Sep 20, 20225 min read
The train is a quick and efficient way to travel around in Spain © Getty Images
How to get around in Spain
Sep 20, 20225 min read
Criss-crossing destinations around Spain whether by land, air or sea is easy and convenient due to Spain’s efficient multi-modal public transport infrastructure which has also been upgraded significantly over recent years.
Spain also gets high marks for universally accessible travel. Visitors with reduced mobility can move around just as safely and inclusively. The country’s public transport infrastructure such as trains, buses and terminals have been designed for accessibility, offering specially designated spaces and adapted features for people with disabilities and anyone with mobility challenges, young and old alike. 
RENFE is Spain’s national railway company that runs about 5000 trains each day across the country. The best and fastest way to travel long distances in Spain is by taking the AVE (Alta Velocidad Española), which uses Madrid as its principal terminal and travels to many of the country’s principal cities. 
AVE trains are comfortable, efficient and incredibly fast. Traveling up to 310km (192.6 miles) per hour, it connects Madrid to Barcelona — over 600 kilometers away — in a mere 2.5 hours. 
The RENFE Alvia trains, which connect the northern cities and regions to Madrid, are also high-speed trains with stops along the way. The RENFE Avant mid-distance high-speed trains or the Media Distancia (mid-distance) trains are the most time-savvy option for nearer, day-trip destinations.
The most recent addition to RENFE’s fleet are the high-speed, low-cost Avlo trains with tickets. This is the best option for passengers with reduced mobility — all entrances to their carriages are at platform level and feature H seats for travelers in wheelchairs, as well as adapted toilets for people with disabilities. 
For budget-conscious travelers, the bus is the best way to move around Spain if you don’t mind the longer travel times. It’s also the preferred way for locals to get around, given its convenience, economical ticket prices and connections to smaller towns where trains do not pass. 
There are several bus service providers in every Spanish city, and many of these fleets offer quite a comfortable ride with reclining seats and wifi on board to make traveling over long distances a smooth and pleasant experience.
While tickets can be directly purchased from the bus driver, it is best to reserve and buy them in advance. Keep in mind that the most popular routes and times tend to get full pretty quickly.
Tip for finding a bus service
To find out which bus services are in operation at your departure point, provides the most comprehensive information on available national bus routes (and even international ones), schedules and purchasing, and has multiple language options. 
Flying is the quickest way to travel around Spain, and the best option to get to its outlying archipelagos — and hotspot tourist destinations, the Balearic Islands east of the peninsula or the Canary Islands in the Atlantic. Spain has regular domestic flights operating across its nearly 60 airports, the principal ones are Madrid’s Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport, and Barcelona’s El Prat Airport. 
Iberia Airlines is Spain’s national carrier that regularly offers reasonably priced tickets if you book in advance. Its low-cost brand Vueling, which regularly codeshares with Iberia, also offers several domestic daily flight options with affordable fares.
Many of Spain’s top cities and islands are also important cruise ports, including Barcelona, Cádiz, Valencia, Ibiza, Palma de Mallorca, and Las Palmas (Canary Islands). If time is not an issue, traveling by boat or ferry across from the Peninsula across the Mediterranean or Atlantic waters is a pleasant, albeit drawn-out travel experience. This is also the best option if you wish to take your car, motorbike or bicycle on board.
Spain’s main shipping lines, Baleària and Trasmediterránea offer regular trips from main cities in the peninsula as well as hourly connections in the Balearic Islands (between Ibiza, Mallorca, Formentera and Menorca) and the eight main islands of the Canaries. Passengers have the option to book seats or cabins with beds.
Car-sharing services are a popular and environmentally-friendly mode of transport for getting around Spain’s cities or regional towns. BlaBla Car is the most popular service that allows to book car-share rides to several points around Spain. If you’re in the driver’s seat and seeking some company (or wish to share the gas bill), you can also publish your own rides, pick up points and prices on the BlaBla Car website.
Not only is this a cost-effective way to travel across long distances, it’s also a great way to meet locals (and practice your Spanish!).
People with reduced mobility will find Spain to be a highly accessible and inclusive travel destination. All Spanish airports provide passengers with disabilities or reduced mobility free assistance services, from the moment you land, to security and border controls and luggage collection. These services can be requested in the AENA (Spain’s state-owned airport operator). 
If you are traveling by train, RENFE’s Atendo is a free service that passengers can request for assistance in transiting between stations, boarding and disembarking train carriages. 
In Spain’s main cities, such as Madrid and Barcelona, terminals and stations are largely designed to give passengers full autonomy. Madrid’s Metro, for example, has installed universal accessibility features in all its stations, with over half of all stations fully accessible with lifts and ramps for wheelchair access. In addition, step edges are reinforced and elevator signs and handrails have Braille markings.
Barcelona’s entire metro (except for two out of a total of 162 stations) is accessible and has advanced features such as directional devices for blind people and luminous door devices on trains. Local city buses have also been adapted for accessible travel, with tilts, ramps, and reserved spaces for wheelchair users and baby carriages, as well as Braille-embossed stop buttons. 
This article was first published August 2021 and updated about 11 hours ago
Whether you’re visiting for a weekend or a couple of weeks, make the most of your time in Barcelona with Lonely Planet’s range of travel guides. Experience Barcelona’s neighborhoods like a local and design a trip that matches your interests through insider tips, suggested itineraries, and handy maps.
Known as the no-winter island, Cuba cycles through mild to warm to baking hot weather with the changing seasons. Here are the best times to visit.
Want to travel around in Cuba? See the best of the island with our guide to transportation.
The world’s most populous city, Tokyo has a public transport system that’s efficient, reliable and clean. Here are the best ways to get around Tokyo.
Abundant seafood, regional specialties, and cutting-edge cooking using hyperlocal, seasonal ingredients make eating in Norway a locavore’s delight.
Renowned for its seafood, hearty country cooking and many regional specialties, Portugal offers plenty of temptation for the food-minded traveler.
Getting around a city with streets of water might seem daunting at first, but here’s your guide to moving easily both in Venice and its Lagoon.
Commuter-friendly Madrid has several multi-modal, universally accessible options to get travelers around the city and its surrounding towns.
From lakeside pampering in Huay Teung Tao to hilltop hiking around Doi Inthanon, here are five of the best day trips from Chiang Mai.
From buses, trains and the subway to discovering the city on foot or by bicycle, here’s our essential guide on how to get around in Kyoto.
For Explorers Everywhere
Subscribe to Lonely Planet newsletters and promotions. Read our Privacy Policy.
© 2022 Lonely Planet. All rights reserved. No part of this site may be reproduced without our written permission.


Shop Sephari