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Madrid, Barcelona, Seville - help and advice needed

Madrid, Barcelona, Seville - help and advice needed

Old May 29th, 2009, 05:12 AM
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Madrid, Barcelona, Seville - help and advice needed

Hello, Spain experts,

I am planning our first trip to Spain from June 22-July2 (9 nights). The cities I am most interested in are Barcelona, Madrid, and Seville. However, it is very important for me to have enough time to really explore the cities, not just hit the major tourist attractions. Hence, I have some trouble deciding which of the 3 cities I should visit, and how much time I should allocate for each. I have done a lot of research, but still need some help finalizing the itinerary. Here are the questions:

1. Which combination of cities would you recommend?
a. 3 nights Barcelona, 6 nights Madrid (+ possibly 1-2 day trips)
b. 3 nights Seville, 6 nights Madrid (+ possibly 1-2 day trips)
c. 4 nights Barcelona, 5 nights Madrid (including only one day trip)
d. 3 nights Barcelona, 2 nights Seville, 4 nights Madrid (no day trips).

Options (a) and (b) appeal to me because they offer a more relaxed pace in Madrid… Options (c) gives more days in Barcelona, but do you think it is worth to sacrifice one night in Madrid for a night in Barcelona?
And option (d) looks good because I cover all of the three cities I want to visit… BUT, I don’t want to end up rushing. Do you think that seeing 3 cities in 9 nights is too much?

2. If we do end up staying in Madrid for 6 nights, which of the neighborhoods in addition to the “main” tourist attractions would you recommend? Something off the beaten path, more authentic, less crowded, and SAFE?

3. With regards to the hotels. Since this trip is a break from our hectic lives in NYC, sleep is very important to us. We are not all-nighters, and thus we are looking for a hotel that would be located on a quieter (but SAFE!) street not too far from the center. What would you recommend?
So far, I have the following accommodations in mind:

a. Madrid – Hotel el Prado. The location is great, the price is not too bad… But I am not sure about the noise level in that area. What other hotel would you recommend not too far from the Hotel el Prado area, but not in the middle of all the night life?

b. Barcelona – two options, Barcelona Center Hotel (looks like a central location, but is it noisy?) and Gran Hotel Torre Catalunya (looks like peace and quiet is guaranteed there, but it is further than I would like). Would you be able to recommend a nice and quiet(er) hotel in Barcelona closer to the center?

c. Seville - I haven’t found anything in Seville yet, so if you can recommend something keeping the serenity and central location criteria in mind, that would be great.

4. How safe are the metros in Barcelona and Madrid? If we find ourselves on one at around 2am, should we be worried? Do they operate 24/7?

Thank you thank you thank you for your input!

Elana
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Old May 29th, 2009, 05:59 AM
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It's hard to tell you which option you should pick, since we don't know what your interests are.

For me (and many of my friends), I LOVE Barcelona, but feel lukewarm about Madrid, and warm about Seville. If I were to go back to Spain again, the only place I would return is Barcelona. So, I definitely vote for MORE days in Barcelona and fewer days in Madrid. Of course, there are plenty of posters here who really enjoyed Madrid, more than Barcelona, so there you go.

The reason why I like Barcelona, is because of all the Modernisme architecture.

There are petty crimes in Spain, more so in Barcelona and Madrid. There is just a recent thread (this month) where a regular poster's son was mugged at knife point in Barcelona. Then again, many other posters have visited Barcelona and Madrid without any incidents (myself included).
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Old May 29th, 2009, 06:26 AM
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Thank you for your input, yk... My interests are sightseeing, culture and leisure, scenery, and a somewhat slower pace..

As for the crime - well, every large city has it, so that's not a factor, really...
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Old May 29th, 2009, 06:41 AM
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I have visited Barcelona 3 times , Madrid twice.
Like both cities very much. I would go with c because from Madrid you can easily visit Toledo and/or Segovia.
Metro system is fantastic in both cities, but very late at night I would not take it in any city!
We stayed in apt. so I cannot recommend hotels.
I don't care for Ramblas in Barcelona and Gran Via in Madrid.
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Old May 29th, 2009, 06:44 AM
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p.s.
take a look at Maribel's Guide for great inf.

http://www.maribelsguides.com/
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Old May 29th, 2009, 06:50 AM
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If those were the only choices, I would rec (c) for a first time visitor. I think the area around the Prado Museum is the best area, but I dont know that hotel. In that area 75 yards can be the difference between a comfortable noise level, and too loud. Often its just the quality of windows.
Ive never been robbed there, but Ive seem enough times when others were to tell you to be vigilant all the time.
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Old May 29th, 2009, 06:55 AM
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Sightseeing, culture, leisure and scenery says nothing about your interests -- that's a reason for traveling in general. What is it about Seville, Barca and Madrid that interests you and the Spain experts can elucidate why one city would be better than another.

Option (D) is a no-go. That would take you completely across the country in a short time frame and you'd lose the better part of two days in transit. With your stated intent of leisurely touring, this itinerary would defeat the purpose of your trip. Spain is not small -- if it were a state of the US, it would be the third largest after Alaska and Texas. Ultimately, this means your option is Barca/Madrid or Seville/Madrid and the response on the board would likely be Barca/Madrid.

As for the metro issue -- don't take it late at night. You're on holiday so splurge for a cab instead of taking chances.

And city crime is not created equal. Barcelona has an international reputation for its scams, petty crime and tricks against tourists. Google Barcelona scams and you'll get a gist of it.
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Old May 29th, 2009, 07:00 AM
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Danon and FrankS, thank you for the answers.

So far you all agree that Seville is not worth the visit.. Hmm, thinking thinking....
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Old May 29th, 2009, 07:04 AM
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SEville is worth a visit but given your choices....
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Old May 29th, 2009, 07:11 AM
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Hi, BigRuss.. Thanks.
Well, I had my issues with option D from the beginning, but was hoping perhaps it was still possible. I definitely don't want to come back home exhausted. So it's basically between Barcelona and Seville.

Based on what I've read about Barcelona and Seville, it seems to me that Barcelona is a more vibrant city, with contemporary architecture and a busy night life. And Seville has more of a Spanish essence. But I might be wrong there.

I'm not that interested in checking off museums/cathedrals/etc. I'm looking for the atmosphere, unique experiences, off the beaten path gems, something that would give me a non-traditional view of the city. That is why I am even considering spending a full 6 nights in Madrid - I'm hoping to be able to go on some cultural treasure hunting. However, I do not want to miss out on the second city that I would visit either.

BTW, Danon, I have memorized Maribel's guides.
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Old May 29th, 2009, 07:13 AM
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Danon, I understand about Seville.. I wish I would be able to squeeze another two nights into my trip, but I have to get back to real life...
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Old May 29th, 2009, 07:17 AM
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About crime in Barcelona.. From what I understand, you have to avoid the seedy neighborhoods around the lower part of the Ramblas at night, have to travel light (in terms of cash and credit cards), wear some kind of hidden/not easily accessible pouches for valuables, and never for a moment let go of your photo/video cameras... And I got your point about taxis at night.

Thanks.
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Old May 29th, 2009, 07:52 AM
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In my 3 visits to Barcelona I carried my purse while walking around and never worried about anything.
Barcelona is one of my favorite cities: walkable, great museums and galleries, fantastic food, beautiful avenues,
different arch., and right on the sea! What a combo!
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Old May 29th, 2009, 08:40 AM
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A couple years ago I did Madrid/Seville/Barcelona. I have been back to Barcelona and would like to go back to Seville. I liked Madrid but have no great desire to return for a short visit - possibly an extended holiday where I coould immerse myself in the culture.

I feel the most special little experiences and finding hidden gems were in Seville. The size of the city made it easily accessible by walking and public transport. It was here I felt in a truly Spanish (with a Moorish influence) atmosphere.

I loved Barcelona - food, architecture, neighborhoods, music. I'm not certain I could ever have enough of this city.

Our trip was nine days with the time fairly evenly divided between the 3 locations. One suggestion if you were to choose Barcelona and Seville - train it. We flew into Madrid, took a moring train to Seville and then an overnight train to Barcelona, flying out of Barcelona. That way we didn't lose a day in transport between S and B. Plus the sleeper was a fun experience and actually not a bad sleep.
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Old May 29th, 2009, 10:52 AM
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lukehead, thanks for your advice.

We need to fly out of Madrid, so I was hoping to fly to Barcelona. If we decide to go to Seville, an overnight train from Barcelona to Seville would be great.

HOWEVER,

I just checked the renfe.es site, and it does not show any overnight trains from Barcelona to Seville after June 23rd... What happened? Am I checking too early? Is the service limited to certain dates?

Thank you
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Old May 29th, 2009, 11:38 AM
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There is a timetable change in June and not all new train times have been loaded on Renfe site. Just wait a week or so and all should be fine.
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Old May 29th, 2009, 12:11 PM
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Hi,

If you are not planning to go back to Spain anytime soon I would do option d. I would take the train from Mad to Sevilla and then fly from Sevilla to Barcelona. Sevilla is such a different city , it gives you a window into a whole different region of Spain.

I am not a fan of Barcelona, although I have visited several times, however I know I'm in the minority.

However, if you will be unhappy with the checking in and out of hotels that such an itinerary would represent, I would then suggest option C.

I recently stayed at the Hotel Prado and had no noise issue. I think our room faced a side street. In the summer you will be using the A/C, so I assume with that outside noises will be covered. For the price we got I highly recommend the hotel. It was modern and clean and the location can't be beat. But you shop around. I think the economy in Madrid( actually, in Spain in general) is hurting and there are a lot of good hotel offers.
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Old May 29th, 2009, 12:21 PM
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between Barcelona and Seville, I would fly Vueling ( cheap) not travel by train. Seville will be very, very hot in the summer. If you can fly in to BAC and out of MAD, or other way around, you'll save time.
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Old May 29th, 2009, 12:50 PM
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hi elana,
i just got back from a 10 day trip in barcelona (3 madrid with a day trip to Toledo, 2 seville, 2 granada, 3 barcelona). Here is the link to my trip report. http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...rip-report.cfm It was pretty hectic, but I'm not sure when we will be returning to Spain so we wanted to see all of those cities and were happy we did. Ideally if I had more days, I would have done an additional day in Seville and an additional day in Barca.

I totally agree with yk on her opinions of barca, madrid and seville. I loved Barcelona and that is one place I definitely want to revisit in Spain. I loved it for the wonderful food and amazing modern architecture. Our hotel was in a great location, Hotel Pulitzer and I would recommend it.

Seville was amazing for the flamenco and the Alcazar and the Cathedral was nice too. I would have liked to visit the Aires de Sevilla spa but we didn't have time. I think you could really immerse yourself in the culture there. It is quite charming.

You can train from Madrid to Seville (3 hrs) and fly 1 hr from Seville to Barca on Vueling (cheap as danon mentioned).

For Madrid, I didn't find it as culturally inspiring, which I'm sure others would disagree. There are a lot of museums, so if that is your thing, then I would go for it. We did a lot of museums in 2.2 days (2 days and one evening) and a day trip to Toledo.
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Old May 29th, 2009, 01:26 PM
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Madrid is a huge city ; we were there for a week ( only one trip - to Toledo). We had the time to look at fantastic museums without a timetable, enjoyed the elegant shops and streets of Salamnca, spent an afternoon walking through Retiro park. Most evenings we liked a drink in cafes near the Palace.
The area around Sol or Gran Via was not my 'cup of tea".
The Palace itself and Parque de Oeste were also wonderful.
We are planing another 5-6 day visit in Oct. ,after a stay in Seville.
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