Free Commuter Train Tickets When Travelling by AVE

The Spanish AVE high speed train network is a fast comfortable and affordably priced way of travelling around the country.

In many cases the AVE is more convenient than flying because you don’t have to transfer between the airport and the city centre and can board the train just minutes before it departs instead of having to check in an hour beforehand like you do when you fly.

What a lot of people don’t realize is that when you purchase an AVE train ticket you are entitled to 2 free tickets on the local commuter train network.

The tickets are called Combinado Cercanias and can be used to get to the station which the AVE departs from and from the station which the AVE arrives at to your final destination.

It doesn’t matter whether your final destination is within the city that the AVE arrives at or is another town on the city’s commuter network.

For example, if you are going to Badalona by train and take the AVE to Barcelona. You are entitled to a free commuter train ticket from Barcelona to Badalona.

Example of a free train ticket in Barcelona

Likewise if your hotel is near Plaça de Catalunya in downtown Barcelona you can use the Rodalies commuter train to transfer from Plaça de Catalunya to Barcelona Sants station for free.

The only limitations of the Combinado Cercanias ticket are:

  • You are only entitled to two commuter train tickets (Cercanias / Rodalies / FEVE) per AVE ticket purchased. One to get to the station which the AVE departs from and one to get from the AVE to your final destination.
  • The offer is only valid for a 4 hour period before or after yor AVE train journey. For example you can’t take the AVE to Barcelona and then use the free ticket to catch the train to the to the airport 3 days later.
  • The offer is currently valid for the local commuter train networks at the following Spanish cities: Alicante, Asturias, Barcelona, Girona, Camp de Tarragona, Cartagena, Bilbao, Cádiz, Madrid, Málaga, Murcia, San Sebastián, Santander, Seville, Valencia and Zaragoza.
  • You must claim your commuter train ticket from the ticket machines at the train station. You can’t just get on the Cercanias train with your AVE ticket.
  • You must keep your Cercanias ticket until you arrive at your final destination. You will need it to get through the ticket barriers when leaving the station. There is also a chance that ticket inspectors may ask to see your ticket.

This post is illustrated with photo’s taken at Mataró train station (30km north of Barcelona) when travelling to catch a train to Madrid.

If you are arriving at Barcelona Sants on the AVE and travelling on to your hotel in Barcelona or a surrounding town the procedure will be the same but more stations will be displayed in step number four.

How to Claim Your Free Commuter Train Ticket When Travelling by AVE

When you receive (or print out) your AVE train ticket look for the words Combinado Cercanias followed by a sequence of numbers and letters.

This 5 digit sequence of numbers and letters is the code that you use to claim your free commuter train ticket.

Note that in Madrid the commuter trains are called Cercanias in Barcelona Rodalies and Bilbao FEVE but the process is basically the same.

1. Select Your Preferred Language

How to claim your free train ticket step 1

Go to the ticket machines at the train station and press the flags icon at the bottom of the screen to select your preferred language. Each time you press the icon the machine changes to the next language.

2. Select Combinado Cercanias

How to claim your free train ticket - step 2

With the language changed to English the first screen is titled Select Your Ticket. Press the button labelled Combinat Rodalies at the top left of the screen. Note: even though you have selected English this is in Catalan, if you select Spanish it will say Combinado Cercanias.

3. Select Your Destination

Free train ticket - step 3

Select your destination. Since we are in Barcelona and going to take the AVE train to Madrid, the only option is Barcelona Sants since it is the station that the AVE departs from. At Barcelona Sants station there will be a list of stations to choose from.

4. Enter Code or Scan the Bar-Code

The screen where you enter the code to get your free train ticket

Next you enter the code which appears on your AVE train ticket next to the words Combinado Cercanias. Using the ticket shown above we type in HWN9G.

5. Collect Your Ticket

Example of a free train ticket in Barcelona
example of a free train ticket in Madrid Spain

Finally press Accept and the machine will print out a ticket which is valid for your selected destination.

If you are in Madrid the machines are slightly different but the process is basically the same.

Some newer ticket machines also allow you to scan the bar-code on the ticket instead of typing in the code manually. If the bar-code doesn’t work you can still enter the code by hand.

If there are no ticket machines available at the station you are departing from, you can also claim your free Combinado Cercanias at the ticket office.

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Any questions? Leave a comment below.


  1. Hi Wendy:

    I am traveling back from Madrid on the high speed line in early August and it says I can choose a local train for free. Could I take the train from Madrid Atocha to the Town where Salvator Dali museum is? Figueroa?
    And if it is eligible will it dump me off at the small station outside of town, or will it take me to the station which is just minutes from the center of town? Thanks

    1. Hi Dee,

      I’m not 100% sure that I understand your question.

      The combinado cercanias covers regional trains which depart from the stations of departure or arrival during a period of four hours either side of your journey.

      I’m going to assume that you mean that you will catch the AVE from Madrid Atocha to Barcelona Sants and then want to use the combinado cercanias to get from there to Figueres right?

      In theory this would be possible, because you could catch R1 or R11 trains which take between two and a half and three hours to complete this journey. You’d have to be careful with timings though because the combinado cercanias is only valid for four hours after the arrival of your AVE in Barcelona. Also take care because some R11 trains are Middle Distance trains, not cercanias, and aren’t covered.

      A faster alternative, would be to take the AVE from Barcelona Sants to Figueres, which takes less than an hour and typically costs about €18.

      Regional trains stop at the station which is near Figueres city centre, the AVE stops at Figueres Vilafant which is just outside the city. There is a bus to the city centre that takes about 10 minutes.

  2. I’m travelling with iryo this month from Madrid to Barcelona. According to the iryo website, free Cercanías or Rodalies are included. However, there’s no Combined Cercanías code and the website states, it’s not needed (anymore).

    Showing the QR code at the turnstiles are supposed to be enough. Do you know anything about it?

    1. Hi Basti,

      Thanks for the heads up. It seems that RENFE has been phasing this in over the last year or two.

      I’ve noticed that, for about a year now, one or more of the turnstiles at regional train stations in Barcelona and the surrounding area have been fitted with QR code readers for scanning tickets.

      Unfortunately, the only official announcement that I’ve found on the RENFE website relates to Madrid, but I think that its safe to assume that it will have been implanted in the entire network.

      So, not much information is available, but it does seem that what you have been told is correct. As soon as I’ve had the chance to check this out for myself, I’ll update the post. In the meantime, any feedback that you can give after your trip will be appreciated.

      1. Awesome! We will be travelling this Tuesday and will give an update here, if it worked.

        I also found this Tweet from iryo confirming that the QR code should now be enough:

        We’ll see! Thanks! Will update!

        One last question: I guess the free ticket is invalid as soon as I leave the Cercanias or Rodalias station? Example: In Barcelona we need to go from Sants to Barcelona-Sagrera by a Rodalia but wanted to check-in our hotel at Arc de Triomf inbetween.

        Guess we won’t be able to continue to use the free ticket when we return to continue the Rodalia-journey. Or is it still valid as long as the time isn’t up?

        1. Thanks, Basti; any feedback that you can give will be very helpful.

          You guessed correctly. Unfortunately, once you leave the station at Arc de Triomf the free ticket will no longer be valid and you won’t be let back in through the turnstiles.

          1. Hey Richard,

            after having used it two times now, I can confirm we were able to use the Cercanias or Rodalias without purchasing a separate ticket. We just scanned the QR code from our high speed train ticket – in our case it was an ticket by iryo (

            Most turnstiles per station now do feature an additional QR code reader that can be used. Once scanned correctly (which can take a long time, unfortunately, as they are really picky) the gates open both for entering and exiting.

            According to iryo, in the rare cases no turnstile in a station does have a QR code reader or they don’t work, you need to ask a staff member – but in Madrid and Barcelona area, most stations already do feature the readers.

            1. Hi Basti,

              Thanks for the in-depth feedback. I really appreciate it.

              I’ll be travelling by AVE next month and will update this post when I get back. In the meantime, the information you’ve shared is very helpful.

  3. I just bought tix for Barcelona-Sants to Figure-vilafant via train and there’s no Combinado Cercanias code listed on the ticket. is this ticket not eligible?

        1. Hi Ilene,

          The Combinado Cercanias code only appears on AVE and long-distance train tickets.

          AVANT are classed as middle-distance trains and don’t include free tickets for the commuter trains.

  4. Hi, what if my RENFE AVE ticket doesnt show at all combinado cercanias code? Also when I have tried that at the vending machine , its just responding in spanish even when english selected sonething to see conductor…. too much hassle to safe couple euros ….

    1. Hi Martin,

      The Combinado Cercanias code should appear on AVE and most long distance RENFE train tickets.

      Unfortunately, the new low-cost services such as AVLO don’t include this service and there’s no discount code on the tickets.

  5. Hi Richard,

    I’m on RENFE’s website and it doesn’t show how to get from Barcelona Sants to Valencia Nord. See link below.
    However when I search on it was available. What am I doing wrong?
    This is my plan thus far:
    I’ll be flying into Barcelona arriving on 10/8
    Taking AeroBus to Placa De Catalunya
    Walking to my hotel
    Staying for 3 nights
    Going to Valencia (best method to get there please)
    Staying for 3 nights
    Going to Madrid (best method to get there please)
    Staying for 4 nights
    Flying back to Boston

    If you have time, providing the best way to get from Barcelona to Valencia to Madrid would be AWESOME!
    Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Rochelle,

      I think the problem may be that you were looking on a ticket resellers website instead of the official RENFE site.

      I just searched for trains from Barcelona (all stations) to Valencia (all stations) on on the 11th of October and it shows a mixture of EUROMED trains which arrive at Valencia Joaquin Sorolla and TALGO trains which arrive at Valencia Estació del Nord.

      I think that the train is the best way to travel from Barcelona to Valencia and also from Valencia to Madrid.

      At the moment there are tickets available for the high-speed AVE train from Valencia to Madrid on October 14th for just €21.95.

  6. Hi …. I am in a wheelchair and cannot see any mention of whether these services are wheelchair accessible – or not!

    1. Hi Dot,

      It really depends on where you will be traveling from and to.

      All AVE high-speed trains have some spaces for wheelchair users (where you stay in your chair) and seats for folding wheelchair users. Whichever of the two you need, you need to book them in advance when you buy your ticket.

      The maximum size of wheelchair or scooter that they can accommodate is, width 700 mm, depth 1300 mm, height 1400 mm

      When booking your seat you should also tell them that you will need assistance boarding the train. The doors to AVE trains are quite small and don’t have ramps built-in so RENFE offers a service called Atendo to help passengers board and depart high-speed trains and move around the station.

      This service is available at Barcelona Sants, you can check whether it’s available at your destination here.

      You can also call them to book the service on +34 91 214 05 05. According to the RENFE website you need to tell them 30 minutes in advance, If I were you I’d call at least 48 hours in advance to be sure.

      There are lifts down to all platforms at Barcelona Sants train station.

      The ticket machines, where you use the Combinado Cercanias code to get your free commuter train ticket, are designed to be used by people in a wheelchair but personally, I think that they may be too high. Assuming that you are using the Atendo service, they should be able to help you get your ticket. Alternatively, you can also claim your free ticket from the ticket counters.

      Accessibility of commuter trains is a bit more hit and miss.

      Not all small train stations are wheelchair accessible. Accessible stations are marked with a wheelchair symbol on the train timetables here.

      The newer commuter trains have one wagon which is wheelchair accessible and where there is space for a wheelchair inside. It’s normally located near the middle of the train. The bad news is that there are still plenty of older trains circulating which are not wheelchair accessible. I use commuter trains daily and would estimate that about 50% of commuter trains have an accessible wagon.

      When you know what time you will be travelling you can call the train company and ask them whether the train will be accessible 900 41 00 41. If not, they will be able to suggest an alternative train that can accommodate you.

      I hope this information helps if you have any more questions feel free to ask. Please bear in mind that I’m not a wheelchair user so the information given is based on the information available on the RENFE websites and what I have seen when travelling on trains within Spain.

  7. Hi,

    This is great news. I will be staying near to the Glories metro stop and am wondering if I can use the combinado ticket to get there?

    1. Hi Wendy,

      The Combinado Cercanias ticket is only valid for RENFE operated commuter trains. Called Cercanias in Spanish, or Rodalies in Catalan.

      It’s not valid for the metro.

      The nearest train station to the Gloriès metro stop is Barcelona El Clot Aragó which is about a 10 minute walk away.

      You could use the combinado ticket to take the R1 or R2 train from Barcelona Sants to there.

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