Go Back  Fodor's Forum > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page > Madrid vs Barcelona ( I know you have an opinion!)
Notices

Madrid vs Barcelona ( I know you have an opinion!)

Reply

Mar 5th, 2010, 10:22 AM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 50
Madrid vs Barcelona ( I know you have an opinion!)

So early May I go with 5 of my best girl friends in the world to Spain for my 50th bday! We plan on staying in Madrid and Barcelona. The question is, how much time in each place? We all love museums, shopping, walking around enjoying a new place, new food etc etc!!

I tried to find us an apartment in Madrid but it's difficult to find something big enough so we plan to stay in a hotel. Does anyone have an opinion about the Gran Melia Fenix? I'm trying to find something that won't break the bank (I am paying for lodging) that also is nice and clean!

We will be staying in an apartment in Barcelona as it's easier to find a roomy place.

So the biggest questions in my mind are...

1. how much time should we allot to each city (we fly in and out of Madrid)? 2. How should we travel from one city to the other, I see flights are cheap but is it worth it to fly given the great european rail system? (Someone also mentioned that Spain has a great bus system). And
3. which neighborhood should we target to stay in in each city?

Appreciate any and all help!
rede440 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 5th, 2010, 10:29 AM
  #2
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 9,023
Europe's fastest trains now link Madrid to Barcelona in just less than 3 hours and there are zillions of trains a day (go to www.renfe.es for fares and online discounts) - just as fast or faster than flying figuring the train takes you into the heart of Madrid)

And IMO Barcelona is much more the dreamy old-world type town center etched in your minds' eyes than Madrid - a modern loud city with a few vest-pcoket old-world atmospheres

Barcelona's historic center is fantastic - nothing comparable in Madrid. Walking around much nicer IME, etc.

Madrid has fantastic art museums and it has some of the neatest day trips around - Toledo being in my mind the tops as well as Segovia and Avila - all easily reached by rail

put at least a day into Toledo IMO - just 30 mins or so by train from Madrid.
Palenque is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 5th, 2010, 10:40 AM
  #3
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 3,754
Pretty much ditto Palenque - I like Barcelona more than Madrid, Barclona has a variety of neighborhoods plus the beach. Plenty to see and do for at least a week - you don't mention how long your trip is for, but I would spend more time in Barcelona. But Madrid does have the fabulous museums and some easy and interesting day trips. I would suggest staying near Plaza Santa Anna in Madrid. You might consider an open jaws plane ticket - in one city and out the other and travel by train inbetween the two. Have a great trip!
suec1 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 5th, 2010, 10:50 AM
  #4
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 87,194
I recently saw Woody Allen's Vicky Christina Barcelona, and it made me want to buy a plane ticket (to Barcelona)!
suze is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 5th, 2010, 10:54 AM
  #5
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 25,048
Nothing to add except how jealous I am! I am turning 50 this month and had hoped for exactly the kind of trip you have planned.

I was in Barcelona two weekends ago and LOVED it. You and your friends will fall in love with Gaudi, the food is wonderful, and well, Barcelona is like a warmer, sunnier, friendlier Paris IME.

I loved dinner at Noti and lunch at Cal Pep.

Have not been to Madrid but my husband and daughter loved it and said I should go based on how I reacted to Barcelona...

Happy 50th and have a wonderful time.

gruezi
gruezi is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 5th, 2010, 12:03 PM
  #6
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 12,938
the side trips from Madrid to Toledo and Segovia are a big attraction ( 1[2 half hour by train). Madrid is a huge city with great museums, the beautiful park Retiro and an elegant shopping area - Salamanca.
Barcelona is much more compact, more interesting and easier to get around, and of course right on the sea.
Both cities have an extensive and cheap metro system.
AVE , fast train is the best way to travel between, but you need to book cheap Estrella fare or it will cost more than flying.
https://w1.renfe.es/vol/indexHome.do

I would allocate 3-4 days for Barcelona.
danon is online now  
Reply With Quote
Mar 5th, 2010, 12:31 PM
  #7
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 9,023
and unfortunately both cities also have probably the worst street crime against tourists of any city in europe - even muggings rare in pickpocket-prone cities like Paris, Rome and many large cities where tourists congregate

But in Spain you can easily get mugged IF you do not know there is a big problem in both cities - if you know the danger and heed the warnings (like the staff lady in the Madrid Tourist Office on the Plaza Mayor (?name) who i saw reprimand an American lady for wearing such expensive jewelry

anyway know the problem and, unfortunately be leery on anyone coming up to ask questions, sell you something, distractions, etc - the chances of it happening are small but a whole lot of tourists do get robbed and even mugged in both cities

the miscreants IME are rarely Catalans but immigrant drug addicts needing a fix.

anyway not to rain on your parade but heed the warnings and be vigilantand stay out of dark uncrowded areas - be especially careful on the Ramblas.
Palenque is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 5th, 2010, 12:52 PM
  #8
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 12,938
"But in Spain you can easily get mugged IF you do not know there is a big problem in both cities '."


I wish some people would stop with old lady hysterics about Madrid and Barcelona .
danon is online now  
Reply With Quote
Mar 5th, 2010, 12:58 PM
  #9
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 9,023
danon does a huge disservice and spits out pure misinformation by her/his comments - i have topped a thread by a frequent Fodor poster "Mugged in Barcelona, Trip Cut Short" in which he says:



read the thread and you will find this is not an isolated incident - in fact i could top several threads where many folks report being mugged in Barcelona or Madrid - and locals were confirm there is a problem

Why someone would say there is not a problem is beyond me - they obviously know little of what they are saying.
Palenque is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 5th, 2010, 01:17 PM
  #10
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 3,179
I am one of those weird people that like Madrid more than Barcelona. If given the choice, I always chose Madrid. I like the energy teh city has.

How many days total are you staying?

In Madrid I like the area near the museums and Plaza Santa Ana. Check Hotel El Prado. I got a great rate last year and again for this summer. It is a 3 star, not fancy but it was clean, comfortable, nice bathroom.
cruiseluv is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 5th, 2010, 01:29 PM
  #11
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 9,023
So early May I go with 5 of my best girl friends in the world to Spain for my 50th bday! We plan on staying in Madrid and Barcelona. The question is, how much time in each place>

unless i missed it how long total overall do you have?
Palenque is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 5th, 2010, 01:36 PM
  #12
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 12,938
Most posters live in American cities where any crazy person or a criminal can purchase a gun, machine gun or a rocket -launcher.. why should people get all worried because there are pick-pockets in Rome, Madrid or Barcelona. Just behave like a reasonable adult.
I did not say there is no problem ; I have visited Spain and Italy several times in the last 4 years - have you?- so I am not unfamiliar with the cities in question.
Even if there has been a purse snatching or a mugging of a drunk kid in a dark ally , bringing it up EVERY time someone has a question about Spain has become really tiresome.
danon is online now  
Reply With Quote
Mar 5th, 2010, 01:54 PM
  #13
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 9,023
bringing it up EVERY time someone has a question about Spain has become really tiresome.>

Well i view it as doing a service and every guidebook should also contain caution - these cities are not just the normal but street crime is rife - and if you do not know about it then you are more likely to get victimized - say with a wallet in your back pocket.

sorry you wish to pretend it does not exist much more here than in any other place in Europe. Have i been in Barcelona the past few years no - but i could drag up two other threads - think i will because it seems you yourself are naive about the problem - where many people report similar stories and locals - yes folks who live there say the same.

So sorry to strongly disagree with you- and yes the fact that my dear sister got violently mugged on a Saunday morning right in front of Atocha station prompted me to do this - not because her's was an isolated incident but because the more i read about these things the more i knew there was a serious problem. My 40 years as a professional travel writer also plugs me into many reliable sources that confirm this. That the cities of Barcelona and Madrid do not really try to stop these things to me is reprehensible

If everytime i issue a warning like i did above - trying to make it very measured and reassuring folks it won't happen probably if you know about and then you and some others make it a debate does more to hype the issue than my carefully worded intial warning.

Again you IMO do a disservice to travelers going to those two cities by saying the problem is nothing unusual. It is unusual for Europe - muggings rarely happen elsewhere. My sister was left in the gutter bloodied and bruises and she was an extremely well traveled person.
Palenque is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 5th, 2010, 02:17 PM
  #14
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,555
I have been to Barcelona and Madrid each two times in recent years and had a really great time in both cities. In Madrid, there are terrific museums. My favorite was the Thyssen Bornemisza museum, with lesser works by well known artists and important works by lesser known artists.

Nights in Madrid are filled with street life, people are out until all hours in the plazas, even young children. I think it would be great fun to go to see and hear flamenco with five friends. There are some very informative threads here with ideas of places to go. Here is one of them: http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...d-233908-2.cfm

I went to Casa Patas the first time and enjoyed it so much I went back the second time. www.casapatas.com. The restaurant there is also very good, so you can have dinner before the show, which is not so easy if you go elsewhere to a restaurant because dinner is eaten very late in Spain.

I loved staying around the Plaza Santa Ana, which is in easy walking distance to all the things I mention and which is ringed with tapas bars and a fun, lively area.

In Barcelona, there are some smaller worthwhile museums, but nothing on the scale of the Madrid museums. The Miro Museum up on Montjuic is worth a look, and the Picasso Museum has a good collection of early works. The Museum of the City of Barcelona gives access to the ancient Roman foundations of the city under the cathedral. The Maritime Museum in the beautifully restores medieval shipyards is enjoyable.

There is wonderful food in Barcelona. Visit the Boqueria market on the Ramblas, and there are restaurants inside where you can have a market fresh breakfast or lunch.

I do not see a mention of how long your total trip is, but either city can take up several days. I spent a week in Barcelona; you might be interested in my trip report:

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...rip-report.cfm

For lots of good information about both cities, see Maribel's guides at www.maribelsguides.com

You should try to get open jaws flights, either into Madrid and out of Barcelona or vice versa. You can search for these under "multiple destinations" on many search engines. I use www.kayak.com
Nikki is online now  
Reply With Quote
Mar 5th, 2010, 02:28 PM
  #15
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 136
We were just in both cities in November and preferred Barcelona but were glad we saw Madrid. We kept marveling at the beautiful architecture in Barcelona. No matter where you walked there was something to look at. We did 4.5 days in Barcelona and 3.5 in Madrid. We felt we should have taken one day from Madrid and added it to Barcelona.

By the way "what's the hubbub, Bub" about pickpockets. We paid attention, we live in NYC, but never felt threatened in either city.
Quark is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 5th, 2010, 03:42 PM
  #16
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 26,710
I have been visiting and Madrid and Barcelona since 1972 and never had a problem and have been to both as recently as 2007 and stayed at or near the supposed crime epicenters.

Madrdid has world class museums and is an excellent hub for visiting many worthwhile surrounding towns.

Barcelona has a sense of design and personality unlike any other city.

A friend says Madrid is Spanish while Barcelona is International.
Aduchamp1 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 5th, 2010, 03:42 PM
  #17
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 3,889
I loved both Madrid and Barcelona but enjoyed Madrid more for the museums, park and plazas. Barcelona felt more touristy to me. I'd add that if you have time for some side trips from Madrid, Avila or Segovia would be my picks.
saige is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 5th, 2010, 04:34 PM
  #18
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 50
I love you guys!!

Sorry, we're staying for a week. Thinking maybe we will stay in Madrid for 2 nights Barcelona 4 and the last night in Madrid. I tried the in Madrid out of Barcelona and it wasn't worth it.

Would LOVE to see Flamenco dancing, I did a little research and we might be off on timing . So Toledo, Avila or Segovia? What do you think!
rede440 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 5th, 2010, 05:48 PM
  #19
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 12,938
If you are staying 2 nights in Madrid ( one full day!)
when are you going to find time to see what the city has offer and go on day trips?

"Have i been in Barcelona the past few years no - but i could drag up two other threads - think i will because it seems you yourself are naive about the problem"
Sorry about your sister, but don't tell me what I know or don't know.
danon is online now  
Reply With Quote
Mar 5th, 2010, 06:12 PM
  #20
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 3,179
With only 7 days (and given that you are flying in and out of Madrid), wouldn't consider staying the whole time in Madrid? The whole thing of checking in and out of hotels, trains/planes, etc takes up a lot of valuable time. And , as has been said before, Madrid is a great hub to visit other places.
cruiseluv is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 07:33 PM.