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There are many options to arrive to Madrid. Bus might be a good option if you are traveling on a shoestring. But remember that paying less for transport is synonym of longer hours spent on the road until you reach your final destination.
Spain has an extensive bus service run by a number of companies from various bus stations, which makes booking your ticket quite difficult. Tickets can be booked from the stations, or from certain companies’ websites, but it is often easier to use the Movelia online reservation service.
The two most important bus companies in Spain are
Bus travel within Spain is not overly costly, but there is a vast range of prices.
In Spain, regional buses connect cities and towns that are usually not linked by train. Even though private companies cover these routes, the buses are great and the prices are affordable (sometimes incredibly cheap for what you get).
The main bus company in Spain is Alsa. It operates routes all over the country and also international ones, to most European countries.
Its main competitor, Avanza, has a smaller network but can be a good alternative especially if you intend to travel to western Spain.
Catching a bus can be a good option if you’d like to travel to mid-distance destinations from Madrid, not well connected by train (e.g. Salamanca, Burgos or Cáceres among others).
Despite its geographical position, almost at the very end of the European continent, Madrid is very well linked with many other countries. Apart from the obvious Portugal and France, you can very well travel to Czech Republic, Switzerland or Latvia to name a few.
The best search tool to look for potential routes is Omio.
Unless you have budget constraints I would not recommend using any bus for a long distance trip, especially international ones. Not because the buses are uncomfortable, quite the contrary, but because the small fare is not worth the number of hours you will spend traveling. On top of it, don’t expect fully reclining seats, as you could find in other countries.
With the current number of low cost carriers, try to get yourself a cheap air flight to or from Madrid.
The city has two main bus stations:
There are a couple of other bus stations but these are mainly for local routes.
Additionally, you can also read more information about getting around Madrid by bus.