Andalucia by train, car or bus?

Old Mar 17th, 2014, 08:07 AM
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Andalucia by train, car or bus?

Hi everyone. My husband and I will be spending 10 days in Spain, flying in and out of Madrid. We're thinking of spending 3-4 days in Madrid, then time in Andalucia (specifically Seville, Cordoba and Granada) for 5-6 days with the final night back in Madrid. We're having a hard time deciding how to travel around Andalucia.

Travel by train looks like the fastest option, but multiple tickets for 2 people seem like it could end up being quite expensive and, of course, highly scheduled. Travel by car looks like the slowest option, but renting a car doesn't seem that cost prohibitive, we're comfortable driving in Spain, and it would give us freedom to explore.

Would value feedback on the options:

- Trains only, i.e. from Madrid to Seville, then trains between the cities in Andalucia?
- Rent a car in Madrid, drive to all locations?
- Train between Madrid and Seville, then rent a car to travel between the cities in Andalucia?
- Or, get on a bus tour, leaving all transport to the company? I saw a tour from Madrid to Andalucia and back via Viatour, but the reviews appear to be mixed.

Thanks everyone!
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Old Mar 17th, 2014, 08:29 AM
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If you only have 5-6 days for Andalucia then take the train Madrid to Sevilla, Granada to Madrid and for Sevilla to Granada the train or bus. A car is great for exploring but you just don't have the time. I'd stay 4 nights in Sevilla and 2 in Granada. As for the cost did you price the train tickets at full rate or using promo or promo+ rates (the deeply discounted rates available with advance purchase)? You also need to factor in the expense of fuel and parking when renting a car (parking can be quite expensive).

Taking a tour is a choice if you're the type that likes organized tours. With only 5-6 days for Andalucia it's a pretty easy trip to plan on your own.
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Old Mar 17th, 2014, 08:54 AM
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Andalucia is great for driving if you have the time and inclination to hit the white villages and some of the smaller "non-core" locations. You appear to have the inclination, but not the time with only 5-6 nights available in the middle of a Madrid sandwich and a desire to hit the core of Seville, Cordoba, and Granada.

Have you decided to spend you last three days in Madrid, rather than the first 3 (and then the last night)? I would recommend that. If you decide on that then I recommend heading straight to Seville on the AVE after arrival - at 2:30 hours it is no worse than if you were taking a connecting flight from Madrid, really. 4 nights in Seville with Cordoba as a day trip (50 minutes) and then bus to Granada (as fast as the train and more convenient) for 2 nights (plan to see the Nasrid Palace in Alhambra at night and then visit the entire complex during the other day), and then on to Madrid by train for 3 nights.

The drive from Madrid to Seville is not that interesting and a car in Seville is a disastrous idea - you would want to park it for the entire time. Picking one up when you leave Seville "works" but if you only plan 2 nights in Granada (another terrible location in which to have a car) you don't have time to enjoy or see any of rural Andalucia so why rent a car for what the bus and train can do just as well?
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Old Mar 17th, 2014, 09:22 AM
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Train between Madrid and Seville, then rent a car to travel between the cities in Andalucia?>

That's a nice option - trains and or buses can get you to those cities and if you only want to stay in those cities may be the best way to go since those cities are not that car-friendly - but to drive around say the iconic white villages of Andalucia - between Seville and Ronda (a gem - deep gorge running thru town) then yes a car - so are you spending more time going between cities or just wanting to reach a big city - the latter take trains or from Granada to Seville perhaps a bus option as well.

For lots on Spanish trains check out these superb sites - www.seat61.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com.

Go to www.renfe.com - the Spanish Railways site for discounted tickets that yes are set in stone - hard or impossible to change or refund I believe, at least at the same cheap price but you can cut costs by locking yourself into a specific train long in advance - fully flexible buy at station fares can be sky high.

For Madrid the trains to day trip destinations are so so nice why bother with a car - say just to day trip to Toledo or Avila or Segovia, etc. - again old congested cities that are not car friendly.
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Old Mar 17th, 2014, 09:27 AM
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Thank you for the responses. 4 nights in Seville (with a day trip to Cordoba) and 2 nights in Granada all via train/bus sounds very good based on your advice.

My question now: Why the recommendation to visit Andalucia before staying in Madrid? Thanks!
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Old Mar 17th, 2014, 09:41 AM
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We did this almost exact itinerary in December! We visited Madrid before, so spent more time in Andalucia. I recommend for you:

Arrival: Madrid
Day 2: Madrid, museums
Day 3: Madrid, day trip to Toledo
Day 4: Madrid, museums or day trip to Segovia
Day 5: Madrid, palace and parks(take 5pm train to Granada)
Day 5: Granada, Alhambra
Day 6: Granada, visit markets and churches in morning, then train to Seville
Day 7: Seville, Seville cathedral, Alcazar
Day 8: Seville, Plaza del toros, plaza de espanya, walk to Triana neighborhood
Day 9: Seville to Madrid with a stop in Cordoba for 4ish hours to see Mezquita. Luggage lockers available in bus station not train station. Not worth staying one night. Frequent high speed trains allow for this!
Day 10: fly out

All of these are doable by train!
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Old Mar 17th, 2014, 09:51 AM
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It is a personal preference based on experience. If am flying in and out of the same airport I like to end my trip with the stay in that city rather than begin it there, if possible. If you stay in Madrid at the front end, you still need to get back to it the night before your departure. That means your last day on vacation would be one of packing up in Granada traveling to a hotel near the Madrid airport. You could manage a leisurely morning in Granada, and take a mid-afternoon train to Madrid, arriving in the early evening and making your way to the airport, but you would probably enjoy spending that last day completely in Madrid.

It is certainly an option and I have done that last night at the airport thing several times but if I can manage to get onward to my first destination easily after arriving in Europe I prefer to do it that way. Transferring from the airport directly to the train station and catching the AVE high speed train to Seville is not difficult. To get the best price you should buy your ticket in advance so a late flight and missed connection is always a possibility. Another option with less risk would be to arrange a one way flight from MAD to Seville that departs about 3 hours after you arrive. No need to leave the airport then.

If you don't like the idea of doing it that way - and I know some people really don't like the thought of missing a connection booked separately - then you should consider going to Granada after an initial stay in Madrid before proceeding to Seville because it will be much faster and easier (more departures available and several hours less travel) to get back to Madrid on your penultimate day from Seville than it will from Granada. You could stay in Seville until 5 pm, catch a train to Madrid arriving at about 7:30, hit your hotel by 8:30 and then catch a last late dinner.
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Old Mar 17th, 2014, 10:07 AM
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Personally, more than one night in Granada is not necessary. We got up in the morning and drove (from Seville) to Granada, visited the Cathedral and Capilla Real and the nearby markets. The next morning, went to the Alhambra for many hours. Truly a worthwhile visit, one of the most beautiful and impressive places I've ever seen. Be sure to go not only into the fortress/palace but also to the nearby gardens for great shots of the entire city!
Seville is extremely difficult to drive around (not even the locals do it, if they can avoid it!) so if you are going to drive, make sure you've got good directions to your hotel and a space to park because you're not going to want to drive around the city. Truly the best way to experience it is on foot or on bike anyway, so you're not missing much. Yes a day trip from Cordoba is doable and well worth it, but if you're concerned about a time crunch, there's no need to spend a night. In fact, you can book a (for example, I have not looked at the bus schedules in a few days) 11 am train from Seville to Cordoba, spend 5 hours in Cordoba at the mosque and exploring a little, then take a train at 8 pm on to Madrid, and relax with some tapas on your last night. You could also spend less time in Cordoba and get to Madrid earlier if there was one last thing you needed to do or see!
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Old Mar 17th, 2014, 02:36 PM
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5 to 6 days, or is that nights, to spread between 3 cities in Andalucia doesn't allow you much time to enjoy the experience, unless you're like some people who only cruise through destinations. Sevilla would be difficult to enjoy with less than three days.

Granada does need at least two good days to see as there is more to it than the Alhambra.

Cordoba on the other hand can be done in a day-trip from Sevilla, or you can stop on the way down from Madrid. Although there are other things to see in Cordoba besides the Mezquita.

Based on your time, traveling by train is the best option, as it is typically city center to city center.

" Luggage lockers available in bus station not train station." There is a new left luggage facility located across the street from the Cordoba train station, but the bus station may be just a convenient, but I would not end my trip with a stop-over in Cordoba, especially on a warm day.
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Old Mar 17th, 2014, 02:48 PM
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Granada does need at least two good days to see as there is more to it than the Alhambra.>

Personally I did not find, in the three times I was there, Granada overall to be the nice a city - a big sprawling polluted city with less overall romance than either Seville or Cordoba - I found very little to make me linger but every city has something - I think there is more more in Seville and Cordoba - Granada after those two was a bit of a let down - OK nice enough cathedral as in any Spanish city.

But everyone has different opinions and tastes and I am not saying Robert is wrong - just that I saw another not so enamoring city.
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Old Mar 17th, 2014, 03:01 PM
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I did that as I was traveling alone and renting a car for a 7-10 day trip was just too much of a hassle. I wnated to see a lot in the cities, anyway. So I visited Cordoba by train and Jerez de Frontera by bus from Seville.

I'm also in the camp of starting in Andalucia and ending in Madrid, that's what I did on that trip, actually. I really like being in the city with the shortest flight home at the end of my trip, one that is nonstop, if possible. I would never go back to Madrid from Seville just to fly home, that's wasted time IMO. Why are you doing that? Seville has an airport and lots of flights. I flew into Seville from the US with only one stop, in London. Lots of flights to London from the US.
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Old Mar 17th, 2014, 07:24 PM
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A radical suggestion: Spend ALL of your time in Andalucia. It really deserves 10 days IMO (minimums I4 for Sevilla, 2 or 3 for Granada, 2 for Cordoba, 1 for Ronda). No need for a car.

Much as I loved Madrid and its surrounds (Toledo, Segovia, etc.), Madrid has an international airport and so is a place that is relatively easy to visit on a future trip. Just a thought....
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Old Mar 13th, 2017, 07:11 AM
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Hi!
I would like to recommend yoy bidupp. I was in Malaga last Christmas holidays and I was traveling around the Costa del Sol with this transfer.
It's an app really useful regarding travelling from one point to another. You can order a transfer and they will pick up in your locations and take you to the place you want to go. The best option if you don't want to think in where to park in case you rent a car.

Hope this was helpful and best wishes for your trip in Spain!
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