Need Help with Spain & Day Trips

Aug 16th, 2007, 03:57 PM
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Need Help with Spain & Day Trips

I'm planning to go to Spain for my next trip to Europe, probably sometime in June 2008 (not set in stone, but for sure summer), for 10 nights, plus 1 day on each end for travel in/out of the states. I haven't done research except for some reading on this site as a brief intro. I'm interested in going to Barcelona, Madrid, Seville and using these as bases to do 1 to 3 day trips if possible.

Not sure of the exact travel time required or method of transport, but seems that either train or bus should be available (prefer train).

I would appreciate any advise on travel time, transport method and what cities to make sure and see and which to avoid (I know itís a matter of preference, but Iíd like to hear your opinion anyway). I havenít seen any side trips for Barcelona yet so suggestions are welcome.

Madrid- Toledo, El Escoria, Segovia, Castillejo, Valencia (although this may be a bit far out for a day trip)

Between Madrid and Seville: Cordoba (seems that this is closer to Seville than Madrid).

Seville-Carmona, Ronda, Malaga, Marbella, Granada .

Are Malaga and Marbella more beachy areas?

Being that I only have 10 nights, would you suggest flying in and spending 4 nights in Barcelona or Seville (may also depend on flights)? The extra night is to recover from jet lag and so when we arrive we have a couple of extra hours to wander around before sleeping.

Thank you!
rohani is offline  
Aug 16th, 2007, 04:09 PM
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You're trying to do an awful lot of places in only 10 days. Each time you change hotels/cities you basically lose the day. So - if you center in Barcelona, Madrid and Seville you only have really 7 days to do things - and wont be able to do all those day trips.

If I were you I would concentrate on only 2 centers so you have less moving around and can see more in each area rather than rushing around so much. I know most people will say Barcelona and Madrid - but Madrid is my least favorite city in europe. (Madrdi is a very large, modern city with lots of 20th century high rises and is represents much less that is different about Spain than the other 2 areas.)

So - I would do either Barcelona and Seville or just Andalusia (to me this is the are that is most "different" about Spain due to it's long history of arab occupation. Seville, Granada and Cordoba are not to be missed, Ronda and the other white towns are interesting - and the coast (Marbella/Puerto Banus for preference) provide a nice beach break. We have been to this are several times - and frankly 10 days there alone is not too much.

I would definitely do some research on which areas you will enjoy most and cut back on the # of destinations.
nytraveler is offline  
Aug 17th, 2007, 07:33 AM
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Thank you for the insight. As mentioned, the only research I've done so far is reading this site. Time to hit the books!
rohani is offline  
Aug 17th, 2007, 07:43 AM
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Hi, rohani -
I agree with nytraveler that 10 days is not much time, and that you would do well to select only a few of these wonderful places to see. Unlike nytraveler, I'm a great fan of Madrid - but I love spending hours on end in magnificent art museums. Hope that helps!
kja is offline  
Aug 17th, 2007, 08:49 AM
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What's your opinon of the possible day trip locations (recommend/stay away from)?
rohani is offline  
Aug 17th, 2007, 09:18 AM
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Why do you want to do day trips? Why don't you explore the cities you're staying in and make the most of your time? Each is a large, fascinating place full of interesting and historical sites, scenes, architecture, restaurants, etc. Pick two places, walk around, explore, sit at sidewalk cafes, people watch, absorb the flavors. You can really enjoy Spain if you slow down and savor it.
gailw is offline  
Aug 17th, 2007, 09:19 AM
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hi -
I just came back from my honeymoon in Spain and we had a wonderful time. We didn't go to Barcelona or Madrid, but spent 10 days in Andalucia. I have been to Barcelona in the past and loved it, but Seville was amazing too. You must go to Sevilla, Ronda and Grenada. You can stay in Seville and drive to Ronda in just 2 hours. The drive from Ronda to Grenada is about 2 hours too. My advice - skip Malaga. It's a huge town on the beach and the traffic is a nightmare. Marbella is a beautiful beach town, but very ritzy - think yachts and designer shops. Sort of feels like cannes. I have great hotel recs for some of the places, but not sure of your budget.... If you can, stay over night in Ronda - the place is so charming at night. In Ronda, we stayed at the Parador which is amazing and right on the gorge. Ask for a room with the best view - it's so worth it. In Grenada, we stayed at a beautiful place right in the most charming part of town. It's called Casa de los Migueletes. Ask for a room with a view of the Alhambra.
tiyul is offline  
Aug 18th, 2007, 09:35 AM
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Do give Malaga a miss - it is pretty horrible. We live about an hour from there and are totally in love with Andalucia - except Malaga and some of the other coastal places full of highrises. Seville is gorgeous, and as others have said, Ronda, Grenada and Cordoba and lots of other white villages. I think you are trying to do too much in a short space of time and would advise Barcelona and Madrid or just Andalucia.
eliza3 is offline  
Aug 18th, 2007, 09:50 AM
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I'm no Spain extpert, but I have just done three trips in the past two years to the areas you are talking about. In my opinion, all three is definitly too much for 10 days so I'd pick two. My favorite was Seville/Andalucia. I did 9 days between Seville, Cordoba and Granada in March. But June (and certainly July/August) will be extremely hot in that area - over 100 degrees average temps. I purposely arranged my trips so that I did that area in March not summer. Unless you really like hot weather I think you might want to save that area for a fall or spring trip.

I just did 14 days in Madrid and surrounding areas (last month) but you could reasonably fit in say 6 nights in Madrid/Toledo/Segovia and the other four in Barcelona. I spent 4 nights in Barcelona in March of 06 and felt I got a good taste of it. My trip this July I spent 3 nights in Toledo, 4 in Segovia (with day trip to Avila), 3 in Salamanca and 4 in Madrid. But with limited time I'd probably advise basing in Madrid and doing day trips to Segovia and Toledo. Those towns are nicest after the tour bus groups leave, but if you travel by train/bus (not tour group) you can stay till fairly late and see it after the majority of day trippers have left. Bus is easiest for Segovia - the bus station is 5 minutes from the center of town while the train station is a long half hour walk. Buses in Spain are comfortable with AC. Toledo is only a half hour train ride from Madrid. And as I said connections to both towns start early and go till at least 9 or 10 at night.

I have photos of my trips at if you want to see some pics of all those towns. The ones from this summer's trip aren't up yet but will be within a couple of weeks. Barcelona and Andalucia have their own galleries.

Whatever you choose you'll love Spain.
isabel is online now  
Aug 18th, 2007, 10:35 AM
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I think you can and perhaps should do all three, if that is your original preference, but only do side trips from one. I would probably pick Andalucia. You may be able to do Toledo or Segovia OR one side from Barcelona but that would be really pushing it.

I would not miss Granada and at least a couple of white villages, perhaps on the way to the coast. You can do all that comfortably by bus and some of it by train.

2 days Barcelona, 2 -3 days Madrid and 5 -6 days Andalucia would be optimal for me, given your timeframe. Alternatively, skip Barcelona or Madrid this time if you can plan on returning at some point.

enroute is offline  
Aug 18th, 2007, 11:10 AM
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Ten days is perfect for Andalusia--do not try to do more.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Aug 19th, 2007, 12:40 AM
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eliza3, thanks for your comments on Malaga, really, thank you.
josele is offline  
Aug 19th, 2007, 04:07 AM
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You all know that there is no Grenada in Spain, right? There is a GRANADA, though....

Rohani-- RULE OF THUMB: If you are a Spain first timer and have 10 days or less, you do Madrid and Andalucia. That's it. The only exception to this rule is between July-September, where you stay North, i.e. Barcelona, San Sebastian, Galicia....

Since you are using public transport, fly into Madrid, AVE train to Seville. Two home bases, with a third on the mix to be decided later.

Day trips from Madrid-- Toledo, Avila, El Escorial, Segovia.

Day trips from Seville- Ronda, Cordova, Merida. If you feel adventurous, get to Estacion Santa Justa, rent a car and get to Granada for an overnight with a stop in Ronda on your way there. On your way back, drive the coastal route and go into the some Pueblos Blancos as you drive by them.
Viajero2 is offline  
Aug 19th, 2007, 04:27 AM
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We did the Andalucia trip this past April and LOVED it. I think it was our best trip ever. You really do need to rent a car. It is possible to get an automatic, but you have to try hard.

Click on my name and scroll way down, but you will find my trip report in there. It was so lovely...
kelliebellie is offline  
Aug 19th, 2007, 06:56 AM
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We are going to Spain in 2 months for almost 3 weeks and plan to see less than you do in 9 days.
I visited more than 20 years ago and was not fond of the coast either.
If one is not interested in museums and galleries, as is often the case with travelers( many "do" Rome or Paris in 2 days) you can take a day tour of Madrid and spend the rest of the time on side trips.
Andalusia is very hot that time of year but it does not bother some people ( I was there in August - not recommended)
As others suggested, I would also pick 2 areas :Madrid and Barcelona , or Madrid and Andalusia and go from there.
danon is offline  
Aug 20th, 2007, 11:23 AM
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Thank you so much for all the great information and links. If only we had more time to see everything. I think we are zeroing in on Madrid and Seville, although not set in stone yet. I've never been stirred wrong from all the great info on this site.
rohani is offline  
Aug 20th, 2007, 11:35 AM
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If you're going to Seville, think about seeing the Alhambra in Granada. If you do, remember that you need a reservation.
sjj is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2007, 07:21 PM
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Regarding reservations for the Alhambra - they are advisable, but not essential. There are plenty of people who just turn up on the day.
eliza3 is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2007, 10:27 PM
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hi, rohani,

I hesitate to contradict eliza3 who is clearly a local so "in the know" but although many people may just turn up at the alhambra, I doubt that they get in!

we went in november, and there were no tickets available for people just turning up that day [we had pre-booked ours]; we did get tickets for the evening on the door. so in june, you should book well in advance, IMO.

regards, ann
annhig is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2007, 01:48 AM
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Do you mean day-trips out of the cities?

I would do the three cities and i would fly between the three with who do great routes/rates within Spain.

Don't bother doing day-trips unless you actually have something specific that you want to see, for example the Dalí museum in Figueres (outside of Barcelona).
Have a look at this area guide for BCN, which has all the sightseeing and museums covered district-by-district (and vacation apts):

As you're coming in June be aware that Barcelona's biggest music and digital arts festival, Sonar, falls 14th-16th. If you're into it, get your accommodation sorted out quickly.
If it's not your thing i would avoid that weekend to come to BCN.

travel_buzzing is offline  

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