Spain is without a doubt my favourite country, I love the people, the food, the culture and the variety of places. Most visitors will probably know the beach and resort areas or perhaps the cities of Madrid or Barcelona. There is however so much more to see, from the major sites in the cities in Andalucia such as Seville, Granada and Cordoba to the its third city, Valencia to the beautiful northern provinces including of course the pilgrim city of Santiago, the regenerated city of Bilbao and the culinary capital of San Sebastian.
I have tried to set out some tips about travel and accommodation in the country and hopefully will help the independent travel to plan an enjoyable holiday.
Homework in advance about the city you are visiting helps you book the best suited accommodation. I prefer to do the walking and travelling around to visit the sites in a city during the day and make sure that the hotel is within reasonable walking distance at night for good restaurants and tapas bars.
Then check out various hotel sites and the hotel comparison sites when looking for accommodation , also consider apartments. These give you more space for your money and although this may seem daunting the first time more and more people are doing this.
I have pages on 18 cities on Spain on the web site and wherever possible have recommended specific hotels, or apartments companies or hotel booking sites.
Train services in Spain are reliable, reasonably priced and fairly easy to book on line.
The operator is called RENFE and you can buy tickets on line, these go on sale 60 days in advance and if you book at that time you will find large discounts available.
There are sometimes problems with using foreign credit cards so there are a couple of ways to make the process easier, check out www.seat61.com simply the best rail site for information on rail travel in Spain, also for most countries in the world.
Register on the RENFE site, www.renfe.com/EN/viajeros this may seem a hassle but will save time now and on future occasions. On the first screen you need to input to four fields and it seems reluctant to do this in English.
Type of document - change to passport
Country – UK is Reino Unido
Document no – Passport Number
Correo Electronico – email address
You then have to complete details to set up an account such as user name, password, security question, address etc. It does not accept letters in postcodes therefore input 12345. This part is relatively simple.
There is a new alternative using an American company www.petrabax.com they will book them for you with a small surcharge, unlike some of the UK companies who book European rail travel but with huge mark ups and click on trains.
Frequently buses are a better option, they can be quicker so definitely compare the two. Alsa are the biggest operator in Spain and on longer distances they run Supra services which have only 3 seats across, more space, snacks and hostess service.
Booking tickets on line can be tricky, they have a good web site and you can check times, prices, routes and in theory book multiple journeys until you get to payment and again non Spanish cards seem to fail. There is now a company where you can book on line for all bus companies and pay with a credit card and amazingly the small fee makes them cheaper than on Alsa. Go to www.movelia.es and change the language to English and you are set. You print the tickets off and they get scanned or checked when you board the bus.
Bus travel is so popular in Spain that the bus stations have all sorts of facilities and it is easy to check which stand is for your bus.
We do not do cars and use public transport when we travel however I know others will use this as their preferred method of travel. I have therefore included the name of a company that has recently been named by Which, the UK consumer association, as the best car hire broker Zest Car Rental . You can see reviews on line and see the befits of using them.