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Winter trip to Spain with teens- first time there

Winter trip to Spain with teens- first time there

Old Feb 7th, 2021, 12:33 AM
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Winter trip to Spain with teens- first time there

Hi all. We'd like to take a family trip to Spain next Winter break (around 12/22/2021- 1/4/2022) and no one in my family has been there before. We know it won't be warm (we hate very hot weather anyway so Spain in late June when school ends sounds terrible to us), but we're still looking to be outside and try for the best weather possible during this time of year. It'll be my husband, me, and 2 teenage girls (age 16 and almost 14 at that time). We really like just strolling around new cities, getting a feel for the culture, trying new foods (love food tours, cooking classes, etc.), and some of us really like shopping....boutiques, food markets, really anything. We like hiking and eating outside when possible. My kids don't mind museums, but not for long excusions. Right now I'm thinking possibly spending 4 days or so in Barcelona, then traveling south to Andalusia (haven't worked out how long in which towns yet since I'm just getting started), then either flying out of Malaga if it's a possibility, or heading up to Madrid, spending the last 2 days or so there, and flying from there. I'm okay just omitting Madrid from this trip since my kids would rather go to Barcelona, but we'll definitely have more flight options from Madrid and it would be nice to see a little of it. Does this sound like a good plan? I don't need specifics yet- I'm just trying to plan flights while it's early and get a sense of what would be best for us while trying to maximize warmish weather (60 is warm to us) without traveling around to a new city every day. Any guidance would be greatly appreciated!

Last edited by frankieblu; Feb 7th, 2021 at 12:36 AM.
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Old Feb 7th, 2021, 02:27 AM
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My daughter (20) and I spent some time in Andalusia in December 2019. The weather was good (t-shirts and jeans in Malaga, which surprised us) and, like you, don't especially enjoy very hot weather. We had a wonderful time. However, no one knows yet whether it will be safe and sensible to be travelling this year. Until we know whether the vaccines will slow the transmission of the virus, you should wait until the Spanish have all had an opportunity to be vaccinated. But if it turns out to all be good, then go, it is a wonderful part of the world. I don't want to be a downer about this but it's such a strange time.

If you have less than two weeks, I would choose between the north (centred around your desire to visit Barcelona) - or the south (in Andalusia). I don't think you have time for both, although of course not impossible. You could perhaps just stay in Barcelona and Seville (and perhaps Malaga). But I think you'd have a better time being more focused on one area. For myself, I'd choose Andalusia, especially at that time of year.

If you decide on Andalusia, I recommend flying into Malaga as the Christmas decorations were fairly spectacular (and you only have a couple of days before Christmas). If it were possible, I suggest bringing your holiday forward a little. Then end your holiday in Seville for new year. Transport is pretty good so I wouldn't bother with a car, with the time you have available, unless you really want to focus on the small villages.

If you would like to know more about what we did or offer suggestions on where to visit, happy to do so. More usefully, I'd suss out what appeals to you all the most.
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Old Feb 7th, 2021, 03:14 AM
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Hopefully somebody will be along with the weather stats but 60F is I guess 15C. I'd think that would be on the high side for Barcelona late December. Possible but it could also be cooler. Madrid has a higher elevation and will be cooler than Barcelona. I guess so would Granada.

I'm not sure what exactly you mean by hiking but I wouldn't be planning a hiking trip that time of year. Partly you'll never know what weather you'll face. More importantly it's the time of year you could start in full sun and end up in a downpour.

For wandering around the cities it should be fine. Obviously there will be holiday events. Or at least we hope the world has returned a little closer to normalcy.
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Old Feb 7th, 2021, 03:40 AM
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Weather stats - can be found by looking at historical weather at wunderground.com. We weren't checking the weather regularly but I would guess the maximum daily temperatures were between 15-20C but Nick is perfectly right in saying Barcelona, Madrid and Granada would be colder.

The best place we visited which would offer hiking was Ronda. Disappointingly, we had much too short a stay there. Wished we'd stayed longer. I would just plan hiking on the spur of the moment as the weather could be unreliable. There is apparently good hiking south east of Granada but not sure about the time of year.
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Old Feb 7th, 2021, 11:02 AM
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Spain is probably the most heterogeneous country in Europe, in terms of climate, food, traditions, politics...you name it. December is usually cold everywhere, and June is mild in many areas. Just this January a severe winter storm has hit the Central area and it´s been havoc in Madrid. The north is usually quite rainy (Bilbao -where I live- or San Sebastian have an average of over 180 rainy days a year and temperatures are rarely over the 80s) and the south is normally quite sunny. Christmas holidays are longer than in other countries, as we celebrate the Three Magic Kings to get our presents on Jan 6th, so expect very lively cities during those days. The safer option would be the Andalusian area, with Seville, Malaga, Córdoba and Granada as the most iconic places.
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Old Feb 7th, 2021, 11:52 AM
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I can't help much as my trip to Spain this past March was cut short thanks to COVID. I too hate hot weather and so we chose March, which was beautiful. When I read that you enjoy food markets, I immediately thought of La Boqueria in Barcelona, which is fabulous. Our trip was short, but sweet.

Good luck with your planning.







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Old Feb 7th, 2021, 12:25 PM
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La Boqueria is fantastic! A visual and taste feast - absolutely loved visiting there. Great photos, Mel.
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Old Feb 7th, 2021, 04:39 PM
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Thanks dreamon. So much food, so little time
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Old Feb 7th, 2021, 05:29 PM
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Originally Posted by frankieblu View Post
Hi all. We'd like to take a family trip to Spain next Winter break (around 12/22/2021- 1/4/2022) and no one in my family has been there before. We know it won't be warm (we hate very hot weather anyway so Spain in late June when school ends sounds terrible to us), but we're still looking to be outside and try for the best weather possible during this time of year. It'll be my husband, me, and 2 teenage girls (age 16 and almost 14 at that time). We really like just strolling around new cities, getting a feel for the culture, trying new foods (love food tours, cooking classes, etc.), and some of us really like shopping....boutiques, food markets, really anything. We like hiking and eating outside when possible. My kids don't mind museums, but not for long excusions. Right now I'm thinking possibly spending 4 days or so in Barcelona, then traveling south to Andalusia (haven't worked out how long in which towns yet since I'm just getting started), then either flying out of Malaga if it's a possibility, or heading up to Madrid, spending the last 2 days or so there, and flying from there. I'm okay just omitting Madrid from this trip since my kids would rather go to Barcelona, but we'll definitely have more flight options from Madrid and it would be nice to see a little of it. Does this sound like a good plan? I don't need specifics yet- I'm just trying to plan flights while it's early and get a sense of what would be best for us while trying to maximize warmish weather (60 is warm to us) without traveling around to a new city every day. Any guidance would be greatly appreciated!
If I were you, I'd think about Seville and Cordoba for the Andalusian end of your trip. If your transatlantic flight will be to Madrid, you could take a train immediately upon arrival in Madrid and go to Cordoba or Sevilla. The average high in Sevilla that time of year is in the low 60s. Then you could fly from Sevilla to Barcelona.

Wherever you go, you'll want to check out what's open and what's closed over the holidays. Of course, with all the covid stuff still in flux, make sure anything you book is refundable, or, in the case of flights, that you can get a flight credit if you have to cancel and travel later.
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Old Feb 7th, 2021, 09:43 PM
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OP again- ty!

This board is so helpful and knowledgable- thank you to all who have replied so far. And you're right- I'm booking Spain with the hopes that it will be safe to travel, but with a plan to put off the travel til summer (probably a different location in Europe) if need be. This is actually a trip chosen and centered partly around my 13 yr old daughter. It's her bat mitzvah next month and since she won't have any sort of party or celebration, we're going on a trip that she chooses instead. She and my older daughter are set on Barcelona (they love lively cities and shopping and have seen Barcelona on tv), so we'll definitely either begin or end there. I love the idea of Seville and one or two other cities. I chose Malaga mainly b/c it looks beautiful and relaxing and SUNNY! (we're leaving Seattle winter). I guess flying into Madrid would work- maybe we'd stay for a day or two before taking the train down to Seville. What do people think is the best way of getting from Andalusia to Barcelona (or vice versa)? I know the train is supposed to be nice, but long....or we could fly if that's easier. I know geographically it makes more sense to combine Madrid with southern Spain....it's just not our ideal combination as I think my family would prefer Barcelona.

Thanks again for any advice....this is giving me a better idea of how to structure the trip.

Last edited by frankieblu; Feb 7th, 2021 at 09:59 PM.
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Old Feb 7th, 2021, 09:46 PM
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Mel- Love the pictures and I think we'll love Barcelona. I'm sorry that your trip was cut short- that must've been so upsetting after all the anticipation and planning to have COVID mess everything up. Hope you have the chance to go back!

Last edited by frankieblu; Feb 7th, 2021 at 09:56 PM.
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Old Feb 7th, 2021, 09:54 PM
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Dreamon- This sounds great, although my family is pretty set on including Barcelona as a major part of the trip. I would love to hear more about what you did in Malaga- I don't yet know much about that area and am just starting all my reading. It initially showed up in my search b/c the weather seems to be the best there. My family doesn't need all that much to do to enjoy ourselves....really a day of walking around a new city and good food is all we need to make a great day. I guess my biggest obstacle is getting to or from Barcelona from the South (I'm not really considering northern cities b/c of the colder, more unpredictable weather at that time of year).

And I'd love to leave earlier in December, but with teens, it's very hard for them to miss school at this age. Unfortunately we're limited by the school calendar!
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Old Feb 7th, 2021, 10:46 PM
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Madrid and Barcelona is easy. Madrid and Seville is easy. In both cases you get on the train and a few hours later you arrive.

Seville to Barcelona if you take the train heads to Madrid. If you fly you need to add in the time to get to/from the airport and the time to deal with security. Flying would be a bit quicker but not a lot.

To avoid backtracking the thing would be to fly into Barcelona. Train to Madrid. Train to Seville. Fly home. Don't know if you have direct flights from Seville so you would need to connect.

I know people rave about the Boqueria but it's really just a tourist market. There are other more local oriented markets in Barcelona. For example Mercat de Santa Caterina. Maybe less picturesque but at least you don't spend the day getting elbowed in the ribs by other tourists.

Seville in my experience is the most religious and I'd expect the most closures.

With just two days in Madrid I'm not sure what to suggest. maybe pick a favorite museum? The palace isn't that exciting IMHO. The market is also very touristy but if that's okay add that to your list.
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Old Feb 8th, 2021, 12:06 AM
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frankieblu, I completely understand about school holidays - been there, done that.

If you arrive on 22Dec and leave on 4Jan, that gives you 13nights total. Seville, Granada and Cordoba are the most commonly visited towns in Andalusia - and for good reason, they are each beautiful.

How about if you had something like: Barcelona (4nights) - Cordoba (2) - Granada (3) - Seville (4)? Or reverse. That's assuming you can fly in or out from Seville. You could potentially extend your stay in Seville and visit Cordoba as a day trip but it is nice to stay if you're happy to move hotels.

renfe is the main Spanish train provider so you can check timetables but I think the train from Barcelona to Cordoba is about 4.5hrs. The train would be much nicer than flying and I'm not sure you could fly any faster.
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Old Feb 8th, 2021, 12:16 AM
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Dreamon, that sounds pretty doable. I've been looking at flights, however, and it seems as though the best/easiest flights for us are surprisingly straight to Malaga (flying out out of Malaga is much harder), and then leaving on Jan 4th from Barcelona. This would maximize my time in Spain without wasting time in Madrid, if we're not really looking to spend time there anyway. If you (or anyone else) has an idea for how to structure our time assuming we're landing in Malaga, that would be great. My related question is that if we start in Malaga (but won't really arrive until Dec. 23rd with the time adjustment), will anything be open with Christmas Eve and Christmas falling at the beginning of the trip? I was hoping to be in a bigger city that had some restaurants open and things to see during the holidays. Even if these flights are convenient for me, is it better to start in one of the bigger cities b/c of Christmas? (we don't celebrate Christmas, but still enjoy the lights and festivities). I can start in Barcelona instead....there just aren't any good flights out of Andalucia for us (we'd have an 18 hr layover in Paris at nght).

Last edited by frankieblu; Feb 8th, 2021 at 12:51 AM.
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Old Feb 8th, 2021, 02:18 AM
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Malaga sounds great as an arrival point. I had a quick look at skyscanner and it's showing flights into Seville as well, if that's of interest (just check it's on one ticket in case a flight is delayed).

I suggest that you don't add an extra location so if you would like some time in Malaga then I'd take out one of the other towns, maybe Cordoba as it's possible to visit as a day trip from Seville (start early and return late but do check ticket prices as they vary quite a bit). Malaga was nice but I'd choose the other three towns in preference. There are regular buses from Malaga to Granada (and probably also from the airport although you'd need to check that) so you could travel on arrival into Malaga to Granada. The bus takes about 2hours and as you will no doubt stay up until bed time anyway, it makes good use of time. I don't know how much will be closed on 24 and 25Dec but I would err towards avoiding travel on those days, but to be honest I don't really know. Others may have a better idea of this.

The place that attracts visitors to Granada more than anything else is the fabulous Alhambra and Generalife, for which you need to book tickets well in advance. It would be worth checking whether it is closed on Christmas Day.

So, maybe: nights of 23/24/25 in Granada then Seville (3/4nights) - Cordoba (1/2nights) - Barcelona (4nights)? You could rent an apartment in Granada, which would allow you to eat 'at home' if preferred or needed (and especially if a bit jetlagged). Or alternatively: nights of 23/24/25 in Malaga then Granada (2nights) - Seville (3nights) - Barcelona (4nights). I'd opt for the first alternative. Anyway you can fiddle the combinations.
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Old Feb 8th, 2021, 06:39 AM
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Originally Posted by dreamon View Post
So, maybe: nights of 23/24/25 in Granada then Seville (3/4nights) - Cordoba (1/2nights) - Barcelona (4nights)? You could rent an apartment in Granada, which would allow you to eat 'at home' if preferred or needed (and especially if a bit jetlagged). Or alternatively: nights of 23/24/25 in Malaga then Granada (2nights) - Seville (3nights) - Barcelona (4nights). I'd opt for the first alternative. Anyway you can fiddle the combinations.
We were in Andalucia the first half of March 2020 and were lucky to get out just before the borders were closed. We stayed at apartments in Córdoba, Granada and Sevilla, two bedrooms with two bathrooms, and I’d be happy to give you the links if you want. All three were well located and we walked everywhere, also made breakfast and a couple of meals at home when we didn’t want to go out. Especially the last two days in Sevilla when things were getting dicey.
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Old Feb 8th, 2021, 09:25 PM
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Geetka, I'd love info on your apartments! It's always a challenge to find places with enough room for everyone to be comfortable that are in good areas. Thank you.
And for anyone else reading, I've officially booked our flights- will arrive in Malaga on 12/23 and leave from Barcelona on 1/4. Now I just need to figure out logistics. Luckily I have plenty of time.
Thanks all,
Frankie
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Old Feb 9th, 2021, 01:50 AM
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I'd fly to Madrid, see the old town and maybe one of the two world-class museums, then train to Barcelona and maybe fly back rather than train if you found it too boring.

Barcelona is cracking down on AirBnB so I would avoid, make sure the business is registered correctly.

Barcelona has a fair sized olf town famous for pickpockets (but be sensible and they will target the stupid and drunk), the Olympics quarter is grandeous and then there is the art and buildings. Local public transport is very good and efficient.

The trick to all this is to pack light, really light, talk to the family as if weight and and bulk counts. This makes train travel and flight travel easy. If you rent a flat make sure it has a clothes washer and wash them. Also cobbles can ruin your feet for high heels, so flats or boots are the standard.
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Old Feb 9th, 2021, 11:46 AM
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Spain

I liked Barcelona a lot. Grest city. I saw flamenco dancing in Madrid, plus there's outdoor cafes. I liked Toledo, theres that famous painter's house there, forget his name... I'm sure it'll be nice whatever you decide on...


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