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How many days to stay in Madrid? (1st time travel to there..)

How many days to stay in Madrid? (1st time travel to there..)

Old Feb 10th, 2015, 03:27 PM
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How many days to stay in Madrid? (1st time travel to there..)

Hi, everyone,
I always get good advice and suggestions here.
We are set to fly to Madrid the last week of March. We have an apartment in the Barrio de las Letras (sp? sorry..) for the entire week.
Not counting the day we arrive, and the day we leave, we will have 6 full days in Madrid. We plan to take at least two day trips, to see Toledo and Segovia.
I am considering a third day trip. Maybe. ? Not sure where... Maybe El Escorial, on one of the bus tours, or maybe we should take the fast train to Valencia or Cuenca for the day? I don't know!

Will three full days in Madrid proper give us a satisfying taste of the city, or should we add a fourth day? Or should we take three day trips with 3 days in Madrid?
For a third day trip, where would you go? Why?

We like history/art/ruins/architecture/cathedrals/wine (my 17 yr.old will be with us, so an all-day winery tour would be a waste and boring for her..) and taking photographs of scenery, buildings... Daughter and I are strict vegetarian, so I'm not a foodie (unless you know of a good vegan place somewhere, then tell me!)

Finally, we will not be renting a car.

Thanks!
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Old Feb 10th, 2015, 04:21 PM
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That's a tough question to answer! I also love art -- enough that I was happy to spend 10 hours straight in the Prado, and the better part of a day in the Thyssen Bornemisza, and hours and hours in the Reina Sofia, and most of the rest of my 4 full days in the Madrid in other museums. I know many people who enjoy art who would find that overkill. ;-)

Maybe you can wait until you are there to decide whether a 3rd day trip suits your interests? I don't think you have any bad options!
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Old Feb 10th, 2015, 04:22 PM
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Cordoba. The mosque is exquisitely beautiful and the town is delightful, with many historic aspects and lovely architecture. You can take the fast train there. It makes a nice paring with Toledo. Do some google searches for Cordoba.
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Old Feb 10th, 2015, 04:30 PM
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Madrid is one of those cities people love or dislike.

It is a big city - different parts have a different vibe
For art lovers, there is enough museums to spend weeks
The Royal Palace is impressive
There are several parks, Retiro being the most famous
Upscale shopping along Calle Serrano in Salamanca
Good dept. store: El Corte Ingles
Perhaps, you can wait until you are in Madrid to decide if you have enough to do
or wish to take more trips.
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Old Feb 10th, 2015, 04:40 PM
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Valencia and Cordoba are 1:40 min from Madrid, but after adding time to and from train stations
on each end, you are looking at a long day .
Closer to Madrid : Aranjuez , Alcala de Henares. Chinchon,
all interesting places.
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Old Feb 10th, 2015, 05:05 PM
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I've been to Cordoba. I'd love to go back, but my traveling companions will not on this trip (I've actually already suggested it.)
My husband and I could spend all day in a museum, but my daughter could not...
I could shop, though, ..
I'm sure if we spent the fourth day still in Madrid, we'd be happily engaged - just worried that we might miss out on something else we could've seen... Then again, I realize there is no way we can see everything worthwhile in one week!
Maybe we will play it by ear, then.

danon, I haven't heard of those last three places. Thanks, I'll look them up. Is there public transit to them, do you know?
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Old Feb 10th, 2015, 05:31 PM
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On my first stay in Madrid, I had 5 nights. Don't particularly enjoy big cities so my plan was to see Madrid in 2 days and spend the rest of the time doing day trips. Never left Madrid! Loved it!

And, while I enjoy art, I only spent about 3 hours in the Prado.

Had to plan a separate trip to see my planned 'day trips'! LOL!
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Old Feb 10th, 2015, 05:35 PM
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Cercania ( fast commuter train) will take you to Alcala de Henares ( a university town, Servantes
museum and house) Aranjues( Palace, pretty gardens ) , Chinchon can be reached by bus ,
(we were driven there so I don't have info on bus schedule)
popular with locals, there is a winery, a parador , very Spanish...a bull ring in the centre of town!
We liked all three.
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Old Feb 10th, 2015, 05:51 PM
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Thank you so much, danon!
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Old Feb 10th, 2015, 05:53 PM
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I second Chinchon. You can also wrap El Escorial into your Segovia day if you're intrepid enough.
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Old Feb 10th, 2015, 06:18 PM
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I think your day trip idea is a good one-at least to Toledo and Segovia. I spent 5 days in Madrid and loved it but as others have pointed out it's not a typical capital city with famous monuments and sites.

For me, the people watching was the biggest thrill-going into a cafe or restaurant standing at the bar and watching the Madrileños. I'd also urge you to go out to a few neighborhoods like Cuerca(sp?) to see the real Madrid beyond the city centre.

I for one, loved the food, shopping and the people seemed more friendly than some big cities. Though I think speaking Spanish helped.

Hope you love Spain as much as I did.
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Old Feb 10th, 2015, 06:39 PM
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Thank you, emily71. We visited southern Spain (Sevilla, Granada, Cordoba, Ronda, Nerja and a few stops in between..) two years ago, and we all fell in love with it. Especially Sevilla.

We did not make it to Madrid or any other region, so we decided to visit for my daughter's spring break week this year. I wish we had more than a week to see more places in Spain, but we are working around my daughter' school schedule for now...

One of the things I really liked about Seville was that there were few super-famous sites, but the focus was more on just enjoying the moment and atmosphere.

I think we will take the Toledo and Segovia trips on the weekend (I'm booking bus tours to get everyone out the door early and ensure that we actually go!)), while spending the first three days in Madrid. I may leave the last day, a Monday, free, and just see how we feel. I looked up Chinchon and Acala, and like the looks of both. My daughter may like the latter, as it is apparently a university town, as well, and she is interested in studying abroad in Spain during her college years.

Thanks to everyone, again, this was very helpful!
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Old Feb 10th, 2015, 06:51 PM
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I would not recommend Toledo and Segovia on weekend days as they will be mobbed! Weekdays should be less crowded. I would hate to be in either town when crowded. And, I love them both!

And, although it may not be possible in your case, at least one overnight, if not more, are recommended in both towns.
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Old Feb 10th, 2015, 07:02 PM
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Thanks for that tip, joannyc. It's also the weekend before Holy Week, so it may be more crowded than usual... Guess we could split up the days in Madrid, then...
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Old Feb 10th, 2015, 08:03 PM
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First off, I think its great you're staying at Barrio de las Letras ( by the way, correct spelling), its my preferred area.
Sorry if I missed it but, is this your first time in Madrid? If so, I think 2 day trips is enough. Four days to savor Madrid, the museums, Retiro Park, Royal Palace, long dinners/ lunches, shopping, etc. , just being there, would be enough for me . And yes, Danon is right, for some reason people either love or hate (dislike) Madrid (I'm in the LOVE category!!)Hopefully you'll get good weather which will make sitting outside possible. In that case , for sure 4 days in Madrid is not even enough!
Don't over commit yourself, if you're bored you can always hop in a train/ bus to Cuenca, Avila, El Escorial, etc.
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Old Feb 10th, 2015, 08:19 PM
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Buying convent sweets is a great thing to do and makes for a very cool story when you get home.

Enter the cloistered convent, view the menu, order from the nun behind the lazy susan who you cannot see, have her place your order on the lazy susan and swing it around to you, place your money on it and swing it back and she will will swing back any change you are due. Anonymous, honest and a trusted transaction.

And the dolces are delicious!
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Old Feb 10th, 2015, 08:35 PM
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Dolces = Dulces
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Old Feb 10th, 2015, 11:55 PM
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We took a bus tour to el Escorial and thought it terrific- the hotel recommended the particular company. It's quite chilly there because of all the stone, dress warmly!
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Old Feb 11th, 2015, 09:09 AM
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cruiseluv, Yes, it is our first time to Madrid.

It is sounding like Madrid is a good place to linger, and savor the atmosphere... Based on that, I think I'll only book two tours ahead of time - one to Toledo for the day, and one to Segovia - and leave the rest of the time open to explore Madrid. If, for some reason, we've had enough of Madrid proper, I have some ideas for other places nearby to see on the fourth day.

I hope it is warm enough to be outside, too! I'm in Chicago right now and sick of winter and snow! If it is over 50 F, I will be happy!

nvl325, I see that most tours to El Escorial are half-day trips, so that may be very doable for the extra day.

Thanks, everyone!
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Old Feb 11th, 2015, 09:11 AM
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And I have to ask - why do people hate Madrid?

I've heard that theft can be problematic there if one is not careful, but other than that, it seems like a great city to explore, from other travelers' descriptions and trip reports...
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