By Car

A car offers the greatest flexibility, even if you're just doing day trips from Madrid. Don't plan to drive in Seville or Granada for city sightseeing; it's too congested. Rush hour is Monday through Saturday from 8 to 10am, 1 to 2pm, and 4 to 6pm. In reality, it's always busy.

Car Rentals -- Although several Spanish car-rental companies exist, we've gotten lots of letters from readers telling us they've had a hard time resolving billing irregularities and insurance claims, so you might want to stick with the U.S.-based rental firms.

Note that tax on car rentals is a whopping 15%, so don't forget to factor that into your travel budget. Usually, prepaid rates do not include taxes, which will be collected at the rental kiosk itself.

Avis (tel. 800/331-1084; www.avis.com) maintains about 100 branches throughout Spain, including a half-dozen in Seville. If you reserve and pay for your rental by telephone at least 2 weeks before your departure from North America, you'll qualify for the company's best rate, with unlimited kilometers included. You can usually get competitive rates from Hertz (tel. 800/654-3001; www.hertz.com) and Budget (tel. 800/472-3325; www.budget.com); it always pays to comparison shop. Budget doesn't have a drop-off charge if you pick up a car in one Spanish city and return it to another. All three companies require that drivers be at least 21 years of age and, in some cases, not older than 72. To be able to rent a car, you must have a passport and a valid driver's license; you must also have a valid credit card or a prepaid voucher. An international driver's license is not essential, but you might want to present it if you have one; it's available from any North American office of the American Automobile Association (AAA).

Kemwel (tel. 877/820-0668; www.kemwel.com) is an auto rental broker that accumulates into one database the availability of rental cars in markets across Europe, including Andalusia. Originally established in 1908, and now operating in close conjunction with its sister company, Auto Europe (tel. 800/223-5555; www.autoeurope.com), it offers convenient and prepaid access to thousands of cars, from a variety of reputable car-rental outfits throughout Europe. Car rentals are reserved and prepaid prior to your departure for Andalusia, thereby avoiding the confusion about unfavorable currency conversions and government tax add-ons. Most car rentals can be picked up at either the airport or in the downtown offices of cities throughout Spain, and there's usually no penalty for one-way rentals.

Many packages include airfare, accommodations, and a rental car with unlimited mileage. Compare these prices with the cost of booking airline tickets and renting a car separately to see if these offers are good deals.

Driving Rules -- Spaniards drive on the right side of the road. Drivers should pass on the left; local drivers sound their horns when passing another car and flash their lights at you if you're driving slowly (slowly for high-speed Spain) in the left lane. Autos coming from the right have the right of way.

Spain's express highways are known as autopistas, which charge a toll, and autovías, which don't. To exit in Spain, follow the salida (exit) sign, except in Catalonia, where the word to exit is sortida. On most express highways, the speed limit is 120kmph (75 mph). On other roads, speed limits range from 90kmph (56 mph) to 100kmph (62 mph). You will see many drivers far exceeding these limits.

The greatest number of accidents in Spain is recorded along the notorious Costa del Sol highway, the Carretera de Cádiz.

If you must drive through a Spanish city, try to avoid morning and evening rush hours. Never park your car facing oncoming traffic, as that is against the law. If you are fined by the highway patrol (Guardia Civil de Tráfico), you must pay on the spot. Penalties for drinking and driving are very stiff.

Breakdowns -- Have your car checked before setting out on a long trek through Andalusia. On a major motorway you'll find strategically placed emergency phone boxes. On secondary roads, call for help by asking the operator to locate the nearest Guardia Civil, which will put you in touch with a garage that can tow you to a repair shop.

As noted above, the Spanish affiliate of AAA can provide limited assistance in the event of a breakdown.

By Plane

Iberia is your best bet (tel. 800/772-4642). By European standards, domestic flights within Spain are relatively inexpensive, and flying between distant points sometimes makes sense.

If you plan to travel to a number of cities and regions, Iberia's "Visit Spain" ticket can be a good deal. Sold only in conjunction with a transatlantic ticket and valid for any airport within Spain and the Canary or Balearic islands, it requires that you choose up to four different cities in advance, in the order you'll visit them -- perhaps Seville, Cádiz, Granada, and Málaga. Restrictions forbid flying immediately back to the city of departure, instead encouraging far-flung visits to widely scattered regions of the peninsula. Only one change within the preset itinerary is permitted once the ticket is issued. The dates and departure times of the actual flights, however, can be determined or changed without penalty once you arrive in Spain. Consult the folks at Iberia if you're interested in a multi-stopover ticket and see what the best deal is at the time of your visit. Children 1 and under travel for 10% of the adult fare, and children 2 to 11 travel for 50% of the adult fare. The ticket is valid for up to 60 days after your initial transatlantic arrival in Spain.

By Train

Spain is crisscrossed with a comprehensive network of rail lines. Hundreds of trains depart every day for points around the country, including the fast TALGO and the newer, faster AVE trains, which reduced rail time between Madrid and Seville to only 2 1/2 hours. The latest copy of the "Thomas Cook European Timetable of Railroads" is available online at www.thomascooktimetables.com.

The most economical way to travel in Andalusia is on the Spanish State Railways (RENFE), the national railway of Spain. Most main long-distance connections are served with night express trains having first- and second-class seats as well as beds and bunks. There are also comfortable high-speed daytime trains of the TALGO, TER, and Electrotren types. There is a general fare for these trains; bunks, beds, and certain superior-quality trains cost extra. Nevertheless, the Spanish railway is one of the most economical in Europe.

Spanish Rail Passes -- RENFE, the national railway of Spain, offers several discounted rail passes. You must buy these passes in the United States prior to your departure. For more information, consult a travel agent or Rail Europe (tel. 877/272-RAIL [877/272-7245] in the U.S., or tel. 0870/837-1371 in the U.K.; www.raileurope.com). In Britain, tickets can be purchased through European Rail Travel (tel. 020/7387-0444; sales@europeanrail.com).

The Eurail Spain Pass is good for unlimited travel on Spain's national rail network. Passes are available from any 3 to 10 days within a 2-month period. Prices start at $279 (£140) for first class, plus $40 (£20) for each additional day. Second class starts at $215 (£108) with additional days costing $40 (£20). (Children 4-11 pay half fare on any of these discount passes.)

The Eurail Spain-Portugal Pass, good for both Spain and Portugal, offers 4 to 10 days unlimited first-class train travel in a 2-month period. Prices start at $319 (£160); add $40 (£20) for each additional day. Eurail Spain 'n Portugal Saverpass, again including both Spain and Portugal, offers any 3 to 10 days unlimited, first-class train travel in a 2-month period starting at $269 (£135), and $35 (£18) for each additional day.

The Eurail France-Spain Pass, good for both Spain and France, offers 4 to 10 days unlimited train travel in a 2-month period. First-class prices start at $379 (£190), plus $40 (£20) for each additional day, while second-class rates are $329 (£165), plus $35 (£18) per extra day.

Eurailpass -- The Eurailpass permits unlimited first-class rail travel in any country in western Europe except the British Isles (good in Ireland). Passes are available for purchase online (www.eurail.com) and at various offices/agents around the world. Travel agents and railway agents in such cities as New York, Montreal, and Los Angeles sell Eurailpasses. You can purchase them at the North American offices of CIT Travel Service, the French National Railroads, the German Federal Railroads, and the Swiss Federal Railways. It is strongly recommended that you purchase passes before you leave home as not all passes are available in Europe; also, passes purchased in Europe will cost about 20% more.

The Eurail Global Pass allows you unlimited travel in 20 Eurail-affiliated countries. You can travel on any of the days within the validity period that is available for 15 days, 21 days, 1 month, 2 months, 3 months, and some other possibilities as well. Prices for first-class adult travel are $745 for 15 days, $965 for 21 days, $1,199 for 1 month, $1,695 for 2 months, and $2,089 for 3 months. Children 4 to 11 pay half fare; those 3 and under travel for free.

A Eurail Global Pass Saver, also valid for first-class travel in 20 countries, offers a special deal for two or more people traveling together. This pass costs $629 for 15 days, $819 for 21 days, $1,019 for 1 month, $1,439 for 2 months, and $1,785 for 3 months.

A Eurail Global Youth Pass for those 12 to 25 allows second-class travel in 18 countries. This pass costs $485 for 15 days, $625 for 21 days, $779 for 1 month, $1,099 for 2 months, and $1,359 for 3 months.

The Eurail Select Pass offers unlimited travel on the national rail networks of any 3, 4, or 5 bordering countries out of the 22 Eurail nations linked by train or ship. Two or more passengers can travel together for big discounts, getting 5, 6, 8, 10, or 15 days of rail travel within any 2-month period on the national rail networks of any three, four, or five adjoining Eurail countries linked by train or ship. A sample fare: For 5 days in 2 months you pay $469 for three countries. Eurail Select Pass Youth, for travelers under 26, allows second-class travel within the same guidelines as Eurail Selectpass, with fees starting at $305. Eurail Select Pass Saver offers discounts for two or more people traveling together, first-class travel within the same guidelines as Eurail Selectpass, with fees starting at $399.

Where to Buy Rail Passes -- Travel agents in all towns and railway agents in major North American cities sell all these tickets, but the biggest supplier is Rail Europe (tel. 877/272-RAIL [877/272-7245]; www.raileurope.com), which can also give you informational brochures.

Many different rail passes are available in the United Kingdom for travel in Britain and continental Europe. Stop in at the International Rail Centre, Victoria Station, London SWIV 1JY (tel. 0870/5848-848 in the U.K.). Some of the most popular passes, including InterRail and Euro Youth, are offered only to travelers 25 and under; these allow unlimited second-class travel through most European countries.

By Bus

Bus service in southern Spain is extensive, low priced, and comfortable for short distances. You'll rarely encounter a bus terminal: the station might be a cafe, a bar, the street in front of a hotel, or simply an intersection.

A bus may be the cheapest mode of transportation, but it's not really the best option for distances of more than 161km (100 miles). On long hauls, buses are often uncomfortable. Another major drawback is the lack of toilet facilities, although rest stops are frequent. It's best for 1-day excursions outside a major tourist center such as Seville. In the rural areas of the country, bus networks are more extensive than the railway system; they go virtually everywhere, connecting every village. In general, a bus ride between two major cities in Spain, such as from Córdoba to Seville, is about two-thirds the price of a train ride and a few hours faster. For bus information, contact ALSA (tel. 91-327-05-40; www.alsa.es).

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.