From North America -- Flights from the U.S. East Coast to Spain take 6 to 7 hours. Spain’s national carrier, Iberia Airlines ([tel] 800-772-4642; www.iberia.com), has more routes into and within Spain than any other airline. It offers daily nonstop service to Madrid from New York all year, and from Chicago, Boston, and Miami seasonally. Iberia flights are often codeshares with American Airlines ([tel] 800-433-7300; www.aa.com), which offers daily nonstop service to Madrid from New York (JFK) and from Miami. Following completion of the U.S. Airways merger, it may offer nonstops from Philadelphia as well.
Iberia’s main Spain-based competitor is Air Europa ([tel] 011-34-90-240-15-01; www.aireuropa.com), which offers nonstop service from New York to Madrid and seasonal nonstop flights from Miami to Madrid. Air Europe makes connections from other U.S. cities through its codeshare partner Delta ([tel] 800-221-1212; www.delta.com), which runs daily nonstop service from Atlanta to both Madrid and Barcelona. Direct flights to Madrid depart 5 days a week from New York (JFK). Delta’s Dream Vacation department offers independent fly/drive packages, land packages, and escorted bus tours.
From the U.K. and Ireland -- The airfare market from the U.K. and Ireland is highly volatile. British Airways ([tel] 0844-493-0787, or 800-247-9297 in the U.S.; www.britishairways.com) and Iberia ([tel] 0870-609-0500 in London; www.iberia.com) are the two major carriers flying between England and Spain. More than a dozen daily flights, on either British Airways or Iberia, depart from London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports. There are about seven flights a day from London to Madrid and back, and at least six to Barcelona. The Midlands is served by flights from Manchester and Birmingham, two major airports that can also be used by Scottish travelers flying to Spain.
Vueling ([tel]+44-906-7547-541; www.vueling.com) offers bargain flights between London Gatwick and several points in Spain. EasyJet (www.easyjet.com) flies from several U.K. airports to Madrid, Barcelona, Málaga, and the Balearic Islands. RyanAir (www.ryanair.com) flies to Madrid, Barcelona, Girona, Valencia, Sevilla, and Málaga from London Stansted, Dublin, and Shannon.
Highway approaches to Spain are across France on expressways. The most popular border crossing is near Biarritz, but there are 17 other border stations between Spain and France. If you plan to visit the north or west of Spain (Galicia), the Hendaye-Irún border is the most convenient frontier crossing. If you’re going to Barcelona or Catalunya and along the Levante coast (Valencia), take the expressway in France to Toulouse, then the A-61 to Narbonne, and then the A-9 toward the border crossing at La Junquera. You can also take the RN-20, with a border station at Puigcerdà.
If you’re already in Europe, you might want to go to Spain by train, especially if you have a Eurailpass. Even without a pass, you’ll find that the cost of a train ticket is relatively moderate. Rail passengers who visit from Britain or France should reserve couchettes and sleepers far in advance.
For long journeys on Spanish rails, seat reservations are mandatory. For more information call [tel] 91-631-38-00, or visit www.renfe.com. Fast and comfortable high-speed trains have superseded most other rail travel in Spain. Both first- and second-class fares are sold on Spanish trains. The Spain Rail Pass (see below) is often a practical option if you’re traveling largely by rail.
To go from London to Spain by rail, you’ll need to transfer stations in Paris to board an express train to Spain.
Bus travel to Spain is possible but not popular—it’s quite slow. (Service from London will take 24 hours or more.) But coach services do operate regularly from major capitals of Western Europe and, once they’re in Spain, usually head for Madrid or Barcelona. The major bus line from London to Spain is Eurolines Limited ([tel] 0871-781-8181; www.nationalexpress.com).