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.
Cheap Flights to Spain
Of course the vast majority of Spain’s 50 million annual visitors arrive on flights from all over the world making Spain the 2nd most visited nation on the planet. Within Europe there are numerous budget airlines and tour operators which offer great deals to Spain. In addition, there are national carriers whose prices are usually higher but they offer considerably more comfort to passengers.
Ryanair offer an ever changing number of routes to Spain and seem to be surviving the difficult economic times in the industry.
EasyJet provide the most frequent services to Spain with the most routes. Check their website as routes are always being changed.
Vueling is an airline based in Barcelona which offer many domestic flights within Spain and a growing number of services to the UK and the rest of Europe.
Jet2 is a popular budget airline with flights out of Leeds Bradford and other northern airports to various destinations in Spain.
Thomson Airways offer a huge number of destinations in Spain from 20 regional airports throughout the UK.
Air Berlin offers services from Stansted and Manchester airports to many Spanish airports.
British Airways used to offer a lot of flights to Spain from the UK but many of these routes have been cancelled as the industry deals with the economic climate.
Iberia is the Spanish national airline which offers a reduced number of scheduled flights from the UK to Spain. They offer many domestic flights within Spain.
Aer Lingus are now offering flights from Cork and Dublin to some of the more popular Spanish destinations.
Flight Search Engines
If you already know where and (more or less) when you want to go then your first port of call should be Skyscanner. 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.
Book a Flight and Hotel
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.
Book a Package Holiday
Sometimes you’re better off booking a holiday package rather than a flight only. The following companies specialise in cheap holidays to Spain from the UK:
- Easyjet Holidays
- Jet2 Holidays
Spain Airports Map
Please be aware that airlines aren’t always transparent in their airport description. For example Girona Airport is over 90km from Barcelona yet it is sometimes referred to as Barcelona (Girona). Barcelona’s El Prat airport is less than 10km from the city so when you allow for the cost of transfers and the time involved in such transfers it isn’t always worthwhile booking the cheapest option.
Spain’s Most Popular Airports
The following alphabetical list of airports in Spain appears with their identification codes. It includes all the most popular airports located on the Spanish mainland, in the Balearic Islands and in the Canary Islands:
- Alicante (ALC)
- Almeria (LEI)
- Barcelona (BCN)
- Bilbao (BIO)
- Girona (GRO)
- Granada (GRX)
- Gran Canaria (LPA)
- Ibiza (IBZ)
- Jerez (XRY)
- Lanzarote (ACE)
- Madrid (MAD)
- Malaga (AGP)
- Mallorca (PMI)
- Menorca (MAH)
- Murcia (MJV)
- Reus (REU)
- Santiago de Compostela (SCQ)
- Seville (SVQ)
- Tenerife (TFS)
- Valencia (VLC)
Other Spanish Airports: As well as the well known airports listed above there are a number of provincial airports that sometimes have international arrivals. And if you’re heading south it might be worth looking at Gibraltar as a possible arrival point.
- Badajoz (BJZ)
- Ciudad Real (CQM)
- Fuerteventura (FUE)
- Gibraltar (GIB)
- Huesca (HSK)
- La Coruña (LCG)
- León (LEN)
- Oviedo (OVD)
- San Sebastian
- Santa Cruz de la Palma (SPC)
- Santander (SDR)
- Tenerife North (TFN)
- Valladolid (VLL)
- Vigo (VGO)
- Zaragoza (ZAZ)
Domestic Flights Within Spain
Spain has a good network of domestic flight connections operated by Iberia, Vueling and Air Europa. Between them they provide services between all major cities and holiday destinations in Spain.
Spain Airport Transfers
Don’t make the mistake of leaving your airport transfer arrangements until the last minute when you’re flying to Spain. Airport taxis are usually more expensive than pre-booked transfers and public transport isn’t worth the hassle compared with the cheap shuttle bus services that are available from many Spanish airports.
Spanish Airports Authority (AENA)
AENA (Aeropuertos Españoles y Navegación Aérea) is the official Spanish Airport Authority. Their official website of Spain’s airports can be found at www.aena.es. There you’ll find a guide to Spain’s 47 airports with location maps. The information is available in English and Spanish.
Renting a Car at Spanish Airports
All of Spain’s airports have a car hire area where you can rent a car for your stay in that part of the country. As a rule you’ll generally get far better deals by booking your rental online before travelling.
Ferry Services 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.
Travelling to 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.
5 thoughts on “Best Ways to Travel to Spain”
I love “As I walked out one Summer’s Morning”. I have read it several times just inspired by the romance of walking around Spain. The sequel “A Rose For Winter” is interesting as it’s about Laurie Lee’s return to Spain during the Civil War. I also haven’t walked around Spain, but every time I go there I try to do a 5 day walk in the countryside. Just love it.
On your recommendation I got ‘As I Walked Out One Midsummer’s Morning” from the library. I thought it was a great book. I am interested in the Spanish Civil War and this book was a great piece of social history from before the conflict. I knew that Laurie Lee fought in the civil war and am I just about to start his book on that chapter of his life. Spain is a great country with proud people.
I’m glad that you enjoyed it. You might also be interested in reading “A Moment of War” and “A Rose For Winter” which are also by Laurie Lee.
CJ Sansom’s “Winter in Madrid” is a another great book I read recently. It is set in 1940’s Madrid in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War.
I travel to Spain maybe 3 to 4 times in the year and I would really love to travel more around and see the small villages and meet people. I have enjoyed your travel tips Gerry, thank you.
Yes Winter in Madrid is a good read….was available on Kindle via Amazon for 20p.
We live in Murcia but travel back to the UK every 8-10 weeks to see the family. Usually we fly using Monarch or Ryanair (which I hate but they are cheap). The days of the penny flight are long gone but we usually pay £80-100 each return which still isn’t bad for a 2.5hr flight….cheaper than trains in the UK.
We have driven to France to get the Brittany ferry to Plymouth but as you say it’s a long way and the extra hotels, tolls and diesel doesn’t make it worth while unless you make a mini holiday of it and take your time.
Once a year we get the Brittany ferry from Santander to Plymouth or Portsmouth on their flagship ferry The Pont Aven which is a wonderful ship.. .and enjoy the mini cruise of about 20 hours…although last month we suffered a force 8 gale which was not for the faint hearted! It’s worth upgrading to a larger outside cabin too as the inner ones are very dark and poky. The restaurant is top class but there are other cheaper restaurants, bars and a cinema available. You need to bear in mind the additional costs of travelling though….we worked out it cost between 5-6 times as a flight (counting a hotel stay and diesel) and added 6 days to the journey there and back. However it makes a nice change and you can stock up on Spanish wine in the supermarket at Santander.
However we travel its always good to get back to Spain!
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