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10 Days Spain

So I’ve been toying with a few 10 day itineraries for multiple countries, including Russia, Germany, Greece, etc.

I had some thoughts for Spain and was wondering what feed back I could get back. Like the others it’s a 10 day itinerary for a first timer to Spain.

Theoretically I’ll be coming from Paris. The itinerary goes as such:

Barcelona: 2 days, 3 nights
Madrid: 2 days, 3 nights
Seville: 3 days, 4 nights

I would naturally buy all entrance tickets to attractions well in advance, and I was thinking I could spend one of the days in Seville as a day trip to Granada to see the Alhambra.

Posted by
4697 posts

You did well to plan this in terms of nights and full sightseeing days. You'll have some extra time in each city because the travel takes only partial days. However, a round trip between Seville and Granada will take about five hours by train, leaving little time for the Alhambra or other Granada sights. The Alhambra alone is worth several hours. Since the train stops at Cordoba, you might want to substitute that city for Granada and the Mezquita for the Alhambra. Not that they're interchangeable, of course, but both are great examples of Moorish architecture. Many people visit Cordoba as a day trip from Seville, or you could stop there between Madrid and Seville.

With only ten days for three (or four) cities you're trying to do a lot in a short time. You'll probably wish you had more time, especially in Barcelona and Madrid.

Posted by
54 posts

Spain is a wonderful country - how exciting to go for the first time :)

The schedule you outline is certainly feasible- you will wish you had more time in each place, but that is aways the case! Just be aware that it is quite a large country and travel times between the cities you mentioned is considerable (approx. 5 hour train from Madrid to Seville). A lot of people on this forum disapprove of a fast-paced itinerary such as this, but that does not mean it is not possible or worthwhile.

Whatever you decide have a wonderful trip!

Editing to add: The Alhambra day will be a long one but well worth the effort. Just get an early start and be organized.

Posted by
3213 posts

Being your first time to Spain I’d drop Sevilla and spend more time in Barcelona and Madrid. Two days in each is insufficient to see either adequately. While it might be possible, to me, a day trip to Granada from Sevilla is Impractical. Someone else will know better than I, but you’d spend a good deal of the time getting to and from, and waiting for the public transportation.

Posted by
104 posts

It would be mid June (I already know hahaha). Unfortunately all of my travels will have to be during the summer months. Including Egypt, Greece, India (it’s going to be rough).

Yeah I would love to spend more time in each of these cities. My friend said that I could possibly skip Madrid. He was like “it’s famous for being famous. It’s the capital but it’s just as interesting as Brussels in Belgium or Geneva in Switzerland.” Now...I’ve never been to Spain, but I have to imagine he probably didn’t get to see the Palacio Real or the Prado Museum. Oh well.

I understand the advice about skipping Seville, but for me...Seville is the very image of Spain that I’ve always imagined, and the Alhambra in Granada (for me) is like the Pyramids of Egypt or the Great Wall of China. It’s the “hook” that is driving me to make the trip to that region. That and Seville, with its gorgeous “kissing lanes” and bull fighting arenas and flamenco. So very Spanish hahaha. If it helps matters, the plan would be to take a private tour so all the logistics and travel are taken care of for me.

Does anyone know if the “La Monumental” bullfighting arena in Barcelona is open for walking around and taking a look? I can’t seem to find any solid answers to the question. I don’t really want to go if it’s just full of people and a farmers market (which is what I heard they’ve been using it for since Bullfighting got banned in Catalonia). I would prefer to see an empty (relatively, I understand there would be other tourists taking a look) bullfighting arena if possible.

OH and what “areas or districts” in Seville offer the best “street scenes” for that classic Spanish/Andalusian scene/vibe?

Posted by
3213 posts

Believe the former bull ring in Barcelona is now a club. You can pay to tour the bullrings in Madrid (Las Ventas) and Sevilla (Real Maestranza) during normal times if you want to take a bullring tour. Check their websites to find their status.

Posted by
1031 posts

How about adding a day and go to Barcelona (3 nights), Granada (2 nights), Sevilla (2 nights) and Madrid (4 nights) and take a direct, 45-minute train to Toledo for the day from Madrid.

Posted by
4697 posts

Or, since Seville and Granada are your "holy grails," spend your time there? (And I'll put in another plug for Cordoba since it's between them.) You say you'll be coming from Paris, and there are 2.5-hour flights from Orly to Seville. Save Madrid and Barcelona for when you have more time, or want to see different parts of Spain.

I haven't spent time in Brussels, but your friend underestimates Madrid.

Posted by
2286 posts

Madrid has far more to offer than Brussels, which can be visited in a day in my opinion...
If you want to spend more time in Andalucía, the one place I would skip is Barcelona: 2 days are really short there, and it adds to the travel time. You could then spend 2 nights in Granada, and perhaps add a night in Madrid for a day trip to Toledo.
All of these places are likely to be hot in June as you know, so take it easy.

Posted by
1250 posts

I agree with Dick. If Sevilla and Granada are central, then focus on there. I don't know what will be the position next June, but before the current unpleasantness, one could fly to Sevilla from CDG or Orly. Competition meant prices weren't too dear.

If you had 4 nights in Sevilla and 3 in Granada, you could still have 3 in either Madrid or Barcelona. From Granada to either can be done by rail or air, but for Madrid I'd pick rail, whereas for Barcelona I'd pick air.

Cordoba is worth including, at minimum to see the Mezquita-Catedral, though it is worth a longer stop. You could visit Cordoba as a day-trip from Sevilla, or a day visit whilst travelling between Sevilla and Granada (or Granada and Madrid), or stay overnight by removing one night from elsewhere.

Madrid isn't Spain's most interesting city, certainly, but it knocks spots off boring Brussels.

Posted by
18892 posts

I'm a huge fan of Barcelona but with this short a timeframe, I'd agree that omitting it is a good idea. Give yourself time to see one or more of Toledo (can day-trip there from Madrid), Cordoba (can day-trip there from Seville) and Granada.

Posted by
4873 posts

With this short a time, I would save Barcelona for another trip.

Do Madrid (as well as day trips to Segovia and Toledo) for 4-5 days.
Do Seville with a stop in Cordoba on the way for the rest of your time.
Granada is a bit far fro Seville for a day trip in my opinion.

Posted by
104 posts

Hey sorry for the delayed response! I just started back up at college so I’ve been super busy with my first week.

I’ve never actually researched Toledo. Maybe I can watch the Rick Steves video on it after class today. All I know currently is that it’s a place with wonderful examples of Medieval Spanish architecture, which is definitely up my alley. Great suggestion! I fear all it did was make me want to add MORE to Spain rather than take things off for it haha.

It’s the hardest thing ever to imagine that “you can just come back” when you’ve never been haha.

So even though the stays in Madrid and Barcelona are considered brief, and I sorta agree, my “to do list” isn’t super long for either of those cities. My thoughts were 2 full days is great for “walking around” and seeing the more famous sights AND if I liked either of them, I can come back with a much more focused itinerary. Without adding Toledo (which I’m probably going to do now), are the days listed for each place adequate for a “sampling?”

Of course they’ll never be enough time anywhere you go, but for the purposes of getting a broad overview of the country and history, is this a decent first attempt? I always try to plan a broad trip first and then a much more focused trip when I find out what I really liked. Madrid could end up being my favorite city for all I know haha.

Posted by
18892 posts

For a broad overview, I guess you're OK. The thing about Barcelona is the (even pre-COVID) need to have timed entry tickets for so many of the top sights. That has made it a difficult to city to visit at a dead run, because you risk either cutting your time too short at those (often expensive) sights or building in too much of a buffer between them. I'm not sure you'll have a lot of extra walking-around time. But that does depend on which places you think need an inside visit. It works best to slot one of the must-book-ahead sights first thing each morning, but you'll have only two mornings to work with.

The good thing about counting on a future visit to see more of Madrid and Barcelona is that in normal times you can get non-stop flights to them from quite a few US origins, and they are often reasonably priced. Flying in or out of Seville tends to ratchet up the airfare a lot, though it's well-connected to Madrid (and Cordoba) by train. Granada at this point is not quite as easy because there aren't as many fast trains per day, which limits your flexibility a bit, and flights into/out of Granada tend to be pricey.

I hate to see you try to visit Granada on a day-trip from Seville. That's a lot of hours sitting on trains and not much time to enjoy Granada. The Alhambra is not a 2-hour sight unless all you want to see is the Nazrid Palaces. There's a lot more to the complex than that (though they are the #1 attraction), and the city itself has other sights as well as atmospheric areas to wander. I yield to no one in the degree of my hatred of changing hotels, but you can make a nice loop from Madrid/Cordoba to Seville to Granada. Definitely at least look at the possibility of starting your trip back home from Granada rather than from Seville; perhaps for your home airport there won't be much difference in the fare.

It is likely to be very, very hot in Seville in June and unpleasantly hot in Madrid and Granada. Being mentally prepared for that will help. Statistically, spring break would be a nicer time to visit the south, weather-wise, but Semana Santa is a very popular time to visit Andalucia, so you'd be facing considerably higher lodging costs at that time of year.

It's also worth pricing out flying into Granada or Seville (changing planes somewhere--ideally in Spain--on the same ticket). The earlier in June you hit the southern cities, the better, unless you uncover some sort of special event you want to align with.

Can you not add a few days to this trip? It would help a lot.

Posted by
104 posts

My trip will probably start near the end of May so theoretically I could fly into Seville first and work my way up Spain. That would have me taking trains up Spain, to Paris, and into London before taking a flight to Venice. That actually sounds fun. No matter which way I choose, there is is no avoiding the middle of June in Italy or Greece, although at least it isn’t July or August haha. The entire trip is 35 days so the idea was starting a little before June.

Just for the sake of adding more details on how I was thinking about spending days (this is before applying any changes):

Barcelona: The only paid attraction I wanted to book in advance was Park Guell. No disrespect to the other attractions! I just think they look much prettier from the outside. The inside of the Sagrada Familia looks super cool and unique, but it isn’t really my style for churches. I’m more interested in the ones like in Seville or throughout Italy. I figured once I saw Park Guëll, I could just walk around and see all of the Gaudí buildings and then walk through the Gothic Quarter and Las Ramblas.

Madrid: I honestly have the least amount of plans for this city. Not due to lack of interest, just research. There were only two main things I wanted to do, both of which require tickets. I briefly brought them up before but I would spend one day seeing the Prado Museum before exploring, and another day seeing the Palacio Real before exploring or resting.

Seville: This was always destined to be my busiest city, just like Rome in Italy haha. My idea was to see the Church and the Alcazar. And then endlessly explore the beautiful streets. There will never be enough time to do this part. Granada is a lot like Pompeii from Rome. Everyone advises against it, but I’m so stubborn. I DO intend to take private (and expensive, I don’t care haha) tours to each of these places, to take the stress and legwork out of planning and transport.

This is all of course before adding Toledo, which I would need to find a way to add more time.

Posted by
12 posts

I just returned from Spain. The Alhambra tickets are limited due to Covid restrictions/social distancing. I was able to visit inside but most visitors have access only to the gardens

Posted by
18892 posts

In Seville the Alcazar requires a timed ticket. I was able to buy mine online (in 2019) just the day before, but I don't know whether they've had to reduce the number of entry slots. due to COVID. Perhaps not; it's large. The Alcazar has a good audio guide. I'd prefer to use that rather than having to keep pace with a tour. I find I spend a lot more time at each sight than the tours do, even though I'm not serious about photography.

The cathedral in Seville usually has a very long ticket line stretching across the plaza. I don't know whether you can buy that ticket online, but as of 2019 you could buy a combo ticket for the cathedral and the Iglesia Colegial del Divino Salvador (worth a quick look around) at the latter. Then you could show that ticket to the line-minder at the cathedral and go right inside. (This is a tip from Rick's guidebook.) There's almost certainly an audio guide you can rent at the cathedral.

I don't know anything about the ticket situation at the Alhambra, but those tickets have typically sold out weeks (if not months) ahead of time in the past. Again, there's a very good audio guide that allows you to move at your own pace.

All the above sights tend to be crowded. Keeping up with a guide could be very difficult if you want to pause to take pictures. I can't imagine trying to do that. I really don't see the value of a public tour to sights that take 2, 3, 4, 5 hours to see. Tours may be helpful if you're trying to compress a lot of quick sight visits into a few hours, but do you want to see the Alhambra, or do you want to be able to say you've been there?

Posted by
14326 posts

Alhambra: if you can't get entry to the Nasrid Palaces, and maybe the rooms of the Generalife as well, don't go to Granada. Seeing the Alhambra campus without visiting inside is like eating an ice cream cone without the ice cream.

Give Cordoba some more thought. It has the best-preserved medieval quarter that I've seen in Spain and the Mezquita is exquisite and unique - I saw nothing remotely close to it anywhere in Spain or Morocco.