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10 Summer days in Spain: Barcelona alone or Madrid too?

10 Summer days in Spain: Barcelona alone or Madrid too?

Old Dec 10th, 2013, 04:51 PM
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10 Summer days in Spain: Barcelona alone or Madrid too?

Using award miles I must decide about our itinerary now (I have 24 hours), or else pay penalty to the airline (Iberia) if I change my mind later:

We plan 10 days in Spain, end of August, landing in Barcelona. Iberia will fly us "free" from Barcelona to Madrid (where we'll be boarding our flight back to the USA) as long as we stay in Madrid no longer than 24 hours. I think Madrid is worth more than a 24-hour stay, so I think it makes more sense to drive (especially if we rent a car to drive outside of Barcelona) or take a train from Barcelona to Madrid, so we can stay there 3-4 days.

Am I making sense here? Thanks for your feedback, guys.
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Old Dec 10th, 2013, 05:03 PM
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Yes, you should stay in Madrid for more time. You could also visit Segovia and Toledo from there or even go to Granada for the Alhambra. To my mind, 7 days in Barcelona is too long, BTW. There's so much more to see in Spain.
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Old Dec 10th, 2013, 05:19 PM
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Thanks for the quick response, Bedar. Truth is, since we're using award miles I had to quickly make the flight reservation before even looking at the map of Spain... So we should stay in Barcelona for, say 4 days, and then rent a car and drive... Would you be so kind and give us some kind of a plan for places we should drive to, outside of Barcelona and Madrid? Thanks.
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Old Dec 10th, 2013, 05:26 PM
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I think that there is a high-speed train between Barcelona and Madrid. Split your time between the two (suggestion by someone who has never been to Madrid).
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Old Dec 10th, 2013, 05:37 PM
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You should definitely consider the high speed train.

Madrid itself can easily take 4 full days. Toledo can easily take another 2 full days, and Segovia yet another day beyond that. Other people will say you can see all of that in about 4 days. It really depends on your interests.

Any good guide book should give you some great information about your options so that you can make choices that match YOUR interests. You can also search this board for trip reports and especially for planning threads, which will give you some sense of the range of people's perspectives on Madrid and its environs.
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Old Dec 10th, 2013, 05:37 PM
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When we in spain last, there was no high speed train from Barca to Madrid so we flew. If the train is available now, I'd do that in a heartbeat. Allocate 4 days to Barcelona and 4 days to Madrid. Its going to be hot and probably crowded so plan to take the days slowly and relax a bit too.
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Old Dec 10th, 2013, 05:51 PM
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Take the high-speed train. It is even better than flying, no transport to/from airports, no long security lines or early arrival to wait.

Definitely give more time to Madrid to visit Toledo and possibly Segovia.

Actually, I would consider something else.
If you can get a reasonably priced flight from Barcelona to Seville, I would do that. I know, heresy, but cut Barcelona to three nights. Fourth day, fly to Seville for three nights, train to Madrid for rest of time. You might have time only for a day trip to Toledo from Madrid, but it would be well worth it to fit in Seville.

If you could make that work, it would be perfect, IMHO.
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Old Dec 10th, 2013, 05:54 PM
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I can't imagine (a) visiting Seville in August or (b) visiting Andalusia without sufficient time to also see at least Granada and Cordoba in addition to Sevilla! To each his/her own.
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Old Dec 10th, 2013, 06:44 PM
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Wow, an hour goes by and the information is already pouring.

OK, at this stage I know I am calling tomorrow to cancel the Madrid-Barca flight. But I know I'd better start planning it right and make hotel reservations soon...

We like renting cars when in Europe rather than take public transportation... So I guess, a preliminary idea of 3 days in Barcelona, then rent a car for a 4-day trip down south and return it when arriving in Madrid, where we'll stay another 3 days.

How does that sound?
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Old Dec 10th, 2013, 06:56 PM
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I have to admit that it sounds unpleasantly rushed to me.
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Old Dec 10th, 2013, 07:11 PM
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I suspected so.... Looking at the map with Google's directions, indeed.... Alas, the magic of Southern Spain... Any ideas how to make it work? An alternative itinerary? Thanks...
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Old Dec 10th, 2013, 07:25 PM
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Visiting southern Spain -- Andalusia -- in August simply does not make sense to most of us. It is WAY too hot then. And when you do go to Andalusia, you will probably want closer to 10 days just for that part of Spain.

With 10 days, you can probably have a memorable trip that includes Barcelona and Madrid and some of the places around Madrid (as already noted, Toledo and Segovia). IME, this is one of the parts of the world in which one's interests matter most. Just as a simple example, those interested in art may want at least 4 days in Madrid. People who aren't interested in art may want to spend only a day there.

NONE of us can tell you what YOU want to see and do in these places. You need to gather information. Go to your local bookstore or library and look at books on Spain to see what interests YOU.

For most of these areas, a rental car would be an encumbrance rather than a help. Once you have decided what you want to see, you can do some research to determine whether you really want the burden of a rental car or whether you want to take advantage of Spain's very comfortable and convenient public transportation options.

Hope that helps!
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Old Dec 10th, 2013, 07:48 PM
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Yes, thanks, kja, it does help. I will have to spend some time researching. The thing is, Spain will be the 2nd part of our trip, so schlepping luggage using public transportation, rushing to meet train and bus schedules, that's not vacation for us... Our last European trip we traveled all over Southern France and Italy's Cinque Terre with a rented car and enjoyed it a lot, just the fact we can stop anywhere and any time we like, to us that's vacation....
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Old Dec 10th, 2013, 08:55 PM
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so schlepping luggage using public transportation

obviously if there are train changes, there is some shlepping. But if there is a direct train between Barcelona and Madrid, there is no more shlepping than going to the car rental agency in either towns.
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Old Dec 10th, 2013, 09:22 PM
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Seville and Granada in August....100 degrees...Madrid can also be extremly hot .

If the very hot weather is a problem for you , you might consider northern Spain after Barcelona.
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Old Dec 10th, 2013, 09:23 PM
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Yes, but we don't plan to travel from Barcelona to Madrid, we plan to visit in quite a few magical places in the south of Spain....
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Old Dec 10th, 2013, 09:28 PM
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(My previous post was responding to Michael) danon, hmmm... That is hot... How is the humidity in those places? And what are our alternatives in Northern Spain?
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Old Dec 11th, 2013, 12:49 AM
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People on here will always try to steer you towards their favourite places, but it complicates the trip and when you discount the arrival day, jetlag etc. and a change of location day, you have 7 or 8 days.

Divide your time equally between Barcelona and Madrid, whilst realising that that there lots of things that could you add on, or divert to see, but just don't have the time. Save them for the next trip as you don't want to lose time in changing bases above once.

Whilst 50/50 is also not ideal as it doesn't do full justice to either place, you'll certainly get a flavour of the locations.

Take the train fro barcelona to Madrid and enjoy!
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Old Dec 11th, 2013, 01:19 AM
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Yes divide your time between Barcelona and Madrid 50:50, no don't go to Seville with such a short holiday.

It is going to be hot. In Madrid you need to move to the siesta day and have long evenings and early mornings.

Renting a car, I cannot recommend the idea, the trains, buses and planes are so efficient why would you?
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Old Dec 11th, 2013, 02:18 AM
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<we don't plan to travel from Barcelona to Madrid, we plan to visit in quite a few magical places in the south of Spain>

Will be a very long drive from Barcelona all the way down to Andalucía and then back up to Madrid (some 700-800 miles in total). Most of the drive to and from Andalucía will be very boring and take a lot of time. The coast South of Barcelona all the way down to Alicante is full of very touristy destinations except for big cities such as Valencia and Alicante.

I suggest you go from Barcelona to Madrid with a couple of stopovers, perhaps Teruel and Cuenca. You can get lots of tips for a scenic and quite magical Barcelona to Madrid "roadtrip" on this thread: http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-barcelona.cfm

Barcelona and Madrid are both fantastic cities and totally different, each others antitheses, so to speak. With ten days in late August I would have done 3-4 days Barcelona, 3 days driving and 3-4 days Madrid (perhaps an extra day in Barcelona because of the summer heat and the vibrant and all kinds of people Barceloneta beach).
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