Spain - car rental, bus or train?

Old Dec 28th, 2014, 02:48 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 53
Spain - car rental, bus or train?

First I would like to thank all of you who have assisted in the planning our 2 week trip. My topic about Granada was very helpful. Now I'd like advice on how to get to the places we've chosen to visit.

We fly to Madrid and after a few days leave for Malaga. My first thought was to use train for all of our travelling but am now starting to explore other options. I have looked at train travel and my first thought is that it is expensive. Not as expensive as in Canada but expensive enough.

After Madrid our first stop will be Benalmadena. We thought train to Malaga and bus to Benalmadena is the way to go. While at Benalmadena we will do a few half day or day trips (Ronda, Gibraltar etc.). After a week we head to Granada for 3 nights then Toledo for 3 nights then fly home.

Here are my questions:
Should we rent a car for the whole time? We have driven in Europe before.

Should we take the train to Malaga and rent a car for our time on the Costa del Sol?

Should we take the train to Malaga and use local buses during our week there?

If we don't have a car we would probably take a bus from Malaga to Granada then bus again to Toledo. Train is also an option in both places.

We have used both train and bus transportation in other countries. However we do not speak Spanish and wonder if this will be a major problem.

Thanks in advance for any hints you advice you can give me.
BHull is offline  
Old Dec 28th, 2014, 04:32 PM
Join Date: Feb 2014
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Sorry I missed your other thread but: What time of year are you traveling? In periods of hot weather, I would want a car.

I have only ONCE traveled by bus in Spain and vowed "never again" simply because -- at least in the part of Spain I was in -- bus seats recline, and they recline at angles even steeper than plane seats. I had a teenager in front of me who reclined his seat at maximum extension. A kindly Spaniard nearby tried to intervene on my behalf with no success, and then found me another empty seat on the bus.

My experiences of driving in Spain have all been pleasant. Spanish are courteous drivers and the roads are good.
sandralist is offline  
Old Dec 28th, 2014, 05:04 PM
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If you are absolutely certain of what days and times you want to travel, you can get cheaper train tickets by booking early on the Renfe website. The disadvantage is, of course, that those tickets are nonrefundable and can't be changed in any way. If you do chose to do this I would reccomend registering on their website before you book, so that you can retrieve your bookings and tickets if you lose your printouts.

The ALSA bus company also has cheap tickets if you book very early, but with the same restrictions (no refunds, no changes)as Renfe. I got half price tickets by booking more than 120 days early for summer 2014.

Both the trains and the buses were clean and comfortable. As a solo female traveler I also never felt physically unsafe. I did worry a bit about pickpockets, but nothing happened.

I never had anyone recline their seats in front of me. Maybe I was just lucky.
anyegr is offline  
Old Dec 28th, 2014, 06:34 PM
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I would take the train to Malaga if you have no other places of interest to visit along the way. As noted, you can purchase discounted tickets at if you plan ahead. All but the least expensive tickets are non-refundable, but if you're sure of your dates, then go for it.

You can pick up a car at the station in Malaga, but your choices will be limited. Most of the cars you can choose from will be smaller, compact and mid-size. Unless you really need a car, I would stick with traveling by bus from Malaga to Granada and then back to Granada to take the AVE to Madrid before going down to Toledo.

Turista Plus tickets are as low as €57.25/person, Malaga to Madrid and are your best bet.

"However we do not speak Spanish and wonder if this will be a major problem" I will be a problem once you are outside of the major tourist areas.
Robert2533 is offline  
Old Dec 29th, 2014, 11:56 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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You can also purchase a Tajeta Dorada for €5 at the train station for discounted tickets which are purchased there and not in advance.
I would train to Malaga and pick up a rental car there. Return it in Granada. I would want a car on the Costa del Sol to travel to Ronda and the so-called White Villages and to Marbella and Malaga. Of course, all this travel can be done by public transport, but we prefer a car.
Bedar is offline  
Old Dec 29th, 2014, 12:00 PM
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BTW, aren't you going to Seville and Cordoba ? Would be a shame to miss them. Don't count on going to Gibraltar. The lines going in and coming out are hours long.
Bedar is offline  
Old Dec 29th, 2014, 12:16 PM
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Thanks Bedar. We hadn't planned to stay in Seville. Is a day trip (say 14 hours) from Costa del Sol doable by car?
BHull is offline  
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