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Yet Another Spain Itinerary Post

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We are a couple in our early 30s planning a trip to Spain in late August and September. I've been to Europe several times, but never to Spain; my girlfriend has never been to Europe. We both love to travel and don't mind an energetically paced vacation. We're flexible in terms of budget and don't mind an occasional splurge.

We both love great food and good drink, though our taste in nightlife tends to be towards the quieter people-watching end of the spectrum, not towards night clubs. We enjoy museums, but we're more interested in seeing the highlights than truly getting lost in a museum for the entire day. We want to see as many historical sights as we can fit in without feeling rushed. We also love to hike and, although it's not a requirement since I don't think we're visiting any part of Spain particularly well known for hiking, if we can fit in a day to get out into nature, we'd enjoy that.

We will arrive in Madrid on Day 1 and depart from Barcelona on Day 16. We live in a big multicultural city and have heard that Madrid can feel a lot like other big cities, so we don't plan on spending a lot of time there.

Our thoughts so far are as follows:
Madrid: 2 days (not counting arrival day and using one of the days for a day trip to Toledo)
Cordoba: 2 days
Seville: 2 days
Granada: 2 days
Barcelona: 5 days (not counting departure day and using one of the days for a day trip to Figueres for the Dali museum)

It looks like we can catch a flight from Granada to Barcelona that departs at approximately 10pm, so we can avoid losing a day in transit between the south and Barcelona.

We're wondering if 6 days is necessary for the combination of Cordoba/Seville/Granada--we've seen guidebooks that only do one day in Cordoba, but I hate to check into a hotel for only one night since it seems to waste a lot of time. Alternatively, is it feasible to take the train from Madrid to Cordoba in the morning, see most of what Cordoba has to offer and continue on to spend the night in Seville?

This leaves one day unaccounted for (or two if we end up shortening Cordoba) and I'd appreciate any input on where best to allocate it. Any other advice on the itinerary given our preferences is also appreciated. Given that we may not be back to Spain for some time, we wanted to hit as many highlights as possible without setting a pace that will wear us out. Thanks in advance!

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