Public Transport in Spain
Travel by Train, Bus, or Bike!
Traveling by public transport in Spain is a fantastic way to discover this beautiful country, and it is not expensive at all! Spain has a very solid public transport network, and especially in the touristic South it is very easy to use public transport to get from A (your holiday home) to B (nice city, good restaurant.. etc). But of course, as every country is a bit different with public transport, it is best to be prepared before starting the adventure. That’s why we’ve created an extensive guide about public transport in Spain, which enables you to go anywhere without a problem, like a true Spanish local! We explain the different types of public transport you can choose from, how to buy tickets, what the typical Spanish habits are in public transport, and we give you some tips and tricks for the best trips with public transport!
Travel by train in Malaga
If you want to travel a little further, or would like to visit a specific city, travelling by train is a good option. The national public train network company is called RENFE. On their website you can find all the destinations and ticket prices, and you can also order tickets online. In Spain, you have the possibility to travel either second class (básico or turista) or first class (elige or preferente). Usually, it is cheaper and easier to later change your travel time or destination with a first class ticket. Be aware: if you book a ticket on the RENFE website you buy the ticket for only the specific departure you booked: you cannot take a train that departs earlier or later.
In Malaga there are several train stations, of which one is on a short walking distance from the historic city center: this station is called ‘Malaga Centro – Alameda’ and is easy to find on Google Maps. From this station you could travel to Malaga Airport, Plaza Mayor (a major shopping center), Torremolinos, or Fuengirola: these are all stops at line (línea) C2. If yould you like to travel a little further, you could go to the central train station of Malaga, which is called María Zambrano. María Zambrano is not only a train station, but also a large shopping center where you can find many different brands and some good restaurants: a good place to stay when you have to wait a while for your train!
From the central station of Malaga you can go almost anywhere: for 40 euro (retour) you can go to Sevilla in a couple of hours, and there is even a high velocity line (ADIF Alta Velocidad or AVE) to Madrid, where you could be in 2,5 hours. Yet, be aware: the AVE can be more expensive, so if you do not travel too far we would recommend the normal train.
Travel by Bus in Spain
When travelling by bus in Andalusia, you even have more option than when travelling by train. It is very easy to use the bus both within the city as on longer distances. Malaga has various bus stations, but almost all long distance lines pass through the central bus station, that is right next to the María Zambrano train station. This bus station is easy to reach throughout the whole city and suburbs through the local bus network.
There are a couple of different bus transport companies, which makes the bus network in the South of Spain a bit chaotic: it is not always easy to find the times of departure or ticket prices, as there is no central platform for this information. The most important long distance bus company is called ALSA , with which you can get from Malaga to Granada in two hours, for just around 20 euros. On their website, you can check departure times and buy tickets, so that you are well prepared for your trip. You could also go from Malaga (or our apartments in Rincón de la Victoria) to Nerja for a couple of bucks, which is definitely recommendable! On their website, you can check departure times and buy tickets, so that you are well prepared for your trip. You could also go from Malaga (or our apartments in Rincón de la Victoria) to Nerja for a couple of bucks, which is definitely recommendable!
Another bigger transport company is Avanza.. With Avanza you have more options in the direction of Torremolinos, Fuengirola and Mijas. The prices of this carrier are not that high either: for a two-way ticket Malaga-Marbella, you pay around 13 euros. These long distance carriers usually are very luxury with airconditioning, access to power, and sometimes even a TV. How about travelling comfortably!
But what if you just want to travel locally, like in the city itself or just to the suburbs or villages around it? Then we recommend you to use the local bus system of the municipality, which is called EMP. These buses are not as comfy as the long distance autocars, but they are very cheap and can bring you anywhere in the city. The departure times and routes can be found at the bus stops themselves, which can be found every couple of meters on the road. You could also check Google Maps to see routes and departure times, so that you can plan your trip from home.
You can buy your bus ticket when entering the bus with the driver. Yet, if you stay for a longer time in the South of Spain, it may be a good idea to buy a type of travel card that Spaniards use, that allows you to travel on credit: these are available in the small cigarette/newspaper shops, and you can put credit on them right away. This way, you only need to ‘check in’, and every time you do so you can travel free for an hour. Very handy!
Spanish public transport habits
Great, now you already have a general idea of how to travel by public transport in Spain. Yet, there comes more to travelling by bus or train than you might think: the Spanish have some typical habits when using public transport. So, if you really want to travel like a local, it is best to take these into account.
First of all, there is some kind of unwritten rule when entering the bus: the one that first arrived at the bus station, also enters the bus first. So, you get in at the same order as how you arrived at the stop. In some countries, it is normal to try to enter first to be able to pick the best spot, but this is perceived as quite uneducated in Spain. So, take this into account if you do not want to see any angry Spanish faces!
Besides that, there is a lot of respect for the elderly in Spain. 65-plus almost always gets a discount in public transport, or can sometimes even travel for free. These discounts are often also granted to tourists, so if you are older than 65 you can tell the ticket seller: ‘soy jubilado’ (I am retired). Also, it is a habit to give away your seat to an elderly person (like in many other countries). But beware: if the person you offer your seat to does not consider himself as elderly, you may cause some angry Spanish mumbling!
Finally, here are some Spanish words that are useful when travelling by public transport:
Sólo ida – one way ticket
Ida y vuelta – two way ticket
Estación de trenes – train station
Parada de bus – bus stop
Conductor – bus driver
Cambio – change (money)
Escala – transfer
Rent a bike in Malaga!
And then, there is a final option: if you would like to see a big part of the city and its surroundings, but would not like to use the bus or walk long distances, you can of course also rent a bike! There are a lot of bike paths in and around Malaga, and we can definitely recommend you to rent a bike for a day. There are a lot of options when renting a bike. At Bike Rental Malaga for example, you can rent a bike for a day for a good price. They are in the city center, and you can easily book online. From there, you could all the way to the village Rincón de la Victoria, which is an amazing route, all the way right next to the beach boulevard.
And if you are a more fanatic biker, like a mountainbiker or a speed cyclist? Then there are plenty of options as well: at Bike2malaga you can rent both mountainbikes as speed bikes, and they also do several tours with these bikes in the area of Malaga. So do you miss your beloved bike at home? Then you could definitely try this out!
Well, now you are completely prepared for an adventurous trip by public transport. Would you like to know specifically which bus or train you should get from your holiday home to the place you want to go to, or are you looking for help when renting a bike? Get in touch with us, and we will help you with that!
Would you like to go to Malaga as well?
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