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Need Advice on 18 Days into Madrid, out of Bilbao

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I am planning the details for my 18 day trip to Spain in September- it's the first trip to Spain for both my fiance and I. We would like to get a taste for a few regions, as we plan to visit again but know that 2nd trip won't be for some time.

We're heading there for a short business event in Madrid, then meeting up with a friend in Malaga. This friend wants some beach time (we're ok with that but the beach is not a focus for us). We just want a relaxed visit with the friend, which beach time affords. Then another friend will join the 3 of us in Barcelona for a couple of nights. Next just the two of us head to Basque country and fly out of Bilboa.

Given those constraints, here's what we came up with at first glance:

4 nights Madrid
2 nights Seville
2 nights Granada
1 night Malaga (join up with friend)
1 night in a coastal town along the drive to Valencia
1 night Valencia
2 nights Barcelona (meet another friend)
2 nights San Sebastian
1 night Bilbao

It's a long car journey from Malaga to Barcelona so at first we thought we'd spend the night in Valencia and another coastal town. However I'm starting to think that simply flying from Malaga to Barcelona and skipping Valencia/the drive would be lot less rushed. Here's my secondary option:

4 nights Madrid
2 or 3 nights Seville
1 or 2 nights Granada
1 night Malaga (joining up with friend here)
1 night Nerja or add to Malaga
3 nights Barcelona (meet another friend)
2 nights San Sebastian (for the food!)
1 night Bilbao

What are your thoughts? Does Seville need 3 nights? Is 1 enough to check out Granada? We would like to visit the Alhambra, however we've spent a fair amount of time in Morocco so hitting up all of the Islamic sites is not a huge draw for us. The Moorish highlights will suffice on this jam packed trip.

FYI, we plan to rent a car for the trip out of Seville (Grenada/Malaga) and then again leaving Barcelona (for the Basque country).

Any thoughts, critiques, or personal favorites would be greatly appreciated! And thanks for sticking it out if you're still reading!

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