignan / Portbou) you can use a regional train (free of supplements) to Barcelona.

wardsd @ 07-03-2009 09:45

I am traveling from Madrid to Sevilla, then back with some mini travel to Toledo, Cordoba, and Segovia. We will also try the ferry to Tangier. I am wondering if (given all the talk about supplemnts,etc), it is better to travel without the interrail pass. My friend is meeting me in Madrid and she is coming from the States (therefore a different pass)...will that be a problem?

Pete @ 07-03-2009 09:55

your friend can travel with the same trains ... have a look at the Eurail website if there are different supplements. but normally it is the same like for InterRailers.
for the supplements: of course you have to pay sometimes a lot... but you can try to avoid it. even if this is not always possible.
you can also get cheap normal train tickets for Spain: but then you have to book very early (at least 1 months in advance) and you are fixed on the train and date.
so you have to find the best way for you: to stay flexible and pay some more Euros, or to have a fixed plan with a fixed route and try to get these cheap tickets via the Spanish railway company website.
maybe it is even the best to just rent a car... ?!? 😲
but there are still a lot of InterRailers in Spain ... 🙂
have a good time... Peter 🙂

respiko @ 07-03-2009 15:03

if i want to go from barcelona to granada i'll have to book 1 month in advance? 😲

Hetman @ 07-03-2009 17:26

do it as fast as posible. later can be too late!

respiko @ 07-03-2009 22:18

i'm interrailing in july/august, but it's kinda weird to have to book so early 😲

but thanks for the tip.

Pete @ 08-03-2009 07:08

onyl if you travel without (!!) an InterRail ticket you have to buy your ticket early in advance to get a cheap price.

if you travel with InterRail, you just buy your reservation (if needed) at the day you travel or some days in advance when traveling at peak times. 🙂

sumska--vila @ 31-05-2009 14:11

I hope somebody is still reading this topic to answer me 🙂

We are planning a trip to Andalusia in august or september this year including cordoba, granada, sevilla and maybe cadiz or malaga.

I have a lot of questions about interrail.
first- I have a doubt because I don't even know if there is a train to all of this cities which values the interrail ticket and if it is, how much supplements I have to expect and how much does the each supplement cost?
and, does anybody know which are the regular prices without interrail for train or bus between this 5 cities?
second- so, if I decide to travel with interrail, after I buy a ticket and prepare myself to pay all the supplements for each trip, I still have to buy ticket for my country??- from my city to border, or?? (I'm from Croatia and live in Zagreb so, if I get this well, I have to pay ticket from Zagreb to Slovenia, and then, entering Slovenia, my interrail ticket is valid? of course if I buy global pass)

this are all the cons, now here are the pros: :P

definitely I'm planning to take low cost flight from Italy, Milano (5eu) to Granada, because 5 euros are not much in comparison to 25 hours by train from Croatia to Spain;
but still, I have to come , in any kind of a way, to Italy, so if I buy global pass I don't have to buy ticket to Milano. :

we also have an idea of continuing our trip to portugal - it would pay out if we buy interrail.

so, this are my question, I appreciate any kind of help. of course, we want to see as much as we can for the money we have, so here are lot of combination and maybe someone more experienced can give me a good advice.

Thank you!
looking forward to meet Andalusia 🙂

Flo @ 05-06-2009 20:06

Well then.

If buying a global pass you will have two possibilities of getting to Milano:

Zagreb 2335 - Venezia 0704
Venezia 0716 - Milano 0925

5€ supplement for EN to Venezia, 15€ for ES to Milano; fastest connection

Alternatively you can take the route via Villach, there are more connections (day and night) that take a little longer than the above suggested route, total supplements may be a little higher.

From Granada you can go to all of the cities you mentionend. It would be sensible to visit them in the following order: Granada - Malaga - Cordoba - Sevilla - Cadiz (or Cadiz - Sevilla).

There are several connections between those cities, use the travel planner to look for trains without supplements! You don't want to spend something like 10€ extra for a one-hour trainride.
If you want to continue to Portugal the most sensible way is described here:
[old link was removed]

Supplements in Portugal are 4€ for IC, 8€ for AP.

And yes, you still would need to buy a ticket Zagreb - Dobova.

sumska--vila @ 05-06-2009 20:59

flow, thank you for your information.
I've already decided not to take global pass for this trip and now I see it was a good decision
(for 300 euros I can travel from my origin city to London 60 times by plane :P )

anyway, the idea of interrail europe is great, but maybe for another trip 🙂

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