How often do you find yourself in a rut and just wish you could drop everything and head off on an exciting adventure? Unfortunately, few people have the ability to escape their busy lives so reading about the exploits of others becomes the closest they’ll ever get to such an experience.
Just the other day I was reading about a young Englishman called Laurie Lee who in 1934 left his native land and headed for Vigo in Galicia. Over the course of the next year he walked through the centre of the country as far as the south coast spending nights under the stars or in very basic hostels for travellers. He describes a dreadfully poor country where he survived on the generosity of the people he met and the few coppers he earned from playing his violin outside cafes.
Eventually he made it to Almunecar on the coast of Granada where he became trapped by the Spanish Civil War before he was rescued by a British destroyer. The story of his fascinating journey is told in the book As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning which is available on Amazon.
Personally I’ve never walked to Spain but some years ago I did cycle part of the way there. I put my bike on a train from London to Bordeaux then spent a week cycling in the foothills of the Pyrenees as far as Le Boulou where I headed into the hills and across into Spain. Every time I enter Spain from France I’m always amazed at the change … the traffic goes crazy and when you stop at a motorway service station everyone seems to be shouting at one another. I love it! I ended my cycle in Girona then took a train to Barcelona and a ferry to Mallorca. For the next week all I seemed to do was eat as I recovered from the journey.
Finding Cheap Flights to Spain
Of course the vast majority of Spain’s 50 million annual visitors arrive on aeroplanes from destinations all over the world making Spain the 2nd most visited nation on the planet after France. We’ve revised the Flights to Spain page on our website. It now contains links to all the main destination airports in Spain as well as links to the main budget operators and useful information on how to transfer from airports to your final destination.
Many years ago we used to look in newspapers for cheap flights or browse the windows of the local travel agency in the hope of finding a bargain. Now the internet is the first place we turn to when we need to get away yet few travellers are aware of how to go about finding the best online prices. There are thousands of websites claiming to offer the cheapest flights yet in reality there are only a handful of websites that you need to bother with in making sure you get a good deal.
If you already know where and (more or less) when you want to go then your first port of call should be Skyscanner.net. This is a price comparison site where you input your destination and preferred date then allow it to find the best deals. Its search results are provided from hundreds of airlines and online travel agencies and most importantly it includes prices from the main budget airlines which some other price comparison sites don’t.
In order to try to get a special deal for booking your flight and hotel together you should refer to a flight broker website. These flight brokers are in a position to offer special deals if you book a flight + hotel or flight + hotel + car hire as they work directly with the airlines. The heavyweight website amongst the flight brokers is Expedia.co.uk which allows you to easily book any combination of flight, hotel and car hire.
Ferries to Spain
Many times in the past I’ve travelled between the UK and Bilbao on P&O’s ‘Pride of Bilbao’ but that service no longer exists. However, you can still travel between the south coast of England and the north coast of Spain on Brittany Ferries who offer the following services:
- Portsmouth to Santander
- Plymouth to Santander
- Portsmouth to Bilbao
You can also take a number of ferries to France then drive to Spain but then you need to consider the additional cost of fuel and overnight accommodation compared with the direct ferry. Also you shouldn’t underestimate the extra time it takes to drive through France and the exertion of so many extra hours at the wheel. You can get more information on ferry options on our revised Ferries to Spain page.
Spain by Train
The European rail network provides for an exceptional standard of travel catering for all budgets. You can book on to a luxurious ‘Trenhotel’ which offers incredible services from Paris, Milan and Zurich to Barcelona and from Paris to Madrid. On the other hand you can simply book standard rail tickets to Spain from all over the continent or purchase one of the rail passes available in Europe which allow you to get discount rates on rail travel in individual countries, combinations of countries or on a grand tour of Europe. For details of all these options take a look at our Spain by Train page where you’ll find numerous links to the Rail Europe Website which allows you to book any of these rail services.
Spain by Bus
A generally overlooked option in European travel is going by coach. The biggest operator in this market is Eurolines.co.uk which is Europe’s largest scheduled coach operator. The company is owned by National Express and is made up of 32 independent coach companies from all over the continent. You can buy a 15 or 30 day Eurolines Pass which gives you flexible, unlimited travel between 43 European cities. Routes from London to Spain include the following:
- La Coruna via Santiago
- Oviedo via San Sebastian, Bilbao, Santander and Llanes
- Algeciras via Madrid, Almeria, Seville, Granada, Malaga & Marbella
- Salamanca via Valladolid
- Murcia via Barcelona, Benidorm and Alicante
For something more organised take a look at Cosmos Tours where you’ll find a great selection of fascinating tours and cruises in Europe and worldwide which depart from the UK.
And finally, if you make your own way to Spain and are looking for any kind of tour then get in touch with our friends at Euroadventures.net. We’ve been working with Sean and his team up there in Vigo (where Laurie Lee began his walking tour of Spain) for many years and can’t recommend them highly enough. Whether you’re looking for extended tours by coach or with a private driver or simply want to do a day trip from your destination they can usually help you sort it out. Just drop them a line through the above link or contact me and I’ll send your enquiry on to Sean directly.
Do You Have Any Travel Tips For Our Readers?
Anyway I think there are enough ideas there on how to get to Spain. If you’d care to comment or add any additional ideas for readers then please do so below.