Madrid to Alicante – The easy way
The author has had to make a series of trips between Madrid and Alicante recently and after having done the trip in the car and suffered with the tailbacks on the motorways full of holiday traffic decided it was time to find a better alternative. After all the sunny days in Spain are great…. only if you’re not cooking in your car!
The Madrid to Alicante guide on the information site lists the different methods of travel between the cities: Car, bus, train and plane however having been stuck in a car there was no way the author would change that for a bus so Rail or air were the only options available.
Costs were around the 70€ mark seeing as the cheap tickets had already gone by the time one started looking. In actual fact it was suprising to see just how full the trains were due to the start of the Spanish childrens holidays. I guess thats what happens when you leave things until the last minute! Another suprise was the fact that what is normally a 3 hour train journey was being shown as almost 4 hours. A little bit of digging around and it was discovered that this is due to the construction of a parrallel high speed rail line causing restrictions on the existing line.
Ok, 70€ isn’t an expensive fare, 4 hours however is about the same travel time as in the car from door to door though. Once you’ve added in the time from home to Madrids Atocha or Chamartin train stations plus the travelling to the destination in Alicante the travel time rapidly approaches the 6 hour mark!!! Not what one was looking for! It is of course different if you are travelling city center to city center.
Normally one wouldn’t have even considered flying but noticing that Ryanair now fly the route ones curiosity was stirred as to their possibility as an alternative travel option. Before I go on I want to make it clear that Ryanair are not everyones cup of tea due to:
- No flexibility with travel changes
- Charges for checked baggage
- a miserly 10kg (22lb) cabin baggage allowance
- Continuous sales pitches in flight
What they are however famed for are their rediculously low fares. So, buyer beware but if you can travel light and are thick skinned enough to ignore the sales pitch then you’ll be fine. Personally I recommend a good book!
As you can probably guess by now one ended up flying between Madrid and Alicante and for the stunning price of 33€ return travelling out on the Friday afternoon and back on the Sunday evening. Cost wise it couldn’t be beat! The other airlines operating the route had fares in excess of €120 so one “paid ones money and took ones chance” as the saying goes.
A word of caution for visitors from the USA about European skies in the summer: Air traffic control is about as effective as that in the NE corridor between Boston and New York when a winter storm blows in! Thats to say; its congested, and delays of between 20 minutes and an hour on the majority of departures are par for the course between 0700 and 2100.
Getting to Madrids Barajas airport was easy via the Metro and took no more than 20 minutes. Almost as long as it took to get from the airports metro station to the gate itself as with online check in with Ryanair means you can forget lining up at check in and pass directly through security with your printed boarding pass. Heres where things started to dissappoint.
Madrids airport is split into two parts Terminals 1, 2 & 3 are dingy antequated affairs whilst Iberias Terminal 4 is a glass monolith with everything a traveller could wish for. Ryanair of course use Terminal 1 as its the cheapest although one can hardly blame the airline for the airport policies. One of which appears to be extracting money from passenegers at every turn from the excessively over priced food outlets to the vending machines that start at a whopping €1,50 for a bottle of water! The other bug bear is that although all three terminals are connected (T4 stands off on its own and needs a bus transfer) at times different access gates are closed. This means your aircraft can park in between terminals 1 and 2 and you’ll be left with no option but to walk to T1 arrivals and then have to double back to to go to the Metro in T2… ahhh, the ways of the airports.
Once aboard the aircraft the flight time was given as 45 minutes and true to his word the Captain touched the aircraft down on Alicantes single runway at precisely the aforementioned time. A short wait and the buses had all passengers in Alicantes arrivals hall within 20 minutes. A note of caution: As with all airports Alicantes is located outside the city so you’ll be forced to take either a bus or taxi into the city. Taxis are around 20€ and the bus a great value 1,20€.
For a total of around 40€ and a travel time of 3 hours door to door flying to the coast for the weekend was certainly a lot more relaxing and economical than taking a car and would be so for 2 people travelling together. For larger groups and those with a lot of luggage a car is definately more cost effective although it could be said that when on holiday who wants to drive when they could be on one of the famous Alicante Beaches!