Train, Plane, Bus? How to Travel Around Spain

Are you really saving time?

Are you really saving time?

By Regina Winkle-Bryan

Should you fly, ride the train or take the bus? Or maybe even rent a car? You’ve got options for travel within Spain, but some modes of transportation are more expensive or take longer than others. We’ve got the scoop on how to get from here to there and in-between.

Fly:

Flying a cheapo airline such as Vueling or RyanAir is usually the least expensive and fastest way to get around Spain. Of course, one should factor in that flying is not great for the environment, still, most destinations within the country are a little more than an hour away by plane. Also check Iberia Airlines.

The Trains in Spain

The Trains in Spain

Train:

‘Train’ and ‘Europe’ used to go hand-in-hand, but nowadays many people opt for flying because it saves time. Or does it? If you take the AVE, Spain’s fast train from Madrid to Barcelona it’s just 3 hours. Considering wait time at the airport and travel time from the center of the city to the airport, I think the AVE works out to be less travel time. It’s about $140 one-way to travel on AVE between these two cities. Check out AVE’s webpage for additional AVE destinations and pricing.

Spanish Countryside from the Train

Spanish Countryside from the Train

Other trains may be less expensive but in general they take a looooooong time. That same trip from Madrid to Barcelona could take up to 8 hours on a normal Spanish train. When traveling to nearby destinations, such as Barcelona to Girona, the train is the way to go.

Bus:

On a couple sad occasions I took the bus between Spanish cities and even up to France. My gawd it took a long time and we seemed to move at a snail’s pace. While the bus is almost always the cheapest option, you must ask yourself if you are ready to be sitting on a bus for many, many hours. I have found that these days my answer to that question is NO. I do have one friend who likes to take the bus back and forth at night from Madrid to Barcelona. She sleeps on the bus.

Car:

If you have a driver’s license then driving is a fast and fun way to tour around. However, you will need to add in drive time, gas (not cheap) and tolls. Lots and lots of tolls. There are roads that do not have tolls but they are usually not as well maintained and crowded. Some areas of Spain have more toll roads than others (Catalonia is covered with them!). Renting a car is usually around $60 a day. The Scoopettes like Sixt.com which has fair prices and no hidden fees (we hate hidden fees and the whole nickel-and-dime you thing).

Renting a Car in Spain may be the way to go!

Renting a Car in Spain may be the way to go!

Another option:

Of course if money is no issue, then a Private Jet is the best way to travel between Madrid and Barcelona or Barcelona and Malaga, for example. This is by far the fastest way to travel!

Have questions about planning your trip and how to get from point A to point B? We’ve been there and are happy to help! Leave us a comment below and we’ll get back to you.

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This entry was posted in BARCELONA & EAST, BILBAO & NORTH, ISLANDS, MADRID & CENTRAL, SANTIAGO & WEST, SEVILLE & SOUTH, Transportation, Transportation, Transportation, Transportation and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

15 Comments

  1. Posted March 14, 2012 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    Great article. Thanks for sharing very interesting!

  2. Posted March 16, 2012 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    I don’t have a license but K has and I love the freedom of car journeys. Trains as well are a favourite as on longer journeys especially you get to see how the terrain changes from one place to the next.

  3. Posted March 16, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    yes agree Robin. Everytime friends and I rent a car we feel like adults on the loose. Whaaaaat no Metro?

  4. Posted March 17, 2012 at 12:46 am | Permalink

    I’ve only a little experience of internal travel in Spain … there’s usually a coach laid on for us … but I have good memories of the Continental Auto bus from Soria to Madrid in 2006. Comfotable, and took us to places we wouldn’t have seen if we just schlepped down the motorway. And, it only cost €13!

  5. Posted March 17, 2012 at 3:10 am | Permalink

    I always drive. Love be able to stop where or when especially for taking photos. Unless for example I´m heading to the airport to go back to the UK I always check out different routes.

    Driving here is a pleasure compared with the UK, I´ll never take for granted the views and the freedom of Spanish roads around my mountainous corner of Andalucia.

  6. admin
    Posted March 19, 2012 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    I agree, I love a good road-trip and the freedom you get with a car!

  7. Posted March 26, 2012 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    The AVE is great, except that it’s pretty pricey. I usually end up flying just because it’s so much cheaper. But if money weren’t an issue, I’d take the AVE everywhere!

  8. admin
    Posted March 27, 2012 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    Agree 100%!

    Regina

  9. admin
    Posted April 3, 2012 at 12:26 am | Permalink

    Hi Jessica. Yes, agree, it is cheaper to fly. It depends where you are going in Madrid. Hopping off at Atocha Station has me in the heart of where I want to go. Yes, I am a museum geek. And, I feel like a Queen when I ride AVE.

  10. Sonia
    Posted April 29, 2012 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    Hi! We are flying to Madrid and staying in Spain two weeks. Do we take a bus or a train to the north coast? What do you recommend?

  11. admin
    Posted May 3, 2012 at 12:57 am | Permalink

    Depends on where you’re going. Where in the north are you headed? There are planes too, try Vueling to San Sebastian.

  12. Posted January 11, 2013 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    The new and latest link in the Spanish AVE high speed train network was opened today between Barcelona and Figueres on the Spanish/French border. So now you can catch the high speed train from London to Paris, change for a train to the Spanish border, hop on the next stage to Barcelona, and finally change for the non-stop AVE link right the way though to Sevilla, Cordoba and Málaga in southern Spain…

    http://www.leadingpropertygroupspain.com/en/2013/01/travel-high-speed-from-london-to-malaga/

  13. admin
    Posted January 14, 2013 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Thanks Robert!

  14. Posted March 17, 2013 at 12:48 am | Permalink

    The train is very convenient but always look at taking the bus.
    Especially if your train option is a regional slow train on a very busy route.
    I had to ride standing up on a couple of these train rides.
    The longest one was the Jerez to Sevilla route where the ride took just over an hour.
    It seems like all the Sevilla inbound regional trains are always packed like Anchoas in a tin can. The locals told me that it is always that way.
    Had I known this, I would have taken the bus – the ride lasts just as long and I would have had a seat guaranteed.
    Other very busy regional routes are the Tarragona or Sitges to Barcelona trains.
    At least these two are short rides so it is not a big deal.
    Off peak seasons may not be a problem as compared with late Spring or Summer.

  15. admin
    Posted March 17, 2013 at 5:39 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the tips.

One Trackback

  1. By By Plane To Spain on April 2, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    [...] Train, Plane, Bus? How to Travel Around Spain Train, Plane, Bus? How to Travel Around Spain. Are you really saving time? By Regina Winkle-Bryan. Should you fly, ride the train or take the bus? Or maybe even rent a car? You've got options for travel within Spain, but . [...]

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