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Your suggestions to make best use of time in Madrid and Barcelona.

Your suggestions to make best use of time in Madrid and Barcelona.

Jul 1st, 2014, 01:58 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2007
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Your suggestions to make best use of time in Madrid and Barcelona.

Will be in Madrid, Toledo, Cordoba, Seville and Barcelona in October. I feel we need a tentative itinerary especially for Madrid and Barcelona since both are so large. We enjoy the major museums and sights and also lots of free time for rambling about the city and relaxing. Your suggestions on how you planned your time there and what worked for you and any other things helpful to know would be greatly appreciated.
violetduck is offline  
Jul 1st, 2014, 02:13 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
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You have so much information in the trip reports of these same cities posted here in the SPAIN forums. Do a search and you will be able to take what you want from each one. They are a delight to read
lincasanova is offline  
Jul 1st, 2014, 02:25 PM
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I found the following free guide very helpful in planning sights and hotels in Madrid and Barcelona.

Nikki is online now  
Jul 1st, 2014, 04:03 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 21,380
Get a very good guidebook or two, figure out what YOU want to see (which might or might not be covered in trip reports), check their opening hours (internet is probably best, as they might have changed since the guidebook was printed), and plot it out on a calendar, starting with your highest priorities. Trip reports can be helpful in figuring out how long visiting a museum or church or whatever might take.

Good luck!
kja is offline  
Jul 1st, 2014, 05:54 PM
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Here's what we did in Barcelona:

Day 1
Sagrada Familia
Casa Calvet façade
Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia
Walked the lower portion of the Ramblas to the port
La Bouqueria
Frank Ghery’s “big fish”

Day 2
Tour of Palau de la Musica Catalana
Wandered around Bari Gotic
Antic Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau

Day 3
La Pedrera
Casa Batlló

Day 4
Barri Gotic walking tour
Palau Güell
Picasso Museum
Concert at the Palau de la Musica

Day 5 - Montjuic
Mies van der Rohe pavilion tour
Miro Foundation

Day 6
Parc Güell
Casa Gaudi

Day 7

Day 8
Pedralbas Monastery
Sant Pau Hospital

When we weren't sightseeing we wandered around, stopped to look at street vendors, ate lunch wherever we were, and did a leisurely trip.

What I would do differently:

- see La Pedrera and Casa Battlo on different days and be at each place first thing when they opened
- gone to Sagrada Familia a second time
- spent more money eating in restaurants for dinner
- stayed in Bari Gotic since we kept going back to that area
- gone to another concert
adrienne is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2014, 07:04 AM
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Not many replies but a wealth of information from each reply and I thank you.

lincasanova- I need to read many more trip reports and I have read lots of fairly current ones. We have some excellent writers and some should have a blog. I have never done a trip report because I would put people to sleep with my lack of imagination and disorganization. Also, we are vegetarians and not foodies so that would not be of interest to many readers.

Nikki- checked out Maribel's Madrid guide last night. Wow, great information!!!

adrienne and ipMark- just perfect information to get me started on day to day itineraries. However , first of all, I need to do more research to define many of the places. We certainly have a multitude of choices.

Again, thanks to all.
violetduck is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2014, 08:19 AM
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My TR and pics which may help (or not!)

RM67 is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2014, 08:39 AM
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<< Not many replies but a wealth of information from each reply and I thank you. >>

I think people get tired of seeing posts where there is no itinerary input, even a first draft at an itinerary, so aren't willing to spend time to respond when it seems the OP hasn't taken the time to do any research.

You have at least stated your interests and asked a more specific question rather than the "what should I do in..." type of question that seem to proliferate this board.
adrienne is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2014, 08:43 AM
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We find Madrid to be much more comfortable and less stressful than Barcelona, but both offer a wealth of opportunities to enjoy. We spend a few day in Barcelona last week, enjoying the city, dining and visiting the newly renovated Mercat del Born, which had been long abandoned and is now a cultural center (www.mercatdelborn.org) opened in time to celebrate the 300 years of history since the French invasion. Opening the market as a cultural center was quite an event for the city and well worth a stop.
Robert2533 is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2014, 09:01 AM
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Oops, kja, sorry I thought I thanked you. Now you can see why I don't do trip reports. Good point to check on times, closings etc. as I notice a lot of information is not current. What guidebooks do you like? I don't need criticism : ) but I always get a Rick Steve's book and I have a Fodors and Eye Witness this time also.

adrienne- I agree about posts that are totally vague, (like where can I go in Europe) hope mine did not sound too much that way. I do tons of research before trips. The more I read about Madrid and Barcelona the more I realized how important it is to be organized upon arrival. The last several years we have mostly traveled to smaller places and not been overwhelmed except last year ended trip in Rome. It was our second time there and it was still overwhelming, but wonderful. This is our first trip to Spain, and doubt we will ever get to return, so definitely want to make good use of our time. Thanks for sharing
Your thoughts.
violetduck is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2014, 09:27 AM
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So how long will you be in Madrid? I spent 3 days there in March 2014. I can tell you how I spent my time and what I did and saw, but if you are going to be there for only 2 days, or perhaps for 5 days, my timetable won't be relevant to you,

Please post back saying how many days you will be in Madrid so that I can be more specific.
julia_t is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2014, 09:51 AM
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It can be overwhelming to schedule a trip to new places. I'm in the middle of that same dilemma with my upcoming trip. If it makes you feel better about the number of responses, I posted a very detailed itinerary and received few responses although those responses did have enormous value to me.
adrienne is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2014, 10:02 AM
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julia_t - we are flying into Madrid and will be there 5 nights. Arrival day is usually not too productive and then we crash way too early so really 4 actual days. Next to Toledo, 3 nights, Seville, 5 nights with day trip to Cordoba and then Barcelona, 5 nights and flying home from there. I am interested in seeing your timetable. Also, have not thought of this before, but it would be good to know what everyone considered a definite see or do and what they would possibly have left off. Thanks!!!!

Robert- that is interesting, I would have assumed Barcelona to be more relaxing. I have read that of almost all the places in Europe Barcelona is our most likely place to be pickpocketed (is that a word?) I don't know that I truly believe that, but will be extra cautious. Before our first trip to Rome I read many negatives about same type behavior and we have never had one moment on both trips there that seemed any more dangerous than other large city. Think the Mercat is close to our hotel and look forward to going there. Any particulars why you felt Barcelona less enjoyable or just one of those unexplainable feelings we get in some places? Thanks for your reply.
violetduck is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2014, 11:17 AM
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It's just a feeling we get when ever we're there. Maybe it's from the crush of tourist, but It seems like is all about making money. That's why the Mercat del Born was so refreshing, it's free.

Barcelona does have pickpockets, and they can be a problem if you're not aware of what's going on, but with the crisis, aggressive thieves, lacking the finesse of a pickpocket, are becoming a problem, especially in the Born and Gothic quarters. It might be that Barcelona needs its own "Guardian Angles" (www.guardianangels.org).
Robert2533 is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2014, 03:48 PM
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No problem, violetduck! The guidebooks I most consistently find useful are The Rough Guide and Lonely Planet; I prefer the maps in the former. I also generally like the Michelin Green Guides, Moon (but I don't know if it covers Spain), and (of course) Fodor's. I sometimes get an Eyewitness guide book or National Geographic Travelers, particularly if I am looking for inspiration. Personally, I do NOT like Rick Steves's guidebooks, as I find their coverage exceedingly thin (meaning they skip WAY too many sites in which I have an interest), but at least you have some guidebooks, which it seems many people don't get at all!
kja is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2014, 04:20 PM
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On our first trip (5 days) in Barcelona, we started with one of those double-decker bus tours, which I tend to dislike in principle, but are awfully good at giving you a quick lay of the land. Ours had headsets with commentary in multiple languages. This really helped us to decide where we wanted to spend more time.

In the old quarter, we saw lots of young men sitting at the edges of restaurants, who would try to quietly shift their position until they were within grabbing range of the purses women had placed at their feet.

Not sure how warm it will be in October, but I recall sitting on the beach one day, drinking a cold bottle of cava, sitting underneath an umbrella, and remarking to my DH that it doesn't get much better than this. At just that moment, a tiny Vietnamese women came by offering 5 euro massages; okay, so it actually did get better. You'll love Barcelona - have a great time.
mcburja is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2014, 03:08 AM
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MADRID March 2014

I stayed at the Hotel Principe Pio just off the Plaza d’Espana. This was a great location with good bus links, and the metro close by at Plaza d’Espana and Opera. I arrived around 9pm and took a bus up the Gran Via – I was dining at La Barraca on Calle de la Reina. The Arroz Negro was fabulous! Taxi back to the hotel was 6 euros.

Next day I walked up through the Old Town (sort of following the Rick Steves tour in reverse) to the Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol.

I waited a short while for an English tour of the Monasterios de las Descalzas – well worth a visit – and then wandered across town eating a delicious snack lunch for 6 euros at Musee de Jamon.

I’d prebooked a ticket for the Prado but was early so I sat in the sun with a glass of wine at El Botanico on Ruiz de Alarcon overlooking the Botanical Gardens.

As someone who is overwhelmed by big museums and has a low-ish boredom threshold, I booked my ticket for the Prado, but did my research first because I knew I really wanted to see and spend time with the Velasquez and el Greco paintings. I noted which rooms had paintings by certain artists whose work I admire, and just went to those rooms. Obviously I saw a lot more, but by planning my visit I could be specific about what I saw. I was at the Prado for a little more than 2 hours which was fine for me. I took buses back to Plaza d’Espana, and walked up to the Temple of Debod which was close by and open until 6.45pm.

For dinner I took the metro to Latina and found my way to Calle de la Cava Baja and explored the numerous tapas bars along there and on Calle de la Cava Alta.

Next morning I walked through the Sabatini Gardens to the Palacio Real, getting in line about 15 minutes before it opened. I really enjoyed mu time spent here.

I love small museums, private collections, and there are 3 wonderful ones in Madrid. The Sorolla, the Lazaro Galdiano and the Cerralbo.

I visited the Sorolla on this morning, finding it absolutely charming and delightful, then walked the short distance to the Lazaro Galdiano, stopping for lunch along the way. I found a stunning el Greco in the Lazaro Galdiano which I spent a long time admiring, and I had him all to myself as this museum was virtually empty.

That evening I took a Tapas Walking tour with Andres Jarabo of Walks of Spain. Not cheap but he comes very highly recommended and is a very charming and nice man with a great knowledge of Madrid, food and wine. I met some interesting people on the tour and it was great fun.

On my last day I walked to the Museo Cerralbo for when it opened at 9.30am and
had the place to myself for most of the hour or so I was there. Not just a lovely building with the most amazing staircase and pretty garden, but a glimpse into the lifestyle of a wealthy family a hundred years ago, it is packed with fascinating antiques and artefacts.

I walked over to the Cathedral, then up to the Mercado de San Miguel for lots of snacks for lunch. I did some shopping in the food hall at el Corte Ingles, had a final glass of wine in a café on Plaza Oriente and it was time to collect my bags and make my way back to the airport.

I never had time to visit El Retiro Park (I wanted to see the peacock gardens) and obviously there are three more large museums I didn't make time for - the Bormio-Thyssen, the Reine Sofia, la Real Academia, but I felt in 3 days I got a good overview of Madrid and made the most of my time there.
julia_t is offline  
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