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11 Nights in Andalusia- Finalizing Itinerary

My husband and I are planning our first trip to Spain together for early Nov for 11 nights. Given that we work full-time in the US, our vacation time and opportunities to visit Europe are limited, so we tend to try to cover as much ground as possible on our trips with the expectation that it's a once in a lifetime visit. For this trip, we'd like to plan one "must-do" activity per day and then see where else the day takes us and what we feel like.

I hate the hassle of changing hotels and repacking suitcases, so ideally, we'd like to minimize hotel changes and make day trips from a few bases. Given that we are traveling in November, it seems it would be easy to see the cities lit up at night before catching a late train back, but with the late dinner timing in Spain, we probably can't stay for a 9 pm dinner on a day trip. I know I see day trips seem to be discouraged on this forum, but I am not sure if it's really worth more overnight stops with our limited time? We like seeing historical sights (especially cathedrals and castles), architecture, natural scenery, and trying local food and drinks. My husband is also a big soccer fan. We aren't big art museum or organized tour people and prefer smaller towns to big cities. We love being able to use public transport in Europe instead of driving, but can consider a car for a day if worthwhile. It seems the white villages/Ronda would need a car, but again not sure it's worth the hassle with our limited timeframe when there is a lot that can be seen without a car.

Here's what I'm currently thinking for an itinerary, please let me know if you have other ideas! I could move a night from Sevilla to Granada if there's a good day trip from there I've missed.

Day 1- Arrive Granada aprox 1 pm via connecting flight from MAD (Mirador de San Nicolas if feeling up to it)
Day 2- Granada (see Cathedral)
Day 3- Granada (thinking it makes sense to save Alahambra for this day in case of jetlag??)
Day 4- Travel to Sevilla (trains are very limited, so considering a bus instead to arrive early afternoon if that's a good idea)
Day 5- Sevilla (see Alcazar)
Day 6- Cordoba day trip (see Mezquita)
Day 7- Sevilla (See Cathedral. Must be in Sevilla this evening for a soccer game)
Day 8- Cadiz day trip (Thinking this is the best opportunity for a day trip to see the coast in Spain via public transit. Is there a better option to see the ocean or for this day??)
Day 9- Train to Madrid (Plan to just walk around the city and just see the highlights for the afternoon and evening. Perhaps entry to one place like the palace. Madrid isn't a high priority, but offers the best flights for us.)
Day 10- Day trip from Madrid to Toledo (see Cathedral)
Day 11- Day trip from Madrid to Segovia (see Cathedral)
Day 12- Flight home from Madrid mid-day

I've scoured over countless posts on this forum and have found the insight so valuable! Thank you!

Posted by
3405 posts

Our way around the extremely late Spanish dinner time is to make our midday meal our main one. Doing so will give you a little more flexibility on your day trip days.
Day #4: I don’t know about that bus route specifically, but Spanish buses are usually a very good travel option.

Posted by
7327 posts

You won't have to eat dinner at 9 we found popping in to bars for tapas served all day pretty much sufficed and sit down lunches seemed big. Also in Granada you get a free tapas with the first 2 drinks you order both alcoholic and non-alcoholic.

We found the Alsa bus Seville to Granada a good value. Your itinerary looks fine to me given your interests. Buy your Alhambra and Seville Alcazar tickets as soon as the sales open up. The Granada Cathedral could be seen in an hour or less I think.

Posted by
21985 posts

I like your plans very much.

9 PM would be an early dinner in Spain. You can easily eat at 10 or 10:30--horrible hours for me, but perhaps not for you. I try to squeeze in time to take advantage of the menu del dia at lunchtime; I guess that's only on Mon-Fri.

San Juan del Dios in Granada is stunning. Be sure you see it.

Posted by
4492 posts

I like the itinerary since you haven’t scheduled too many things to see on each day. You left plenty of time to see other things, or just wander.

While visiting Granada’s cathedral consider visiting the Royal Chapel of Granada with the tomb of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. It has a separate entrance, but right at the cathedral. In Sevilla the visits to the Alcázar and cathedral won’t take all day, so you should be able to add a couple other places the visit, such as the Plaza de España, María Luisa park, a walk down by the Torre de Oro, or a visit to the Triana neighborhood. One gets a nice view of the city from the top of Giralda tower as long as you don’t mind walking to the top. Cadiz has some nice beaches and right on the water, so it can get very windy. In November that could make your walk on the beach fairly cool. The main draws in Segovia are its Alcázar and the aqueduct. You can’t miss the aqueduct and the plaza area at the center of it is nice to walk around. The Alcázar has been rebuilt a couple times, most recently in the 1800s, but is still nice to visit. Likewise, in Toledo you’ll have plenty of time to wander the streets after visiting the cathedral. My favorite bridges in the town are Puentes de Alcántara and San Martín.

Posted by
488 posts

When buying tickets for the Alhambra, make sure you buy the Complete Ticket which includes the Generalife. I think it's @ 14 Euros.

On Day 2, you might want to visit the Alhambra at night (if jet lag doesn't plague you) and then see it in the day on Day 3. We did and it was a different experience even though the same venue.
Try to dine in a carmen. Eating in a carmen was lovely. We ate at Carmen de Aben Humeya and timed it so that we could see the effect of sunset on the Alhambra--breathtaking! It is a terraced restaurant which is beautiful in itself. I believe they start seating @ 8 p.m. A walk through the Albaicin to reach it was lovely and quite the bit of exercise! There are other carmens, as well, which we are going to try on our visit in October.
We took the bus from Granada to Seville which was faster and cheaper than a train, but that was in 2019, so things might have changed. The bus was expedient and comfortable.

I see that on Day 4, you will arrive in the early afternoon in Seville. You might be able to comfortably fit something in that day. Perhaps a stroll in the Maria Luisa Park?
Congratulations for scoring tickets to a Seville FC game!

The Andalucia part of Spain is special. I hope you enjoy your first trip and that it won't be your last.

Posted by
4720 posts

The late dinner times are actually very helpful for day trips: it means you can come back to your base at the end of a sightseeing day, and it will still be time for dinner!
Just treat it as a quirk of the clock: Spain is in the "wrong" time zone; Madrid is offset vs. solar time by almost 1.5 hours in winter and 2.5 in summer.

Posted by
6 posts

Thank you everyone for all the wonderful suggestions! I am definitely taking notes on items to check out. We will certainly plan to see more than listed here, just mentioned some top highlights. We are thinking of having one or two "must-do" sights for each day and will fit in what we feel like beyond that as we wander. Want to be well planned and researched, but also not have every minute pre-scheduled with an exhausting itinerary!