If you have ever tried to move around Spain and go from one city to another you might have realized the following thing: Taking high-speed trains in Spain is expensive. Really expensive. I have paid more than 100€ to go from Barcelona to Madrid with the AVE train from RENFE at least a couple of times. And that hurts. Usually, it is even cheaper to go by plane. But in May 2021, the Ouigo trains finally have been inaugurated in Spain, which changes everything. They promised to offer low-cost and high-speed trains to and from four main cities in Spain (Madrid, Barcelona, Tarragona & Zaragoza). And the starting price of the OUIGO trains is 9€! So how are these low-cost trains and what do you have to keep in mind when taking them? I will tell you below 🙂
By the way, if you ever take the train to Madrid, I wrote a low-cost guide for the city that you can find here.
Travelling by Train in Spain is expensive
I normally would spend 60€-80€, sometimes more than 100€ to go to Barcelona or Madrid by train. Compared to e.g. Germany, I feel that this is crazy-expensive. Until now, Renfe was the only company offering national train rides. So sometimes I even ended up taking the plane to go to Barcelona from Madrid, just because it was too expensive to go by train! But now, I finally will be able to travel by train in Spain all the time!
What kind of company is OUIGO?
OUIGO is a French company that offers affordable high-speed train rides. Their operating system is similar to the one from Ryanair or Easyjet, where ticket prices are cheap but you need to pay for extras on top. So why are those trains so exciting? They promise train rides with a starting price of 9 Euros per trip. This means that traveling by train in Spain will be much more affordable!
What you need to know about the OUIGO trains
First of all, there are several trains going per day. I feel like many people were afraid those trains would only leave once per day in the early morning making it difficult to get them. But that is not true. To give you an example: There are five trains per day going from Madrid to Barcelona and back. The earliest train leaves at seven in the morning and the latest at nine in the evening. So there is no need to rush to book your tickets.
Also, I have heard things like “Oh yes, those trains will be cheap but it will take them ages to go from one place to another”. And no, that is absolutely not true. OUIGO claims to offer “high-speed, affordable” trains. The train rides just take as much time as the RENFE trains.
I have heard several persons calling OUIGO the Ryanair of trains. How true is that? Well, let’s put it like this: The OUIGO ticket prices are really cheap, but you have to pay for extras or additional luggage as well. In total, if you want your trip to be a little more comfortable, you can book a better seat or Wi-fi (for a cost), but you do not have to! I made a little summary of things you should know when traveling with OUIGO:
What you need to keep in mind:
- You can only book tickets online. It is not possible to purchase a OUIGO ticket at the train station
- Like in lowcost airlines, small luggage is free. You must pay for bigger pieces of luggage
- You have to pay 30 Euros if you want to change your ticket. You can just book a flexible ticket instead, which costs 7 Euros more
- Does not let you choose what type of seat you want, if you want to choose your seat you have to pay 9Euros more
- You can take your pet with you while travelling, assuming it is part of the “hand luggage”. If it is not, you have to pay 40 Euros
- The more you book in advance the cheaper your OUIGO ticket will be
- There are electric sockets available next to all seats in the train.
Wait, what about the luggage?
According to OUIGO’s website, a regular ticket includes “1 handbag and 1 cabin luggage per passenger”. If you are confused by that, its the same as it is flying with Ryanair. You can take one cabin-size suitcase and a bag/backpack. If you want to take more, one additional piece of luggage costs 5 Euros.
Are OUIGO tickets actually 9 Euros?
OUIGO has a huge marketing claim saying they offer high-speed affordable train tickets starting from 9 Euros, but how true is that? Well, if you actually want to get those cheap tickets you have to book quite far in advance- I am talking about three, four months in advance. If you want to book only a couple of weeks in advance you might get lucky and get a ticket for 15 or 19 Euros. Personally, I have not been able to get those really cheap tickets, simply because I do not plan that far in advance. But I have paid 19 Euros for a ticket, which I still find very affordable!
How comfortable is travelling by OUIGO?
In my opinion, the trains are quite comfortable. Since train rides do not usually take long I did not feel like there are less comfortable than other trains. The only thing I missed was reclining seats, and I had the feeling that there was less space than in RENFE trains, but that did not bother me. In total, I am really happy that we finally have affordable trains here in Spain!
What about you? Have you ever tried the new OUIGO trains? Did you like them?