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Madrid and Andalusica Itinerary Input Please

Madrid and Andalusica Itinerary Input Please

Old Feb 21st, 2022, 04:33 PM
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Madrid and Andalusica Itinerary Input Please

My husband and I have booked flights to Madrid arriving May 19 and departing May 29. We plan to spend a few nights in Madrid, and the rest of the time in Andalusia. I realize we could stay many more days in Madrid, but we are prioritizing sights in Andalusia. We are trying to limit the number of hotels we stay in and we like off the beaten path sometimes. Our rough plan includes 3 nights in Madrid; 2 nights in Granada; 4 nights in Seville; and 1 final night in Madrid before returning home.

I'd appreciate feedback on our rough plan:
  1. May 19: arrive Madrid from JFK in the morning; day in Madrid
  2. May 20: Madrid
  3. May 21: day trip to Toledo via train
  4. May 22: morning train from Madrid to Granada
  5. May 23: day in Granada / Alhambra; stay over night in Granada
  6. May 24: rent a car in Granada, and drive to Seville, stopping at white towns, maybe Ronda?; overnight in Seville
  7. May 25: Seville
  8. May 26: Seville / day trip to Cadiz by car? (return car in Seville)
  9. May 27: Seville / day trip to Cordoba by train
  10. May 28: train from Seville to Madrid mid day; overnight in Madrid
  11. May 29: fly to JFK
Questions:
- general input?
- we don't love crowds, and debating whether we should even do the day trip to Toledo. I'd rather not stay overnight in Toledo (too many hotel changes), so if we skip Toledo, where would you spend the extra day?

Last edited by mkosseim; Feb 21st, 2022 at 04:53 PM.
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Old Feb 21st, 2022, 05:07 PM
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May 21: day trip to Toledo by train--you may want to purchase your r.t.tickets a few days in advance on renfe.com, as at times the most popular morning departures and afternoon returns do sellout if one waits until arrival at Atocha station; in addition, lines at ticket counters can be quite long.

May 23: You'll want to purchase ASAP, if you haven't already, your timed entrance tickets to the Alhambra complex. The timed entrance only refers to the required time you enter the Nasrid Palace (capacity controlled), the rest of the complex, the Palace of Charles V and its excellent Museum of the Alhambra, the Generalife Gardens, and the Alcazaba fortress, you can tour at your leisure with your ticket.

May 24: The most popular stop in the drive between Granada and Seville is Ronda. I would get an early start on this drive so as to give Ronda justice, rather than just a quick stop in route. You won't have time to stop in all the white towns in the Serranía on this drive but Ronda, yes.

May 26: you don't want to rent a car for this day trip to Cádiz since it's so easy to take the Alvia train from Seville's Santa Justa station or the MD train from San Bernardo. which may be closer to your lodging (the MD is a bit slower). Check the schedule at renfe.com. Parking in Cádiz for just a day trip is somewhat problematic since much of the inner core is pedestrianized and you'll be unfamiliar with the somewhat confusing inner core. A vehicle would slow you down. The Alvia train ride is comfortable, pleasant and will save you time. It's a ride of 1 hr. 32 min. It's a very easy walk from the Cádiz rail station to the heart of the city's sightseeing.

May 27: The train ride on the AVANT train to Córdoba is equally easy and pleasant. Check renfe.com for departures/returns and purchase your tickets online to save time at Santa Justa station.

Hope this helps.

Last edited by Maribel; Feb 21st, 2022 at 05:29 PM.
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Old Feb 21st, 2022, 05:43 PM
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It would be logistically better to put all nights in Madrid together at the end.
Consider possibly going on to Cordoba by train, stay two nights and on to Seville.
Rent the car when leaving Seville, do the driving part and return car in Granada.
Go to Madrid for final nights.

Alternatively:
On arrival, head straight to Granada. Stay two nights.
Rent car for driving time. Return car in Seville.
For Cordoba: Do day trip from Seville by train or make an overnight in Cordoba on the way to Madrid.
End in Madrid

Toledo is magical at night and not crowded with tourists, so IMHO is worth an overnight or at least a very late evening.
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Old Feb 21st, 2022, 07:13 PM
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Although in a perfect world, it would indeed make logistical sense to put all 3 nights in Madrid at the very end.... to do so with your stated number of nights, to spend the above suggested 2 nights in Córdoba, the suggested overnight (rather than day trip) in Toledo, and be able keep your desired 4 nights in Seville plus your desired 2 nights in Granada, then the final 3 (desired) nights in Madrid... the devil is in the details. That's 12 nights. You have 10.
I don't see that you have time to spend 2 nights in Córdoba plus an overnight in Toledo as nice as it would be, given your time frame, although that would be ideal.
I think that your original itinerary is fine.

Last edited by Maribel; Feb 21st, 2022 at 07:32 PM.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2022, 05:46 AM
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Thanks Maribel and Sassafrass for your input. Interesting idea about doing the Madrid nights all at the end. We could potentially do that within the 10 night time frame. Perhaps:

Train to Granada upon arrival in Madrid on May 19
2 nights Granada (rent car upon departure from Granada)
4 nights Seville
1 night Toledo
3 nights Madrid

What are your thoughts on doing an overnight in a little town along the coast -- either east of Granada, or south between Granada and Seville? Would you do that instead of the overnight in Toledo, so we still end up with 3 nights in Madrid at the end?

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Old Feb 22nd, 2022, 01:35 PM
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mykosseim,
In your revised itinerary above will you see Córdoba, then, on a day trip via high speed rail from Sevilla?

I would personally not drop that night in Toledo, as it's just so much more pleasant at night after the day trippers have gone, the many tourist-oriented sword and damasquene shops have closed and Toledo can take on a sort of magical air at night.
But that's just me. I've spend time in coastal white towns southwest of Granada in the Axarquía.

Because Toledo is on a spur rail line, you'll need to take the AVE from Sevilla to Madrid's Atocha station, then take the 30-minute AVANT train ride from Atocha to Toledo, then back to Madrid on the AVANT the next day.

If you choose a coastal town SOUTHWEST of Granada----Nerja or smaller Frigiliana in the Axarquía, from either of those it would be more of less the same length of drive to Sevilla as the direct Granada-Sevilla driving route, taking the coastal auto route E-15, A-7 to Málaga, then up through Antequera and over through Osuna.
It could be a very interesting drive, if that appeals to you more.
Check the recommended route Frigiliana to Sevilla on www.viamichelin.com

You would take the A-44 down from Granada to either.

About the Axarquía-
https://www.absoluteaxarquia.com/the-axarquia/

It depends, I think, on whether you prefer to spend the night in one of these dazzlingly white coastal towns (with a large expat population by the way), or if you prefer that night w/o the tourist crowds in Toledo. By May the crowds should have returned to Toledo.

Just some thoughts.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2022, 05:24 PM
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Ok, I think I'm getting there... I looked up trains from Madrid to Granada and Madrid to Seville, and there are more frequent trains to Seville, and also the timing is better given our arrival time into Madrid airport. I also am thinking it would be nice to stay one night in a little village (either white town or coastal town). Here is a revision and a few more questions:
  1. May 19: Arrive into Madrid airport; high speed train to Seville. Overnight in Seville
  2. May 20: Seville
  3. May 21: Seville (day trip to Cordoba via train)
  4. May 22: Seville: either explore Seville some more or take a day trip to Cadiz via train
  5. May 23: rent car and drive / meander to a white hill town or coastal town. Stay overnight. (where??)
  6. May 24: drive to Granada. Drop off car at Granada train station. Overnight in Granada
  7. May 25: Granada: Alhambra!
  8. May 26: depart Granada; mid day train to Madrid
  9. May 27: Madrid
  10. May 28: Madrid
  11. May 29: fly home (sadly)
Questions: I do want to go to a coastal town during our trip. Would you prefer Cadiz or Nerja as a coastal town? Or go to both? Would you stay overnight in Nerja? Or would you stay overnight in a white hill town? Thank you!!
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Old Feb 22nd, 2022, 06:49 PM
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Yes, there are more frequent AVE trains to Seville than to Granada.
May 23:
About the coastal town-- Cádiz is not a small coastal town but instead a city, a provincial capital. You can actually reach Cádiz by train from Seville in 1 hr. 40 min.

I'm personally not a big fan of Nerja as are others on this forum. Although it's indeed undeniable pretty and there are the caves, (I do recognize that!), it feels to me much like a Northern European community because of its large expat population, rather than a super authentic Spanish village, and I often hear more English on the streets there than Spanish. There are other white towns that have kept their unique Spanish-ness, and are not so popular with expats, but again, that's just the way I feel. M.
The same goes for me (but not for others certainly) with smaller and also very pretty Frigiliana. But....that said, for a first time visitor both places can be very enticing and "easy to visit" vacation spots, so don't be influenced at all by my personal opinion. Many visitors love both Nerja and Frigiliana and you probably will too!

For a perched white town in the Sierra for one night between Sevilla and Granada, the most popular options are Arcos, still very authentic and less touristed, and Ronda, much larger, more "polished for tourism" and far more visited, but it should be quiet at night in May.
There's also the option of the small, beautiful and quiet Zahara de la Sierra, sitting next to a reservoir (embalse) with castle ruins at its top. I've stopped there at the Hotel Restaurante Al Lago.
https://al-lago.es
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Old Feb 22nd, 2022, 06:52 PM
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Yes, there are more frequent AVE trains to Seville than to Granada.
May 23:
About the coastal town-- Cádiz is not a small coastal town but instead a city, a provincial capital, founded by the Phoenicians and one of the oldest cities in Europe, often a "stand-in" for Havana in movies . You can actually reach Cádiz by train from Seville in 1 hr. 40 min.

I'm personally not a big fan of Nerja as are others on this forum. Although it's indeed undeniable pretty and there are the caves, (I do recognize that!), it feels to me much like a Northern European community because of its large expat population, rather than a super authentic Spanish village, and I often hear more English on the streets there than Spanish. There are other white towns that have kept their unique Spanish-ness, and are not so popular with expats, but again, that's just the way I feel. Non Spanish speaking friends who have visited have loved it.
The same goes for me (but not for others certainly) with smaller and also very pretty Frigiliana. But....that said, for a first time visitor both places can be very enticing and "easy to visit" vacation spots, so don't be influenced at all by my personal opinion. Many visitors love both Nerja and Frigiliana and you probably will too!

For a perched white town in the Sierra for one night between Sevilla and Granada, the most popular options are Arcos, still very authentic and less touristed, and Ronda, much larger, more "polished for tourism" and far more visited, but it should be quiet at night in May.
There's also the option of the small, beautiful and quiet Zahara de la Sierra, sitting next to a reservoir (embalse) with castle ruins at its top. I've stopped there at the Hotel Restaurante Al Lago.
https://al-lago.es
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