Free train travels in the Costa del Sol

August 24, 2023
Last updated on July 09, 2024

I know that free train travels in the Costa del Sol sounds like a scam, but it is not. It is the real deal and has been going on not only in the Costa del Sol – actually in the whole of Spain – since September 2022.

It started as an attempt by the government of Spain to reduce CO2 emissions. It was issued for four months (1 sep 2022 – 31 dec 2022) and proved to be effective. The program has since been extended in groups of 4 months and has been going on for more than a year now; moreover, the government announced it will continue extending the program at least until the end of 2024, always 4 months at a time! Read more about it, in Spanish, in the Renfe website. Renfe, by the way, is a publicly owned company.

Free train travels in the Costa del Sol
Picture by Renfe

Related posts:
Free train tickets in the Costa del Sol – Questions and Answers
Train stations in Fuengirola

Train stations in Benalmadena
Train stations in Torremolinos

Train stations in Malaga

Rules of the game

There are no catches, but there are a few things to observe to have it working as intended. The first is that there are actually two programs: one intended for medium distance travel (of up to 300 km) and another one for the tren de cercanías, which are the local trains, running in the cities or between nearby cities and /or towns.

Another noticeable fact is that one is supposed to pay 10 euros (for cercanias) or 20 (for medium distance) upfront and receive a refund of the amount paid by the end of the 4 months period, as long as the user has done at least 16 trips. This minimum number of trips for the refund is equivalent to 2 back-to-back trips per month, only! There is no maximum number of trips. 😊

The tickets are individual – therefore, you can’t get one and share it with the whole family – and need to be validated – showed or pressed against the sensor at the train gate – before going to the train platform, just as any regular ticket would. If you choose to buy on-line, you’ll receive a QR code, which you should keep in your phone, as this will be your one and only ticket for the whole 4 months.

The tickets for the period from 1 may 2024 to 31 ago 2024 are currently available for purchase, and if you decide to buy a ticket after the start of the period, no problem. The minimum number of trips (16) to receive the refund remains the same, though. So, if you buy the ticket in July, you can still be refunded, as long as you complete 16 trips before the end of August.

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the cercanías train of Malaga, which allows for trips from Fuengirola to Malaga on Line C-1 and from Malaga all the way to Alora on Line C-2.

Cercanías trains in Malaga

These are the cercanías train lines and stations in the province of Malaga:

Free train travels in the Costa del Sol
Malaga train lines and stops. Map by Renfe.

Getting the cercanías ticket for Malaga allows for unlimited free train travels in the Costa del Sol (between the stations above)!!! If you are not in Malaga, but somewhere else in Spain where there are cercanías trains, getting the ticket for that province will work in the same way. Just notice that the cercanías ticket of one province is not valid for another.

How to get the free train travels ticket?

You can get it directly at a train station, simply by asking for it in the ticket office, paying and presenting a document (DNI, passport or NIF)* or online, with the app Renfe cercanías. If you choose to buy online, check the video below showing the process! 😉

*Edit: sometime in October 2023 they changed the documents to ‘DNI, NIE (t.residente), CIF’. I believe “t. residente” to be tarjeta de residente, or residence permit – which uses the NIE as a document number. CIF is sort of a NIE for companies – I wonder how it is going to travel by train, though. The important thing here is that they removed passports from this list. I tried to use my passport number as document and it was accepted, though; therefore, I believe non-residents can still buy the abono recurrente ticket.

Observations about the video:

1- Note that there are two Renfe apps, as shown in the beginning of the recording. The right one to buy the cercanias ticket is Renfe cercanías.

2 – You have to set your province. It is not shown in the video, because my app was already set to Malaga!

3- You can choose any stations – the ticket is going to be valid between all Malaga cercanías stations anyway.

4 – The key point is to select “Ab. Recurrente” when selecting the fare 😉

5- When selecting the date, choose the date of today to get the ticket for the current quadrimester or the fisrt date of the next quadrimester to get a ticket for the next period.

6 – Please put a real document number! I wrote asdfghjk just for the example. 😀

7 – After paying, you should receive confirmation and a QR code, that will be stored under Menu / Buy tickets / My tickets. I got mine online and also took a screen picture of the QR code, just in case.

Can pets and bikes go in the train?

Yes! As long it is just one pet and / or a bicycle per person. There is no extra charge for that. For more questions and answers about the program, check our post called Free train tickets in the Costa del Sol – Questions and Answers. 😉

When I first wrote this text, I was looking forward to start using my brand new free ticket on September 1, 2023, as this was actually the first time I got it. Now I’m a seasoned train user, with more than 40 rides during those 4 months, and quite happy that the program has been extended. 🙂 Therefore, happy trips for us! Choo choo – and see you around!

Next: Bus and train cards in the Costa del Sol

11 thoughts on “Free train travels in the Costa del Sol

    1. Hello Natali! Thank you for your comment. Indeed, it is possible to buy online tickets for kids; I’ve bought an abono recurrente ticket for my son, with the same phone I used to buy my own ticket. 😉

  1. Hello,
    Love your website! Wondering from Malaga (Maria Zambrano) to Granada, trying to purchase the 20 Euro pass through RENFE App, could you walk us through the steps to purchase the pass online. Drop-down menu does not permit us to select Granada as destination.
    Hope you have a great day!

    1. Hello Rodie,
      Thank you!
      Unfortunately, it is not possible to buy the media distance abono tickets through the app; we can buy these only from The sad part, though, is that there is no such ticket to Granada; it seems that for this destination, it would be full price, unfortunately.

      1. Thank you so much for the quick reply! You are the best! Appreciate the timely info you have provided! Keep up the great work! Cheers!

  2. Hi MamaMalaga
    Tried to purchase renfe train ticket on line following your video instructions. Got to where I had to pay and the following message came up –
    Problems getting results, service is not available.

    May e I should just try later?
    Thank you for your help. You’re a star!

    1. Hi Marie!
      I’d try later in that case. From what you wrote, I think it may be a temporary problem at renfe, at the bank or in establishing connection between both. Best of luck and thank you for commenting!

    2. Hello,
      Can you travel to El Chorro with this ticket? read that El Chorro is now part of Malaga Cercanias. But it’s not shown in the lines maps.
      Thank you.

      1. Hello Saulius,
        El Chorro is not part of Cercanías, but Renfe has a new train service that they call proximidad, that may be included in the ticket!!! Renfe’s site says the proximidad is available for the abono ticket holders in 2023; since the abono has been extended, maybe the proximidad has too? Better confirm at a Renfe station; I got that info from the site below:

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