The Best Ways to Get Around Spain in 2023
Updated: May 2
Getting to Spain, you will likely fly into either Barcelona or Madrid, but what's the best way to get around once you get there? Depending on your preferred style of travel, you may prefer renting a car and driving, or letting the rails sort it out for you by train. With cheap airlines, domestic travel within Spain by air is also a very affordable and worthy option. Here, Always Pack Tissues breaks it down for you.
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By using the site called Rome2Rio.com, you can map out how to get from place to place by just about every mode of transportation possible. This website is awesome for giving you all the options, including pricing and time spent on travel. Here is an example:
Above you can see there are trains, buses, flights and car rental routes. Just set your starting and ending destination and let the tool do the rest. You can use this for literally anywhere in the world, even names of hotels or other attractions. It doesn't just have to be a city search.
Traveling in Spain By Bus
Many of you may be familiar with FlixBus, as it is known to be one of the cheapest and best ways to travel by bus in the United States. Great news is - it's not just in the US! It's a huge sell overseas as well.
With cheap, clean buses FlixBus also offers WiFi, bathrooms on most buses, and more. In Spain they have a similar bus line called Alsa that is great too. I took the bus from Zaragoza to Madrid airport and it was a smooth enjoyable ride. We even stopped halfway at a rest area for a pee break and a cafe.
When you use the Rome2Rio tool you can easily see which buses operate which routes, including pricing and timetables too!
Traveling in Spain By Car
Driving in a foreign country may seem daunting, but you need not be afraid to drive in Spain. The roads are well paved, and easy to navigate with your phone's GPS. Just beware small or tight roads in the smaller towns and the occasional roundabout or flashing stoplights, which can be a bit confusing.
Also, you do not need an International Driver's license. People always ask me that and you don't need it! There are often police stopping cars at random. Don't be alarmed by this. You aren't in trouble and you probably look and act like a gringo so don't worry about it! They are just doing highway checks for shady happenings.
I recommend car travel for the more veteran travelers who like to stay in small towns, castle hotels, and Casa Rural or Agroturismo style lodging. The road warrior will be someone who enjoys moving on every day or two and putting in 2-4 hours by car each leg.
Traveling in Spain By Train
Use Rail Europe for a general "getting around by train in Europe" guide. For all things Spain - use Renfe's website. Be aware there are other carriers now (not just Renfe) so using Rome2Rio or Rail Europe will help.
You will want to research routes and always book your train fare in advance - they often sell out or get extremely expensive by the day of travel. Also, Renfe's website is a hot mess. I give you a few tips here on how to book. My advice - book a changeable fare, not the basic fare. We've lost a lot of money on missed trains or changed schedules. Better safe than sorry!
I recommend train travel for the traveler that wants to keep it simple and stay a few days in each place. Pro tip: even though you can connect just about anywhere in Spain by train, keep it to one specific region or you'll go nuts with travel days.
Traveling in Spain By Cruise
Check out available cruises leaving the port of Barcelona. You may be able to hit a lot of your desired sites without all the hassle of planning! I like using Cruise Critic or VacationstoGo.com.
Traveling in Spain By Plane
Believe it or not, flying on budget airlines in Spain is highly recommended! No-frills airlines like Vueling, Easy Jet and RyanAir offer low cost routes between just about anywhere in Europe for as little as $9 per ticket. No joke - pack lightly and you'll find this is a time saver from bee bopping around!
The Best Way to Get Around Spain is What Works Best For You
No matter how you decide to get around in Spain, rest assured the pace is very relaxed. You will surely have a great trip no matter what you choose!