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Need Advice on 18 Days into Madrid, out of Bilbao

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Jul 27th, 2014, 11:31 PM
  #1
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Need Advice on 18 Days into Madrid, out of Bilbao

I am planning the details for my 18 day trip to Spain in September- it's the first trip to Spain for both my fiance and I. We would like to get a taste for a few regions, as we plan to visit again but know that 2nd trip won't be for some time.

We're heading there for a short business event in Madrid, then meeting up with a friend in Malaga. This friend wants some beach time (we're ok with that but the beach is not a focus for us). We just want a relaxed visit with the friend, which beach time affords. Then another friend will join the 3 of us in Barcelona for a couple of nights. Next just the two of us head to Basque country and fly out of Bilboa.

Given those constraints, here's what we came up with at first glance:

4 nights Madrid
2 nights Seville
2 nights Granada
1 night Malaga (join up with friend)
1 night in a coastal town along the drive to Valencia
1 night Valencia
2 nights Barcelona (meet another friend)
2 nights San Sebastian
1 night Bilbao

It's a long car journey from Malaga to Barcelona so at first we thought we'd spend the night in Valencia and another coastal town. However I'm starting to think that simply flying from Malaga to Barcelona and skipping Valencia/the drive would be lot less rushed. Here's my secondary option:

4 nights Madrid
2 or 3 nights Seville
1 or 2 nights Granada
1 night Malaga (joining up with friend here)
1 night Nerja or add to Malaga
3 nights Barcelona (meet another friend)
2 nights San Sebastian (for the food!)
1 night Bilbao

What are your thoughts? Does Seville need 3 nights? Is 1 enough to check out Granada? We would like to visit the Alhambra, however we've spent a fair amount of time in Morocco so hitting up all of the Islamic sites is not a huge draw for us. The Moorish highlights will suffice on this jam packed trip.

FYI, we plan to rent a car for the trip out of Seville (Grenada/Malaga) and then again leaving Barcelona (for the Basque country).

Any thoughts, critiques, or personal favorites would be greatly appreciated! And thanks for sticking it out if you're still reading!
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Jul 27th, 2014, 11:44 PM
  #2
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 17,190
IMO, you are trying to do too much! WAY too rushed for me!

"Does Seville need 3 nights?"

You betcha! Try to give Sevilla at least 3 or 4 full days.

"Is 1 enough to check out Granada? "

Maybe -- but it is NOT enough for the Alhambra. For that, you need at least 2 nights. And although I haven't yet been to Morocco, I can't imagine that anything there matches the magnificent and enchanting Alhambra.

"The Moorish highlights will suffice on this jam packed trip"

Then you also need to make time for the incomparable Mezquita of Cordoba.

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, including AT LEAST two or three hours on either side (for getting to/from the airport or whatever, checking in/out, packing/unpacking, obtaining currency, and getting oriented). Then see how things fit together.
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Jul 28th, 2014, 01:07 AM
  #3
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
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2 nights means one day. one night means no days.
This plan is far too rushed and you will not see so much as you think you could do.
Why hire a car you are only visiting cities? Public transport is usually considered the better option when do this.
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Jul 28th, 2014, 02:21 PM
  #4
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While I would love to have 10 days in the region, we are faced with the reality of only having 4 nights between business in Madrid and meeting our friend in Malaga. We are skipping Cordoba to allow more time in Seville/Granada as the culture of Seville/history of the Granada seem more appealing to us.

We will mostly likely use just trains (at least in southern Spain). Also, I have picked up a few guidebooks and dived in. Our itinerary is actually a scaled back version of the Rick Steves 3 week whirlwind tour of Spain. He gives 2 nights in both Seville and Granada.

Should we cut out Seville or Alhambra and focus only on 1 of these destinations? With 2 nights in Seville, then the train to Granada in the early evening I figured that dinner in Granada, a full day for the Alahmbra, overnight then breakfast/lunch in Granada would suffice. We won't go to the Alhambra for more than 1 day- does that schedule not work for Grenada?

I'm open to suggestions, just hesitant to cut either of these places.

I'll also put the info out there that we're not huge on seeing the "sites". Usually just 1 or 2 places per day, and otherwise walking the streets, soaking up view, and digging into the local food and drink. Can that be done in this schedule?

4 nights Madrid
2 nights Seville
2 nights Granada
2 nights Malaga (joining up with friend here)
3 nights Barcelona (meet another friend)
2 nights San Sebastian (for the food!)
1 night Bilbao
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Jul 28th, 2014, 02:51 PM
  #5
 
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With these restrictions, I would skip Sevilla this time and spend more time with your friends. You could combine Granada and Malaga and maybe visit some places in the immediate vicinity without rushing through Sevilla. It will always be there, but this trip is the now--and I feel strongly about enjoying the now!
That said, your last itinerary is about the best you can do if all of those places are a must for you.
OR, could you change the return flight? It is the Bilbao return flight that is messing everything up.
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Jul 28th, 2014, 03:12 PM
  #6
 
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Is 1 enough to check out Granada?>

more than enough for me - overall one of the least romantic cities in Spain I have been to - doesn't mean you could not spend a few days there but except for the area around the incredible Alhambra - an area with tiny whitewashed lanes the city is full of traffic and had a lot of smog when I was last there.

Not bad but you will be happier to spend that extra night elsewhere perhaps.

Cordoba to me is one of the most fantastic cities in Spain and its old mosque now a cathedral is also a blockbuster site/sight - you could add a day onto Seville just to do a day trip to Cordoba, superb Cordoba.
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Jul 28th, 2014, 05:02 PM
  #7
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Thanks everyone! The Bilbao return is not able to be changed.

PalenQ, what is it about Cordoba that you liked so much?
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