Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Europe (
-   -   First time Australians in Spain - really appreciate feedback on itinerary (

rosieperth May 29th, 2018 04:02 PM

First time Australians in Spain - really appreciate feedback on itinerary
Firstly I have to say this is an awesome site with many generous contributors. I have just discovered it and will need to spend days trawling through the wealth of information!

We are travelling to Spain for 32 days in October/November (after a short while in Portugal) & were planning the following:
Overnight train from Lisbon to San Sebastian
San Sebastian (3 nights) – day trip on bus to Bilbao
Train to Madrid
Madrid (5 nights) – day trip to Salamanca on Alvia
Train to Toledo
Toledo (2 nights)
Train to Seville
Seville – (4 nights) day trips to Cordoba on train, Jeerez/Cadiz (hire car)
Pick up hire car for last couple of days in Seville & for drive to Pueblos Blancos. Would others recommend Zahara de la Sierra – I thought it looked central?
Zahara de la Sierra – (3 nights) day trip to Ronda, Arcos de la Frontera, etc .ie. justdrive around
Tarifa (1 night) – day trip to Gibraltar
Return hire car
Tangiers (1 night)
Granada (2 nights) – Alahmbra obviously!
Pick up hire car - drop off in Barcelona (or would people recommend we cath the train from Granada to Valencia & then Barcelona)
Valencia (2 nights)
Barcelona (8 nights – but flight is at 6.50am so will need to leave at an unholy hour in the morning on that last night)

Maybe hire a car just for a the odd day if we want to visit towns outside Barcelona e.g. Besalu & Figueres.

Thanks so much for any advice/feedback.

KarenWoo May 29th, 2018 04:18 PM

I have been to about half of the places you are visiting. These are my comments:

If at all possible, I would spend 1 or 2 nights in Cordoba instead of seeing Cordoba as a day trip. We loved it! It is one of our favorite places. The Mezquite is a highlight, of course, but we also enjoyed the Alcazar, the Palacios de Viana, wandering around the Juderia, and walking across the Roman Bridge at night. We were there for 2 nights, and it would have been nice to have a 3rd night.

Seville - I think you need 4 nights (which gives you 3 full days) to see the highlights of Seville. If you want to take day trips from Seville, I recommend extra nights.

Madrid - 5 nights in Madrid is good with a day trip. We were there for 4 nights (no daytrips). A 5th night would have been nice but not essential.

Toledo - We were there for one night, which worked out for our interests. However, a lot of people on this forum recommend 2 nights in Toledo, so I think that is a good decision.

Barcelona - we spent 5 or 6 nights in Barcelona (excluding day trips), so I think 8 nights is fine including day trips. Or perhaps you could spend a few nights on the Costa Brava, such as Cadaques and/or Girona. But this means you are moving around a lot, and you already have a lot of stops, so 8 nights in Barcelona with day trips might be more relaxing. Since Barcelona is your last stop, you might be tired at that point and would prefer to stay put.

Hope this helps.

PalenQ May 29th, 2018 04:22 PM

Well with that many longer trains I'd look into a Spain Railpass RENFE sells - Renfe - lets you book your trains once there not months in advance to get discounted fares - anyway for tons of good info on Spanish trains also check - great tips on booking discounted tickets on your own thru Renfe and other sites with similar prices that many find easier to use; BETS-European Rail Experts and Consider first class if not on a tight budget - especially for longer train rides - though 2nd class is perfectly OK for most 1st is always a bit more comfy or whatever.

thursdaysd May 29th, 2018 04:36 PM

I would recommend a couple of nights in Salamanca, one of my favorite stops in Spain. I would also suggest reconsidering San Sebastian, which is out of the way and was my least favorite stop. For Salamanca see:

crellston May 30th, 2018 02:08 AM

Apart from San Sebastián (which I really want to go to!) we have visited most of those places from our base 30 km north of Malagá wher we lived for just short of a year.

It is easy to get around Spain by rail or car, although the latter will provide a great deal more flexibility.

Basically, I think you have a pretty good mix of places and a reasonable amount of time in most.

The only changes I would make, based on purely subjective preferences, is to drop Tangier and Gibraltar in favour of a few days in Malagá and/or a couple of nights in Córdoba. Jerez was sort of interesting for teh Sherry bodegas we did have a great evening in a spit and sawdust flamenco bar there but I am not sure I would give up aday in Seville to go there. Cadiz was quite pleasant - until the cruise crowds arrived..

crellston May 30th, 2018 04:24 AM

I meant to add, if you have yet to sort out accomodation then Paradores may be a great option. They sometimes have deals where you can buy a pass for 5-15 nights accomodation, half board or bed and breakfast. We used Find your Parador | Paradores de Turismo a couple of years ago and got to stay in some amazing places, castles, hunting lodges etc. for much the same cost as a normal hotel.

StCirq May 30th, 2018 05:36 AM

I would drop Tangier and Gibraltar also. Make another trip to Morocco and really see the place. You probably won't come away from such a hurried visit with good impressions. Spend at least another night in Córdoba. And maybe another in Sevilla.

We are huge fans of San Sebastián and surrounds. We live 3+ hours away and will even make a daytrip there, we love it so much.

thursdaysd May 30th, 2018 05:54 AM

I actually enjoyed visiting Gibraltar - a little dose of Britain in the course of a long trip. But I agree there's not much point in spending just one day in Morocco.

PalenQ May 30th, 2018 07:44 AM

I too am in the minority for folks who respond here about Gibraltar - I really loved staying in a bit of old England a day - fascinating place - just seeing the famous tailless (and often mischevous) apes on the Rock was great.

Dukey1 May 30th, 2018 08:03 AM

Re Barcelona: I have been many times but somehow I think 8 nights is excessive somehow. Now, if you are planning to do some daytrips to places like Montserrat or Girona or Figueres then sure. As to the paradores: book EARLY

bilboburgler May 30th, 2018 08:45 AM

8 days is too much for Barcelona, have day trips to Girona, Figueres, even Perpignan or Narbonne.

BigRuss May 30th, 2018 09:00 AM

San Sebastian (3 nights)
Madrid (5 nights)
Toledo (2 nights)
Seville – (4 nights)
Zahara de la Sierra – (3 nights)
Tarifa (1 night)
Tangiers (1 night)
Granada (2 nights) – Alahmbra obviously!
Valencia (2 nights)
Barcelona (8 nights)

I'd cut the Tarifa and Tangiers parts. Tangiers is a port town and not really interesting (other than to say you've stepped foot on Africa). Gibraltar is a pocket of grumpy POHMs and larcenous monkeys and really not fun.

How old are you and what are your interests? Right now, your trip looks like the usual Aussies-to-Europe punch list of places to go.

Cordoba deserves time.

Salamanca deserves time (and it's a rough day trip due to distance from Madrid).

Granada is meh other than Alhambra.

Dunno if I'd blow two nights in Toledo either.

KarenWoo May 30th, 2018 09:47 AM

Regarding Toledo, I do think it’s a good idea to spend at least one night there. Toledo is very crowded with tour buses, and I don’t think I would have enjoyed it as much if we didn’t stay overnight. At night it is less crowded after the day trippers leave, and very beautiful at night. Whether or not you stay 2 nights depends on your interests. One night was sufficient for us.

PalenQ May 30th, 2018 12:39 PM

Staying overnight in Toledo sounds neat for reasons given but relocating for just one day takes a lot of time - I did day trip from Madrid and was happy but two nights better -maybe arrive one late afternoon and stay all next day.

8 days Barcelona seems a bit much too. If going to Morocco why not make it a few days longer?

rosieperth May 31st, 2018 09:49 PM

I Thank you SO much to all those who have provided advice. Your comments & advice have prompted lots of discussion and research into the suggestions.

We have reluctantly decided to skip San Sebastián (& particularly to not see the Guggenheim) hopefully we can see the north of Spain on another trip. We have therefore decided to add in 2 nights in Salamanca & 2 in Córdoba (cutting one off Seville).

We may be able to skip Tarifa as an overnight stop if we can cram Gibraltar into one day and still get a ferry across to Tangiers on the same day. I acknowledge the advice about skipping these two destinations but we are curious and would like to see both places as I doubt we will ever be back to this part of the world.

I’ve been trying to research the train journey to Salamanca from Lisbon but it is apparently too early to get any details (we will be making this journey in early October) so I have to bide my time.

I should have said we are a couple in our 50s who love experiencing different cultures and seeing how the locals live, architecture, nature, walking, history - all of which we will be able to indulge in Spain :-) We will try and learn a smattering of Spanish/Catalan because it is important to demonstrate that we respect the people and their culture.

rosieperth May 31st, 2018 09:58 PM

Sorry - I wasn’t dismissing the advice about spending a shorter time in Barcelona but we have about a 50 hour journey to get home, and I don’t sleep on planes, so would like to be as rested as possible before we leave Barcelona :-(

bilboburgler May 31st, 2018 11:02 PM

Spain has 4 languages, but luckily 99% speak Castilian (what most people call Spanish). Barcelona is the capital of Catalan, but you need to get out into the smaller places to be able to chat about the culture (and guess what they don't all agree ;-) ).

I too would not pop over to Tangiers. If I was doing Morocco I'd prefer to go to Marakesh. (check the flights they may be similar or even cheaper).

RM67 Jun 1st, 2018 02:00 AM

I love this itinerary and would keep it pretty much as is, but would probably ditch Gibraltar. Please don't drop Tangier as I'm quite keen to go myself and would love to hear about it!

thursdaysd Jun 1st, 2018 05:12 AM

You will need to take the night hotel train from Lisbon to Salamanca, although unfortunately it will get in around 5:00 am. There are very, very few train links between Portugal and Spain. For info on the train, the Lusitania, see:

You probably want to book about 60 days out. The timetable shouldn't change, but take another look in July, after the mid-year timetable changes (see if you are having difficulties with the Portuguese site). I agree that a flight to Marrakesh is a better idea than Tangier, and I would take one night from Barcelona and spend a night there. You will want to see the central square after dark. One less day in Barcelona shouldn't make too much of a difference. You could fly from Lisbon to Marrakesh and then from Marrakesh to Madrid. Check skyscanner for flights.

If you want to know more about Tangiers check the North Africa board, but there are also posts here. For instance:

PalenQ Jun 1st, 2018 08:00 AM

With 8 days in Barcelona and doing Morocco I'd take more than a day from Barcelona.

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