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Itinerary review - Family vacation to Spain

Itinerary review - Family vacation to Spain

Old Nov 10th, 2014, 01:08 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 57
Itinerary review - Family vacation to Spain

Hi again-

I apologize for the repost, but after I added to my post from a few days ago I realized that I really should have just started with a new topic/question.

We have 22 nights with 2 adults and 4 teens to explore Spain. I am thinking about an itinerary that has 7 overnights (only 1 is a one night stop).

I am interested in getting feedback on the itinerary choices, but also on the flow.Lots of people suggest staying in Seville, Cordoba, Rhonda and Granada. While I would like to visit all of these places, I would like a few nights in a town less well known. One of the places I am thinking of is Jimena de la Frontera.

Option 1:
4 nights Madrid (day trip to Toledo)
(4th day drive to San Sebastian with a stop in Segovia)
4 nights San Sebastian (one day trip)
Fly to Seville
3 nights Seville (day trip to Cordoba)
Drive to Jimena de la Frontera
4 nights Jimena de la Frontera
1 night Cave hotel
2 nights Granada
Fly to Barcelona
4 nights Barcelona (one day trip)

Option 2:
4 nights Madrid (day trips to Toldeo and Segovia)
train to Seville
4 nights Seville (day trip to Cordoba)
4 nights Jimena de la Frontera
1 night cave hotel
2 nights Granada
Fly to Bilbao
3 nights San Sebastian
4 nights Barcelona (one day trip)

We will arrive in Spain on June 18th and depart July 10th. I am flexible on arrival/departure cities. My issue is that the house I want to rent in Jimena de la Frontera is not available for June 24-29th which proves difficult to schedule around. I might have to find a different house or location rather than try to work my schedule around the house.

Another thought - would teenagers prefer the Valencia area over San Sebastian? My kids do love food and history - much less interested in art.

Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks
Lisabu is offline  
Old Nov 10th, 2014, 02:07 PM
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I am no expert on Spain, and have not been to either the Valencia area or San Sebastian (though will go some day). But I have been to Barcelona, Madrid, Toledo, Sevilla, Cordoba and Granada with foodie young teens who also love history and art.

Generally, both of your plans seem like a lot of moving around (especially with a group of 6). And before you plan plane flights, check times, schedules and costs - you may decide flying from Granada to Bilbao or Granada to Barcelona is way too expensive and/or takes up too much of your valuable vacation time (each of those flights will have a stopover in Madrid).

Consider coordinating your trip to take advantage of Spain's very good train system. I.e., Madrid-Barcelona; Sevilla-Madrid. Granada is more difficult to get to.

The tapas culture is great, and while my kids were a little intimidated by it at first, they did enjoy it after a couple of days. Go early, before places get too crowded. That way the staff can spend time with you). While Barcelona is not supposed to be known for tapas, we had and enjoyed it there, too.

Keep in mind that depending on the age of your teens, some may be legal to drink. Decide how you want to handle that in terms of your family's rules. While I know the law in Spain, our 12-yo was routinely served a half-glass of wine along with us at dinner, and often had vino tinto or sangria for lunch or at a cafe. Obviously, we have a more European view on how to teach our kids to be responsible drinkers, but that's an individual and personal thing.

We focused on Granada, Cordoba and Sevilla because we didn't have as much vacation time, and because I was (and am) very interested in the Moorish culture in Spain, of which Cordoba was the capital. We spent two nights there; not a choice everyone would make, but there's enough to see for an entire day. Lots of interesting history in those areas, IMHO.

The focus for us in Barcelona was Gaudi and all his works, as well as Picasso, Miro, and a trip to Figueres to visit the Dali museum. Our DS is very into modern art, but I loved the Dali museum too.
Lexma90 is offline  
Old Nov 10th, 2014, 03:31 PM
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Posts: 57
Thanks for all of your information - I know the itinerary has a bit more moving around than is probably good for us. We did a trip to Italy and did four location (4,7,7,4 nights)and it was great. Spain doesn't seem to lend itself to that type of schedule and still visit the various regions. If I cut out a city I would choose Madrid or San Sebastian. In general my family likes smaller towns - not tiny, but the size we can really get to know in a few days.

My kids are totally looking forward to the tapas culture and the food in general. I have three 18 year olds and a 16 year old so I am sure they will indulge European style - they enjoyed the wine in Italy with us.
Lisabu is offline  
Old Nov 10th, 2014, 04:40 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
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I see you've dropped any mention of visiting Portugal, but what you're doing now is crisscrossing the country.

Why Jimena de la Frontera? You'll need to arrange transportation and it may prove boring for your teenagers.

And yes, they would love San Sebastian-Donostia over Valencia.

You can consider the following 22-night option:

Barcelona - 4 nights
Fly to Granada - 2 nights
Train or bus to Sevilla - 5 nights (with day trips as needed)
Train to Madrid - 4 nights
Fly to San Sebastian-Donostia - 5 nights (day trip to the Pays Basque for more surfing options)
Bus to Bilbao - 2 nights
Robert2533 is offline  
Old Nov 10th, 2014, 05:13 PM
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I must admit that either trip you propose would not be to my liking -- WAY too rushed for me, and I travel solo and hard! For perspective, I thought Madrid merited 4 days, Toledo 2 full days, Sevilla 4 full days, Cordoba 2 full days, and Granada 3 full days. Of course, it all depends on what YOU want to see and experience, so I recommend that you get some good guidebooks (or spend some time with a few in your local library), identify the things you most want to see in each location, note their opening/closing times, and mark them on a calendar. Then pencil in your transportation, add some time on either side (for checking in/out, packing/unpacking, getting oriented, etc.). Then see how things fit together. You might end up deciding to cut a destination or two....

I can understand the desire to visit a town that is less touristed, but note that 4 nights for Jimena de la Frontera is a LOT given that you are barely skimming the surface of the other magnificent destinations you are considering. You might consider cutting back on it. Or just spend a night or two in Toledo or Cordoba or Segovia or even Avila -- places that are often visited as just a day trip, but are very worthy of seeing and are easily reached by public transportation.

Hope that helps!
kja is offline  
Old Nov 11th, 2014, 07:02 AM
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Two friends have had houses in Jimena de la Frontera (one still have), and it sounds from them like a very charming place. Eventually quite a lot of foreign residents here, but they tend to take up a quite genuine Andalucian attitude, and because Jimena is a bit inland and outside the usual tourist track, they are often more Catholic than the Pope, meaning very proud of their town and equally sceptical about the coastal tourist destinations. http://www.andalucia.com/jimena/home.htm

As Robert says, San Sebastian/Donostia would be a blast for teenagers in general, and especially if they are interested in food and history. San Sebastian is the food capital of Spain, and important parts of the region's and the city's dramatic history is on display right in the streets of the Parte vieja/Old town (the 1813 siege and burning towards the end of the Napoleonic Wars) + the Basques are of unknown origin and the only non-indoeuropean speaking people in this part of Europa, thus suggesting that they are the oldest existing group of people on the Iberian peninsula. A rich naval and maritime history, a great folklore full of witches and other "powers", and in general a local culture that people take immensely great pride in. http://www.sansebastianturismo.com/en/

From about 5-6 July, San Sebastian is very much affected, for both good and bad, by being close to Pamplona and the famous San Fermin festival (every year July 6-14). Many go back and forth between San Sebastian and Pamplona during the festival, and there is a very San Fermin-spirit/atmosphere to San Sebastian all this week (at least in the Parte vieja).
kimhe is offline  
Old Nov 11th, 2014, 07:42 AM
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Thank you for the feedback. I have actually spent tons of time with guide books and on the internet - the problem is I keep finding more and more places I want to go. Robert - I did decide to save Portugal for another trip. There were just too many places I wanted to cover in both countries.

I didn't think my itinerary was going to go over very well with anyone, but I was trying to get to Andalucia later in our trip to accommodate the apartment I wanted to rent. I had my eye on Jimena de la Frontera as someplace that was central for day trips, but not as much on the tourist track as the typical towns in Andalucia. Although Rhonda is more popular, would it be a better choice?

My family likes to do a lot of experience types of things - cooking class, going to see a bull farm or horse dancing, hiking, etc. We do want to see the important sites, but also like to wander more medium size towns.

I feel like if I race everywhere on the train then we don't get a chance to see the countryside at all or places that are not on the main track. Every itinerary I read has the same towns/cities. We have driven all over in other parts of Europe so renting a car and driving is not an issue for us.

Robert and kja - thank you for the itinerary thoughts - I did notice that neither of your itineraries have us going to anywhere south of Seville. It seems like exploring the area around Rhonda, Cadiz and Jerez might be interesting for teenagers - or not?

kimhe - thank you for the heads up on the early July potential issues in San Sebastian. As fun as the Pamplona festival sounds, we have decided not to go to it so we will probably try to get to San Sebastian before it is affected.

Is this a better option?

Madrid - 4 (side trip to Toledo)
Seville - 4 - (day trip to Cordoba)
Rhonda - 4 - (with day trips)
Cave Hotel - 1 (my younger daughter really wants to do this)
Granada - 2
Fly to Bilbao - San Sebastian -3
Train to Barcelona - 4 (with a day trip)

* This takes out my road trip and my interest in staying in a smaller town, but maybe those ideas are not very realistic with a family of six.

** Because art is not as important to us as history, food, and finding cultural experiences rather than just looking at things - I do not think we need as much time in Madrid or time in Bilbao.
Lisabu is offline  
Old Nov 11th, 2014, 08:16 AM
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Flying from Granada to Bilbao will be expensive. It would be cheaper to return to Sevilla to catch the flight to Bilbao. But the cost of the flight will depend on the day and flight. There are two direct flights each day on Vueling.

"** Because art is not as important to us as history, food, and finding cultural experiences rather than just looking at things - I do not think we need as much time in Madrid or time in Bilbao."

Art and history are pretty much intertwined in Spain. And it would be a shame not to splend quality time in Bilbao.
Robert2533 is offline  
Old Nov 11th, 2014, 09:16 AM
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I think 4 nights in Ronda is a bit much but perhaps that will satisfy your desire for a smaller locale. You mentioned a bull farm. The Domecqs have one that provides for visitors near Medina Sidonia. Finca Los Alburejos - www.acampoabierto.com . Have fun !
Bedar is offline  
Old Nov 11th, 2014, 10:27 AM
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Way too much traveling within a trip for me. Robert's itinerary is excellent. Ronda is boring compared to the other places you have selected. 4 nights is way too much. I think the cave hotel is going to be a real letdown. You can always visit the Gypsy caves in Granada. San Sebastian in July is so great that I would cut out Barcelona and stay there. that's just me though.
Egbert is offline  
Old Nov 11th, 2014, 10:36 AM
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There is a bull farm just outside of Ronda that has opened for visitors. You can make arrangements at the Tourist Office acorss from the Plaza de Toros.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2015, 10:51 AM
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Now that time has passed and more research has been done - I have another attempt at an itinerary and some questions. I was actually able to book flights Seattle to Seville on miles so we are going to start our trip in Seville.

Arrive June 18th 1 pm into Seville-Depart July 10 at 10 am from Barcelona.

2 Adults/4 older teens (18/16)

I would appreciate your feedback - especially on Andalucia part as I am struggling to decide exactly what to do.

Seville - 4 nights (Thurs-Sun) (I could add 1 more night but need to be in Vejer at 10:00 am on Tuesday)

* Saturday day trip to Yeguada de la Cartuja and sherry bodega/Jerez (worth taking a day from Seville?)

* Sunday - guided tour to white villages (good use of a Sunday? Would this be a lot of driving and not overly interesting to teenagers?)

Vejer de la Frontera 2 nights (Mon-Tues)

Monday - spend morning in Seville - drive to Cadiz for lunch and tour and then onto Vejer.

Tuesday - Cooking class in Vejer/afternoon at beach area

Ronda/Marbella - 1 night (Wed)

I was initially avoiding Costa del Sol, but then decided an overnight in Marbella might be fun for teenagers. They would love to do some watersports - sail, jet ski, wakeboard - we do not live near a warm ocean. However - I am concerned this might be a waste good days to spend in other areas.

My thought was to drive to Marbella from Vejer - arriving early afternoon and leaving Marbella late the following afternoon. Another option would be to drive from Vejer to Ronda and arrive in Marbella late afternoon, stay overnight and spend the day at the beach before going to Granada. Robert 2533 gave me a good route to take. If I go this route and see some white villages should I not do the Sunday white village trip and stay in Seville?

Granada - 3 nights (Thur,Fri,Sat)

Arrive Granada - evening on Thursday - Friday to explore Granada and Saturday to visit Alhambra and more exploring. I know many people do not like Granada and think one day is plenty. I was initially drawn to stay longer because it seems to have a large number of college students. With 3 kids of my own headed to college in the fall I thought they might enjoy Granada. Should I reduce the nights to 2 and do an overnight in Cordoba? I was trying to keep the 1 night stays to a minimum.

Madrid - 3 nights (Sun,Mon,Tues)

Leave Granada drive to Cordoba for the day. Drop car and train to Madrid late afternoon. We could also skip Cordoba and drive straight to Madrid.

1/2 day in Madrid
Full day in Madrid
Day trip to Toledo
1/2 day in Madrid

San Sebastian - 4 nights (Wed,Thurs,Fri,Sat)

Drive Madrid to San Sebastian - arriving late afternoon/evening depending on when we leave Madrid.

3 full days San Sebastian

Barcelona - 5 nights (Sun,Mon,Tues,Wed,Thur)

Fly Bilbao to Barcelona on Sunday morning.

June 10 - Depart

Your thoughts would be appreciated. I realize this might be moving a bit more than many people like but I am trying to coordinate interests of six people. Also, if there are any activities that teenagers might enjoy I would love the insight.

Lisabu is offline  
Old Jan 22nd, 2015, 11:43 AM
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- You are spending little time in beautiful Seville

- One can spend 3 nights in Granada , but it is not necessary. College is out in ( very hot ) summer.
- You would be about 4 hours on the road to see white villages. Don't know about teenager, I find them not that interesting.
danon is online now  
Old Jan 22nd, 2015, 11:53 AM
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Is 4 nights in Seville without any day trips better? This gives us 3 1/2 days, plus we can linger on Monday. Or could we get away with a day trip on Saturday to the Horse show and still have enough time in Seville.

The long car travel is part of my concern about visiting the white villages - do you think the route through Ronda to Marbella would be a better use of time? My kids are good travelers, but got a little tired of the long car drives in Italy.

Having Sunday in Seville kind of throws me because a lot of things are closed. Maybe I shouldn't worry about it too much.

Regarding Granada - If we did 2 nights and did one morning at the Alhambra, afternoon and following morning exploring the Albacin and Sacromonte would that be enough? I found an apartment in Granada that I really liked so I thought it might be nice to be somewhere for 3 nights and not keep moving.
Lisabu is offline  
Old Jan 22nd, 2015, 12:02 PM
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sorry, the time depends ...
danon is online now  
Old Jan 22nd, 2015, 05:05 PM
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"Having Sunday in Seville kind of throws me" -- have you looked at Mondays? Many things in Spain are closed on Mondays.

"Regarding Granada - If we did 2 nights and did one morning at the Alhambra" -- Personally, I easily filled 2.5 days in Granada; others differ. But whatever you do, I strongly recommend both a day-time AND a night-time visit to the Alhambra, preferably in that order.
kja is offline  
Old Jan 22nd, 2015, 05:29 PM
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I guess I should double check Mondays also although if we stick around Seville on Monday morning it will just be for my teenage girls to do any shopping they missed on Saturday and Sunday.

It surprises me that so many people are negative on Granada - it strikes me as a city that might have a lot of interesting sites. I am holding onto my 3 nights/2 days there right now, but many people have told me that one night is plenty.

Any thoughts on an overnight in Ronda with teenagers? I am trying to decide of we should do Ronda and maybe a hike on the second day or give the kids some beach time in Marbella. We really only have one extra night without taking away from somewhere else.
Lisabu is offline  
Old Jan 22nd, 2015, 05:46 PM
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Not sure about the best way to drive......hope someone else can answer.
Many places shut down for afternoon siesta...
Stores and some restaurants close Sunday in Seville but the churches and Alcazar are open.
See how you feel about a long day trip when you settle in Seville
A short trip( half hour by bus) from Seville is Italica ( a Roman settlement, very interring)
We visited Alhambra at night the day we arrived ,, next morning we made a daytime visit .
We did stay 3nights...might be relaxing.
danon is online now  
Old Jan 22nd, 2015, 05:48 PM
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re: Granada -- what strikes me is how many people spend only 2 nights / 1 day and say that was enough. If they didn't stay any longer, how do they know what they missed? ;-)
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Old Jan 22nd, 2015, 05:53 PM
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In June, I would prefer beach to hiking...temps are in the 90s
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