Here are some things that come to mind when thinking back about some of my Spanish travel experiences:
– Spain arguably has one of the best high speed train networks anywhere in the world (AVE). These trains are very comfortable and, while often the prices can exceed those of plane tickets, taking into account the fact that in many cases they pick you up and drop you off in the city center (there are some exceptions to that general rule, see below) and that you don´t need to arrive hours in advance or worry about baggage check-in, they´re worth the extra money.
– if you are travelling to a smaller town or city, don´t be surprised if the AVE station is separate from the regular train station. Yes, there can be 2 stations given that the AVE network was built more recently and required its own set of tracks. If the AVE station is located outside of the city center, requiring a taxi or bus to get to town, factor that in when planning your journey.
– While it´s best to book AVE tickets well in advance, especially during the high season (May-September), unfortunately, the AVE website doesn´t work very well and often it is difficult to make reservations online. At the very least, try to obtain the tickets the moment you arrive in Spain (don´t be surprised by the long lines at the train stations, especially in the country´s biggest cities… and don´t forget to take a number when you arrive at the ticket counter, here in Spain almost everything functions on that basis). Of course, if you book your Spanish experience with us, that will be taken care of for you;
– A Word about prices: as I´ve mentioned before, the AVE tickets often can end up more expensive than those of domestic and/or low-cost airlines (Vueling, Ryanair, etc.). The only way to save a bit on AVE is by booking early AND, if possible, booking a so-called mesa or table, i.e. seats for mínimum of 4 people with a small table in the middle. This is usually the most comfortable solution if you are a travelling in a larger group anyway (in fact, even if there are only 3 of you, it still makes sense to book a mesa) and the prices can be as much as 30-40% lower than the regular seats. Because of their obvious value, the mesa seats always sell off first.