Spain Itinerary Help

May 15th, 2012, 04:46 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: May 2012
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Spain Itinerary Help

Hi,

I am planning a trip to Spain & Portugal with friends during 18th August – 2nd September 2012 - total 16 days - as we are flying into Madrid on 18th August morning and 2nd September would be spent in the outward flight. Outward journey is flexible (possible to return from Barcelona).

We intend to cover:

1. Landing Madrid at 11:35 AM on 18th Aug
Madrid 18-20 Aug / 2.5 days

2. Fly to Lisbon on 21st Aug morning
Lisbon 21-22 Aug / 2 days

3. Take a flight to Seville on 23rd morning
Seville 23-24 Aug 2 days

4. Leave for Granada on 25th morning
Granada 25-26 Aug / 1.5 days

5. Take a train on 26th night & reach Barcelona on 27th morning around 9:30 AM
Barcelona 27-29 Aug / 3 days

On 30th Aug morning, my friends depart Spain however I have 3 spare days (30-31 Aug & 1 Sep) to travel on my own as I can take the flight back home on 2nd Sep.

In short, I would really appreciate if people who have visited Spain could spare their valuable time and:
1. Comment on the route plan & let me know the must-see’s.

2. Suggest the best possible use of 3 days:
1. Places nearest to Barcelona for day trips.
2. Should I do Valencia.
3. Should I go to south of France for 3 days.
4. Should I fly to Zurich and spend 3 days there, considering my return flight route would be anyway via Zurich & by paying extra, I can take a stopover there.

3. I have the flexibility to cut short my Barcelona days (27-29 Aug) and leave alone for Valencia to be there for Tomatina festival on 29th Aug 2012. Is it worth snipping the trip with friends and going alone to Tomatina? If you think 2 days is too less for Barcelona, I could always come back on 1st Sep and spend the day and then fly back home on 2nd Sep morning.

Please do consider the following before responding:
1. My philosophy is to give each country in Europe time rather than flying through a dozen landmark cities in 2 weeks and hence do only 1-2 countries during one annual vacation.
2. I have travelled extensively in South East Asia but this is my first visit to Europe.
3. Options / routes which are safe for a girl on her own.
4. Money-wise & time-wise, pragmatic, not necessarily frugal.

Thanks a lot for reading my post!
rtwin80days is offline  
May 15th, 2012, 06:14 AM
  #2  
 
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I am not an expert and I have only been to Barcelona (of all the cities on your list), but I think you are trying to see too many places and you are spending too much time traveling from place to place. Seems to me that you will see primarily airports and train stations. The longest you are staying in one place is 3 days. And in most cases, you really only have 1.5 days in a city (not 2). For example, because you are flying from Madrid to Lisbon on Aug 21, & leaving Lisbon in the morning of Aug 23, you really only have 1.5 days in Lisbon. You also have to consider the time it takes to get to each hotel, check in, then check out, etc. You don't have enough time in any place. I was in Barcelona for 5 days and didn't see everything. Many people spend 3 or 4 nights in Seville, you only have 2 nights. You don't include Cordoba, either.

You need to narrow your list. What are your interests?
For 16 days, one option would be to visit Lisbon and Andalucia (Seville, Granada & Cordoba). Or another option would be Madrid, Barcelona & Costa Brava (north of Barcelona). Also, consider the weather. Andalucia will be very hot in August. Barcelona should be a little cooler.
Kwoo is offline  
May 15th, 2012, 08:43 AM
  #3  
 
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I would spend 3 nights in Seville and 2 in Granada. then I would fly to Barcelona and spend the rest of the time there. You might have two nights to visit somewhere on the Costa Brava like Begur. Or if you like ancient Roman sites, Tarragona.
Egbert is offline  
May 15th, 2012, 08:55 AM
  #4  
 
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I agree with Kwoo. I would skip Lisbon (although it's a wonderful city), add 1-2 days to Barcelona (LOTS to do here), 1 to Madrid (3 full days here are adequate) and 1-2 to Andalucia (I haven't been but I think this area deserves more time).

I wouldn't bother with day trip from Barcelona unless you plan on spending at least 4 full days there. Some possibilities, if time allows are here: http://gospain.about.com/od/barcelon...rcelonadts.htm.
MFNYC is offline  
May 15th, 2012, 09:16 AM
  #5  
 
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I think too many places - esp given the heat - southern spain is often more than 100 degrees at that time of year - and Madrid may not be any cooler. So - you really don't have full days to tour - and need to make sure your hotels have excellet AC and good pools.


I wold focus on just Madrid and Andalusia - which can easily take 2 weeks with only 1 or 2 day trips. Add Barcelona if yuo really want - but forget Lisbon. It has much less to see/do than the other places and is definitely an outlier.

As for Zurich - it's a business city, not really for tourists - and is incredibly expensive (Switz costs more than anyplace else in europe - often a lot more. The last time I was there the taxi from the airport to the hotel was almost $50 - and it would have been abuot $15 in NYC.
nytraveler is offline  
May 15th, 2012, 10:01 AM
  #6  
 
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Madrid and Lisbon are both fascinating cities that are nothing alike. I think 1 week would be enough to become aquainted with both (4 days Madrid, 3 days Lisbon) That gives you another week to check out Andalusia and other surrounding areas. As requested here are some must sees of both and a little about them:

Madrid:

Nightlife Nightlife Nightlife. I can't stress that enough. It doesn't have a single landmark that is instantly recognizable but the culture, architecture, and food will keep everyone happy. Very safe place to visit. A good deal of people there can speak at least some English. try the ham.. they have many different kinds and pride themselves on it.

must sees:
- Tapas crawl on Calle de Cava Baja with your friends
- The Prado (free entry from 6-8)
- Palacio Real (and cathedral if time permits)
- Puerta del Sol
- Plaza Mayor
- Botin (the world's oldest restaurant..delicious food)
- Retiro Park: huge, beautiful place to relax
- Plaza de Cibeles

Lisbon: Like Rome it was built on 7 hills. Scenic lookouts (miradouros) sprinkled throughout. It's got a gritty, rough around the edges feel that gives it a charming flavor. Simply put, Lisbon is CHEAP. Bus and subway are excellent ways around and inexpensive.

must sees:

- Elevador de Santa Justa
- Sao Jorge castle
- any of the miradouros
- Rossio Square
- Praca do comercio
- Belem (a small city with several big attractions close to each other)
- day trip to Sintra if time allows. Pena Palace and Castle of the Moors
tailsock is offline  
May 15th, 2012, 10:09 AM
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You have only 15 nights, barely over 2 weeks. I'd definiately cut back the locations unless you just want to be in a mode of checking off sites. I'd focus on 2 regions, at most 3.

If heat is not an issue a combinatin of Madrid or Barcelona in addition to Andalucia would work. I'd budget 5 days for Madrid/Barcelona especially if it's your first stop and you need a day to recover from jetlag. At a mininum for Andalucia I'd spend 4 nights in Sevilla, with a daytrip to Cordoba, and 2 nights in Granada. But it would also be nice to spend a few days in Malaga and/or the white villages.

You could potentiall visit Barcelona, Madrid, Sevilla and Granada but it would be a bit rushed. Something like Barcelona (4-5), Madrid (4-5), Sevilla (4) and Granada (2).

I'd save Portugal for another trip. It's not as easy logistically as the other areas and there's just not enough time.
CathyM is offline  
May 16th, 2012, 04:30 AM
  #8  
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First of all, sincere thanks to ALL for sparing their time and responding to my queries! I am more inclined now to drop Lisbon & modify: Madrid (2 days/3 days if I include 1 day-trip to some less-commercialized place / charming town), Seville (3 days), Granada (2 days), white villages within Andalucia ? (2 days), Barcelona (4 days) including at-least 1 day-trip from Barcelona. Not counting 1 day right now, as time lost in transit etc. I feel bad I am going to miss Valencia. What do you guys think…what are the star attractions in Valencia? Do you think I should cut back on days in Barcelona to spend 2 days in Valencia? This may be my singular visit to Spain in a long time to come. My next Europe trips (all the way from India) would probably be focussing on Italy/Rome/France/UK/Switzerland/Greece. Hopefully one country a year!

Hi Kwoo, I have been reading a lot of what you write on the forums even before I wrote this post! I take your point of less time for each place. I am just trying to manage lot of factors, including going with majority of what my group has planned, first trip to Europe – want to see a lot, etc. More or less, the group’s plan is final for Madrid – Lisbon – Seville – Granada – Barcelona, after which I have 3 more days on my own. I can always deviate slightly from the group’s plan. Let’s say, drop 2 days in Lisbon if it is not as attractive a destination, and instead, spend more time on “White Villages” (just seeing the pictures on internet melts my heart) and my friends can join me in Seville as per their plan. My interests are long scenic drives, meeting locals, scenic landscapes, mountains, history, architecture & soaking in culture. I am a lacto-ovo-vegetarian so I am mentally prepared for “eating to live” during this trip. Any great meals would be a bonus  I am not much into beaches & anyway have had more than enough of it in South East Asia. I am less perturbed by weather, long travel & slightly hectic trip. I am a teetotaller and enjoy clubbing ambience but my idea is not to endlessly hop clubs and get sloshed.

HiEgbert, I am considering giving an extra day in Seville by dropping Lisbon, but I would be on my own & my group would nonetheless go to Lisbon.

Hi MFNYC, if you have been to Lisbon, please let me know if it is worth going there. The choice is between being with friends’ company, go with the flow, sharing accommodation and going to Lisbon vs being on my own and spending more time in Seville & Andalucia in general.

Hi nytraveler, thanks a lot! Zurich is definitely out then! However, you seem to not have enjoyed Lisbon as much. Could you please tell me why. It would help me decide whether to drop Lisbon. I am from India, lived in India & South East Asia. Used to the heat 

Hi tailsock, thanks for your detailed response. I’d check out the Madrid must-see’s for sure. I am a vegetarian so I guess I may not enjoy the culinary scene as much. But that is ok  I love olives and can survive on them alone hehe..I am in two minds about Lisbon. Maybe I need to do more research on it. Trade-offs!

Hi CathyM, I have an overnight 10 hr flight to Madrid, would catch sleep during the flight. Pretty used to such flights and night-outs in general. So hopefully, should be ok. If you could throw some light on white villages, it would be great. Are they around Seville / Granada? Close to Alhambra? Because I intend to visit Alhambra and spend a day exploring all nooks and crannies.
rtwin80days is offline  
May 16th, 2012, 06:59 AM
  #9  
 
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Lisbon is worthwhile, but given your timing and itinerary, I'd skip it for this trip. I think your current plan is good. I am not familiar with Valencia, but I would keep 4 days for Barcelona. Barcelona is one of my favorite cities, and needs some decent time.
MFNYC is offline  
May 16th, 2012, 07:15 AM
  #10  
 
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I recently did a day trip from Barcelona to see Montserrat and visiting a cava winery in the Penedes region - highly recommend. Zurich is very expensive so I'd suggest keeping your time minimal. Have a great time!
Sand22 is offline  
May 16th, 2012, 10:02 AM
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rtwin80days: i just saw that you're a vegetarian. unfortunately, Lisbon does not cater very well to these folks.

others have reported that finding quality meat-free dishes was a struggle as many of their best dishes center around pork or c. Vegetarians on different forums have had luke warm feelings about the salted cod or sardines as an alternative.

You shouldn't have that kind of problem in Madrid as it's much larger and offers a wider array of choices. (many of the tapas i saw were veggies like pickled cherry peppers, fresh olives, cheeses, roasted eggplant w/ alioli, mushrooms etc.)
tailsock is offline  
May 16th, 2012, 12:19 PM
  #12  
 
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Personally I wouldn't cut back time in Barcelona to spend 2 days in Valencia. Valencia is a great city but if you plan on a daytrip from Barcelona in addition to visiting Barcelona you'll really need at least 4 days for a visit.

As for the white villages, they are roughly between Sevilla and Granada. I'd rent a car for this portion of the trip if truly want to explore this area. You really wouldn't need a car for any other portion of this trip.

However, I'd consider either cutting the white villages and add the time to Madrid OR cut out Madrid. You currently only have 2-3 days in Madrid AND plan to do a daytrip. These won't be full days as one of the days will be on arrival and you'll need to get into town and check into your hotel. You'd be hard pressed with 3 full days to visit Madrid and do one daytrip.

Better yet I'd probably skip the white villages and add a day to Madrid and a day to Sevilla. With 4 days in Sevilla you'd have time for a daytrip to Cordoba, which is a must see. You could even visit Cordoba en route from Madrid to Sevilla, leaving your baggage in a storage locker and avoiding having to backtrack.
CathyM is offline  
May 17th, 2012, 07:50 PM
  #13  
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thanks all again..
i am less keen to do lisbon now..

will finalise the itinerary and share..i really want to see the white villages

as of now, booked flights..landing madrid morning on 18th aug and leaving barcelona early morning 2nd sep. but with euro inr going unfavorable, would start making intra-spain bookings shortly.
rtwin80days is offline  
May 21st, 2012, 05:51 PM
  #14  
 
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Topping with thanks for some help in the very early stages of planning a 'drive' in Portugal in January, I'll be back with loads of questions.
aussiedreamer is offline  
May 22nd, 2012, 06:37 AM
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Skip Lisbon! Plan 2-3 days for Granada! You will need a day to see the Alhabmra and the Albacin in Granada and a lot of time to sample all the free tapas! Book your ticket for the Alhambra in advance (if possible) or get to the entrance at 8am and gather one of the 1.000 ticktes they sell that time. The Alhambra is a protected sight, selling out only 8.000 tickets a day, with a special, asigned time to see the palace itself, so you want to plan ahead. And, you def. want to see the Alhambra!
alsacekid is offline  
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