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Train ticket

I'm debating on whether I should buy my train ticket from Madrid to Pamplona in advance? I'm not sure if that's necessary??? Anyone have any suggestions?


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If you feel happier reserving a seat online and it is possible to book ahead, then you should go ahead and do so.
One ticket you really must reserve - or at least book as soon as possible is the return ticket from Santiago. I've heard of people waiting for days to get on a train back to Madrid. There is a 'hotel tren' that leaves Santiago at about 10pm and arrives in Madrid at 7am. Saves an extra night's accommodation.
Another option is to change your ticket and make it through to Pamplona and home from Santiago. (Both involve a change at Madrid).
Hi, Arlene,
You may already know all of this, but have you considered the bus? If you are arriving at the airport in Madrid and heading straight for Pamplona, the bus station (Avda. De Americas) is much closer to the airport than the Atocha train station. There's a nonstop Madrid city bus that goes straight from the airport to the bus station, which I have taken in rush hour and it took about 1/2 hour. Taking public transportation from Barajas to the train station would be much longer.

The bus ticket is also cheaper -- E 26 as opposed to E 50 for the train.

True, the bus is 5 hours, and I think the train is 3 or 3 1/2. You can check out bus schedules at http://www.movelia.es

Buen camino, Laurie


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The bus is much more practical as it terminates in the centre of Pamplona. There are several buses per day, whereas I think there are only three trains. The train trip takes 4 hours compared with 5 by bus. But the buses are very comfortable.

If you want to book the bus in advance, buy the ticket online at http://www.movelia.esand print it out yourself.
Hi, Arlene,

I was able to check out the movelia site, and picked a couple of random dates to see the schedules. For the days I checked, there were buses at the following times:
1:30 am, 8, 10:30, 12:00, 2:00 p.m., 3:00, 4:30, 6:30, 7:30, 9:30. The travel time is about 5 hours.

I've taken a bus to Pamplona from Madrid a couple of times and have always just bought my ticket when I got into the station from the airport.

When are you going? Laurie
Hi Laurie,
Thanks for checking out the bus schedule. I was on the ALSA website but only saw buses leaving at 10:30 and then not until 3:00 pm. From your info it looks like I have a lot more options. I'm flying out of Philadelphia on the 25th. I'll arrive in Madrid around 9:30 am on the 26th and I plan to go right on to Pamplona. Catching a bus at noon or even 2pm would be good. As it is, if I take the train I have to wait until 3:05. I still have some time to make up my mind.
I appreciate your help!
Hi, Arlene,
I'm sorry, you were right. When I plugged in your actual arrival dates, those other buses didn't show up. They must be just on weekends or somethng. So you were right that the first bus after 10:30 is 3:00 p.m.

I checked my notes and the red bus I took from the airport was the number 204. It takes you right to the Avda. de Americas "intercambiador", which is what they call the part of the station with the long distance buses. Avda. de Americas is a huge underground public transit hub -- municipal buses, long distances buses, and metro all arrive there. The metro station is huge and the distances very long. IMO, the bus is much easier and drops you a short escalator ride away from the ticket windows for the long distance buses. Movelia says the company is Continental, which is another big bus company like Alsa. I don't remember which it was, but the ticket wiindows are right next to each other.

If you haven't been in the Madrid airport lately, last year they opened a flashy new terminal T4, but I think only Iberia and its partners arrive there. It's a LONG way from the other part of the airport, in fact the metro line goes from the old airport to the town of Barajas to the new airport, so they are not really adjacent.

You've just got a few weeks to go, lucky you! Will you spend a night in Pamplona and then go up to roncesvalles the next day or are you starting from pamplona?



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I think the main bus company out of Madrid is continental-auto.es but their website is unobtainable at present. I seem to think they were taken over recently (by National Express I think), does anyone know if this a temporary closure of their website or if they have been renamed?
I have always found the Spanish coach services very reliable, clean and comfortable.


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Are Alsa and Continental Autos not two entirely separate companies? Have they merged? I know I used both in the past but they had separate websites, timetables, ticket booths etc. Just when I thought I had cracked the system...!
Thanks for the detailed info. Now that I know there is no bus between 10:30 and 3:00 I think I'll stick with the original plan and take the train. I'm thinking of taking a cab from the airport to the train station. I know it will be more expensive that way, but it seems like the easiest way to get there.
I plan on staying the night in Pamplona and then heading to Roncesvalles the next day. I want to be there for the Pilgrim Mass, so I won't actually begin walking until the 28th. I'm getting so excited, but also nervous as I'll be navigating all this solo.


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Don't worry a bit, Arlene! I did the exact same thing as you - in July last year - also alone... You will have to make a conscious effort to stay alone! Yo will meet many wonderful friends and will only be alone as much as you choose to be.
Muy buena suerte and muy beun camino,
Is the consensus here that taking the bus is the best (however "best" can be described) way of getting to Pamplona from Madrid?

My current flight plans have me landing in Madrid at 11:10AM. The Iberia flight leaves at 3PM and costs about $125 - at the current rate of about 1.50 CDN per 1 Euro - puts it about $190. That's quite a premium to pay for saving a couple hours on a day when not much else is going to happen.

Until I read this thread, I was planning on flying from Madrid to Pamplona. If my Air Canada flight to Madrid is delayed even a couple hours, I would miss my connection and depending on airline policy, if I pre-purchased my Madrid / Pamplona ticket, I might be out a good chunk of cash.

This website is one awesome help! Thank you to the webmaster and all contibutors.



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You will also get to see a lot of Black el Torros silhouetted against skylines if you go by bus. The cost is 25.92 euro
However, landing at 11:10 could cost you a bit extra.
There is a bus at 12:00 which you probably won't make. The next one is at 14:00 but this gets you to Pamplona at 19:00 - too late for the 6pm bus. So, you might have to spend a night in Pamplona (about 30 euro) or take a taxi (45 euro) Still cheaper than flying.

Your bus timetable is at: http://www.alsa.es/VentaParticulares/co ... rarios.jsp
Hi, Trundle,

I'm happy to give you my opinion. I'm from the US, which means an early morning arrival in Madrid from an overnight flight. I do not plan to walk on the following day, so my schedule for the first couple days looks like this. Day 1 -- travel Madrid to Pamplona; Day 2 -- bus from Pamplona to Roncesvalles; Day 3 -- start to walk. I mention that because if I were hustling to get up to Roncesvalles on Day 1, my travel plans would be different.

For me, the easiest thing is to take a city bus from the Barajas airport to the Avda. de Americas bus stop. The bus stops right outside the airport terminal and drops you off at the bus station, making only a couple of stops along the way. If you read this thread, you'll see that I confused things a lot for Arlene by mentioning buses leaving more frequently than she thought they left. Turns out that the bus schedule depends on the day of the week, so you should check it at http://www.movelia.es for your own arrival day. (seems like most days there is both a 3:00 and a 5:00 bus, though)

Here are the main points of comparison:

Buses take 5 hours, the train takes three hours

Buses cost 26 euro, the train costs around 50

Getting to the bus station from the airport is easy and cheap on the city bus #204. Getting to the train station is longer and more complicated (several transfers on metro) or more expensive if you take a cab. (If you're inclined to take a cab, the cab fare to the Avda. Americas bus stop would be cheaper than to Atocha train station but I don't know by how much).

Pamplona's bus station is in the central city (but I think there's a new one and I don't know exactly where it is -- surely someone can help us out here); and I think the train station is further out of town.

The first time I walked the Camino, I flew from Madrid to Pamplona, but it didn't really have much of an advantage because as you say, it's pretty much a do-nothing day anyway. So on subsequent trips I have used the bus and it's always worked out just fine. The bus station is in a busy commercial part of town so if you have a few hours to kill there are plenty of nice cafes nearby. I have never taken the train from Madrid to Pamplona, so I can't comment on it, but I have taken the train from Santiago to Madrid and found it a nice way to do the "re-entry."

Buen camino to you, Laurie
Any recommendations on what to see & do in Pamplona when there is only one day available?

Also, any recommendations on accommodation?



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The new bus station in Pamplona is just around the corner from the old one.
To keep fit and get over jet-lag, you can collect a walking map from the tourist office. They have a wall walk - about 5km around the walls of the city - and a longer river walk. Pamploná was a strategic defense town close to the border with France. The walls were considered an engineering masterpiece in their time and many cities sent their engineers to examine it and suggest new architecural designs for it´s fortification. The walk ends at the Citadel - constructed in the 1500´s but breached by the French in the 1800´s. It is in the centre of the park which is a great green lung in the city.
If you want to stay over, there are many small hostals in the small streets running off the Plaza del Castillo - or you could take a chance and stay at the new Jesus & Maria albergue close to the Cathedral. I'm sure they won't mind as you are a pilgrim on the way to start your camino.
Hi, Trundle,
The walking tour Sil recommends sounds like a great idea. I would make a point of visiting the cathedral and its museum. I saw an incredible exhibit of romanesque Virgin Mary (and child) statues that was just incredible. And it's also fun to follow the footsteps on the street that track the running of the bulls route. The Cafe Irunea in the central square is the one of Hemingway lore, I've been told, and it's a really lovely place to sit and relax and people-watch. The covered market is a great place to stock up on food supplies, but be careful of the temptation to buy way too much that you'll then have to carry (spoken as one who fell into that trap and had kilos of fruit to lug around). And the pedestrian-only historic core is great fun to get lost in. If you're into museums, the Museo de Navarra has a lot of architectural bits and pieces of churches from centuries gone by and some beautiful religious and civil artifacts.

I'm not sure how much time you have in Pamplona. Are you taking the bus up to Roncesvalles the day after you arrive in Pamplona, or are you starting the walk from Pamplona? If the former, you will have almost an entire day in Pamplona, since the bus up to Roncesvalles is at 6 pm.

As far as accommodation, I always stay at the Hostal Bearan, on Calle San Nicolas, 25. They don't have email, but I have called them to make reservations ahead of time from the US. They are a clean, basic, no frills hostal with a private bath. I just don't remember the price, but it was very reasonable for two of us. And we always make a point of eating lunch at Restaurante Basseri, right across the street from the Bearan. Their set menu is always (I've probably eaten there 6 or 7 times) delicious and the last time I was there I think it was 11 or 12 euros. The restaurant is in a separate room at the back of the bar, but having tapas in the bar itself is another great option.

Pamplona is really a beautiful city, IMO, you'll be happy you had some time to see it. Laurie
We have also decided to take the bus from Madrid to Pamplona. I think our flight arrives in Madrid at about 7.30 a.m. and there's a bus at about 10.30 that we hoping to get.

We'll then spend a bit of time on Pamplona and get the bus to Roncesvalles and a taxi to SJPP where we'll spend the night before starting our walk the next day.


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You could email Caroline Aphessetche who carts pilgrims backwards and forwards every day and see if she is fetching pilgrims from Pamplona to take back to St Jean - she charges about 9 euro per person if there are three or more in her vehicle. It will save you getting to St Jean at night and also, you will have time to see Pamplona when you walk back again.


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