Spain Travel by Bus, Train, or Airplane?

People often ask me which is the best way to travel around Spain for the visitor. Answering this question is always difficult because “the best way” means different things to different people and many details must be considered before deciding.

Below, I’ll detail the pros and cons of each form of travel. Please feel free to add your own comments to this travel blog posting.

Spain Bus Travel:

pros: by far the cheapest form of travel in Spain, the bus line network is vast, buses are comfortable and modern, many long-distance routes show movies (in Spanish) and have recorded music channels like on airplanes, you can carry-on practically anything, sometimes good highway views through large windows, comfortable & spacious seats, sometimes buses travel as fast as trains, bus stations are usually in or very near the downtown, sometimes a more expensive “Express Bus” is available along some routes which makes fewer or no stops.

cons: buses don’t go everywhere or one must change buses at major city hubs, tiny toilet – if any, morning/afternoon sun can be annoying, sometimes inadequate air conditioning, sometimes nasty bus stations, low-security in bus stations and bathrooms, always complaints about luggage theft, sometimes buses travel slower than trains – particularly slower than high-speed AVE trains.

Spain Train Travel:

pros: the most comfortable method of travel, wide & long seats, many and large bathrooms, great views of the countryside, fast travel on the AVE trains, lots of luggage space, faster lines at train stations, train stations are generally located within the cities, long-range trains usually show movies (in Spanish) and have music jacks and free headphones, the cafe/bar car.

cons: expensive, trains may not go where buses will, the possibility of getting a rear-facing seat.

Spain Airplane Travel:

pros:
fast point-to-point travel, can be cheap with low-cost airlines like Easyjet, RyanAir, and even Iberia if you get very lucky, best when going from coast to coast or extra long distances.

cons:
traveling from/to the city to/from the airport in the outskirts can take time and traffic jams are always a possibility, can be very expensive if tickets are bought without anticipation, waiting in check-in or security lines can take a long time, carry-on restrictions of liquids and other items, no view from airplane windows, narrow seats, no movie.

Next week I’m making my fourth visit to the city of Granada, Spain. This time, for the first time, I’m going by bus but have taken the train the two previous visits and have gone by car once. To give an example, I’m paying 31 Euros for a round-trip bus ticket from Madrid to Granada. The train would have cost about 130 Euros. That’s a 100 Euro difference! And the trip takes about the same amount of time; 5 hours. My only concern about taking the bus for the first time is the fact that one cannot stretch their legs like on a train, plus the toilet is roughly the size of a small broom-closet – and you NEVER see anyone using it. There must be a reason why.

I’ve only traveled Spain by bus a couple of times and, generally speaking, I don’t care for bus travel ONLY because of the lack of mobility and the issue of the toilet on long-distance trips. But this time around, considering the cost difference, I’m going to try it and will report my experience later.

How do YOU prefer to travel around Spain and why?

 
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