Spain December/ January 2018/19

Old Nov 8th, 2017, 06:01 PM
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Spain December/ January 2018/19

Hi All
Visiting Spain (and maybe Portugal) for the first time Dec 2018-/ Jan- long way off I know!
We are arriving and departing via Madrid and will be using public transport preferably train unless we do join a small tour group.
We are not big Art Gallery fans but do enjoy History, Culture, Architecture, and natural landscapes. We also hope to enjoy some traditional Spanish cuisine and customs. I’d love to see some villages off the main tourist trail but perhaps a little difficult without a car.
Considering the following at this stage with day trips nearby

Madrid 20/12
Granada 21/22
Seville 23-29/12 we will be meeting family for Christmas period
? Lisbon 30-3/01
? Porto 4- 7/01
(Lisbon to) Madrid 8-10/01
Home to Australia 11/01

If we were to spend the entire time in Spain suggestions would be appreciated.

Thank you in advance.

Chris
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Old Nov 8th, 2017, 06:23 PM
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Toledo, very historic, only 25 minutes from Madrid and a great place for a night or more.
Córdoba, architecture and culture
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Old Nov 9th, 2017, 11:30 PM
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If you do decide to skip Portugal and spend all your time in Spain, then I suggest adding some days to Madrid at the end of your trip. Madrid is a great city in its own right, but also a great base to do some day trips from. Definitely second some time in Toledo, it was one of the highlights of our trip last year. We did it as a day trip, but as suggested you may want to spend more time here, perhaps a couple of nights.
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Old Nov 10th, 2017, 07:04 AM
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going by train be sure to book long-distance trains ASAP at www.renfe.com for nice discounts - check www.seat61.com for help about that; general info on trains and where to go www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com.

I'd certainly see Cordoba - day trip from Seville.

May want to fly Seville-Porto and try to fly home from Lisbon

Toledo is a great day trip from Madrid - Sintra from Lisbon.
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Old Nov 11th, 2017, 07:22 AM
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Gumiares and Braga are two nice regional towns with historic things that are an easy day trip from Porto by train.
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Old Nov 11th, 2017, 07:55 AM
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I agree that Toledo and Cordaba are extraordinary and easily deserve a night or two each.

If you want to see the Alhambra, you might want at least two nights in Granada, as it can easily take a full day to see, and you might want a third night if you want to see any of that city's other treasures.
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Old Nov 11th, 2017, 12:11 PM
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I agree with Kja. Spend at least one night in Toledo, and at least 2 nights in Córdoba. We were there this past September. You can click on my name & read my trip report.

I would have been disappointed in both Toledo and Córdoba if we only saw them as day trips. Toledo is beautiful at night and less crowded. I was actually a little bit disappointed in Toledo when we first walked into Plaza Zocodover during the day. It was over-run with tourists & tour buses. In the evening it was less crowded, and the people were primarily families with their young children.

We loved Córdoba; it was one of our favorite cities. The Mezquita is magnificent, but there is more to Córdoba than the Mezquita. White washed buildings, narrow lanes, flower pots on the walls, stores selling handcrafted jewelry, etc. The modern area outside of the Juderia is pretty, too, with terraced pools, nice landscaping, the Mercado.

We spent 2 nights in Granada, too, & spent a day at the Alhambra for the day tour, and then returned at night for the evening tour.
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Old Nov 12th, 2017, 07:30 AM
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I was not dissapointed with either Cordoba or Toledo as day trips - yeh nice to stay overnight but moving around hotels takes a lot of time.
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Old Nov 12th, 2017, 07:53 AM
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What's on in Madrid
https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer...850104236&z=14
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Old Nov 15th, 2017, 07:18 PM
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IMO, Toledo and Cordoba are both easily worth 2 nights. Whether relocating for a night or 2 makes sense depends on a lot of things – I prefer to relocate rather than to day trip, while some people find relocations anathema. And of course, those who visited a place only as a day trip are in no position to say what they missed.
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Old Nov 16th, 2017, 07:06 AM
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Yes always better to stay in a Toledo to savor after day trippers have left but better to day trip than not at all and kja states it right -some folks take so long to relocated and despise it - others could do it quickly and kind of like doing it.

But it is also so nice to use a base and just wake up and head for train or bus baggage-free and explore the city and return to familiar surroundings at night.

Who can say what is best for any one person? But at least seeing those cities is what is important.
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Old Nov 16th, 2017, 09:19 AM
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"Toledo, very historic, only 25 minutes from Madrid and a great place for a night or more."

We were in Madrid a few weeks ago. On a spur of the moment decided to go to Toledo ( the second time ) Knowing that trains are often sold out ,we took metro to the bus station. The direct bus ride lasted 55 min. From the bus station in Toledo one can take the bus or taxi to town( same from the train station)

There were some tourist groups around...not many - perhaps it was the time of the year. It was easy to revisit the Cathedral, and stop at the couple of places we did not
see the previous visit. . Had no desire to stay overnight .
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Old Nov 18th, 2017, 02:48 PM
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Hi, things I would suggest for your planning: download the renfe (trains) app onto to ipad, it works best in our experience when booking trains in Spain from Australia. We link paypal and pay that way, and send the tickets to our phone. Booking about 60days out will access cheaper ticket prices. Book tickets to Alhumbra in Granada in advance, if you are not booking a private tour.
I would probably not go to Portugal as well ( Portugal is terrific but for your 1st trip to Spain there is lots to see).
When booking accomodation, check where the Catherdral is and look at booking somewhere near, or in Madrid I would consider somewhere near Plaza Mayor or Sol.
Don't be nervous about using the metro, public transport in Spain is terrific. If you don't speak Spanish, use a little spiral writing pad and have your Hotel or destination written clearly, it helps clarify even though I'd have a go at the language!!
You will find the pharmacies very helpful if you need any medication, and often you can top up your medication at a fraction of the cost in Australia. I take meds for migraine and always get some when we are in Spain.
There are buses everywhere that trains don't go to, so small villages shouln't be a problem.
They eat late in Spain, be prepared for that. We will often have lunch (2-3pm) and then have tapas for dinner at 9-10pm.
Have a great time planning and a terrific holiday.
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Old Nov 19th, 2017, 01:47 PM
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Hi, things I would suggest for your planning: download the renfe (trains) app onto to ipad, it works best in our experience when booking trains in Spain from Australia.>

Great tip - so many have trouble cracking renfe.com from abroad by litany of complaints on Fodors.

Thanks for that great tip!
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Old Nov 19th, 2017, 01:51 PM
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How old are you and what are your interests other than villages?

Salamanca and Avila are each on the way back to Madrid from Portugal. Avila is just a stop en route to Madrid but interesting. Salamanca is worth a decent-sized stopover (2-3 nights).
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Old Nov 20th, 2017, 01:36 AM
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Thank you so much everyone for some really useful information. So much food for thought. Our trip is such a long way off I'm sure we will change our minds many times. My husband and I are both 60 BigRuss.
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Old Nov 20th, 2017, 07:30 AM
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Salamanca and Avila are each on the way back to Madrid from Portugal.>

Not if using public transit as OP says - very difficult with few cross-border trains - Salamanca and Avila are easy day trips from Madrid - check www.bahn.de/en - German railways official site for all European train schedules to see what is possible. If driving that would be easy but not by public transit I believe.
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