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bus vs train for San Sebastian to Madrid.

Travel Forums Europe bus vs train for San Sebastian to Madrid.

Last Post This thread is marked as being about Spain
1. Posted by laurim (Respected Member 260 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

I am going to Spain in June on a budget so I'm taking advantage of advance web prices for trains. Rail Europe won't let me buy a ticket for San Sebastian to Madrid; someone suggested there might be a planned strike during the time I want to go so the seats may or may not become available. Another option is the bus and I can buy that ticket now. Similar travel time but cheaper.

Does anyone have any experience with riding the bus for 5-5.5 hrs? I hear they don't have a restroom but they try to stop every 3-4 hrs. Just curious what a Spanish bus is like compared to the dirty Greyhound bus I rode in in the US ;)

2. Posted by Adavant (Budding Member 31 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!


All of the long haul buses have bathrooms, plus the buses stop at giant roadside cafeteria's for a break. Riding a bus in Spain for 5 hours is a piece of cake..there is usually a movie, but make sure you bring an mp3 player or something.. Travel light is another good thing to do.. The buses in Spain are spotless, each bus driver is responsible for the appearance of his bus.. so have no fear..

I checked the Renfe site for the route, and it is not letting me purchase it either.. it says Trains Blocked. It could be because it is high season or because you must purchase closer to the date..if you go to the Renfe site, click on English if needed, and then on the tab that says Purchase with the shopping cart's big and in the middle of the page. They are blocked from the 16 jun -end of August at the moment.. My guess it's because it's high season, consider the bus, it's fast, efficient, comfortable and always on time..

If you really want to see Spain, consider doing the Camino de Santiago, accommodation on the trail is only 5 euros a night.. you will see a Spain most seldom seen, and you will have the time of your life.. Google Camino de Santiago.. I did it twice it was brilliant.

Good luck! M

3. Posted by LittleHote (Inactive 78 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

I've never seen a bathroom on a bus (wouldn't the water spill out of the bath? ) but they all have a toilet.

In my experience Spanish long-distance buses are clean, modern, safe and efficient. And amazingly cheap. On a journey of that distance there will probably be one half-hour stop mid-way. It's usually in a bus station with a shop and cafeteria. You can go for a stroll, but make sure you get back in time.

Highly recommended mode of travel.

4. Posted by WomBatt (Full Member 133 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

This is the bus company for your San Sebastian to Madrid -

One and all - 'Train Blocked' - Train schedules and prices all over Europe MAY be changed based on the first or second Sunday in June. You may see all, part or none at all of the scheduled journeys for any route after this date. RENFE are usually one of the last companies to fully complete. Monitor to suit yourself.

Also note, a web purchase discount of train ticket could bring the cost to less than the bus fare.

5. Posted by laurim (Respected Member 260 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

Thanks, all! Good to hear the bus is a viable option. I had tried to use Renfe to buy tickets but it refused to take my American credit cards despite the fact that I made sure one had Visa Verified and called both the bank and Visa to make sure they weren't blocking the transaction. Luckily, Rail Europe-World had the same web discount price for my Madrid to Barcelona AVE trip, even with the 4 euro fee, so I was able to buy it from there. Now I have to decide whether to buy the bus ticket now or wait until very close to the date to see if the train opens up and potentially lose any advance purchase discount. According to Rail Europe, the train ticket (if I could get it) is now 52e and the bus is about 33e (Supra+ for 48e). I may just do the bus :)