Cross Spain by train for only €25! Spanish train operator RENFE announced 5th monthly sale to celebrate the 25th anniversary of its high-speed rail network AVE. I prepared a small Q&A and tips and tricks to help you get those tickets.
This year is very special: AVE and Iberia Plus are both celebrating their 25th anniversaries in 2017! Renfe is celebrating it with fantastic monthly sales which allow you to save 75% or more.
What is AVE
AVE is an abbreviation for Alta Velocidad Española which translates to “Spanish High Speed”. But word ‘ave’ also means “bird”.
AVE started in 1992, connecting Seville, Cordova and Madrid. 25 years later the Spanish AVE system is the longest high-speed rail network in Europe with 3,240 km and the second longest in the world, after China’s, reaching speed up to 310 km/h.
To celebrate AVE’s 25th anniversary, RENFE is holding monthly ticket sales on the 25th of each month, selling 25,000 one-way tickets for 25 euros each. The first sale took place in April. There is no clear info how many sales will be this year, but there is one happening tomorrow (from midnight tonight) and you can bag very good bargains.
Normally AVE tickets are quite expensive. For example, the most popular route – Madrid-Barcelona – takes only 2h 30m, but return ticket can cost from 80 to 250+ euros, depending on how late you buy and what class of journey you choose. So 50 euros return ticket to Madrid – which you can get tomorrow – is a very good deal!
But real gems are long-distance cross-country routes: to Sevilla, Malaga, Vigo, Barcelona, Figueras and other wonderful Spanish cities.
For example, during a similar sale last month I got a return ticket from Barcelona to Sevilla for 50 euros. Full price ticket for the same date and time is almost 200 euros! That’s 75% off!
Ultimate guide to RENFE 25 sale
Info about these sales is scattered across various web pages which are not always in English, so I did some leg work a prepared a Q&A for you.
Q: When is the sale?
A: Sale starts in the early hours of the 25th of August. Ideally, you should be ready by 23:55 on 24th of August, to book these prize tickets! 🙂 Based on the last few sales, tickets are sold out within 30 min, so by 00:30 on the 25th of August they are likely to be all gone.
Q: When can I travel?
A: Sale is covering a period from 4th of September 2017 till 30th of November 2017. So if you want to buy those 25 euro tickets, outbound or return should be within this date range.
Q: How many tickets will be on sale?
A: 25,000 tickets.
Q: Which trains are part of the sale?
A: 25 euro tickets are only for AVE (high-speed) and Alvia (long-distance) trains. You can check AVE destinations here: http://www.renfe.com/EN/viajeros/larga_distancia/productos/index.html and long-distance trains Alvia here: http://www.renfe.com/EN/viajeros/larga_distancia/productos/alvia.html
Q: Are changes allowed?
A: No, the sale is only for direct routes, without changes. For example, if you want to go Barcelona – Cadiz, you need to buy 2 tickets: Barcelona – Sevilla and Sevilla – Cadiz, because there is no direct train from Barcelona to Cadiz. It’s advisable to research destinations first.
Q: How many tickets can I buy?
A: You can buy up to 4 tickets per person. Don’t forget these tickets can be for yourself or for someone else – your friends, relatives, etc. Just put their names in.
Q: Where can I buy tickets?
A: You can only buy it via renfe.com website. Don’t try RENFE app or ticket office (all promo tickets will be gone by the morning anyway).
Q: Can I get a refund for this promo ticket if my plans change?
A: Unfortunately, not. These 25 euros tickets have the same conditions as other ‘Promo’ rates: no refunds, no changes, no VIP lounge (Sala VIP). Therefore, you need to decide before you book. You can see T&C for promo tickets here: http://www.renfe.com/EN/viajeros/tarifas/billete_promo.html
Q: Which class of travel can I choose?
A: These promo tickets are only offered for ‘Turista’ class or second class (which is perfectly fine, by the way!).
Q: Can I choose seats for myself and my companions?
A: No, with promo tickets you can’t choose a seat and system will assign them automatically. But based on my experience, when you buy a few tickets in one go, the system normally assigns them next to each other.
Q: How will I know it’s a sale rate?
A: When you put your destination and dates, Renfe website will show you cheapest tickets. Sale rate is called ‘25AniversarioAVE’. The price is also giving it away – it will be 25 euros. Based on my experience, if you don’t see the sale rate, just go back and search again. It should appear after all.
Q: What trains are like?
A: The trains are very nice, actually: new, air-conditioned, spacious, accessible, with bar cars, toilets in each car, TVs, radio and even electricity sockets at each seat, so your devices won’t run out of juice! 🙂 So even 5-6 hours would be easy. And remember, you can bring your own food and drinks onboard! You can check images and specs of the trains here (look for AVE and Alvia): http://www.renfe.com/EN/viajeros/nuestros_trenes/index.html
Q: Where can I read the official announcement regarding this sale?
A: The sale is announced on the main Renfe.com web page and also has a dedicated landing page here: http://blog.renfe.com/2017/08/21/25-000-billetes-25-euros-25-agosto-la-campana-25-aniversario/
Q: What if I missed the sale?
A: Don’t worry, there should be another one next month! I will let you know when I hear more, but it’s very likely that next sale will take place on the 25th of September! 😉
Tips and tricks
If you decide to book something tomorrow, here are a few tips and tricks from Renfe and from my own experience:
- Switch Renfe website into English – look for word ‘Welcome’ on top of the page.
- Create your Renfe profile: it will help to save your ticket reservations.
- Know the sale period: from 4th of September till 30th of November. Any bookings outside of these dates will have normal prices. Choose a few dates when you potentially can travel – you won’t have much time to think when the sale will start.
- Know your destination: check AVE destinations here and long-distance trains Alvia here, and pick a few options, in case some of them will be sold out.
- Do price check: compare regular price for your trip for the chosen dates – that will give you an idea of potential savings. In some cases, regular ‘Promo’ tickets can cost the same or even cheaper. That’s why I personally aim for long-distance, expensive routes.
- Be flexible. It’s easy to say, but it can save you a lot of money: if tickets for the dates you want are sold out, try another destination or date.
- If you can’t see the sale rate – just refresh the page or do the search from the beginning.
- If you can’t find the tickets/rates, official Renfe blog suggests clearing cash in your browser and search again. Although when I bought these tickets during last month’s sale, I didn’t have to clear any cash. But it is good to know.
- If the payment didn’t go through and you didn’t get the ticket, but the charge is showing up on your card statement, don’t worry – normally the charge will disappear in a couple of days. If it doesn’t, then call Renfe Online sales helpline +34 912 180 180 (they do speak English!) and they will be able to remove the charge for you over the phone. Just prepare the card which you used to pay for the ticket – they need to verify some info.
- Don’t panic! Remember: if the campaign runs out, there are other offers, as well as Promo and Promo+ tariffs which can give you up to 70% discount!
- Finally, official Renfe blog and Spanish newspapers are suggesting not to rush to buy tickets at midnight, but rather wait a few minutes and then try. My advice would be: don’t wait! Try booking as soon as the sale starts and you might be lucky! I managed to snap up 2 tickets during last month’s sale: at 00:04 and 00:09. I was constantly entering my destination and date until I found the promo rates.
Do you have any questions? Did you manage to get the tickets? Let me know in the comments! And good luck with the sale! 🙂