Ponferrada is a major town in the province of Leon in the Spanish north-west. It is located on the A-6 Autovia highway, the main bus route from the capital Madrid to Galicia and the north-west coast, so is an important stop for long-distance bus services in either direction. There are also frequent bus connections to the provincial capital Leon. Buses from Madrid make the short detour off the highway to Ponferrada's bus station, located close to the city center.
Buses to Ponferrada stop at the main terminus, located about one mile north of the city center. The bus station has a parking lot, bar-cafeteria, snack vending machines, and waiting rooms. Some bus services also stop at Columbiano, north-west of the city, close to the highway, and Fuentesnuevas, on the western side of the city center.
The Spanish national bus operator Alsa provides frequent daily bus connections from Madrid and Madrid Barajas Airport to Ponferrada. There are up to 20 daily buses from the capital, including overnight services. Alsa also operates services to Ponferrada from A Coruña on the north-west coast, with up to nine services daily, and frequent connections to Leon. Other long-distance routes stopping at Ponferrada include services from Eurolines originating from France and the Basque Country.
The frequency of Alsa's direct bus connections from Madrid to Ponferrada makes this an attractive alternative to the rail journey. Travelers can choose to admire the scenery on a daytime service or grab some sleep on an overnight connection. The quickest journey time is just over four hours and some trips to Ponferrada use Alsa's Supra class buses with WiFi, entertainment, and a catering service.
Ponferrada is the capital of the Bierzo region, well-known for wines made from the unique Mencia grapes. Cruises on the River Sil are a great way to view the vineyards, growing on steep terraces on the river banks, originally created by the Romans. Ponferrada is also an important staging post on the historic pilgrimage trail to Santiago de Compostela, the last major city before the path ascends the mountains into Galicia. Local buses are the easiest way to explore Ponferrada and the surrounding villages.
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