We’ve just started our 8-hour bus ride to Madrid and, until opening my computer, I’ve been enjoying the scenery of Andalucía. Arid farmland with white windmills in the background, a shepard with his enormous flock of black and white sheep, a small, whitewashed village with a castle in the center—it looks so tiny from afar.
But let’s be honest. 8 hours from Cadiz to Madrid sounds crazy, right? The high-speed train (AVE) makes it in 4 hours and a cheap Ryanair flight from the nearby Jerez Airport is only an hour-long journey. So why take the bus? Let me explain…
Without a doubt, the bus is the cheapest way to get from Cadiz or Seville to Madrid. It costs 45€ for a round trip ticket from El Puerto de Santa María and costs even less from Seville (36€ if I remember correctly). The train, if you buy in advance, offers the lowest price of 84€ roundtrip from El Puerto and 66€ round trip from Seville. Essentially, the cheapest train ticket (tarifa estrella) still costs double what the bus does. Finally, you might be thinking about finding a cheap flight. Ryanair flies from Jerez to Madrid in under an hour and often has specials. (Editor’s note: This flight has since been canceled.) But even if the ticket price is 0.00€ each way (which Ryanair sometimes offers) after taxes, service fees, etc. it still ends up being equal to or more than the bus and with an important distinction—you can’t check any bags!
If you can be flexible with your travel date and time you should have no problem finding a virtually empty bus. This is a priceless situation. It means you can spread out over two comfortable seats and leave your personal items on another. You’ll have lots of space and be able to sleep without a problem.
The best option for traveling with lots of luggage is definitely the bus. Although each company has their own limits, I’ve never actually seen them enforced. This was the main reason we chose to take the bus to Madrid this time—we’re moving with over 5 large suitcases and 10 bags in total! We had no problem getting them on the bus; the driver even wanted to help us! Remember that in the train you’ll have to find a spot for your suitcases yourself and that extra large bags can’t be accommodated. And as for flying, at 40€ (or more) per checked bag (and within a weight requirement) our trip would have cost nearly as much as going to the US!
Ok, this is hit or miss, but many bus companies are starting to offer free wifi on their buses. In Madrid the public buses already offer it, and I’ve had it once on socibus in the past month. I’m hoping that they continue to improve this service because being able to work and read on the internet while traveling makes the time fly by!
Although stopping mid-trip adds about 20 minutes to the journey, it is always nice to stretch your legs, use a clean restroom, and have a coffee at one of the Abades rest stops. These are large rest stops that are always impeccably clean and usually have tables inside and outside with a pretty view of the countryside. Warning– the food is overpriced so bring your bocadillo from home!
Convinced yet? I realize the bus isn’t for everyone, but it’s definitely worth a shot– especially if you’re on a budget or have to travel with a lot of luggage. Do you have any Spanish bus stories to share?
For more information: The bus company that goes from Cadiz and Seville to Madrid is called Socibus/Secorbus. It’s website can be found here.