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Spain in the Fall - Itinerary Help Needed!

Spain in the Fall - Itinerary Help Needed!

Mar 31st, 2017, 06:25 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 57
Spain in the Fall - Itinerary Help Needed!

Hello fellow travelers,

Planning our first trip to Spain in September! We have three weeks, but realizing what an enormous country it is has been overwhelming. I know we can’t see it all, and trying my best to narrow down our itinerary (we have cut the North out entirely, to save for another trip). Below is an early draft – we do not yet have our flights or hotels booked, so this is 100% flexible.

Some background on us... early 30s, avid travelers. Like a good mix of culture, food, activity. Prefer to minimize 1 and 2 night stays where possible, but can keep a quick pace when worth it. Like a good mix of big destinations and off-the-beaten-trail. Comfortable with train and car travel. Our budget is moderate – not staying in hostels, or 5-stay hotels.

Rough Itinerary:

Depart Chicago Friday, Sept 1 – arrive Barcelona Saturday, Sept 2

Barcelona – 3 nights

Valencia – 2 nights

Madrid – 4 nights (with day trip to Sergovia)

Toledo-- 2 nights

Seville – 3 nights

Costa del Sol – 7 nights (can’t miss: day trip to Tangier, Cordoba (La Mezquita), Granada (Alhambra), some beach time)

Looking to fly home out of Malaga or Granada (Malaga flights are looking a bit cheaper...)

Would love some honest, constructive feedback on this itinerary and where to adjust for maximum impact. Thank you in advance!
tera_denten is offline  
Mar 31st, 2017, 08:55 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 21,402
It really depends on what YOU want to see and do, but FWIW, this trip would be too rushed for me. Two days is exceedingly little for Barcelona, particularly because you will be visiting it with jet lag. Two days is very little for Madrid (with 4 nights and one day given to Segovia, all you have for Madrid is 2 days). Three nights is not much for Sevilla.

Here's what I recommend: Get some good guidebooks (or spend some time with a few in your local library), identify the things you most want to see in each location, check their opening/closing times on the internet, and mark them on a calendar. Then pencil in your intercity transportation, add some time on either side (for getting to/from your lodging, checking in/out, packing/unpacking, getting oriented, etc.). As you plan, 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.

A visit to Alhambra (a must-see, IMO) generaly requires at least 2 nights in Granada; add another night if you want time to see any of the rest of that fascinating city. Many people visit Cordoba as a day trip from Sevilla; I was glad to have two full days in Cordoba, as there is MUCH more there than just the magnificient Mezquita.

Please note that NONE of what you are descirbing is even remotely “off the beatten trail” – and for good reason.

If it helps, I'd defer Barcelona until another trip. And I'd skip Tangier on this trip, too. JMO.

Hope that helps!
kja is offline  
Apr 1st, 2017, 08:12 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 46,970
It would be rushed for me, too. And Tangiers would never, ever be on a "can't miss" list of mine. Save Morocco for another trip when you can avoid that squalid little enclave and really see the beauty of the country. Nothing on your list is even close to off-the-beaten path, but if you've never been, why would that matter?
StCirq is offline  
Apr 1st, 2017, 11:06 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,038
Unfortunately Tangier is no longer squalid and decadent - why one used to go there! The new king, Med VI, has tidied it up and spent a lot of money on it, the gateway to the rest of Morocco. If you have the time, certainly go. You'll love it and will return for further exploration.
Bedar is offline  
Apr 1st, 2017, 11:52 PM
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 5,934
And for your Costa del Sol part, I recommend 3000 year old and genuinely laid-back Andalucian atmosphere Málaga city by the sea, the region's "city of culture with its so-called 'mile of art' being compared to Madrid, and its dynamism and fine dining to Barcelona."

Excellent sights dating from Roman and Moorish times right in the city center, a great food, tapas bar, theater and nightlife scene, excellent chiringuitos/beach restaurants and fine city beaches where you'll hear mostly Spanish:

Málaga is 50 mins from Córdoba (AVE train), 90 mins form Granada (Alsa bus), 1h 50 mins from Sevilla (train) and 2h 30mins from Madrid (AVE train)

And watch out for the "September is flamenco" festival in Sevilla, some of the finest flamenco artists in theaters all around town every night for some two weeks: https://www.deflamenco.com/revista/n...sevilla-1.html
kimhe is offline  
Apr 4th, 2017, 09:46 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 57
Hi everyone!

Thank you again for the wonderful feedback. I think I am on the right track now... below is a second attempt at the itinerary. The biggest changes are that we cut out Valencia (another time) to give more time to Barcelona and Madrid, cut Tangiers (will include in a separate Morocco trip vs day trip...definitely don’t want to get caught up in a tourist trap), and will focus the end of the trip on Costa del Luz for our beach time (Cadiz / La Caleta beach), white hill towns, and Granada instead of the Costa del Sol. This revision would also mean that we fly out of Granada instead of Malaga. A little more expensive, but then we can spend more time in Granada... and since the Alhambra is a key reason for the trip, it seemed like a good decision. We also added a day to the trip on either side... leaving Chicago on Friday instead of Saturday and returning Sunday instead of Saturday.

Sept 1 – Travel from Chicago to Spain (arriving Saturday)
Sept 2 – Barcelona for 4 nights
(train to Madrid)
Sept 6 – Madrid for 5 nights (includes side trip to Segovia)
(train to Toledo)
Sept 11 – Toledo for 1 night
(train to Seville)
September 12 – Seville for 4 nights (includes side trip to Cordoba)
(pick up rental car... explore Arcos de la Frontera and/or Jerez on way to Cadiz)
Sept 16 – Cadiz for 3 nights (would stay in an AirBnB with parking, preferably near the beach)
Sept 19 – Ronda for 2 nights (explore some additional white hill towns on way... perhaps Grazalema? Or Zahara? Both?)
(drive to Granada and return rental car)
Sept 21 – Granada for 3 nights
Sept 24 – Travel from Granada to Chicago

Please let me know your thoughts!
tera_denten is offline  
Apr 4th, 2017, 11:14 AM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 78,322
Fast trains are cheapest when bought as early as possible - discounted tickets can sell out really early -much cheaper than walk-up fares - www.renfe.com - helpful sites - www.seat61.com - sage advice on getting renfe.com to work in booking your own ticket and alternative sites to do do - www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com.

a nice leisruely to me itinerary!
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 4th, 2017, 07:19 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 21,402
Much better, IMO!

For my tastes, I'd trim a night from Ronda and from Cadiz and add time to Barcelona, Toledo, and/or Cordoba -- but that's just me.

BTW, to get from Toledo to Sevilla, I believe you need to go back to Madrid, and if so, then I believe you'll pass through Cordoba en route to Sevilla. Although I'm glad a spent 2 nights in Cordoba, if you are planning to visit it as just a day trip, you might want to consider visiting it en route from Madrid to Sevilla. Just a thought....

kja is offline  
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