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Necessary to buy transportation (bus/train) tix in advance (Bilbao > Madrid)?

doggedly

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Portugués, Sept 6-8, 2022
I'm currently living Vermont (USA), so first off, I know that the answer to many questions may simply be: "it depends" !

Question:
How necessary might it be to reserve and buy a train ticket in advance, from Bilboa to Madrid, on a Monday in September, at the 17:20 departure time they offer?

I want to make sure I can get to Madrid on a specific day.
I'd love to try BlaBlaCar or the Ride-share thread on this forum, but I want more certainty for planning; the way BlaBlaCar works, one doesn't know about available options until 3 days before one might want to travel. I don't want to hold out for a possible ride-share if it means I'll miss my chance to reserve a train ticket. And if I buy a train ticket in advance, they aren't fully refundable if I change my mind (unless I pay more, I believe).

Any thoughts about this - in general?
Thoughts about buying in advance or waiting until the last minute?
Maybe it depends on the route or the day?
Or whether it's by bus or train?
And any sharings about how it has been for folks using BlaBlaCar? The idea sounds good and usually the trips take less time than public transport, and you get to meet people and share stories.

Cheers
 
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I'm currently living Vermont (USA), so first off, I know that the answer to many questions may simply be: "it depends" !

Question:
How necessary might it be to reserve and buy a train ticket in advance, from Bilboa to Madrid, on a Monday in September, at the 17:20 departure time they offer?

I want to make sure I can get to Madrid on a specific day.
I'd love to try BlaBlaCar or the Ride-share thread on this forum, but I want more certainty for planning; the way BlaBlaCar works, one doesn't know about available options until 3 days before one might want to travel. I don't want to hold out for a possible ride-share if it means I'll miss my chance to reserve a train ticket. And if I buy a train ticket in advance, they aren't fully refundable if I change my mind (unless I pay more, I believe).

Any thoughts about this - in general?
Thoughts about buying in advance or waiting until the last minute?
Maybe it depends on the route or the day?
Or whether it's by bus or train?
And any sharings about how it has been for folks using BlaBlaCar? The idea sounds good and usually the trips take less time than public transport, and you get to meet people and share stories.

Cheers
If I were you I'd try to buy a ticket from Bilbao rather than Bilboa. At this distance out tickets are readily available: https://venta.renfe.com/vol/search.do?c=_Von1

If you are sure that that is the journey you want to make on that or any specific date, buy the ticket. Then all you have to do is ensure you are in Bilbao on that specific date.

Your previous posts suggest that you are planning to walk one of the Portuguese caminos in which case getting to Bilbao might be a bit of a challenge. Trains from Santiago to Madrid are readily available ;)
 
My only caution is that if you travel date is a Spanish holiday that you buy in advance if you want a specific time. I am in Spain now and sometimes things have been sold out when I delayed my purchase and I've had to take a less attractive time slots.
 
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I use the Trainline App since the Renfe App and website are not always very customer friendly. You can often get either bus or train tickets or both. You do need to find a a place to print them like a library or print/copy shop, but that has been pretty simple.
 
Greeting from just across Lake Champlain in NY.

From my experience, with both buses and trains, the further out you purchase your tickets, the better the price. Last minute tickets are usually more expensive.

Recently, we tried to get last minute train tickets (three days in advance) from SdC to Madrid. Sold out on the day we preferred to travel! However, because of our flexibility, we were fine traveling the next day, so it wasn’t a major inconvenience. So, for both of the above reasons, if you know your travel date to Madrid, I’d suggest purchasing tickets in advance.
 
If I were you I'd try to buy a ticket from Bilbao rather than Bilboa. At this distance out tickets are readily available: https://venta.renfe.com/vol/search.do?c=_Von1

If you are sure that that is the journey you want to make on that or any specific date, buy the ticket. Then all you have to do is ensure you are in Bilbao on that specific date.

Your previous posts suggest that you are planning to walk one of the Portuguese caminos in which case getting to Bilbao might be a bit of a challenge. Trains from Santiago to Madrid are readily available ;)

Thanks for the humor! Yes, Bilbao! I updated the title accordingly.

I do see that I can buy a train ticket through Renfe. Easy and reasonable. I just like the idea of trying BlaBlacar or a ride-share. I appreciate what others have shared about possibly missing the opportunity to get tickets if they wait.

Thanks for checking my Camino. I have a different sort of itinerary after I finish my walk. I actually already bought Alsa bus tickets from Santiago de Compostela to León, because I want to explore that city and its architecture. And my next stop will be Bilbao, for which I already bought my bus ticket. I really want to see the Guggenheim by Gehry, as I studied modern art in a past life and I love the sculptural work of Frank Serra, in particular. So now I'm exploring options for the next leg, which is to Madrid.

Cheers!
 
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Hey, @doggedly that sounds like a great itinerary. I love Leon. The Cathedral is worth a day of its own so I hope you've given yourself enough time. The tapas culture, particularly on a Thursday night for reasons known only, is very enjoyable. Bilbao, ah Bilbao: the Guggenheim is great, the city and its post industrial revitalization is well worth exploring. For me, the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plaza_Nueva,_Bilbao, caps Gehry. It is a totally lived space. It serves its residents and the surrounding city in perfect harmony with location, climate and culture. Shame that Corbusier and others thought they could improve on the medieval close.

Buen camino
 
Hey, @doggedly that sounds like a great itinerary. I love Leon. The Cathedral is worth a day of its own so I hope you've given yourself enough time. The tapas culture, particularly on a Thursday night for reasons known only, is very enjoyable. Bilbao, ah Bilbao: the Guggenheim is great, the city and its post industrial revitalization is well worth exploring. For me, the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plaza_Nueva,_Bilbao, caps Gehry. It is a totally lived space. It serves its residents and the surrounding city in perfect harmony with location, climate and culture. Shame that Corbusier and others thought they could improve on the medieval close.

Buen camino

Thanks for your tip about Plaza Nueva in Bilbao. It was not on my radar.

I'll base an itinerary on any number of things, such as something a fellow traveler shares (like you just did), a photo I happen to come across that captures my imagination (like one I saw of the Romanesque Basílica de San Isidoro in León), a painting I studied in a history of art class decades ago (the wild triptych known as The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch that resides in the Prado), or even a particular food that some little town might be known for. So any food suggestions are always welcome. For me, seeking out a doughnut shop in the streets of a town in Morocco and honoring the people there is a pilgrimage in its own way, if I may use that word this way on this site.
 
I just used the ALSA app to book my bus ticket from Bilbao today. Easy to use and download the ticket to my phone.
 
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Thanks for the humor! Yes, Bilbao! I updated the title accordingly.

I do see that I can buy a train ticket through Renfe. Easy and reasonable. I just like the idea of trying BlaBlacar or a ride-share. I appreciate what others have shared about possibly missing the opportunity to get tickets if they wait.

Thanks for checking my Camino. I have a different sort of itinerary after I finish my walk. I actually already bought Alsa bus tickets from Santiago de Compostela to León, because I want to explore that city and its architecture. And my next stop will be Bilbao, for which I already bought my bus ticket. I really want to see the Guggenheim by Gehry, as I studied modern art in a past life and I love the sculptural work of Frank Serra, in particular. So now I'm exploring options for the next leg, which is to Madrid.

Cheers!
From what I understand after checking out the BlaBlacar website they only post rides 2 or 3 days before the scheduled departure. Why stress out over the making sure you secure a seat? Taking the bus or the train is comfortable and you will basically see the same thing out your window (especially the bus haha). The time difference is just a few minutes and with the price of gas these days worldwide I do not see it being a money saver either. Also you never know the ability of the person who is driving the car and if he drives like a maniac. For me it is a no brainer.
 
I'm currently living Vermont (USA), so first off, I know that the answer to many questions may simply be: "it depends" !

Question:
How necessary might it be to reserve and buy a train ticket in advance, from Bilboa to Madrid, on a Monday in September, at the 17:20 departure time they offer?

I want to make sure I can get to Madrid on a specific day.
I'd love to try BlaBlaCar or the Ride-share thread on this forum, but I want more certainty for planning; the way BlaBlaCar works, one doesn't know about available options until 3 days before one might want to travel. I don't want to hold out for a possible ride-share if it means I'll miss my chance to reserve a train ticket. And if I buy a train ticket in advance, they aren't fully refundable if I change my mind (unless I pay more, I believe).

Any thoughts about this - in general?
Thoughts about buying in advance or waiting until the last minute?
Maybe it depends on the route or the day?
Or whether it's by bus or train?
And any sharings about how it has been for folks using BlaBlaCar? The idea sounds good and usually the trips take less time than public transport, and you get to meet people and share stories.

Cheers
I'm told that buying train tickets well in advance is the CHEAPEST option.but if anyone over 65 (?) Is reading this remember you can buy a trajeta dorada and get a good discount.
 
I'm told that buying train tickets well in advance is the CHEAPEST option.but if anyone over 65 (?) Is reading this remember you can buy a trajeta dorada and get a good discount.
Yes, you need to buy the TD in person at a station though so they can verify your data. After that you can use the number to get a discount even online, however, we were spot checked to make sure we actually had the card and it was valid.
 
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I'm told that buying train tickets well in advance is the CHEAPEST option.but if anyone over 65 (?) Is reading this remember you can buy a trajeta dorada and get a good discount.
Buying tickets well in advance can be less expensive that the discount with the Tarjeta Dorada.
 
It also depends on times of departure. I found the difference of 50 euros or more for 2 tickets between some departures times on the AVE from Barcelona to Madrid.
 

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