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Trip to Spain: Madrid, Barcelona & Malaga

Trip to Spain: Madrid, Barcelona & Malaga

Aug 13th, 2014, 12:22 PM
  #1  
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Trip to Spain: Madrid, Barcelona & Malaga

I am planning a trip to see a friend on the southern coast of Spain. It looks like I'll be going during early to late Fall for about 3-weeks. I'm considering flying into Madrid - seems to be the best connection from my departure city, Chicago, then swinging over to Barcelona before heading south, tentatively about 1 week in each location. I first thought of the train for connections between cities in Spain, but discount plane flights appear to be much more reasonable, particularly Barcelona to Malaga.
Despite traveling to Europe several times before, this is my visit to Spain. Suggestions or tips for this trip- including thoughts concerning transportation- would therefore be greatly welcomed.
zola is offline  
Aug 13th, 2014, 12:31 PM
  #2  
 
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Discount flights are nice, but you have to add in the time and expense getting to and from the airport as well as having to arrive at the airport 90 minutes or more before the scheduled departure.

The train is typically city center to city center and you only have to be at the station about 20 minutes before departure.
Robert2533 is offline  
Aug 13th, 2014, 01:08 PM
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Plus with trains you only see airports and tarmacs and large tourist cities - the train shows you the lay of the Spain between cities - arguably not the finest scenic countryside in Europe but like to Malaga the tracks cut thru a deep gorge and like Robert says getting to airports and back takes time and the time you must be checked in before flights, et al can make an air trip as long or longer than a city center to city center high-speed train.

Plus all the extra charges for discount airlines must be factored in. Barcelona to Madrid and v.v. is definitely quicker now by the high-speed train that does it in a few hours - score discounted tickets at www.renfe.com - Spanish Railways site. For lots of general info on Spanish trains I always spotlight these IMO superb sites: www.seat61.com - great info on discounted tickets; www.ricksteves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com. There is a Spanish Railpass but for your limited travels not worth considering.
PalenQ is offline  
Aug 13th, 2014, 01:56 PM
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Between Madrid and Barcelona or Madrid and Malaga I would take a train.
From Barcelona to Malaga ( or Seville or Granda) , we fly Vueling.
danon is online now  
Aug 13th, 2014, 02:35 PM
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there are however overnight trains rolling between Barcelona and Granda or Seville - same time over flying and a night's cost in a hotel. Some of these 'hotel train' even has douches and WCs in the compartment and include two meals I think. Some of the finest night trains in Europe.
PalenQ is offline  
Aug 14th, 2014, 12:29 PM
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Since you hve three weeks you could break the journey Barcelona to Malaga up by stopping in Valencia en route - one of the neatest Spanish cities I've been to and or Alicante - also a neat seaside gem.
PalenQ is offline  
Aug 14th, 2014, 02:00 PM
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You should consider flying into Barcelona not Madrid, then going from Barcelona to Madrid - then Madrid to Malaga is a nice short enough train ride (about as quick as flying all told I would think) and then to Seville or some place better than Malaga - nice beach nice enough town but no Seville or Cordoba - some of the loveliest cities in Europe - why Malaga?

Granada and the Alhambra also makes a fascinating visit.
PalenQ is offline  
Aug 14th, 2014, 02:55 PM
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Cordoba is interesting, but Malaga is a lot nicer since they pedestrianized the downtown, cutting out all that traffic. It also has a good selection of restaurants and gastrobars.
Robert2533 is offline  
Aug 15th, 2014, 02:25 AM
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Second Robert's words about Malaga. Genuine and laid-back Andalusian atmosphere, and lots of sights reflecting 2000 of the city's 3000 year old history right in the center (the Roman theater, the 8-11th Century Moorish Alcazaba, the 16th Century "one-armed" cathedral, Picasso's birth-house, the Picasso museum and a long etc.).

Malaga is also a museum city, and the new harbor Muelle Uno - with cafes, restaurants, shopping - also adds an attraction to one of my favourite cities in the country, for a seaside night out or just for a stroll. http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractio...Andalucia.html

You'll find great cafes, tapas bars and restaurants all around. Malaga has got a very cutting edge food scene, but you can also find many of those traditional and timeless places. Can't wait myself for a night at Dom Vinos in a few weeks: http://www.azahar-sevilla.com/vivala.../01/dom-vinos/

"Secret Spanish pleasures": http://www.telegraph.co.uk/journalis...pleasures.html
"Picasso's city of hidden treasures": http://www.theguardian.com/travel/20...-breaks-travel

And Cordoba is only 50 minutes away with the high speed AVE train: http://www.theguardian.com/spanish-t...-changed-world
kimhe is offline  
Aug 15th, 2014, 09:26 AM
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Robert: Thank you for your reply and suggestion of Cordoba, if I were to add it. To your first point- having taken discount flights before on other European trips, I am aware of the hassles that might accompany those selections and likewise the location advantage that city train terminals provide. Yet, I was surprised at the relatively higher price of train travel (even though the system in Spain is rather modern).
PalenQ: Same reply to you concerning the trains - I appreciate the web references. I also am grateful for the suggestion to hit some other cities - which brings me to your other questions:
a) why fly to Madrid? the flight connections from Chicago to Madrid offer better options than to Barcelona. It becomes a practical matter getting to Spain. To get to Europe (the longest leg) I'm always seeking the fewest stops, if any, and the shortest lay-overs. It's to Madrid.
b) why Malaga? I'm not necessarily going there just "to go there," but because it is a major connection point. My primary destination in the south is Fuengirola where my friend lives. Once I arrive in Malaga, though, I will now spend time there, especially after Robert and others have indicated its appeal.

danon: your brief but concise point splits the difference.
It's worth a thought. thanks.

kimhe: Adding to Robert's recommendation, your several references concerning Malaga will be very helpful. I'm indebted.

To all: your many views on transportation have given me a better perspective. Thank you! However, I fear I inadvertently emphasized that issue over others. If you therefore have further suggestions concerning my time in Barcelona, Madrid & Malaga- for example, accommodations, food, itinerary- I would be much obliged. Thanks again.
zola is offline  
Aug 15th, 2014, 09:40 AM
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I still think Seville is the gem of that area of Spain and there are so many easy day trips from it - Malaga may be a nice city but not all that many easy day trips from it - Granada could be one - anyway I think most would say that Seville, if looking for old-worldish romantic cities, is far superior to yes a nice Malaga and has easy day trips to places like Cordoba (also to me far more whatever than Malaga) - Jerez-de-la-Frontera for Sherry tours and to see the practices of the Andalusian Horses Riding School - Cadiz, etc.

If it were me I'd do Barcelona, Madrid and Seville - but if beaches are a priority then Malaga would take precedence.

Well that's just my subjective take.
PalenQ is offline  
Aug 15th, 2014, 10:58 AM
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Cordoba 50 mins with high speed AVE, Granada 90 mins by bus, Sevilla two hours by train, Ronda 1.45 with bus (from Fuengirola) and wonderful Antequera "the heart of Andalucia" 40 mins by bus: http://www.andaluciacoastandcountry....era-spain.html

And when in Málaga, see if you can fit in a lunch at traditional Venta del Tunel just oustide town to have fabulous Arroz/Rice (quite similar to paella) dishes with the locals.
http://www.ventaeltunel.com/ http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restauran...Andalucia.html
kimhe is offline  
Aug 15th, 2014, 01:12 PM
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I did not realize Malaga was now so close to Cordoba.
PalenQ is offline  
Aug 15th, 2014, 01:47 PM
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AVE is great..We took it from Malaga to Seville ( stops in Cordoba).
Malaga is lovely Andalusian town by the sea. We liked it more than we anticipated.
Stayed for 3 nights.
danon is online now  
Aug 16th, 2014, 07:59 AM
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Malaga sometimes gets criticised on this Board (wrongly in my opinion) then again agree its not as nice as Seville.
stevelyon is offline  
Aug 16th, 2014, 09:36 AM
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Sevilla is of course the undisputed queen of the cities in the South, but many would be very surprised about all the things that Malaga has to offer in terms of dramatic old and new history, sights, atmospheric neighbourhoods, cafes, tapas bars and restaurants, not to mention the malagueños themselves, probably the most laid-back and easy-going people in all of Spain.

Tips from a local about 50 Malaga essentials (in Spanish):
http://www.myguiadeviajes.com/2011/1...cer-en-malaga/

And a very important Civil War memorial pyramid and mausoleum has just been built in the San Rafael cementary in the eastern part of the city, remembering the 4471 victims that were shot and buried in the quite recently discovered mass grave here. The largest mass grave of Franco victims, but hundreds of such graves have been dug up all over Spain since 2002.
http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/09/victi...s-of-the-dead/
kimhe is offline  
Aug 16th, 2014, 10:03 AM
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I agree with Danon that I would not take the train between Barcelona and the south. Because you have to go all the way over to Madrid.

I'm staying in Malaga in October, actually, and exactly because it is a good air and rail hub, and a good location for day trips by bus in that area, also. I guess because so many British people go there for vacations or something, I just found a lot better cheap air possibilities from Malaga than from Seville, to all over Europe (Easyjet, Vueling, etc.). I was sort of surprised, actually. I'm taking Easyjet to Paris after Malaga.

I am doing a day trip to Granada from there, by bus, as I haven't seen it and it's not feasible from Seville. I've seen Cordoba, but if I hadn't, I'd do that as a day trip.
Christina is online now  
Aug 16th, 2014, 10:05 AM
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... and the San Rafael Cemetery and the new pyramid memorial is in the western! part of Malaga city. http://www.typicallyspanish.com/news...f_Franco.shtml
kimhe is offline  
Aug 16th, 2014, 10:07 AM
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... and the San Rafael Cemetery and the new pyramid memorial is in the western! part of Malaga city. http://www.typicallyspanish.com/news...f_Franco.shtml
kimhe is offline  
Aug 16th, 2014, 11:27 AM
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I too am a fan of Malaga!Not so much for the beachbut the old section is wonderful,just to wander-loved the catherdal,Picasso museum and took the bus up to the Parador for breakfast-what a view!
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