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nikidi Feb 12th, 2014 06:13 PM

Spain in 18days -finalizing itinerary and a special bday celebration!
Hi All,

We will be travelling with our girls who are 4 1/2 and 6 1/2 and this is the first time we have booked air tickets before actually researching and planning a am a bit nervous..

This will be our first and only trip to Spain , so would like to see as much as possible and only our second trip to Europe..

We have 18 full days of sightseeing plus the travel days and with my limited research have chosen the following destinations.

13th April flight in - Barcelona - a day trip or a few nights..
move on to Granada
malaga?? - with day trips to Nerja & Ronda
Seville - with day trip or an overnight in Cordoba
Madrid - flight out 01st May

I would greatly appreciate help with the below questions.

How can we include some scenic beauty in addition to the historical sightseeing..Which areas would you recommend? - mountains/snow/beautiful Mediterranean beach scenery!!

My husband will be celebrating his 40th on the 21st and I would like to make it a memorable one and he is not into historical buildings:) , any suggestions? and maybe finish off the day with a special dinner out/flamenco?

Do we have to be in Seville on a specific day to best enjoy the Semana-Santa Celebrations?

Would there be any fruit picking opportunities for the kids?

Would there be any tennis matches on before the Madrid open?(Nadal? ) husband and the girls are avid tennis fans.

iberiantraveler Feb 12th, 2014 07:10 PM

Sorry, but you cannot do Spain in a 18 days. It would be difficult to even get a taste of the county in such a short visit. I think you need to revisit your needs and rethink your purpose.

kja Feb 12th, 2014 08:01 PM

With 18 days, you might be able to have a pleasant visit to a combination of any 2 of the 3 areas you are suggesting: in/around Barcelona, in/around Sevilla (aka Andalusia), and in/around Madrid. IMO, trying to visit all three areas in a trip of this length would mean that you would spend WAY to much time traveling and FAR too little time actually seeing the things that you are going a very long way, and spending a lot of money, to see. So I suggest that you sit down with a calendar, and list of your highest priorities, and a guidebook or two that give good information about transportation options (IME, the Rough Guides provide the best transportation information), and then make some painful decisions based on highest priorities and the associated opportunity costs.

The good news is that you'll have a great time even if you substantially trim your aspirations!

Aramis Feb 12th, 2014 08:26 PM

Don't be sorry - they don't have to listen to you!

They didn't say they wanted to "do Spain" in 18 days or that they wanted to get a taste of the country that would suit you. They said they have 18 days to visit 4 or 5 destinations and would like to take some day trips. That means, on average, 4 days per destination.

A reasonable division, based on things to see and no 2 nighters (Granada might qualify for a 2 nighter) among the selected cities would be;

Barcelona 4
Malaga 3
Granada 3
Seville 4
Madrid 4

but you seem to not want to spend much time in Barcelona. Also, if historical buildings are not doing it for hubby, then Granada and Cordoba which have two of the most majestic old Moorish place complexes in the world, each of which is the primary reason to visit the city, are a bit of a mystery.

Nerja affords the best beach scenery on the over developed Costa del Sol around Malaga but that is not saying much. You would be better off on the Costa Brava near Barcelona The Sierra de Grazalema around Ronda are spectacular.

You might be able to pick some olives - lol

Semana Santa is one of the busiest times in Spain, especially Andalucia. Hotel rates can be exorbitant and it is probably already difficult to find places in the major centres. Good Friday is usually the peak of the celebrations but the extent of activity varies by town/city.

Hope this helps you refine things a little.

nikidi Feb 12th, 2014 08:39 PM

We have confirmed tkts to Barcelona and departing from Madrid, as mentioned these were booked without any research and so did not realize the distance between the 2.(change will incur a huge surcharge).

the locations were picked after reading loads and loads of TR on the forum and the LP guide, during the past week.but will get the rough guide too..
I am happy to drop Malaga in lieu of another destination which will give us a change of scenery. may be closer to Barcelona..mountain scenery (coming from the tropics..(snow capped)mountains are always a treat!)

would appreciate input on my other questions too:)!!

nikidi Feb 12th, 2014 08:46 PM

thanks so much aramis!! I got worried there for a second!lots of useful info..will look into all the places you've mentioned.

ribeirasacra Feb 12th, 2014 11:14 PM

If you have guide books they will give you ideas of what is near by. Like the coast north of Barcelona is very nice. Day trips from Madrid are mainly historical sites so just leave a little time for the city.

kja Feb 12th, 2014 11:16 PM

"Madrid ... just leave a little time for the city"

Anyone who loves art will want several days in Madrid.

kimhe Feb 12th, 2014 11:37 PM

<scenic beauty in addition to the historical sightseeing..Which areas would you recommend? - mountains/snow/beautiful Mediterranean beach scenery!!>

Granada with the spectacular Alhambra. Close to the Sierra Nevada mountains and ski resort and the beautiful Alpujarras region. Little more than an hour drive down to the Med. The Playa de Maro, just East of Nerja, was recently voted #2 beach in Spain in the National TV channel Antena 3 competition.

Granada with Alhambra:
Close by Sierra Nevada (the ski resort is normally open until the end of March, but there will still be snow in April):
Close by Alpujarras:

From Granada, you can go down to the Mediterranean coast along the scenic "Suspiro del Moro"-road (the Moor's Sigh). The name comes from the legenedary sigh of Boabdil, the last emir of Granada, when he at the mountain pass known as Puerto del Suspiro del Moro, for a last time had a look back upon the now lost city (1492). His mother shall then have said: "You cry like a woman over a city you couldn't defend as a man".

Playa de Maro, fabulous beach just east of Nerja:

Semana Santa in any Andalucian city/town could be an experience for life if you know what's coming.

Intimate Casa de la Memoria in Sevilla could be an excellent intro to flamenco. Popular with tourists, but only top of the shelf artists perform here. Changing artists every night. No food, no drinks, just flamenco:

kimhe Feb 13th, 2014 01:03 AM

The Barcelona Open in tennis is April 19-27:

nikidi Feb 13th, 2014 06:04 PM

Thanks Kimhe for the wonderful information, It looks like we may have to pick either the Semana Santa or tennis, so the tennis will have to wait..I understand that the celebrations will be a great experience.

Thanks so much for pointing out Sierra Nevada mountains ...its exactly what I was looking for..and the snow would be an added bonus for the kids!!

For flamenco, Casa de la Memoria has mentioned that kids below 6 are not allowed and our younger daughter is 4 1/2. how strict are they with restrictions..? The kids have sat happily through ballets and concerts before so I know they wont disturb the performance.However, I will look at your other suggestions mentioned on the forum.

planning to take a flight or an overnight train from Barcelona to Granada.but need to look into costs/times..and maybe hire a car where ever possible afterwards or opt for the bus/trains to keep cost down.

now back to researching!!will post the revised itinerary soon for feedback.thnx so much everyone for all the info received...

kimhe Feb 13th, 2014 08:22 PM

Don't know how strict they are at Casa de la Memória with age restrictions. I would've asked them in advance and told that your youngest have sat happily through ballets and concerts before. [email protected]

La Casa del Flamenco and Museo del Baile Flamenco would be alternative and similar options, both regarding the intimate setting and the quality of the artists:

nikidi Feb 15th, 2014 08:10 AM

its actually 17days:(.
here is the tentative itinerary..(it is pretty ambitious,but has been done by many others)
A small car will be hired for travels between Seville and Granada.

13th-flight in to Barcelona - 4N/3.5 days in Barcelona
17th-morning flight to Seville for Semana-Santa -5N/4.5days in Seville,including a daytrip to Cordoba
22nd-hire a car,drive to Ronda via the White villages of Grazalema and Zahara -2N in Ronda
24th-Drive to Nerja - 1N in Nerja
25th Drive to Granada - 3N in Granada, including a day trip to explore Sierra Nevada area
28th-Train To Madrid -3N/2.5 days in Madrid, including a day trip to Toledo
01st flight out

if the Semana Santa is not a must see,

13th flight in to Barcelona - 4N/3.5 days in Barcelona
17th morning flight to Granada- 3N in Granada, including a day trip to explore Sierra Nevada
20th-morning Drive to Nerja - 1N in Nerja
21st-explore the caves and village and then Drive to Ronda -2N in Ronda
23rd-Drive to Seville via the white villages of grazalema and zahara, drop off car.
5N in Seville including a day trip to Cordoba
28th-Train To Madrid -3N/2.5 days in Madrid, including a day trip to Toledo
01st-flight out

My questions are ;

1st or 2nd option?
have I allocated the days appropriately?
would Nerja be a better break journey point than Malaga?
Would Seville be the best place for the bday treat(21st)? any suggestions for a fun day?

please advise!!

jpie Feb 15th, 2014 10:32 AM

We spent a month in Spain 2 years ago. We drove all the way from France and went to all the cities you are considering. Here are some of my thoughts regarding your questions:

I think Nerja would be a great place to base compared to Malaga. We made a couple of day trips to Malaga but honestly it felt like just another big city to us and not as nice of some of the others on your list IMO. I think Nerja would be great with kids your age. Be aware that there is a large expat British community in Nerja so you may not feel it has enough Spanish feel for you.

We rented this place in Nerja for 3 weeks and hung out and took Spanish lessons:

They are a couple that manage a number of places there-very nice and the apartments are well equipped compared to many holiday rentals.

It is a great little walking town with lots of restaurants to choose from.

Also be aware that many of the hill towns in Spain are really difficult to access by car. Many of them either require that you park in a lot down below and walk up which I think could be tough with kids your age or the streets are so narrow that they are difficult to navigate with a car suited for four. But if you are used to traveling with your kids in hilly places this might not be an issue. I am older and kind of out of shape, so sometimes it was challenging for me.

I think Seville would be a fantastic place for the birthday celebration-it was one of our favorite cities in Spain. It is mostly flat as opposed to Granada, which makes it easy for walking and strolling around the areas with tons of cafes, fountains and plazas to explore. Our favorite tapas restaurant of the trip was probably in Sevilla called Eslava:

It would be a great place to celebrate. They also now rent apartments so you could consider those. The neighborhood is great much more "local" than tourist but not too far from the center. The bus system in Seville is great-basically runs around the center of town mostly in a circle line.

We found finding reasonably priced rooms in Seville harder than in other cities. We were a couple traveling with my (single) sister so usually we were were looking for 2 rooms but in Seville that was pricey. So we ended up finding a duplex room in the Eurostars Regina that worked our well for us-it has a lovely interior staircase with a lower level room and an upper level room and lovely deck. They call it a Duplex Quadruple Room and you can see photos best on

They aren't the fanciest or best reviewed rooms in Seville but the Quad room worked out really well for us and I would think being able to put the kids to sleep below and then to enjoy the spacious upper room with a deck would be great given your kids' ages.

They also have parking which is great and they are the ones who suggested Eslava which is walking distance from there.

Granada is also a great city-it feels super youthful filled with students. There are some very hilly neighborhoods in the but they have a great bus system with small minivan type buses going up into the steeper harder to access areas.
Also I am going to give you a crazy food suggestion en route if you happen to get near a town called Jaen. It is a Chinese "self service" buffet called Iron Wok Calle Torredonjimeno 7, Jaen, Spain We stumbled upon it on a Sunday early like 12:30PM Sunday is a big family eat out together day for comida. We couldn't find any parking in town itself easily so we were going back to the highway and this place is basically set in a little "industrially" shopping area just outside the center. So when we go in, we see this amazing spread of food for 12 euros! Just ignore the Chinese food-they have oodles of fresh seafood they cook for you "on demand" on the plancha grill and legs of amazing hams you can choose from and great salads. It was incredible. When we got there, we were one of 4 tables but about 1pm the families started coming in and the place was filled by 2PM when we got ready ready to leave. It was amazing-we still talk about it being the best meal we ate in Spain.

Feel free to email me directly with any questions-my email is on my profile.

mmodrich Feb 15th, 2014 12:37 PM

nikidi - I am glad to see your posts on here. I too am traveling to Spain in May with our two children, 2 1/2 and 4 1/2. We are also flying into Barcelona and out of Madrid. We have tentatively set up to go to Barcelona, Granada, Malaga, Seville, Cordoba and Madrid. Based on the responses on here I am thinking about Nerja instead of Malaga. Looking forward to seeing other comments on here..

nikidi Feb 16th, 2014 02:20 AM

any other thoughts on the proposed plan?? experts on Spain...pls help!!

kimhe Feb 16th, 2014 04:17 AM

Would recommend to be in Andalucía during Semana Santa. Sevilla will be massive, and could be a great experience. The processions from Thurday night into Friday morning - the so called madrugá - is the absolute highlight of the celebrations. This should give you an idea:

Madrugá in Sevilla:

If you want to get away from the crowds, go to wonderful and small Carmona close by:

Agree that Eslava is a great recommendation for a special night out in Sevilla. Enrique Becerra could be an alternative. In either case, make restaurant reservations way ahead:

Many fine, traditional and affordable tabernas in Córdoba. Go a little north of the Mezquita into "Roman Córdoba" around central Plaza de la Tendillas and Plaza de la Corredera to find great and local atmosphere places on almost every corner. Taberna Salinas comes recommended in the Michelin guide, and the two of us payed about 35€ for a very nice meal here a couple of years ago:

Several excellent, typical and no fuss tapas bars and restaurants in Nerja. These are my three favourites in town, also very popular with locals (and delicious freshly made free tapas to chose with every glass of whatever in the bar area):

- El Pulguilla:
- La Marina:
- La Puntilla:

And you must of course visit the spectacular caves just outside Nerja:

And have the paella at famous Ayo's at the Burriana beach in Nerja. Eat as much as you like for some 6-7€. Also fine salads, grilled fish, meat etc. Has run the same procedure for lunch every day since 1969:

nikidi Feb 16th, 2014 03:46 PM

Thnx Kimhe and Jpie for the invaluable info!

SEVILLE - finally got to booking Seville hotels, obviously too late..
Managed to get Hotel Almina (expensive!!) and Hotel Amedeus La Musica Building for the last 2 nights..(only $40 less per night)
Amedeus seems to have more charm about the hotel..would it be worth considering a switch..or should we just stick with Almina for the 5N..or any other hotel suggestions?

Also, being there on the 17 to the 21st,would 19th Saturday be the best day to sacrifice for the day trip to Cordoba?

Where is it best to catch a glimpse of the parades..(with kids!!)any specific recommended locations??

NERJA/GRANADA - Would it be best to explore the Sierra Nevada area on the day we drive from Nerja to Granada, or would it be better as day trip from Granada?

Is there any recommended villages/ski resorts that we should visit..Would like to experience some snow fun for the kids too and the mountain scenery?

Thnx again!

jpie Feb 16th, 2014 04:34 PM

My gut is that once you are in Granada you may not feel like driving back out to explore the Sierra Nevada so maybe on the way in is good especially since you won't be able to check in that early to your room perhaps. But your kids are fairly young, so don't know whether you like to get an early start or not :)

kimhe Feb 16th, 2014 11:42 PM

Here's many details about Semana Santa, tips about routes, places to be etc. Some places are especially crowded, the departure and entrance from the churches, La Campana, the cathedral etc.

Get yourself a detailed schedule of the processions, know that things will take much time, plan for rest, eating and drinking and don't plan for too much to do/see. Ask your hotel or get a detailed schedule through the tourist office.
Ten advices:

And make sure to experience a saeta or two. A saeta is a flamenco like mourning song that can be extremely powerful when sung along the processions:

A good idea to break up with a daytrip to Córdoba on Saturday. No processions on Saturday.

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