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Living in Spain - Key Information

Public Transport in Spain

Public transport is generally very good in Spanish cities, most of which have efficient bus and rail systems. If you plan to remain within the principal Spanish cities, public transportation will likely prove far more convenient and pleasant than driving.

Intercity Rail: The Spanish rail network is operated by a state owned company called Red Nacional de los Ferrocarriles Españoles (RENFE). They operate a wide range of services and fares. Their fastest trains, the AVE, are among Europe's best with their slowest travelling about the same speed as a bus.

The RENFE provides a service to all major cities, although it doesn't run to many small towns, and is supplemented by networks such as the FFCC city lines in Barcelona and private railways.

There are also a huge variety of local, short-distance trains called tranvía (also a tram). Suburban commuter trains (cercanías) are second class only and stop at all stations.

Buses: The local bus services in Spanish cities run from around 0600 until between 22:00 and midnight, when a more expensive night system comes into operation. Most buses don't have a lot of seats, opting instead for maximum standing room. Urban buses are quite slow although some major cities provide dedicated bus lanes.
Most towns have a bus terminal. Keep in mind that when waiting at a bus stop, the bus may not always stop for you unless you indicate you wish it to.

Taxis: You should only use taxis that display a special licence. They are of a very high standard as they are governed by strict legislation. They display a green light when they are free (libre). They can be flagged down or found at a taxi rank and are metered but have a set price for certain journeys. Tipping is a customary 5-10%.

Metro: There are metro lines in Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia. They offer the fastest way to get around these cities and are unsurprisingly crowded during rush hours. Special tickets are available including a cheap day return, a metrocard allowing three / five days unlimited use, and weekly and monthly passes. A map (plano del metro) showing the lines in different colours can be obtained from the ticket offices or from the area guides on this site.

For more in depth information on this topic, we highly recommend:

Living and Working in Spain: A Survival Guide

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