Two weeks in Andalucia too much?

Sep 29th, 2012, 01:34 PM
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Two weeks in Andalucia too much?

While we're being slow to choose our destination for our April vacation (tho' perusing all the options is fun and I'm learning a lot!), we're leaning toward Andalucia. Am wondering, tho', whether we should be considering adding a part of Portugal or Morocco to our potential plan.

We'll have two weeks, including travel days from the east coast of U.S. I mentioned to a friend from work that we were thinking of Andalucia, and she (who is from northern Spain) thought that was way too much time, even when I explained what slow travelers we are.

We don't get going super early, we love to linger in cafes and over meals, and we love to wander neighborhoods and stop in this shop or that market, as well as see tourist sites. It's possible that she just can't comprehend how slow we are! But then again, maybe she's I'd love to hear the thoughts and experiences of those who've been.

Also if you've been, and could share whether you rented a car or not, and if you were happy or not with your choice? We'll most likely be with friends so it would be great if we didn't need a car too much and could all wander on our own some and meet up for certain sites or meals. Otoh, tho', I wouldn't want to feel we missed getting to explore neighborhoods or some off the beaten path areas, just because we didn't rent a car for at least some of the time (we were very happy NOT to have a car in places like Rome and London. we were very happy to HAVE a car in U.S.cities like Denver and Pittsburgh, for outlying areas and day trips).

Thanks in advance for any help!
go_laura is offline  
Sep 29th, 2012, 03:00 PM
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Two weeks is nothing in Andalucía. Fabulous "big" cities such as Sevilla, Córdoba, Granada, Málaga and Cádiz, beautiful landscapes (much of it in the mountains) and loads of small villages of all kinds. Immensely rich history and culture coulored by Phonicians, Romans, Christians, Jews, Moslems and Gitanos. April is about the best time of year to go, full spring blossom but the extreme summer heat is a couple of months away. Your Northern Spanish friend obviously knows very little about the region.

In April, you should decide whether or not you will be in Sevilla during the Feria de Abril (April fair). Could be a great experience, but be prepared:

A little intro to some of the cities.

Sevilla, the queen of the cities in the South:

Granada with world famous Alhambra:

Córdoba with the Mezquita, once the most advanced city in the western world:

Málaga by the Med, one of my absolute favourites cities in Spain after some 25 years of travelling the country.
Genuine Andalusian atmosphere, great cafés, tapas bars, restaurants, culture, theaters, nightlife and sights.

Michael Jacobs' "Andalucía" is a great intro to the history and culture of the region. About the big cities as well as about small villages off the beaten path.
kimhe is offline  
Sep 29th, 2012, 03:20 PM
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Oh my goodness, thank you so much for all these links (and your opinion)!

I'd been reading about Seville, Granada, and Cordoba so far, but not yet Malaga, and only a little about Cadiz.

And yes, I realized if we decide Andalucia, we'll need to decide about the two big fairs in Seville. My leaning so far is tho' they might be fun to do someday, I'm not a fan of crowds, so probably would do the trip after the Easter one (sorry am forgetting its name right now!) and before the Feria de Abril. That would mean the first two weeks in April (we have to be back home for a family event end of April).

Do you think there'd be any down side to going in between the two big fairs...things don't close or anything, do they? And that early in April, is much still in blossom?
go_laura is offline  
Sep 29th, 2012, 03:21 PM
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Oh, and any recommendations on small villages, as I'd love some days not in big cities, would be welcome, as well as how to access them. Thanks!
go_laura is offline  
Sep 29th, 2012, 04:30 PM
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Have been to Andalusia twice (did other parts of Spain or Portugal in each trip). Once we were there 10 days and the other 12 days - and we definitely still had a lot of things we wanted to see and do. Both were part of road trips and we found having a car very conveninet.

You need to cover the basics - Seville, Cordoba, Granada and at least one of the white villaes (we did Ronda) as well as a couple of days relaxing at a resort near Marbella. But there are a bunch of other great places in the area- other white villages, Jerez, etc.

You will definitely not be bored.

Oh - and do be preapred for the weather. Both timees we were there in the second half of April and it was laredy well up into the 80s - so make sure your hotels have good pools.
nytraveler is offline  
Sep 29th, 2012, 08:12 PM
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It is not too much time at all. Peak garden time (according to a tour guide I met in Granada) is early May, so flowers should already be pretty in April.

Seville needs two or three days, Cordoba one, Granada two, so there you have nearly a week already.

Besides the white villages, and beach areas, there are other small, interesting towns. My favorite is Sanlucar, SW of Seville. It has a nice center plaza and is filled in the evenings with kids playing and people sitting out, eating tapas. I also like Puerto de Santa Maria near Rota and Cadiz. Cadiz is interesting, Jerez not so much, IMHO.

You could easily get by without a car during time in Seville and Granada (big waste of rental cost and parking), and many people do get by without one altogether, but we have rented one for convenience of going to other places whenever we wanted.

If any of your group decides it is too much time in Andalucia, they could zip up to Madrid from Seville for two or three days and also visit Toledo or Segovia.
Sassafrass is offline  
Sep 29th, 2012, 08:20 PM
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Regarding villages, I spent a week in an apartment outside the village of Iznajar, located not far from the bigger town of Antequera, between Seville and Granada. The area is lovely and off the usual tourist path so quiet and authentic feeling. I think to see the nicest of these places would almost certainly require a car to avoid wasting time on your fairly short trip. But maybe 3 days in a village with day trips by car around the area or, as I too love to do, having leisurely hours in local cafes, would be more than worth it.
MmePerdu is online now  
Sep 29th, 2012, 09:08 PM
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No problem to go to Sevilla in between Semana Santa (the main event of the year, devotion and fiesta hand in hand 24/7 all over town) and Feria de Abril. The city just uses the two weeks to get back on track before it goes crazy again...

For smaller towns, take a look at close by Carmona:

Or Antequera, the so called heart of Andalucía, just North of Málaga. Almost right in the middle of the Sevilla, Córdoba, Granada, Málaga rectangle. Here you'll find dolmens (some 5000 years old burial chambers), Roman baths, a Moorish Castle, Gothic churches, Renaissance fountains and baroque bell towers. Antequera was the first of the Granada emirate towns to fall to the Christians in 1410.

I love the terrace in the corner of the peaceful square in front of the Real Colegiata de Santa María la Mayor, the first partly Renaissance-style church in Spain (built 1514-1550). Up here it's totally peace and quiet. Next to the recently excavated Roman baths beneath and looking up on the 13th century Moorish alcazaba/fortress. Great views over unique landscapes (the spectacular Torcal limestone mountain etc.). Had the concert experience of my life up here a few years ago.

For villages, there are many in the mountains in the Málaga region such as Álora and Ardales. I also love the Axarquía region east of Málaga:

Or perhaps Alhama de Granada, between Málaga and Granada:
kimhe is offline  
Sep 30th, 2012, 07:29 AM
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This is all VERY helpful, thank you!

So now that it seems clear two weeks is NOT too much, I have an opposite question. So many wonderful sounding places, and yet I'm one of those who doesn't like to spend a vacation changing lodging locations too much (when we went to Rome for close to two weeks, some people couldn't believe we didn't go other places, but we just figured we'd do other parts of Italy another time, and really get to know Rome...a decision we were very happy with!)

So that being said, and so far figuring I'll join my travel companions with a desired two days in Madrid at beginning or end of trip, do you think there's a way we could experience Seville, Granada, Cordoba, a white village, and beautiful mountain or coastal views if we were to want to only pick two or three Andalucian locales to base ourselves? or is this just too much to be able to do, and I'll need to give something up?

I know others have asked similar q's but the threads I've read have seemed to have a little extra time or a little less time, making it hard for me to figure out what's do-able in our two weeks. Thanks for continued help!
go_laura is offline  
Sep 30th, 2012, 07:39 AM
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You've gotten such good information above and I've only been to Andalucia once. Two weeks is perfect.

We rented a car and the only thing I didn't like about the car is driving in those little Spanish towns with spider web streets.
LSky is offline  
Sep 30th, 2012, 08:50 AM
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Agree with not liking to change lodgings too much, but the small towns in Spain are so wonderful at night that you miss out if you just do day trips to them. Some are also just far enough apart that they don't work well as day trips. Also, some of these, while very charming, are very small, so unlike Rome which could take a life time to see, you can walk around and feel you know the place in a few hours or day. I think three places would be fine though, perhaps Granada for two/three nights, Seville for four (or more) nights and one other location. You can easily train from Seville to Cordoba for a day trip, and with a car you could go to some of the smaller towns in the late afternoon and stay late for dinner.

Glad you will be going to Madrid. Do go to Toledo - a "must see" IMHO.

With two weeks that include travel time and time in Madrid, you won't see everything, but you will see a lot, and it is all beautiful.
Sassafrass is offline  
Sep 30th, 2012, 10:21 AM
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I would never do a day trip to Cordoba. We loved the evenings there - wandering the streets with the traiditonal courtyard houses (and seeing inside to the various fountains, stautues etc.) a lot of which is more difficult to see during the day with tourist mobs.

We did white towns as day trips -since although interesting - there is really a lot less to see/do in each one.
nytraveler is offline  
Sep 30th, 2012, 04:44 PM
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I, too, dislike moving accommodation too much and also prefer small to medium sized towns which was a dilema in this part of Spain. We solved the problem very satisfactorily by having a car, staying just outside a beautiful village with a larger town not far away.

We visited Seville by train staying over 1 night and returning by train where we'd left the car at the rural train station. One might do variations on that theme but it was, I think, the most flexible option, not expensive as villages also tend to be much less expensive for accommodation and restaurants. Then we visited Ronda on the way back to Malaga to return the car and fly out. We were able to decide day by day what we'd like to do which I also prefer to preplanning so, for me, it couldn't have been better.

If you were to use a similar model, where would depend, I think, on which larger places you'd want to see. We decided on just Seville which simplified things. You seem to agree that fewer places can be nicer in many ways so with 2 weeks you might stay between Seville and Granada, Antequera might be good, then go to the cities by train and use the car to see the countryside.
MmePerdu is online now  
Sep 30th, 2012, 05:56 PM
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I was in Cordoba in April and didn't experience "tourist mobs" there. During the day, I was able to see the town, flowered balconies, courtyards, without any problem at all.

But I agree with the overall observation that if you day trip to Spanish towns, you will end up thinking that there is nothing to them since they come alive at night. That's especially true if you day trip to the small towns because, unlike some place like Cordoba, whose sights are available all day, the small towns really do shut down almost completely.

A night visit to the Alhambra is unique and truly marvelous, and at sunset, the mountain views are other-worldly.
lorettajung is offline  
Oct 1st, 2012, 02:28 AM
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Great thread - I've bookmarked this for planning next year's trip!
progol is offline  
Oct 1st, 2012, 08:37 AM
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I just want to echo what others said--two weeks will easily be filled. Will you be with friends the entire time? That will partially dictate the itinerary and if you rent a car. I suggest not renting a car for your city/town portions (Sevilla, Granada, Cadiz), and grouping the rest of your itinerary so that you drive through country side and visit small villages.
I just would not want to deal with parking, etc. and not being as easily able to stay in historic cores.
I also wholeheartedly agree with the others about day trips. For example, Ronda during the day versus at night is simply a difference place. Once you determine your list of must-visits, you can come back for help with pinpointing numbers of nights to stay and which to use as bases, etc.
Here's just a shot though:
Madrid 2
train to Cordoba
train to Sevilla
train to Cadiz
then slow it down, rent a car for coast, white villages, mts
stay in mts in or near Ronda
train to Granada
train to Malaga, fly back to Madrid for return flight? (or switch Malaga and Granada, and train back to Madrid)
That list includes the larger places I would include, but leaves for you to decide which smaller places to explore like Grazalema, Antequera (both of which would be on my list if I had had two weeks or if I return to Andalucia for a third visit).
yorkshire is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2012, 09:38 AM
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I would spend a week in Seville, visit Cordoba and Cadiz from there. 2 to 3 nights in Granada, 2 in Malaga, and 3 in a small village if you really want to (there is nothing going on for me in the white villages when you compare them to places like Seville, Cordoba, Granada, Malaga.) I would skip Morocoo. It's really hard to stay in one or two places and see all of Andalucia. I would not rent a car unless you want to go ot a small town like Iznajar, Grazalema, Bodega de Setenil, Comares etc. The bus and train will get you anywhere else you need to go.
Egbert is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2012, 10:13 AM
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I would want a car for the ease of transporting my luggage and to avoid waits for buses and trains in hot places. (It can be hot in Andalucia quite early). I wouldn't rent one to see cities like Sevilla, and you can easily visit Cordoba by train. But if I had a month in Andalucia, I would want to explore off the beaten track, and having a car would give me great freedom.
aguamineral is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2012, 06:33 PM
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I'm so grateful for all these suggestions! I've ordered the book that kimhe recommended, and after looking at that and re-reading all your thoughts, I'll likely be back as I plan further (just had one more immediate q but it left my mind before my fingers could type it - ain't getting older grand, lol).
go_laura is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2012, 07:37 PM
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Just a couple of thoughts, I find staying in the smaller places a much more intimate and gratifying experience and don't mind in the least the absence of grand "must see" sights and so called nightlife. The landscape and towns are grand in my estimation and there are good restaurants and friendly people, my kind of nightlife. I had 2 days in Seville and wouldn't consider a week of your 2 there although I enjoyed the 2 days very much.

I'm also a firm believer in seeing a few things well, not everything. One cannot see everything in any case so picking and choosing and going at a leisurely pace is what keeps me happy and rested. A few big sights, yes, but even better the waiter who is happy to see me again, and the baker and the lady who makes my morning latte.
MmePerdu is online now  

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