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Unbiased opinion on Spain itinerary needed

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Unbiased opinion on Spain itinerary needed

Old Feb 10th, 2024, 01:09 PM
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Unbiased opinion on Spain itinerary needed

My wife and I are heading to Spain for our 20th anniversary in April and will be there for 9 nights (I know too short, but trying to make it to Japan this year also with the kids, so it’s what we could swing).

A little background. I lived in Madrid for 1 year about 23 years ago while I was a student. I love it there and feel like it’s my second home. My wife and I still have not been together.
While I lived in Spain I traveled pretty extensively throughout the various regions and repeated a number of places, both with friends and school tours, etc.
In Andalucía I have been to Granada a few times, Sevilla a couple of times, Cordoba and a bunch of smaller towns in the area. I still have not seen any of the white towns or Cadiz (where my host mother was from).
In the Madrid area I did a lot of day trips, Toledo ( a few times), Avila, Segovia, El Escorial, Cuenca, Aranjuez, etc.
My wife wants to really have a good feel for Madrid, to see the places I really loved, where I lived, etc. She also really wants to go to Andalucía to see Sevilla, the white towns, etc.
We want to focus on those two areas this trip. We hope to come back next year with our two boys to see some of northern Spain and possibly some other nearby countries (and possibly Granada).

So here is where I would love to hear some of your thoughts. The question is whether to spend one more day in Andalucía, which would specifically be to see the Alhambra in Granada, or to spend one additional day in the Madrid area to have more time to take an additional day trip to Cuenca, or Segovia.
I am a little biased, because I have been to the Alhambra a few times, and though I know it’s beautiful, it is out of the way a bit and we are limited on time. Sevilla’s Alcazar does give some of the feel of the Alhambra, though I know it’s not nearly as grand. I know she does want a more local experience, so I thought hitting up a town like Cuenca would be nice too.

I could go on and on. Let me know your thoughts on the following options. Thanks!

Option 1:
Madrid:
2.5 days in the city
1 day Toledo
1 day Segovia, Cuenca

Andalucia:
2 days Sevilla
1 day trip to white towns on the coast and Cadiz

1 day traveling between sites
NOTE: would try to go to Granada next year with the kids
———————————-
Option 2:
Madrid:
2.5 days in the city
1 day Toledo

Andalucia:
2 days Sevilla
1 day trip to White Towns and Cadiz
1 day Granada

1 day traveling between sites
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Old Feb 10th, 2024, 01:24 PM
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Under the circumstances, save Alhambra for another time. Seems like you are trying to cram too much into a short time.
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Old Feb 10th, 2024, 01:32 PM
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Welcome to Fodors. Is this part of a longer trip to other countries or is it just a short trip to Spain?

For the various '1 days' -- do you mean two nights in each or just one night. If one night you wouldn't have a full day in any of them.

I definitely agree the Alhambra doesn't fit in such a short visit.

Maybe lay out your itinerary to help us get a clearer picture (using 'nights' instead of 'days' so it is clearer how much time you actually have).
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Old Feb 10th, 2024, 01:42 PM
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Clarification

The days I listed are full days in each place, not nights.
This is a quick trip in and out of Spain, with the hope that we’ll return next year with our two boys.
I know I threw together Cadiz and white towns, plural, on the same day. I meant to say we’d visit one of these options on that day, we won’t cram them all in.
Our goal is to not cram things in, but we do like to be on the go a fair amount to make the most of our time. Likely most of the time we’ll be eating with a few sites here and there.
For option 1 we stay in two hotels. Madrid and Seville. Option 2 we would stay in Madrid, Seville and Granda (it’s too far for a day trip from Seville).

Last edited by tabibito360; Feb 10th, 2024 at 01:45 PM.
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Old Feb 10th, 2024, 02:11 PM
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Well, if it were my trip, and it's not, I would choose Granada and the magnificent Alhambra over Cadiz and the white towns. The Alhambra is one of the most beautiful and interesting sites I have visited. But you should obviously do what you and your wife want to do. How sure are you that you will visit Spain next year? If you return next year, I recommend including Cordoba along with Granada.
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Old Feb 10th, 2024, 02:31 PM
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Unfortunately your new post still confuses me. Please lay out your actual itinerary --

Day 1 arrive Madrid, Stay how many nights
Day 4 travel to . . . . or whatever
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Old Feb 10th, 2024, 02:52 PM
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It’s alot of moving around to celebrate an anniversary. I would personally pick something more leisurely. Hope your flight over isn’t from west coast cuz recovering from that takes a day or two. Also where do you fly back from? Madrid or Sevilla? I’d just do Madrid and Sevilla. I loved the Alcazar in Sevilla and was less crowded than the Alhambra. Also loved the food in Sevilla. Good luck!
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Old Feb 10th, 2024, 03:27 PM
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Originally Posted by tabibito360
My wife and I are heading to Spain for our 20th anniversary in April and will be there for 9 nights (I know too short, but trying to make it to Japan this year also with the kids, so it’s what we could swing).

A little background. I lived in Madrid for 1 year about 23 years ago while I was a student. I love it there and feel like it’s my second home. My wife and I still have not been together.
While I lived in Spain I traveled pretty extensively throughout the various regions and repeated a number of places, both with friends and school tours, etc.
In Andalucía I have been to Granada a few times, Sevilla a couple of times, Cordoba and a bunch of smaller towns in the area. I still have not seen any of the white towns or Cadiz (where my host mother was from).
In the Madrid area I did a lot of day trips, Toledo ( a few times), Avila, Segovia, El Escorial, Cuenca, Aranjuez, etc.
My wife wants to really have a good feel for Madrid, to see the places I really loved, where I lived, etc. She also really wants to go to Andalucía to see Sevilla, the white towns, etc.
We want to focus on those two areas this trip. We hope to come back next year with our two boys to see some of northern Spain and possibly some other nearby countries (and possibly Granada).

So here is where I would love to hear some of your thoughts. The question is whether to spend one more day in Andalucía, which would specifically be to see the Alhambra in Granada, or to spend one additional day in the Madrid area to have more time to take an additional day trip to Cuenca, or Segovia.
I am a little biased, because I have been to the Alhambra a few times, and though I know it’s beautiful, it is out of the way a bit and we are limited on time. Sevilla’s Alcazar does give some of the feel of the Alhambra, though I know it’s not nearly as grand. I know she does want a more local experience, so I thought hitting up a town like Cuenca would be nice too.

I could go on and on. Let me know your thoughts on the following options. Thanks!

Option 1:
Madrid:
2.5 days in the city
1 day Toledo
1 day Segovia, Cuenca

Andalucia:
2 days Sevilla
1 day trip to white towns on the coast and Cadiz

1 day traveling between sites
NOTE: would try to go to Granada next year with the kids
———————————-
Option 2:
Madrid:
2.5 days in the city
1 day Toledo

Andalucia:
2 days Sevilla
1 day trip to White Towns and Cadiz
1 day Granada

1 day traveling between sites
It as to be Segovia OR Cuenca. because they are in opposite directions from Madrid.
https://www.google.com/search?client...enca+distancia


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Old Feb 10th, 2024, 04:16 PM
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Thanks everyone

Sorry for the confusion on the itinerary. So here is what we’re thinking. Where I list more than one place in a day, that’s only because we’re still deciding between them.

17th- arrive 7:30am Madrid - recover from flight and light touring around city
18th- full day Madrid
19th- day trip Toledo
20th- another day in Madrid
21st - either another day in Madrid or Segovia or Cuenca (undecided which)
22nd- leave early via AVE to Sevilla- hang around Barrio Santa Cruz - see Plaza de España
23rd- full day Seville (Alcazar, Cathedral, etc)
24th- rent car- day trip to either a white town or Cadiz (undecided which) (this is important for me as it’s the only place I haven’t been on the list and my wife also really wants to see this area)
25th- morning in Seville and AVE back to Madrid
26th- leave in morning

This is what I’m thinking after reading some responses. I love the Alhambra and Granada, I think it’s just a little too far out of the way for such a short time. Besides, would be fun to go with the whole family next trip.

Thanks so much for all your feedback!
I’m pretty set for Madrid as I lived there and still have friends who are there for direction. I am way less familiar with Seville (other than main sites) and still researching really cool white towns in the area. If anyone has suggestions of towns, restaurants, sites etc. It would be great to hear them.
Thanks everyone

Last edited by tabibito360; Feb 10th, 2024 at 04:20 PM.
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Old Feb 10th, 2024, 08:21 PM
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Your new itinerary sounds like a good plan. It's a bit busy for my taste but I think it should work well for you. Enjoy!
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Old Feb 11th, 2024, 12:29 AM
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I'd drop Cadiz and the white towns and add Cordoba, far easier to do (by train) and Cordoba is a fantastic visit.
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Old Feb 11th, 2024, 01:25 AM
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Just throwing this out to think about. Consider taking the train to Seville after arriving in Madrid on day 1. Do Seville first and pot all your Madrid days at the end - which would eliminate one extra hotel change.

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Old Feb 11th, 2024, 09:22 AM
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Originally Posted by bilboburgler
I'd drop Cadiz and the white towns and add Cordoba, far easier to do (by train) and Cordoba is a fantastic visit.
Thanks for this. Cordoba is great, and it’s still on the list of places to consider.
We will have a car, so either should be ok to get to. My wife suggested the towns, and some Spanish friends really like Cadiz and suggested it to us. We haven’t decided on the exact plan for this day and we may just see how things go.

Appreciate the suggestion!
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Old Feb 11th, 2024, 09:25 AM
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Originally Posted by janisj
Just throwing this out to think about. Consider taking the train to Seville after arriving in Madrid on day 1. Do Seville first and pot all your Madrid days at the end - which would eliminate one extra hotel change.
This is a great idea. The hotel we have in Madrid came as a deal with the flight. I’ll see if we can shift dates around. If not, it’s still ok. The last night in Madrid we were thinking of a hotel next to Barajas airport as our flight is at 6am the next day.

Thanks!
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Old Feb 11th, 2024, 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by tabibito360
We will have a car.
why?
you will find having a car in a medievel shaped city a complete PIA.
I recommend you have a train or a bus which actually will get you where you want to go.
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Old Feb 11th, 2024, 12:46 PM
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We’ve travelled through all of the areas you mention, several times, very tough decision!

Loved Osuna and Ronda also Grazalema( right in the mountains, spectacular area).Zahara de la Sierra was attractive too.Arcos de la Frontera too though it was pouring with rain on our night there so didn’t get as good an impression of it.

If you decide on Cordoba, which is wonderful, Carmona is well worth a look too.Stayed in the Parador there and also in Paradors in Osuna and Ronda.

Cuenca is fantastic, what a sight/site given its location too. Well worth seeing.
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Old Feb 11th, 2024, 03:12 PM
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I have only one, admittedly biased comment. If you only intend to see Toledo as a day trip then just skip it and add the day somewhere else. IMO Toledo is at its best once the day trippers have left.
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Old Feb 12th, 2024, 06:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Scotlandmac
We’ve travelled through all of the areas you mention, several times, very tough decision!

Loved Osuna and Ronda also Grazalema( right in the mountains, spectacular area).Zahara de la Sierra was attractive too.Arcos de la Frontera too though it was pouring with rain on our night there so didn’t get as good an impression of it.

If you decide on Cordoba, which is wonderful, Carmona is well worth a look too.Stayed in the Parador there and also in Paradors in Osuna and Ronda.

Cuenca is fantastic, what a sight/site given its location too. Well worth seeing.
Thanks a lot for all the great suggestions! I’ll definitely look into them.
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Old Feb 12th, 2024, 10:16 AM
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Originally Posted by basingstoke2
I have only one, admittedly biased comment. If you only intend to see Toledo as a day trip then just skip it and add the day somewhere else. IMO Toledo is at its best once the day trippers have left.
For me, the best of Toledo is the wealth of heritage found in the former capital of Spain..from museums to unparalleled Cathedral etc..
Yes, it is crowded but so are most small ,historic towns.
I visited twice in the past, will again this April. Never stayed the night..the last train for Madrid leaves at 9:30 PM.
Just don’t go on weekends .

Last edited by danon; Feb 12th, 2024 at 10:19 AM.
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Old Feb 12th, 2024, 10:57 AM
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Originally Posted by danon
For me, the best of Toledo is the wealth of heritage found in the former capital of Spain..from museums to unparalleled Cathedral etc..
Yes, it is crowded but so are most small ,historic towns.
I visited twice in the past, will again this April. Never stayed the night..the last train for Madrid leaves at 9:30 PM.
Just don’t go on weekends .
great feedback. I would love to stay longer in all of these places, but limited on time this trip. I would rather go and see it with a few crowds vs skipping all together.
We were thinking about going on a Friday, would you consider that weekend? Or do you think we should move to Thursday? 9:30 sounds like a good return time. Thanks for that.
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