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Travel to Spain

Flying to Spain

Spain’s main carrier is Iberia (www.iberia.com). Multiple airlines offer flights to Spain from the UK, including British Airways (www.ba.com), easyJet (www.easyjet.com) and Ryanair (www.ryanair.com). American Airlines (www.aa.com), Delta (www.delta.com) and United (www.united.com) are among the airlines flying direct from the USA.

Flights tend to be most expensive in summer, from June to September. The cheapest time to travel is from November to December (outside of the Christmas season).

Flight times

To Madrid: from London - 2 hours 20 minutes; New York - 7 hours 15 minutes.

Air passes

To visit Spain on an air pass, the Visit Europe pass by oneworld (www.oneworld.com) allows access to over 200 European destinations. For more choices, the Star Alliance Europe Airpass (www.staralliance.com) serves nearly 300 destinations in more than 40 European countries. Prices are available via their online mileage calculator.

Travel by Rail

The main rail route from the UK is through the Channel Tunnel, with connections from Paris to Spain. Eurostar (tel: +44 1233 617 575, in the UK; www.eurostar.com) operates direct high-speed trains from London to Paris (Gare du Nord).

There are direct trains from France and Portugal to Madrid and Barcelona. Border connections link with the French TGV (high-velocity route) and the rest of the high-velocity routes in Europe. RENFE (tel: +34 902 320 320; www.renfe.com) operates the Spanish railway network.

Rail passes

InterRail: offers unlimited first- or second-class travel in up to 29 European countries for European residents of over six months with two pass options. The Global Pass allows travel for 15 days, 22 days, one month, five days in 10 days or 10 days in 22 days across all countries. The One-Country Pass offers travel for three, four, six or eight days in one month in any of the countries except Bosnia & Herzegovina and Montenegro.

Travel is not allowed in the passenger’s country of residence. Reductions are available for travellers under 26. Children under 12 are free when travelling with an adult using an Adult Pass. Supplements are required for some high-speed services, seat reservations and couchettes. Discounts are offered on Eurostar and some ferry routes. Available from Voyages-sncf.com (tel: +44 844 848 5848, in the UK; www.voyages-sncf.com).

Eurailpass: offers unlimited train travel in up to 28 European countries. Tickets are valid for 15 days, 21 days, one month, two months, three months, five days in 10 days, 10 days in two months or 15 days in two months. The Global Pass allows travel across all participating countries. The Select Pass is valid in four bordering countries. The Regional Pass lets you travel in two bordering countries. The One Country Pass offers travel in one of 27 countries.

Adult passes are valid for first-class travel, while youth passes (under 26) are valid for second-class travel. Children under 12 are free when accompanied by an adult using an Adult Pass. The passes cannot be sold to EU citizens or residents. Available from Eurail (www.eurail.com).

Rail note

International train travel to Spain is easy and comfortable, although not as affordable as air travel. Most international routes to Spain are long-distance journeys and overnight trains are usually equipped with sleeper cabins.

Driving to Spain

Road conditions in Spain are generally good, but beware of steep and narrow mountain roads. The country is mapped out with well-connected roads, making cities and towns easily accessible by car.

The major driving routes into Spain cut through the French and Portuguese borders. The N-I links the French border to Madrid (via Burgos and Irún) and the N-II to Barcelona (via Zaragoza). From Portugal, the southern route via the coast, E1 (A49), passes through Seville, Huelva and Faro; while the northern route, E90 (A6) links Badajoz with Lisbon.

Eurolines international coach services (www.eurolines.com) has several bus routes that serve major cities in Spain, with connections to destinations across Europe.

Getting to Spain by boat

With its coastlines surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean, Spain is an excellent destination to explore on water. By boat, it is easy and convenient to travel from Spain to Morocco, France, the Balearic Islands and Canary Islands. Its major ports include Algeciras (www.apba.es), Bilbao (www.bilbaoport.es), Barcelona (www.apb.es), Santander (www.puertosantander.es) and Valencia (www.valenciaport.com).

Ferry Operators

Brittany Ferries (tel: +44 330 159 7000; www.brittany-ferries.co.uk) operates a service to Santander from Plymouth and Portsmouth (journey time – 20 to 24 hours) and to Bilbao from Portsmouth (journey time – 24 to 32 hours).

Boat note

It is worth noting that catamarans only operate in the summer months, usually April to September.