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11 day Andalucia trip from USA (San Diego, CA)

Hi all,
We are planning to travel to Andalucia from San Diego, CA for 10 days in November mostly 2nd or 3rd week of November. We are a family of 4 ( 2 kids aged 6 and 2) and will be joined by parents (aged 70 and 64) from Asia too.
This is what we were planning tentatively:
1. Granada:
Fly into Granada and
stay at Granada - 3 days (3 nights)
2. Ronda ( Granada ---> Ronda by train around 2.5 hours)
Stay at Ronda for 2 days (1 night).
3. Seville (Ronda ---> Seville : 2.5 hours bus or 4 hours train?)
Stay at Seville 6 days - 7 nights?
Day trip: to Cordoba : 1 day (Seville to Cordoba: 45 mins by train)
Day trip to Jerez: 1 day (Seville to Jerez : 1.5 hours by train)
4 days at Seville
Fly out of Seville.

Does the above itinerary sound reasonable? Would it be too rushed? If yes, what should we consider skipping?
Any suggestions/ recommendations welcome.

Posted by
984 posts
  1. Not my forte. As far as I am aware you can only fly direct to Malaga in Andalucia from New York. If coming from San Diego, it will be three flights to anywhere else.

  2. As I said flights, esp. from the U.S. are not my knowledge.

  3. Not rushed compared to many, but have you made allowance for arrival and departure days or how jet lagged or exhausted after your flights one, two or all of you will be?

  4. You do not say how you wish to travel around.
    Seville certainly gives a day trip to Cordoba, as less than one hour each way by train.
    Seville to Ronda is about two and a half hours each way by bus, a half hour less by car.
    Staying in either Seville or Granada and accessing one or the other as a day trip would not be wise, imo. It means three hour each way journeys, whatever your transport.

Posted by
984 posts

You have amended whilst I am responding.................

Posted by
19 posts

Thanks for your responses Neil. I updated the post thinking no one had yet responded without considering that someone could be composing a response. I apologize for that.
We were continuing our research and updated the post to include the latest itinerary plan that we came up with.

Posted by
4521 posts

Seems very reasonable to me. Especially as traveling with kids can slow things down. Don't forget you need to buy your Alhambra tickets ahead of time. You get to choose the entry time for the Nasrid Palace portion of the site, so choose wisely depending on your own family's habits (don't choose a morning time if mornings are not your thing). You might want to do a night visit too, as people have reported enjoying the Alhambra at night (in addition to the full daytime visit). With three nights, you could do it your last night there.

Posted by
11798 posts

I think it's good. I'd probably add a day to Granada and take a day from Seville. 3 nights (2 full days) is a minimum for Granada. Since one of those days will be your "jet lag" day. I'd add one here.

Seville has a great downtown area, the Alcazar, Cathedral and surrounding quarter are great. Outside of Easter Week and April Fair, however, 2 full days (3 nights) is probably enough to see everything you want to see in Seville. If you take away one day from Seville, you will still have plenty of time.

Remember your one night in Ronda leaves you the afternoon the day before (depending on when you leave Granada) to get to lodging, check in, unpack, get settled, and hopefully see the area. The next day will be a travel day also so, rather than a full day in Ronda, you have to plan for packing, checking out, getting to transportation, getting to Seville, getting to your lodging, checking in, unpacking, etc. Ronda is small so I think you will have time to see the town but don't think of it as two full days.

Posted by
1512 posts

In both Granada and Sevilla you should arrange to join a walking tour or two or three in order to get the most out of the visit.
I disagree slightly with Brad, thinking you should prioritize Sevilla over Granada -- to me the Alcazar in Sevilla is more interesting than the Alhambra in Granada, if you have the right guides (I'm a kook, I know). Maybe better to say that the Alhambra is a little overhyped. If you dig a little deeper into Granada there are many rewards, but for most visitors who follow the well-trodden route through the Alhambra and the market, you don't get much more than what you find in books and websites.

I also want to put in a vote for the third big thing beside the cathedral and the alcazar in Sevilla: the archivo de los indios.
If you know some Spanish, and some of your local San Diego history, then a visit to the archives can be fantastic. Get a non-Anglo perspective on the changing fortunes of the New World!

Posted by
14210 posts

I'm confused about the number of nights you will be in Spain. You say you're planning 10 days - is that 10 on the ground in Spain or does that include your travel days. You also list 11 nights. Please clarify this.

Have you found flights that match your dates and destinations? I know that Seville and Granada have much less traffic than Madrid and Barcelona, say. If you are going to connect in Spain, that will also eat into your true vacation time. Figure at least 2 hours from arrival time to hotel, and at least 3 hours from your hotel to the airport for your return flight. Now, how much time do you have?

As Brad hints at, when you figure travel time, allow for time to pack, check out, get to the train station, then get from the station to your hotel, check in and unpack.

Also think about how you are going handle the jetlag, including your parent and your kids. Can you switch your itinerary, start in Seville and end in Granada. Seville would be a better place to kind of relax and get into the new rhythm . . . interesting to just walk around, enjoy sitting at a sidewalk cafe (and it's level ground - Granada is hilly), ease into it. Starting in Granada means pressure from the start to see the Alhambra at the pre-chosen time, maybe while you're still zonked and not able to appreciate it. I disagree with the previous poster, there's nothing like the Alhambra - which is why two million people visit every year. The evening visit is well worth it. You could alternate with your parents on two evenings, so you wouldn't have to take the kids.

If you have enough nights, I'd spend 2 in Ronda so you'd have an entire day there without rushing and schlepping luggage.

Posted by
19 posts

Thanks all for your responses.
@Douglas: We will definitely try to make the night visit to Alhambra and make sure we book our tickets online in advance.
@avirosemail: Thanks for the little tit bit about "the archivo de los indios." We especially my husband loves museums and history .. will try to check it out sans kids :)
@Brad: Thanks. Will keep in mind the time to get from one destination to the next when we make detail plans and book hotels. Ha that will be my next post once our airline reservations are done.
@Chani: Sorry about the confusion. Initially we had thought of a 10 day trip. Then as we researched more we felt 11 days would be better and we updated the post. :)
We are planning to be in Andalusia for 11 days ...the travel into and out of spain will be additional so not sure if it will be 10 or 11 nights at this point. Have not made bookings as yet. Hopefully should have it by end of this week.
Will look into travelling into Seville and out of Granada.
Once again Thanks all for your detailed useful responses

Posted by
19 posts

Follow up question:
When looking for air tickets what I notice is that we need to fly into Madrid or Barcelona and then into Seville or Granada.
In most cases I notice that we arrive in Madrid or Barcelona in the am and the flight out in the pm.
1, Would it be better to take a train from these places instead of having such a long layover?
2. Do the airlines usually provide hotel accommodation for layovers longer than 6 hours? ( I know I will have to confirm with the airline but was wondering if anyone here had any experience with this sort of thing)
3. Or should I consider booking the local flight separately ? Would that affect cost and/or timing? How much time on average does immigration and customs usually take at these places?

Posted by
1079 posts

Re your last post. Our daughter flew into granada via madrid using iberia this summer. She arrived in the morning, cleared customs and managed to get out on a late morning flight. I recommend you book all your flights through the carrier and NOT try and do your own local flights. Since you would have to leave the airport, goto the train station and then get on the train I would not recommend doing so (i am focused on the age of kids and grandparents plus associated luggage). If you have to burn the time at the airport then do so for the sake of convenience in not having to haul luggage, especially on the first day of arrival after a very long day of travel.

November is a nice time to travel, a couple of things to keep in mind. It will definitely be sweater weather plus your daylight hours will be diminished. With the platoon of folks and spread in ages i am thinking your travel efficiencies will be decreased. Hence the following recommendation:

Fly direct to Seville and rent and apartment for the length of your stay. Advantages are typically less expensive, more rooms to spread out in, KITCHEN and sometimes a washer/dryer. Be sure and find one with a lift/elevator. Base out of Seville and do day trips to Cordoba (ez train trip) and Ronda (suggest bus). Both modes of transport are convenient, inexpensive and quite comfortable. Do not buy first class tickets. The advantage is NOT having to pack/relocate/unpack and deal with the associated stress. Yes, you get less time at each location, but you maintain control of convenience. Again I am focused on the spread of ages in your platoon.

Suggest you travel to Granada for minimum of three nights, again staying in an apartment. During November you should have a good selection of apartments. Try Airbnb for starters to get familiar with the opportunity and then keep searching for other web sites offering apartment rentals. PM me should you desire more info. In Granada recommend you take advantage of the Arabic baths, there are a number of choices, which will serve to relax the muscles, bones and emotions after all the travel.

Posted by
11203 posts

"should I consider booking the local flight separately ?"

I wouldn't. If there's any problem and you miss your connection, you're on the hook, both logistically (no help from the airlines) and financially (you'll be paying last minute prices for any flights).

I did this for a flight to Sicily, but only because I was using miles. And to protect myself, I booked two flights from Rome to Palermo: one 3 hours after my scheduled arrival, and one 10 hours after. In the end it worked out with the first flight, with time to spare. But there could have been trouble, as I learned yesterday. I just returned from a trip to Switzerland yesterday; my flight from Geneva to Newark was canceled for a mechanical failure, and I ended up being rebooked on a route that got me home 9 hours later than expected. And I was lucky; most people, such as those headed to San Diego from Geneva, had to be rebooked on flights the next day. Since you are coming from San Diego, you will have to fly in several segments no matter what. I'd want to be all on one ticket, so the airline is responsible in case of any problems.

BTW, for those people rebooked for the next day, the airline paid for a hotel, since the canceled flight was due to a mechanical failure. I don't believe airlines routinely pay for hotels otherwise.

Posted by
19 posts

Thanks to all your inputs. I have finally booked our tickets.
We arrive at Seville on Nov 19th morning and leave from Granada on Dec 01 morning. My parents arrive Nov 19th night. and fly out on Nov 30th evening from Granada.
@Harold: Did not book any individual local flights. Thanks again for your input.
@Marbleskies: Thanks for all the info u provided. I have started my hunt on airbnb for accommodation. Like you said I am looking for an apt/house at Seville and Granada. A hotel probably at Ronda. I will PM you since I do have more questions regarding the accommodation.

Posted by
14210 posts

Hi Reshmin, I am so glad it worked out. Sounds like a great trip. And I'm glad you are starting in Seville rather than Granada.

Please come back with any other questions . . . and don't forget to book your Alhambra tickets in advance. BTW if you book a morning entry time of 11.30 or later, you can spend an entire day - enter as early as you like, take the Nasrid Palaces tour at the booked time, then stay until closing, if you like. The other ticketed sites inside the Alhambra can be visited before or after the Nasrid Palaces. There is no time limit on how long you stay in the Nasrid Palaces (day or evening tour, but you must enter at the appointed time. The line starts forming about 1/2 hour before the entry time.

Posted by
19 posts

Follow up questions:
I have all my apartments, hotels, Alhambra tickets etc. booked. I also now have my train tickets booked from Ronda to Granada.
Next I need to plan for my day trip to Cordoba and Jerez.
1. Should I go ahead and book those tickets too online on Renfe or are there some tours that take us and get us back from Seville? What would be a better option?
2. And what to do at Cordoba? How to plan the day? Do I need to book any tickets in advance for Mesquita?
3. This might seem weird but thought I would ask anyway. If needed would it be possible to book a hotel for a couple of hours in the afternoon if the kids or parents felt like taking a nap in between. We used to do that when we traveled in India many years ago.
We were thinking of doing this on Nov 25th since from what I found out the equestrian show is only on Tues and Thursdays. We arrive on Wed so did not want to do this on the very next day.
1. Should I book tickets in advance?
2. Would train be the best mode of commute to Jerez? Again what would you recommend for our party - a guided tour or train journey booked on our own?
3. Do we need to book show tickets in advance?
4. Any other suggestions/advice?

Posted by
19 posts

One more question regarding travelling to Cordoba from Seville:
Since we arrive on Nov 19, we are planning to do Jerez on Nov 25 and leave for Ronda on Nov 26 morning: I was thinking of doing Cordoba on Nov 21st (Friday) or Nov 22nd (Saturday). Does the choice of day matter it more crowded on Saturdays?

Posted by
4 posts

My two cents. I would spend at lest 2-3 nights in Ronda. You can stay at the Ronda Mountain Resort with the entire family. Great large house and close to Ronda. The Parador de Ronda is also beautiful. To me, 7 nights is Seville is a bit long.