Spain has a great public transportation system. It is safe, modern, and reliable. However, if travelers are not fluent in Spanish it can be hard to navigate. That is why researching ahead of time will help you become more confident when using public transportation in Spain.
This post explains
- How the public transport system works in Spain
- The most popular methods of transportation
- Where to buy tickets
Traveling by Bus in Spain
Traveling by bus is usually the cheapest method of transportation in Spain. A one-way ticket usually costs between 1,10 euros and 1,50 euros or $1.20 and $1.60. Buses in Spain usually run from 4:00 AM until 10:30 PM. Most major cities have night buses that run until 2:00 AM and 3/3:30 AM during the weekends.
Every city has different color buses. For example, the EMT (Empresa Municipal de Transports) is the bus network in Valencia, my hometown. Public buses in Valencia are red and they only cover the city area. One way ticket costs 1,25 euros or $1.35. In Madrid, buses are blue and a one-way ticket costs 1,50 euros or $1.60.
You can buy single ride tickets directly from the bus driver. If you want a bus card where you can add money to it, you can buy them at the metro stations, kiosks or tobacco shops called “estancos”. You can buy tickets by debit/credit card or in cash.
It is important to know that “subway” in Spanish means “metro”. Traveling by subway is a great alternative to driving in Spain and it is considered very safe. However, keep in mind that during important events like soccer matches, the subway can get really crowded. Big crowds are perfect for pickpockets as they use close spaces to steal your belongings.
The metro is usually open from 4:00 AM to 11:30 PM. Every city has different rates, but a one-way ticket usually costs between 1,30 and 2,40 euros. For example, in Madrid a one-way ticket costs 1.50 euros or $1,60, in Valencia it costs 1.40 euros or $1,50, in Seville it costs 1.35 euros or $1,43 and in Barcelona 2.40 euros or $2,50.
Metro tickets and cards can be purchased from ticket machines located inside the metro stations. You can also buy metro tickets in kiosks, “estancos” (tobacco shops) and in some lottery stands. You can buy tickets by debit/credit card or in cash.
“Red Nacional de Ferrocarriles Españoles” is Spain’s national train network. While studying abroad, you will most likely travel to other Spanish cities. RENFE trains are very fast, punctual, and affordable. RENFE has a very popular high-speed train called AVE (Alta Velocidad). It’s an extremely fast train that connects cities and towns throughout the country. It is a little more expensive than regular trains, but they are still affordable. You can take a train from Valencia to Madrid and cover 190 miles in just 1 hour and 45 minutes for about $45 to $80 depending on the route and time of departure.
You should buy your tickets online. Prices vary depending on length of the trip and time of departure and arrival. Once you book your ticket online, they will send your ticket as well as a QR code to your email.
Here is RENFE’s official website: Renfe | Train tickets AVE, Avlo Low Cost (with No Booking Fees)
Taxis are a great option to take short trips within the city. They are very safe as taxi drivers in Spain must own a license. The taxi must have a visible meter so you can see the exact amount you will need to pay at the end of your trip. One of the main benefits of using taxis is that they are available almost everywhere and they drop you off wherever you want. Keep in mind that taxis in Spain have different colors and tariffs depending on the city where they are located. For example, in Madrid taxis are white with a diagonal red stripe on the front doors. In Valencia and Seville, taxis are completely white. In Barcelona, taxis are black with yellow doors.
Bicycle & Electric Scooters
Reminder: In Spain, everyone must drive on the right-hand side of the roadway. You should never ride your bike against the traffic flow.
Riding a bike is probably the most enjoyable way to discover and explore the beautiful neighborhoods. Most Spanish cities have an extensive network of cycle paths that connect different neighborhoods. Most cities in Spain have bicycle and scooter rental companies that offer bikes by the hour, day and even the week. Be sure to research the city where you will be traveling to and look for local shops that rent bikes and electric scooters. Do not forget to read the law regarding the use of bikes and electric scooters in that city.
Uber and Cabify
If you are from North America, you are very familiar with Uber. Uber is available in Spain but is not available in every city due to demand. Most Spaniards prefer to take a taxi since taxi drivers must have a license. Cabify is the Spanish version of Uber, and you can download this app on your cell phone. Cabify drivers are self-employed just like Uber drivers.
The Essential Spain Travel Guide
I have created the Ultimate Spain Travel Guide with all the important things to know before traveling to Spain. I want you to feel confident during your trip and understand what is going on around you. It includes information such as: