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Train vs. Bus

by coriejim Online Now Feb 6, 2013 at 1:12 PM

Hello,

My wife and I will be traveling in Spain and Portugal May and June 2013. We are both 62 and are wondering what mode of transportation is the most economical..train vs. bus to travel from place to place. Time isn't as important as cost. I have been told there may be senior discounts and if we travel by train we need to buy our pass here in Canada..before we leave. Any suggestions on travel options?
Jim and Corie

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14 Answers
  • cgf's Profile Photo

    Re: Train vs. Bus

    by cgf Online Now Feb 6, 2013 at 1:34 PM

    Usually bus is cheaper then train, anyway for 'long distance' there are also some low-cost flights
    ie barcellona->porto with ryanair.

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  • gwened's Profile Photo

    Re: Train vs. Bus

    by gwened Online Now Feb 6, 2013 at 1:47 PM

    bus is nicer, closer to city,see more, you can show proof of age and can get senior discount if over 60. it depends on trains if you use the AVE fast speed trains it is advisable tobook inadvance but not necessary, for all other trains you can buy on site.

    the trains of Spain
    www.renfe.es
    trains of Portugal
    www.cp.pt

    buses are many but central system in Spain is
    www.movelia.es
    portugal
    http://www.rede-expressos.pt/

    hope it helps

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  • kenHuocj's Profile Photo

    Re: Train vs. Bus

    by kenHuocj Online Now Feb 6, 2013 at 2:07 PM

    use both for the experience and for comparing.

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  • mccalpin's Profile Photo

    Re: Train vs. Bus

    by mccalpin Online Now Feb 6, 2013 at 2:38 PM

    "we need to buy our pass here in Canada"

    If you are talking about the Eurailpass, yes, you normally have to buy it before you get to Europe. However, note that Eurailpasses are no longer the bargain they used to be.

    First, there are many trains (such as the AVE) that require reservations. Even with a pass, you have to go to the station and make the reservation and then pay a small supplement (varies from country to country)...this removes some of the freedom that people associate with the pass, i.e., you could just go and hop on any train you want.

    Second, there are still "regional" trains that you can just hop on, but the problem is that regional train fares tend to be cheap. In fact, in Italy, it is virtually impossible to build a reasonable itinerary in which the pass would be cheaper than just buying tickets there.

    Eurailpasses are no longer all that cheap and no longer all that convenient.

    Unfortunately, the only way to know what to do is to use the two websites listed above (these are the national rail websites for Spain and Portugal) - DON'T use the prices at the Eurail website as they are inflated and not all trains are listed anyway - and try out an itinerary. I have done this repeatedly for Italy, and the pass is never cheaper for a reasonable itinerary...and I am guessing that the same will be true in Spain and Portugal, but since I haven't done the exercise myself...

    Bill

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  • hundwalder's Profile Photo

    Re: Train vs. Bus

    by hundwalder Online Now Feb 6, 2013 at 3:54 PM

    If you are going from Barcelona to Madrid, or from Madrid to most other popular destinations, most of the countryside is arid and rather boring to most people. In these cases you should seriously consider a high speed or "bullet" train. If the distance is great, you might even consider an overnight trip with a bed (transportation and accommodations for one price). As others have said, also check budget airlines for such legs.

    If you are travelling from a large city to a small town, or between small towns, a bus ride would be your best option and sometimes your only option. Bus travel along the Algarve of Portugal or southern coastal region of Spain for sure (air conditioned for June travel. Learn some Spanish and Portuguese for bus travel.

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  • hundwalder's Profile Photo

    Re: Train vs. Bus

    by hundwalder Online Now Feb 6, 2013 at 3:59 PM

    Folks, it has been a long time since I answered a travel forum question, so don't be too hard on old hund here.

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  • Redang's Profile Photo

    Re: Train vs. Bus

    by Redang Online Now Feb 6, 2013 at 10:44 PM

    - If you want to take the train in Spain, this is the link: www.renfe.com/EN/viajeros/index.html

    - For discounts offered by Renfe: www.renfe.com/EN/viajeros/tarifas/index.html; as you can see, there are many possibilities.

    - Booking in advance, you can buy, always thorough www.renfe.com/EN/viajeros/index.html, Web price or estrella price, excellent discounts.

    - For people older than 60, there is a card called Tarjeta Dorada (Golden Card): renfe.com/EN/viajeros/tarifa...

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  • mccalpin's Profile Photo

    Re: Train vs. Bus

    by mccalpin Online Now Feb 7, 2013 at 12:54 PM

    That's a nice note on the Spainpass...the pass (without any other discounts - I don't know if any senior discounts apply with it) figures to be about 35 to 41 euro per trip (depending on how many trips you buy), so a prudent traveler would lay out an itinerary and price it, to see if he/she is planning on a number of trips that will cost a lot more, especially after any discounts.

    It is a nice feature that unlike the Eurailpass, the Spainpass doesn't charge you for reserving seats. On the AVE trains, for example, the reservation fee for a Eurailpass holder on a 2nd class seat is 10 euro, and is as much as 38 euro(!) for the highest class. (eurail.com/plan-your-trip/tr...

    P.S. it looks like you can buy the Spainpass while in Spain - "It can be purchased on Internet and at authorized travel agencies and stations. " (renfe.com/EN/viajeros/viajes... Hmpf, I wonder how they really know that you're not a resident of Spain if they don't mail something to you out of the country to your home address...I wonder how they determine non-citizens who are also residents...

    Bill

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  • WomBatt's Profile Photo

    Re: Train vs. Bus

    by WomBatt Online Now Feb 8, 2013 at 1:27 AM

    I have not read any of the replies so - ' what mode of transportation is the most economical..train vs. bus to travel from place to place.' - without knowing where you go or itinerary, both will very likely have a place plus taxis and flights. I will be surprised if weighing two hours on a train against six on a bus for a difference of a few €uro and losing a day would be the way you would go. Publish an itinerary, tuned or not, to have more accuracy.

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  • WomBatt's Profile Photo

    Re: Train vs. Bus

    by WomBatt Online Now Feb 8, 2013 at 1:29 AM

    .....and think long and hard on any (likely foolish) purchase of any rail pass if money matters.

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  • Roadquill's Profile Photo

    Re: Train vs. Bus

    by Roadquill Online Now Feb 8, 2013 at 1:42 AM

    As a general rule, traveling by bus in Spain is far less expensive than by train. And sometimes far more direct. It sounds like you have a long time frame to work with which is awesome. I would set down a home base in say 5-6 areas.. Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Andalucia, San Sebastian, Galicia. Explore that city/region, and then do day trips like Madrid to Toledo or El Escorial. Barcelona to Montserrat. Sevilla to Ronda or Cordoba. Getting to the home base city my be less expensive with a low cost air carrier like Vueling for example between Sevilla and Valencia. Also note that some of the bus stations like the one in Granada are way the heck out in the suburbs, so you need to take another bus to get into town. I think you already got enough advice about not buying a pass in Canada. Enjoy your planning. Karl

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  • Re: Train vs. Bus

    by WineBuffTraveller Online Now Feb 11, 2013 at 5:57 AM

    Trains are civilised, motorway buses the downmarket alternative.

    But Spanish railways (Renfe) fares work like air fares, with cheap budget train fares called Promo and Promo+ if you pre-book.

    So for example, Madrid to Seville might cost as little as €22 with a Promo fare pre-booked at www.renfe.com (or, if you have any payment problems, www.petrabax.com/renfe).

    So in this case, for example, you'd get a 2.5 hour high-speed train ride at up to 186 mph for little more than the cost of the nightmare journey on an ugly motorway on a 55 mph bus!

    The cheapest Promo fares blow railpasses out of the water, they just mean no refunds, no changes, as you'd expect.

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  • gwened's Profile Photo

    Re: Train vs. Bus

    by gwened Online Now Feb 11, 2013 at 7:12 AM

    let the original poster make their decision, however promo fares are restricted in time, while a bus will allow to go around at leisure and see more of the city up close with better scheduling.

    Now its decision time lol!!!

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  • mccalpin's Profile Photo

    Re: Train vs. Bus

    by mccalpin Online Now Feb 11, 2013 at 8:43 AM

    It looks like the above longtime VT account has been hacked...inappropriate postings reported...

    Bill

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