Searching for trains via Irun/Hendaye border

There are a number of issues that affect trains via the French-Spanish border at Irun and Hendaye. This is the main route for journeys between France and Spain or Portugal, so it affects several popular routes.


Failed searches via Irun/Hendaye

Sometimes searches between France and Spain fail because of an oddity in the timetable. From France, trains run all the way to Irun in Spain, where they terminate. But in the opposite direction, trains from Spain terminate in Hendaye in France. This is fine if your journey stops at one of the border towns, but it gets complicated if you want to continue your trip into France or Spain.

  • If you're planning a return trip, you usually have to do two one-way searches, one from France to Spain/Portugal (via Hendaye), and then another from Spain/Portugal to France (via Irun).
  • You can add both tickets to your basket before continuing to the checkout for a single payment.
  • If one section is not open yet for sale, you will be invited to set a booking alert.
If you're coming from the UK, you'll want to run a separate return search for London - Hendaye since there are discounts available for return Eurostar tickets and Eurostar + TGV journeys.

Long term engineering works

Due to engineering works that have been ongoing since July 2017, even one-way searches across the Irun/Hendaye border will fail. During this period, the majority of high-speed trains from Paris will terminate at Hendaye, instead of completing the journey across the border to Irun as usual. 

The high-speed track will be extended further into Northern Spain so trains can run all the way from Paris to San Sebastiàn. But, while the engineering work is taking place, customers are advised to alight at Hendaye or Irun and make the short transfer to the other station as described below.

Onward trains from Hendaye or Irun should be booked separately so you'll need to run two separate searches e.g Paris - Hendaye, Irun to Lisbon.

Changing trains at Irun/Hendaye (crossing the border)

The Trenhotel overnight service now departs from Hendaye instead of Irun. Travellers with tickets from Irun to Lisbon can now board the train at Hendaye. There's no more need to change trains at the France/Spain border. Hooray!

It's very easy to change trains between Irun and Hendaye, and you have several options:

  • Tram: There is frequent tram, called the EuskoTren which runs between San Sebastian and Hendaye, stopping at Irun en route. It is inexpensive and runs twice an hour from 07:00 to 22:00, taking around 5 mins. You can find a timetable and more information here. (Note that the Spanish spelling of Hendaye is Hendaia).
  • Walk: It's around 3km between the two stations so you can walk in half an hour or so, depending on energy levels and luggage; see map.
  • Taxi: There is a taxi depot at either station. The journey takes no more than 10 mins and costs around €15.

Multiple station names for Hendaye

Hendaye is the English & French spelling, which is what we use on Rail Europe. However, alternative names include Hendaya (Spanish) and Hendaia (Basque). You won't see these in search results on Rail Europe, but they may appear on maps while you're doing research elsewhere. When you're searching on Rail Europe, make certain you're using "Hendaye."