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10 Days in Spain this September -- advice sought

Greetings, RSE forum followers, intrepid travelers, and advice givers!
First time travelers to Spain, right now considering a 10-day trip right after Labor Day this September.
We would greatly appreciate your thoughts and advice on what we've roughed out so far (no reservations made yet):
Fly into Barcelona (arrive AM after overnight trip from PDX), stay in Barcelona two nights.
Train to Madrid, stay in Madrid three nights, including day trip to Toledo.
Train to Sevilla, stay in Sevilla three nights, including day trip to Granada.
Train to Madrid, stay overnight before morning flight back to PDX.
We don't really want to rent a car, really preferring to get around on foot, public transit, or train. Both of us are a fit 60.
Too much planned/attempted? What would you change based on experience?
Any weather related advisories for southern Spain for our planned mid-September trip?
Many thanks in advance for sharing your ideas and experience!

Posted by
5806 posts

This would be too rushed for us.

The first thing to go is the two trips to Madrid. Finish in Madrid so you don't travel there twice. Every time you change cities you chew up most of a day on aggravation and logistics.

I would never stay less than 3 nights in a major stop like Barcelona. It takes two nights to get one day -- it is hardly worth going to a major spot like Barcelona for just one day of sightseeing.

If you really must go to three major cities in 10 days, I would fly into Barcelona and stay 3 nights, head directly to Seville and stay 3 nights and then finish in Madrid and fly home.

While Granada is a wonderful place you don't have time and it is too far really for a day trip from Seville. Toledo is also wonderful but I am not sure I would take one day of two in Madrid either.

If I had to make one day trip it would absolutely be Cordoba and the Mezquita. You can see our visit here:
What I would do is stop on the way from Seville to Madrid and spent a few hours in Cordoba in order to see the Mezquita and then travel on to Madrid arriving late there for the final 4 nights. Once you are in Madrid you could decide whether you want to fit in the Toledo day trip or not.

Posted by
7124 posts

As much as it pains me to say (sorry Enric), on this occasion I would advise you to drop Barcelona from your plans.
In my opinion you are attempting too much in ten days - I would never advise a day trip to Granada (if by choice).

Fly into Madrid, stay in Madrid three nights, including day trip to Toledo
Train to Cordoba, stay in Cordoba one night
Train to Sevilla, stay in Sevilla two nights
Train/Bus to Granada, stay in Granada two nights
Train/Bus to Madrid, stay one night before morning flight back to PDX

Take my word that you will return. Make Barcelona your focus for a future visit - even if an entry point for trip into France. September is a good time for Andalusia as the summer furnace starts to abate, but it's still warm enough to be atmospheric.

The 3+3+3 option of Janet is a good suggestion (Barcelona/Sevilla/Madrid) - ensuring you fly Barcelona - Sevilla.

Posted by
400 posts

I agree with the advice you have been given. This would be too rushed for me. I would either skip Barcelona altogether as suggested above (and save it for a future trip) or fly into Barcelona and out of Madrid and just concentrate on those two areas. As it stands with your itinerary, you're eating up your time with travel from place to place and cutting yourself short on time actually in the places you want to visit.

Posted by
2413 posts

It's doable, but I'd cut something. This isn't a bad itinerary, but IMO you will enjoy more if you have a touch more time per place. No car needed for this itinerary - it's all easy via train.

The easiest thing is to look into flying from Seville to Madrid to home on the last day. I've done this - an early AM flight to Madrid, then a flight back to the US, sometimes direct to Chicago, sometimes connecting elsewhere in the US first. May not work on your days, but if it does it frees up some time - one night.

I like Barcelona quite a bit, but it's the outlier on this trip. Maybe fly into Madrid and do one night in Toledo and one additional one in Seville? Day trip to Cordoba from Seville? 10 days is more than adequate for Madrid and Seville, with an overnight in Toledo and a day trip to Granada.

As far as weather, mid-September is likely to be nice. Maybe still hot, so be prepared for much warmer than you think of September.

Posted by
5806 posts

If you take the advice to fly into Madrid and drop Barcelona then again don't do it twice -- go immediately on arrival to your furthest destination and finish in Madrid -- Nothing wastes time in a very brief 10 day trip like wasting the last day returning to home base for the flight home. You do need to be in the city of departure the day before, so end the trip there. And if it is a round trip then use the first miserable jet lag day getting to your furthest destination. I have done the 'rush back the day before for my flight' thing and it sort of ruins the good relaxed feeling you have from the trip to do that.

Posted by
7124 posts

That indeed makes sense Janet, if you could push on to Cordoba - 1hr45mins by AVE train.
Mike is coming from Oregon keep in mind.

Fly into Madrid then train to Cordoba, stay in Cordoba one night
Train to Sevilla, stay in Sevilla three nights
Train/Bus to Granada, stay in Granada two nights
Train/Bus to Madrid, stay in Madrid three nights, including day trip to Toledo
Morning flight back to PDX

Posted by
4520 posts

I agree with the others. And think about it this way: count up all of your lost time traveling and transit. This includes not just the train journey, but waiting times at the station, checking in and out of hotels and getting to/from stations. For your itinerary, it would be as follows:

Half day arriving and checking into Barcelona hotel
Half day traveling to Madrid
2-3 hours transiting back and forth to Toledo
Half day traveling to Sevilla
8 hours for the daytrip to Granada (and probably more since the bus ride itself is 3 hours)
Half day traveling back to Madrid

That is over 3 total days lost out of 10. So in adjusting your itinerary, figure out how to reduce that lost time so that you might only lose a couple of days.

Posted by
7 posts

Hello all!
Much appreciation for your time, ideas, and well-traveled advice!
You've given me much to ponder and consider, especially your thoughts on lost time traveling and doubling back on routes/legs already taken.
Since our bucket list is lengthy and the only return trip to Spain we think likely is to walk the Camino -- and we don't want to pick up and move cities/towns and hotels every day -- we want to do and see as much as is reasonable in our 10-days, 9-nights in Spain.
But your strong urging to travel in a straight line will certainly be built into our itinerary. It appears that flying out of Granada rather than Sevilla on the return trip to PDX is just as reasonable and feasible, so Granada may be our last stopover on this adventure.