AVE (103) (Spain)

Welcome to our guide to taking AVE (103) train services within Spain.

Either click the links below to jump straight to the info you need to know, or spend a couple of minutes learning more about to have a stress-free journey on a AVE 103 train.



These AVE (103) trains, which come from the same family of high speed trains as the ICE 3 trains used in Germany, are used on all of the fastest non-stop services between Barcelona and Madrid.

They're also used on some of the services that call at the stations between Barcelona and Madrid -  though a few other of those slower AVE services are also operated by 100 or 102/112 trains on this route.

They have been used on the route between Madrid and Malaga, but if they still are, they're only used on very occasional services.

Two AVE (103) trains can be joined together on some departures to make exceptionally long 16 coach/car trains.


Seats will automatically be assigned when booking tickets for journeys by AVE (103) trains

Rail pass users will need to have made reservations prior to boarding.

Info on how to book these rail pass reservations is available HERE on our Spanish train tickets and passes guide.

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If you will be travelling in Preferente (1st class) on Mondays-Fridays and on some departures on Sundays, you will be served an at seat hot meal - similar to that which is served in airlines.

Note that this facility is not available on Saturdays, so on Saturdays the Preferente ticket prices should be cheaper than on the other days of the week.
On Saturdays a catering trolley is taken through the Prefente class coaches/cars.

A bar car is also available to all passengers where drinks, snacks, sandwiches etc can be purchased, you can consume these at the tables in the bar car or take them back to your seat.

A relatively new feature is that a catering trolley will now be taken through Turista class on these trains.

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On Board:

At-seat power sockets are fitted to these trains, but in common with other AVE trains, they don't have conventional on train Wi-Fi access.

Instead RENFE offers its AVE passengers access to the internet via its 'PlayRENFE' app - note that it's not free to access if you're not a member of a RENFE Loyalty Program.

These trains also have an entertainment system, films are shown on screens fitted to the roofs of the coaches.

You don't get to choose the film you will see and all of the films will of course be in Spanish.

Service information announcements will be made in Spanish and English.

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The Coche (coach/carriage) and Plaza (seat numbers) will be on your ticket -  so check the plaza number before you step on to the train.

Each coach/carriage only has one door on each side on each side of the train.

The coach/carriage numbers will be on an electronic info panel beside the door.

The doors have a larger letter 'P' on then if the coach houses 'Preferente' class and a 'T' for Turista class.

The luggage racks are between the doors and the seating saloons, the only other luggage storage space is above the seats.

However, if you have a large or heavy bag you should make use of the racks by the doors - and accept that you won't be able to see your bag(s) from your seat.

If you see space on the racks, our advice is to stow your bags on it and then find your seat.
If you subsequently decide to move your bags by the seat, you'll be able to do that, but things can be more awkward if you head to your seat first - and then decide you want to use the rack after all.

Interior views of these trains are available on this official RENFE guide

The seat numbers are above the windows.

As all seats reserved there is nothing else to indicate which seats you should occupy, be guided by the plaza number on your ticket.

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Only folded bicycles can be taken on board AVE trains as hand luggage, but they must be placed in a travel case, or bag which can have a maximum height/width of 180cm.

An intro to train travel in Spain

How to buy tickets for Spanish train journeys

International train routes to/from France

Travelling on European daytime trains

Travelling on European overnight trains

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Bistro (Hot Food)
Bar (Cold Food)
Double Deck
High Speed
First Class
Second Class

Rail passes and reservations

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Other features

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