Up to 60 million visitors annually travel to Spain to enjoy the country’s 315 sunny days and its rich and diverse history and culture. As a result, the Spanish government annually spends millions of euros on tourism and transport infrastructure to serve the country’s growing population and an ever-increasing number of visitors.
Thus, Spain should be one of the easiest and most accessible among the popular places in the world in terms of its accessibility – especially from the UK and North America. For example, cheap flights are available from all UK airports to major and regional airports throughout Spain daily and direct flights from major Spanish hubs to the US daily. As an alternative for British and European travelers there are excellent nationwide trains, buses and ferries and excellent access for those who prefer to travel by car.
This article breaks down the main options for Spanish travel by region.
Northern Spain – The easiest way to access this region is by plane from one of the main airports in the UK, which flies directly to Bilbao or from the US to Malaga with a transfer to Bilbao. It is possible to connect with Iberia flights for communication via the North and throughout Spain. “Elsa” and “Eurolines” have complex bus networks, and you can travel all over Europe to Bilbao or San Sebastian and then pick up local carriages and rail links. You can also sail from the British port of Plymouth to Santandra with the ports of Brittany, or you can take the P&O route from Portsmouth to Bilbao.
Castile and La Rioja – The cheapest way to access these regions is to fly to one of the main Spanish hubs – Barcelona, Bilbao, Madrid, for example, and then travel or get flights. You can contact Iberia for flights to Lagrona in La Rioja or Valladolid in Castile. Castile, Rioja and Navarre are served by an excellent road network, which makes the detour easy and again, the buses “Elsa” will connect you with the main and small destinations in the regions and across the country.
Aragon, Navarre and Pyrenees – As these regions can be easily reached by car or bus from Madrid, it may be best to get a cheap flight to Madrid and then take the E90 route to the center of the region. You can think of a connecting flight to Zaragoza in the center of the region, which could be a good place to explore in this extraordinary part of Spain. Alternatively, access to this region can be done by rail. Eurolines coaches will connect you with Pamplona or Zaragoza; The Eurostar railway will take you from the UK to Paris, and from Paris you will be able to hook up a high-speed rail link to Madrid … In Madrid, the options are varied: from local rail and bus connections, car rentals and local flights to Iberia.
Costa Brava and Costa Dorada – As we move east to the beautiful coastal regions of northern Catalonia, the Costa Brava and the Costa Dorada, such accessibility increases. Barcelona Airport is the main airport for these regions and it welcomes cheap flights from the UK and US. You can then connect to Girona in the Costa Brava region or Reus in the Costa Dorada region. Barcelona itself has an underground rail network for access throughout the city, and if you want to travel further on the Spanish rail service, RENFE has a variety of trunk and local services serving both regions. The main coastal road in the Costa Brava is the A7, while the A2 will take you west of Barcelona, and the C32 will take you south of Barcelona to the Costa Dorado. Barcelona has a port with ferry services to Genoa, Rome, Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza.
Central Spain and Madrid – The main airport of Central Spain is Madrid, and it accepts direct flights from all major airports in the UK and US, as well as from some smaller ones. Because Madrid is such a big city, you can imagine that it acts as an important travel center for the whole of Spain. Bus and rail networks and major highways all radiate from the city. Madrid has two main stations that travel by train to regional and international destinations, and the city also has an underground metro system.
Costa del Azahar – The main travel center of this region is Valencia with the city’s airport, which uses direct flights to the UK. To access the rest of the region you can use RENFE services from Valencia or enjoy the city via FGV trams and underground trains. If you want to travel from the coast to Madrid, take the N430 and A3; to explore the coast take A7. Again, Eurolines buses work with towns and cities in the region, including Valencia, Sagunto and Vinaros. And last but not least, Valencia is a port city and has ferries across the Mediterranean with holiday destinations including Malta, Ibiza, Italy, etc.
Costa Blanca – Most visitors to this region enter through Alicante Airport. With a good road and Alicante Costa Brava airport offering great car rental opportunities, many prefer to get to the rest of the region by road, although RENFE, Eurolines and Alsa offer excellent rail and bus options.
Costa Calida – Murcia is the main airport in the region, although Alicante Airport is also available, which gives visitors and residents additional opportunities and benefits. From Murcia there are a number of major train services including direct links to Madrid. In terms of roads, the Costa Calida is a region with an excellent network of major roads and routes: the N340 runs from Alicante through Murcia to the Costa del Sol, the A7 embracing the coast and local, national and international bus lines area. In the port city of Cartagena in 2003, a passenger terminal was built, which now serves as a destination for some major cruise liners en route to and from the destinations of France, Greece and the Black Sea coast.
Costa de Almeria – You are spoiled by your choice when it comes to airports serving this region, you can fly to Alicante or Murcia and travel by road or rail to this region, or you can fly directly to Almeria Airport. The cheapest flights are often in Alicante. RENFE provides major electric trains from Almeria to the cities of Granada, Eurolines, Alsa and Enatcar, and offers bus services via the Costa de Almeria. The most important routes in the region are the N340, which runs from the Costa Calida through the city of Almeria and south to the Costa del Sol, the A92, which connects Granada, and the A348, which connects Almeria with Alpujaras. In terms of access to the sea, the Trans-Mediterranean has ferries from the port of Almeria to North Africa.
Costa del Sol and Andalusia – If you can’t get to this region of Spain, you have to do something wrong – or maybe just hope to travel at the peak of the season! The main airport is Malaga, and almost every airline you can think of flies from almost every airport in the UK and US you can think of! If you can’t get a flight and are in the UK, you can think of a trip to the Costa del Sol! In this case, it is best to sail from Plymouth to Santander or from Portsmouth to Bilbao, and then drive 900 kilometers south. If you start in Bilbao, you will need A68 and A1 to Burgos, or from Santander you will get N623 to Burgos – then from Burgos go on N1 to Madrid. From Madrid to Granada, from Granada to Malaga … old man! You can also get on the Euroline bus from the UK to Estepona or Malaga or travel from Paris by high-speed night train to Madrid and connect with the AVE fast train to Cordoba, which in turn connects with the Costa del Sol regional services.
Costa de la Luz and Gibraltar – You can either fly to Gibraltar, or to Jerez in the region, or take advantage of the many cheap flights to Spain that land in Malaga. Ferry routes between Tarifa and Algeciras in Spain and Tangier in Morocco, bus and rail transport across Europe and via Spain to the Costa de la Luz and strong road links with the E15, which serves Gibraltar from the mainland.
Regardless of the final destination, you should be able to find cheap flights to some of Spain’s major airports and then take advantage of local and regional travel services to access your destination of choice; as I hope I have shown, the whole of Spain is incredibly easily accessible.