Getting around in Spain

by Andrea Segura - Wednesday, March 15, 2017

As you are planning your trip, you will certainly wonder how to get around. We’re here to help and have put together some general information and tips for you. You will find tour-specific travel information in your Getting to and Away (GTA), which was emailed to you with your reservation confirmation. Note that the taxi fares provided below are estimates and might be fluctuating. We have inserted them to give you a rough idea but you should confirm them with drivers. 

International Airports are located in

  • Pamplona,
  • Madrid,
  • Barcelona,
  • Málaga, and
  • Santiago de Compostela.

Both Madrid and Barcelona are great cities to spend time in before or after your tour. When your international flight arrives in Madrid, Barcelona, or Málaga be aware if you have a domestic connection that domestic flights may leave from a different part of the airport than international flights. Just ask at airport information.

The general airport website www.aena.es has a great section detailing how to access any Spanish airport by taxi, train or metro.

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Air Travel within Europe and Spain

European carriers such as Alitalia, British Airways, Sabena, and Lufthansa service several cities in Spain. It is also possible to fly into small airports from other European cities as well as from Pamplona, Santiago de Compostela, Málaga, Jerez de la Frontera, Sevilla, Madrid and Barcelona.

Try the following national airlines:

There are also many low cost airlines that fly in and out of Spain, see the list below. Remember these airlines have restrictions on luggage and may also have other “quirky” policies, but are at times great options for one way flights to and from smaller cities in Spain.

Madrid

Madrid-Barajas Adolfo Suárez Airport (MAD)

Most international flights arrive at Barajas International Airport in Madrid. If you have a connection on a domestic flight, you may have to go through customs in Madrid, pick up your luggage and check-in again. Barajas is connected to downtown Madrid by the Metro and Taxis.

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To and From the Madrid Airport

  • By Metro: The airport Metro station is in Terminal 2, and trains run daily from 6:00 am to 1:15 am. The Purple Metro line 8 connects you to the Nuevos Ministerios metro station in about 20 minutes. From there, you can catch lines to take you to other major metro hubs or train stations such as Atocha (see train information below for details on train travel). The Metro-Madrid website has a great map of the metro system.
  • By Taxi: A taxi from the airport to the major train stations of Chamartìn and Atocha cost about € 40 – €50 (status 2017) and takes between 30 and 40 minutes depending on traffic.

Barcelona

Barcelona Airport (BCN) located 12km southwest of Barcelona.

Not many trans-Atlantic flights fly into Barcelona, but if you are connecting from another European country sometimes this is the best way to land in Spain. Trains depart from the airport train station every 30 minutes for downtown Barcelona. There is also bus shuttle from the airport to downtown (details below).

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To and From the Barcelona Airport

  • By Train: The RENFE Cercanias station is connected to the airport passenger terminal between Terminals A and B. The RENFE Mataro train line runs every 30 minutes that takes you to the central train station (Sants Estació) or to the Plaza de Catalunya station.
  • By Bus: A bus (aerobus, L46) departs every 15 minutes from the front of Terminals A, B, and C for Plaza Catalunya at one end of Las Ramblas. From there, take a cab or walk to your hotel (if you are staying in town), or catch your train connection to the tour starting point.
  • By Taxi: Taxis are available outside the terminals. Cost is approximately 30€ from Terminal 2 and 35€ from Terminal 1 (status 2017).

Malaga

Málaga-Costa del Sol Airport (AGP) is located 8km to the southwest of Malaga.

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To and From the Malaga Airport

  • By Train: A train (cercanía) departs from Terminal 2 to the central train station in town.
  • By Bus: Bus service departs every 30 minutes from Terminal 1 and 2 to the downtown bus station.
  • By Taxi: Taxis are available outside Terminal 1 and 2. The cost will vary depending upon the time of day and traffic.

Train Information

Seville’s high-speed AVE trains depart from Atocha train station in Madrid and require a reservation. It is not possible to just “hop” on to the next train heading your direction. If you miss your train, you will need to exchange your reservation. On the other hand, regional and local trains do not require a reservation and tickets are easy to buy at the train station before departure. If you miss this type of train, all you need to do is catch the next departure. These trains are mainly second class.

Purchasing Train Tickets in Advance

You do not have to purchase train tickets in advance, especially if they are for post-tour travel plans (your tour leaders can help you with those). However, if you do decide to make your arrangements ahead of time, we suggest using the following companies:

  • PetrabaxEasy-to-use booking agency with prices in US-dollars. Their service adds a small fee.
  • Trainline.euEasy-to-use booking site adding more and more trains.
  • RENFE: Spain’s official rail website.

Other Types of Transportation

  • Taxis: Taxis can easily be found outside airports and train stations. It is good practice to ask for an approximate fare before the ride and pay meter start. Keep in mind that the cost may vary depending on traffic in the city. Note that taxis from airports in Barcelona and Madrid add extra for luggage.
  • Rental Car: If you decide to rent a car, we suggest arranging this from the U.S. – it’s cheaper. Be sure to find out the exact address of the location to pick up your rental car, (preferably at your arrival airport).
  • Bus: ALSA Buses. Bus travel in Spain is more comprehensive and at times easier than train travel. You can buy tickets at bus stations, which are usually connected to metro or train stations, at airports, or online at the company website.
  • Metro:
    • Madrid’s Metro (www.metromadrid.es). The metro system is very user-friendly and efficient; its website gives detailed maps and information. Metros run from 6:05am – 2am.
    • Barcelona’s Metro (www.tmb.cat). The metro system is very user-friendly and efficient; its website gives detailed maps and information. Metros run from 5.00am –2am.

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