What is the best transportation (economical and time efficient) between cities in Spain?
the bus for sure! there are good overnight busses also so you don't have to pay for a hotel. step on a train and you will pay three times as much. we rented a car for the last week of our trip but if you are used to driving in north america you may find driving in spain difficult. we were visiting all the white villages and would just park in a garage for the time we spent in that town, those roads are narrow and streets just end or turn into drive ways or the road you were on is now a one way and your going the wrong way! lol we wasted a lot of money on a rental car for the days we just left it parked, i wish we would have just used the bus.
Hello Julia! That's the tough part, economical and time efficient. You can rail in about 2 1/2 to 3 hours on the AVE from Madrid to Barcelona, for example, for $150 one way. Vueling Airlines and Iberia Airlines have numerous options for $50-$100, but you may run in to baggage fees. My wife and I actually railed some, caught a domestic flight, and rented a car for a portion of the trip. Not as economical, though not terrible, very time efficient, and gave us some different ways to see the country. Hope that helps and safe travels!
We flew to Madrid when our destination was Barcelona because it was a lot fewer airline miles and they had the AVE. (There was a train from the Madrid airport to the Atocha train station.) Trains go from downtown to downtown so it cuts the additional getting to-and-from-the-airport time and charges, once you are in country. When you consider that, plus baggage checking and retrieval, and going through security, the train will save you time and hassle over the airplane, and I'm pretty sure it's cheaper to boot. Use the train whenever possible and buses work elsewhere, especially on short hops. On trains and buses, you stow your own bags, which saves time, so don't pack more than you want to lift. Renting a car is always the best way to insulate yourself from the place you've traveled to discover, regardless of other factors! We weren't aware of night buses while we were there, but we used them in Argentina and Uruguay and that is a great way to travel on long hops-saves hotel costs for a night and conserves waking hours for what you want to do. Above all, spend enough time in each city you visit, to make going there worthwhile in the first place! Cheers!
It's a little difficult to find a means of transportation that is both time efficient and economically efficient. The most time efficient is the train. The AVE is the high speed train and the rest are regular Renfe trains (www.renfe.com). They are usually a bit pricier, especially the AVE. I really liked traveling by bus when I was in Spain though. I think it's more economical and the buses are really comfortable (at least compared to the buses in the US). The bus company is ALSA (www.alsa.es) and you can look on their website for routes/fares. They are pretty well connected throughout Spain. Another idea if you're more adventurous is bla bla car. It's a lot cheaper than bus or train and you probably wouldn't make as many stops as you would by bus so you could get to your destination faster. I don't have any personal experience using it, but a lot of my friends have and they really like it.
A warning to you with both alsa and renfe: they are very finicky with American credit/debit cards. I always had trouble using it to purchase items online. You either have to get a special security code from your bank to purchase online ahead of time or just go to the train station and pay in cash there. I've been double charged for tickets and all kinds of crazy things so I just want to save you that hassle too.
Trains are pretty good for most routes (Barcelona-Madrid, Madrid-Seville, etc.), and buses do a good job filling in the rest. We found that some of our best bus trips happened in Spain (Cordoba-Granada with Movelia bus service was 1/3 of the price of the train and had comfy leather seats and wifi, and took the same amount of time). If you need to go a very long distance, air travel might be something to look at.
Renfe (the Spanish train company) releases tickets 90 days in advance for AVE (high-speed) and 60 days in advance for regular trains (in theory at least, often they are not online at those times). You can get really good prices if you book in advance (i.e. 28 euro advance purchase vs 75 euro regular price for Madrid-Seville).
For buses, most of the time different operators operate different routes, but generally only one operator operates each route (I hope that sentence makes sense!). When you go to the station, the people at the info desks for the companies (i.e. ALSA, Movelia, etc.) will let you know who operates a route if they don't.
**Some people have problems booking online with RENFE (especially) and sometimes bus companies as well. If the RENFE site does not work for you, you can buy the same tickets with the same advance fares (with a tiny mark-up of course) at http://petrabax.com/renfe/ - definitely worth paying an extra euro or two to save 30 or 40!
Hope this all helps!
You can also find lots of good info on trains in Spain on Seat61 http://www.seat61.com/Spain-trains.htm#Spain_by_train,_in_a_nutshell