Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Spain and Italy - a very early itinerary check for September 2025

Spain and Italy - a very early itinerary check for September 2025

Old May 26th, 2024, 10:20 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2023
Posts: 18
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Spain and Italy - a very early itinerary check for September 2025

September 2025 is an age away, but I'm looking ahead to 2025 as I need to do a bit of juggling with work and a family reunion overseas.

We'd like to try to do about three weeks in Spain and one week in Italy from early Sept to early October. This would be our third trip to Italy and our first to Spain. Mainly heading back to Italy for the food and to practise our Italian.

I've done my best to hit the highlights in Spain without feeling like we're constantly on the move. But do let me know if I'm not getting the mix quite right.

All feedback is appreciated!
  • Day 1: Arrive in Madrid or Barcelona and then take the train to San Sebastian
  • Day 2 to 4: San Sebastian (gorge ourselves on food, beach, chill and walk around town)
  • Day 5: Fly to Sevilla (prefer train, but this seems like the quickest and least painful way)
  • Day 6 to 9: Explore Sevilla with a day trip to Cordoba by train
  • Day 10: Train to Granada
  • Day 11 to 13: Explore Granada (1 day to slowly take in The Alhambra)
  • Day 14: Train to Barcelona (I think this will be the start of the La Mercé festivities on the Friday)
  • Day 15 to 19: Explore Barcelona, festival activities at night, day trip to Girona and maybe another place if necessary. Wed Sept 24 we would be busy all day with La Mercé.
  • Day 20: Fly to Bologna (we have been here before)
  • Day 21 to 26: Base ourselves in Bologna. Eat, drink and chill out. Possible day trips could be any of Modena, Parma, Ravenna, Ferrara, Verona, Firenze or Milan. Wouldn't be doing all of these and we've already been to Verona and Firenze before. Just some ideas in our backpocket.
  • Day 27: Fly back to Madrid or Barcelona
  • Day 28: Fly home

We will look into getting a multi-city flight if it's cheaper to fly into Spain and fly home from Italy. But obviously I can't check flight prices this far in advance. So this is just a temporary suggestion.

The other alternative to this itinerary would be flying into Madrid and spending the first four nights there (with a day trip to Toledo) instead of San Sebastian. Then we could take a train to Sevilla instead of flying. It's definitely more convenient, but I'm not too hot on Madrid and we are drawn to the food and atmosphere of San Sebastian.

The main things we like to do on holiday:
  • Feasting on local cuisine. We will go out of our way for something that intrigues us.
  • Walking around town. Very interested in spotting unique architecture and just enjoying being there.
  • Visiting historical sites or places of interest, taking our time rather than trying to fit everything in like a checklist. If we can't fit it in, it is what it is. Next time, hopefully!
  • Being in a town celebrating a culturally important event (hence La Mercé). I'd have tried to fit in La Tomatina (27 Aug) at the start too with a couple of days in Valencia, but with La Mercé being on 24 Sept and us wanting to fit in Bologna, it just wasn't going to work with how much leave from work we'll have available.
  • See some incredible art, especially sculptures. But I prefer only hitting one museum or art garllery in the same town unless it's a super must-see.
  • Some semblance of night-life is a nice to have. No clubbing though.

TL;DR First time in Spain. Third time in Italy. Going back to a place in Italy we've been before for the food, relaxation time and to practise speaking Italian.

Would love to get some feedback on this proposed itinerary and any tips of things to do, see and eat that wouldn't be immediately obvious from searching around on Google or this forum (which I will be doing extensively!). But anything you have to share is welcome!
  • 4 nights in San Sebastian, or Madrid (incl. day trip to Toledo)
  • 5 nights in Sevilla (incl. day trip to Cordoba)
  • 4 nights in Granada
  • 6 nights in Barcelona (timed with La Mercé, incl. day trip to Girona)
  • 7 nights in Bologna (probably multiple day trips, but keeping it chill)

Travel days are included in the above.

Last edited by greenlouis; May 26th, 2024 at 10:24 AM.
greenlouis is offline  
Old May 26th, 2024, 11:39 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 25,978
Received 4 Likes on 4 Posts
You do understand that all these short national/europe flights just contribute to Climate Change don't you?
bilboburgler is offline  
Old May 26th, 2024, 11:53 PM
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2023
Posts: 18
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by bilboburgler
You do understand that all these short national/europe flights just contribute to Climate Change don't you?
The carbon footprint from travel and other sources, both at an individual and commercial level, is well understood, thank you.

My ultimate preference would be to travel by train when we arrive and to fly home directly from Italy. It's less hassle and likely cheaper anyway.

If I could take a train easily from north in San Sebastian to south in Sevilla, I'd do that. Do you have any suggestions on how to do so in the most straightforward way?
greenlouis is offline  
Old May 27th, 2024, 12:02 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 8,577
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I would skip the flight to BLQ and back (as you have already been there) and spend more time for the visit of Spanish gems like:
Madrid, Toledo, Segovia, Avila, Salamanca, Caceres, Merida, Cadiz, Ronda, Malaga, Jaen, Baeza, Ubeda, Valencia........

You will pass through Cordoba (luggage lockers) on your train journeys from Sevilla to Granada and from Granada to Barcelona.
neckervd is offline  
Old May 27th, 2024, 12:10 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 8,577
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
A train ride from Donostia/San Sebastian to Sevilla, bypassing all the gems along the itinerary, would take a whole day.
But IMO, it's a crime to bypass Madrid.
neckervd is offline  
Old May 27th, 2024, 01:44 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 25,978
Received 4 Likes on 4 Posts
Originally Posted by greenlouis
The carbon footprint from travel and other sources, both at an individual and commercial level, is well understood, thank you.

My ultimate preference would be to travel by train when we arrive and to fly home directly from Italy. It's less hassle and likely cheaper anyway.

If I could take a train easily from north in San Sebastian to south in Sevilla, I'd do that. Do you have any suggestions on how to do so in the most straightforward way?
I would modify my trip to avoid the flights, simple. Every take-off is worth saving.

So If I really wanted to see some of these places I would decide on a linear route in which case I would drop Italy completely and see if there were flights that let you do something like Malaga, Sevilla, Cordoba, Madrid, Barcelona, Girona, Narbonne, Carcassone, Toulouse. though you could then go onto to Bilbao (also called Bilbo ;-)) and home from there.

I love Italy, but I love Spain, France and Germany, etc etc etc.

Last edited by bilboburgler; May 27th, 2024 at 01:48 AM.
bilboburgler is offline  
Old May 27th, 2024, 01:47 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 8,057
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
If you would go out of your way for great food, I have to recommend a train trip to Senigallia. A small city (about 40,000 inhabitants with Italy's greatest density of great restaurants: not only two Michelin starred restaurants (Uliassi *** and Madonnina del Pescatore**) but also some non-starred restaurants that would be worth a detour.

Senigallia (Italy): food lovers' paradise

Uliassi, the three-star restaurant is also on the list of the world's 50 best restaurants

https://www.theworlds50best.com/the-list/31-40/uliassi.html

However, several other non-starred restaurants are mentioned in the first link above.

Senigallia is two hours by train from Bologna.

Last edited by bvlenci; May 27th, 2024 at 02:05 AM.
bvlenci is offline  
Old May 27th, 2024, 02:33 AM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2023
Posts: 18
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by neckervd
I would skip the flight to BLQ and back (as you have already been there) and spend more time for the visit of Spanish gems like:
Madrid, Toledo, Segovia, Avila, Salamanca, Caceres, Merida, Cadiz, Ronda, Malaga, Jaen, Baeza, Ubeda, Valencia........

You will pass through Cordoba (luggage lockers) on your train journeys from Sevilla to Granada and from Granada to Barcelona.
It is something we may consider for sure. We wanted to go back to somewhere we've been before as a bit of a wind down opportunity at the end paired with the chance to practise what we've learned of the language. Thank you for the suggestions!
greenlouis is offline  
Old May 27th, 2024, 02:46 AM
  #9  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2023
Posts: 18
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by bvlenci
If you would go out of your way for great food, I have to recommend a train trip to Senigallia. A small city (about 40,000 inhabitants with Italy's greatest density of great restaurants: not only two Michelin starred restaurants (Uliassi *** and Madonnina del Pescatore**) but also some non-starred restaurants that would be worth a detour.

Senigallia (Italy): food lovers' paradise

Uliassi, the three-star restaurant is also on the list of the world's 50 best restaurants

https://www.theworlds50best.com/the-...0/uliassi.html

However, several other non-starred restaurants are mentioned in the first link above.

Senigallia is two hours by train from Bologna.
What a wonderful recommendation. Thank you so much. Such a great idea.
greenlouis is offline  
Old May 27th, 2024, 06:35 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 8,577
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
But once at Senigallia, I would visit at least Fassassi Caves or the Museo Archeologico Nazionale at Ancona.
neckervd is offline  
Old May 27th, 2024, 07:47 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 23,651
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We spent four nights in Senegallia a few years ago and LOVED it!

If you are going to San Sebastián, for me it would make more sense to buy the air ticket from the US to that city with a connection in Madrid.


ekscrunchy is offline  
Old May 27th, 2024, 12:58 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 9,779
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I think Madrid is well worth visiting, particularly if you end up flying in and out of the city. We had a great food tour there, enjoyed the museums and palace and had fun strolling the streets at night sampling tapas at various restaurants.
KTtravel is offline  
Old May 27th, 2024, 05:12 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 4,580
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I agree with KTtravel that Madrid is well worth visiting, especially since you like art. Madrid has some outstanding art museums, such as the Prado (which I like better than the Louvre), Reina Sofia, Thyssen, and others. We loved visiting Retiro Park and having sangria by the lake. Other interesting sites are the Royal Palace, Tempe of DeBod, and several markets.

Hopefully, Maribel, (our resident Spain expert) will see your post and respond. She can give you awesome restaurant suggestions for Madrid, Seville, etc.

The only change I would make would be to spend a night or two in Cordoba instead of visiting Cordoba as a daytrip. You will get a much better feel for Cordoba, its ambiance, its essence, by staying overnight, preferably 2 nights. The Mezquita is magnificent but there are other interesting sites in Cordoba, such as the Alcazar gardens, Palacio de Viana with is 12 patios, Roman Bridge, and exploring the Juderia with its narrow lanes, white-washed walls, and flowers.

You could take a night from Seville and a night from Barcelona and use those 2 nights to stay in Cordoba.

OR, as some posters have suggested, omit Italy from your itinerary and spend all 4 weeks in Spain. If you do this, you could spend 2 nights in Cordoba (without taking nights away from your other Spanish destinations), and then use the extra 5 nights for other places, such as Malaga, which is very underrated. OR visit both Madrid and San Sebastian.
KarenWoo is offline  
Old May 28th, 2024, 03:09 AM
  #14  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2023
Posts: 18
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by neckervd
But once at Senigallia, I would visit at least Fassassi Caves or the Museo Archeologico Nazionale at Ancona.
Interesting! We have a similarly large incredible cave system here in Australia (Jenolan Caves). Frasassi looks spectacular!
greenlouis is offline  
Old May 28th, 2024, 03:13 AM
  #15  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2023
Posts: 18
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by ekscrunchy
We spent four nights in Senegallia a few years ago and LOVED it!

If you are going to San Sebastián, for me it would make more sense to buy the air ticket from the US to that city with a connection in Madrid.
Flying in from Australia, so pretty sure Madrid or Barcelona are our only choices with most airlines unfortunately. That'd probably end up being 3-4 flights if we tried it, as we always need to stop over somewhere in Asia or the Middle East. Easier just to get to Spain and then take a train from there.
greenlouis is offline  
Old May 28th, 2024, 06:43 AM
  #16  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2023
Posts: 18
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by KarenWoo
I agree with KTtravel that Madrid is well worth visiting, especially since you like art. Madrid has some outstanding art museums, such as the Prado (which I like better than the Louvre), Reina Sofia, Thyssen, and others. We loved visiting Retiro Park and having sangria by the lake. Other interesting sites are the Royal Palace, Tempe of DeBod, and several markets.

Hopefully, Maribel, (our resident Spain expert) will see your post and respond. She can give you awesome restaurant suggestions for Madrid, Seville, etc.

The only change I would make would be to spend a night or two in Cordoba instead of visiting Cordoba as a daytrip. You will get a much better feel for Cordoba, its ambiance, its essence, by staying overnight, preferably 2 nights. The Mezquita is magnificent but there are other interesting sites in Cordoba, such as the Alcazar gardens, Palacio de Viana with is 12 patios, Roman Bridge, and exploring the Juderia with its narrow lanes, white-washed walls, and flowers.

You could take a night from Seville and a night from Barcelona and use those 2 nights to stay in Cordoba.

OR, as some posters have suggested, omit Italy from your itinerary and spend all 4 weeks in Spain. If you do this, you could spend 2 nights in Cordoba (without taking nights away from your other Spanish destinations), and then use the extra 5 nights for other places, such as Malaga, which is very underrated. OR visit both Madrid and San Sebastian.
I really wanted to stay 2 nights in Cordoba originally! Perhaps I shall consider that as I think we'd enjoy being able to sightsee and stroll around over two days. It sounds like such a lovely place to experience.

I think if we were going to do Madrid (perhaps 4 nights) and stay in Cordoba (2 nights), I'd probably just tack on an extra week (or cut a night each from Sevilla and Granada and add on an extra half a week). I don't really want to mess with the Barcelona timings cause as it stands, it amounts to a travel day + 3 days to explore Barcelona + 1 day for a Girona day trip + 1 day to experience daytime La Merce activities.

Thanks also to KTtravel for another Madrid rec!

Maybe something like:
  • Madrid - 1 night (arrival day)
  • San Sebastian - 3 or 4 nights?
  • Sevilla - 3 nights
  • Cordoba - 2 nights
  • Granada - 3 nights
  • Barcelona - 6 nights
  • Madrid - 4 nights
greenlouis is offline  
Old May 28th, 2024, 08:24 AM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 8,057
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
The Frasassi Caverna are definitely worth a visit. I would try to visit on a weekday, because they sometimes get a bit overbooked on weekends. You can reserve a time slot, but when it's busy one group may be dogging the heels of the group before.They have some tours with an English language guide, but if you can't get one of those, they will give you a headset with a good English tour. (My American nieces said it was excellent.)

You can get to the caverns in about an hour by train from Senigallia to Genga, changing trains once, usually in Falconara Marittima.
​​​​​​
When you get to Genga, there is a shuttle bus at the station, where there is also a market (mostly souvenirs) and some lunch kiosks. A short walk away, there's a little hamlet with a very old-fashioned thermal spa. There are several restaurants there featuring marchigiano specialties. I haven't eaten at either in at least eight years, but my favourite was Ristorante Francesco. There is also a beautiful little Romanesque church there in a very scenic spot, which now houses a speleological museum. Your ticket to the caverns includes this museum.

Last edited by bvlenci; May 28th, 2024 at 08:26 AM.
bvlenci is offline  
Old May 28th, 2024, 08:27 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 8,057
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
As for the archaeological museum in Ancona, I was there a long time ago. It's time I went back.

There are also some very pretty hill towns in the hinterlands of Senigallia. One of the nicest is Corinaldo, surrounded by a 14th century wall. If you go there, I highly recommend lunch at the Nova Taberna, on the lower of the two stairways (each 100 steps) leading from one of the town gates to the highest part of town. (The other town gates are close to the centre of town without climbing steps.) There are buses connecting Senigallia and Corinaldo. I think hotels in Senigallia also offer some tours to inland towns.

Last edited by bvlenci; May 28th, 2024 at 08:50 AM.
bvlenci is offline  
Old May 28th, 2024, 10:58 AM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 9,779
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Instead of spending your first night in Madrid and moving on, I would suggest seeing Madrid first and giving yourself some time to get over jet lag before moving on. Perhaps you can fly into Madrid and fly out of Barcelona and save yourself a travel day?

KTtravel is offline  
Old May 29th, 2024, 03:06 AM
  #20  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2023
Posts: 18
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by bvlenci
As for the archaeological museum in Ancona, I was there a long time ago. It's time I went back.

There are also some very pretty hill towns in the hinterlands of Senigallia. One of the nicest is Corinaldo, surrounded by a 14th century wall. If you go there, I highly recommend lunch at the Nova Taberna, on the lower of the two stairways (each 100 steps) leading from one of the town gates to the highest part of town. (The other town gates are close to the centre of town without climbing steps.) There are buses connecting Senigallia and Corinaldo. I think hotels in Senigallia also offer some tours to inland towns.
Thank you so much for such detailed tips about the area. I'm glad it seems to be relatively easy to get to with public transport. We've had a car in Italy before, but I wanted to rely on the trains this time around. Sounds fab!
greenlouis is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Your Privacy Choices -