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Help Plan 17 nights Madrid, Andalusia, Madrid

Help Plan 17 nights Madrid, Andalusia, Madrid

Old Feb 22nd, 2016, 04:38 PM
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Help Plan 17 nights Madrid, Andalusia, Madrid

Just booked flights, arriving Madrid May 18, 4pm, departing Madrid June 4 morning. We've been reading and learning - its our first trip to Spain. Surely we see the recommended itineraries and routing for the main cities south of Madrid - but... we hope to fit in some hiking, small villages, beaches and not sure how to fit them in and where. Seems we might need a car to tour the White Villages but not sure.
Would it make sense to head to Toledo for first night May 18, then head south, and tour Madrid at the end since we have to head back there anyway? We do enjoy the smaller villages vs the bigger cities, but do want to see the highlights, some museums in each city and experience Flamenco dancing, etc. We are active hikers, cyclists (may do some day cycle trips). We live in the mountains at home and love to hike near water.

Can you experts out there help us route ourselves, emphasizing which small villages and beach areas to visit, and where to rent/drop off a car. Hiking near Granada has been recommended, also Ronda, Cadiz. Is there a driving route through the white villages with one or two overnights? We are ok to take trains and buses between the big cities/towns.
- Should we stay first night in Toledo or Madrid? Then head by train south (where)
- If possible we like to explore beach areas nearer to the end of our trip.
- Malaga seems too big and congested for our liking. What other beach areas would you recommend? We are intrigued by Cadiz - or ???

Thank you in advance.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2016, 05:00 PM
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Not sure how you feel about hot weather - but be aware that in June it may be awfully hot for hiking - as well into the 90s. If that's not a problem go for it.

We found the weather in late April (highs well into the 80s) plenty warm for us - and needed the AC and pool at the hotels. That is the latest I would go to that part of the world - but I know many people don't mind very hot weather.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2016, 06:19 PM
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"Would it make sense to head to Toledo for first night May 18, then head south, and tour Madrid at the end since we have to head back there anyway?"

That would be my choice! Your call.

"Hiking"

The hikes I took in that part of the world were in Las Apujarras, specifically, the Poqueira Gorge (which also has "white villages," even if they aren't on most itineraries). I took a bus to and from Granada.

"Seems we might need a car to tour the White Villages but not sure. "

You can see Ronda and the Poqueira Gorge without a car. For other white villages, you probably would need one.

"Can you experts out there help us route ourselves'

It really depends on the places that you end up deciding to see. Note that many things in Spain are closed on Monday, and often for all or part of Sundays too; and many things in Spain will also be closed daily for a very long mid-day break.

With 17 nights, you should easily have a wonderful experience, but you might not be able to see everything on your wish list. So be forewarned that you might face some painful decisions! IME, there are no bad choices in this part of the world -- just difficult ones.

Hope that helps!
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Old Feb 23rd, 2016, 08:00 AM
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Remember, if you go to Toledo first, you'll have to return to Madrid in order to go south again if you're using the train.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2016, 08:17 AM
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First steps in planning an adventure would be to rough out your itinerary, decide your transportation needs, then book your flight. Not the opposite, which you appear to have done.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2016, 08:23 AM
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Though you do arrive somewhat late in the day, to avoid having to split your time in Madrid (or backtrack from Toledo), you may wish to do what I did and head to Cordoba upon arrival. It is just under two hours on the train. Some would rather hit the ground running, but I did not mind with jet lag. Dinner will be late anyway!

If you stick with public transport, there is a nice hike you can do via bus and train just outside of Ronda. http://www.rondatoday.com/ronda-walk...mera-de-libar/
If you rent a car, I would take a look at the Zahara-Grazalema area. I regret not making it there.
http://www.rondatoday.com/tag/zahara/
http://grazalemaguide.com/
http://www.andalucia.com/province/ca...ierra/home.htm

The outskirt of Malaga, not so great, but the historic core is charming. I saw some of the beaches south of Cadiz out a window (those close to Vejer de la Frontera), but they looked worth researching.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2016, 08:24 AM
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A lot of people snag an airfare and then plan a trip--it is not that big of a deal! There are a million itineraries one could plan around Madrid.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2016, 08:42 AM
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Last year I found this to be an OK site for researching hikes, everything from "gentle strolls" to "mountain challenges" scattered around Andalucia. I didn't sign up, but just used the basic free information they provide for ideas.
http://www.walkingworld.com/Walks/Spain/Andalucia.aspx

Lots of hiking in the Cazorla Mountains, but not an easy place to reach.
http://www.sierrasdecazorlasegurayla...=66&Itemid=206

We drove there from Cordoba and returned the car to Granada.
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Old Feb 24th, 2016, 08:21 AM
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Thank you to all the responders and for these great tips. We booked the flight first for a few reasons - 1: we had frequent flier miles and few options for free seats and 2: couldn't be away longer, this time. We know there is far more to see and do that 17 days will allow. Since we prefer to spend more than in the smaller villages vs cities, we thought of half/half cities and small towns. Based on your replies and further research here's what we are thinking today:
arrive May 18, fly to Seville 3 nights (is 2 hours enough time to change flights. we'd arrive 3:50 pm, depart 5:50 pm. there is also a 10pm flight. Where would we go through customs?),
train to Cordoba 1 night, or day trip??
train to Granada 2 nights - explore city, Alhambra.
rent a car for 8 days:
- drive to Trevelez 2 nights, hike
- drive to Grazalema 2 nights, hike
- drive to beach somewhere 3 nights (Cadiz or nearby?) Drive through white villages along the way and/or as day trips.
- return car to Seville. train to Madrid
- 3 nights Madrid, day trip to Toledo.

another option we are looking at instead of Cadiz for beach area is Nerja for beach and Cadiz as day trips.

BTW we last year we did lots of museums and city time in Amsterdam and Paris.

Would love your thoughts on this itinerary, especially before we book the flight upon arriving in Madrid.
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Old Feb 24th, 2016, 08:35 AM
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You would go through customs in the country you arrive first. Two hours is probably enough, but you never know if your first flight will be delayed, etc. As long as you know there is a later flight, probably worth risking it. But then if you are checking bags, that is extra stress.
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Old Feb 24th, 2016, 08:52 AM
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The Cádiz region is known for fabulous beaches:
http://www.spain.info/en/reportajes/...do_el_ano.html
http://www.theguardian.com/travel/20...atalonia-ibiza

Or I can recommend tiny Maro (pop. 800) just east of Nerja, and much closer to Las Alpujarras (Trevelez/Grazalema etc) than Cádiz. The beach in Maro was recently voted the best in Andalucia and #2 in Spain: http://www.spain-holiday.com/Maro/ar...-de-maro-nerja
About Maro: http://www.nerjatoday.com/maro/
http://www.absoluteaxarquia.com/areas/maro.html

Salobreña and Almuñecar would also be obvious and relatively small beach towns after Las Alpujarras: http://www.andalucia.com/salobrena/home.htm
http://www.almunecartoday.com/
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Old Feb 24th, 2016, 05:42 PM
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"train to Cordoba 1 night, or day trip?? "

Your call! I was glad to spend 2 full nights in Cordoba; other people find a day trip sufficient.

"day trip to Toledo. "

Toledo is another place that many people visit as a day trip. For my interests, I thought it worth 2 full days and could easily have used more time there.

"BTW we last year we did lots of museums and city time in Amsterdam and Paris."

Does that mean you DO want to visit museums or do NOT want to do so? (I trust you realize that the art you would see in the majority of major museums along your route is quite different than anything you would have seen in Amsterdam or Paris....)
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Old Mar 9th, 2016, 09:38 AM
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Thank you to all for your replies and help... we have made a few revisions and welcome your feedback. Not all hotels are booked and we can make changes if this plan doesn't make sense... would like to book train and bus tickets and Alhambra quickly. Much of the change was made to arrive in Granada when Alhambra is open evenings. First plan we were there Sunday and Monday...

arrive May 18 Madrid, 4pm. train or shuttle to Toledo, 2 nights.
May 20 Toledo to Madrid 1 night, Prado Museum afternoon/evening.
May 21 early bus to Granada (didn't see a train...?) Arrive noon. night tour Alhambra
May 22 Granada
May 23 bus to Nerja, 2 nights. local hikes. celebrate anniversary in a beach town.
May 25 bus/train to Malaga airport. pick up rental car. El Torcal hike. to Ronda La Perla B&B 3 nights
May 25-28 Ronda as base. hike Grazalema.
May 28- driving tour white villages, Arcos, etc.
May 28-30. Cadiz or beach town (which one??) 3 nights
May 31-June 3 Sevilla. return rental car May 31.
June 3 early train to Madrid with stop/day trip Cordoba
June 4 11:30 am flight to US

Please comment on this plan. Thank you all in advance!
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Old Mar 9th, 2016, 04:14 PM
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Should be a great trip!

I'm sure you realize that your time in Madrid is extremely short, but it's also one of the easiest places in Spain to reach from elsewhere, so I easily see the logic of short-changing it.

I think I already mentioned that I was glad to have 2 full days in Cordoba, but many people visit it en route from Sevilla to Madrid -- no right or wrong answers, just different preferences.
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Old Mar 9th, 2016, 05:53 PM
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thank you - yes we had to shorten Madrid and Cordoba. Originally we'd planned an overnight in Cordoba but changed it. At least we should have time to see the Prado and Meqzuita, just not linger.

do you think our routing is Ok?
is it worth heading to 2 beach towns? we were also trying to minimize the # of car rental days, having it mostly in the smaller towns.

thanks again...
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Old Mar 9th, 2016, 06:04 PM
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Your routing looks good to me, as long as you've investigated the impact of Mondays, Sundays, and lunch hours on your plans. And minimizing your need for a car makes a LOT of sense to me! But I'm really not the person to answer most of your questions -- I am NOT a beach person and made different choices of where to hike and which White Towns to visit. Again, though, no right or wrong answers and thank goodness we all travel with different priorities!
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Old Mar 10th, 2016, 10:29 PM
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<bus to Nerja, 2 nights. local hikes. celebrate anniversary in a beach town>

Then I suggest to celebrate in the beach town Nerja. Lots of great restaurants in town, from traditional no fuss Spanish places to top end dining. But for a celebration, I would perhaps recommend the Restaurante 34 terrace with sea views: http://hotelcarabeo.com/boutique_hot...staurant34.asp
https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restau...Andalucia.html
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