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Trip Report Seville, Cordoba, Ronda, Granada Trip Report

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My husband and I got back from a quick (9 days total) trip to Andalucia. We have wanted to visit the region for quite some time—the interplay between all of the cultural elements has always fascinated me. Since I always learn so much on this board, I figure it is only fair to give back with info from our trips!

Travel:
We did not rent a car since everybody here said it would be more of a hassle than it was worth. In hindsight, I might have rented a car in Seville and driven to Ronda then Granada and then dropped the car of in Cordoba on the way back to Madrid.

Trains: What a pain to get tickets. I finally bagged on Renfe ever working and went with 2 websites—Rumbo and Petrabax. I had better luck with Petrabax. I was able to get the discounted web ticket prices and my credit card sailed through at Petrabax since they have offices in the US. We took the AVE from Madrid to Seville and then from Cordoba to Granada. We took the AVANT from Seville to Cordoba, round trip. And we also took the train from Ronda to Granada. I love the train.

Buses: I was able to get tickets from Seville to Ronda with few issues on the Los Amarillos site. I could not get the Alsa site to work for me so I just bought tickets in Seville for our Granada-Cordoba trip. NOTE: The Alsa office no longer has a presence at the El Prado station. We had to go over to Plaza de Armas to get tix. I did not like the buses—very crowded and cramped. Even worse—NO BATHROOMS!!! I made sure I had no coffee and no water before I got on them.

Air: We took the evening flight out of Atlanta that is supposed to get into Madrid the next morning. For some reason, I had information from Delta that the plan was going to land at 8 and then 9. Our plane landed at 7:20 on a Saturday morning. We zoomed right through the passport stamp place and then there were no customs—nothing. We took a taxi to the train station. No traffic. We were at the train station by 9am. And our train did not leave till 12!!!!!! Because I had heard that I would need time to clear customs and that the plane would be late and the traffic horrible, etc etc. Well, not at 8 am on a Saturday! My other gripe is with Delta. My husband and I limit our trips by saving up miles and going when we have enough to fly first class. The last time we traveled, it was on Air France. The seats laid down flat into beds. Delta’s just recline a lot but not beds. I know, I know—I am griping about first class—but I think in the future I will try to figure out how to fly Air France when I go overseas!!

Hotels/Apartments:
Seville: We really enjoy staying in apartments because we like having the space to relax, the ability to cook if we want, access to a fridge, laundry, and living like locals. So I found www.sevilla5.com and looked around their site. I selected Plaza Santa Cruz B because I wanted to be in the Barrio and it was a good price. Somehow I missed the fact that it was right on the Plaza Santa Cruz! Talk about an amazing location!!!! The Cathedral and Alcazar were a 5 minute walk. There were great restaurants 5 mins in the opposite direction. And the El Prado bus station was an 8 minute walk. Los Gallos flamenco is 4 doors down! (and it is not noisy—I never heard anything from them) The downsides to self service—the hot water heater wasn’t working so we had to wait till Monday until it could be fixed. (I guess I could have called on a Sunday but I don’t think of hot water as an emergency) And you don’t have someone to call to make reservations. But otherwise, it was wonderful. We walked through an access gate/door into a courtyard with beautiful tiles and a water fountain and then into our apartment section, and then up the stairs to our apartment.

Ronda: We stayed at the most amazing place EVER—the Hotel San Gabriel. Oh my goodness. We had a double superior room—twin beds with a couch and plenty of room. Lovely bathroom, an arch in the room and the wooden screen windows. The breakfast was great. The staff were wonderful. Loved it!!!

Granada: Hotel Palacio de los Naves. Very well located. Naves is a great street for tapas. The chichi shopping street was around the corner. It was about a 10 min walk to Plaza Nueva. The rooms were very small. The bathroom was great. Naves is a noisy street—all those tapas places. It was fine for one night. Don’t know that I would make it a base for an extended stay. Good breakfast and helpful staff.

Madrid: I just wanted a place near the airport so we stayed at Axor Barajas Hotel. It was cheap compared to the others—only 66 Euros. The room was huge and a king sized bed. Clearly catering to business folks. We ate at the restaurant because it was late and we had been going all day. It was ok. It was quite the culture shock to be surrounded with American business people. We were the only people speaking Spanish to the waiters. They have a free shuttle to the airport which is VERY close. It’s a total business park hotel. But a great place to stay the night before flying out.

Restaurants:
Needless to say we ate in a number of places. Here is what I remember.
Seville: Hands down, the BEST meal of our trip was at Vineria San Telmo. Holy cow. That was awesome!! My husband and I love new food—e.g. trying out new flavors in unique ways. The service was superb—the waiters were really, really, really busy but nice, helpful and attentive. They had a great wine list. I would suggest eating outside if possible because it can get really noisy inside. This was the only place we had to wait for a table. Modesto restaurant was ok—I think the bar might have been better. The Giralda satellite restaurant on the plaza de la virgin de los reyes—what was I thinking? Never, ever eat at a place that is on a plaza and never eat at the outside table. A ridiculously expensive, not much to eat meal. Afterwards, we literally had to go Las Teresas to get a decent meal. (which was quite good even though it was very crowded) We hit Los Columnos one morning for breakfast—good. Enrique Becerra was a very good place for dinner—we really enjoyed it. On Santa Maria La Blanca—around the corner from Modesto was the BEST gelato place EVER. There are 2 places practically right next to each other. When you are facing them, the better place is on the right. We got several afternoon pick me ups there. We also got food from the Corte Ingles grocery store and had a picnic in the middle of our lovely Plaza.


Cordoba: We ate at Bodegos Campos for lunch which was good.

Ronda: The second best meal of the trip was at Tragatapas. I may never, ever eat such perfect fried calamari again. For dinner, we were lucky to get a table at Almocobar, which was quite good.

Granada: We ate dinner at Restaurante San Nicolas. We were expecting amazing food. It was good. The view was phenomenal—the Alhambra at night. And good service. But not stupendous amazing. We grabbed lunch at some place that I can’t remember and it was good except the calamari just wasn’t what it was in Ronda.

Itinerary:
Day One: Arrive in Madrid, train from Madrid to Seville, check into apartment. That afternoon, we saw the Cathedral and the Bell Tower and then headed over to Hospital do los Venerables. We are not the type of people who read EVERY sign etc. So it only took us about an hour for the Cathedral.

Day Two: Art Museum and then the Alcazar and then over to the Basilica Macarena. Went next door to Los Gallos for Flamenco. I am sure there are better shows. But it was 4 doors down and so convenient.

Day Three: Shopping in the morning and then Casa de Pilatos in the afternoon. This was my favorite place in Seville—I liked it even more than the Alcazar!

Day Four: Day Trip to Cordoba. The Mezquita and then the Synagogue and the Casa de Sefarad. Then the Triumphal Arch and the Roman Bridge. We went to the Museum of Al-Andalus Life—I was looking for more info on how the Moors lived in Spain. What a bust. Arrrrgh. Do not go. We then went to the Alcazar—waste of money. Seriously. We also stopped at the artist marketplace (starts with a Z??) in the Jewish quarter and got some nice gifts.

Day Five: Bus to Ronda, check into hotel. Saw the Gorge and the bridge, the Bullring, did some shopping, then to Santa Maria Church, and then the Madragon Palace/Natural History Museum. I loved Ronda. I probably would have cut Seville by half a day and spent more time in Ronda. We didn’t get to walk all the way down and then back up from the gorge. I loved the viewpoints. I am really interested in the Ancestral Puebloan Indians who lived in Southern Utah/The Colorado Plateau so it was fun to go to the Natural History museum and see that many of their structures and tools were similar to those used by Spain’s early inhabitants.

Day Six: Train to Granada. Check into hotel. Grab empanadas for lunch and go to the Alhambra. This was definitely an awesome highlight of our tripl (How could it not be!) I got tix for 2:30 because of our bus schedule and would we have enough time, etc. Turned out I could have put in for a 2:00 time slot or something like that and then we wouldn’t have had to wait to get in but it turned out ok. We didn’t minimize our walking but we really enjoyed ourselves. We did some good souvenir shopping.

Day Seven: See the Cathedral and the Royal Chapel—wow. And then took the bus up to Plaza St. Nicolas and then walked down through the Albacin back to our hotel. Took the bus to Cordoba. If you are going to travel anywhere on any mode of transport from Granada on a Friday afternoon—make sure you have reservations!! There are tons of students traveling home for the weekend. Then train from Cordoba to Madrid.

Thanks again to everyone who answered my many questions! This board is the best when it comes to travel planning!

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