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wayfinder45 Sep 12th, 2012 06:47 AM

Quick trip to Southern Spain - too much hassle?
I'm planning to take my daughter to visit family in England next spring and as lovely as that will be, since I've been to England a number of times before, I was hoping to squeeze in a side trip to another destination on my travel bucket list. I've set my sights on visiting Alhambra in Granada.

Given where we'll be and our other obligations, I've got a number of constraints: I have to fly in/out of Gatwick and I only have 3 nights to work with. Based on some initial research, it seems like the easiest (and cheapest) thing to do is to fly to Malaga and stay there 3 nights, touring Alhambra as a day trip and finding other things to do in and around Malaga. However, I'm sorely tempted to fly into Malaga and out of Seville -- which would lend itself to doing one night in Malaga, one night in Granada, and then the final night in Seville. I would not rent a car, but take the bus to Granada and then the train to Seville.

Is the hassle worth the reward? I am not likely to get back to Spain anytime soon, if ever, so the "save Seville to next time" isn't really helpful. However, it is Alhambra that's on the bucket list and I want to be able to fully enjoy it. What would you do?

jgg Sep 12th, 2012 07:10 AM

If Alhambra is the main thing, I might consider flying into Malaga taking a bus to Granada, staying there for two nights, then heading back to Malaga for your last night. It might be nice for you to see the Alhambra during the evening as well as during the day. I think doing Malaga, Granada, Seville would be a bit much. Here is a link to some great info on getting from Malaga to Granada by bus.

In addition, here is a link to my trip report when we spent two nights in Granada. We enjoyed the Alhambra but also exploring the El Albaicin neighborhood.

Robert2533 Sep 12th, 2012 07:13 AM

I guess if you don't mind spending three days on the road, checking into and our of hotels, then go for it, but just make sure you plan carefully.

And as far as "what would you do", I wouldn't.

Sassafrass Sep 12th, 2012 07:13 AM

I would go only to Granada because it needs a minimum of one very full day, so a couple of nights, IMHO, and it is not that convenient for days trips. The gardens will be lovely in Spring and the olive groves also. Interesting places just to wander about in different neighborhoods.

If you would prefer three days really filled with sightseeing, you might consider Seville with a day trip to Cordoba instead of Granada.

pgriffin Sep 12th, 2012 07:13 AM

In 3 nights I would limit yourself to one place only - potentially doing a day trip if needs be. Three different one night stays is too rushed IMO.

If you really want to go to Granada, then do. But stay there three nights. Malaga-Granada can be done in 2.5 hours so not a huge problem.

CathyM Sep 12th, 2012 08:06 AM

If Granada is on your bucket list and you only have 3 days then I agree with the others about limiting your visit to Granada. Either 2 nights Granada and 1 in Malaga or all 3 in Granada - depending on timing of flights. I'm a huge fan of Sevilla but personally I wouldn't attempt trying to visit Malaga, Granada and Sevilla and 3 whirlwind days.

kimhe Sep 12th, 2012 08:07 AM

Málaga itself is a wonderful city, genuine Andalusian atmosphere, great cafés, tapas bars, restaurants, culture, theaters, nightlife and sights. Within 300 meters in the city center you'll find the newly excavated Roman theater, the 8-11th century Moorish Alcazaba, the 16th century Cathedral, Picasso's birth-place and the Picasso museum and the brand new Carmen Thyssen Museum.

A couple of articles about one of my absolute favourite cities in Spain after 25 years of intensive travelling in the country. Very laid-back and friendly:

Málaga is also loaded with interesting museums:

wayfinder45 Sep 12th, 2012 08:18 AM

Interesting idea to stay in Granada instead of Malaga. I was intrigued by the idea of touring Alhambra at night as well. The flight would arrive in Malaga in early afternoon, so shouldn't be a problem going straight on to Granada. Jgg, thanks for the links!

What about two nights in Granada, then early morning train to Seville (arriving around 11:30 am), spending the day/night there for a noon flight out next day? Still too much?? Would the train trip offer scenic views as a trade-off for lost time traveling?

wayfinder45 Sep 12th, 2012 08:20 AM

Ah, but kimhe, you make a good case for Malaga! Maybe I will leave Seville for "next time".

emily71 Sep 12th, 2012 09:00 AM

I'd recommend staying in Granada as well. Besides the Alhambra, there is the Catedral, a monetary and the Arab part of town as well as just wandering the streets. My favorite hotel in Spain was in Granada-Hostel Rodri. Others may disagree but I found enough to do for 2 days.

Sandramiani Sep 12th, 2012 10:02 AM

I you stay one night in Malaga, make it at the hotel Mate Larios on Larios Street, and get a room overlooking the street. On a smaller scale, it's like being in Covent Garden in London. Lots of great restaurants, bars, street performers, Museums nearby. On the top of the hotel, there's a bar overlooking the cathedral all lit up at night, beautiful !!
Larios street is only pedestrian, so the taxi will leave you close by and you'll have to walk carrying your luggage to the hotel (bothersome, but very worth it).
When in Granada, you have to purchase the tickets to get into the Alhambra during the day, if you just arrive there at night they don't sell tickets, there are usually lots of angry tourists that they can't get in - it is quite magical to be there at night. Actually, if you have to choose whether to go during the day or night, I'd choose night.

Sassafrass Sep 12th, 2012 01:06 PM

IMHO, a half day in Seville just isn't enough to do any justice to it. Seville needs walking and savoring.

Malaga - yes, if it fits time-wise.

We spent two days/three nights in Granda and it was not enough.

annhig Sep 12th, 2012 01:22 PM

wayfinder - we did a 3 night trip like this a few years ago, and i say - go for it!

we flew into Malaga quite late [for us, early for spaniards] and stayed in a hotel in the centre. in the morning we did about an hour's sightseeing [just enough for us to see that we were missing a lot!] then picked up a car and drove to Granada in time to have a late lunch [which was the normal time for Spain]. we spent the rest of the afternoon touring Granada, and in the evening managed to get tickets for the night session, which was wonderful, then had dinner in our hotel which was right opposite the Alhambra -

then the next day we already had tickets for the morning session at the Alhambra, which took us most of the day. then we drove up into the mountains, and came back to Granada for the evening again, but you could just as easily drive back to Malaga and have the rest of your time there.

Definitely go, definitely see Granada and Malaga, definitely get tickets for both day and night sessions.

finally, we went to Seville on another occasion and it's lovely too, but it isn't worth the hassle of getting there in such a short trip - leave it for another time.

wayfinder45 Sep 13th, 2012 07:06 AM

Thanks everyone! I knew I could count on the wisdom and experience represented here to pull me back and -- at the same time -- help shape a really enjoyable trip! I hope it's not too terrible that it's the prospect of an impulsive 3-day jaunt to Granada that has me so excited to spend a week with family in England!

annhig Sep 13th, 2012 12:28 PM

I hope it's not too terrible that it's the prospect of an impulsive 3-day jaunt to Granada that has me so excited to spend a week with family in England!>>

I suspect that many of us can empathise with you all too well, wayfinder.

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