The Spanish super-equivalent of the French TGV is the Alt Velocidad Espagnola, also known as the AVE or in Spanish 'bird'. This high-speed train travels at a speed of 350 kph from Madrid to Barcelona. Since 1992 AVE trains run between Madrid and the south of Spain, but it took more than six hours to travel to Barcelona. The building of the high-speed line was the main concern of the Spain government and started years ago, but land sinkage delayed the production.
Fastest Train in the World
In February 2008 the Madrid-Zaragoza-Barcelona line was installed at last, running 17 trains per day in both directions. This high-speed train is one of the fastest trains in the world and covers 660 km in 2 hours and 38 minutes. The AVE train is self-driving may become so successful that it can outdate air travel overland. When you include check-in time and traveling from and to the airport, the journey with the AVE will hardly take longer and is far more relaxed.
Fast and Less Pollute
Spain wants to have more high speed train lines than anywhere else in the world in 2010. Next to the facts that this way of travelling is comfortable and fast, it also creates four times less pollution than air travel.
Start your journey in Madrid by visiting the Prado Art Gallery. The AVE departs smoothly from Madrid's Atocha Station, which almost looks like an airport terminal instead of a train station, its enormous foyer decorated with palm trees. During 2.5 hours the train will zoom across the wonderful countryside of Catalonia and Aragon.
Your journey to Zaragoza or Barcelona will be quick, but do not expect to catch a glimpse of the view from your window. It will be a blur, because of the speed. Pass your time by lounging in your luxury rotating chair enjoying the Michelin-starred food on board and entertain yourself with the video, audio and internet technology at your service.
Zaragoza and Barcelona
Before you know it you have arrived in Zaragoza where you can visit the Cathedral of San Salvador. Not much later you will pull into in Sants Station in the lively and artistic Barcelona to explore Las Ramblas, the old city centre Barri Gòtic, Parc Guëll and Sagrada Familia Church.