There’s never been a better time to travel in Europe by train.
But one European country has focused so heavily on investing in train travel that it’s now officially the easiest way to navigate the country.
Passenger numbers on Spanish railways have increased by 76%, and 4 out of 5 passengers prefer the train to flying on certain routes.
Here are 6 reasons why you should explore Spain by train this fall:
New High-Speed Rail Routes
Train travel in Spain is just as popular with tourists as it is with local residents.
Now high-speed operators have taken note of this popularity and launched new routes in the coastal regions that are most popular with overseas visitors.
The busiest route remains the line between Barcelona and Madrid. But the newly opened Granada-Antequera line means that passengers can easily reach the popular tourist region of Andalusia at speed too.
And a new route from Madrid to Murcia has attracted a huge number of tourists since it was launched at the end of last year.
Whether you want to spend the fall months soaking up the sun in Cordoba, which is known as Spain’s frying pan, or enjoying the cultural attractions in Valencia, Spain boasts high-speed routes to get you there easily.
Where there is competition, there are often price drops, and that is certainly true on the rail network in Spain.
Renfe is the primary operator of trains in Spain. They run the high-speed AVE service in the country. But private operators like Ouigo and Iryo are rapidly increasing the number of routes they operate too.
This means that rail prices in the country are becoming more competitive, and ticket prices on many routes are lower than ever before.
On the route from Madrid to Barcelona, 78% of passengers said they preferred to travel by train instead of plane thanks to the convenience and the low-cost options available.
Fast And Effective
The Spanish authorities have invested heavily in train travel, and many experts believe Spain now has the best rail system in the world. It is the European country with the largest high-speed rail network.
You can easily travel to and from just about any town and city in Spain by train, and you can do it much faster and more efficiently than you could if you chose to fly.
The 306-mile train journey from Madrid to Barcelona can be completed in just 2 hrs and 30 minutes.
Train stations tend to be in town and city centers where airports are out of town. This means you don’t have the expense of taking a taxi or other form of transport to your final destination.
There is also no waiting around when you take a train. You won’t have to go through security or check in 2 hours before your train leaves. Another big time-saving benefit.
In most cases, this means that if you take the train you will reach your final destination faster than if you chose to fly in real terms, even if the actual time you spend on the plane vs the train is shorter.
Not only are train seats wider than plane seats meaning that you’ll have more room for your journey train passengers are also given more space for their luggage.
There are no restrictions on the size or shape of the luggage you can bring with you on a train.
While low-cost European airlines will charge you extra if you want to bring a suitcase on your flight the same is not true of the Spanish rail network.
This results in a more stress-free and more comfortable journey for most passengers.
When you travel by train you see so much more than when you travel by plane.
Because the Spanish rail network covers over 2,000 miles you can cover plenty of ground without ever leaving your comfortable train seat. And the views are incredible.
Some of the best tourist train routes include the Transcantábrico which travels through the northern part of the country known as ‘Green Spain’. During fall the green turns beautiful shades of orange and yellow.
The tourist trains of Galicia are also well worth exploring, particularly the wine train which is popular during the fall wine harvest season.
You’ll Be In Good Company!
If you’re traveling alone, then traveling by train is a great way to meet new people.
Train travel is considered much more social than plane travel.
Rail travel in Spain has grown massively in popularity with all foreign travelers in the country but particularly with travelers from the U.S.
There has been an 18% increase in the number of Americans traveling by train in Spain this year, making them the foreign nationals using the train the most.
This was followed by British, French, and Italian tourists.
So if you want to meet other Americans as you travel from place to place in Spain this fall? You’re better off on the train!
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com