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Last updated : Nov 2009
Spain Getting Around - Internal Travel
Spain Internal Travel - Getting Around Spain -

Domestic flights are run by IBERIA (IB), Air Europa, Binter and Spanair. Scheduled flights connect all the main towns as well as to the Balearic and Canary Islands and enclaves in North Africa. Air taxis are available at most airports. Reservations should be made well in advance.


There are regular hydrofoil and car and passenger ferry sailings from Algeciras to Tangier and Ceuta (North African enclave), Málaga and Almeria to Melilla in North African. Barcelona, Valencia and Alicante to the Balearic Islands, and Cádiz to the Canary Islands.

There are also inter-island services, including a catamaran service linking Barcelona with Palma de Mallorca, which takes 3 hours and runs twice a day. For further information, contact Trasmediterránea c/o Southern Ferries (telephone number: (020) 7491 4968; fax number: (020) 7491 3502).


The state-owned company RENFE operates the railway network which connects all the regions on the Iberian peninsula. It is mainly a radial network, with connections between Madrid and all the major cities. There are also some transversal services connecting the northwest coast with the Mediterranean coast. There are also services from the French border down the Mediterranean coast. The Principal trains are air conditioned, and many have restaurant or buffet service.

Reservations for passenger services in Spain may be made in the UK through the Spanish Rail service (see above), European Rail Travel (telephone number: (020) 7387 0444; fax number: (020) 7387 0888; e-mail:, Freedom Rail (telephone number: (0870) 757 9898; fax number: (01253) 595 151; e-mail:, and Ultima Travel (telephone number: (0151) 339 6171, fax number: (0151) 339 9199).

Discount Rail Travel

The Spanish rail system is one of the cheapest in Europe and various discounts are on offer. Travellers under 26 years can purchase a RENFE Tarjeta Explorerail, which allows unlimited travel on all but some regionales and fast trains. It can be bought in Spain, or in the UK from selected travel agents, and is available for 7, 15 and 30 day periods.

Travellers can also enjoy savings by using any one of the European passes available, such as the Euro Domino Freedom Pass, which enables holders to make flexible travel arrangements. The pass is available in 19 European countries, but must be bought in the country of residence for which a valid passport or other form of ID has to be shown. In the UK, this pass is available from Rail Europe, 178 Piccadilly, London W1, UK (telephone number: (0870) 837 1371; e-mail: The tickets are valid for three, four, five, six, seven or eight days within one month.

Also available from Rail Europe, the Inter-Rail Pass allows up to fifty per cent reductions for second-class rail travel in 28 countries, the pass is now also available for those aged over 26 and is more expensive. The Rail Senior Plus card entitles senior citizens to 30 per cent discount on rail travel into and out of Spain, even during peak hours. This discount does not apply when only travelling internally. The card is available from most British Rail stations.

Note: Seat reservations are required on all intercity trains. This ruling applies to the passes and cards mentioned above.

High-Speed Trains

The Ave service averages 300kph and connects Madrid and Seville in two hours 15 minutes, with twelve services each way via Córdoba. Some services also stop at Ciudad Real and Puerto Llano (La Mancha). The stretch from Madrid to Lleida has been in operation for several years. Planned completion of the Madrid to Barcelona leg is due in 2006, and the high-speed border connection with France in 2010. Also, in 2010, the stretches from Cordoba to Malaga, Madrid to Valencia and Madrid to Valladolid should be ready. The Talgo 200 connects Madrid and Malaga thrice-daily in 4 hours 35 minutes. Holders of most of the cards and passes mentioned above qualify for discounts, albeit less substantial than the rates quoted above.

Tourist Trains

The Andalus Express and Transcantábrico offer a pleasant way of discovering their respective regions. There are also a number of privately-run narrow-gauge railways located in Spain, mainly in the north of Spain as well as the Mediterranean coast and the Balearic Islands, which run at a leisurely pace through picturesque scenery. For more information on tourist trains, contact the Spanish National Tourist Office (see Contact section).


There are more than 150,000km (95,000 miles) of roads. Motorways are well-maintained and connect Spain north–south. Tolls are in operation on some sections and have to be paid in Euros. Trunk roads between major cities are generally fast and well-maintained. Rural roads are of differing quality.

Traffic regulations

Traffic drives on the right. Side lights must be used at night in built-up areas. Spare bulbs and red hazard triangles must be kept in all vehicles.

Traffic lights: two red lights mean ‘No Entry’.

Parking laws are rigorously enforced.

The speed limit for motorways is 120kph (80mph) in general, but for buses and lorries the limit is 100kph (60mph) and in built-up areas the limit is 50kph (30mph), for other roads it is 90kph (56mph).


Most foreign licences including Canadian, EU and US are accepted. Third Party insurance is compulsory, plus maybe a Green Card if bringing your own car, and isavailable from insurance company.


There are buses which are efficient and cheap, operating between cities and towns. Departures are generally from a central terminal at which the operators will have individual booths selling the tickets. Most places have a bus link of some kind, even in the more remote villages. Bus tickets cannot be bought in advance though seats may be reserved locally 1 or 2 days in advance.

Car hire

All major car hire companies are represented in major cities. Motorcycles: No person under 18 may hire or ride a vehicle over 75cc. Crash helmets must be worn.


No person under 18 may hire or ride a vehicle over 75cc. Crash helmets must be worn.


Services are available in and between all cities.

Urban Transport

Traffic in Spanish cities is normally very heavy, and urban driving takes some time to adjust to. City public transport facilities are generally good. Barcelona, Bilbao, Madrid and Valencia have metros and buses. Pre-purchase multi-journey tickets are sold. Other towns and resorts are well served by the local buses. Metered taxis are available in most major cities and a two to three per cent tip is customary.

Travel Times:

The following chart gives approximate travel times from Madrid to other major cities and towns in Spain.
  Air Road Rail
1.00 8.00 8.00
0.50 5.00 6.00
Canary Is.
2.30 - -
1.00 5.00 7.00
1.00 - -
1.10 6.00* 5.00*
0.50 5.00 6.00
0.55 6.00 7.00
0.50 5.00 4.00
Note: *Plus nine hours by boat (three hours by catamaran).
Useful travel links
AA route planner directions and maps within Spain