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Spain for 5 days at end of August

Old Jul 23rd, 2014, 05:56 PM
  #1  
atm
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Spain for 5 days at end of August

My husband and I will be in Spain for 5 days the last week of August. We wanted to visit both Barcelona and Madrid - Madrid for the first 2 days and Barcelona for the last 3 days. We know the time will be tight, but we've never been to Spain and would love to see both of those major cities. Is this recommended or should we focus only on one city? Also, what are the main sites we could see in this short time in both cities?
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Old Jul 23rd, 2014, 07:09 PM
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First, do you actually have five full days (six nights) with no early flight arrival on day one, or later departure on day five, etc? Even using the fast trains, you will use a half day with checking out of hotel, getting to train, getting to next city, getting to next hotel, etc. so even if you do have five full days, you will still have only 2&1/2 left for Barcelona.
Where are you coming from? Will your first day be a jet lagged one?
Do you hit the ground running when you land in a new city?
Are you fast travelers who do not need an in-depth experience (no negative intended) or do you like to linger in cafes?

Depending on all those things, what you want to do is doable.

I am a pretty slow traveler, so would prefer not to do it.

Another reason for not doing it is to see major things that are near a major city, so would not have to go through that city again to visit them. One great example is Toledo, just a few minutes by train from Madrid. It is filled with history and one of the finest cathedrals in Europe.

A third reason for not doing it is to concentrate on whichever city is more of an outlier from other areas. Areas like Andalusia and cities like Cordoba and Seville are usually combined with Madrid because people often find they have to go through Madrid to get there, but Barcelona is not easily combined with those cities, so if you do not see everything you want there, it may be more difficult to include it on a later trip.

My take on the two
Madrid: beautiful old world, elegant, palace, world class museum, easy day trips to Toledo and Segovia.
Barcelona: exciting and amazing architecture, (especially Gaudi) interesting port city, really Catalonia, so very different culture and foods than Madrid and Southern Spain, more modern outlook than Madrid.
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Old Jul 24th, 2014, 12:13 AM
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The weather can be very hot in Madrid that time of the year ..90-100 degrees.
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Old Jul 24th, 2014, 04:14 AM
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Danon is right. I happened to go to both in July and Barcelona was considerably cooler than Madrid. Another visit in July and Madrid was HOT. If you can put off your trip until late September, the weather is more enjoyable. If you could add a couple of days to your trip, that would also make a much nicer trip.
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Old Jul 29th, 2014, 11:00 AM
  #5  
atm
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Thanks for your responses. Sassafrass, we will arrive in Spain on Monday morning and will be staying five nights total, leaving on Saturday morning. So we will have 4.5 full days. We are pretty efficient travelers...we don't like to linger and stay in one spot too long. We don't know if we'll get to go to Spain again, so we were hoping to see both cities. Now that I've done more research, it seems like we would need more time in Madrid since it's considerably larger than Barcelona. So maybe Monday-Wednesday in Madrid and Thursday-Friday in Barcelona? We know it will be hot...but we'll have to make do! We were in Rome in August a few years ago and it was very hot, but we had a great time!
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Old Jul 29th, 2014, 11:36 AM
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I think you are still not calculating your time quite correctly. You now have actually 4&1/2 days, with Monday probably being a bit jet lagged and you have not considered the other half day it will take to go from your hotel to train, train to Barcelona, get to hotel there, so now 4 days for sightseeing - total.

I would do one city or the other, not both.

If you do choose to do both, and you do not suffer from jet lag, you could visit the Palace the day you land and tapas bar crawl in the evening. The next morning, be at the Prado when it opens, have lunch, then head for Toledo for the afternoon and evening.
Head for Barcelona early the next morning.
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Old Jul 29th, 2014, 03:34 PM
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atm
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Thanks for your advice! I appreciate the tips and will do as you suggest.
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Old Jul 29th, 2014, 03:40 PM
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Well, others may have better suggestions. I might see Madrid and Seville, but such limited time makes for hard (and personal) choices. Whatever you do, Spain is beautiful and I hope you enjoy it.
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Old Jul 30th, 2014, 04:42 AM
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Seville is even hotter than Madrid....I' d stay away from Andalusia in August.

With the limited time you have in Madrid and Barcelona,
perhaps you could prepare by selecting the points of interest and familiarizing
yourself with the maps. Both are big cities with excellent public transit and numerous attractions.
Check Renfe for trains between( 2.5 hours ) .
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Old Jul 30th, 2014, 05:09 AM
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My advice for Madrid and Barcelona both of which I've spent a week in is
1) Modify your sleep patterns to out of the hotel by 8am at the latest, rest up 2 to 5pm and stay up to midnight or beyond
2) Eat late too, do walk in the shade, behind fountains and go to local outdoor theatre late at night
3) Madrid has a relatively small pretty centre (or more like two centres) with a coule of world class museums in them, plus two good sites to visit near Madrid
4) Barcelona is pleasant over a larger area, so get a bus/underground,funicular pass
5) If you want to see particular Gaudi buildings pay for a timed tour
6) Hands on wallets down the old rope walk
7) Take the cable car over the harbour
8) Go visit either Torres or Freixenet wine facilities by train, in different directions but worth it
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Old Jul 30th, 2014, 05:38 AM
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Barcelona
Purchase ticket for Sagrada Familia on line to avoid lineups.
Ten bus/ metro tickets are little over 10 euros...two persons can use the card.
Placa Cataluny is the very centre of the city ( hoho and airport buses leave from there)

Madrid
Big city! If interested in art stay near Prado...for tapas and night life Santa Ana , for elegant
shops visit Calle Serrano, for relaxation : walk through Retiro park.
With such a short time, I would not attempt trips out of town.
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Old Aug 5th, 2014, 02:54 PM
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atm
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Thank you all for the great suggestions!
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Old Aug 6th, 2014, 03:49 AM
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I can understand why you would want to see both cities, especially if you think you might not get back to Spain. And we often do one- or two-night visits to cities we don't expect to see again. I love Madrid, so I would recommend spending as much time there as possible. In Barcelona, the must-sees (in my opinion) are Sagrada Familia, Park Guell and La Rambla. There's lots more, of course. Madrid is a great city for walking, so I would plan to spend Monday by walking around, familiarizing yourself with the center city as you adjust from your flight. With such a short stay, I would not recommend visiting Toledo -- better to do an overnight trip there, in my opinion. But I would recommend visiting the Escorial -- you can do that in an afternoon.
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Old Aug 6th, 2014, 08:26 AM
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You really need 3 nights minimum in both cities. If you must see them both I would start in Madrid and end in Barcelona. If you must fly in and out of the same place I would just stay in one place. Madrid is Castillian (Old Spanish) and has amazing art museums. Barcelona is Catalan and has funky modern architecture. Both have amazingly good restaurants.
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