The public transportation in Spain is one of the world’s most efficient and well-connected. From trams, speed rails spanning major cities to public buses crossing countryside and nearby provinces, going around different regions is easy.
Travelers need to know the transport options available to go from point A to point B, minding the budget and time spent traveling. Because Spain is quite vast, being familiar with the transport system is crucial to avoid getting on the wrong train or bus.
There are modern, well-connected metros or underground trains that allow travelers to cross major cities like Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, Malaga, Seville, and Valencia. Hundreds of stations covering most popular destinations are used by millions of locals and tourists daily.
Understand the public transportation better by learning about the long-distance buses, metros per city, and other transport options available per location. Here’s a guide to navigating through Spain efficiently.
Transportation in Spain: How to Easily Get Around Spain
Metros in Spain
The quickest way to get around major cities like Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, Malaga, Seville, and Valencia is through metros’ underground railway systems. These trains become crowded during rush hours, but help travelers reach their destinations easily.
It is generally safe to travel via metros because crimes are seldom. Although there are still a few pickpockets in trains, traveling is very much convenient. All stations offer free maps or Plano del Metro to help tourists understand the different train lines.
In addition to line colors to assist the travelers, there are also signs in all stations, and timetables are provided to know the trains’ schedule.
The Metro in Madrid is the largest, with 13 lines plus one branch. This is the oldest metro system in the whole country, covering 300 stations. Travelers pay a single journey ticket of €2 for most lines, €1.50 for select lines, and €18.30 for a 10-journey ticket covering all stations in Metro Network and Metro Ligero.
Generally, there are five card types available for commuters of Metro. However, travelers only need to know the two main types available for tourists. A Multi-card is reloadable, transferable, and valid for TFM, Metro Ligero, Ligero Oeste, and Metro. It can also be used for the 10-Journey Ticket for city and intercity buses.
For personal use, the Personal Card (TTP) can be used. This card can be loaded for several tickets, including a 30-Day Season ticket, annual season ticket, single, and 10-Journey ticket.
There is a blue card intended for citizens with disabilities or limited resources. Children also have a separate card to use transportation for free.
FIND HOTEL DEALS: Best hotels in Madrid
Barcelona has modern and best-designed metro systems in Spain. There are 12 lines, namely L1 to L12, with trains running every three to four minutes. Like in Madrid, the cost of the single journey ticket is €2.20 and €10.20 for the T-10 pass, valid for city buses.
The Ticket can also be used for the Tibidabo blue tramway, Catalan railways Generalitat, and Montjuic railway system. Several passes are also available to help commuters save money. A month’s unlimited travel costs €54 for one zone and is valid for 70 journeys for T-70 and 90 days unlimited for T-joven.
Tourists can access the one, two, three, four, and five-day passes to get savings. Aside from ticket windows, the passes can be purchased from automatic ticket machines in most stations.
The Metro is open from 5 am and closes at midnight from Mondays to Thursdays. On weekends and public holidays, it closes at 2 am.
Similar to Madrid, there are illustrated panels for every station, announcing train schedules, arrivals, and exit points. It is important to note that train announcements are made in Spanish Castilian and not Catalan.
FIND HOTEL DEALS: Best hotels in Barcelona.
The port city of Valencia has nine lines, with four single zones A, B, C, and D. A single journey ticket costs €1.50 or €2.90 in return. For tickets covering multiple zones, the price starts from €2.10 to €3.90 per Ticket. The cost of a 10-Journey ticket is €7.20 for a single zone.
Trains run from 5 am until midnight for weekdays and extend up to 2 am for weekends and public holidays.
FIND HOTEL DEALS: Best hotels in Valencia
Bilbao’s public transportation only consists of two metro lines. A one-journey ticket costs €1.50 to €1.75, depending on the zones. The city also offers a day ticket, which costs €4.60, covering all three zones.
Just like in most city Metros, trains run from 5 am to 6 am and close at 11 pm on weekdays. During weekends and holidays, train rides are extended to 2 am.
FIND HOTEL DEALS: Best hotels in Bilbao
To reach provinces and coastal cities, travelers can ride the domestic long-distance trains or Combinado Cercanias. There are three major long-distance trains to ride in order to reach Seville, Malaga, Barcelona, Valencia, Alicante, Cadiz, Huelva, Granada, and others.
The Alta Velocidad Española (AVE) trains are the front-rank high-speed trains used between Madrid and Seville, Malaga, and Barcelona and Malaga, Seville.
These trains are popular among tourists because of the premium seats, onboard Wi-Fi, cafe-serving drinks, snacks, and reclining leather seats with power sockets. The AVE trains come in various types, namely S100, S102 and S112, and S103.
The first-class seat or Preferente comes with exceptional service, a reclining seat, and hot meals. Meanwhile, the second class seat or Turista comes with semi-reclining seats with power sockets.
The train system that links Barcelona with Valencia and Alicante, Barcelona to Bilbao, Pamplona, and San Sebastian, as well as Madrid to Cadiz and Huelva, is Alvia trains. These consist of little articulated coaches that are sandwiched between two duck-billed power cars.
Second class and first-class seats are available for passengers.
The train to reach Granada, Ronda, Algeciras from Madrid is the Altaria rail system. This transportation in Spain runs at 125mph on high-speed AVE lines. The gaude-changing shed emerges a traditional Spanish broad gauge for a classic network.
All the Altaria trains have a cafe-bar to serve passengers while on a long journey to distant cities. Two-seat classes are also available, just like the first two trains.
Buses in Spain
Another excellent Spain transportation system is buses that can take passengers to all major cities and long-distance destinations such as provinces. Buses are cheaper compared to Metros and long-distance trains but can help travelers reach most coastal towns and rural villages.
The capital city Madrid has a number of bus stations that travelers can check out. Estación Sur de Autobuses is the main station for medium to long-distance travel, especially going to the south of Spain.
Regular services and destinations can reach Barcelona by bus, Cadiz, Cordoba, Granada, Malaga, Seville, Valencia, and international routes to the rest of Europe or Morocco.
Bus stations are open from 6:30 am to 1:30 am the following day, housing two major bus companies Alsa and Avanza. Smaller, regional bus companies are also here, including Saimar, Daibus, Aisa, Cevesa, and Socibus.
Bus tickets can be purchased on all ticket offices in major stations. However, tourists can also get tickets online through Also and Avanza websites. A useful tool Movelia is also helpful to buy tickets from smaller bus companies.
There are also tourist buses provided in major cities that usually follow a circular route. Some bus companies provide packages for travelers, including meals, sightseeing, and ferry travel. Long-distance buses are also equipped with free Wi-Fi, refreshments, journals, magazines, and other choices of entertainment such as music and movies.
The seated class offered can be Premium or Economy, with standard seats having free water bottles and animal transport. The Premium seats have luggage control, touchscreen entertainment, USB plugs, baby seats, and bottle warmer.
Madrid’s fare to Alicante is around €45 and €50 for the Madrid to Barcelona trip.
The tramway systems in Spain are efficient for short and long-distance travel, covering all major cities. It was reintroduced after 20 years, and people ride it for convenience. More and more cities are thinking of reopening tram systems, but Barcelona has a running Combino tramline in its center.
To reach different ports and Spanish islands, ferries are used. In Spain, the biggest ferry operators are Naviera Armas, Balearia, Transmediterranea, FRS, Fred Olsen Express, Grimaldi, and GNV.
High-speed ferry links are available to reach the Spanish mainland, Ibiza, and the Balearic Islands. Ferries are accessible from Barcelona and Valencia, going to Ibiza. Transportation in Spain, such as ferries, comes with standard to luxurious service, depending on the seat class.
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