Travelling around Spain

Travelling around Spain
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Updated 2021-07-16 11:40

Spain has a highly developed and extensive public transportation system, from modern buses and metros to efficient tram networks and a vast railway infrastructure. The principal means of getting around the country is by road, accounting for approximately 90% of personal transport and 84% of freight transport.

Airports and air transport

Spain is one of the top destinations in Europe and has 59 national and international airports spread throughout the country. Most major cities have a main airport offering domestic and foreign flights. 

Good to know:

You may discover promotional rates on some routes. Low-cost carriers such as Ryanair, EasyJet and Vueling advertise special offers from time to time.

Useful links:

Iberia

Air Europa

Air Nostrum

Albastar

Vueling

Ryanair

Railways in Spain

Spain's train network encompasses more than 15,5000 kilometres of track, of which over 3,000 kilometres are for the ever-expanding system of high-speed (AVE - Alta Velocidad Española) trains. This rapid network is the longest in Europe and one of the longest in the world. It has been in service since 1992, and trains can travel up to 310 kilometres per hour, drastically cutting journey times. For example, the journey time from Madrid to Barcelona is around three hours, covering a distance of about 504 kilometres.

The rail network comprises long-distance, mid-distance and intra-city commuter routes making rail one of the most convenient and quickest ways to travel throughout Spain. You can also see parts of the country at a leisurely pace aboard special tourist trains.

When it comes to cost, short-distance trips tend to be on the affordable end of the spectrum, while long-distance journeys can be expensive. To get the best prices, reserve your tickets in advance at RENFE (Red Nacional de Ferrocarriles Españoles) train stations or online at the official Spanish rail website. You can also travel across the country using Interrail and Eurorail passes. 

Useful links:

Interrail in Spain

Eurorail in Spain

Trans Canta Brico

RENFE

Metros in Spain

There are well-developed underground (metro) systems in major Spanish cities such as Madrid, Barcelona, Seville and Malaga. They offer a quick and affordable way to get around, although they can become crowded during morning and evening rush hours. Even so, many commuters might find them a more convenient option than navigating the streets above by car or bus. 

Madrid has the oldest and largest network with more than 300 stations served by twelve metro lines, three Metro ligero tram lines and a special Ramal line (connecting Ópera and Principe Pío stations). Meanwhile, in Barcelona, there are more than 180 stations and 12 lines, while Malaga boasts two lines and 17 stations.

Useful links:

Metro Madrid

Metro Barcelona

Metro Bilbao

Metro Valencia

Metro Sevilla

Metro Malaga 

Trams in Spain

Trams were once a common sight in Spanish cities until many networks were disbanded during the 1960s and '70s. However, since 1994 they have been making a comeback and are operating in several locations, including Madrid, Seville, Valencia, Alicante, Bilbao and Barcelona.

Buses in Spain

Buses are a comfortable, cheap and reliable way to travel within and between towns, cities, villages and resorts. In the biggest metropolises, you'll find modern fleets with new and relatively new vehicles, but in some rural areas, you may have to make do with a ramshackle old bus. You can purchase tickets online, from station machines and ticket offices and once onboard. If you are travelling long distances by bus, it is a good idea to book your tickets in advance.

Useful links:

Alsa

CheckMyBus

Movelia

Taxis in Spain

If you would like to travel in more comfort and with fewer people, ride in a taxi. They operate in all major towns and cities and can be found outside airports and railway stations, near major points of interest and at main intersections. Flag them down or go up to a taxi rank. Typically, taxis are fitted with meters, and a card with the driver's details and taxi license number is clearly visible. 

All licensed taxis level a standing charge and then charge per kilometre. If a taxi has no meter, you should agree on the fare with the driver before you get into the cab. Always beware of unlicensed cab operators who will rip you off. 

Taxis have different colours in Spain depending on which city they are operating in. For example, Barcelona taxis are black and yellow while taxis in Seville are white with a yellow stripe. Madrid taxis are white with a diagonal red band on the front door bearing the city's emblem.

Good to know:

Ride-hailing service Uber is steadily growing its presence in Spain, although it has met some opposition from taxi drivers. 

Ride-sharing services such as BlaBla Car are also increasingly popular. They connect drivers and passengers willing to travel together and share the costs of the journey. 

Useful links:

Páginas amarillas

Taxis Barcelona

Pide Taxi

My Taxi

Renting a car in Spain

You can rent a car or a scooter if you have a valid driver's license. The minimum age for renting a car is 21, and for a scooter, it's 18. You will need to show your passport or national identity card, driver's licence and a valid credit card.

Good to know:

The speed limit is fixed at 120 km/h on motorways and 100 km/h on dual carriageways. Streets with a single lane in each direction have a limit of 30 km/h, while roads with two lanes in municipal areas have a speed limit of 50 km/h

The use of mobile phones while driving is strictly prohibited, including hands-free kits.

Useful links:

Rental Cars

Easy Car

Europcar

Hertz

Avis

Sixt

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.