Spain is easy to travel around with public transport like buses and trains, as well as ride-share options like BlaBlaCar. With the new speed trains, you can move quickly between major cities like Madrid and Seville or Malaga.
When travelling between smaller towns, the bus might be your only public transport option, but sometimes there are not many departures, and a rental car might be the easiest way to explore the lesser-visited sides of Spain. We will go through all the options here so that you know what to expect when you visit.
Between cities, it is best to travel either by bus, train, or BlaBlaCar. You can also get a rental car which is a reliable source of transportation that gives you the opportunity of being flexible. However, within cities, you can find different modes of transport to be useful, like bus, metro, tram, and train.
It is not advisable to drive in the big cities. Due to traffic, it often takes more time to reach the other side of town, not to mention looking for a place to park, than it will take to travel by public transport. Most big cities have a good public transportation network, and the smaller cities are walkable. You might also rent e-scooters or bikes to get around the bigger cities.
To find accurate information about public transportation in different destinations, note that there is no central website for it in Spain. There are only local sites, and many of them are poorly updated or only available in Spanish. Your best bet is to ask at the local tourist information or your hotel.
An easy and cost-effective way to travel between cities. Usually, the main bus stations are close to the city centre. Buses are comfortable and most of them have free Wi-Fi, and have toilets on board.
Trains in Spain are comfortable and a good option to travel fast between major cities. Smaller towns and villages might not have a train station, and the train lines do not cover all the touristy areas like western Costa del Sol.
BlaBlaCar is often the most affordable way to travel between cities. All you need to do is to download the app, register a user, and look for rides between your location and destination.
While not always on time, the major cities in Spain have a frequent network of both metros and buses so most of the time you will be good by just showing up at the stop and wait.
There are also bus/metro cards you can get for either a day, week, or month, depending on how long you stay. Some places like Madrid and Barcelona, also have tourist passes for tourist attractions that include public transport.
Most cities in Spain have both e-scooters and bikes for rent on racks that you can find throughout the city. There are different companies within and across cities. You might have to download different apps during your trip, but it is fairly easy.
You basically just download the app, fill in your information, scan the QR code of the bike or e-scooter you want to rent and scoot off. This is one of the most sustainable ways to get around the cities in Spain besides walking.
Driving in Spain is easy with mostly well-maintained roads, though smaller roads might have holes and bumps in them - though usually well signposted. Toll roads are common on fast roads, but there are always alternative non-pay roads you can take. Most toll roads take both cash and card.
Parking in the big cities is easiest in paid underground parking, as the roadside parking in the centre is always paid and the machines can be hard to understand. The white lines indicate free parking (unless other signs indicate otherwise.)
Blue, yellow, and other coloured lines are all paid parking Monday-Sunday or Monday to Saturday, or surfing certain hours of the day, eg. 08:00-21:00. This is always marked on signs, or the paying machines will indicate the paying hours.
If you park on smaller streets where there are no lines for parking, note that all 4 wheels must be completely outside the road, or you might get a fine, or even worst, towed away.
The age limit for driving is 18
Drive on the right side of the road
The alcohol limit is 0.5
You can drive with most Schengen and EU driving licenses
Most other driving licenses require to be accompanied by an international driving license
The max speed limit for cars and motorbikes is 120 on the motorways, but speed limits are usually well marked
You are not allowed to use your phone while driving, not even with headphones
You are not allowed to drive in flip-flops
You can rent a car at every airport in Spain. There are also several local rental companies in the cities to choose from that might offer more budget-friendly options. However, it is highly recommended to get full insurance on the rental car.
Generally, people do not take much care of their cars in Spain, and even less of others’ cars. Do not be surprised if you park up and come back to scratches and dents in the rental car.
The price of rental cars varies a lot throughout the year. While you can get deals for small cars down to 5 euros/day + insurance in the low season, the same car can easily go up to over 100 euros/day in the high season. The key is to book as early as possible for the summer months.
While the travel costs in Spain will vary largely depending on the season and your choice of travel, you can get an idea of what to expect.
When driving in Spain, you must consider the price of the rental car and insurance (as mentioned above,) the cost of toll roads, and petrol.
Toll roads vary and are also more expensive in summer than the rest of the year. A typical toll crossing that costs 3.60 euros in winter might rise to 7.90 euros over the summer months.
Petrol prices are also fairly unstable after the Ukraine war but have, by May 2023, stabilized around 1.5 to 1.6 per litre for petrol and 1.4 to 1.5 per litre for Diesel. This is still more than before the war, so hopefully, it will go slightly down with time.
If you drive an EV in Spain, there are multiple charging points and the average charging price is 0.22 euros per kWh - Spain is one of the more costly countries to charge an EV in Europe.
When travelling between cities, the bus is usually the most affordable, and a trip from Madrid to Seville might cost around 30 Euros. The train is faster but can cost 60-70 Euros unless you book early, then you might find low-cost deals.
Bus and metro tickets in the cities usually cost around 1.50 euros, give or take, dispending on city and distance. A 10-trip pass in Madrid will cost you 12.20 euros.
Renting e-scooters in the cities averages 0.15 euros per minute, which is roughly 9 euros an hour. E-bikes are usually around 2 euros an hour.
Planning a trip to Spain? Read our Spain travel guides
Last Updated 28 June 2023