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Puntos de vista - a personal Spain blog

Musings about Spain and Spanish life by Paul Whitelock, hispanophile of 40 years and now resident of Ronda in Andalucía .

Travelling by Public Transport in Spain. Does it Work?
Thursday, December 29, 2022 @ 8:18 AM

Retired English friends of ours regularly come on holiday to Andalucía, at least once a year, more often than not to Nerja (Málaga) on the eastern Costa del Sol.

Although they can afford it, they choose not to hire a car. They fly to Málaga Airport, catch the airport train into Málaga City, then pick up a bus to Nerja.

While they are there they use the bus to get around. There is a good service to Cómpeta, Frigiliana, Rincón de la Victoria, Torre del Mar, Torrox and beyond.

My wife and I normally go everywhere by car but decided to give public transport a try also. It’s eco-friendly and potentially cheaper, especially since the recent across-the-board price rises.


Madrid by train

In October 2021 we travelled to Madrid by train. That was surprisingly comfortable and really pleasant. A friend drove us to the train station in Ronda, where we had previously purchased  half-price tickets with our free RENFE railcard courtesy of CaixaBank.

Even better, our train was running late and arrived more than 30 minutes after its scheduled arrival time at Madrid Atocha station, which entitled us to a 50% refund. So the trip there worked out really cheap.

The Madrid Metro is so simple to use and so cheap, that if we didn’t walk, travelling around the capital was easy.

Thumbs up for public transport!


Sevilla by bus

This October we decided we needed a break, a change of scene away from the Serrania de Ronda. So after a bit of research, during which we considered Córdoba, Granada, Costa Tropical and Costa de la Luz, we plumped for Sevilla.

We had discovered a charming old hotel, Hotel Murillo, right in the heart of the casco antiguo, at a knockdown price – 100€ for two nights including breakfast.

We decided to use public transport for the trip. Let’s be honest, a car in Sevilla is a problem. Above all, you have to pay to park the damn thing. That’s if you can find a parking place.

We caught the bus from Ronda to Sevilla and took an 8€ taxi ride from the bus station to the hotel.

Two days later, we reversed the process to come home.

It was very relaxing being driven on the coach and we didn’t have the stress nor cost of driving to Sevilla, nor the parking issue already referred to above.

Here is a price comparison:

Public transport: Return bus ticket for two 24€*; Taxis 16€; TOTAL 40€

By car: Fuel (estimate) 30€; 48 hours parking (estimate) 40€; TOTAL 70€

Another thumbs-up for public transport!


Ronda to Germany by bus, train and taxi

We went to Germany for Christmas. Normally we drive from Ronda to the airport and park the car there. This time because we were flying from Málaga but back to Sevilla (flights back to there were much cheaper), we had to find a different solution.

Taxi? Too expensive at around 150€ each way!

Friend’s "taxi"? Also expensive at around 80-100€ each way!

Friend driving our car? With fuel and gratuity for friend’s time, also not cheap. Around 120€.

After our recent positive experiences with public transport, we decided to do it this way again.

Because our flight out was very early in the morning and our flight back late in the afternoon we would need a hotel at both ends. We costed it all and, lo and behold, the public transport option worked out cheaper.

Public transport:           

Outward: Taxi to Ronda bus station 17€; bus to Málaga City 12€*; train to hotel 3€; Hotel Royal Costa, Torremolinos 40€; taxi to airport 15€; TOTAL 87€

Return:   Bus Sevilla airport to hotel 3€; Hotel IBIS 60€; bus Hotel IBIS to Sevilla bus station 5€; bus to Ronda 10€; taxi to home 17€; TOTAL 95€

With more conducive flight times we could have cut out the taxis and the hotels. Then we would have paid around 40€ in total.

Taxis for the airport runs would have totalled around 300€, and a friend’s "taxi" around 200€. A friend driving us in our car would have come to an estimated 120€.

I have to conclude that public transport in this case was a no-brainer. Not the cheapest, cos of the hotels, but worth it nevertheless, to be more relaxed before and after the flights. We liked the experience. 


* discount price with a tarjetasesentycinco.


So, does public transport work in Spain? Between large towns, cities and airports it works very well and is not expensive, especially with a tarjetasesentaycinco.

Rural routes are more problematic. Montejaque (Málaga), where we live some of the time, only has one bus to Ronda a day in each direction. Other villages have no service at all.


© Pablo de Ronda


Further reading:

5th Time Lucky! In Love with Sevilla at Last!

"WHEN I'M 65 ...": HOW TO ….. get a tarjetasesentaycinco


Tags: airport, bus, CaixaBank, discount, fuel, hotel, IBIS, Madrid, Málaga, metro, Montejaque, Murillo, Pablo de Ronda, parking, public transport, railcard, RENFE, Ronda, Royal Costa, Sevilla, tarjetasesentaycinco, taxi, train

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