Once you reach your destination be it Spain, France or Portugal you will need to get from the airport to your starting point and possibly to be able to travel from one area to another. The public transit system in Europe is simply fantastic. Your options include Bus, train, airline and taxi services as well as shared ride apps such as BlaBlaCar, Uber and others.
Bus – There are several different bus lines in Spain. The primary bus company is ALSA By using this link you will be able to search for bus routes from almost any point in Spain to another. ALSA also makes one daily trip from Santiago de Compostela to Porto and Lisbon and back so if you have walked the Camino Portuguese and have a return ticket from Porto or Lisbon then this is the easiest way to get back to the airport. Avanza is another option depending on where you are in Spain. As a caution in Madrid there are several different bus stations, each station serves a different part of Spain. There is also a bus station in terminal 4 (T4) of the Madrid Barajas airport. Traveling by bus is probably the most cost effective way to travel in Spain. The bus’ are all clean well maintained and very efficient. Most traveling any distance even have a restroom.
Train – The train system in Spain is also fantastic. RENFE is the primary train system. There are different types of trains local, regional and the AVE train which is the high-speed train. Train travel in Spain is very easy as most towns have a train station. When traveling from Madrid by train it is important to note that there are 2 or more main stations based upon where you are traveling. Atocha is the station that you will use to get from Madrid to Pamplona, while Chamartin is used to get to Oviedo.
Taxi – In most towns their is a local taxi service. Taxi’s are normally individually owned so you may be riding in a van that is not painted yellow. Never the less the taxi service in Spain is great. Simply tell the driver where you wish to go and if you don’t see a meter make sure to ask the cost prior to agreeing to the ride. I have used taxi’s from time to time with great success.
Airplane – Europe has many low cost airlines such as Ryanair and EasyJet among others. Often times it is less expensive and more efficient to fly closer to your starting point from the primary destination of your overseas flight. It also makes great sense to check with your overseas airline to see if they offer flight continuations from your primary destination closer to your starting point. For instance American Airlines and Iberia are partners, so you could fly into Madrid and then catch a connecting flight to Pamplona for instance if you were going to begin near Pamplona or even Saint Jean pied du Port.
Ride Sharing – BlaBlaCar is a ride sharing service. You log onto the site and put in where you want to go and from where and it gives you a list of all of the people looking to share. I have friends in Spain that swear by it. Of course if you don’t have some basic Spanish it might be very interesting.
Pickup and delivery Service – If you are traveling through Pamplona to Saint Jean pied du Port one of the ways to get to your starting point is to use a pickup and delivery service such as Corizon Puro While I have not used this service as of yet it gets great reviews and I plan on using it next time I walk the Camino Frances. They will pick you up from the airport, bus station, or train station and take you to their albergue. They provide a communal 3 course dinner and breakfast the next morning. After breakfast they drive you to Saint Jean pied du port. As of this writing in December 2016 the price for this service is 45€ PP. A great value considering it costs almost 100€ to travel by taxi.
Train – Train travel in France is currently the most efficient mode of ground transportation. SNCF is the name of the country wide train system in France. To travel from Paris to Saint Jean pied du Port for instance you would use the TGV which is the high-speed line to Bayonne or Biarritz and then the local or regional train system called TER to get from Bayonne or Biarritz to SJPP.
Bus – Except for local bus’s France is really not know for country wide bus travel.
Airplane – It is often quicker and less expensive to fly from Paris to Biarritz as a way to get to Saint Jean pied du Port or Irun to start the Camino Frances or Camino del Norte. You can fly to Biarritz from many points in Europe.
Pickup and delivery Service There is a pick-up service available in Biarritz as well. Carolyn with Express Bourricot offers a service that picks you up at that airport or train station and delivers you and up to 6 people to Saint Jean pied du Port. Her service is very popular so if you plan on using it, it is advised that you book well in advance.
Bus Travel to and from Santiago de Compostela on the bus is rather easy. ALSA has one bus per day that travels in each direction. The trip takes approximately 8 hours in either direction from Santiago to Lisbon.
Train The train in Portugal is Cambios de Portugal Trains run very regularly and are easy to use. It takes about 3 hours to travel from Lisbon to Porto on the fast train.
How have you traveled in Spain, France or Portugal? Do you have any tips or suggestions to make travel easier that you could share?