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11 Night Spain Itinerary w/Kids

Hi!

I am in the beginnig stages of planning a 11 nigt trip to Spain for August 2018. With transportation and accomodation bookings at the top of my list, can someone please comment if the amount of time spent each place looks good, considering travel with kids?

Day 1 - Arrive 7:40 flight to Madrid
Train/bus to Toledo (1 night)
Day 2 - Train back to Madrid (2 nights)
Day 3 - Madrid (possible day trip to Segovia)
Day 4 - Train to Seville (3 nights)
Day 5 - Seville
Day 6 - Seville
Day 7 - Train to Barcelona (5 nights) We plan to visit the beach at least once and our hotel has a pool)
Day 8- Barcelona

Day 9 - Barcelona
Day 10 - Barcelona
Day 11 - Barcelona
Day 12 - Fly home from Barcelona

Thanks you for any feedback! We realize it will be hot in August but that is when we are able to travel. =)

Posted by
3489 posts

It might be more efficient to spend all of your Madrid time in that city before moving to Toledo. www.trainline.eu shows plenty of trains from Toledo to Sevilla. Yes, you have to change trains in Madrid anyway (or so it appears to me.) But you can save one change of hotel, always time-consuming and possibly stressful.
Otherwise your trip looks good, especially using the multi-destination approach to fly into and away from the country.

www.trainline.eu

www.seat61.com

Posted by
17871 posts

Your arrival day is likely to be pretty worthless for significant sightseeing, what with the sleep-deprivation and jetlag. So you're really giving yourself two days to see Toledo, Segovia and Madrid. Way too little time. I'd drop Seville, which is likely to be murderously hot in August, and spend all the pre-Barcelona nights in Madrid and Toledo (and they will be plenty hot themselves). Going straight to Toledo is a good idea, but given the probability that you will be fighting to stay awake on that first day, you need two nights in Toledo.

If you feel dropping Seville leaves you too much time in Madrid (perhaps you don't care about the art museums?), you can consider shifting a day or two to Barcelona. If it's hot there, too (quite possible), a day-trip to Montserrat will probably provide some relief.

You'll save some money on your train tickets except for Madrid-Toledo (and Barcelona-Montserrat, if you make that trip) by buying them early, but the super-cheap tickets are non-refundable/non-changeable, so be sure your itinerary is locked down before committing. The price difference for Segovia is not great, so there's not too much on the line there.

Often in Spain a round-trip ticket isn't much more expensive than a one-way, so keep that in mind for Toledo, Segovia, Montserrat, etc.

Posted by
29 posts

Thank you for the replies! Will Seville be hotter than Florida in August? We had planned a hotel with a pool there as well. I just do not know if I will have the opportunity to go back when the weather is more desirable so that is my concern with dropping Seville from the itinerary. Also, the ony reason we considered a one night stay in Toledo was beacuse we assume our room would not be ready early in the morning in Madrid so we could just make the extra leg and then turn in for a late afternoon nap in Toledo and then venture out for dinner. Staying in a hotel in Madrid for three nights is absolutely an option, I just imagined having to wait around for our room to be ready if we head straight there. Thanks, again!

Posted by
17871 posts

I love Toledo. It has more than a full day's worth of sights. I wouldn't go there for just my first night unless I planned to take quite a late train back to Madrid on Day 2, giving me practically the entire day in Toledo. Otherwise, from my perspective you're just churning hotels for no real reason. If I only had Night 1 for Toledo, I'd just go to my Madrid hotel, drop off my bags, and walk around (in the heat, unfortunately). I went to the Botanical Garden on Day 1 myself, but that was on May 16, and it might not much appeal to your children. Retiro Park might be a better choice, and it's free. San Miguel Market is a good place to graze on tapas, cups of cut-up fruit, and the like if you have the munchies before lunch starts at 2 PM.

Take a look at the wunderground link in my earlier post. It will show you temperatures for August 2016 in Seville. You can use the pull-down boxes to change to 2017, 2015, etc.

It's not just an issue of whether Andalucia will be hotter than Florida; you need to consider how you'll be spending your time. Unless you have an outdoor job in Florida, you probably basically move from your air-conditioned home to your air-conditioned car to your air-conditioned workplace (or an air-conditioned store, etc.). That is not what a tourist does, and you'll find that in Europe, not every small establishment is air-conditioned. Small bars, cafes and shops may not be. Museums that don't hold paintings and works on paper may not have a/c. Not being able to escape the heat is really draining. And it's not as if you're likely to have pleasant temperatures in Madrid and Barcelona, either. So ask yourself whether you're up for 10 or 11 days of probably-unremitting heat, and whether you'll be happy if 3 of them hit 100F.

If this is likely to be your last visit to Spain, it's right to balance that against the weather situation. In that case, you may decide to proceed. Be sure you select conveniently-located hotels so you can take a mid-day break in your air-conditioned room if you need to (and you will). Plan to get up and out of the hotel very early to start your day. It's not a natural thing to do for an American in a country that sits down to dinner at 10 PM or later, but it will buy you a couple of not-dreadful sightseeing hours in the morning.

I've found wearing a Kool-Tie makes me keel a bit better in the heat by keeping my neck cool. I've linked to Amazon, Kool-Ties and apparently-similar products are also available from other sources.

Incidentally, there are places in northern Spain that are almost certain to have very pleasant temperatures in August; they just aren't the places most people go on their first trip to Spain.

Posted by
4210 posts

It's a different heat to that in Florida. Florida has the humidity which can be stifling but southern Spain in August the heat is intense and made worse with a northerly hot wind. I would rather be in Florida in August than Seville.

I've been to Andalucia in August but it's been 100% pool and beach time, I could think of nothing worse than traipsing around cities.

Last August we were in Nice during a heatwave that also affected Barcelona. The heat was intense, dven walking along the esplanade in the hope of a cooling sea breeze just sapped your energy and left you in a sweaty mess. Fortunately we had a villa with a pool which was a godsend. The most we could manage was a drive to a local village, have a long lazy lunch in the shade and then back to the pool. I would not be wanting to explore Barcelona in that heat especially with children. You don't say how old yours are but my kids (12 & 9 at the time) were bored with Barcelona and that was during a pleasantly warm February.

Spain is popular in August for Europeans primarily because of the school holidays but they're all on the coast for obvious reasons.

I don't wish to put a dampener on your plans but I don't think many people properly realise how miserably hot Spain can get in the summer, particularly inland. I understand your date restrictions and your desire to make the most of the substantial journey but I would suggest paring your itinerary down to a few absolute "must see's" and devote the majority of the time water based. You will all enjoy the trip so much more.

Posted by
29 posts

Thank you! I suppose I made a huge non-refundable mistake by purchasing airfare to Spain in August. We wil try to make the best of it. My kids are 9 and 11 so similar to yours. I have been reading that Barcelona is up at the top of kid-friendly destinations so that is why we were so excited to go there, in particular. If Seville is too hot and Barcelona possibly boring perhaps I need to look at a train trip North instead and use those larger airports to get to and from the U.S. instead Thanks for everyone's help!

Posted by
4210 posts

All of Spain is kid friendly, children are adored and very much included in all aspects of Spanish life. Go to any plaza in Spain in the warmer months, even on a weekday evening at 9 o'clock and you will see kids out playing whilst parents enjoy a beer or glass of wine.

Personally I think just being in Spain is sufficient for your children to experience and soak up the culture, even more so if they're not being dragged from one so called 'must see' to another. Spending time meeting and playing with some of the local kids in one of the aforementioned plaza's is more likely to leave a lasting impression than waiting hours in line to view the Sagrada Familia or be dragged through the heaving throngs at Las Ramblas only to reach the end and think "was that it?" As such there are no reasons why you shouldn't look at visiting the more temperate north of the country. San Sebastian will be wonderful in August for example with the added benefit that the French border is not far for an experience of France.

I've been to countries where I've been in the vicinity of 'must see's' but I've decided, for various reasons, not to visit them. Sometimes I've felt guilty but soon realised that whatever we chose to do instead was most likely more enjoyable. My kids don't remember anything about the Empire State Building but they'll recount in great detail the penguin enclosure at Central Park Zoo, Palma Cathedral (?), but the shark tank at the aquarium, absolutely!

Posted by
17871 posts

I'm sure their are child-friendly activities in Barcelona, but not having kids myself, I'm not the one to suggest what they are. I know Enric has posted some ideas in the past. There are certainly beaches nearby.

If you're willing to rent a car, you could consider taking the train north from Madrid, picking up a car at a convenient location, and enjoying some time walking or hiking in the Pyrenees (go high enough and you'll always find pleasant temperatures), then head through San Sebastian (stunning beach; maybe it will be warm enough to swim) and on to the Picos de Europa, a very pretty mountainous area with some active-sport opportunities that might appeal to the young ones as well as to you. The old stone town of Potes is very picturesque. There's also the popular Altamira Cave replica (prehistoric art) outside Santillana del Mar. I don't know what the procedures are for getting to see it.

Posted by
7124 posts

At 5:35 for train vs 1:35 for plane from Seville to Barcelona, I would look at flights.

Dragging kids to Toledo on your arrival day may not be such a great idea. I would stay in Madrid to allow for flexibility.

Day 1 /am - Arrive 7:40 Madrid (3 nights)
Day 1 /pm - Walking old Madrid
Day 2 - Madrid (or possible day to Segovia by train)
Day 3 - Day to Toledo by train
Day 4 /am - Madrid
Day 4 /pm - Train to Seville (3 nights)
Day 5 - Seville
Day 6 - Day to Cordoba by train
Day 7 /am - Seville
Day 7 /pm - Fly to Barcelona (5 nights)
Day 8- Barcelona
Day 9 - Barcelona
Day 10 - Barcelona
Day 11 - Barcelona
Day 12 - Fly home from Barcelona

Posted by
14210 posts

August is when you can go, so don't fret the decision, just make the best of it. Barcelona's temps are generally milder in summer (high 80s as opposed to Madrid's triple digits) and there's a lot of beach and water activities, plenty of day trips and lots of other things to see and do in the city. Since you are flying into Madrid, spend 2-3 nights there - maybe a day trip to Toldeo if it's not too hot. Toledo is built on steep hills so walking around in the sun with little shade will be hard going. In Madrid, you can take the metro to get to some places, the HOHO bus is a pretty good way to get an overview of the city, and the Naval Museum has AC and is very interesting (think Golden Age of Exploration - be sure to take your passports with you to get in). If you want another stop for a few days, consider Valencia which also has milder summers than Madrid and Andalucia.

Posted by
29 posts

Good Morning!

Thank you again all of the feedback. JC, I do appreciate and agree with your comments abot just taking n the culture and my kids being exposed to other local children would definitely be my idea of great travel! We want to see several highlights but do not feel like we have to be in the heart of eveything and see it all. In fact, the calmer areas seem to appeal most to my family. With that in mind, we are refiguring our plans based on help here. So, these are now the options:

A:
4 Nights in Madrid with day trips to Toldeo and Segovia (although I am not opposed to staying two nights in Toledo if that might sound better.)

Take train to Girona
3 NIghts Girona (with day trips to Besalu and either Tossa Del Mar or Cadaques)
4 NIghts Barcelona (possibly day trip to Montserrat, Tarragona and/or Castellfollit de la Roca)

B.
4 NIghts in Madrid as per above
Train to Valencia
3 Nights in Valencia (have not yet explored this area and day trip options)
4 Nights Barcelona as per above

Thoughts? We are open to shifting Madrid to 3 nights and/or moving number of nights elsewhere too. I realize I need to book my long distance train travel as soon as possible. Thank you, everyone!!!! =)

Posted by
17871 posts

I confess that I haven't been to Valencia, but I'd choose Girona over Valencia in a heartbeat. However, you'll obviously have easier access to the coast if you're staying in Valencia, and I remember how much I enjoyed beaches as a child. (I grew out of it.) If you're thinking you want daily access to a beach, I have to confess that Valencia might work better for your family.

Posted by
7124 posts

Are you planning to get a car for the Girona option? I would stay at one of the gorgeous beaches nearby on the coast, between Befur and Palamos.

Posted by
29 posts

No..we will be using public transportation on this trip. We pack very light found it worked well for us as family when we traveled last year.

Posted by
7124 posts

Relying solely on trains, then I’d go for Option C.

4 Nights in Madrid
- with day trips to Toldeo & Segovia
2 Nights in Valencia
5 Nights in Barcelona
- with day trip to Girona

Posted by
29 posts

Hi, Again!

This is really helping my planning so "thank you!" Now, I am really considering renting a car either our of Girona or Figueres and then spending 3-4 nights somewhere fascinating in the Costa Brava area. Is one town preferable in terms of being closer or easier to rent a car from please? Also, we would love to find a small, authentic, charming place to stay as a family of four (ideally with a pool) for that time. It would not need to be right on the coast but these gorgeous pictures have me really wanting to experience that area. Thank you!

Posted by
2530 posts

hellooo... bit late in the conversation I know, I am not dropping by to meddle with your plans... just to provide some "literature" on your already-made choices :)

Welcome to Catalonia
Catalonia Experience
Map of roads in Catalonia
Routes and getaways

and a couple of videos -the second being a sort of powerpoint with the names of the towns/cities, so you know where to look:

The Costa Brava from the air
Towns and villages of the Costa Brava

Enjoy!

PS: Ah yes, August in Catalonia: brace for crowds almost anywhere you go. Period. Not only we have half of Central and Northern Europe vacationing here but also a lot of internal tourism within Catalonia. It's still fairly common to have a "summer apartment" somewhere on the coast so lots of Barcelonians spend there their holidays.

Posted by
2530 posts

As per your days in the city of Barcelona... here a few ideas for kids:

Walk among sharks at the AQUARIUM,
Watch street human statues at the bottom of LA RAMBLA
Let's get dirty at the CHOCOLATE MUSEUM
Enjoy the wildlife at the ZOO DE BARCELONA
Living like the ancient Romans at the CITY HISTORY MUSEUM (MUHBA)
Learn and play at the MUSEU D'HISTORIA DE CATALUNYA
Watch football at its best at CAMP NOU home of FCBARCELONA
Touch everything, yes go ahead... at COSMOCAIXA, SCIENCE MUSEUM
Thrilling rides at the TIBIDABO fair
Looking down from the sky riding the CABLE CARS
Sound, light and music at the FONT MÀGICA
Go back to the Middle Ages at POBLE ESPANYOL
Can you find your way out at the LABERINT D'HORTA, THE MAZE
Ride to the top of the hill with the TRAMVIA BLAU --check website as it's temporarily closed now for works.
See a real mummy at the EGYPTIAN MUSEUM
Enter a magical auditorium at PALAU DE LA MÚSICA CATALANA
See a jungle of strange mythical creatures of the Catalan folklore at LA CASA DELS ENTREMESOS, and its website here

...and for a day escapade outside the city:

The wildest rides in Europe at PORT AVENTURA
Feel like a giant at MINIATURE CATALONIA PARK
Help save a turtle at C.R.A.R.C.
Tibetan bridges and more at NATUPARK
Choo, choo... the TRAIN MUSEUM
Watch eagles fly at the CIM D'ALIGUES

Posted by
29 posts

This is fabulous, Enric! Thank you! =)

I wish I could just make a decision. Rental cars look to be over $500 for 3 days so we may be better off taking bus/trains/taxis as necessary. I will have to revisit that. If we stay in Girona, it appears we could take a couple of nice day trips to a couple of the towns with "personality" as noted in the material you have shared. I am leaning toward Girona over Valencia simply to be in a smaller area rather than another large city. Thoughts?

Another question please? Is the location of our hotel in Barcelona of concern? It says its near the "Glories" metro stop. We definitely do not need to be in the super touristic area but is this area still convenient?

Thank you so much!

Posted by
2530 posts

I'm biased... Girona is in my home nation, Catalonia, while Valencia is not. Besides, Girona is one of my preferred cities (after Barcelona) because it's medium-size so it's the best of both worlds: convenient as a metropolis when it comes to choices (in food, in shops, etc) but cozy like a town where everything is (fairly) close and at a walking distance, also because of the family-like ambiance (ie. any Saturday afternoon in the Old City)

As per the hotel in Barcelona, keep in mind that almost anywhere in the city is good enough if you're near a metro or a bus stop as the public transportation is efficient and can transport you from A to B fairly quickly.

Btw, 500$ for three days??? Sounds far too expensive to me. I have never rented a car here in Catalonia but a quick look at some familiar brands (TV ads, etc) yield a different picture (note I can't vouch for any as I haven't used them, sorry) https://www.sixt.es/ - https://www.europcar.es or even this comparison site: https://www.atrapalo.com/coches/alquiler-coches-barcelona_x_75.html just to name three random sites I just had a look at.

Posted by
29 posts

Here once again ...

After many scenarios, we have agreed that we would really like to visit San Sebastián and enjoy the beauty there. We will hope for good weather as it is splurge with hotel prices. With that in mind, will this work based on travel in August please? Again, we will have kids ages 9 and 11 with us.

3 nights Madrid (day trip to Segovia..Toledo will be a maybe)
Day 4 - train to San Sebastián arriving at 13:30.
3 nights San Sebastián
Day 7- train to Barcelona arriving at 13:40.
5 nights Barcelona
Day 12- noon flight back to US

Another question...if I purchase the Turista promo tickets through Renfe, will our assigned seats be together?

Thank you so very much!