Spain Transport

Get in

Air

Iberia is the national carrier of Spain. In late 2006, UK and Irish low-cost airlines EasyJet and Ryanair won concessions to start operating on a handful of domestic Spanish routes. Other low-cost carriers operating to Spain include:Vueling , Blue Air , and Jet2. com.

The busiest airports are Madrid, Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca and Malaga, followed by Seville, Valencia, Bilbao, Alicante, Santiago de Compostela, Vigo, Gran Canaria and the 2 airports in Tenerife. And Madrid, Barcelona and Bilbao have the most beautiful airports, designed by famous architects.

Train

Running most of trains in Spain, Renfe(www. renfe. es) is the national state train system. There are several types of trains. Big cities like Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, Málaga and Valencia have a local network known as cercanías for short hops. Long-distance trains range from all-stops regionales operating within one region to the high-speed AVE trains that link Madrid with Seville, Tarragona and Barcelona. All long-distance trains have 2nd and 1st classes, , know as turista and preferente, respenctively. The latter is about 40% more expensive.

The best option to arrive in Spain by train is the high-speed track from France, connecting Paris with Barcelona and further with Madrid. It takes 6 hours of travel from Paris to Barcelona. Cross-border connections are also frequent on the other end of the border with France, between San Sebastian and Bayonne. Trais from Portugal are slow and not so frequent.

Bus

If you travel in a budget way, bus is the best choice. Although it's not that comfortable as train, it's cheap and convenient.

Eurolines (www. nationalexpress. com/eurolines) runs buses to Barcelona, Madrid and other Spanish destinations several times a week.

Ferry

Ferries run from Canary Islands which are owned by Spain, Italy, North Africa(particularly Algeria and Morocco) and the UK to mainland Spain.

From the UK, Brittany Ferries offers services from Portsmouth and Plymouth to Santander and from Portsmouth to Bilbao. The journey time from Portsmouth to Santander is approximately 24 hours. Routes are also naturally available to the Spanish Balearic islands of Mallorca, Minorca, Ibiza and Formentera. Another popular route is from Barcelona to Genoa.

Get around

Train

Always buy tickets in advance through the RENFE website and plan ahead. Long-distance trains require a reservation and always in time. However the short-distance trains can bear long delays .

Bus

Most major routes are point to point, and very high frequency. There is a different operator for each route, but usually just one operator per route. At the bus station, each operator has its own ticket. And you are easy to know which is the one you need.

For regular runs( like from Madrid to Toledo) , Advance purchase is generally not possible, while for longer trips( say, Madrid to Seville), you can and should buy your tickets in advance.

Regular buses run from about 6am to shortly before midnight. In the big cities a night bus service generally kicks in on a limited number of lines in the wee hours. In Madrid they are known as búhos (owls) and in Barcelona more prosaically as nitbusos (night buses).

Taxi

Taxis serves all the major cities in Spain with a reasonable price. However, most taxi drivers do not speak English or any other foreign languages, so it would be necessary to have the names and addresses of your destinations written in Spanish to show your taxi driver. Likewise, get your hotel's business card to show your taxi driver in case you get lost.

Bike

Spain is a great way to see Spain. Cycling lanes are available in mid-sized and large cities. However Bike rental is not common in Spain.

Car

In major cities like Madrid or Barcelona and in mid-sized ones like San Sebastian, moving around by car is both expensive and nerve-wracking. Having a driving map is essential - many streets are one-way; left turns are more rare than rights (and are unpredictable). There are two types of highway in Spain: autopistas, or motorways, and autovías, which are more akin to expressways. Most autopistas are toll roads while autovías are generally free of charge. Speed limits range from 50 km/h in towns to 90 km/h on rural roads, 100 km/h on roads and 120 km/h on autopistas and autovías.

Car rental is cheapest arranged in advance through one of the large multinational agencies (Avis, Budget, EasyCar, Europcar, Hertz, Holiday Autos, National or Thrifty, for example). There are hundreds of pick-up offices in Spain, including regional airports and major train stations. But parking can be a big pain in the neck, especially in big cities and old-town areas.