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10 days in Espana

Hi all,

I just booked a 10-day trip to Spain in mid-May, flying in and out of Barcelona. I want to hit a lot of the important spots, but I'm concerned I'm trying to do too much in that time frame. Here's a working itinerary:

Day 1- Arrive Barcelona at 9AM. explore.

Day 2- Barcelona

Day 3- Barcelona. 7pm evening flight to Granada. Sleep in Granada.

Day 4- Granada. See Alhambra. 5:30pm evening train to Seville.

Day 5- Seville

Day 6- Seville. 7:30pm evening train to Madrid.

Day 7- Madrid

Day 8- Madrid

Day 9- Madrid

Day 10- early (8am) train to Barcelona. Fly home at 1pm.

Thoughts on this? I originally didn't have Granada included, but Alhambra sounds so awesome. It basically leaves me with 2.5 days in Barcelona, 1 day in Granada, almost 2 days in Seville, 3 full days in Madrid. Is this too rushed? If you think it is too much, what do you think I should cut and where should I add that time?

Thank you!

Posted by
17871 posts

Many (most?) travelers don't sleep well on overnight flights, arrive sleep-deprived and jet-lagged, and can't do much more than wander around outdoors on their arrival day. Barcelona's a pretty good place for that activity because of the modernista sights, many of which you can't go inside, anyway. Still, if you have an idea of places you intend to visit and are expecting to knock a few of them off on your first day, you may well come up short, especially since you're going to have to return to your hotel to retrieve your luggage and head to the airport long before Day 3 is over.

If you have an interest in art, Madrid is definitely worth the three days you've given it. If you don't plan to spend time in the art museums, you might consider moving one of those days elsewhere--to Barcelona or to a day-trip from Madrid (Toledo or Segovia). Or even to Granada. Day 4 looks as if it will be sort of rushed unless all you intend to do is see the Alhambra. You're going to have to do the luggage-retrieval bit again.

The Alhambra regularly sells out, so get your tickets locked down before you buy rail tickets or book hotels.

Posted by
266 posts

I agree. If you haven't been to Barcelona before, I would add more time there instead of Madrid. I didn't care for Madrid much, although some people really like it. I would consider two nights in Granada. As I am planning a trip for this June, I have learned that going in/out of Granada via train is tricky, so take note that you will actually be bussed to Antequera and then transfer to a train to Sevilla from there. You could also consider the bus directly to Sevilla. That is what we plan to do.

I'd be a tad nervous about that last day train from Madrid to Barcelona, too. You will get into downtown Barcelona at 10:30am(?) and then it's 35 minutes (best case) to the airport. I personally think that is cutting it too close, but that's your call.

Posted by
17871 posts

Heavens yes, Nicole is dead right. I completely overlooked that last night spent in Madrid followed by a flight out of Barcelona. Please don't do that. If there's a train problem (malfunction, strike, etc.), you could miss your plane and have to buy a replacement one-way ticket at the walk-up rate. That could be very expensive.

I recommend reorganizing the trip to put Barcelona at the end. On your arrival day, take the train to Madrid. I wouldn't try to guess when you'll be ready to hop on a train. If you guess wrong, you'll have to buy a replacement ticket. I'd just plan to get the ticket when I arrived, even though it will cost a bit more than buying the ticket now.

An additional advantage of this approach is that you would use part of your jet-lagged, semi-useless Day 1 in getting to Madrid.

Posted by
9 posts

Hi acraven and Nicole,

Thanks so much for your advice. It makes sense to be more comfortable to be in Barcelona at the end of the trip so we're not worried about the flight home. I'll flip it around and do Madrid first and Barcelona last. I think the only thing that we really want to see in Granada is Alhambra, and we aren't interested in spending a ton of time there. What do you think about this plan instead?

Day 1- Arrive Barcelona at 9AM. Take train to Madrid in early afternoon. Dinner/night in Madrid.

Day 2- Madrid.

Day 3- Madrid. 7pm train to Seville. Sleep in Seville.

Day 4- Seville.

Day 5- Seville. Take 6pm evening train to Granada & sleep in Granada.

Day 6- Granada (Alhambra only). Take 7:10pm or 8:55pm evening flight to Barcelona. Sleep in Barcelona.

Day 7- Barcelona

Day 8- Barcelona

Day 9- Barcelona

Day 10- Barcelona. Fly home at 1pm.

Thank you!

Posted by
266 posts

I think this is a great amended plan. You might feel rushed in Granada, but if you don't want to linger there, this plan makes sense. You could even take an earlier train out of Madrid to get to Sevilla before dark (this is coming from a person who just doesn't care for Madrid compared to other cities like Barcelona, so take my words with a grain of salt).

The only other thing to consider is to pack light, as you will be lugging your stuff from BCN to downtown for a few hours before you train to Madrid.

Posted by
2530 posts

... or simply leave it at one of the locker stores available around.... like the one inside Estació de Sants (Sants Station). In fact, if you're arriving by plane you can take a train from Terminal 2 which will pass by Sants, get off there, leave the luggage in one of the lockers and move on to the centre of the city (ie. metro L3 to Plaça Catalunya). When you depart to Madrid, you'll have to go back to Estació de Sants anyway. Alternatively, from the airport catch the Aerobus to Plaça Catalunya and in one of the streets off the square there's a locker store http://www.lockerbarcelona.com/en/

Posted by
14210 posts

Madrid is a nice enough (mostly 18th century) city with plenty to see and do, but it's main draws are the top-notch art museums. If you want to spend hours looking at some of the best painting of Western civilization, allow at least 2 full days for Madrid. Otherwise, on such a short trip, skip it. Spend a little more time in Sevilla (including a day trip to Cordoba). Stay 2 nights in Granada and give yourself a full day to see the Alhambra. You can't spend too much time in Barcelona - so much to see and do, plus great day trips if you want.

Posted by
9 posts

Hi all,

Thanks again for all of your help. Based on the advice here. I may make some minor timing adjustments for going from city to city but the overall structure is going to stay the same. I'm also thinking now that the most efficient thing would be to take a flight from BCN to Madrid the same day I arrive in Spain because 1) I'll already be at the airport; 2) it's faster than the train; 3) its about the same price as the train; and 4) I won't have to deal with either storing the luggage or dragging it downtown (though this is a minor factor).

We're seeing if it's possible to get tickets to Alhambra for the day we intend to go (likely though a tour company- that ticketmaster site where you can purchase tickets directly is horrible!), and are likely to make Granada/Alhambra more of a day trip from Seville instead of moving all of our luggage there and staying in a new hotel in Granada. We'll then stay in Seville all day on Day 5, do the Granada day trip on Day 6, staying in Seville that night, and take an early morning flight from Seville to Barcelona on Day 7, where we'll be for the rest of the trip.

Posted by
17871 posts

Since you'll already be at the airport, flying on to Madrid could be more efficient. But it sounds as if you already have a round-trip airline ticket to BCN. If so, you'll be buying a separate ticket to fly to Madrid. It's not so easy to guess what departure time to choose; there could be a substantial delay on your transatlantic flight, delays in deplaning, etc. If you guess wrong and miss your flight to Madrid, you'll have to buy a last-minute replacement ticket (though I suppose you could also head into town and take the train at the same last-minute price you'd pay if you planned to take the train all along). Just be aware of that possibility, though one hopes it's unlikely. You could also pad the layover a lot and make a safer flight choice. But will that be faster than taking the train?

For future reference, it is often possible to fly into one city and out of another at no additional cost by selecting the "multi-city" option on airline websites.

I think hitting Granada as a day-trip from Seville will be pretty exhausting and doubt that you'll have any time for sightseeing beyond the Alhambra no matter how intriguing Granada may look to you when you arrive. If you opt for a package tour, you won't even be in control of how much time you spend at the Alhambra itself.

Posted by
4551 posts

Bdw,

I agree with Acraven, a day trip from Sevilla to Granada would be exhausting... The main reason for this is that it takes at least 3 hours traveling EACH way.

I think hitting Granada as a day-trip from Seville will be pretty exhausting and doubt that you'll have any time for sightseeing beyond the Alhambra no matter how intriguing Granada may look to you when you arrive. If you opt for a package tour, you won't even be in control of how much time you spend at the Alhambra itself.

Regarding your flights... Is it possible to change your tickets, so you can fly directly to Madrid instead of Barcelona?

Posted by
7124 posts

Day 1- Arrive Barcelona at 9AM. Take train to Madrid in early afternoon. Dinner/night in Madrid.
Day 2- Madrid.
Day 3- Madrid. 7pm train to Seville. Sleep in Seville.
Day 4- Seville.
Day 5- Seville. Take 6pm evening train to Granada & sleep in Granada.
Day 6- Granada (Alhambra only). Take 7:10pm or 8:55pm evening flight to Barcelona. Sleep in Barcelona.
Day 7- Barcelona
Day 8- Barcelona
Day 9- Barcelona
Day 10- Barcelona. Fly home at 1pm.
Thank you!

Posted by
266 posts

I'll just reiterate that Granada isn't a day trip from Seville.

As far as the Ticketmaster site, make sure you are using the English version (click the top right hand side option for this). Once you are reading/viewing in English it's really not that bad. I just took a quick look and I did notice that the morning slots are sold out on May 16th & 17th, so if you want to see the Alhambra, you should check this site for availability before you plan anything else, as crazy as that sounds. You wouldn't want to spend all this time plotting how to get to/from Granada and then not be able to get to see the Alhambra.

Posted by
7124 posts

I would suggest to greatly reduce the stress levels of your trip that each day has a sole focus, either travelling, or sightseeing. An exception may be a stop in Cordoba on your travel day to Granada.

Day 1- Arrive Barcelona at 9am
Train to Madrid (2N)
Day 2- Madrid
Day 3- Train to Seville (2N)
Day 4- Seville
Day 5- Via Cordoba to Granada (2N)
Day 6- Alhambra
Day 7- Fly to Barcelona (3N)
Day 8- Barcelona
Day 9- Barcelona
Day 10- Depart Barcelona at 1pm

Personally I would leave Granada for another time and spend 3 nights in each of Barcelona, Seville, Madrid.

Posted by
9 posts

Hi all,

Just wanted to thank you all for your advice and give you a quick update on what we decided to do. We didn't take all of the wonderful advice given here, but took everything you said into account in weighing our options. In the end, here's what we decided (and booked). The only other element currently up in the air is for Day 4, when we are considering a few hour stop-off in Cordoba on our way from Madrid to Sevilla (see below).

Day 1- Arrive Barcelona at 9AM. Take early afternoon flight to Madrid. Sleep in Madrid.

Day 2- Madrid. (likely art museum day- Prado/Reina Sofia), explore.

Day 3- Madrid. walk around neighborhoods, Royal Palace, etc.

Day 4- Early morning train to Sevilla OR Cordoba. If go to Cordoba, see Mezquita and walk around for a few hours, take late afternoon/early evening train to Sevilla. If just go straight to Sevilla, explore Sevilla all day. Regardless, sleep in Sevilla that night.

Day 5- Sevilla.

Day 6- Day trip to Granada from Sevilla- I know it was advised against, but we really wanted to see Alhambra and didn't know how else it really made sense to do that. We also couldn't get tickets through the ticketmaster website for that day, so we would have had to go through a tour company anyway. We booked a tour with roundtrip transport, leaves at 5:30AM. Return to Sevilla at about 7 and sleep in Sevilla.

Day 7- Early morning flight to Barcelona. explore Barcelona.

Day 8- Barcelona.

Day 9- Barcelona.

Day 10- Barcelona. Fly home at 1pm.