Let’s be clear: my destinations were amazing and I do recommend you to check them out if you’re thinking about going in Spain soon.
BUT… My route between the cities wasn’t the best ever. In fact, having to figure out how to get everywhere everytime without involving 3 changes of bus and hours standing in between was difficult, if not painful.
Exactly 14% of my expenses in Spain were for the transportation. While getting from one place to another obviously includes cost, having a kick-ass itinerary which doesn’t include you going back to the same places everytime is a major improvement. And, well, that’s the part that I forgot about…
When I first decided where I would like to go, which cities I wanted to visit or to have a look at, I didn’t pay attention at the transportation, its cost or the possibilities. I just looked at the map and realised that the cities were all linked to each other by highways, and that, obviously, buses would go around every day. Which, you probably guessed, is not what happened.
I went to Málaga, Granada, Córdoba, Ronda, Marbella and Sevilla. The first transport was easy, buses from Málaga to Granada are really common, so no troubles. Then, from Granada to Córdoba, I had to take a 2h30 bus which is no problem, except that I discovered the day before that I didn’t feel well on buses in Spain. I felt sick and my focus was on not throwing up on my lap while the landscapes passed by.
Then, the troubles started. From Córdoba to Ronda, the only option is to take the train, but it’s really expensive. I paid 23.45€ for a one-way ticket, which cut out my budget.
From Ronda, I decided to go to Marbella. I really wanted to do a day trip to Gibraltar, and Marbella seemed to be the cheapest and the easiest way to do so. I couldn’t be more wrong. I had two choices of bus: 1) Take a bus to go back to Málaga to take another bus to Marbella or 2) take a bus to Algésiras and another one to Marbella.
Basically, if I chose the first option, I would go back to Málaga before heading to my final destination, and the second option had me hopping in a city really close to Gibraltar before going to Marbella. So why not crossing the border right at this moment then? Instead of heading directly to Marbella. Well, if I did so, I would have spent only 3 hours in Gibraltar because of the bus schedules… Definitely not my intention.
Finally, the biggest joke of all was going from Marbella to Sevilla. Again, two options were available this time and both of them included me going back to a destination I’ve already been to: Córdoba or Algésiras. The first option had me taken a bus to go back to Málaga and Córdoba before reaching Sevilla. Really?! Going back to two of the cities I’ve already hit? The other choice was again to go to Algésiras which is really close to the border of Gibraltar and then to take a bus to Sevilla.
I decided to cram my day trip to Gibraltar on my way from Marbella to Sevilla which is totally dumb because I stayed two nights in Marbella just so I could go to Gibraltar from there… Skipping Marbella could have been an option because I could have done the same trip from Ronda – day trip to Gibraltar – and head to Sevilla after that. I wasted my money in the luxurious Marbella to achieve what could have done differently. Sigh…
Honestly, I am not sure if renting a car would have been less pricey, but it would definitely have improved my itinerary as I could have drive easily from one city to another without going back to the same places everytime.
I didn’t look at the transportation possibilities before booking my hostels and this was a mistake, I should have. I spent so much money on buses that were unnecessary that it had me banging my head against the wall, crying for all the pastries and sweet cafés that I couldn’t try because, well I was broke by that time.
Fortunately for me, blablacar saved my ass! I had never tried carpooling before coming in Spain, so this was a first experience for me and I loved it! Communication was more difficult than expected because my spanish level isn’t the best and their english wasn’t either, but we still managed to chat a little and I learned so much more. It was cheaper too. Plus, having some company while traveling is always nice.
Considering my poor judgement to have a look at transportation before booking hostels, I will probably opt to rent a car next time I come in Spain. Honestly, I think it will be cheaper this way, faster, and I will be able to take stunning routes instead of only highways. Plus, having a car lets you the freedom to stop whenever you want to snap some photos of the amazing landscapes surrounding you. And that includes heading to nearby towns, where no buses can take you there.
Next time, I will rent a car so that I can cram more stops on my way which I couldn’t do this time because it would have been to expensive to do so by bus or train. I would have loved to go to Júzcar which is close to Ronda but I couldn’t, Cádiz on my way to Sevilla, Jaén from Granada to Córdoba or doing a day trip from Málaga to El Caminito Del Rey. These are some of the places that I missed on my trip in Spain because of the bus timetable and the cost. This is a mistake that I won’t repeat twice. Lesson learned.
For a budget-friendly option, subscribing to blablacar is something that I keep in mind. Wherever you go, sharing the cost between passengers is always cheaper and it’s more pleasant if you’re riding alone to have some company. Plus, carpooling is better for the environment. And if there are travelers who like me didn’t think twice about their transportation, that could save their ass like it saved mine. It’s a win-win possibility.
I really enjoyed my time in Spain and I spent a wonderful month there. I am planning to return as soon as I can to visit the cities that I missed on this trip. Renting a car is definitely an option that I keep in mind and having a look at the transportation before booking my accomodation is a lesson that I won’t forget so soon.