Itinerary Help: Granada or Madrid??

Old May 2nd, 2015, 09:10 PM
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Itinerary Help: Granada or Madrid??

We will be taking our first trip to Spain in September. First some background about us: we are in our early fifties and enjoy walking everywhere if possible (helps to keep off the pounds after indulging in all the wonderful food!). We haven’t traveled extensively in Europe but have loved our trips to London, Paris, Amsterdam, Rome and the Amalfi Coast. We love architecture, immersing ourselves in the culture, beautiful vistas and as mentioned, great food. We’ll visit one or two museums and/or art galleries and adore old, exquisite churches.

We have 11 days for this trip (not including travel days) and are choosing between the following:

Itinerary A:

Day 1: Fly into Madrid
Day 2-3: Madrid (with possible day trip to Toledo or Segovia)
Day 4-7: Seville (with day trip to Cordoba)
Day 8-11: Barcelona
Day 12: Fly home from Barcelona

Itinerary B:

Day 1: Fly to Seville (daytrip to Cordoba)
Day 2-4: Seville (day trip to Cordoba)
Day 5,6: Granada
Day 7-11: Barcelona
Day 12: Fly home from Barcelona

So essentially, we have to decide if we should visit Granada or Madrid? And how many days for each city? With only 11 days, I know we won’t be able to see everything we’d like in each city, but at least we will get a taste. And from what I’ve read so far, Barcelona is a must but I am open to other possibilities.

Thank you so much for all opinions and any advice you can give us!
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Old May 2nd, 2015, 09:25 PM
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No, no, Barcelona is not a must, but Seville, Codoba, and Granada are ! Go to Madrid and those three and save BCN for a trip with Provence.
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Old May 2nd, 2015, 11:17 PM
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I love Barcelona, but Bedar has got a good point. The only thing is that both Madrid, Sevilla, Cordoba and Granada could, and most probably would, be hellishly hot in September, while wonderful Barcelona offers - among very many other things - the cooler sea breeze.

Both Madrid and Barcelona are fabulous cities and very different in most respects. Not a coincidence that FC Barcelona vs. Real Madrid is one of the absolute most heated classics in the soccer world.

Intro to Barcelona:
Intro to Madrid:

So the question is perhaps Madrid or Barcelona?
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Old May 3rd, 2015, 03:06 AM
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I would keep Madrid and Granada, and cut Barcelona this trip, not because it is less beautiful or interesting, but because it is easier to get there on other trips, while Granada is not and fits well with Seville and Cordoba. That would give you time for other places in the area, perhaps Ronda or Marbella.

Walking around Granada up in the Olive groves gives wonderful views.
Do go to Toledo. You will love the cathedral.
The Prado is a very exciting museum.
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Old May 3rd, 2015, 05:00 AM
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It will, indeed, be extermely hot in Spain in September. With just 11 days, I would be tempted to skip both Madrid and Barcelona this trip and take it slow through Andalucia, perhaps spending a couple of days in Malaga which may be cooler by the sea.
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Old May 3rd, 2015, 07:09 AM
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mamcalice's advice is good. Eleven days in Spain in September should include a couple of days by the sea. Great, genuine and 3000 year old Malaga city by the Med has got a huge international airport. Malaga is 2h 30 mins from Madrid with the high speed AVE Train, city center to city center, and it's easy to get to Sevilla, Cordoba and Granada from here.

Within 300 meters in Malaga city center you'll find the Roman theater, the 8-11th century Moorish Alcazaba/fortress, the 16th century cathedral, the Carmen Thyssen museum, the new Pompidou center, Picasso's birth home and the Picasso museum. Fabulous tapas bars, cafes, terraces and restaurants, great theaters and nightlife. And of course beaches with lots of fine and affordable seafront restaurants.

The Telegraph: "Malaga - Spain's best kept Secret":
Guardian: "City of museums: Málaga bets on culture to draw tourists and talent":
Guardian; "The emerging fine food scene in Málaga and around":
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Old May 3rd, 2015, 08:01 AM
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I meant to say Malaga, not Marbella.
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Old May 3rd, 2015, 12:29 PM
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Thank you all for your replies. I didn't realize it would be that hot in Andalucia in September, which may be a problem. I thought it would be comfortably warm, as I don't do well in the heat. And for us, one of the main draws for doing Spain is Barcelona. Is there another itinerary you might suggest that would include Barcelona? We don't mind hopping on a short flight between cities. For example, what if we did only Madrid and Barcelona? Or Barcelona and Lisbon?
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Old May 3rd, 2015, 12:52 PM
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GiacintaG, I would NOT give up on your Andalusian dream because of the heat. We were in Sevilla-Ronda-Granada-Cordoba at the beginning of last September. It was hot, but just in the afternoons - mornings and evenings were absolutely idyllic. (And Madrid wasn't that much cooler.) Siesta was invented for a reason - restorative and gets you on track for for those late dinners. Take a look at my trip report (starting in the middle).

As far as Madrid vs. Granada, I ADORE Madrid, but agree with those who say you shouldn't miss Granada as long as you're in the area. So if you're set on Barcelona for ocean breezes, itinerary 2 works.
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Old May 3rd, 2015, 08:58 PM
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Barcelona is brilliant, so then I think you should stick to your original plan B. If you decide for thos, I could come back with many tips about Barcelona based on frequent travels here the past years.
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Old May 4th, 2015, 02:51 PM
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We just visited Andulusia in April. We flew into and out of
Malaga(from Ireland , we are from US) visited Nerja ,Figiliana, Granada, Antequerra, stayed in La Joya,Seville, Gilbraltat, Marbella --staying 2 nights at most places. We were there 10 days and just think Spain is wonderful. My husband drove all of it. Good luck in Seville and Malaga both are nearly impossible even with local App and GPS GpS doesn't now an ally from a street. Make certain your side mirrors retract. I don't know anything about Madrid nor Barcelona and not a fan of large cities.i tried to find places that are truly authentic. Seems like Córdoba is far for a day trip from Seville.
My favorites: Granada;-La Joya for a break in the countryside to just hike(LaFuente de Sole);Seville and my husband concurs. We had our 18 yr old daughter and she was entertained all of the time as well.
I hope to visit again
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Old May 5th, 2015, 06:28 PM
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Thank you Crosschek for providing the link to your trip report. I so enjoyed reading it! You are a fantastic writer! And thank you for your comments as well BAHItaly. Andalucia sounds wonderful and magical. But I really think I need to do a trip there when it won't be quite so hot and go when we can take our time to tour just that area. We love the cities and so now I'm thinking we should just do Madrid and Barcelona with a couple of day trips. Any tips would be greatly appreciated Kimhe!
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Old May 6th, 2015, 06:13 AM
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From my point of view Itenerary B would be the best. Not because I said it, but because you will love it. Hey, its a trip anyway so the best of it is to enjoy it. I am a tour organizer and Tour leader with more tan 10 years of experience. If I were you I would do Seville-Cordoba-Granada and get the best of those. My wife and I both work with tourism for many years. We live in Seville city, so from here we can organize everything for you. If you like it, please let me know and we can oofer you the best of those cities. You will not regret it!!!

Have a nice day.
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Old May 6th, 2015, 08:28 AM
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Another vote for Itinerary B. If you like architecture, you'll love Barcelona. And Barcelona has beaches, if you want a little down time.
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Old May 6th, 2015, 09:04 AM
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Architecture til you drop, from some of the finest Gothic in all of Europe to spectacular Gaudi ++ other modernists.

Old churces:
- 14th Century Santa Maria del Mar church, one of the finest excisting Gothic buidlings around:

- The baroque San Felipe Neri church, on the small and hard to find Plaza de San Felipe Neri wih its tragic Civil war history:

and of course the cathedral and spectacular Sagrada familia.

Views, museums, restaurant/tapas bars:

I highly recommend the Miró foundation exhibition in Barcelona. Had a very memorable visit here a few weeks ago.

It's on the way up Montjuic (Jewish mountain) right in the city center with all the cultural institutions, Olympic arenas, green areas and the Castle on the top. Spectacular views of both the city and the sea from up here:

Here are some suggestions for excellent tapas bars/restaurants. The last trip, a few weeks ago, was over the top:

Had a fantastic night at old world and rock'n roll Xemei. The Bigoli en salsa Veneciana was sensational (after 1 min 35 secs):

The Adrià brothers (El Bulli) Michelin star restaurants Tickets is now #57 on the S. Pellegrino World's best restaurant list. Paradise versions of traditional tapas ++. Very affordable for what you get, payed 70€ pp for 13 tapas each with drinks incl. You must book 60 days in advance, midnight Brcelona time. Ten mins after midnight all tables are gone:

Excellent tapas at Tapeo in the medieval and bustling Born District. The Coca de sardina tapa is to die for, but everything here was top quality:
Coca de sardina:

And I never leave Barcelona without having had the delicious Arroz Caldo at 7 Portes from 1836. An institution in town with lots of important local history in the walls:
The fabulous Arroz caldo:


I've previously posted these suggestions for Madrid:

Have breakfast or lunch at Café del Círculo de Bellas Artes in down town Calle Alcalá, 42. One of the city's most emblematic cafés. Grab a window table and watch Madrid life on bustling Calle Alcalá. Take the lift up to the roof topp terrace (the azotea) for great views of the city.

Watch the sunset over the Guadarrama mountains from the terrace at El Ventorrillo in the Vistillas park. Great pollo al ajillo (garlic chicken), some say the best in town. Map, video and some pictures:

Have lunch or some tapas at Casa Granada, on the 6th floor of an apartment building just off Plaza Tirso de Molina. Hard to find and an excellent terrace.

Café Central, just off bustling Plaza Santa Ana, is a fabulous jazz venue with live performances from the best artists every night at 10. Artists shift every week. Entrance 15€. Good food also. Populart, a little further down the street, is also a great place.

Experience world class flamenco in one of the best tablaos (flamenco restaurants). Madrid is arguably the flamenco capital of the world. Although the art form comes from the South (Andalucía), everybody has to conquer Madrid to get to the top. On their way there, or as an opportunity to try out new things and get an up close audience, many of them work the top tablaos. I recommend Casa Patas and Cardamomo, both close to Plaza Santa Ana.

A stroll in the beautiful Retiro Park.

Asturian Casa Mingo for the best grilled chicken and cider:
Watch the video, and you're sold:

Txirimiri in Calle del Humilladero, 6 gives you an idea of why the Basque kitchen is considered among the best in the world. In the midst of one of the best tapas/restaurant districts in town, in and around Calle Cava Baja in La Latina.

I never leave Madrid without having had the squid in its own ink and the famous cod at Casa Revuelta, also in the same district.

The Reina Sofia contemporary art museum. The second floor with Picasso, Dalí, lots of other painitings, posters, films, photos etc., dealing with a couple of the greatest civilizational breakdowns of the 20th century, the Spanish Civil War and WWII, completely blew my mind off a couple of years ago.
(And of course Prado and the Thyssen-Bornemisza museums)

This is the best Madrid guide, always updatede info on theaters, concerts and virually everything:
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Old May 6th, 2015, 09:18 AM
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I would much rather spend time in Barcelona than Granada. I love Barcelona, sure it's more out of the way in that itinerary but I think it is far superior to Granada where most poeple only go for one touristic reason -- to see the Alhambra. Well, that's a lot of trouble for one tourist site. YOu can see plenty of antiquities in Seville and Cordoba, including those relating to the Moors.
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Old May 6th, 2015, 09:59 AM
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You know best how you will handle heat, so you should go with your judgement. BTW - we were in Seville/Cordoba and Ronda the 3rd week of October last year and temps were still between 30 - 35 degrees celsius every day (90+ farenheit if your from the US) - cooled down at night though. We managed fine but i5 - 10 degrees cooler would have been welcomed - we're in our early 50's too.

I think your plan of Barcelona and Madrid will work fine - easy to spend 11 days between the two without getting bored. You can connect between the 2 quite easily - either a high speed AVE train or a short, inexpensive flight on Vueling airlines.

For suggestions

We spent 6 days in Barcelona and had no issues filling our time. You will find lots to do with your love of architecture and museums. We did one day trip - an all day tour to 3 wineries. If you find you have time on your hands there are also other day trips that you might enjoy day trips:
- Monteserrat (we really wanted to go but just didn't fit it in)
- Sitges to enjoy the beach if it's hot.
- Girona - another city easily reached by high speed train

In Barcelona (sorry - my spelling may be a little off):
- Barcelona cathedral - go up on the roof for wonderful views
- Gaudi - Parc Guell, Sagrada Familia, Casa Mila, Casa Battlo, etc.
- Catalan Musical Palace and Hospital San Paul - same architect
- Wander Barri Gotic, El Borne and down to the beach in Barcelonetta
- Montjuic - Magic fountain and the MNAC (museum) and surrounding Placa Espanya
- Mercados - Boqueria and Santa Caterina
- Also other great sites, including other churches, and lots of restaurants to choose from

We are heading to Madrid this fall. We will have 5 days in the area - 2 in Toledo, 3 in Madrid with a day trip to Segovia. I think this will even be a little rushed. We are not big museum people so maybe that will be our saving grace for our limited time in Madrid. I think if you really love museums, this sounds like the place to be!

Do make sure you plan a return visit to Spain to enjoy other areas such as Andalucia. We loved it there as well.
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Old May 7th, 2015, 07:41 AM
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Seville, Granada, Cadiz (or Malaga), Ronda and end with a few days in Madrid. I would skip Barcelona this time. The beginning of Sep. is a lot hotter than the end. If you want a wonderful trip in the hot early months of September, fly into Madrid for two nights, spend five nights in San Sebastian and end up in Barcelona.
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