Transport & Travel - Buses on and around the Costa del Sol
Does the thought of trying to make your way around the Costa del Sol by bus literally turn your stomach? Give it a try... the reality can be very different.
Ah, the Spanish bus. Long the scourge of many a beleaguered holidaymaker thrust blinking into the Spanish sun, the reputation is one of surly drivers who’ll pretend they understand no English until it suits them, timetables that play fast and loose with the concept of timekeeping, and journeys with more disconcerting bumps than a pregnant Victoria Beckham with the mumps. There’s a grain of truth in all of that, certainly, but on the whole, the bus network of the Costa del Sol is typically Spanish in that other, politically correct way – modern, fluid and comfortable.
It’s also rather affordable, too. If you’ve landed at the airport and don’t fancy the €60+ taxi fare to anywhere of note along the coast, then the bus is a godsend. Granted, if you are headed to Fuengirola it is a little annoying to trundle past, alight at Marbella bus station and immediately board a bus back up the coast (though you can of course get the train to Fuengirola instead). But for those headed to Marbella and beyond, it is six euros well spent.
Be prepared for a scrum in the rush to fling your bags in the hold underneath, and hold your tongue as you are first introduced to the famously ‘me first’ attitude most Europeans adopt at the mere sight of anything that should be resembling a queue, and you will be just fine.
Once good and settled, buses along the Costa Del Sol are incredibly easy to master. Essentially, all you need to know is whether you’re heading east or west, and how far. Most buses cover their own defined section of the N340, with a couple of overlaps. If you are unfortunate enough to inadvertently catch one that winds its way inland, then either sit back and enjoy the ride, or get off, cross the road and hunt down the nearest stop.
Fares are reasonable, the buses are clean and incredibly safe, timetables are regular, journeys are swift and – save for rush hour – most routes will get you to where you need to go in less than 45 minutes.
Don’t get BUSted
If you don’t yet speak Spanish, at least try to master numbers and pronunciation of local towns – it will make your life much easier when dealing with drivers
You can buy your ticket from the driver on every bus, with one notable exception – the airport bus from Marbella station to the airport. This must be bought at the ticket office. And no, the driver won’t let you off just this once
Get on at the front and off in the middle. Many a confused Brit will try to alight at the front, only to be faced down by an onrushing tide of Peruvians eager to snap up your now vacant seat. Luckily, you will only make this mistake once
General etiquette while on board is the same as in most of the UK – give up your seat to the old, infirm and pregnant; ask before opening a window; don’t hog the outside seat if there’s space by the window, and remember to ring the bell well in advance of your stop – the buses fill up in summer and it can be quite a journey from your seat to the door, so make sure the driver doesn’t get bored waiting and closes up and carries on… yes, this does happen
In order to flag down a bus, simply stick your arm out. If you are at the front of the queue but the bus overshoots where you are standing, those ‘behind’ you see this as their cue to get on ahead of you – don’t get angry; it’s only the British who have this peculiar mentality that he who was there first must board first