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Spring Itinerary--Madrid/Andalusia and car question

Spring Itinerary--Madrid/Andalusia and car question

Dec 26th, 2013, 01:54 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2006
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Spring Itinerary--Madrid/Andalusia and car question

Am working on my two weeks in Spain for May. I know that we will be just scratching the surface but want to get the overview and return in future.
Trip is for my husband and myself. We are active, in good shape and have lots of travel experience. We do like museums but don't want to overload. We love to experience good food, the culture and want to walk wherever we can.
With that said, I am thinking:
4 nights with Madrid (with day trip to either Segovia, Toledo or both)
3 nights Seville
2 nights Cordoba
1 or 2 Granada (The Alhambra seems to be the reason to go. Is it like the palaces in Istanbul?--We went there a few years ago and enjoyed it)
2 or 3 Marbella--Costa del Sol
We would take train from Madrid to Seville and then get a car when leaving Seville to see Cordoba and Granada.
Is it okay to drive to Marbella also? We would return home from Malaga. (Boston)
Should we stay one or two nights in Granada? Would give some flexibility in adding days elsewhere.
drkathej is offline  
Dec 26th, 2013, 02:46 PM
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Not sure why you wish to go to Marbella...
Malaga is a lovely Andalusian town ( with beaches)
danon is online now  
Dec 26th, 2013, 03:19 PM
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We did 19 days in Spain in 2012; we started in Barcelona for 3 nights and wished we had an add'l night there and one less in Madrid; we loved the El Rey Morro in Seville where we spent 3 nights, and also did 2 in Cordoba, which was plenty. Depending on your timed ticket for the Alhambra and travel time, you may need two nights for Granada. We had spent couple nights in the Pueblos Blancos between Seville and Granada. Lastly, we spent 3 nights at the lovely Town House in Marbella, which was the most charming place of the entire trip. Great location for water access, but your vehicle's GPS will not find it, as it's in a pedestrian zone like many European hotels. From Marbella be sure to ferry over to the 'other side of the tracks' that is Puerto Banos for lunch or dinner. Our favorite restaurant of the entire trip was in Seville at Vineria San Telmo. And yes, we trained Barcelona-Cordoba-Seville where we picked up the car to drive easterly to Granada (you really should stop in Ronda for the day), then headed south to Marbella; dropped the rental off at Malaga where we picked up a flight back to Madrid.
aliced is offline  
Dec 26th, 2013, 03:47 PM
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It all depends on what you want to see and experience. FWIW:

I spent 4 full days in Madrid, 2 full days in Toledo, and 1 full day in Segovia. Since you say you don't want to overload on museums, you might be able to trim your time in Madrid to 2 or 3 days (are you likely to lose some of your time there to jet lag?) and visit Segovia as a day trip. Even if you spend only a day or so in Toledo, you might want to consider spending a night there -- it is one of those places that is noticeably more enchanting in the evening after day-trippers have left.

I was glad to have 3 full days in Seville and 2 full days in Cordob. I was also glad to have 2 full days in Granada. Your question about how the Alhambra compares to Istanbul's palaces is interesting. There is a distinctly Arabian influence to them all, but when I think of the Alhambra, I think of the exquisite use of space and architectural details and gardens and fountains, not the tile work that predominates my memories of Istanbul. And the Alhambra -- at least the Nasrid Palace -- seemed far more intimate to me than, say, the Harem of the Topkapi Palace. You might want to get one of the guidebooks that includes a lot of high quality pictures -- maybe the National Geographic Traveller or the Insight Guide -- to get a better sense of the similarities and differences.

BTW, Cordoba is easily visited by train from Sevilla. Granada is also easy to reach by public transportation. You might want to wait to rent your car until you are ready to go to the coast.
kja is offline  
Dec 26th, 2013, 04:08 PM
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For me. this is an easy trip to arrange non-stop Boston to Madrid R/T on Iberia seeing much of what you have suggested.
iris1745 is online now  
Dec 26th, 2013, 04:49 PM
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For some nice resorts, gorgeous harbor and uber luxury yachts and casinos head to Puerto Banus to the west of the town of Marbella. (Fine for going to dinner but IMHO the beach is too built you want a resort with a private beach. And yes, traveling by car is fine.

Just be aware that by May it can already be VERY hot in the south (upper 90s).
nytraveler is offline  
Dec 27th, 2013, 01:51 AM
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'We would take train from Madrid to Seville and then get a car when leaving Seville to see Cordoba and Granada.' - Is this a query or resolved?
WomBatt is offline  
Dec 27th, 2013, 04:45 AM
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You should know that May is serious festival time in Spain, especially in Andalucía. Most of the festivals goes way back in time and are primarily local events. Great opportunity to get under the skin of things and experience the history, culture, food, wine and fiesta spirit. And May is perhaps the best time of year to go to Andalucía, full spring blossom and the summer heat is still some weeks away. The region is full of Phoenician, Roman, Jewish, Christian, Moslem and Gitano history and culture.

In May, all Andalucian towns - but especially Granada and Córdoba - celebrate the "Cruces de Mayo": http://www.spanish-fiestas.com/spani...es-de-mayo.htm

Córdoba in May is something special, the "cruces" celebration is followed by the patio competition leading on to the flamenco inspired Feria by the end of the month.
Córdoba patio exposition and competition: http://www.andalucia.com/cities/cordoba/patios.htm
The Feria in late May: http://www.andalucia.com/festival/co...pring-fair.htm

In Jerez, you have the horse fair Feria de Caballo de Jerez: http://www.andalucia.com/festival/jerez-horse-fair.htm

May is also the month of the San Isidro festival in Madrid, the huge celebration of the city's patron saint: http://www.madrid-guide-spain.com/san-isidro.html

I would consider spending a day or two in wonderful Málaga city as you depart from there. Málaga city is genuine Andalucian atmosphere, great tapas bars, cafés, terraces, restaurants, theaters, museums, nightlife and 3000 years of history. Within 300 meters in the city centre you'll find the newly excavated Roman theater just beyond the 8-11 century Moorish Alcazaba, the 16th century cathedral, Picassos birth place, the Picasso museum and the new Carmen Thyssen museum. A couple of articles about Málaga:

"Secret Spanish pleasures": http://www.telegraph.co.uk/journalis...pleasures.html
"Picasso's city of hidden treasures": http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/200...el?INTCMP=SRCH
kimhe is offline  
Dec 27th, 2013, 12:54 PM
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Thanks for the helpful information. I am getting excited about the trip already. Sounds like I shouldn't wait too long for hotel reservations.
Regarding the train/driving question. We thought that it would be nice to drive through the countryside on our way to Cordoba and Granada. The train has advantages at times but so does having a car. So, we are planning to get a car unless there is a reason it is not a good idea.
It is an interesting idea to stay in Toledo rather than a day trip. How is this with train and luggage or is it better to stay put in Madrid and go for the day?
It's an interesting thought to spend our time in Malaga itself rather than Marbella or Puerto Banus. Our idea was to do some sightseeing and also spend some time on the beach. Is one or the other place more suited to this or is it that both are good options?
Needless to say, I am going to read the links kimhe provided. It's so nice to get information from such helpful sources.
drkathej is offline  
Dec 27th, 2013, 01:37 PM
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To continue to Seville , you have to return to Madrid from Toledo and take another train.
With your tight schedule, I would make it a day trip.
danon is online now  
Dec 27th, 2013, 05:49 PM
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Unless you are really into Art, you could see major sights in Madrid in two days and have a third day for a day trip or overnight in Toledo.

Segovia is lovely - Toledo is amazing! I would choose a night in Toledo over a night in Cordoba. It is a very short (about 30 minutes) train ride from Madrid.

I would just do Cordoba as a day trip from Seville, or at most, do it as one overnight between Madrid and Seville. No point driving into Cordoba. IME, it was not fun or worth it to navigate Cordoba with a car.

Granada needs at least one full day, so two nights. I never thought to compare the palaces there with those in Istanbul. They do have lots in common, but still are very different. Much of the Alhambra looks like lace. Also, in May, the gardens of the Alhambra are at their peak, so that will be beautiful.

The drive from Seville to Granada is easy, so you could rent a car when you head there, or wait (save car rental, parking and gas) and pick up the car when leaving Granada. Don't know how that would compare with cost of train (or bus) since we had a car and drove from Cadiz along the coast to Granada and the. To Seville.
Sassafrass is offline  
Dec 27th, 2013, 06:20 PM
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We found Cordoba to be a charming city - well worth a couple of days to explore. And driving in is easy - just make sure your hotel has a garage - or can send you to one nearby.
nytraveler is offline  
Dec 28th, 2013, 08:09 AM
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You have received some good advice.

If this were my trip and we have done something similar, this is what I would do.

We were in Spain in September. Madrid and a northerly driving trip.

1. R/T on Iberia, Boston to Madrid. Note: We found that in September Iberia does not fly R/T every day. We flew home on a Monday R/T Madrid to Boston.

2. Madrid 3 nights with a day trip to Segovia.

3. Rent a car when leaving Madrid.

4. Zafra 1 night in the Parador with a stop in Caceres or Trujillo or both.

5. Seville 4 nights with a day trip to Cordoba.

5. Malaga 2 nights with a stop in Ronda

6. Granada 2 nights

7. Toledo 2 nights with a stop in Ubeda or Baeza or both.

8. Madrid airport is about 1 1/2 hours from Toledo.

On one of our trips we have done this route except Malaga.

For hotels you can start with www.booking.com/spain
iris1745 is online now  
Dec 28th, 2013, 09:25 AM
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Three nights in Madrid is two days..a day trip to Segovia .makes it ONE day.

Some travelers prefer small Spanish towns and have no" use" for great art museums
(and everything else) others like about the capital.
Obviously , all suggestions are strictly subjective.
danon is online now  
Dec 28th, 2013, 09:31 AM
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iris1745 has laid out an interesting loop, a nice road trip of nearly 1400 km without side trips, but it doesn't leave much time to enjoy a two-week adventure.

Flying in from Boston, the jet lag will not be that bad, so you will be able to accomplish a little more on your first day in Madrid. Despite what so say, Madrid is a vibrant city, great for walking. It has a number of top restaurants and a lot going on (www.esmadrid.com). Besides having three of the world's major art museums (Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza & Reina Sofia), there is also the outstanding Sorolla Museum and the interestingly unique Naval Museum, among a dozen or so others.

The feast of San Isidro, the patron saint of Madrid, is on the 15th of May with food (Cocido Madrileño) and wine, dancing in the streets and Madrileños dressed in traditional costumes. May also is the start of the city's main bullfighting season with the San Isidro bullfighting festival that lasts for 24 days.

Four days would only allow you to barely scrap the surface of the city, but it would be enough to give you a feel of what's it's like.

I would save the drive and take the train to Granada for a couple of days, then head down to Malaga. May is too early for the beach, but you can enjoy the city for a couple of days and then take the train up to Sevilla, finishing up the two weeks with a night in Cordoba and then back to Madrid for your flight home.
Robert2533 is offline  
Dec 28th, 2013, 09:52 AM
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I think everything depends on how you travel. Nine hundred miles in two weeks is easy for us.

So, the OP needs to decide what is best for them.

Iberia gets into the Madrid airport from Boston at 7:40am.

For US, that is a full day of sightseeing.

Perhaps not for others.

On August 19th or this year, we arrived at the Madrid airport at 7:40am, had our car rented and drove to Toledo and had a full day of sightseeing. [I'm only 78 and my wife is only 75]

I think what the OP needs to consider is

A. Will I be back to Spain

B. If not, do I want a taste of Spain, or

C. Do I want a leisurely pace.

We have enjoyed all our 33 vacations to Europe, but it's not up to me to tell the OP what they will or will not enjoy.

We try to speak only for our self.

Happy New Year
iris1745 is online now  
Dec 28th, 2013, 10:56 AM
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Agree, iris...,
We are much younger,, but have a terrible time with jet- lag, don't like driving and changing hotels,
prefer big cities and what they haven to offer.

It is up to the OP to decide what suits them.
danon is online now  
Dec 28th, 2013, 07:28 PM
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I'm afraid that some people have a bucket list, but not much more. We've been traveling to Spain for more than 50 years, at least three times/year, but have so much more to experience. That doesn't count the time we've spent in France, Portugal, Ireland and Morocco, as well as a few other side trips along the way.
Robert2533 is offline  
Jan 1st, 2014, 01:46 PM
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Booked our flights today--I hadn't considered going to Granada after Madrid--there are lots of possibilities and I'm sure it will work out whichever way we try. Anyway, we are fairly energetic travellers, don't mind changing hotels and appreciate both cities and more laid back places. We also don't mind driving or taking trains. We haven't been to Spain (except for Barcelona) and will definitely consider a return.
How does this itinerary sound?:
4 nights Madrid--(with day trip to Toledo and Segovia)--we will still be in Madrid on the 15th so that is exciting!
3 nights Seville--take train to get there
Pick up a car, make sure hotel has parking and stay
1 night Cordoba
2 nights Granada
3 nights Marbella(?) Puerto Banus(?)---gave thought to staying in Malaga as we will fly home from there and it looks like an interesting town. I thought that mid May would be okay for the beaches there, but if not, that may change my plan.
I know that it is a vigorous itinerary but it seems doable and we will either take in more/less sights in each area as we go along.
drkathej is offline  
Jan 1st, 2014, 01:59 PM
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You can do that itinerary.

Have a great trip.

Keep in mind if you enjoy opera. The Westin Palace at 2pm on Sunday has a free opera concert.

Just get there at 1:30, get your seating for just a drink and appetizer and enjoy.

We were just a few feet away from the singers.
iris1745 is online now  

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