Stop navigating from one website to another, and read ALL the information you need before you leave home.
Have you thought about bus travel? Spain offers a wide variety of bus services that will help you move around easily. It’s the best choice if you are travelling on a low budget.
In general buses in Spain are modern, comfortable and relatively fast (depending on traffic, of course). You can use them to get around the city, especially in those cities that don’t have a subway and in order to avoid taxis (with very expensive fares). It is also a great way to travel long distances.
A vast majority of cities and towns have a city bus service. It is usually very cheap and you can get cheaper fares if you buy a 1-day or 10-trips pass (although other options might be available depending on each city).
The best way to get to know about fares and bus routes is either asking the locals or checking the company’s website. Sometimes the routes are not indicated at bus stops, so make sure you ask around. People will be glad to help you.
One more thing. You can usually buy the ticket in the bus. However, make sure that it is possible (sometimes you have to purchase it somewhere else) and bring some change with you (it’s better if you have coins) as the driver will not accept a big note of more than 5€.
In Spain, regional buses connect cities and towns that are usually not linked by train. Even though these routes are covered by private companies, the buses are great and the prices are affordable (sometimes incredibly cheap for what you get).
If you want to know about the fares, timetables, routes and companies operating, you should phone or go to the central bus station. Most of the companies have a complete website with all the information. In most cases you’ll also be able to buy your tickets online.
Long distance buses are great to travel around Spain on a low budget. The trips are usually a little bit longer than by train but you will definitely save a lot of money. Depending on the trip, bus fares can be half price if not less than the train.
Moreover, a lot of routes are not covered by train and catching a bus will be your only option. The vehicles are very comfortable and offer air conditioning (essential in the summer), a movie (great to improve your Spanish) and sometimes even wi-fi. On a trip I made from Madrid to Salamanca (206 km or 129 mi in 2h30) the bus had leather seats!
There are lots of private bus companies offering routes to all major Spanish cities. If you want to travel around Spain by bus, the best idea is to go to your local bus station (except from Madrid and Barcelona, most towns and cities only have one) and see what is available. You can also check online, and might have the chance to buy your ticket without having to wait in line.
A great website to check the routes and companies operating them is GoEuro (available in English). Once you choose the company you want to travel with, you can go straight to its website and purchase the ticket from them directly.