Getting around Extremadura
The region's roads have improved hugely over the last few years, with two main motorways having been built. One is the A-5 Lisbon-Madrid road, which crosses Extremadura from east to west, going past Monfragüe, Trujillo, Mérida and Badajoz. The second new motorway is the A-66 Vía de la Plata, which runs north to south down from Salamanca through Plasencia, Cáceres, Mérida and Zafra as it heads towards Seville. Virtually all the stretch through Extremadura has been opened, although in Andalusia and Castile there are parts still under construction.
All this road-building means that coaches are scheduled between the major cities with regular and quick timetables if you dodge the services that stop at every village. Coaches are often the best form of public transport, as they are generally inexpensive, faster and more frequent than the antiquated train network. The railways in Extremadura promise to improve once the high-speed AVE line between Madrid and Lisbon opens, but that's a fair way into the future.
Public transport unfortunately becomes a problem once you leave main roads. The rural areas described in this guide are undoubtedly best visited by car. Coaches reach most villages, but with such reduced timetables that they are extremely limited as a means of exploring Sierra de Gata, Las Hurdes, etc. However, the major cities are easier to explore on foot than by car once you reach them many of their old quarters are partially pedestrianised and parking is awkward in the surrounding streets.
With car-hire, two options are worth considering: the first one is simply to hire at the airport, while a second possibility is to pick a car up in one of the major cities once you reach Extremadura. Most internationally-known companies have offices in Badajoz, Mérida and Cáceres, often at the coach or train station.