Buses: Medium and Long-Distance
People I know complain that finding information about buses is a bit difficult. It is on the other hand an opportunity to practice your Spanish. The platform GoEuro provides you with an interface to get tickets from the main operators in a friendlier environment/user interface and with several European languages of your choice.
As the portal will tell you, Alsa is the main bus provider/operator. Other relevant companies at a national level are Avanzabus, Socibus, Hife, Samar, or Lycar. International connections are provided/operated by companies like Flixbus and Oibus. In most cases you can expect discounts for young and elderly people.
Taking a closer look at Alsa, interestingly it provides a loyalty program that, together with the availability of its site in several languages, eases the buying experience. Other advantages from that company: special rates for business travellers, individual (5,15,25) and sharable (8) ticket coupons, and flat rate tickets for travelling all over Spain (5, 11, 15 days)
The rest of the bus companies I have looked at are not as advanced as Alsa in loyalty/membership programs or other offers/advantages. However, you should take a closer look if you need to travel to a regular destination with them.
Main bus stations: Madrid Sur and Madrid-Avenida de América, Barcelona-Nord, Sevilla-Plaza de Armas, Bilbao-Termibus, Zaragoza-Delicias (also a high-speed train station). Check for your origin and destination since big metro areas have several bus stations.
I travel from time to time with Alsa and my experience with them is positive, particularly when I have done so with their premium class – yes, they also have it for certain destinations. Be aware that in other countries out of Europe the seats might be more conformable if your travel involves long distances – I have not seen any buses in Spain where you can significantly recline your seat.
In 2017, this was the ranking of the airlines with the most passenger traffic in Spain: Ryanair, Vueling, Iberia, Easyjet, Air Europa, and Norwegian. Tour operators like Jet2, Tui and Niki followed closely behind.
Open tickets flights can be bought to travel (usually for business purposes) between Barcelona and Madrid with Iberia and Vueling (they have a partnership since they are both part of the International Airlines Group (IAG)) in a service called “Puente Aereo” (Aerial Bridge). This service however saw a sharp decrease in its usage because of the opening of the high-speed train between both cities in 2008.
In 2017, in passenger terms, the top 3 airports were Madrid (+53M), Barcelona (+47M) and Palma de Mallorca (circa 28M). They were followed by Málaga (+18M), Alicante (+13M), Gran Canaria (+13M), and Tenerife-Sur (+11M)
Besides the usual connections between Europe and our coastal destinations, there are many direct flights to Latin America, mostly through Madrid.
Less popular for time-constraint reasons. Mainly used when transporting your car is required. The most popular routes are from the Iberian Peninsula to Ceuta and Melilla (city-regions belonging to Spain in the North of Africa), Balearic Islands, and Canary Islands, and between the islands themselves.
The main operators are Transmediterranea (Iberian Peninsula to Balearic Islands, Canary Islands and the North of Africa (Ceuta and Melilla Morocco and Argelia)), Baleraria (Balearic Islands and from them to the Iberian Peninsula), Grimaldi (Spain and Italy, Malta, Greece and the North of Africa), GNV (similar destinations adding France), Naviera Armas (Canary Islands and from them to the Iberian Peninsula), P&O Ferries (North of Spain and UK), and Brittany Ferries (North of Spain and the West part of France).
The main ports in passenger terms in 2016 were (cruise passengers excluded): Balearic Ports (Palma de Mallorca being the main one) (+5.8M), Algeciras (+5.6M), Santa Cruz de Tenerife (+4.4M), Ceuta (+1.9M), las Palmas (circa 1.3M), Barcelona (circa 1.3M), and Melilla (circa 900K).
There has been a huge increase in cruise passengers in recent years, contributing to and being the result of the development of port facilities. Barcelona, Baleares, Las Palmas, and Tenerife are the leaders in this segment.
I have used the boat to travel between the Canary Islands several times, mainly with Naviera Armas. I liked the experience and found that it was good value for money.
In the next post we will conclude with this transportation series.
Links of Interest:
Alsa, Advantages AlsaPlus+
Alsa, Offers and passes
CruiseNews, Los puertos españoles superan los 9,2 millones de cruceristas en 2017
Direct Ferries, Compañias de Ferry (Ferry Operators)
GoEuro, Bus Providers in Spain
GoEuro, Principales estaciones de autobús en España (Main bus stations in Spain)
Hosteltur, Rankings de aeropuertos: el Top 20 de España, Europa y el mundo
Iberia, Puente Aéreo (Aerial Bridge)
INE, España en Cifras 2017 (Spain in figures 2017)
Puertos del Estado, Anuario Estadístico 2016 (Annual Statistics 2016)
Statista, Número de pasajeros de las principales compañías aéreas en España en 2017 (Passengers of the main airlines in Spain in 2017)
Photos: Palma de Mallorca port. Aeroplane in Tenerife Sur airport. Transmedierranea boat close to the port of Malaga