Seville, Segovia, Cuenca, Toledo, or...?

Old Nov 27th, 2022, 06:02 AM
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Seville, Segovia, Cuenca, Toledo, or...?

We will be visiting Madrid for ten days or so in January, and we're looking to spend a couple of nights at another city/town. The high speed trains bring places like Seville into play, but we're leaning to a smaller place (like Segovia or Cuenca). But I welcome any and all suggestions for a memorable two night stay in Spain (and relatively close to Madrid).
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Old Nov 27th, 2022, 07:17 AM
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I'm not particularly well versed in Spain, but I spent two weeks there recently split between Barcelona, Granada, Seville and Madrid.

Seville was hands down my favorite - absolutely loved it.
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Old Nov 27th, 2022, 10:27 AM
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You can’t go wrong with either Cuenca or Segovia. We did them both on our first trip to Spain many years ago.
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Old Nov 27th, 2022, 01:00 PM
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We also really enjoyed Cordoba. It looks like it is a bit less than 2 hours from Madrid by train. We loved visiting the Mezquita and also walking around the charming town. We only spent one night there but I would have liked to have stayed longer.
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Old Nov 27th, 2022, 02:11 PM
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I loved Salamanca, Segovia, and Cordoba. Seville was wonderful too, but would need at least a 4 night stay, I think.
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Old Nov 27th, 2022, 04:51 PM
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Seville would be my first choice for at least three nights, but with ten days, especially in Jan, I would try to see a bit more than Madrid. Normally, I would say spend a night in Toledo, but you could do that as an easy day trip from Madrid. Segovia is also an easy day trip from Madrid. Do a day trip to Cordoba from Seville.
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Old Nov 28th, 2022, 12:03 AM
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Don't forget Avila and Salamanca
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Old Nov 28th, 2022, 04:14 PM
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Thanks to all for sharing your thoughts, What is clear is that I have lots of options and they are all good. Right now, I'm leaning Segovia. A few years ago, we were in Italy and decided to spend two nights in Siena (over Florence, which I had been to). We loved Siena - perfect size for a two night stay.
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Old Nov 28th, 2022, 08:31 PM
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Segovia is great, I loved it, but I liked Toledo a notch higher than Segovia, ideally I would do both, but I personally had to choose just one, I would choose Toledo.
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Old Nov 29th, 2022, 12:43 AM
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Seville is beautiful but a 2-night stay doesn’t do it justice. So my first choice for a 2-night stay would be Cordoba, with Toledo my second choice.
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Old Nov 29th, 2022, 08:15 AM
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enpe,
I agree with others that while Sevilla is within striking distance of Madrid via high speed rail for a two-night stay, for me it does deserve 4 nights or even more, given the breadth of amazing sights to enjoy. This beautiful city mirrors most first time visitors' image of Southern Spain.

Of your other choices, your decision may be driven by your personal interests. I've been to all on numerous occasions, and they're all UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Cuenca
It draws visitors primarily because of its highly dramatic perch between two river gorges and its "hanging houses" above these gorges (great for photographers). It's the sister city to Ronda, another dramatically perched town high above a gorge. It has one of Spain's foremost abstract art museums and has been the home to many abstract artists: Saura, Zóbel, Tŕpies, Chillida, Oteiza.. (the Antonio Pérez Museum features pop art).
So if photography, hiking and abstract art are your interests, Cuenca would appeal.
It has an historic Parador, a 16th century reconverted convent, with direct views of the casas colgadas.
It will be Spain's Capital of Gastronomy for 2023.
The cathedral does offer an excellent audio guided tour. But on my winter trips we've encountered very cold weather there.
it's a one hour train ride from Madrid, and the trains have dynamic pricing, the cheapest fares offered on Renfe's low cost AVLO with 1 convenient departure per day at 12:40.

Segovia
It appeals to history buffs, as the "fairy tale", romantic Alcázar fortress/castle (said to have inspired Disney), complete with drawbridge, is where Isabel was crowned queen. The castle offers lavishly decorated rooms and an excellent military museum, and the views from its tower, on a high promontory, offers beautiful views of the Castilian countryside. And its Roman aqueduct is a feat of engineering.
If you do like contemporary art, the Esteban Vicente Museum is excellent. This abstract expressionist (a nationalized American who painted in NY) was a contemporary of Rothko and Pollock. Segovia also has preserved its ancient Jewish quarter with a small Sephardic museum.
The summer royal palace of La Granja sits an easy bus ride away.
Segovia is only an under 30-minute train ride from Chamartín station, via the AVANT (cheapest), Alvia or AVE trains.

Toledo
"The city of the 3 cultures", with an equally dramatic setting high above the Tagus, for me is a bit frustrating and tiring day trip because its artistic patrimony is so very, very vast (and the city gets overwhelmed with day trippers).
The city holds so many masterpieces of art, from Roman & Visigoth ruins, to Muslim treasures, to Flemish tapestries and antique ceramics in its fine Museum de Santa Cruz, from El Greco to Spanish and Italian Baroque canvasses, to one of Spain's most impressive, overwhelmingly beautiful Gothic cathedrals, to its two ancient synagogues and excellent Sephardic museum that traces the diaspora, to Victorio Macho sculptures, to its Army Museum, that it's just hard to take it all in within one day.
For me, it's like a super intense art history class.
World class museums, churches, monasteries, monuments galore!

While I have little interest in Toledo's ubiquitous sword and damascene jewelry shops (kind of a tourist racket), marzipan lovers shouldn't miss the Obrador de Santo Tomé.
And Toledo (like Segovia), does have nice lodging in all price ranges, and takes on a sort of mysterious feel at night when the bus groups have departed.
I just need two full days to do it all justice.
Toledo is a quick 30+ min. train ride from Atocha, and its AVANT fares never change.

I hope this helps a bit in your decision.
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Old Nov 30th, 2022, 11:14 AM
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My choice would definitely be Toledo for your two nights. We absolutely loved it. We spent three nights there, and it has a lot to offer. Check out Chapters Fourteen through Sixteen in Trip report below ... gives you a few ideas with tons of photos) Be sure to take the TrainVision tourist train from Plaza de Zocodover out to Mirador del Valle and back (€5.50 when we went). The train leaves every 30 minutes and the entire round trip takes 40 minutes or so. It also affords quite a view from the Mirador del Valle. Still one of our favorite European photos (below). And I still dream about that Monster GinTonic with Blue Nordic Tonic. Ah, memories.

https://travelswithmaitaitom.com/spain-2015/







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Old Nov 30th, 2022, 01:07 PM
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Imho, nobody makes better GTs than the Spaniards! (but I'm super biased. For Spaniards it's an art form! And always, always served in a balloon glass with huge ice cubes.
Beautiful photo of Toledo from the Mirador!
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Old Nov 30th, 2022, 01:36 PM
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With the caveat that I've never been to Cuenca or Segovia, my vote also goes to Toledo, and having myself spent one night there, I'd definitely recommend going for 2 or even three. As Maribel says there is loads to see, plus some very nice bars and restaurants and the food I had in the restaurant of my hotel was absolutely excellent. And it's so easy to get to by train. My only complaint was that i had a long wait for a cab to take me from the station to my hotel but that is a minor quibble.
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Old Nov 30th, 2022, 01:39 PM
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Well, now that annhig and maitaitom, two of my favorite Fodorites, have checked in, my vote, too, goes to Toledo, especially if you´re an art lover. Just gobs and gobs of majestic art to absorb and so much more pleasant at night after the hordes of day trippers have left.
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Old Nov 30th, 2022, 11:01 PM
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I'm very fond of Cuenca. Not as touristy as the others mentioned and the scenery is right out of Don Quijote de la Mancha, windmills and all. Nearby is La Ciudad Encantada with unusual rock formations. Maribel is right, it gets pretty cold at night. Toledo, Segovia and Avila are an excellent choice. Let us know where you end up.
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