Traveling throughout Spain, and all of Europe for that matter
There are a lot of myths when it comes to traveling throughout Europe. Many Americans are under the assumption that traveling from city to city by train is the fastest, easiest and cheapest mode of transportation in Europe; this isn’t necessarily the case. When taking the train in a small country such as the Netherlands or a certain region like Andalucia, a direct trip to a nearby town will be very cheap by rail. However, traveling long distances, Paris to Amsterdam for example, can cost hundreds of Euros contrary to what you’ve probably heard. When visiting multiple cities is a high priority on your itinerary, you will have to make multiple transfers along the way, taking up entire days of your vacation.
When traveling long distances, flying is your cheapest option. Bravofly is a great jumping-off point, you’ll be able to find flights less than 20€ for a one way ticket. Keep in mind that prices vary on a variety of things and certain airports are cheaper to fly in and out of. This isn’t the final cost of the trip mind you, European airlines charge for baggage and on-flight concessions. Do NOT buy the tickets on Bravofly, purchase the tickets on the airline’s website. For example, buying tickets directly from Ryanair or Transavia will eliminate Bravofly’s surcharge, saving you even more money! Whatever airline you fly, make sure to read through the terms and conditions; they will overcharge the shit out of you if your bag weighs over the maximum requirement.
The cheapest way to travel short to medium distances in Europe is to go by bus. The rides are longer and comfortable than the trains, but insanely less expensive for cities that are further away. Salamanca’s train station does not offer nearly as many destinations as the bus. You can check the going rates with Eurolines, though it’s significantly cheaper to buy your tickets at the bus station. The bus station in Salamanca is just East of the old city on Av. de Filiberto Villalobos.
Bus vs plane vs train
Each method of travel has advantages and disadvantages (duh…). In 2011, we took an 18-hour bus ride from Renne, France to move to Salamanca. It was excruciating. The bus was packed and the seats were so uncomfortable; mix in all the snoring by the old Portuguese people all around us, it was nearly impossible to sleep. It was pretty damn cheap though, I wish we had researched more about flying to Spain to save us the trouble.
Madrid is conveniently located right in the middle of the Iberian peninsula. Any destination in Spain is accessible by bus or one of Madrid’s two train stations. Barajas airport will take you anywhere else you want to go. You might need to make reservations if traveling by train, especially during peak tourist season. If you’re under the age of 26, take advantage of the various youth discounts.