Spain: 16-17 day itinerary help please

Old Mar 21st, 2017, 08:35 PM
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Spain: 16-17 day itinerary help please

Hi all. My first posting here on Fodor's Travel.

Planning a 60th birthday trip in late September/early October. 2 of us - our 22 year old might join us for part of it. First time to Spain. I've been working on our itinerary - we live in NYC and love to wander - food - museums - my husband is a professional guitarist so that will occupy some of our time in Granada and Sevilla. Would love some input. I want enough time in locations to not feel horribly rushed and am happy to be car-free if possible.

Worked on this a bit...

NYC to Barcelona.

Day 1 - 'jet lag day' (always a blur for me)

Day 2, 3, 4, 5 (so enough time for a day trip to Montserrat or....?)

Day 6 we Fly Barcelona to Granada (I presume we fly into Malaga?)

4 nights in Granada (3 full days and 1 /2 day for the travel day)

Bus Granada to Malaga

2 nights in Malaga - the hope is that the one full day is a beach day with time for the Picasso (a wonderful restaurant rec with a view of the ocean would be much appreciated since this will be my birthday day (not technically but i want to celebrate my birthday with views of open ocean).

AVE train Malaga to Sevilla

4 nights in Sevilla (3 full days and 1/2 for the travel day) - maybe a day trip to Italica -

AVE to Toledo

2 nights in Toledo - walkabout the night we get there then just work to see as much as possible for the full day we are there.

train to Madrid - stay either one night or train directly to the airport. The idea would be to leave on October 12th which is a big national holiday.


and thanks. bean
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Old Mar 21st, 2017, 10:08 PM
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Advance wishes for a Happy Birthday! This should be a great trip. Just a few things to consider, all subject to what YOU want to do and experience.

For my interestes, 4 days was not sufficient for Barcelona itself, and certainly not for any day trips (Montserrat or other).

4 nights is on the high side for Granada. For most people, including people with the interests you state, 3 nights should be sufficient. Be sure to reserve your tickets for the Alhambra in advance, preferably both (a) a day-time ticket for the earliest time you are comfortable requesting and (b) an evening visit that day (so after your main visit to the Alhambra) for the Nasrid Palace. At certain times of year, you can also visit the Generalife in the evening; if so, I’d do that the evening BEFORE your main visit to the Alhambra. JMO.

No visit to Cordoba? IMO, Cordoba’s Mezquita is one of the world’s gems. Many people visit it as a day-trip from Sevilla. I was glad that I gave Cordoba 2 full days.

I’m not sure how much time you are planning for Madrid. I felt a bit rushed with 4 full days. But Madrid and Barcelona are the two easiest cities for those from the US to visit Spain, and so would be the easiest to include on a subsequent visit. With that in mind, I’d short-change either or both of those cities rather than any other part of Andalusia. JMO.

BTW, please note that many things in Spain are closed on Monday, and often for all or part of Sundays too; and many things in Spain will also be closed daily for a very long mid-day break.

Hope that helps!
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Old Mar 21st, 2017, 10:10 PM
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You love museums and you are skipping Madrid- the city with several
world class museum .
Italica can be seen in a couple of hours (1/2 hour bus ride from Seville)

To reach Toledo by train you must go to Madrid first.

You can fly to Granda from Barcelona ( check Vueling)
danon is online now  
Old Mar 22nd, 2017, 08:39 AM
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loving the responses ...thanks so much! We will reserve Madrid for another visit. Already living in a big city, we're satisfied with one big city - Barcelona - a place we've always wanted to visit. Then we're excited to be in small towns with the prospect of more intimate museums and skinny streets and surprises around corners.
I looked up the Veuling schedule and it's a possibility however our choice is either crack of dawn at 7:30 (never my best thing) or get in around 18:30. If we chose to go on a better-scheduled flight that comes into Malaga, is it a difficult schlep to get up to our hotel in Granada?

as far as the Sunday/Monday thing goes, there's not much I can do except schedule around it.

I do have a MAJOR question about October 12th - a major national holiday. Are there parades and festivities? Does everything shut down? We might fly out from Madrid to NYC that day - do I have to worry about public transport shutting down?

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Old Mar 22nd, 2017, 10:20 AM
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When I arrived in Madrid on that day a few years ago there was a big parade
and number of streets in the center were closed for traffic..
I took a train from the airport, (metro was operating too)
Many stores and restaurants were open.

I am not sure about buses from Malaga to takes about 2:30 h
Might be one from the airport.
danon is online now  
Old Mar 22nd, 2017, 10:34 AM
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Fellow NY'er. Very good first try. I agree with others. The following is offered considering the amount of time you have allotted and it is your first trip to Spain.

Two days in Toledo is a lot. Unless you must see the city lit up at night, a day trip from Madrid should suffice.

Four days in Granada is too much.

There is a fellow named Kimhe on these boards who knows more about flamenco than an old pair of castanets. Maybe he can advise where the best classical guitar can be heard during your stay.

Your husband can also his friends or at guitar stores who are the better luthiers in the cities you are about to visit. I would imagine someone at Manny's or Matt Umanov would know.

Also take a look at Time Out Barcelona and Madrid for some hints on music.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2017, 10:56 AM
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I feel the exact opposite re. the above assessment on Toledo. I gave Toledo an overnight, staying at the parador. Even with arriving early in the morning on a train from Madrid, I felt like I didn't have enough time in this incredible city. Yes, I saw the Cathedral and the church with the painting of the Death of Count Orgasz. Yes, I had marzipan and bought some Toledo steel steak knives. Yes, I had dinner at the parador and saw the incredible lights of the old city at dusk. But I don't feel like I had enough time to really embrace the city like I did others. That is why I am planning to spend my first two nights there when I return next year for a trip through Northern Spain. As Toledo is only 30m train ride from Atocha, you could potentially spend your last night in Toledo as well if your return light from Madrid is late the following afternoon.

And PS, take the early flight to Granada. You can sleep when you're back in NYC.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2017, 11:46 AM
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this forum ROCKS!!!! normally, we'd do maybe 2 of the locations and dig in where we are...but we just looked at the choices and every one of them looked fantastic.

when we visited venice, it was a beehive of tourist activity all day and then....then....then the day trippers left and venice became another place. it was magical - not that most of venice isn't magical!

i didn't know about toledo steak knives but, heaven help me, i do now!
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Old Mar 22nd, 2017, 12:39 PM
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Book AVE trains ASAP to get discounted tickets - sold in limited numbers - try but that site causes problems for many Americans at least. Instead if problems check for alternate booking sights-for general info on trains and

The Toledo AVE train discounts may be minor - if so just buy tickets before train to not be locked in.

And yes to me Toledo is one of the most ****** bestest nicest whateverest cities in Spain.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2017, 05:58 PM
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I'm with MinnBeef on Toledo! I spent 2 full days and 2 full nights -- about 50 very busy hours -- in Toledo, and there were still things I would have enjoyed seeing when I left. I loved every minute there!
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Old Mar 22nd, 2017, 07:00 PM
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We flew out of Madrid on the same holiday 2 years ago. They were setting up for a parade and there were armed soldiers everywhere. The Prado was fabulous (but very busy). Otherwise, we found Madrid to be just another big city (coming from Toronto). We loved Sevilla, and Italica was a highlight -- so beautiful and quiet. Very hot!

We also spent time in Valencia which we enjoyed as much as Sevilla, and Peniscola (gorgeous pristine castle and nice beach) and a very small village Chulilla which is great for views and hiking.

We ignored advice and skipped Grananda and Cordoba though we definitely plan to go back.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2017, 12:55 AM
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Sounds like a fabulous plan!

Plenty of excellent restaurants that would meet your criteria for a birthday dinner with ocean views in Málaga. A fabulous food scene here, from traditional to cutting edge.

One of the five restaurants in Gran Hotel Miramar, right on the Malagueta beach, all with fabulous sea views, and in one of the finest hotels in Spain:

Or the best fresh seafood, salads and grilled meats right on the Malagueta beach itself in Chiringuito (beach restaurant) El Cachalote, just below the Gran Hotel Miramar (open only to 6:30pm, fabulous place for a typical long Málaga lunch):

Or go to one of the many great beachfront restaurants in Pedregalejo just east of the city center. Very popular with locals:

And Málaga is a fabulous museum city, much, much more than the Picasso museum, the Picasso birth house etc (Pompidou center, the huge Fine Arts and Archological museum, Carmen Thyssen, Contemporary Arts Center, the St. Petersburg museum etc. etc.). Three thousand year old Málaga is now Andalucía's "city of culture with its so-called 'mile of art' being compared to Madrid, and its dynamism and fine dining to Barcelona":

Fine city beaches in Málaga, and here you will hear mostly Spanish:

Málaga to Granada is 90 mins or 105 mins with bus (Alsa bus), leaves all the time.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2017, 04:23 AM
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Hello, fellow NYer, and happy (almost) birthday! I like your itinerary overall, though would also add that 4 nights in Granada is 1 night too many. I would consider a night in Cordoba or add it to the city of your choice.

And keep the 2 nights in Toledo! It is a wonderful city and you'll be busy all day with more than enough sites to visit! It's also lovely at night and a pleasure after the crowds doing dsy trips.

We fell in love with Sevilla -- loved all of Andalucia, but our hearts were stolen by this city, with its gorgeous colored buildings with beautiful tile work, turning a corner and finding small and large plazas filled with people at all hours of the day or night -- just stupendous.

One thought - and this may have changed since we were there - from Sevilla, the fast AVE from Malaga does not stop in Toledo but returns to Madrid, necessitating a transfer to a local train. Reservations should be made ahead of time since even these trains can get booked up. We did it in reverse, starting in Toledo, but had to return to Madrid to catch the AVE to Sevilla.
progol is online now  
Old Mar 23rd, 2017, 05:53 AM
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And in Málaga, for the birthday dinner, you also have the Michelin star Restaurante José Carlos García by the sea in the marina/muelle. Also great views of the more than thousand years old Moorish Alcazaba palace/fortress. A large outdoor terrace. The restaurant has got two "soles" (suns) in the Guía Repsol, the Spanish equivalent to the Michelin guide.:
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Old Mar 23rd, 2017, 06:04 AM
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You might enjoy reading my trip report that we made 2 years ago (yes, I unwittingly spelled Spain the French way attribute it to my old love of France but we now have a new love of Spain!
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Old Mar 23rd, 2017, 06:05 AM
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Oops, still jet-lagged from my our trip to Rome - forgot to post the link:
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Old Mar 23rd, 2017, 08:28 AM
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Four days in Granada is about 3 too much. If you need more than a night there, it's a lot. Could add the excess to Malaga or Seville (and day trip to Cordoba) instead.
BigRuss is offline  
Old Mar 23rd, 2017, 08:41 AM
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Here is our 2015 trip in words and pictures...started in Barcelona, and then on to Granada, Sevilla, Cordoba, Toledo and Madrid. This should give you some ideas.
Have a great trip. Spain was wonderful.

My day trip from Sevilla would be to Cordoba to see the Mezquita, It is mind-boggling. I would also take a day off of granada and add to Madrid. The Prado is my favorite art museum in the world.


maitaitom is offline  
Old Mar 23rd, 2017, 08:43 AM
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In reading the responses, I would have to respectfully disagree with imdonehere about Toledo. We liked it the best (an we virtually liked everywhere we went), and we spent three nights there. Check the report for our lodging. Inexpensive and wonderful.

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Old Mar 23rd, 2017, 10:16 AM
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I don't know how you plan to get from Malaga to Granada if you fly into Malaga. There are buses but may not be worth the hassle just to avoid arriving at 6:30 pm. What is so terrible about that? You can go to the hotel, check in and then go out to dinner. I've done that in some cities although the main thing I don't like about it is feeling I may get the worst room in a hotel that way.

But there are some buses from Malaga airport to Granada, and that trip takes between 2 and 2.5 hrs. There are direct flights from BCN-AGP at 9:15-10:55 am and 12:15 pm-2 pm. There is a direct airport bus to Granada at 11:30 am, so that would work for you, if you prefer that method. Otherwise, there isn't another one until 4 pm, and you'd be no better off than flying and arriving at 6:30 pm.
Christina is offline  

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