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Getting Around Spain and Best Spot to Stay

Getting Around Spain and Best Spot to Stay

Apr 3rd, 2012, 05:37 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 11
Getting Around Spain and Best Spot to Stay


My husband and I (who reside in Canada) are travelling to Spain at the end of April 2012 for three weeks.

There is a lot of helpful information to be found in the forum topics but I have two questions that I'm hoping to get some advice on.

1) We were thinking of staying in Malaga for a week, and using the city as a base to vist nearby destinations like Ronda, Gibraltar, Seville, Cordoba, Granada, etc. Is this feasible? We'd probably rent a car to visit the surrounding area but I just want to make sure that Malaga is a good base.

By the way, if it is a good location then does anyone have a recommendation for a hotel... with free wifi?

2) I have read that it isn't wise to rent a car in the big cities like Madrid and Barcelona but I have also read that with the exception of the high speed trains, train travel in Spain isn't the quickest or most economical way to get around. Is this true? If so then any suggestions for travelling around Spain... that also isn't too costly?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


Jessika2011 is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2012, 06:08 PM
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1) Malaga is more than one hour from any of your destinations and well more than two hours to Sevilla. Your objective of travel would be more of driving in Andalucia as opposed to visiting Andalucians cities. Is this what you want to do? Also, the night life in Spain starts around 10pm. So, day tripping to these locations means you only get to experience the night life in Malaga. Also no Alhambra night visit, flood lit Alcazar, etc.

2) I presume you drive to everywhere at home? There is no single answer to car vs. trains vs. bus question. You have to consider the implication on each segments as well as the whole itinerary as a unit. Each segment has different cost/benefit/hassle/parking considerations.
greg is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2012, 08:55 PM
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i would rent a car-- then drop it off when you get to a big city-- or when you train to a big city.

the roads in southern spain are fantastic! we swooned with memories of how california roads used to be back in the day...the roads were just so well kept up. easy driving. just don't drive into the heart of the hilltowns without a brave heart.... roads can be so very tiny.

i agree with the previous poster-- you will be doing a lot of driving if you use only one base. perhaps you could choose a second base that's farther west-- have two 3 or 4 day bases rather than one 7 day base??
kawh is offline  
Apr 4th, 2012, 04:18 PM
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Malaga is a great city and deserves 1 to 3 nights but Seville deserves 3 nights minimum and Granada 2. There is not one base that is convenient for seeing all of Andalucia. I almost never suggest renting a car as it is a major hassle in places like Seville, Granada, Madrid, Barcelona etc. Public transport in Spain is just so good. The only time I think it;s good to rent a car is to explore the "white villages" outside Ronda. Although quaint to look at in my opinion there is nothing interesting or compelling in the white villages that can compare to the fantastic small cities like Granada, Malaga, Seville, Cadiz and Cordoba.
Egbert is offline  
Apr 4th, 2012, 04:37 PM
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Thanks so much for the responses. I foolishly thought that basing in one city would be feasible but I forgot that there is quite a bit of distance between attractions... and yes greg and kawh, we definitely don't want to spend most of our time driving.

We're not sure of our itinerary yet but I have another question. We've travelled to Austria, Italy, etc. and have always travelled by the "seat of our pants". Which means that once in the country, we generally book a hotel a day before we reach whichever city we're travelling to. (With the exception of booking a room beforehand so that we don't have any hassles finding a room right after we land into Madrid.)

So, I have heard that May is festival season in Spain and therefore, it may be difficult to obtain a hotel room. Is this true? Will we have problems finding accommodations?
Jessika2011 is offline  
Apr 5th, 2012, 05:26 AM
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Málaga is a fabulous city with a genuine Andalusian atmosphere and would be a great base for a good part of your trip. 50 mins with the high speed AVE/Avant train to Córdoba, 40 mins by bus from Antequera (see bottom of the post) and 40 mins by car from the spectacular prehistoric Nerja caves. http://www.cuevadenerja.es/

Málaga would also be a great base for exploring the mountain villages and the beautiful landscapes of the Serrania de Ronda.

Great sights in the center of Málaga, within three hundred meters you'll find the newly excavated Roman theater, the Moorish Alcazaba (8-11 century), the beautiful 16th century cathedral and Picassos's birth place and the Picasso museum. But the real attraction of Málaga is the atmosphere, the people, the narrow streets, the bars, the cafés, the restaurants, the nightlife.

Don Curro is a great value hotel in Málaga in the absolute best location, free wifi also: http://www.booking.com/hotel/es/hoteldoncurro.en.html

In early May, Andalucian towns - especially Granada and Córdoba - celebrate the "Cruces de Mayo": http://www.spanish-fiestas.com/spani...es-de-mayo.htm

Córdoba in May is something special, the "cruces" celebration is followed by the patio competition leading on to the flamenco inspired Feria by the end of the month.
Córdoba patio exposition and competition: http://www.andalucia.com/cities/cordoba/patios.htm

The famous Jerez horse fair also takes place in May. Feria de Caballo de Jerez: http://www.andalucia.com/festival/jerez-horse-fair.htm

AND allow several days for Sevilla, the undisputable queen of the Andalusian cities. On May 8th I highly recommend to see the 27 year old flamenco dance genious Rocío Molina in Teatro Central in Sevilla. Could easily be the highlight of your trip. She won the National Danze prize last year, has been voted best flamenco dancer by Spanish critics several years and New York Times described her in 2009 as "one of the finest soloists in the world today". After her latest performance in London Financial Times wrote: "Molina has genius: irresistible, all-consuming, all-powerful."

Antequera, just north of Málaga city, is known as "the heart of Andalucía" or "the crossroads of Andalucía". Almost right in the middle of the Sevilla, Córdoba, Granada, Málaga rectangle. Here you'll find dolmens (some 5000 years old burial chambers), Roman baths, a Moorish Castle, Gothic churches, Renaissance fountains and baroque bell towers. Antequera was the first of the Granada emirate towns to fall to the Christians in 1410.

I love the terrace in the corner of the peaceful square in front of the Real Colegiata de Santa María la Mayor, the first partly Renaissance-style church in Spain (built 1514-1550). Up here it's totally peace and quiet. Next to the recently excavated Roman baths beneath and looking up on the 13th century Moorish alcazaba/fortress. Great views over unique landscapes (the spectacular Torcal limestone mountain etc.). Had the concert experience of my life up here a few years ago (yes, Molina). http://www.wild-about-travel.com/201...ing-antequera/
kimhe is offline  
Apr 5th, 2012, 05:30 AM
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.. and no, will normally not be any problem finding hotel a day before arrival with the possible exeption of Córdoba in the weekend of the patio festival.
kimhe is offline  
Apr 6th, 2012, 08:49 PM
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Thanks so much kimhe for your in-depth response! We will definitely arrange our schedule so that we're in Seville on May 8th. I'm really looking forward to seeing Rocío Molina.

I'm also really glad that you told us about Antequera. It sounds like an amazing place to visit and we most likely would have missed this gem.
Jessika2011 is offline  
Apr 6th, 2012, 11:12 PM
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The correct adress to the Antequera page: http://www.andaluciacoastandcountry....era-spain.html

Some more precise Antequera tips:

1. The 5-6000 years old dolmens (burial places) on the outskirts of town, facing the mythical Peña de los enamorados/Lovers' rock:

2. The Museo Municipal in Plaza del Coso Viejo has arguably got the finest piece of Roman sculpture found in Spain, the Efebo de Antequera/The Youth of Antequera. Also a very interesting first floor that bear witness of the towns history on the border between Christian and Moslem Spain before the final takeover of Granada in 1492.

3. The Carmelitas Descalzas (the barefoot Carmelite nuns) sell cakes in their convent: "Inside the heavy wooden entrance, there is a small counter with a display of bakery products and prices, next to a revolving wooden door. You pull a rope which rings a bell, and then hear a woman's voice say "Sí" after which you give your order and place your money on the tray. The hidden nun then spins the tray around, with the pastries emerging from the door." The ascetic, mystic and quintessentially Spanish patron saint Teresa de Ávila (1515-1582) was a Carmelite nun.

Short presentation of Molina on Andalusian TV when she received their 2011 flamenco prize recently: http://www.canalsur.es/portal_rtva/w...icia?id=184206

Have a great trip!
kimhe is offline  
Apr 7th, 2012, 09:53 AM
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You can probably find good hotels by the seat of your pants. I would still go over hotel reviews on trip advisor to make sure you get really good, clean hotels as opposed to nasty places. In this day of the internet there is no reason to stay at a bad hotel like in the old days. Having said that, places like Seville and Granada get millions of tourists every year now and many of the good hotels get booked up during travel season.
Egbert is offline  
Apr 7th, 2012, 10:26 AM
Join Date: Apr 2012
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If your staying in Malaga and want to see all those places rent a car. Road to Ronda is long a windy, I mean one u-turn after another for at least 45 minutes. make sure u arrive early for best pix of the bridge from the outskirts. we arrived too late and only got shots from restaurant and hotel next door. Driving in Malaga might be tricky, don't know didn't go there. Don't even attempt driving in Seville. leave ur car at the railstation and take a cab to the Cathedral from there everything is walkable except La basilica de la Macarena. I would ditch Malaga and split that time between seville and Granada and take day trips from those much more historical and interesting places. From Granada day trip to the coast in Nerja. and from seville day trip to Ronda and tarifa is an undiscovered gem. breathtaking sunsets on a relatively empty beach. we were the only ones there in late march. Also from sevilla day trip to all the white hill towns. and Cordoba. good luck. Spain is awesome no matter what u decide. I just read what greg wrote and I agree, as I mentioned before Instead of 7 nite in Malaga I would do 3 nites in Granada (way more interesting a place than all the other places) and 4 nites in seville ( also incredibly beautiful and interesting. spend two whole days in seville and use the other two to explore white hill towns and Cordoba. Spend two days exploring granada and one day exploring coast.
emmywoodfall is offline  
Apr 7th, 2012, 10:39 AM
Join Date: Apr 2012
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BTW. must reply some more because I just got back and I'm still in lala land over spain. My only regret was wasting time on gibraltar. if you like monkeys go to costa rica. Because of Gibraltar we arrived to granada after 10pm and we're only gonna spend two nites. We were able to see everything in granada thanx to spain's restaurant being open so late and a nice family owned restaurant's owner's son laying out an itinerary for us to be able to see everything around out Palacios Nazaries appointment at 2pm. But I would definitely have like to arrive way earlier that day (around 1-2pm) and spent an extra nite. Also walking in seville is faster than taking a taxi. Small streets with heavy pedestrian traffic makes walking faster than driving. rent the car only to leave Sevilla, the main avenues are very wide.
emmywoodfall is offline  
Apr 8th, 2012, 01:18 AM
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From wikipedia:
"Málaga's history spans about 2,800 years, making it one of the oldest cities in the world. It was founded by the Phoenicians as Malaka about 770 BC, and from the 6th century BC was under the hegemony of Ancient Carthage. Then from 218 BC it was ruled by the Roman Republic and later the Roman Empire as Malaca (Latin). After the fall of the empire it was under Islamic Arab domination as Mālaqah (مالقة) for 800 years, but in 1487 it came under the dominion of the Spaniards in the Reconquista. The archaeological remains and monuments from the Phoenician, Roman, Arabic and Christian eras make the historic center of the city an "open museum", displaying its rich history of more than 3,000 years."

"Málaga, Spain: Secret Spanish pleasures"
kimhe is offline  

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