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Lexma90 Jun 26th, 2011 04:16 PM

How to Allocate Days in Andalusia
We're planning a 10-night trip this October (over DD's fall break), including arrival night, but not departure day, flying in and out of Madrid. We'll pick up a rental car from the airport, and spend the first night in Toledo. Our last 4 nights will be in Madrid. Those pieces we're sure on.

The middle is a bit mushy, except that we're sure we want to visit Granada, Sevilla and Cordoba. All 3 of us are interested in history and culture (and the art, in Madrid in particular; this trip started with a huge desire to visit the Prado) and local cuisine. We're planning to end our time in Andalusia with Sevilla, drop the rental car there, and take the AVE to Madrid. How should we allocate our 5 nights between those 3 cities?

nytraveler Jun 26th, 2011 05:00 PM

I would drop one day in Madrid - which IMHO is more like Chicago than Spain (no complaint about Chicago - but it's fine where it is). You need at least 3 nights in Seville, 2 in Granada and preferably 2 in Cordoba to get anything like a real feel for this totally unique corner of europe.

Lexma90 Jun 27th, 2011 04:16 AM

Thanks for the suggestion. I know that as a European city, Madrid is relatively young and doesn't have some of the beautiful city scenery that others do. We had devoted 4 nights to Madrid because we're big museum-goer, and for us, I had reasonably felt we'd need a day for the Prado, another day for the Reina Sofia and Thyssen museums, and a third day for anything else we want to see in Madrid.

But now I'm thinking that we could add another night to Andalusia, take the AVE to Madrid, and spend 3 nights (2 1/2 days) there, and see what we most want to see.

It's always a juggling act when traveling...

Egbert Jun 27th, 2011 04:26 AM

3 or 4 in Seville, 2 in Granada, one night in Cordoba. If you love museums, stick with 4 nights in Madrid. They are exhausting but amazing. Why not do Toledo as a daytrip from Madrid on the 4th day? I might land in Madrid and head immediately to Cordoba or Seville.

NanBug Jun 27th, 2011 05:28 AM

I would also ditch the car. With your itinerary, there's no need for one. You'll end up spending lots of time looking for parking, navigating one-way streets and paying for parking.

Take the train directly to Toledo upon arrival. When you see the narrow winding streets there, you'll be glad you're not driving.

For example, last year -- we flew into Madrid > immediate train to Toledo (overnight) > train to Seville (4 nights) > bus to Ronda (2 nights) > train to Granada (2 nights) > train to Cordoba (2 nights) > train to Madrid (3 nights)

It was easy and stress-free.

Lexma90 Jun 27th, 2011 08:18 AM

The reason we're spending the first night in Toledo is that we arrive rather late in the day. Rather than get ourselves from the airport into Madrid, and then catching the train, we felt it made more sense to pick up a rental car and make the short-ish drive directly to Toledo for that first night. And the hotel we've chosen for Toledo, Hotel del Cardenal, appears to be easy to reach with a car.

We've gone back and forth on train vs. car, and of course aren't committed yet. I'm ok with driving (DH is the navigator), and DH is especially spooked after hearing some co-worker's horrible story of problems with train strikes in Italy. We also narrowly missed a train strike problem in the Netherlands last year, only averted by a very helpful desk clerk who remembered that I'd mentioned we'd be taking the train to Brussels the next day, noticed the announcement of the strike, looked up information on the BUS service (Amsterdam - Brussels), and found us in the breakfast room to let us know we could take the bus. She was great!

Egbert, if we stayed with 4 nights in Madrid, what would you suggest that we do in Madrid, other than the 3 museums. I know there are other things, but I'm wondering whether an extra 1/2 day or entire day would be better (and of course we'll have some time on the other days, too).

Nonbug, did 2 nights in each of Granada and Cordoba, and 4 nights in Sevilla, give you the time to see what you wanted to? I guess I should ask your interests, to see if you focused on what we'd be interested in. To be honest, when I read about the cities, Cordoba and Granada interest me more, because of the Moorish sites and sights there, but people seem to find Sevilla more more enticing.

danon Jun 27th, 2011 08:38 AM

I would spend 4 nights in Madrid. It is a great city with tons to see...(nothing like Chicago).

Stop in Cordoba for a nigh, 3 nights in Seville, 2 max in Granada. The Moorish sites don't take that days to see.
Seville is a bigger place than the other two so it takes a couple of days..

annhig Jun 27th, 2011 08:47 AM

given you want to drive to toledo [and I agree with that as a being a good plan in the circumstances] I suggest the following:

Day 1 - arrive and drive to toledo.

Day 2 - drive to Granada - stay 2 nights.

Day 4 - drive to Cordoba - stay 1 night

Day 5 - drive to Seville. drop off car; stay 3 nights.

Day 8 - train to Madrid. stay 3 nights, finish trip.

IMHO, the museums, though great, will not take you two whole days - one half day for the Prado, another half day for the other two. you should also allow time for a nice walk in the Retiro park, a tapas bar crawl, and the Royal Palace. you will regret cutting down on nights in Seville, if that's what you decide to do!

Egbert Jun 27th, 2011 02:52 PM

Actually I like the idea of 3 nights in Madrid. If you spend four I might do a daytrip to Avila or Segovia, although there is so much to do you could also stay there just walking around. Don't miss the El Greco museum in Toledo. Consensus on most of these sites is that people get bored with more than a day in Cordoba. Seville is special and has a great vibe as well as having a lot going on at night which is not necessarily the case with Cordoba or Toledo or Ronda. I also like Malaga for a night, you could easily take the AVE train from there back to Madrid where I like to finish a trip. Don't drive Madrid to Andalucia or back, it is a long very boring drive.

el13207 Jun 27th, 2011 04:25 PM

We covered a lot of this ground in April: arrived in Madrid and spent 4 nights there so we could go to the Prado, Reina Sofia and Thyssen as well as the Royal Palace (imo you can do those all in 3 days). We took a day trip by train to Toledo for the day, which was perfect (be sure as see the San Tomeo chapel when it first opens to get close to El Greco's amazing Count of Orgaz). We took the AVE onto Seville, stopping off in Cordoba for the day (stashed our bags in lockers at the bus station next to the train station and cabbed to the Mezquita, then walked around the town and all the way back to the train station...)
Seville is a short train ride on from Cordoba- we stayed there for 4 nights. Go to the Casa de la memoria for flamenco-FABULOUS. The Museo des bellas artes is also worth a gander since you too like art. Of course the Alcazar is the jewel in the crown here- we took a great walking tour with Concepcion's partner Alfonso (listed in Rick Steves' book).

We picked up a rental car as we left Seville at the train station and drove through the white hill towns of southern Andalucia, staying in Arcos de la Frontera and Ronda before driving into Granada and dropping the car there. You really do not need a car imo unless you want to drive through the hill towns- it would be a total hassle in Madrid, Toledo, Cordoba, Seville and Granada. The trains are terrific, frequent and reasonably priced, and the route is so direct from Madrid south to Seville. We spent 2 nights in Granada (we really were there to see the Alhambra and not a lot else)- then flew Vueling to Barcelona to finish up for another 4 nights (not on your itinerary, I acknowledge). I'd probably either fly direct from Granada back to Madrid if I were you- the local airlines seem to have reasonably priced flights and you save a lot of time that way.
Whatever you decide, it will be great. The Velasquez' and Goyas in the Prado are worth the whole trip!

NanBug Jun 27th, 2011 04:48 PM

Lexma ~ We're really into Moorish architecture, so we loved Cordoba and Granada. I liked Seville, but it didn't light my fire as much as the other places. Loved the flamenco, hooked on it. The show at Casa de la Memoria was one of the trip's highlights.

If I did the trip again, I'd probably cut Seville to 3 nights (especially since we spent an additional 2 days/nights in Cordoba). I felt that everything else was scheduled well. I had originally wanted to go to Malaga, but didn't have enough time. Next trip, for sure.

As far as the car vs. train question -- I think your DH will be even more spooked when he sees the street maps of these towns/cities and has to park the car. The Spanish train system is lovely, clean, civilized, punctual and really convenient.

You'll have a great trip!

Lexma90 Jun 27th, 2011 06:01 PM

Thanks all for the additional specifics on what you liked and didn't like. We looked into doing an open jaws trip, and nothing really worked with our return flight homes so that's why we're flying in and out of Madrid.

It's funny about cars vs. Trains. On our last trip, with the unexpected Belgian transit strike, we took trains only (plus the strike-induced bus). Yet I got totally stressed out by trying to figure out the trains and platforms in Brussels. At that moment I would have rather been driving (I'm the driver, DH is the navigator).

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