If you’re heading to Spain and plan on visiting more than one city, you’re going to need to figure out how to get from one place to the next. Spain is the 4th largest country in Europe and has over 16,000km of road to travel on. With all the amazing destinations in Spain, you’ll need a way to get to all of them. But if you think renting a car is your only option, it’s not. Here are 7 easy ways to travel around Spain in 2023.
EASY WAYS TO TRAVEL AROUND SPAIN
To get around Spain you’ll need to find a way. You can either take public transportation, such as a bus or train, or private transportation. You may even decide to use a combination of both.
The following list is in no particular order. There certainly isn’t a one-way-fits-all and there may even be other options not listed here (hitchhiking??). This list is just the most popular and easiest ways to travel Spain so keep reading to learn about all the different options you have to get from one place to the next.
Traveling by plane is probably one of the most convenient and easiest ways to travel Spain. Spain has 50 airports, some are international airports but most are just small regional airports. If you’re flying to Spain from the United States or another country outside of Europe, you most likely will fly into Madrid or Barcelona. If you plan on visiting some of Spain’s other large cities such as Seville, Malaga, or Valencia, you won’t have a problem flying in to those cities either.
But if you plan on visiting some smaller towns then you will have to figure out other options. You can still fly to some of them, but not all. If the town you want to visit doesn’t have an airport then you’ll have to fly into the closest airport and take another form of transportation, such as a train, to get to the smaller town you want to visit.
Spain has an excellent rail system with a combination of high speed trains (they travel around 250km per hour) that travel between larger cities and regular trains that travel in between the smaller cities at a slower speed. The map below shows all of the high speed train routes in Spain.
Using the train is one of the best ways for getting around Spain. Nearly every town in Spain has a train station. It’s one of the easiest ways to travel Spain.
Read all about How to buy a train ticket in Spain.
You can book your ticket online at Renfe, the main train system in Spain. Once you’ve made your travel plans, you’ll want to book your train tickets as soon as possible. The earlier you book, the cheaper it will be. Be aware that if you’re booking too far in advance, there might not be any available to book. If you don’t see the route you need, just keep checking back. You should see something within 3 months out.
Other times, you might be able to book your ticket but you’ll get a message that says the company will confirm the ticket when it gets closer to the trip. On some of our train bookings we didn’t get confirmation until just a few days before.
There are a lot of great tour companies that offer day trips from larger cities in Spain like Barcelona and Seville to some of the smaller towns. It’s a great way to see these places while being able to leave all the details to someone else.
For example, you can book an 8 hour day trip from Malaga to Ronda & Setenil for $58. You can book it online and then meet at the pick-up location on the day of your trip. You’ll need to read all the details of the trip for what all is included. Usually these tours include everything but lunch. If you’re going to a place with an entrance fee, you’ll want to know if it’s included too.
There are a lot of different companies that offer bus service throughout Spain. If you’re on a tight budget and you have a little extra time to spare, then taking a bus to get to your next destination is a great option.
The buses are generally pretty nice, have air condition, WI-FI service, and if the distance is more than 2 hours they usually stop for bathroom breaks or lunch. You can travel one way for as little as $15.
Booking a seat on a bus is pretty straightforward. You can go directly to a bus company website, such as Alsa, to book your seat if you already have aparticular bus company in mind. Or you can go to a site such as Omni that has all the buses from different companies in one place and you can choose the best one that fits your needs. Taking a bus is one of the easiest ways to travel around Spain.
Renting a car in a foreign country is just as easy as renting a car in your own country. The main difference is that you need an international driving license to be able to rent a car and drive in another country. In the United States, you can get one at a Triple AAA location or you can get one online at the International Automobile Association. Your international driving permit is good for 1 year and is valid in 150 countries.
The main thing to consider when trying to decide to rent a car in Spain is if it’s the most cost effective option. If you have more than two people on the trip then renting the car might be a good way to travel around Spain. However, you’ll need to take into consideration the cost of the rental, gas, and possible toll fees. Gas in Spain might cost more than what you’re used to paying, especially if you are coming from the USA.
There are a lot of amazing towns in Spain that are older and have a lot of history that you should visit. A lot of these towns, such as Ronda Spain, do not have a large airport or even a train station. Renting a car to get to these towns will be the best way to travel around Spain.
TAXI OR UBER
Can you book your own “private driver” for getting around Spain? Yep! Of course having your own personal driver will be the most expensive way to travel around Spain but it might be worth it. If you don’t want to drive, didn’t get your International Driver’s License, or if you’re like us and got pick-pocketed and no longer had your driver’s license, then this might be an option for you.
Using a taxi to get to the next town in Spain will cost more than a bus or train, but you will have the luxury of stopping whenever you want and taking small detours on the way to your next destination. If you’re with several people then splitting the cost might be more cost effective and one of the best ways to travel around Spain.
While the mainland of Spain is the most popular place to visit, Spain also has some islands off it’s coast that you might want to visit too. In that case, you’ll need to take a ferry. Places like Ibiza, Mallorca, or the Canary Islands are accessable by ferry and if you’ve rented a vehicle, you can even choose to take the car with you.
You can find a ferry route by going to Direct Ferries to find all your options. You’ll choose a route by finding where your starting location is (such as Barcelona) and then the island you want to go to. You can even take a ferry from Spain to Morocco! Traveling by ferry is one of the easiest ways to travel Spain if you want to head to an island.
Other Transportation Options
There are companies in Spain that offer transportation services that you might not have heard of. These companies are worth taking a look at to compare to the other transportation services.
There are some low-cost airlines that fly within Europe that you might not have heard of. These companies are very popular for their low costs. Just make sure you read the luggage policy before booking. A few of these airlines are Ryanair and Vueling. They should show up if you’re using a site like Google Flights but you can also go directly to their site to see what they have available.
Tips For Booking Transportation in Spain
When you’re searching for your transporation options you’ll come across several sites such as Rome2Rio or Omio. These sites will show you different options but they might not have the best up-to-date information. So if you see something on their site, you’ll want to go to the official site of the form of transportation to get current information.
Same thing goes for third-party sites. There are a lot of sites that sell train tickets in Spain. These third-party sites will generally be a little more expensive because they’re going to charge a fee on top of the cost of the ticket.
Sometimes plans change and you might need to find transportation the day before or the day of the trip. Be ready to search all options. Getting same day tickets on a train might not be possible so be prepared to search for bus tickets. Keep a list of transportation links available on your phone before you leave home to make it easier and quicker to find.
There is no shortage of ways for getting around Spain, it’s just a matter of deciding which one is the best way to travel around Spain. You might need to use a combination of two or more to reach a lesser known town. Just be flexible and prepared to make changes if need be. These 7 easy ways to travel around Spain should help you figure out the best option for your trip.