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Flying into Madrid April1 for One Week.. Need Advice!

Flying into Madrid April1 for One Week.. Need Advice!

Jan 13th, 2012, 12:12 PM
  #1  
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Flying into Madrid April1 for One Week.. Need Advice!

Really need some help and guidance! I am flying to Madrid for one week starting the morning of April 1st and am renting a car. Would like to see Madrid,Barcelona as well as other smaller "diamond in the rough" cities along the way if at all possible? We enjoy being off the beaten path and experiencing the true culture outside of the larger tourist spots. We are very excited about Madrid and Barcelona but are most excited to get out and see the country along the way. Any help would be greatly appreciated!!

Thanks so much!
Rudy123 is offline  
Jan 13th, 2012, 12:46 PM
  #2  
 
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Well, honestly I think you're better off not renting a car and using the train between Madrid and Barcelona. With only a week you'll be hard pressed to see much more than Madrid and Barcelona. I'd definately base myself in these 2 places and you could potentially do daytrips to some smaller cities. From Madrid you could visit places like Toledo, Segovia, Avila, Cuenca, etc...From Barcelona there's Montserrat, Tarragona, Vic, Girona, Sitges, etc... All of these are easily visited by public transportation and in most cases driving would actually take longer. You could also stop in Zaragoza on the train ride between Madrid and Barcelona.

If your passion is truly the smaller places you may consider just visiting Madrid OR Barcelona and then spending a few days by car exploring the surrounding areas and using a smaller city as a second base.
CathyM is offline  
Jan 13th, 2012, 01:02 PM
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I agree with the previous poster, and we tend to travel by rental car. But in your situation, and in Spain, public transportation would work better. Especially if you're going between Barcelona and Madrid.

All of the cities mentioned are lovely places to visit, and great choices, but if by "off the beaten path" you mean places that do see tourists, or that aren't in guidebooks, they don't fit that definition.
Lexma90 is offline  
Jan 13th, 2012, 01:04 PM
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The first thing you need to do is to beg, borrow or steal a Spain guidebook. A guidebook will give you all kinds of information about hotels, restaurants, sights, and transportation options. I always plan with a guidebook and then bring one or two of them on the trip.

If you do rent a car, I would suggest seeing Madrid first and then renting a car at the airport, driving to Barcelona, where you would drop off the car at the Barcelona airport. Driving in either of those cities would be, in my opinion, hellish--and I say this as a person who tried to return a car at the Madrid train station and finally gave up and headed for the airport.

Toledo is an easy day trip from Madrid, as are Cuenca and Aranjuez. The geology around Cuenca is absolutely fabulous. (Also my opinion, but then I'm a fan of interesting geology.) I found the countryside in Spain to be fascinating, whether it was rocky cliffs, hills covered with olive trees, or plain old fields growing whatever.

Segovia is not far from Madrid, as is Avila.

Another option would be to take the high-speed train from Madrid to Barcelona. That would be my choice. You can take the train from Atocha station, which is in the middle of the city, and you would arrive in the middle of the city of Barcelona.

But whatever you do, get that guidebook. Your time is limited, so you'll need to plan carefully.
Pegontheroad is offline  
Jan 13th, 2012, 01:05 PM
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Three minds with but a single thought!
Pegontheroad is offline  
Jan 13th, 2012, 01:09 PM
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Just another comment/thought:
Do you realize you're arriving on Palm Sunday and will be in Spain during Semana Santa (Holy Week)? This is a week of incredible processionals, particularly in Andalucia where it can be quite crowded in some cities. Especially towards the end of the week people will be traveling as they are off for the holidays. Whatever you decide make sure you book any long distance train tickets in advance. Given your interests in experiencing the true culture you may want to stick with just Madrid OR Barcelona then find a smaller city where you can experience Semana Santa. For example, Zamora (in Castille) is well known for Semana Santa. You don't mention Andalucia but Cordoba but is only 1:45 minutes by AVE from Madrid. It doesn't get as crowded as the other cities in Andalucia (and the hotel prices don't get jacked up as much either) and the processionals are quite impressive. I'm sure there are other similar cities in Catalunya and around Madrid but I normally head to Andalucia. If you were interested in this option I'm sure others could help with recommendations.
CathyM is offline  
Jan 17th, 2012, 11:00 AM
  #7  
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Thanks you so much for your help! I am going with your advice and not renting the car. I agree that with a limited amount of time I need to keep it to Madrid and Barcelona. I reall appreciate all of your help and will def. be picking up a guide book. The day trip to Andalucia or Toledo sounds like great options for a day tip. Again thank you so much for all your input!
Rudy123 is offline  
Jan 17th, 2012, 11:01 AM
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Does anyone have a good recomendation on how to go about booking hotels? any good websites? Thanks!
Rudy123 is offline  
Jan 17th, 2012, 12:25 PM
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I usually check Expidia and booking. com
also the hotel webpage ifh I like the location and reviews .
danon is offline  
Jan 17th, 2012, 12:31 PM
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I use the reviews in Trip Advisor and booking.com and then go directly to the hotel website and book. I also do a search onm the hotel name on this forum. If you narrow it down to a particular small list of hotels you can always post asking for advice on choosing.
CathyM is offline  

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