How to I get to a Spanish castle hotel?
It’s possible to get just about anywhere in Spain using public transportation. With a few exceptions, castle hotels are located in or near towns, allowing those travelers without a car the opportunity to stay in them. Each hotel listing has additional information.
The Spanish national train system is known as RENFE. Their service connects to most middle-size Spanish towns.
Train travel in Spain has improved immensely in the last several years. At the top of the class is the AVE, a high-speed train that connects Madrid and Sevilla in less than three hours. A link between Madrid and Barcelona is coming soon. Next, the TALGO is almost as fast and as expensive, but it reaches more cities. Intercity, Rápido, Tranvía, Semidirecto, and Expreso trains are slower in that order. When buying tickets, it is often more convenient and less confusing to buy them at the RENFE office found in most cities. Round-trip fares are discounted 20%, on regional trains 10%.
Rail passes are a good option for those who plan on taking a couple of long distances trips, for example from Barcelona to Madrid, Sevilla, or Santiago de Compostela. A Flexipass offers any 3 days in 2 months, with a reasonable per day charge of extra rail days. There are also Rail & Drive Pass programs, allowing 3 rails days and 2 car days within two months. Rail passes can include Portugal and Spain or France and Spain.
Although comfortable, overnight trains tend to be expensive.
Madrid and Barcelona have more than one train station, be sure to double check which station you’re arriving to or departing from.
Bus travel is cheaper than the train and service is more extensive. If there is a small village you wish to visit, a bus will take you there.
In Spain, a number of private bus companies provide service. The company ALSA covers long-distance routes. Their buses are modern, very comfortable, stop frequently, have bathrooms, and show movies with earphones. Smoking is forbidden.
Large towns and cities have a separate bus depot (the tourist office or hotel can give you directions) where each bus company is represented. Go up to the respective window for tickets. On short runs, buy your ticket from the driver. In small towns, there will just be a bus stop. Usually, the schedule is listed at the stop.
Weekend service can be limited.
Driving in Spain is a real pleasure. Even the major cities aren’t bad to drive in compared to their European counterparts. Parking can be problematic, but underground parking structures usually have space. Roads are very good, and during siesta, you might be the only car around. Truck traffic always exists, and during holiday seasons, major highways can be congested. The autopista, or toll road, that runs through Cataluña is very expensive. However, unlike some European countries the cost of gas is not stratospheric.
Don’t drink that tempting glass of tinto (red wine) at lunch and get back in your car and scream down the highway. The blood alcohol limit in Spain is .05%. If caught, you will be fined a serious amount of money on the spot and possibly have your vehicle impounded.
The most important piece of advice anyone can offer you about driving in Spain is to never, ever, leave anything in the car while parked. Suitcases in the trunk will be stolen; sunglasses on the seat will be stolen—everything will be stolen. Only park in guarded, secure lots. Many of the paradors have free parking lots outside the castle; heed the signs that say to bring in all your belongings.