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11 days in Spain

Hi everyone! First time in Europe and Spain! Would love it if you can weigh in on our itinerary. Please let me know if we are spending too much or too little time in a city. We want to soak in as much as possible, but not be rushing all the time.

Thank you!

Day 1: Arrive in Madrid (sleep in Madrid)
Day 2: Day trip to Segovia (sleep in Madrid)
Day 3: Madrid (sleep in Madrid)
Day 4: Day trip to Toledo (sleep in Madrid)
Day 5: Madrid (sleep in Madrid)
Day 6: To Cordoba (sleep in Cordoba)
Day 7: To Granada (sleep in Granada)
Day 8: Granada (sleep in Granada)
Day 9: Seville (sleep in Seville)
Day 10: Seville (sleep in Seville)
Day 11: Seville (sleep in Seville)
Day 12: Fly back home

edit: The flights to and from Spain have been purchased. So the Day 1 and Day 12 are non-negotiable.

Posted by
44 posts

We are currently planning our first trip to Spain as well. The only comment I would make on your itinerary is that I believe Cordoba is near Seville. You may want to go to Granada after Madrid, on to Cordoba and then Seville.

My daughter is in Spain currently visiting a friend who lives in Madrid and just got back from an overnight trip to Segovia and loved the city.

Happy planning!

Posted by
20893 posts

I would do Madrid, Córdoba, Sevilla, Granada and home from Granada. Much bigger airport with more options and more straight line of travel.

Posted by
6 posts

Thanks for your response! Unfortunately, the flights to and from Spain have been purchased, so can't change those.

Posted by
2372 posts

You'll get lot's of opinions on this one, so here is mine: Day 2 spend in Madrid. You will be jet lagged. Good day to see the Prado, visit the park, chill in the afternoon. Day 3 do your day trip to Segovia. Day 4 travel to Toledo. Overnight Toledo. Day 5 travel to Granada. Day 6 Granada, see the Alhambra. Day 7 travel to Sevilla or do one more night in Granada. Do a day trip to Cordoba on any of the days you are in Sevilla. Enjoy!

Posted by
17858 posts

Alan makes an interesting point about your possibly still being a bit jet-lagged on Day 2. I don't know what time of year you'll be traveling, but I'd also take the anticipated weather into account. Madrid's museums and Palacio Real give you some good options for indoor activities in the event of rain. Toledo also has more indoor sites than Segovia.

So I'd leave the decision about which days to do the day-trip(s) until you are in Madrid. Just be sure you have all the necessary information on the days the key sights will be closed.

Traveling from Toledo down to Andalucía requires that you first return to Madrid before heading south. {Edited to add: I meant to say "by train". It's possible there are direct buses, but they might not be faster than taking the train via Madrid.]

Posted by
6 posts

Thanks Alan and acraven!

I agree with acraven that we were not able to find a direct public transportation route from Toledo to Granada. Therefore the the idea of the day trip to Toledo. Regarding going to Granada from Madrid, it seems like you can take the train only to Cordoba and then have to take a bus to Granada. Since we will be there in Cordoba, might as well spend a day there, so we don't have to go back from Seville. Thoughts?

Alan - Do you know of a direct way to get from Toledo to the South?

We are going in April. It makes total sense to play it by the ear regarding the day trips from Madrid, WHEN we are actually in Madrid! And, haha, did not consider the jet lag! Thanks for the reminder :)

Posted by
2372 posts

No I don't. That is the flaw in my suggestion, sorry. Maybe your original plan, Cordoba then Granada actually works better. We did a day trip to Cordoba, found it much less interesting (except for the Mezquita, a do not miss) compared to Sevilla, but others would disagree. I see your point about Toledo-day trip vs. overnight. But, my experience and many on this board was that Toledo was overrun and not fun during the day, but peaceful and lovely in the evening and early morning. But, if a day trip is all you can do, do it, for the cathedral if nothing else.

Posted by
17858 posts

ALSA runs direct buses between Madrid and Granada. Running time is 4-1/2 to 5 hours. Departure is from Estacion Sur, which isn't quite as convenient a departure point as the Atocha rail station; you'd probably need to take the Metro to get there. The ALSA buses are quite comfortable.

Posted by
4381 posts

We took the bus from Madrid to Granada a few years ago, and enjoyed the trip. I would also suggest an extra day in Granada, if you can squeeze it in. But I've never been to Córdoba, so I don't know what delights are there.

You do know that you need to reserve your Alhambra visit ahead of time, don't you? And plan to spend at least 1/2 a day there. I think we spent about 7 hours at the Alhambra, and could have spent more.

Posted by
6 posts

Thanks acraven about the ALSA tip! I will definitely look into that and see if Cordoba can be a day trip from Sevile.

Jane - I did NOT know that about Alhambra! Thank you, thank you!

Posted by
17858 posts

There's frequent fast-train service between Seville and Cordoba that takes about 45 minutes one-way, so it's very doable as a day-trip. It's really nice to spend the night in cities like Cordoba (and Toledo, and Segovia...) that get a lot of day-trippers, but changing hotels frequently is a real pain, so it's a matter of deciding what's most important to you.

The rail fare on the fast trains will be a lot lower if you buy your tickets around the time they go on sale. But that ties you to the date and time you choose. It might be worth it, though, because I see a spread of at least 14 euros to 40 euros per one-way ticket. There are a couple of departures now selling for May 26, but most of the late-May trains are not yet listed on the Renfe website.

Posted by
4551 posts

I definitely agree with Alan's comment here:

I see your point about Toledo-day trip vs. overnight. But, my experience and many on this board was that Toledo was overrun and not fun during the day, but peaceful and lovely in the evening and early morning.

Most people visit Toledo as a day trip from Madrid, and Córdoba as a day trip from Sevilla, but we actually enjoyed staying in each of these amazing cities for a few nights. You won't know what you're missing when visiting a city as a day trip vs as an overnight visit.

The early mornings & evenings are peaceful & beautiful without the daytime crowds.

We took a similar route (flew into Madrid >> AVE train to Córdoba>> bus to Granada >> bus to Sevilla >> AVE train to Madrid >> Toledo) on our most recent trip to Spain & thought it was a good plan and thereby avoided being in a train or bus for more than 3 hours.

If you travel from Madrid to Granada, you're looking at a 4-5 hour train or bus ride.

Keep in mind that 2 nights translates to one full day for exploring such destination, so 3 nights = 2 full days, 4 nights = 3 full days, etc... And...

I would take one night from Madrid & add it to Granada or Sevilla.

Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
14206 posts

If you are going in season, an overnight in Toledo is highly recommended. If it's off-season, a day trip would be okay - not nearly as many tourists. The only train to Toledo is a commuter/tourist line from Madrid. It's easy enough to change trains in Madrid, say from Toledo to Cordoba. You should allow about 1/2 hour to traverse the station (it's big) and go through security for the next train. There are luggage lockers at the Madrid station, so you could leave most of your stuff there and take a small overnight bag to Toledo. Note that the early trains (mostly for commuters) do not run on weekends. It would be pretty easy to go from Toledo to Cordoba since there are frequent trains.

Posted by
17858 posts

I'm a big Toledo fan and spent 3 nights there, I think. It might even have been four, that's how much I liked the city. I went to many of the secondary sights for which the tourist office has a package deal that includes short tours of 4 or 5 of those sights.

But even those who have time only for a day-trip (make sure it's a nice, long day) can get away from the hordes, who tend to concentrate along the obvious path to the cathedral and around the cathedral. Just keep walking.

Incidentally, there can be quite a line-up to get into the cathedral. It's worth some advance investigating (check guide book) to see whether there's a way to avoid that. I was there around the time of a key holiday in the second half of May, which may have contributed to the lines.

Posted by
7124 posts

I would head to Córdoba late on Day 5, spending 2 nights there, and giving you all of Day 6 at leisure.

Posted by
4381 posts

One of the members of our Travel Group recommends staying in Toledo instead of Madrid, and taking day trips from there. Cheaper, less crowded, and you get to see lots of Toledo that most tourists miss.

We had thought about staying in Toledo when we were in Spain several years ago, but we wimped out, not knowing how good the transportation was. But I plan to try it our next trip to Spain - whenever that might be...

Posted by
7124 posts

Long Island is lovely too, but I wouldn't choose to stay there and visit Manhattan only by day trips. If you have time I'd schedule stays in both Toledo and Madrid, but never just Toledo alone.

Posted by
6 posts

Thank you everyone for the great insights and tips! You guys are so helpful! Muchas gracias :)

For the folks that are huge Toledo fans, could you please elaborate why?

Posted by
17858 posts

I can't always put my finger on why I especially love a particular city, but in the case of Toledo I think a major factor is that the historic district remains quite pure; most cities have a lot of much newer buildings mixed in with the old. Toledo's historic quarter is also heavily pedestrianized, which I really appreciate. And I especially like the Moorish-style buildings scattered here and there. Basically, it feels very foreign, and I don't travel to Europe to feel as if I'm at home.

Posted by
1878 posts

I think the way you have the days allocated is about right. Less that two full days in Madrid (not counting day trips and the first jetlagged day) would be too little. It's a very underrated city. An overnight stay in Toledo would be ideal, but you do have to make some choices as your itinerary reflects. (On my next -- third-- trip to Spain I hope to spend a couple of nights in Segovia too!) I hate to say this but you might want to consider a day trip to El Escorial too, although that will kill the better part of a day from Madrid and go against my advice of two full days for Madrid minimum. I agree to set aside the majority of a day for the Alhambra. We spent around five hours there on our 2005 trip. Spain is a very hard country to really do right in two weeks or less, but your overall plan is good.