Travel to Spain
Flying to Spain
The national airline in Spain is Iberia(IB) (www.iberia.com). Other airlines with flights to Spain include Spanair and British Airways. Flights to Spain are the most expensive in summer, from June to September. The cheapest time to travel is from November to December (outside of the Christmas season).
Since the opening of the new Terminal 4 in Madrid Barajas Airport (in 2006), Iberia and other oneworld alliance airlines such as American Airlines and British Airways have moved their offices there. The metro line has also extended to serve this new terminal.
To visit Spain on an air pass, the Visit Europe pass by oneworld (www.oneworld.com) allows access to over 160 European cities. For more choices, the Star Alliance Europe Airpass (www.staralliance.com) serves over 280 destinations in 45 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 operates direct high-speed trains from London to Paris (Gare du Nord). For further information and reservations, contact Eurostar (tel: 0870 160 6600 in the UK; www.eurostar.com); or Rail Europe (tel: 0844 848 4064 in the UK; www.raileurope.co.uk).
There are direct train services from France and Portugal to Madrid and Barcelona. As of 2013 services from Zurich and Milan to Barcelona no longer operate. Border connections link with the French TGV (high-velocity route) and the rest of the high-velocity routes in Europe. Motorail services run between Paris and Madrid. Find out more information from the Spanish Rail service (tel: (020) 7725 7063; www.spanish-rail.co.uk).
InterRail offers unlimited first or second-class travel in up to 30 European countries for European residents of over six months with two pass options. The Global Pass allows travel for 22 days or one month 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. Discounts are offered on Eurostar and some ferry routes. Available from Rail Europe (tel: 0844 848 4064, in the UK; www.raileurope.co.uk/inter-rail).
For non-European residents, the Eurailpass offers various options: the comprehensive Global Pass with practically unlimited travel in 18 European countries, the more limited Select Pass and Regional pass, or the single-country National Pass. Find out more from The Eurail Group (www.eurail.com).
By 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 (tel: 902 405 040; www.eurolines.es) has several bus routes that serve major cities in Spain. There are Eurolines services from Madrid and Barcelona to major European cities like Amsterdam, Frankfurt, London, Prague and Rome.
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).
Spain is one of the most popular stops along major Mediterranean cruise routes. Most cruises stop at the port of Barcelona and Malaga where there are a flurry of attractions, restaurants and entertainment centres.
Brittany Ferries (tel: 0871 244 0744, in the UK; www.brittany-ferries.co.uk) operates a service to Santander from Plymouth and Portsmouth (journey time: 20 - 24 hours) and to Bilbao from Portsmouth (24 - 32 hours).
River cruises sail from Pinhão in Portugal to Vega de Terrón, close to Salamanca in Spain. Several companies organise these leisurely river cruises navigating the wine region of Portugal and continuing on to Spain.