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Madrid and Southern Spain Itinerary thoughts

Madrid and Southern Spain Itinerary thoughts

Old May 3rd, 2017, 11:03 AM
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Madrid and Southern Spain Itinerary thoughts

Hello!

My husband and I will be in Castilla and southern Spain together for 11 days in late May/early June. I will stay on after for work and could do some more sightseeing on my own in the following weeks, but I'd like to save the best stuff for the time we're together. We have the basic contours of our trip laid out, but have some questions and are trying to figure out how to include some nature sightseeing and/or hiking. Here's our current plan, along with our questions:

- 4 days in Madrid, including the day we arrive (from the states) since we get in very early. We plan to do day trips to Segovia and Toledo; is there enough time for El Escorial? We were thinking that it wouldn't take all day and could possibly fit it in.
- 2 days in Granada. I'm thinking we'll fly from Madrid to save time, or is the drive worth it? We plan to spend one day to see the Alhambra and the market, and possibly spend the second day doing some kind of excursion in the nearby mountains (Parque Nacional de Sierra Nevada). Has anyone been to this park and maybe done some hiking there? If so, what did you think? We can tolerate moderate hikes.
- 2 days in the white hill towns of Ronda, Arcos, and Zahara. We plan to rent a car in Granada to enjoy the mountainous countryside on the way to these towns since it's only about a 3 hour drive and we could leave early. Which one would be best to spend the nights? We were also thinking of visiting the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park while we're here. Is there much to see there, and how long should we spend there vs. the towns?
- 1 day in Gibraltar. We're not sure whether to continue with our rental car or take a bus from Ronda, and not sure whether to spend the night in Gibraltar or come back to Ronda, or even move on to our final destination, Sevilla, that night, since I imagine accommodations in Gibraltar are more expensive. Also, would it be worth it to cut a day from something else and take a day trip to Tangier?
- 2 days in Sevilla. We will be spending our anniversary here on our last night and would appreciate any suggestions for nice restaurants for a dinner celebration. My husband leaves on the 12th day.

Our last question is whether this itinerary sounds reasonable. As our first trip to Spain, we want to make it memorable, but we realize we're fitting in a lot and could consider cutting something (i.e., one of the days in Madrid, one or both days in Granada, or maybe one of the days in the white hills) since we know we will be back to see other parts of Spain. We appreciate any comments or suggestions!
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Old May 3rd, 2017, 12:21 PM
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Forget Gibraltar. There's a war going on there which consists of an hours-long wait to get both in and out.

From Granada, I would drive to Cordoba, then to Ronda, and on to Seville. In the Ronda areaa, Ronda is the best place to spend the night, and you need more time in Seville. Two days is not enough !
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Old May 3rd, 2017, 06:00 PM
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IMO, 11 days is perfect for Andalusia. Or perfect for Madrid and central Spain. Trying to fit both regions into the same 11 days is, IMO, far from ideal – but that’s just my perspective. Here's what I recommend: 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 and check their opening/closing times on the internet. Then pencil your transportation on a calendar, add some time on either side (for getting to/from your lodging, checking in/out, packing/unpacking, getting lost/oriented, etc.) and see how things fit together. BTW, note that many things in Spain are closed on Monday, and often for all or part of Sundays too; and many things in Spain will also be closed daily for a very long mid-day break.

FWIW – My 4 full days in Madrid inlcuded a ½ day trip to El Escorial and the Valley of the Fallen, but NO other day trips. I gave Segovia a full day and was glad I did. I gave Toledo 2 full days and was glad I did. (I also visited Salamanca -- about 2.5 full days -- and Avila -- just short of a day. And if I were going again, I would add a full day in Cuenca.)

IME, 2 full days in Granada would likely give you time to see it’s highlights, but perhaps not an excursion. That would depend on your interests. Just one day in Granada is, IMO, insufficient for its highlights. YMMV.

2 days is VERY little for Sevilla.

No time for Cordoba? Its Mezquita is, IMO, one of the world’s gems. Although many people visit Cordoba as a day trip from Sevilla, I am very glad that I spent 2 full days in Cordoba.

Unlike Bedar (sorry, Bedar!), I would keep my time in a rental car to a minimum -- public transportation in Spain is excellent and convenient!

Honestly, I think that you would do well to focus your time on Andalusia – add time in Sevilla, Cordoba, maybe Granada, maybe Malaga or a coastal town…. Consider deferring your time in an around Madrid until you have time to visit Madrid and Toledo and Segovia and any number of other wonderful destinations within easy reach of that city. JMO….

Good luck!
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Old May 3rd, 2017, 06:37 PM
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So you're not spending any time exploring Madrid? Also, don't forget you need to buy your Alhambra tickets in advance.
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Old May 3rd, 2017, 07:11 PM
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I have not made that flight, but security is very tight at Barajas and you would have get there early even for a domestic flight.
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Old May 3rd, 2017, 07:24 PM
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I envy your certainty of returning to the area! Should be good.
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Old May 3rd, 2017, 08:26 PM
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Pegs, they are spending 4 days in Madrid at the beginning of the trip. But with 2 day trips, there won't be much time to explore Madrid.
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Old May 3rd, 2017, 09:54 PM
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Thank you all for your comments. We've revised or itinerary to cut side trips to Gibraltar and also spend more time in Madrid. Because I work on the history of the Spanish Empire, we will be coming back here a lot throughout my career so we're okay with leaving things out. This trip will be a taste (though I'll see a few more things on my own as I'll be around for work until July, especially in Sevilla). New itinerary:

Day
1. Arrive Madrid (4N)
2. Madrid
3. Toledo day trip
4. Madrid
5. To Granada in am, and Alhambra in pm (2N)
6. Hike in am, Granada pm
7. Pick up car and Drive to Ronda (2N)
8. Zahara & Grazalema
9. Drive via Arcos to Sevilla (3N)
10. Sevilla
11. Cordoba day trip
12. Husband departs, I stay in Sevilla

Has anyone flown domestically from Madrid to Granada? There's an 8:30 am flight that gets us to Granada at 9:40, which in my mind would save a lot of time... but the airport may require us to be there excruciatingly early.
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Old May 6th, 2017, 10:42 AM
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It looks great. Ronda is peaceful and quiet but not nearly enough going on at night for me. It is romantic though. I think you should get to the airport by 7. It's a long boring drive.
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