Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page > 37(ish) Nights in Spain - Itinerary Help!

37(ish) Nights in Spain - Itinerary Help!

Reply

Feb 9th, 2018, 09:41 PM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2018
Posts: 4
37(ish) Nights in Spain - Itinerary Help!

We are planning a trip to Spain from the end of August through the first week of October and I really need some help maximizing our itinerary!

It will just be my husband and I traveling, and we are pretty active travelers (it's a running joke that "vacation Bailey" is the early riser/excerciser/late night owl that "home Bailey" wishes she could be). We are also from Texas, so fairly used to driving long distances for a 1.5-3 day weekend. Unless a flight is indicated, we are planning on driving and will almost always get up and drive in the morning to be in our new destination before/by lunch. This will be our first month+ long trip together, but we have done 3 weeks in the Yucatan Peninsula and went basically non-stop every day.

We want to see as MUCH as possible, specifically focusing on food (at least 2 chef's tasting tables), wine (tours of multiple bodegas/wineries in rioja, penedes, ribera del duero, and the sherry region (jerez), seeing as many Game of Thrones (GoT) filming locations as possible (without driving too out of the way), and we'd like to go scuba diving at least twice, if not 3 times. We are also prioritizing when Mallorca falls on the trip, as we want to be there for the Festa des Vermar the 3rd Sunday of September.

My husband has been to spain for a week before, spent 3-4 days in Madrid and then did very fast one night stays or day trips to Toledo, Granada and Cordoba. He did not like Madrid and wants more time to really experience all of the other places he only saw briefly.

SO, with all of those details in mind, I present our itinerary:
First day land at 11PM after international flight
Barcelona
Barcelona
Barcelona
Barcelona - day trip to penedas wine region/cava bodega tour)
Barcelona - day trip to Figueres and Girona for Dali Museum and GoT filming locations)
Santiago (RyanAir Flight from Barcelona to Santiago lands at 8:30AM) - pick up rental car
Gijon - scuba?
Bilbao
Bilbao
San Sebastian
San Sebastian
Logrono (rioja wine region)
Logrono
Aranda del Duero (riberia del duero wine region)
Aranda del Duero
Madrid
Madrid
Toledo (do we need 2 nights here?)
Valencia
Valencia - Day trip to Montserrat
Valencia - Paella cooking class
Mallorca (RyanAir flight from Valencia to Mallorca lands at 9:55PM)
Mallorca - scuba?
Mallorca - Festa des Vermar!
Seville (RyanAir flight from Mallorca to Seville lands at 3:35PM)
Seville
Seville
Seville
Jerez (sherry wine region)
Jerez
Tarifa - scuba?
Cordoba
Cordoba
Granada
Granada
Granada
Last day - Fly out of Malaga at 5PM

Looking forward to any suggestions/ideas/comments/tips/tricks/etc.
baileypp is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 9th, 2018, 10:30 PM
  #2
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 18,758
This trip is definitely fast paced – and I understand that you know that, but I say that even as someone who also travels hard and fast! So while I can imagine that this plan could work, I think it really depends on what you want to see and do. As examples: I found myself hard-pressed to see what I wanted in Barcelona itself (not counting any day trips) with 5 full days on the ground, and I didn’t have jet lag when there. And I have difficulty imagining how you will manage your stops in La Rioja and Riberia del Duero -- you'll have to reserve your winery stops, and it seems to me that you aren't leaving yourselves much time for that purpose.

Perhaps I’m misunderstanding your plan, but I generally don’t see time for transportation in this schedule. So, for example, you don’t really have three days in Granada – you have, perhaps, 2 days and bits of others. Remember that in addition to time for your actual transportation (and getting to airports, etc.), you need time on either side for getting to/from your lodging, checking in/out, packing/unpacking, getting lost/oriented, etc.) And note that many things in Spain are closed on Monday, and often for all or part of Sundays too; and many things in Spain will also be closed daily for a very long mid-day break.

Some specific comments:
  • I think trying to visit Figueres, Girona, and the GoT filming locations in a single day trip from Barcelona would be very ambitious.
  • Many people visit Toledo as a day trip. I had more than 48 hours there, and would have loved more. And as already suggested, those were hours that were packed from the time I woke up until there was literally nothing else I could do that day.
  • By Monserrat, do you mean the abbey? It would, I think, make much more sense to visit it from Barcelona than from Valencia. But maybe you mean something else....
  • You couldn’t pay me to use a car for Madrid, Toledo, or any part of Andalusia that can be seen without a car -- not when Spain’s public transportation system is so convenient, fast, and comfortable. YMMV.
  • If the goal is to “really experience … Toledo, Granada, and Cordoba,” then IMO, you are moving at too fast a pace. JMO.
  • Be sure to reserve the Alhambra as soon as you can!
  • I take it that you have decided not to visit Malaga? And that you feel comfortable not being in Malaga the night before your flight? That’s not something I would do; again, YMMV.
Good luck!
kja is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 9th, 2018, 10:36 PM
  #3
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2018
Posts: 4
We've been getting differing opinions on the driving thing. About half the people say drive, you see more small towns and can stop and enjoy scenery that way while the other half say that the place you're driving from and the place you're driving to will be terrible to drive IN, and the nice towns and views along the way aren't worth the misery of having the car in the city. I take it you're in the second camp?
baileypp is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 9th, 2018, 10:59 PM
  #4
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 18,758
I choose whether to have a car based on what I want to see and the speed, comfort, and ease of public transportation.

I'm glad I had a car in northern Spain and Catalunya, where IMO, the scenery is often worth seeing, stopping in interesting towns is possible and convenient, and parking in the cities themselves is not that onerous.

As already stated, I'm glad I did NOT have a car for Madrid, Toledo, or the parts of Andalusia that don't require it -- much of the scenery is not all that interesting IMO; my time was too limited to stop here and there, particularly when high speed trains were an option (and note that your time is even more limited than mine was); and parking in / near my highest priority destinations (Madrid, Toledo, Granada, Cordoba, and Sevilla) would have been a serious PITA.

If you haven't already seen it, you might find some value in my trip report on northern Spain and Catalunya:
Four Awesome Weeks in the North of Spain and Catalunya

I visited central and southern Spain before I joined Fodor's, so didn't write a trip report.
kja is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 10th, 2018, 03:00 AM
  #5
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 44,153
I agree totally with kja. You do NOT want to visit Madrid or Toledo or Granada or Cordoba or Sevilla with a car unless you want to spend your days futzing with the car and traffic and parking instead of actually seeing things. Not my ideaof a vacation. And IME, the "scenery" could just as well be missed in that part of Spain.
StCirq is online now  
Reply With Quote
Feb 10th, 2018, 04:06 AM
  #6
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,872
We always have a car. We want to be free and do not want to rely on public transportation. When we are IN cities, we leave the rental car in the hotel car park (or car park nearby). Have never experienced difficulties in finding a covered and guarded car park.
We love driving from place to place and be able to stop whenever we want. The scenery in Andalucía is very pretty once you go off the autopista. Same for Catalunya.
To each his/her own.
MyriamC is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 10th, 2018, 04:28 AM
  #7
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,357
I also take trips of approximately that length, travel hard and agree that your itinerary has some problems. Not so much for length of time in each place but you are going to be blowing right by some amazing places without time to stop because you are visiting so many different regions. Even though 37 days is a long time, Spain is huge and you can't really see it all even in that amount of time.

So I would remove at least one area - probably Valencia and Mallorca (those are the only places on your list I have not been to so maybe they are more wonderful than I think they are, but you are kind of backtracking to get to them, plus it involves a flight which always takes more time than yo think it's going to).

I'd rent a car upon leaving Barcelona and drive to San Sebastian and do the north in reverse of what you have (saves another flight). You could detour into rioja area, then back up to Bilbao and on to Santiago. I would substitute Laguardia for Logorno. There are a lot of things in the northern area you are skipping such as the Picos and several nice towns right on the coast. I think Oviedo is nicer than Gijon.

From Santiago I'd stop at least one night in Salamanca on the way to Toledo. I'd do three nights in Toledo with a day trip to Madrid if you really want to see it. Everyone does it in reverse but I agree with Kja that one day for Toledo is not enough, and even though parking would be a hassle it's easier than parking/driving in Madrid and you said your husband wasn't crazy about it anyway.

Then on to Seville where I'd drop the car and use public transportation for the rest.

This plan means only one car rental - I think your plan you must have more than that what with flights. This plan also has no flights. It's still fast paced but a bit slower than your original plan.

Here's my photos of Spain - Zenfolio | Isabel's_View | Spain On that same site is my blog/trip report to Northern Spain.

And here are a few more of my Spain trip reports (I've been to Spain 6 times and still haven't seen it all) Spain Photos (lots) and trip report (a little) from July trip to central Spain

Isabel's spring break to Sevilla, Cordoba and Granada - photos and trip report
isabel is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 10th, 2018, 05:05 AM
  #8
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 6,129
We have been to Spain many times as well and we'll be revisiting Madrid in April, due to a fun but unexpected occurrence. We never rent a car in Spain while in big cities and only rent them when visiting smaller towns. The intercity trains and buses in Spain and comfortable and reliable and very different than in the US. And when you do rent a car, try to find a facility on the periphery of a city of so you do not have to navigate the city.

I would not spend as much time Valencia as planned. I know nothing about scuba diving.

Here is the most exotic Game of Thrones location, that used to be rarely visited.
San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, Spain | Basque Country Tourism
IMDonehere is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 10th, 2018, 05:52 AM
  #9
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 13,182
Valencia is a great city with lovely beaches ....
I would certainly spend more time in Valencia than Toledo .( I found a day visit sufficient)
Not familiar with Mallorca. Malaga is a very nice Andalusisn town on the sea.

You are used to hot weather so temps of 90+ F in some parts of Spain will not be a problem.
On our many visits to Spain we used only public transit ; many times I wished we had a car.
danon is online now  
Reply With Quote
Feb 10th, 2018, 06:14 AM
  #10
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,872
Given baileypp's interests (food, wine, wine tours, filming locations, scuba) I think her itinerary is very well doable. They seem to enjoy driving (just as we do) and perhaps they are not so much interested in the cultural heritage of a country.
We have done numerous road trips in Spain (going again in March, April and October) and are never bored with the scenery along the road, the small villages, unexpected views, etc. Not everyone feels the need to spend hours and hours visiting museums, churches, etc.

Re Tarifa: Tarifa is known for being one of the best watersports locations in Europe. It's a paradise for windsurfers and kiteboarders. Isla de las Palomas (the southernmost point) is a well-known spot for scuba divers although scuba in Europe cannot be compared to scuba in the Caribbean. Especially in Tarifa the water may be very cold and it's usually very windy ... Tarifa is where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean. But the beaches are fabulous (do visit the beach in Bolonia).
MyriamC is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 10th, 2018, 06:18 AM
  #11
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,872
Originally Posted by danon View Post
Valencia is a great city with lovely beaches ....
I would certainly spend more time in Valencia than Toledo .( I found a day visit sufficient)
I share your opinion/advice!
MyriamC is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 10th, 2018, 08:41 AM
  #12
 
Join Date: Feb 2018
Posts: 1
Hi Bailey,
Heres some information regarding Spanish towns that people forget about:
1 # Monserrat Monastery
Situated just above Barcelona on the map, the monastery is the perfect place to travel to if you’re staying local. The monastery sits just below a beautiful mountain known as Tibidabo that boasts amazing views of Barcelona. There is the possibly of hiking to the top of Tibidabo, giving stunning views over Barcelona and the coast.
If you’re looking for a tour, look no further. There are a range of tours that you can take to explore this stunning monastery, with possibilities of near by wine tastings.
2 # Llafranc, Catalonia
Llafranc is a beautiful coastal town with multiple opportunities to explore what the Spanish coast has to offer. The town is famous for being beautiful and quiet, so if you’re looking for peace and quiet… this is the place for you.
Fancy exploring the oceans? Well there are three diving centres locally to the town to allow you to delve right in.
If you prefer to seek land adventures, don’t stress. Llafranc offers this too. Walk the coast of llafranc through woodlands to discover the neighbouring town of Calella De Palafrugell.
3 # Extremadura
Extremadura is a western Spanish region which borders Portugal, offering a wide range of historical and modern activities. The capital, Merida, centres the historical interests with roman theatres, nature reserves, palaces and museums making something for everyone. It is also known for its fantastic food and stunning wines.

If you'd like to look at some more places like this you can take a look at my blog (touringbrunette.wordpress.com)
touringbrunette is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 10th, 2018, 08:43 AM
  #13
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 4,558
Where you go and what you visit is for you to decide.Some information to help you plan this trip a bit better.
Do not be fooled by the idea that driving long distances in the US is the same as in Spain/Europe. Speeds on Autovias (highways) is higher. Road design is very different too.There very different regulations and driving customs here in Spain. You should acquaint yourself with them, via the likes of videos on YouTube etc to help you.
One night stop overs do little to help you understand and explore the area you are visiting. Slow down and see more is my advice.
There are phone apps for almost everything these days. Some will help you find parking places, traffic situations, including police control locations, Accommodation reservation and just the general GPS ones. However the law states the driver must not touch either the phone or a GPS whilst in control of a vehicle. So you have to rely on your passenger to do the work.
Car parking here is not so cheap. However you will usually find the car-park has CCTV and a manned office. Some car-parks cannot be entered by foot unless you swipe the ticket to open the door. They are normally quite safe. Some hotel give a discount if you use a parking which they have an agreement with check with them.
Sometimes Madrid restricts traffic due to extreme air contamination. When they do there are lower speed limits on the ring road plus driving into the centre can be restricted and car-parks closed. This can happen at any time with little warning.
Do not try an learn to drive shift if this is your first time driving in Spain.[left]There has been a recent problem with Ryanair about their new luggage regulations. Please ensure that you read and understand them and that you comply with them. The airline is known to be very strict over these sorts of issues.
The cathedral in Santiago is undergoing repairs. I have read that entry inside will be restricted or not open at times. There is no mass in the cathedral after Easter.
The works are ongoing on the outside of the building. Webcam1 webcam2
Hope that helps to kick off some thoughts.
ribeirasacra is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 12th, 2018, 02:23 PM
  #14
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2018
Posts: 4
Originally Posted by MyriamC View Post
We always have a car. We want to be free and do not want to rely on public transportation. When we are IN cities, we leave the rental car in the hotel car park (or car park nearby). Have never experienced difficulties in finding a covered and guarded car park.
We love driving from place to place and be able to stop whenever we want. The scenery in Andalucía is very pretty once you go off the autopista. Same for Catalunya.
To each his/her own.
We'll do the same - we definitely will NOT be driving IN the cities.
baileypp is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 12th, 2018, 02:24 PM
  #15
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2018
Posts: 4
I think we've decided to cut Valencia. Thanks for the suggestion!
baileypp is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 13th, 2018, 12:23 AM
  #16
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 4,558
Originally Posted by baileypp View Post
We'll do the same - we definitely will NOT be driving IN the cities.
I do not know how you are going to undertake this vacation. Everything you have listed except Aranda del Duero, is considered a city by Spanish standards.
ribeirasacra is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 13th, 2018, 08:59 AM
  #17
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,872
Originally Posted by ribeirasacra View Post
I do not know how you are going to undertake this vacation. Everything you have listed except Aranda del Duero, is considered a city by Spanish standards.
This doesn't mean they have to criss-cross city centres. If it's just to drop off the car, no problem at all. I either check Viamichelin or Google maps for car parks, or I ask the hotel for the nearest parking if they don't have private parking. I really don't understand the fear of so many Fodorites to drive in cities in Spain or Italy. Brussels or Antwerp is a lot more difficult to manoeuvre!
MyriamC is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 13th, 2018, 04:28 PM
  #18
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 18,758
Originally Posted by MyriamC View Post
I really don't understand the fear of so many Fodorites to drive in cities in Spain or Italy.
Fear has absolutely nothing to do with my approach, and I don't see why anyone would think a decision to avoid driving in some cities would necessarily be fear-driven. That would be like saying that people who choose to drive fear public transportation -- which could be true in some cases, but I doubt that it's common. For me, at least, its a simple calculus: Do the advantages of having a car outweigh the disadvantages, or do the advantages of using public transportation outweigh it's disadvantages. My answer varies from trip to trip, and even from parts of Spain (or Italy) to other parts of the country.
kja is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 14th, 2018, 12:13 AM
  #19
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,872
Originally Posted by kja View Post
Fear has absolutely nothing to do with my approach, and I don't see why anyone would think a decision to avoid driving in some cities would necessarily be fear-driven.
As you may know, English is not my first language so I probably haven't expressed myself clearly. Sorry for that.
MyriamC is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 14th, 2018, 01:57 AM
  #20
 
Join Date: Jun 2017
Posts: 319
Originally Posted by kja View Post
Do the advantages of having a car outweigh the disadvantages, or do the advantages of using public transportation outweigh it's disadvantages. My answer varies from trip to trip, and even from parts of Spain (or Italy) to other parts of the country.
Absolutely.

I've driven to Spain but usually fly to city centres. Driving let me get to some more remote stops easier. But a trip that centred around large cities on high speed rail lines I'd personally avoid the car. Driving means picking hotels to please the car more then pleasing me. Locations often out of the city centre. Personally if possible I'd rather stay central.
Traveler_Nick is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 01:04 PM.