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London/Paris to Spain PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Monday, 05 February 2007

Train Travel

How to travel by train from London to Spain including Ibiza, Majorca, Minorca & the Canary Islands

Country information

The main train operator in Spain is RENFE and train times, fares and online booking and can be found at RENFE's UK agent for train bookings to and around Spain at www.spanish-rail.co.uk

For local trains around Bilbao, San Sebastian, French frontier visit www.euskotren.es. For narrow gauge trains in northern Spain: www.feve.es.

For all European train times visit http://bahn.hafas.de. The trainhotel website is www.elipsos.com. For Eurostar times & fares visit www.eurostar.com.

Paris bus & metro map: www.ratp.fr (select 'plans'). Madrid metro: www.metromadrid.es

For Spanish tourist information visit www.okspain.org

To visit Spain by train

Travelling from the UK to Spain couldn't be easier. Travel on the afternoon Eurostar from London to Paris and then the highly recommended 'trainhotel' from Paris to Madrid or Barcelona. Trainhotels have comfortable bedrooms, a restaurant and a café bar. Some of the top of the range rooms even have private toilet and shower facilities. The following morning jump on a fast train from Barcelona to Valencia or Alicante or from Madrid to Malaga, Seveille or Granada. Reasonable fares start at #59 return, London to Paris plus #100 for the trainhotel from Paris to Madrid or Barcelona including a sleeper compartment.

1st class compartments are similar, but have only two seats / beds. 'Gran classe' compartments are similar to 1st class ones, but with a compact toilet and shower en suite.

London to Spain by ferry

London to: Algeciras Alicante Almeria Antequera Barcelona Benidorm Bilbao (by sea) Bobadilla Canary Islands Girona Granada Ibiza Las Palmas Madrid Majorca Malaga Minorca Pamplona Ronda Salamanca San Sebastian Santander (by sea) Segovia Tarragona Tenerife Toledo Valencia Valladolid Zaragoza

London to Madrid

The Puerta del Sol at night, Madrid - an easy trip. Take an afternoon Eurostar to Paris from London and then hop on the trainhotel to Madrid. Have a slap up meal in the restaurant car or a drink or two in the bar before retiring to your sleeper for the night ahead. You'll be awoken by snow capped mountains in Spain as well as the royal palace just north of Madrid. Fares start at #59 return for Eurostar and #100 return for the trainhotel which includes accommodation in a 4 bed tourist class sleeper.

Train times London to Madrid: Travel from London to Paris by Eurostar, leaving London Waterloo at 13:41 and arriving in Paris (Gare du Nord) at 17:23. Cross Paris by métro or walk to the Gare d'Austerlitz. Metro line 5 links Paris Nord & Paris Austerlitz direct, just follow the signs 'M5 direction Place d'Italie'.

Then travel overnight from Paris to Madrid on the trainhotel 'Francisco de Goya' which leaves Paris (Gare d'Austerlitz) each night at 19:43 and arrives in Burgos at 05:20, Valladolid at 06:22 and Madrid (Chamartin station) at 09:13 next morning.

On board the trainhotel Francisco de Goya, the trainhotel has tourist class 4 bed sleepers ('Turista'), first class 1 & 2 bed sleepers ('Preferente'), and 'Gran Classe' 1 & 2 bed sleepers with private toilet and shower . All sleepers have comfortable beds which convert to seats for daytime hours. All compartments have a washbasin, and a basic toiletry bag is supplied. There's luggage space in the recess above the door, projecting over the ceiling of the corridor. The compartment door has both a normal lock and a security lock which CANNOT be opened from outside (even with a staff key). Passengers travelling alone can book a bed in a 4-bed or 2-bed compartment and share with other civilised sleeper passengers of the same sex, this is quite normal. See the photographs above and the picture gallery and amazing virtual tour on the Elipsos website. Reclining seats are not recommended for overnight travel. The trainhotel is entirely non-smoking.The trainhotel consists of a restaurant and a café-bar, serving dinner, breakfast, drinks and snacks. The First Class fare includes a light breakfast in the restaurant car, the Gran Classe fare includes a 3-course evening meal with wine in the restaurant car plus breakfast served either in the restaurant or your own compartment. A starter in the restaurant car costs about 5 Euro, a main course 14 Euro, a half bottle of wine 7 Euro. Continental breakfast in the café-bar or restaurant costs just 4 Euro - you enjoy your coffee and croissant as the trainhotel adds to your glorious journey by including fantastic sunshine to whizing through the rocky hills North of Madrid, with glimpses of mist-filled valleys and mountain peaks in the distance. Look out for the walled city of Avila on the right about 1 hour 20 minutes before Madrid, and for the Spanish royal palace at El Escorial, on the hill to the left of the train about 40 minutes before Madrid.

The train is run by a consortium of the French and Spanish railways called Elipsos. The train is fitted with adjustable axles and is called 'Talgo' - in the early hours of the morning the axles are changed in a special shed from standard French track gauge to Spanish track gauge. You will need to book in advance for the trainhotel - they are very popular. First class and Gran Classe passengers can use the VIP Club lounge at Madrid Chamartin.

Train times Madrid - London: The trainhotel 'Francisco de Goya' leaves Madrid Chamartin every night at 19:00, Valladolid at 21:20 and Burgos at 22:21, arriving Paris (Austerlitz) at 08:27 next morning. Cross Paris by metro (metro line 5 links Paris Nord & Paris Austerlitz, just follow the signs 'M5 direction Bobigny Pablo Picasso'. Eurostar leaves Paris (Gare du Nord) at 10:19 and arrives London Waterloo at 11:55.

***Fares***

*** Fare includes breakfast. **** Fare includes evening meal in restaurant car with wine & breakfast.

Children under 4 go free, as long as the parents have sole use of a compartment.

You can save about 6% on the trainhotel fares by paying in euros at voyages-sncf.com.

Slightly higher fares apply mid-June to mid-September & at Easter.

Buy tickets - online at www.raileurope.co.uk. UK residents can easily buy tickets for both the Eurostar and the Paris-Madrid trainhotel online at www.raileurope.co.uk. There's no booking fee, and tickets can be sent to any UK address. Bookings for the trainhotel open 90 days before departure.

To see the cheap fares, treat London to Madrid as two separate journeys, one London to Paris, the other Paris to Madrid. Book the trainhotel first, from Paris to Madrid and back. When the journey results appear showing the Elipsos trainhotel, click the word 'options' to switch between the different types of sleeper and reclining seat. For reclining seats, select '1st class' and it usually defaults to seat. For 4 berth tourist class sleepers you must select '2nd class' then '4 berth sleeper'. For 1 or 2 bed sleepers, select '1st class' then 'Double cabin' or 'Single cabin'. For 'gran classe' sleepers select '1st class' then single or double sleeper 'with shower'.

When you've booked the trainhotel, click 'add another ticket' and book the Eurostar from London to Paris and back as a separate journey. Don't forget that on your return journey, your departure date from Paris to London will be the day after your departure date from Spain to Paris. For a one-way trip, remember that on Eurostar it is usually cheaper to book a return ticket and throw away the return half.

Tickets are sent from a UK office and usually arrive in a couple of days.

Fares on www.raileurope.co.uk are the same as those on www.voyages-sncf.com, but shown in pounds. You should get a better exchange rate if you buy in euros at www.voyages-sncf.com, although you'll then be dealing with SNCF direct in France.

Buy tickets - online at www.voyages-sncf.com. The fares on www.voyages-sncf.com are the same as those on www.raileurope.co.uk but by paying in euros you'll get a better exchange rate. You can also choose to pick up tickets in Paris or have them sent to addresses in other European countries. Bookings for the trainhotel open 90 days before departure.

In order to have your tickets posted to a UK address you will need to select 'Great Britain'. If you want all the cheap fares to show up, you must then select 'payment online in euros', as they may not show up otherwise. Alternatively, tickets can be posted to addresses in many other countries including most European countries, but not the USA, Canada, Singapore, Australia or New Zealand.

Again, to get the best fares, treat London to Madrid as two separate journeys, one London to Paris, the other Paris to Madrid. Book the trainhotel first, from Paris to Madrid and back. When the journey results appear showing the Elipsos trainhotel, click the word 'options' to switch between the different types of sleeper and reclining seat. For reclining seats, select '1st class' and it usually defaults to seat. For 4 berth tourist-class sleepers you must select '2nd class' then '4 berth sleeper'. For 1 or 2 bed sleepers, select '1st class' then 'Double cabin' or 'Single cabin'. For 'gran classe' sleepers select '1st class' then single or double sleeper 'with shower'.

When you've booked the trainhotel, click 'add another ticket' and book the Eurostar from London to Paris and back as a separate journey. Don't forget that on your return journey, your departure date from Paris to London will be the day after your departure date from Spain to Paris. For a one-way trip, remember that on Eurostar it is usually cheaper to book a return ticket and throw away the return half.

Tickets are sent from France, but normally arrive at UK addresses in a couple of days.

Buy tickets - by telephone & in person: You can book through a number of UK agencies, including Rail Europe on 0870 5 848 848 (lines open 08:00-21:00 Monday to Friday, 09:00-18:00 on Saturdays and 10:00-17:00 on Sundays, £6 booking fee applies) or Ffestiniog Travel on 01766 512400 (8% booking fee) There is also a Spanish Railways agency in London which can book trains to and within Spain: www.spanish-rail.co.uk or telephone 020 7224 0345 (lines open 09:30-17:30 Monday-Friday, £10 booking fee applies.

Buy tickets - if you live in the USA, Canada, Australia, etc. You can buy tickets for both Eurostar and the Elipsos trainhotel online at www.raileurope.com, North America's largest European rail agency and a subsidiary of French Railways. Be aware that the fares charged may be slightly higher than those charged in Europe. Tickets can be sent to any address in the USA, Canada or worldwide.

Alternatively, it can be cheaper to buy the London-Paris Eurostar online at www.eurostar.com, selecting the option to pick up tickets at the station. Then book the Paris to Spain trainhotel online at www.voyages-sncf.com as shown above, leaving 'France' selected, which (except for the very cheapest special fares) allows you to pick up tickets on the day of travel at the ticket office at any main station in France, including Paris Gare d'Austerlitz.

London to Barcelona

Hop on an afternoon Eurostar from London to Paris, then take the overnight 'trainhotel' from Paris to Barcelona. Enjoy a leisurely dinner in the restaurant car or a drink in the bar before retiring to your sleeper for the night - and wake up in Spain. Fares start at £59 return for the Eurostar plus £100 return for the trainhotel, including a bed in a 4 bed tourist class sleeper. That's city centre to city centre with 2 nights' accommodation. There's also a London-Paris-Barcelona daytime option, although it's not as convenient as the trainhotel.

Train times London to Barcelona: Travel from London to Paris by Eurostar, leaving London Waterloo at 15:11 and arriving in Paris (Gare du Nord) at 18:53. Cross Paris by métro to the Gare d'Austerlitz. Metro line 5 links the Gare du Nord & the Gare d'Austerlitz, just follow the signs 'M5 direction Place d'Italie'.

Travel from Paris to Barcelona overnight on the trainhotel 'Joan Miro', which leaves Paris (Gare d'Austerlitz) daily at 20:32 and arrives in Figueres at 06:24, Girona at 06:54 and Barcelona (França station) next morning at 08:24.

The trainhotel has tourist class 4 bed sleepers ('Turista'), first class 1 & 2 bed sleepers ('Preferente'), and 'Gran Classe' 1 & 2 bed sleepers with private toilet and shower. All sleepers have comfortable beds, which convert to seats for the evening and morning part of the journey. All compartments have a washbasin, and toiletries, towels & mineral water are provided for each passenger. There's luggage space in the recess above the door. The compartment door has both a normal lock and a security lock, which can't be opened from outside (even with a staff key) so you're safe. Passengers travelling alone can book one bed in a 4 bed or 2 bed compartment and share with other passengers of the same sex - which happens often. The train also has 1st class reclining seats, but these are not recommended for overnight travel. The train is entirely non smoking.

The trainhotel has a restaurant and a café-bar, serving dinner, breakfast, drinks and snacks. There are various classes of travel - first class includes a light breakfast or Gran Classe which includes a 3 course evening meal with wine in the restaurant car and breakfast served in the restaurant car or your own compartment. Starters cost around 5 Euros, main course 14 Euros and half a bottle of wine about 7 Euros. A continental breakfast in the cafe bar or restaurant is about 4 Euros. Credit cards are accepted on board.

Train times - Barcelona to London: The trainhotel 'Joan Miro' leaves Barcelona at 21:05, Girona at 22:17, Figueres at 22:47, arriving Paris at 09:00. Cross Paris by metro and a Eurostar leaves Paris (Gare du Nord) at 10:19 arriving London Waterloo at 11:55.

***Fares:***

Buy tickets online at www.raileurope.co.uk - An easy way for UK residents to buy tickets for both the Eurostar and the Paris-Barcelona trainhotel is online at www.raileurope.co.uk. There's no booking fee, and tickets can be sent to any UK address. Bookings for the trainhotel open 90 days before departure.

To see the cheap fares, treat London to Madrid as two separate journeys, one London to Paris, the other Paris to Barcelona. Book the trainhotel from Paris to Barcelona and back first. If you select 'direct services only' the trainhotel is shown as it is the only direct service. When the journey results appear showing the Elipsos trainhotel, click the word 'options' to switch between the different types of sleeper and reclining seat. For reclining seats, select '1st class' and it usually defaults to seat. For 4 berth tourist class sleepers you must select '2nd class' then '4-berth sleeper'. For 1 or 2 bed sleepers, select '1st class' then 'Double cabin' or 'Single cabin'. For 'Gran Classe' sleepers select '1st class' then single or double sleeper 'with shower'.

When the first part is booked, just click 'add another ticket' and book the Eurostar from London to Paris and back as a separate journey. Don't forget that on your return journey, your departure date from Paris to London will be the day after your departure date from Spain to Paris. For a one-way trip, remember that on Eurostar it is usually cheaper to book a return ticket and throw away the return half. Tickets are sent from a UK office and normally arrive in a couple of days. Fares on www.raileurope.co.uk are the same as those on www.voyages-sncf.com, but are shown in GBP. You will probably get a better exchange rate if you buy in euros at www.voyages-sncf.com, but you will then be dealing direct with SNCF (French Railways) in France.

Buy tickets - online at www.voyages-sncf.com. As mentioned previously, the fares on www.voyages-sncf.com are the same as those on www.raileurope.co.uk but by paying in euros you can probably get a better exchange rate. You can also choose to pick up tickets in Paris or have them sent to addresses in other European countries. Bookings for the trainhotel open 90 days before departure.

The 'English' button is a UK flag at the bottom. Select 'Great Britain' to have tickets posted to a UK address. If you want to see the cheap fares you will need to select 'payment online in euros', as they probably won't show up if you select 'payment in GBP by contacting Rail Europe in London'. Alternatively, tickets can be posted to addresses in many other countries including most European countries, but not the USA, Canada, Singapore, Australia or New Zealand.

To get the best fares, as on www.raileurope.co.uk you will need to treat the booking as two trips - see above. Tickets are sent from France, but normally arrive at UK addresses in a couple of days.

Buy tickets - by telephone & in person - You can book through a number of UK agencies, including Rail Europe on 0870 5 848 848 or Ffestiniog Travel on 01766 512400. There is also a Spanish Railways agency in London which can book trains to and within Spain, telephone 020 7224 0345. Booking fees apply for all these companies.

How to buy tickets - if you live in the USA, Canada, Australia, etc - You can buy tickets for both Eurostar and the Elipsos trainhotel online at www.raileurope.com, North America's largest European rail agency and a subsidiary of French Railways. But you should know that fares charged will probably be higher than those charged in Europe. Tickets can be sent to any address in the USA, Canada or worldwide.

Alternatively, there is nothing stopping you from buying the London-Paris Eurostar online at www.eurostar.com and selecting the option to pick up tickets at the station. Then book the Paris-Spain trainhotel online at www.voyages-sncf.com as shown above, leaving 'France' selected, which (except for the very cheapest special fares) allows you to pick up tickets on the day of travel at the ticket office at any main station in France, including Paris Gare d'Austerlitz.

London to Cordoba & Seville

Jump on a Eurostar from London to Paris and then the trainhotel from Paris to Madrid. Then take the 186 mph 'AVE' (Alta Velocidad Española) from Madrid to Cordoba or Seville in just 2 hours. The Madrid-Seville high speed line is most enjoyable, travelling through scenic mountains, instead of the further conventional line. AVE trains from Madrid to Seville run every hour or so and are extremely punctual. In fact, your ticket will be refunded in full if the AVE is more than 5 minutes late.

Train times London to Seville - Travel from London to Madrid by Eurostar and overnight trainhotel. After arriving at Madrid Chamartin station, take one of the frequent suburban trains to Madrid Atocha Station, taking 10-15 minutes. If you prefer a taxi will cost 8-9 euros.

Travel from Madrid to Cordoba and Seville by high-speed AVE train, leaving Madrid (Atocha station) at 11:00 and arriving Cordoba at 12:44 and Seville at 13:30.

Train times Seville to London - Travel from Seville and Cordoba to Madrid by high-speed AVE, leaving Seville at 14:00 and Cordoba at 14:44, arriving in Madrid (Atocha station) at 16:30. Daily, there is also a 15:00 from Seville, 15:44 from Cordoba, arriving Madrid Atocha at 17:30. Take a frequent suburban train to Chamartin station.

***Fares***

Buy tickets - online - You can book the London-Paris & Paris-Madrid parts of this journey online at either www.raileurope.co.uk or www.voyages-sncf.com, both of which show the cheapest fares and no booking fee, see travelling from London to Madrid section for advice on how to do this. Tickets from Madrid to Cordoba or Seville can then be booked online at www.renfe.es, and picked up in Madrid up to an hour before departure. You'll need to register - tip -use '123456' if the system won't accept your UK postcode.

How to buy tickets - by phone - You can book through a number of UK agencies, including Rail Europe on 0870 5 848 848. There is also a Spanish Railways agency in London which can book trains to and within Spain telephone 020 7224 0345.

On the AVE, 'Club' class (premier 1st class) consists of bays of two power-recline armchairs and a table on one side of the aisle, semi-compartments of four armchairs around a table on the other side of the aisle. 'Preferente' (normal 1st class) has conventional open-plan seats, as does 'Tourista' (2nd class). Drinks and food are included in the 'Club' and 'Preferente' fare.

London to Almeria & Granada

Train times London to Granada. Take Eurostar to Paris and the overnight trainhotel to Madrid, as shown in the London to Madrid section above. Travel from Madrid to Granada or Almeria by air-conditioned articulated 'Talgo' train, leaving Madrid Chamartin at 16:47 (and Madrid Atocha at 17:02) and arriving Granada at 22:50.

Train times Granada to London. Travel from Granada or Almeria by air-conditioned 'Talgo' train, leaving Granada at 08:00 or Almeria at 07:15 and arriving Madrid Atocha (for the city centre) at 13:52 and Madrid Chamartin at 14:06. Travel from Madrid to London by trainhotel and Eurostar as shown in the London to Madrid section above.

***Fares:***

London to Malaga

Why fly to Malaga when you can have an easy train ride - simply take an afternoon Eurostar to Paris, an overnight trainhotel from Paris to Madrid and then a high speed train through the scenis mountains from Madrid to Malaga. Checkout http://bahn.hafas.de or www.renfe.es for more details.

Train times London to Malaga - Travel from London to Madrid by Eurostar and the overnight trainhotel, as shown in the London to Madrid section above. After arriving at Madrid Chamartin station, take one of the frequent suburban trains to Madrid Atocha Station, taking 10-15 minutes. If you prefer, a taxi will cost 8-9 euros.

Travel from Madrid to Malaga by high-speed air-conditioned 'Talgo 200', leaving Madrid (Atocha station) at 12:30, calling at Bobadilla at 15:47 and arriving in Malaga at 16:46. This train travels at up to 125 mph through scenic mountains on a high speed line to Cordoba, then over conventional lines to reach Malaga.

Train times Malaga to London. Travel from Malaga to Madrid by high speed Talgo 200 train, leaving Malaga at 12:45, calling at Bobadilla at 13:35 and arriving in Madrid (Atocha station) at 17:09. Take a suburban train or taxi from Atocha to Chamartin station. If you prefer, a taxi will cost 8-9 euros. Travel from Madrid to London by trainhotel and Eurostar as shown in the London to Madrid section above.

***Fares:***

Buy tickets - online - You can book the London to Paris & Paris to Madrid parts of this journey online at either www.raileurope.co.uk or www.voyages-sncf.com, with the best fares and no booking fees - see the London to Madrid section. Tickets from Madrid to Malaga can then be booked online at www.renfe.es and picked up in Madrid up to an hour before departure. You'll need to register - a tip - use '123456' if it won't accept your UK postcode.

Buy tickets - by phone. You can book through a number of UK agencies, including Rail Europe on 0870 5 848 848 or Ffestiniog Travel on 01766 512400. There is also a Spanish Railways agency in London which can book trains to and within Spain telephone 020 7224 0345. Be advised that these will all charge a booking fee.

London to Tarragona, Salou, Valencia

Train times London to Valencia (using the trainhotel). Travel from London to Barcelona, using the 'Joan Miro' trenhotel, as shown in the London to Barcelona section above. The trainhotel arrives at Barcelona França station.

For Tarragona and Salou: Leave Barcelona França station at 09:19 by local train (2nd class only), arriving Tarragona 10:34 and Salou at 10:46.

For Valencia, take a local train from Barcelona França station (depart 09:19) to Barcelona Sants station (arriving 09:33). Then travel from Barcelona to Valencia by air-conditioned 'Arco' service leaving Barcelona Sants at 10:00 and arriving Valencia (Nord station) at 13:30.

Train times Valencia to London (using the trainhotel). From Salou & Tarragona: A local train (2nd class only) leaves Salou at 18:18 and Tarragona at 18:30 arriving Barcelona França at 19:53.

From Valencia: Daily except Saturdays, depart Valencia at 16:05 on a fast 'EuroMed' train arriving Barcelona Sants at 19:13, for a local connection to Barcelona França station. Alternatively, leave Valencia daily on an 'Arco' train at 15:05 arriving Barcelona Franca at 18:58. It is adviseable to check train times at www.renfe.es.

***Fares***

Train times London to Valencia (option 2). Travel from London to Paris by Eurostar, leaving London (Waterloo) at 16:12 (15:11 on Saturdays) and arriving at Paris (Nord) at 19:47 (18:53 on Saturdays). Cross Paris by métro to the Gare d'Austerlitz. Travel from Paris to Portbou (on the Spanish frontier) by overnight train, leaving Paris (Gare d'Austerlitz) at 21:56 and arriving Portbou at 08:21 next morning. This train has reclining seats, 6-berth 2nd class couchettes & 1st class 4-berth couchettes. Reclining seats are not recommended for overnight travel.

Travel from Portbou direct to Valencia on the 'Mare Nostrum', leaving Portbou at 09:52 and going direct to Tarragona at 12:49, Salou 13:05, and arriving at Valencia at 15:15. The 'Mare Nostrum' is an air-conditioned articulated 'Talgo' train with a restaurant car.

Train times Valencia to London (option 2). Travel from Valencia and Tarragona to Barcelona on the 'Mare Nostrum' air-conditioned Talgo train, leaving Valencia at 13:08, Salou 15:18, Tarragona at 15:32, Barcelona Sants at 16:37 and arriving at Cerebère (on the French side of the frontier) at 19:02. Travel from Cerebère to Paris by overnight train, leaving Cerebère at 21:22 arriving Paris (Gare d'Austerlitz) at 07:27. 1st and 2nd class couchettes and 2nd class reclining seats are available. Reclining seats are not recommended for overnight travel.

Travel from Paris to London by Eurostar, leaving Paris (Gare du Nord) at 10:19 and arriving London at 11:54.

Buy tickets - online. If you go for the trainhotel option, you can book the London to Paris & Paris to Barcelona parts of this journey online at either www.raileurope.co.uk or www.voyages-sncf.com, with the best fares and no booking fees - see the London to Barcelona section. Tickets from Barcelona to Valencia can then be bought online at www.renfe.es, and picked up in Barcelona up to an hour before departure. You'll need to register - use '123456' if the system won't accept your UK postcode.

Buy tickets - by phone. You can book through a number of UK agencies, including Rail Europe on 0870 5 848 848 or Ffestiniog Travel on 01766 512400. There is also a Spanish Railways agency in London which can book trains to and within Spain telephone 020 7224 0345. Be aware booking fees will apply.

London to Alicante & Benidorm

An afternoon Eurostar to Paris, the excellent overnight 'trainhotel' from Paris to Barcelona, then a connecting high-speed 'EuroMed' train from Barcelona gets you to Alicante.

Train times London to Alicante (using the trainhotel). Travel from London to Barcelona by Eurostar and trainhotel as shown in the London to Barcelona section. The trainhotel arrives at Barcelona França station. Hop on a local train from Barcelona França station (depart 09:19) to Barcelona Sants station (arriving 09:33).

Travel from Barcelona (Sants station) to Alicante by air-conditioned 'EuroMed' train, leaving Barcelona at 11:00 and arriving in Alicante at 15:40. 'EuroMed' trains are based on the French TGV, but built to Spanish track gauge and designed to run at up to 130 mph on conventional lines.Train times Alicante to London (using the trainhotel). Leave Alicante at 14:20 on a 'EuroMed' train, arriving Barcelona Sants at 19:13. On Saturdays, you leave Alicante at 11:09 on the 'Talgo' train 'Mare Nostrum', arriving in Barcelona Sants at 16:37. Hop on a local train from Barcelona Sants to Barcelona França. Travel from Barcelona (França station) to London by trainhotel and Eurostar - train times are shown in the London to Barcelona section above.

Train times London to Alicante (option 2). Travel from London to Paris by Eurostar, leaving London (Waterloo) at 16:11 and arriving at Paris Nord at 19:47. Cross Paris by métro to the Gare d'Austerlitz. Travel overnight from Paris to the Spanish border at Portbou leaving Paris (Gare d'Austerlitz) at 21:56 and arriving Portbou at 08:21 next morning. This train has reclining seats, 2nd class 6-berth couchettes & 1st class 4-berth couchettes. Reclining seats are not recommended for overnight travel.

Travel from Portbou direct to Alicante on the 'Mare Nostrum', leaving Portbou at 09:52 and arriving at Alicante at 17:24. The 'Mare Nostrum' is an air-conditioned articulated 'Talgo' train with a restaurant car.

Train times Alicante to London (option 2). Travel from Alicante to Cerebère on the French frontier aboard the 'Mare Nostrum' Talgo train, leaving Alicante at 11:09 and arriving at the French side of the border Cerebère at 19:02. Travel from Cerebère to Paris by overnight train, leaving Cerebère at 21:22 and arriving Paris (Gare d'Austerlitz) at 07:27. This train has 1st class 4-berth couchettes, 2nd class 6-berth couchettes and 2nd class reclining seats. reclining seats are not recommended for overnight travel. Travel from Paris to London by Eurostar, leaving Paris (Gare du Nord) at 10:19 and arriving London at 11:55.

Benidorm. Benidorm is linked with Alicante (La Marina station, just outside Alicante mainline station) every hour or so, journey time 1 hour 8 minutes. Arriving in Alicante (mainline station) from Barcelona or Port Bou, walk to La Marina station for trains to Benidorm. Alternatively, buses are also available from just outside Alicante station to Benidorm.

Buy tickets - online. You can book the London-Paris & Paris-Barcelona parts of this journey online at either www.raileurope.co.uk or www.voyages-sncf.com, with the best fares and no booking fees - see the London to Barcelona section. Tickets from Barcelona to Alicante can then be booked online at www.renfe.es, and picked up in Barcelona up to an hour before departure. You'll need to register - use '123456' if the system won't accept your UK postcode.

Buy tickets - by phone. You can book through a number of UK agencies, including Rail Europe on 0870 5 848 848 or Ffestiniog Travel on 01766 512400. There is also a Spanish Railways agency in London which can book trains to and within Spain telephone 020 7224 0345. All these agencies will charge a booking fee.

London to San Sebastian, Pamplona, Zaragoza

Outward train times. Travel from London to Paris by Eurostar, leaving London (Waterloo) at 17:09 and arriving at Paris (Nord) at 20:59. Cross Paris by métro to the Gare d'Austerlitz. Travel overnight from Paris to Irun on the Spanish border, leaving Paris Austerlitz at 23:14 and arriving Irun at 07:32 next morning. This train has 1st class 4-berth couchettes, 2nd class 6-berth couchettes and reclining seats.

For San Sebastian, leave Irun at 08:45 arriving San Sebastian-Donostia at 09:02. Local trains run from Irun to San Sebastian-Donostia every 30 minutes. There is also a narrow gauge service run by EuskoTren every 30 minutes between Hendaye (SNCF station), Irun Colon station and San Sebastian (Amara station).

For Pamplona and Zaragoza, leave Irun at 10:30 on an air-conditioned articulated 'Talgo' train arriving Pamplona at 12:31 and Zaragoza at 14:45.

Outward train times - London to San Sebastian in a day. Travel from London to Paris by Eurostar, leaving London Waterloo at 10:39 and arriving Paris (Gare du Nord) at 14:17. Cross Paris by métro to the Gare Montparnasse. Travel from Paris to Hendaye on the Spanish frontier by high-speed TGV, leaving Paris Montparnasse at 15:50 and arriving Hendaye at 21:22. A narrow gauge train run by EuskoTren leaves Hendaye at 21:33 arriving San Sebastian (Amara) about 37 minutes later. These run every 30 minutes until about 23:00.

Return train times. An air-conditioned 'Talgo' train leaves Zaragoza at 16:48 and Pamplona at 18:42, arriving at Hendaye on the French frontier at 21:16. From San Sebastian, there's a narrow gauge train service run by EuskoTren every 30 minutes from Sebastian (Amara station) to Hendaye SNCF station. Its a short journey time 37 minutes, but ensure you allow plenty of time for the connection at Hendaye. Travel overnight from Hendaye to Paris, leaving Hendaye at 22:37 and arriving Paris (Gare d'Austerlitz) at 07:10. 1st class (4-bunk) and 2nd class (6-bunk) couchettes are available. Then from Paris to London by Eurostar, leaving Paris (Gare du Nord) at 09:10 and arriving in London at 10:58.

Return train times - San Sebastian to London in a day. From San Sebastian, there's a narrow gauge train service run by EuskoTren every 30 minutes from Sebastian (Amara station) to Hendaye SNCF station. Journey time 37 minutes, but allow plenty of time for the connection at Hendaye. Travel from Hendaye to Paris by high-speed TGV, leaving Hendaye daily at 10:27 and arriving Paris (Gare Montparnasse) at 15:55. Cross Paris by métro to the Gare du Nord. Then from Paris to London by Eurostar, leaving Paris Nord at 18:16 and arriving in London at 19:58.

***Fares***

London to Segovia, Toledo & Salamanca

Hop on a Eurostar to Paris and the 'trainhotel' overnight to Madrid, as shown in the London to Madrid section. Then normal train services link Madrid with Segovia and Toledo, and a slightly less regular one links Madrid with Salamanca. See www.renfe.es for train times and fares.

London to Ibiza, Minorca, Majorca

From London to Ibiza, Majorca or Minorca - just hop on an afternoon Eurostar to Paris, the overnight 'trainhotel' from Paris to Barcelona, then either a daytime fast ferry or an overnight ship from Barcelona to the islands. See the London to Barcelona section above for train times and fares from London to Barcelona, then see the ferry information below:

Barcelona to Palma (Majorca). There's a regular fast catamaran from Barcelona to Palma de Majorca - taking 3 hours 45 minutes. Typically, leave Barcelona at 16:00 and arrive in Palma. Check out www.Trasmediterranea.es or call Acciona Trasmediterranea's UK agent, Southern Ferries on 020 7491 4968 for details.

Alternatively, spend a day in Barcelona, then take the overnight ship to Palma de Majorca. The crossing takes 8 hours, and comfortable cabins are available. see www.Trasmediterranea.es or call Acciona Trasmediterranea's UK agent, Southern Ferries on 020 7491 4968 for details.

Barcelona to Ibiza. An overnight ship sails to Ibiza on most nights of the week, either at 20:30 or 23:30, arriving either 06:30 or 08:30. See www.Trasmediterranea.es or call Acciona Trasmediterranea's UK agent, Southern Ferries on 020 7491 4968 for details.

***Fares from Barcelona to Ibiza, Minorca or Majorca

Buy tickets. Book the rail journey (including Eurostar) with Rail Europe or any European rail agent. Book the ship through Acciona Trasmediterranea's UK agent, Southern Ferries on 020 7491 4968.

London to Las Palmas & Tenerife

A weekly ship of the Trasmediterranea Line links Cadiz in Spain with Las Palmas and Tenerife in the Canary Islands. Travel from London to Madrid by train - fares and times for this journey are shown above. Take a suburban train from Madrid Chamartin to Madrid Atocha station. From Madrid (Atocha station) take high-speed AVE to Seville, leaving at 11:00 and arriving at 13:25. A connection for Cadiz leaves at 13:58 and arrives at 15:44.

The ship to the Canaries sails from Cadiz every Tuesday at 19:00, arriving Las Palmas at 09:00 on Thursday, and Tenerife at 14:00 on Thursday. Check times & fares at www.trasmediterranea.es. Returning, the ship sails from Tenerife every Saturday at 09:00, leaving Las Palmas at 14:30 and arriving in Cadiz at 10:45 on Monday.

It is just about possible to reach Madrid in time for the trainhotel to Paris, but it it's recommended that you allow an extra day. Leave Cadiz at 13:00 on a local train to Seville, arriving 14:44. Leave Seville at 15:00 on high-speed 'AVE', arriving Madrid at 17:30. AVEs are extremely punctual, so you should have plenty of time in Madrid to take the suburban train to Chamartin station to catch the trainhotel back to Paris and the Eurostar back to London.

Fares from Cadiz to Las Palmas / Tenerife

Buy tickets. Book the rail journey (including Eurostar) with Rail Europe or any European rail agent. Book the ship through Trasmediterranea's UK agent, Southern Ferries on 020 7491 4968.

London to Spain by ferry

There are three ferry companies which sail year round direct to Spain. These ferries have more in common with luxury liners than Channel ferries. They all have cabins, restaurants, cinemas, open sun decks, shops and bars.

Portsmouth - Bilbao with P&O ferries. P&O's 'Pride of Bilbao' sails from Portsmouth to Bilbao once a week in winter, twice a week at other times, taking 35 hours (two nights and a day). Normally, departure from Portsmouth is at 20:00 on Tuesdays and Saturdays and arrival at Bilbao is at 08:00 two nights later. Returning, the ship normally sails from Bilbao at 12:30 on Mondays and Thursdays, arriving Portsmouth at about 16:30 the next day. To check sailing days, fares and online booking visit www.poferries.com.

The ship has a full range of cabins, de luxe 'Club' cabins, restaurants, bars, cinemas, nightclub. When crossing the Bay of Biscay you will probably see whales and dolphins and the Pride of Bilbao even has a wildlife officer to help you spot them. Leave London (Waterloo) on Eurostar, at around 16:00 to connect with plenty of time to spare, taking a train to Portsmouth & Southsea station then a taxi or bus to the Continental Ferry Port - you can check UK trains times and fares at www.nationalrail.co.uk. In Bilbao the ship docks at Santurtzi, 13km north west of Bilbao city centre. The ferry terminal is a short distance from Santurtzi railway station, from where there are suburban trains every few minutes into the centre of Bilbao (Bilbao Abando station) taking 21-23 minutes and costing about 1.50 Euro. There is plenty of time for you to visit Bilbao's famous Guggenheim Museum before taking the afternoon air-conditioned Talgo train from Bilbao Abando station to Madrid, which leaves at 16:30 and arrives in Madrid at 22:22 - see www.renfe.es for times, fares and online booking.

Portsmouth - Bilbao with Acciona Trasmediterranea. A promising newcomer is the Spanish ferry operator Acciona Trasmediterranea, starting regular sailings Portsmouth-Bilbao in May 2006. For fares, times, and online booking, see www.atferries.com.

Plymouth - Santander with Brittany Ferries. Brittany Ferries excellent ferries leave from Plymouth to Santander in Northern Spain, once or twice each week from mid-March to mid-September. From Santander there are daily trains to Madrid and beyond. With a new, fast ship recently built for this route, the voyage now takes 18 hours, with departures usually either 12:30 or 16:00. Its recommended to arrive into Plymouth the night before (or use the London-Plymouth sleeper) for a 12:30 sailing. Visit www.Brittany-Ferries.co.uk for fares and sailing dates.

The Thomas Cook European Timetable

The Thomas Cook European timetable has train, bus and ferry times for every country in Europe, plus currency and climate information. It's essential for any independent traveller. You can buy online here on this website. See menu.

Recommended guidebooks

To get the best out of travelling to Spain, it's highly recommended to have a good guidebook. For the independent traveller I'd recommend either the Lonely Planet or the Rough Guide.

Hotels & hostels in Spain

Hotels & guesthouses. To find a hotel in Madrid, Barcelona or anywhere else in Spain, see www.venere.com. The site offers reasonable rates adn the price you see is what you pay - no extra charges such as taxes or surcharges. Alternatively check on the internet for hotel deals.

Backpacker hostels. A private room or dorm bed in a backpacker hostel is a much cheaper option than a hotel if you're on a tight budget. For backpacker hostels in most cities at rock bottom prices check out www.hostelbookers.com.

Great Rail Journeys escorted tours from the UK to Spain. If want to go on holiday to Spain by train, but would rather do this as part of an organised escorted tour with other travellers and a guide, there is a well-known UK-based company called Great Rail Journeys which offers upmarket rail-based holidays to Spain, including a tour to Barcelona, Madrid and Seville with travel from London by train. Great Rail Journeys also offer rail-based holidays to other European countries. Call 0845 402 2068 to book or to get advice and assistance.

Last Updated ( Monday, 19 February 2007 )
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