We are traveling to Malaga March 2 for a few weeks in RCI resorts with a rental car. We are hoping to make day trips to see many things in that time. Maybe some overnight. We will still have 10 days left and will end in Barcelona. We are thinking of another resort for a week in Alicante or Castellon before Barcelona. Are we mistaken to spend so much time at the RCI resorts? I know it's not the Rick way, but, it is pretty low cost and low stress. We plan to keep the car the whole 24 days but don't have to.
OK, since my wife works for RCI and we have stayed at an RCI resort (Beach Club) in Malaga while renting a car.....
First, check out festivals happening in March to determine where you might desire to go.
Second, be sure an obtain from AAA your IDP for $20. Required by law in Spain.
Third, Be very wise about NOT leaving valuables in the car or exposed.
Fourth, obtain a GPS.
5th, park outside of tourist zones and walk into the area. Parking is usually easier and cheaper to find plus you can scope out the neighborhood to determine safety.
Trips: from Malaga you can:
- day trip to Ronda (just at two hours plus). Leave early morning and take highway through Marbella and then up over the mountain. Beautiful drive, but do not attempt to drive like the locals. At the top you can look back at a great view of Gibraltar. Return home via the highway through Malaga. Stay for a sunset.
- You can day trip to Granada via highway through Malaga, stay off the coastal road. Leave early and return after sunset. Drive time a tad over 2 hours. Park in the public parking located at the top of Alhambra and at all costs avoid driving in old town.
- Seville is a three hour plus drive so we made it an overnight visit. I advise spending two nights in Seville.
- Be sure and spend an afternoon an evening in Malaga.
- using Malaga, Seville, Cordoba and Granada as a driving boundary there are ample places to visit and gain benefit from having a car. Take the time to learn where olive orchards offer tours and about other quaint out of the way places accessible via car. This is the real benefit of having a car if you take the time to research and value going to such places. Outside of this driving boundary we always take trains.
Alicante is small and the RCI resorts are predominantly beach bound to the north and south of Alicante.
Castellon is also predominantly beach resorts and March is not conducive to beach weather.
I would not advocate taking the time to drive from the Costa del Sol region to Alicante or Castellon when train service is so readily available.
Thanks! Great advice. So, maybe we'd be better off splitting the last 10 days between Seville, Madrid, day trips, and Barcelona? That seems like a lot of big city stuff and more expensive, but, maybe worth it.
I would suggest the train from Malaga to Madrid, (Atocha station) about 4 hours I think. From Madrid day trip (or overnight) Toledo AVE train 25 minutes, and to Sevilla from Madrid (Atocha station again) 2 1/2 hours.. pvernight for a couple of nights there/ Sevilla, the Really Discover Sevilla tours are excellent...smaller in number of participants, and they offer 3 or so different tours. If you are to spend the night in Toledo, the Posada de Manolo is excellent, near the Cathederal also.
So you have 24 days total, are your travel days to and from home included in these 24 days?
The last 10 days are in Barcelona?
Where are you flying into and out of?
Let me know and we can be a bit more specific with our guidance.
Thanks Steven, I guess we have 23 days not counting travel. 13 are in the Malaga area at RCI resorts. We fly out of Barcelona on the 25th so, we have 10 days to plan. We were going to work our way there with the car, but if it's not a good idea, we could leave it in Malaga or Madrid.
If you are flying directly into Malaga then pick up the car there and use for the duration you are in Costa del Sol. Prior to purchasing groceries please ask for several grocery store locations. Up by Sunset Beach Club is a very nice grocery store, just west of the resort by 300 yards, which is well worth the visit.
Recommend you plan your visit to Seville for the end of your time in Costa del Sol. This way you can drop the car upon arrival in Seville and use public transport while staying for a couple of days. From Seville take the AVE to Madrid and spend several days. Then take the AVE to Barcelona for the reminder of your trip. The AVE is an excellent experience. Buying the tickets are a hassle, but well worth the effort.
Should you fly into Madrid then stay for a couple of days and take the AVE to Seville where you would pick up the car AFTER you have completed your stay in Seville. Then drive to Costa del Sol and then catch a plane from Malaga to Barcelona.
Which resorts are you staying in?
Thanks Steven, We are staying at Club Delta Mar and Macdonald Dona Lola Resorts. I know that everyone recommends getting rid of the car and taking the AVE. I'm still a little hesitant, It's about $300 for two to get from Madrid to Barcelona as an example. That's more than a car for the whole three weeks. Is there a cheaper way to get tickets? Driving time doesn't bother us if there are things to experience along the way, but, we don't want unnecessary hassles either.
I dug further and see that I can travel the AVE for 42 Euros on the reduced P rate. We are now thinking of leaving Malaga on the 15th with the car and driving to Seville for two nights, then to Toledo for two nights and on to Madrid to drop the car. Three nights in Madrid, the AVE to Barcelona for three nights and home. Is it impossible to have the car in Seville?
Glad you found the reduced train fare. Important note: you must travel for the time you selected as the ticket is only good for that train, on that day at that specific time.
Is it impossible to have a car in Seville? No, we did it; but went friggin nuts trying to drive in old town. Even a GPS was worthless as there are simply too many small narrow one way streets for the GPS to keep up. Choose wisely for your hotel and consider giving up on the charm of staying inside the tourist zone in order to have a hotel offering parking. Public transport is great and in this case worth the investment.
Driving to Madrid from Seville, there are two routes one to the north and one first heading east. The one to the north is more scenic. BUT................... by the time it is said and done driving is going to take all day. Plus you will be arriving in Madrid at the end of your trip ready to be out of the car and drinking a beverage. NOTE: Madrid is Europe's third latest city - think NYC in terms of driving. Plus you will need to drop the car. I would not do this drive. Time is too precious and the train is too easy, comfortable and a wise use of time. If it helps, I love long road trips and I mean really long road trips.
Still I would not recommend doing so for what you propose.
BTW, ez to take AVE to Madrid and catch a train back out to Toledo - very convenient.
You have selected two nice resorts. If you can tolerate a two lane highway with a lot of switchbacks going up a mountain then I recommend you head to Ronda via Marbella. As you near the top of the mountain you will come upon a small overlook parking lot on your left hand side. This provides an excellent view of Gibraltar, just be very careful on pulling in and out of the parking lot. Also, please make no attempt to keep up with the locals who drive fast since they know the road and are part crazy. Do not worry if they get on your bumper as they will figure out how to get around you. If you are going to drive long distances I recommend getting a slightly larger car to make for a more comfortable experience. Be sure you know how to drive a stick shift, 90% of the cars in Spain are manual.
Thank you so much, Steven!