Andalucia itinerary - this autumn

May 17th, 2010, 05:07 AM
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Andalucia itinerary - this autumn


I posted this somewhere else on the forum, and only after I did receive a tip from a contributor and another from the forum moderators on how and where to post it. So here it is again.

My wife and I are planing a trip to Madrid-Andalucia.

Arriving to Madrid on Sept 20 and leaving from Madrid on Oct 4 (14 FULL days in Southern Spain).

We are in our late 40s and appreciate to mingle with the locals, discover authentic food, places, culture (e.g., I would love to have a suggestion for authentic Flamenco tabernas or restos), trying to avoid as much as we can the "tourism" hoopla, although, the reason of our trip is to visit some of those marvelous sites such as the Alhambra and the Mezquita in Cordoba.

One of us speaks Spanish fairly well.
We are renting a car throughout the whole trip and Madrid happened to be just a convenient start-end point (although our agent failed to suggest the flight back from Malaga which would have been more convenient) where we intend to STAY 2 nights at the beginning of the trip.

I would like to probe your ideas about our itinerary and get suggestions for nice places to stay and eat (we are covering the cultural aspect fairly well, I think, although if there is an absolute must-see aside from the known ones, I would appreciate to hear from the connoisseurs - about churches, castles, architecture, museums, fairs, folk culture).
And why not be primitive and attend a corrida ? Where exactly?

As far as hotels and restaurants, we LOVE having the quaint places, not crowded, with a character (who does not ) and authentic, the ones that the locals appreciate. We are thinking of staying at least 1 night in a parador, but do not know if it is worth doing so and if there is one which is worthwhile and recommended on our itinerary.

We rather stay in charming B&B or small places (vs. big chain hotels) as we have had nice experiences in Portugal several years back with such impromptu living accommodations, without having made any pre-reservations.

Finally, our tentative itinerary.
I would appreciate all the help in this and in accommodations suggestions (especially in Madrid). I know that the car can be a burden (parking), so hotel suggestions might take into consideration this factor.

** Sept 20-21 Madrid - 2 nights - and 2 full days in MADRID
** Sept 22 Madrid-Toledo - 1 night - a full day in TOLEDO ?
** Sept 23-24 Toledo-Cordoba - 2 nights - 1 1/2 days in CORDOBA
** Sept 25-26 Cordoba-Sevilla - 2 nights - 1 1/2 - 2 days in SEVILLA
** Sept 27-28 Sevilla-Ronda - 2 nights - 2 1/2 days in RONDA and surroundings (Arcos, Jerez, Cadiz, Grazelma, etc.)
** Sept 29 Ronda-Malaga - 1 night - 1/2 day in MALAGA
** Sept 30-Oct 1 Malaga-Granada - 2 nights - 2 days in GRANADA and on route from the Costa del Sol (Nerja, other ??)
** Oct 2 Granada-Jaen, Baeza, Ubeda - 1 night - 1 - 1 1/2 days in these towns
** Oct 3 Back to Madrid - 1 night

Does this sound logical and feasible?
Should I leave out some cities so we don't have a hectic schedule?

Thank you for all the help.
Muchas gracias por todas las sugerencias en espanol tambien.

Vik Forno
Forno is offline  
May 17th, 2010, 08:43 AM
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To answer both your questions:
Does this sound logical and feasible? yes to both parts. But maybe fly or train back to Madrid?
Should I leave out some cities so we don't have a hectic schedule? That is going to be down to you. You have posted you do not like to pre-reserve, I too, but that does mean some time spent hunting down accommodation. Also driving around a large city can be nerve-racking for some. Are you up to the job?
ribeirasacra is offline  
May 17th, 2010, 08:51 AM
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I'd make some tweaks to your itinerary (some places are a bit rushed) and also not rent a car for the entire trip. In some places it will be a burden (Sevilla & Granada for example).

With 2 weeks and a first time trip to Andalucia & Madrid I'd do something like this:

*Madrid - 3 nights; your first day will be jet-lagged. If you have time a daytrip to Segovia.

*Toledo - 1 night (or alternatively 4 nights in Madrid with a daytrip to Toledo). It depends on if you want a 1-nighter (the con) versus a chance to visit Toledo after the daytrippers have left (the pro). Take the train from Madrid to Toledo.

*Sevilla - 4 nights. Take the AVE (train) to Cordoba, put your luggage in a locker at the bus station (across the street) and visit Cordoba for a day. Then continue (by AVE) to Sevilla for 4 nights. If you like potentially do a daytrip to Jerez (train or bus) or Sanlucar (bus) to visit a sherry bodega. As much as I like Cordoba for a first time trip I'd focus on Sevilla (which deserves at least 3 nights).

*Ronda - 2 nights. Rent a car in Sevilla and spend 2 days exploring the area.

*Malaga - 1 night.

*Granada - 2 nights. Ditch car in Granada

*Madrid - 1 night. Fly from Granada to Madrid. Need to return to Madrid for final night.

You could also reverse this and after Madrid go to Granada.

Have you seen Maribel's guides? They are full of information on hotels and restaurants that fit your criteria.
CathyM is offline  
May 17th, 2010, 10:37 AM
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I may suggest this basic itinerary:
Arrive, pick car and drive to Baeza/Ubeda. Then drive to Granada, Malaga, Ronda and Seville (obviously staying several days in each location). This is, in my opinion, the logical drive. You'll have to park your car during your stay in Granada, but you can't help it. You can drop the car in Seville, going back to Madrid in the AVE train, with days enough to visit Madrid and the daytrip to Toledo option. Cordoba you can make as a daytrip from Seville or on your way to Madrid.
It needs refining, but consider it.
josele is offline  
May 17th, 2010, 02:33 PM
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We stayed at the Hotel Ronda in September. It was the best place we stayed in Spain- spotless, the best shower and the friendliest. lovely owner. The hotel, which is more like a bed and breakfast, was her childhood home. Central location near the bridge. I just loved her !!!!!!!!!!

We also did a tour of the White Villages with Paul McGrath which was highlight of our trip.
milliebest is offline  
May 18th, 2010, 07:12 AM
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Thank you ribeirasacra, CathyM, josele and milliebest

Driving is not a problem (or I hope) as I have driven in Mediterranean cities...Also transport mode is fixed, as we cannot physically carry our bags, etc.

I think that my strategy should be to stay in hotels on the outskirts of big cities and commute by bus or train into the cities. Is it feasible? Based on the feedback I received, I think that these should be Madrid, Sevilla and Granada.

However, are there possibilities to do what I am imagining can be done? Should these be suburbs of the said cities or small quaint towns nearby? My question would be, if I have to do a hotel search, what specific city names should I look for? For example, for Lisboa, we stayed in Cascais...In Montreal one would have Laval, Longueuil, etc.

Josele, your advice is interesting, st we had not considered at all, but given that we are keeping the car with us throughout the trip, it is VERY logical, at least we can arrive to Madrid a couple of days before our departure and get rested from driving. I think we will adopt it and hopefully hotel accommodations will not hinder our decision.
Forno is offline  
May 18th, 2010, 07:35 AM
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Hotel accomodations have been posted here for every city in your itinerary. Only that you better check they have parking lot. In Malaga I may rec. the NH Malaga, very central, by the river and besides El Corte Ingles. AC Malaga Palacio is more central, but has limited number of parking spaces. Molina Lario is in front of AC, but more pricey. (I have read tripadvisor hotel recs. for Malaga, and I do not agree a bit).
In Baeza I stayed at Hotel Juanito (famous for its outstanding restaurant), right outside of town with easy parking. Other hotels (some recently opened) are in the center, where parking is a problem.
Notice that if you visit Baeza/Ubeda, I suggest skipping Jaen.
josele is offline  
May 18th, 2010, 07:37 AM
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We looked into paradors for our recent trip to Madrid, Sevilla, Toledo, and Granada. The locations were not convenient for what we wanted to see and do, and they seemed very expensive for what you get. Some are in interesting buildings, but others look pretty ordinary. We did have lunch at the parador in the Alhambra, Granada--it wasn't inexpensive, but it was good and the service was friendly, though a bit bumbling.
Paul1950 is offline  
May 18th, 2010, 07:54 AM
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Cathy and Josele have given great advice. There is nothing special about the suburbs in Spain. I can't think of a good reason to stay in them. There is a very good reason why the old neighborhoods in Madrid, Granada and Seville are so popular. They are ancient (except Madrid), beautiful, romantic etc. etc. Cars are useless and a hassle in Madrid, Seville, and Granada. I would take the train whenever possible in Spain. With Cathy's itinerary I would not rent a car until leaving Seville. With Josele's I would keep it until reaching Seville. In Granada it's best to try to get as close as you can to your hotel, find a parking garage and leave it there. Take a taxi to the hotel if you have to. All Flamenco is authentic in Andalucia. It depends on whether you want to pay $40 for a tourist show at a Tablao and get to bed early or see something more informal at a bar (these start late). Several great Tablaos in Seville. They attract very good performers because they get paid well. In Granada you'll never forget seeing some Flamenco in the Gypsy caves of Barrio Sacromonte. Read maribelsguides for everything. Oh, and there's no need to go to Nerja if you're short on time but it is on the way from Granada to Malaga so it's an easy stop. You can have lunch and stroll the Balcon de Europa.
Egbert is offline  
May 18th, 2010, 08:27 AM
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You will be visiting Sevilla during the Bienal de flamenco, the world's most important flamenco festival (from Sept 15th to Oct. 9th). Mostly local and knowledgeable crowds. You suggest that you will be in Sevilla some days from about Sept. 25/26. Then you'll have chance to see three of the finest flamenco-artists in the world today: Tomatito in Teatro de la Maestranza on the 25th (guitar), Estrella Morente in the same theater on the 26th (song) and brilliant Pastora Galván in Teatro Lope de Vega on the 27th (dance). I also think the late night concert in the 19th century courtyard of Hotel Triana on the 25th might turn out to be a great experience. Very special atmosphere, might be the start of a long and unpredictable flamenco night.

If I had to choose, I would go for Estrella Morente. I've seen here three times, and two of them were spectacular. This is expected to be one of the highlights of the bienal, and tickets are starting to sell out. Here from her Madrid debut concert in Teatro Lara in 2001:

Also great flamenco performances every night at intimate Casa de la Memória in C/ Ximénez de Enciso, 28. In the midst of the Santa Cruz district. Entrance is just 15€. Young and highly talented artists, occasionally some of the very best on the current scene such as Pastora Galván, Rafael Campallo, Adela Campallo, La Choni etc. Although popular with tourists, this is the real deal:

When in Nerja, have a lunch at bustling La Marina or La Puntilla to get a feel of the local flavour. Especially La Marina in Plaza la Marina is in my opinion as good as you get a seafood freiduria in all of Andalucía.

Top tapas grilled on the spot (conchas finas, mussels, clams, prawns, monkfish, whitebait, baby-squid, sausages, pinchos morunos, mini-burgers etc.) and great atmosphere at El Pulguilla in C/Cristo, just off Balcón de Europa. Free tapas to choose with every drink in the bar area (as in almost all places in Nerja).

Cafetería Cavana, on Plaza Cavana behind the church, is an excellent place to relax and have a heavenly Carlos I (primero) brandy. One of the oldest bars in Nerja.

I would also spend more time in vibrant Málaga. Great cafés, bars, restaurants, shopping, and you'll find both the Moorish alcazaba (fortress), a Roman theater and a great 16th century cathedral right in the city center. Read the article "Málaga: Authentic charm of an overlooked treasure":
kimhe is offline  
May 18th, 2010, 06:06 PM
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Whaaaaaattt??? During the Bienal??????? Por Casualidad? In that case I say stay the entire time in Sevilla.... must see Patora if the timing works for you. She can do traditional flamenco and modern equally well and comes froma flamenco family rooted in Sevilla. And she is gorgeous.

Forno since you speak spanish you better study your jaleo...

Also we did not make it to Casa Anselma in Triana area of Sevilla, Kim had suggested it .Forno that sounds like your kind of place...Kim what do you think?
amsdon is offline  
May 19th, 2010, 01:13 AM
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Casa Anselma in C/ Pagés del Corro, 49 and El Rejoneo in C/Betis, 31 for Sevillanas and top atmosphere. Samara Amador, daughter of living legend bailaora Manuela Carrasco, often sings at El Rejoneo:

You could't find a more genuine flamenco bar than El Mantoncillo in C/ Alfarería, 104.

All places are in the Triana district, across the river Guadalquivir from the city center.

This site gives good info:
kimhe is offline  
May 19th, 2010, 06:35 AM
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Ladies and gents,
This is a fantastic group and I am getting very helpful advice.
Should be back with final itinerary and maybe some specific questions about accommodation and dining in the three big cities (always looking for the "authentic" places)...
BTW, is there a need to pre-reserve any of the touristic venues? I have heard for example that one needs to do so for the Alhambra, is that true? In late September?
One more question for now: I will visit the Prado, but I am afraid I will be lost there for at least a long should I put aside for Madrid - 2-3 days ?(realizing that this is a superficial question, as I have spent a whole month in Paris and not seen enough...)
Forno is offline  
May 19th, 2010, 07:40 AM
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Here is our final itinerary (although I still might need some help refining it)

Sept 20 = Madrid at noon – drive to Baeza ~6 hr – night in Baeza
Sept 21 = 1 day in Baeza & Ubeda – drive to Granada ~1 hr – 2 nights in Granada
Sept 22-23 = 2 days in Granada – drive to Malaga ~3 hr – 1 night in Malaga
Sept 24 = 1 day in Malaga – drive to Ronda ~3 hr – 3 nights in Ronda
Sept 25-26-27 = 3 days in Ronda – drive to Sevilla ~3 hr – 3 nights in Sevilla
Sept 28-29-30 = 3 days in Sevilla – drive to Cordoba ~3 hr – 1 night in Cordoba
Oct 1 = 1 day in Cordoba – drive to Toledo ~5 hr – 1 night in Toledo
Oct 2 = 1 day in Toledo – drive to Madrid ~2 hr– 2 nights in Madrid
Oct 3-4 = 2 days in Madrid and back to Montreal

Are my driving time estimates correct?

I realize that we are changing 8 hotels …

Is it possible to cut 1 hotel and yet do all the cities we want to? I am thinking about either Cordoba or Toledo, but then again they are at least 4 hr driving distance, no?
So, even if I stay 1 more night in Sevilla and leave early in the morning and arrive in Cordoba at, let’s say 10 am, I need probably at least 5-6 hrs there and then drive to Toledo to arrive at midnight? Is it possible to do?
Forno is offline  
May 19th, 2010, 10:25 AM
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*I wouldn't want to drive to Baeza after a transcontinental flight and only spend one night. As much as I like Baeza & Ubeda for a 2 week trip I'd personally skip them.

Why not stay in Madrid at the beginning of your trip for 3 days and Toledo for 1 (or Madrid for all 4)? This would give you time to recover from jet lag and enjoy Madrid.

From Madrid following this itinerary you could drive to Granada and park the car for the next 2 days. Or better yet just fly from Madrid to Granada and pick up the car after Granada.

I'd add a night in Malaga and take one from Ronda. As much as I like Ronda 2 nights is plenty to visit (and I'm a slower traveler).

I'd add a day in Sevilla and do Cordoba as a daytrip either from Sevilla or on the way to Madrid from Sevilla.

I can't think of any compelling reason why you'd need a car once you arrive in Sevilla. The AVE train has great web fares (probably less than you'll pay to just park for the days in Sevilla much less the cost of the rental car & fuel).

8 hotels is an awful lot for a 2 week trip. This gets you down to 6 hotels. Hmmmm....I'd probably just do Toledo as a daytrip. For only one night it makes more sense and is less moving around.

You definately need to reserve the Alhambra in advance.
CathyM is offline  
May 19th, 2010, 12:02 PM
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This is incredible. Forno, your itinerary is almost exactly like mine, (currently taking shape) and I am reading with great interest the wonderful responses you are getting, and taking copious notes. I have made several tweeks to my schedule based on this thread. I have a bit longer, up to 3 weeks, arriving in Madrid, train to Seville, car to Ronda, car to Costa Del Sol (gotta have a beach day), thence to Granada, fly to Barcelona and home. So keep these wonderful comments coming. Forno is not the only one interested. Thanks to all.
BillJ is offline  
May 19th, 2010, 05:46 PM
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IMO more time in Madrid, maybe a day more?
amsdon is offline  
May 19th, 2010, 11:31 PM
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The Sevillana Pastora Galván is one of today's most exciting female flamenco dancers. She dances at Teatro Lope de Vega in her home-town on the 27th of September.

Concha Jareño, last years winner of the dance revelation prize during the Jerez flamenco festival, dances at Teatro Central on the 28th.
kimhe is offline  
May 20th, 2010, 01:52 AM
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At first glance, I find it too ambitious.
I would not care for the jetlag, the road is fine, make sure to make your stops to rest every 60 to 90 min.
If you go to Baeza/Ubeda, they deserve at least one more night. Though they are small, there are so many places to see there. You won't drive much here. Ubeda is 9km. from Baeza.
Cordoba and Toledo can easily be done as daytrips by train.
In Ronda you'll do a lot of driving to White towns, I have a post here about driving there. I may add another trip to Benalauria.
josele is offline  
May 20th, 2010, 07:17 AM
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OMG you're going to be in Seville during the Bienial? That is one of my dreams!
Egbert is offline  

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