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Bus and train tickets

My trip to Spain is currently October 10-24. My itinerary currently is:
Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday nights in Granada,
Wed and Thurs nights in Cordoba,
Fri, Sat, and Sunday nights in Seville,
Monday night in Toledo,
Tuesday, Wed, Thurs, and Friday nights in Madrid.

My preference would be to avoid renting a car. I am a solo man traveler. I have never rented a car on past trips to other parts of Europe.

How far in advance do you think bus or train tickets have to be purchased? The Renfe website doesn’t work now. The site shows the message: You don't have permission to access /.noindex.html on this server. Google maps doesn’t show options for public transportation. It shows the message: Public transport services may be impacted due to COVID-19.

Is there a certain date that, if I can’t or don’t buy my bus or train tickets by that date, I should just give up trying to buy tickets and conclude my trip is not happening?

Posted by
3226 posts

I went to the website and it worked fine. Normally, you should be able to purchase tickets. 2-3 months in advance, but Renfe doesn’t seem to update the entire schedule at the same time. Rather, some new route schedules will be posted, while you may need to wait an additional week or so for other schedules to be posted. Patience is the name of the game. Others on this forum have used the trains and busses more than I, so will be able to provide a more in-depth response. With the spike in COVID cases here, and with the EU not allowing tourists from the U.S. anytime soon, I wouldn’t purchase any non-refundable ticket. If you’ve been following COVID cases in Spain, new cases are increasing in Andalucia, Aragon, and Catalonia with some counties going back into lock-down. The overall rate throughout the country is fairly steady, but there are increasing local outbreaks.

Posted by
18923 posts

It looks OK to me, too: However, they are redesigning it, so it wouldn't be surprising to have issues from time to time.

Except for the Madrid-Toledo and Toledo-Madrid legs, buying rail tickets early is likely to save you money. The advance-purchase/non-refundable tickets are much cheaper than the full-fare tickets, and they usually sell out well in advance of the travel date. However, if you buy tickets now and cannot go to Spain (which I think is highly likely to happen), I doubt that you'll be able to get those tickets refunded. After all, Europeans can travel to Spain, so it's not like the country is totally shut down. Personally, I'd wait.

However, it is true that Spanish trains do sometimes sell out. I assume they are running fewer trains now, and I do not know how supply and demand are balanced right now, much less what the situation will be like in October.

I've seen some early-purchase discounts for buses, too, but I don't think those price reductions are as large as those on train tickets, and buses are generally cheaper to begin with. I once tried to buy a bus ticket a few hours before departure and found that particular bus sold out, but it only happened once and I have no idea how common that is.

Posted by
7492 posts

It looks OK to me, too:

Just tried it and got the 'forbidden' response Tried Safari and Firefox--no joy

To those that got through, what did you use?


However, they are redesigning it, so it wouldn't be surprising to have issues from time to time.

That seems to be true, as now I was able to reach the site

Posted by
3789 posts

I also question your locations. Please check and update.
I did similar 2017 Oct 27- Nov 17.
I went Granada-Sevilla-Cordoba-Toledo-Madrid.
I would question whether Cordoba needs 3 nights.
At the time, the train was not running Granada to Sevilla so I booked bus the week before I left for Spain. I checked, and the same for the trains....only Oct 25th. ..except for the Madrid to Barcelona leg which I booked in July. Unfortunately, that was also the year of the Catalan elections and zi never went to Barcelona, so lost that ticket fare.
Know you have to buy Cordoba to Madrid then a Madrid to Toledo train ticket as no trai goes Cordoba to Toledo.
Most of these are short jaunts and don't save a lot buying too far ahead.
If you are 60, you can get a discount card once in Spain from any station.
Both train and bus are very comfortable.

Posted by
18923 posts

I used Chrome to access the Renfe website.

I think 3 nights is fine for Cordoba. There's lots to see there.

Posted by
657 posts

Thanks for your input. I will only buy refundable tickets. Part of my brain feels stupid for continuing planning this trip; part of my brain feels like I am doing something terribly wrong, but I bought my plane tickets early this year before the pandemic got serious, before the boarders were closed. Conditions might improve. I do realize that if I became sick between on the plane or anytime on my trip, my trip is ruined. I did switch my logging places from hostels to apartments and hotel rooms. I will be charged for my studio-sized apartment rental in Granada, on September 27th, unless I cancel before that date. I figure that on September 25th, if American tourists still can't enter Spain and/or if conditions have not been good enough for the last 3 weeks, I will cancel everything I can and reschedule my trip for a future date.

Posted by
3789 posts

To be honest, for one person, I wouldn't buy bus or train tickets until your September decision day.
You may want to do a.Google search, or ask on TripAdvisor when Renfe loads tickets for your dates....and their opinion of how far ahead to book transport tickets.

Posted by
6842 posts

Too early to buy bus train tickets given the uncertainty.
I would also wait until September.
The only thing i would buy this early is entrance to the Alhambra if available.

Posted by
18923 posts

Good point; the Alhambra ticket is not something to leave until the last minute. We have no way of knowing how many tickets they'll be selling for each time slot this fall; I think they'll have to cut the quantity substantially because the crowding I experienced last April would be considered unsafe today, though it was still possible to enjoy the complex.

If you end up eating the cost of the ticket, it's not all that much money (from memory, about 14 euros).

Posted by
3789 posts

Mike, you have mentioned this twice. What is the relevance? If you want to know routes and options, have you looked at Rome2Rio website, or the actual Renfe and Alsa (bus) sites.....but due to covid, nothing is currently normal and you can't assume what will work in October is anywhere ehat is happening now.
This is not the time to plan too far ahead. Let the country have some weeks as an accessible cou try and check late August for travel planning.
But as mentioned, do keep an eye on the Alhambra tickets. They might actually have all of October for sale now.

Posted by
18923 posts

October Alhambra tickets are on sale. In fact, you can currently buy tickets for December, so they are selling a lot farther in advance than usual. It's worth taking a careful look at the website to see what current conditions are like. For example, I see that they aren't renting audio guides at the moment, so you'll either want to do a lot of pre-visit research or buy a guide book once you get to Granada. The no-audio-guide situation would make me less likely to plan an extra visit at night. I enjoyed my nighttime visit, but I wouldn't have been able to consult printed materials to figure out what I was seeing.

Posted by
3789 posts

For what it is worth, I did the night visit without the audio guide, but I did read avout it first, and had the audio guide the next day. For me the night visit was atmospheric rather than educational. And do I recall there are some plaques in the rooms? I think there are and I read those as well.