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11 day itinerary

This is a first draft of our Spain itinerary at end of October. I am wondering if we are trying to do too much or if this reasonable.

DAY
1 SFO TO BCN
2 Arrive Barcelona early a.m.
3 Barcelona
4 Early flight to Granada
5 Granada
6 Early train to Sevilla
7 Sevilla
8 Early train to Madrid
9 Day Trip to Toledo
10 Madrid

11 MAD TO SFO

Posted by
5010 posts

I am wondering if we are trying to do too much or if this reasonable.

I think you know the answer, but maybe this inconvenient truth will make it more evident:

What you are calling an "11 day itinerary" is not 11 days. You're actually going to be in Europe for eight usable days: the night you leave from California is not a usable day in Europe; neither is the day you arrive on a redeye from SFO no matter what time your flight is scheduled to arrive; nor is the day you fly home).
You have eight days, not eleven.

In those eight days, you plan to be in five or six places (for six, I'm counting Madrid twice - call it five if you like). Still...

Do you think this might be too much, or is it reasonable?

Posted by
2159 posts

I would drop Granada, and maybe drop Seville. You don't have much time on the ground. Barcelona deserves more than a day and a half and you really have no time in Madrid.

When we went to Spain in October 2017, the best parts were the "Big 3" museums in Madrid, Seville, and our day trips from Barcelona. Whatever you do, you will love your time in Spain.

Posted by
3419 posts

For me it would be too much and not reasonable for 9 nights in Spain. That's especially true for the time of year and traditional Spanish eating times. The days will be shorter and and assuming you will follow Spanish mealtimes, they will not have 8+ hours of tourist time.

Here's just one of the many available descriptions of Spanish mealtimes: http://nolongernative.com/spanish-mealtimes/.

By my calculations you are losing at least I.5 days to travel. You have to pack up, check out go to the next location and reverse that process. That gives you about 1.5 days maximum in each location.

Have you made a list of what you want to do and see in each location? Have you limited that list to the experiences of greatest importantance to you? Have you verified that the list items will actually be available for you to experience? Have you verified that your chosen transport has the connections you want to make when you want to make them?

For example, I checked the morning trains from Granada to Sevilla Santa Justa for 25/10/18. The 06:45 gets there at about 10:30, but you have to make a train change. Is that what you mean by early? Or are you thinking more in terms of the one that leaves at about 08:45 and gets there at about noon with no train change?

Be sure to go to that mealtime link for reasons why very early departures could be problematic. Keep in mind that you will need to sleep. 😴

Posted by
17871 posts

It looks as if you've already bought tickets into Barcelona and out of Madrid. Drop Seville and Granada, no question. Spend five nights in Barcelona (giving you four really usable days) and four nights in Madrid, during which you'll take the day-trip to Toledo. If you do not like art, consider a second day-trip from Madrid (Segovia). If you cannot stand the prospect of only sleeping in two hotels and aren't interested in Madrid's art museums, spend a couple of nights in Toledo.

Toledo will give you a taste of the mudejar architecture found farther south. You don't have time for Andalucía on this trip.

Posted by
578 posts

Way too much. You really won't see anything and you will spend most of your time on planes and trains. Have you made your airline reservations? Are you locked into flying to Barcelona and flying out of Madrid? If so, I recommend splitting the time evenly between Barcelona and Madrid with a day trip to Toledo.

If you haven't made your airline reservations, would you consider Barcelona and Costa Brava?

What are your priorities? I recommend 2 or possibly 3 places at the most.

Posted by
6981 posts

This is a first draft of our Spain itinerary

That is a good thing--

  • please show us a 2nd draft

Is this in addition to or instead of your UK trip?

Posted by
699 posts

Travel is personal - and while I absolutely cannot follow a planning activity as you have created, that doesn't mean it is without merit.
Some people like to absorb the local flavor - become entrenched in the culture - and depart feeling as though they are leaving their new adopted home. Others travel as though they are in a witness protection program - preferring a mere glimpse of a new locale - then moving on.
One thing I would have suggested - booking your air travel with Norwegian. Oakland-Barcelona and Madrid-London Gatwick-Oakland. It looks like you did not do this - but maybe your flight arrangements are acceptable to you.
Take a look at the itinerary for the RS "Best of Barcelona and Madrid" tour and see if that offers a guide you might consider. You can do much of that tour on your own - although the RS tour guides in Spain are among the very best.
You will love Spain. I can assure you of that.

Posted by
7124 posts

I’d leave out Granada I’m sorry to say.

Day
1 SFO to BCN
2 Arrive early am in Barcelona (3N)
3 Barcelona
4 Barcelona
5 Afternoon flight to Sevilla (3N)
6 Sevilla
7 Sevilla
8 Early train to Córdoba, then later on to Madrid (3N)
9 Madrid
10 Possible day trip to Toledo
11 MAD to SFO

Posted by
1079 posts

Your proposed itinerary shall create memories of modes of transportation.
Please conduct your own research to learn the vast menu of opportunities Barcelona and Madrid offer.
Doing so well help define the potential of creating wonderful memories of the places you visit, not about how you traveled to them.

Posted by
4551 posts

Gracie,

I am wondering if we are trying to do too much or if this reasonable.

I think you’d enjoy your visit more if you
limit your visit to two destinations.

If you’ve already booked your flights, then visiting Barcelona and Madrid makes more sense than wasting your precious time traveling to the other places on your list.

BTW, there are very limited tickets to the Alhambra for the month of October which is already sold out, except for the 4:30pm time slot for October 29.
There are also very limited “Dobla de Oro” tickets available but only for the last three days of October.
Having said this, I’d definitely leave Granada for another trip.

I do hope you reconsider your itinerary.

Have a wonderful trip!

Posted by
14210 posts

I could spend a week in Barcelona and not run out of things to see and do - in fact I have on my second visit, and still want to go back for a third (!) visit. If you love European painting, you'll want 2 full days in in Madrid just for its 3 superb art museums. If that's not a turn-on, then consider spending 2 or 3 nights in Toledo, a completely different experience from the 2 big cities you'll be visiting.

Posted by
24 posts

Thanks to all who responded. We were scheduled to visit England in 2 weeks, but my travel companion had an accident so we are rescheduling and doing Spain instead because weather is better in Spain than England during end of October/beginning of November. I have done some research on Spain and like all my trips, I want to do as much as possible and then quickly realize that this is not the smart thing to do. We don't have flights booked yet but we are stuck with United since we will be changing our current flights which are booked on United.

We will definitely only include 3 destinations max in our itinerary based on all the recommendations. But I do have another question... I read a recommendation on another post to leave Barcelona for another trip (perhaps with France) because it is geographically an outlier. I think this makes sense except that I can't imagine going to Spain and not seeing Barcelona. Thoughts?

I do like to include big cities in our trips, but I LOVE the charm of smaller cities/villages.

Thanks again!

Posted by
17871 posts

From the standpoint of travel time, Barcelona isn't really an outlier if you are going to include Madrid or Toledo, because the AVE train between Madrid and Barcelona takes only 2-1/2 hours. If you want to focus heavily on Andalucía and plan to skip Madrid, yes, Barcelona is an outlier because you'll either fly there or take a much longer train ride.

I love Barcelona and didn't see all that I wanted to see there in nine days, but any trip has to ignore 90% or more of Europe's great destinations. That's just the way it is. My preference is for geographically coherent itineraries that don't have me whizzing past places that would be nice to see, so I tend to break large countries into chunks and make multiple trips. Others like to hit their top-priority cities on the first trip and later return to fill in the gaps. There's nothing wrong with either approach. Just keep in mind that every hotel change costs quite a bit of time.

You could certainly have a very nice second trip limited to Barcelona and the rest of Catalunya. Or with considerably more time you could cover the swath of northern Spain from Barcelona to Santiago de Compostela. Or Catalunya plus southern France. Those last two would not be short trips.

Posted by
1996 posts

@graciep
I think that the post you are referring to may have been mine.
In the original post I recommended coupling a stay in Barcelona with the Languedoc region of southern France, right across the border. The main town of Languedoc, Toulouse, is a nice base to explore the surrounding area. For potential sites, Languedoc contains the well preserved medieval cities of Carcassonne and Montpellier, countless Roman ruins (such as the Roman arenas in Nîmes), medieval abbeys, Romanesque churches, and impressive feudal citadels (such as the ruined Cathar castles in the mountains of Corbières).

However that recommendation was made in the context of that post (the posters had already seen much of Catalonia and Spain as a whole previously). For your situation, I would recommend that you do 6 days Barcelona and 4 days in Madrid. I think that the surrounding areas of Barcelona and Madrid have much to offer without the need to travel to another country (especially with your number of days available).

Posted by
1200 posts

A few thoughts:

i) I wouldn't necessarily have dropped England based on the weather. Whilst Spain will (almost) certainly be drier and sunnier, it's not as if England's weather becomes intolerable in October. And the oft quoted daylight hours is, I think, a red herring for city breaks. Museums, etc. don't close just because it gets dark. Also one of the greatest pleasures in life is sitting inside a cosy Yorkshire pub whilst the rain lashes down outside.

ii) But Spain is a great alternative choice. If you need to use United, I'm assuming the only direct options are Madrid and Barcelona? With your time available I would consider just staying in those two cities. And splitting your stay about equally - Barcelona is a more interesting city, but Madrid has better day-trip options. If you want a third place, then Zaragoza would be an attractive option for a night as you travel between the two bigger cities. Zaragoza is not a sleepy village but in the centre it has the charm of a smaller town which the other cities don't and is a pleasant contrast (plus you get a taste of Moorish Spain).

iii) Whilst recognising the disadvantage, if United have no direct flights to Andalucia, there are many low cost airlines flying there (especially Malaga, but also Sevilla and other airports), from Britain and Europe. So you could, for example, fly direct to Madrid, stop for a few days, then use the fast railway to Sevilla, day-trip to Cordoba (or even stop for a night), before flying back via "X". Or you could start in Barcelona, before flying onto Granada then coach (bus) to Malaga for a couple of days.

Whatever you decide, I trust you have a brilliant holiday.

Posted by
5010 posts

United Airlines itself only serves Madrid and Barcelona - that's it for Spain.

we are stuck with United since we will be changing our current flights which are booked on United...

Find out if you are really "stuck" only with United, or if you can fly on one of their codeshare or StarAlliance partners. If so, that may open up at least a few more options (Bilbao, Palma de Majorca, Valencia - all of which are served by Lufthansa, an United partner). Going to Majorja would certainly get you some warmer weather...

It's probably also worth noting that the major challenge is just getting to someplace - almost anyplace - in Europe. Once there, it's usually cheap to get to/from where you actually want to be, so if United can only get you to someplace else in Europe, don't assume you can't get to exactly where you want to go without another flight you have to pay for.

I'd hasten to add that doing that potentially complicates your travel (flying on separate tickets exposes you to significant risks if you miss your flight), and would require at least a little more travel time, maybe more than a little - and one of the biggest issues in your first proposed plan that I think many of us pointed out was that you didn't have enough time. So grafting on additional flights would only make that worse. And of course it would be more money out of your pocket. Just saying that it's worth thinking "outside the United box" to consider creative options.

Finally, I'd add this: for most of us, time is our most limited commodity. Yes, we all have budgets and limits, but most of us can usually find more money (within reason), but it's much harder to find more time. If burning a bit more money allows you to have a much better trip, it may be worth it.

Good luck.