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First Trip to Spain

We are couple(age 34 and 35) in the beginning stages of planning our first trip to Spain in November. We have travel France, Germany, Italy, Czech Republic and Japan. So we consider ourselves somewhat experience travelers at this point. What do you think of the itinerary below? Please do not hold back. Please point out anything that is can't miss or will not work well.

Madrid (Arrival in the morning on Sat Nov 8th)
Sat Nov 8th - Wed Nov 12 (4 nights)
Including Daytrip to El Escorial on Tue Nov 11 (Maybe)

Granada (bus or train from Madrid)
Wed Nov 12 - Fri Nov 14 (2 Nights)

Seville (bus or train from Granada)
Fri Nov 14 - Tue Nov 18 (4 Nights)
Including Daytrip to Córdoba

Barcelona (train from Seville)
Tue Nov 18 - Sat Nov 22 (4 Nights)

Fly home from Barcelona on Sat Nov 22

Posted by
1178 posts

The four days (actually a little less when you consider travel to the hotel, El Escorial, and leaving for the next stop) will give you ample time to sample and savor the city. From the airport, you can take the airport express bus if there is a stop near your hotel, or take the aerocity van directly to your hotel. The bus is five euros, and makes a couple of stops before reaching the destination at the Atocha train station. The aerocity van will be in the neighbor hood of 15 of so euros, each, depending on the location of the hotel.

El Escorial can be reached either by train from the other train station, Charmain, or by bus. The bus leaves you a bit closer to the castle, but the walk from either is doable. Allow plenty of time to see this...well worth it.

In Madrid some of the major highlights are The Prado art museum, The Park Retrio, The City Hall at Cibeles Fountain (midway between the Park and the Prado, Puerta del Sol, Plaza Mayor, the Royal Palace, and Gran Via. All are walkable if you have good shoes. If not, the subway (Metro) is easy to navigate.

I have yet to get to Granada, and hope to do so on my next trip in the fall.

Seville, you may not need four nights, but this would depend on your time of arrival. I have been there for three days and nights and saw the city. I recommend Really Discover Sevilla Tour Company...Small groups and well done.

The AVE Train from Sevilla will take you to Madrid's Atocha Station in 2 1/2 hours. There is a snack car on the train. The train station in both cities are easy to navigate. Your tickets will have the car number and the seat number on them. From Madrid to Barcelona is about 2 1/2 hours as well. Same set up on the cars as from Sevilla. The trip will be enjoyable as you will see different landscapes along the way...the orange and citrus groves in the south, vineyards as you approach Barcelona. A great B&B in Barcelona is El Balcon De Born...in the heart of the gothic quarter, about two blocks from the Picasso Museum, Santila del Mar church.

Check out the www.madridman.com site for good information on your travels...not just in Madrid. Also The Moon Guide To Spain is excellent...

You will have a great trip I am sure.

Posted by
16878 posts

That sounds like a good framework that will still allow some flexibility in your daily sightseeing plans. There are two direct Sevilla-Barcelona trains per day, at 8:50 and 14:50. Try to buy at least that long, expensive train ticket early to get a discount, about two months in advance of travel dates.

Posted by
79 posts

Hi Robby:
My wife and I spent 14 days in Spain in February: Madrid to Seville to Ganada and back to Madrid. If I had more time I would have loved to add Barcelona but I'm saving it for our next trip, which will also cover Basque country. Couple of things: it's a long trip from Seville to Barcelona. You'll probably lose a whole day traveling. We did all our travel by train and we loved it. The trains are efficient, comfortable and convenient. We booked all of our trian tickets before we left, through the Petrabax web site. They are located here in the US so there were no difficulties using our credit card. We didn't go to El Escorial: instead we took a day trip to Toledo. If you time it right and book early you can get an early train there and a late train back so you can enjoy a long day there. It's worth the effort. Our hotel was a short walk from Atocha train station in Madrid which made everything easy.
Seville was, in my opinion, the best part of the trip. We loved it...so much to see and do and so much ambience. It also helps that it's warmer than Madrid or Granada so it was a special treat. I would expect November to be chilly also, so bring warm clothes (my wife had to buy a down jacket in Toledo).
Only 2 nights in Granada won't leave much time for anything other than the Alhambra but if you have to cut time somewhere I think you made the right choice.
All in all sounds like a great trip and I hope you enjoy Spain as much as we did. Check out Madridman.com for a good resource and in Granada I recommend Granada Tapas Tours. Would be happy to recommend hotels, etc if you need. Enjoy!

Posted by
79 posts

One more thing, Robby. TripAdvisor has downloadable City guides for your smartphone. I used one in Seville and I believe they have one for Barcelona. The app is very helpful for walking directions to various sites, restaurants, hotels, etc. And, once you download it, the app works offline so no worries about data charges.

Have a great trip.

Posted by
22 posts

Thanks for all the advice....I like to know I'm on the right track....

As long as you tell the bank...is it really hard to buy train tickets from the Spanish rail site....this is what I plan to do at least 60 days out

Posted by
4524 posts

The Tripadvisor Spain forum has a thread on buying tickets from Renfe. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't.

I think your overall schedule is great. I would highly recommend a daytrip to Toledo from Madrid. It's even better overnight but with only 4 nights in Madrid I'd just make it a day.

I've been all those places about the same time of year. Expect some chilly days and maybe some rain, but it should still be decent overall weather.

One thought to be more efficient with your time and costs: Fly into Barcelona, then Madrid by AVE (2.5 hours), then Granada, then Sevilla and finally take the AVE back to Madrid for your flight home (2.5 hours). Another option based on your schedule is to fly from Sevilla to Barcelona rather than a 7 hours train ride. Saves time and the cost would be about the same.

Posted by
13 posts

I agree with the recommendation to fly from Seville to Barcelona. The flights are so inexpensive and will save you time. Just be sure to pay for your bag on line when you buy your ticket. The size of the bags allowed on Rhyan Air,for example, are really small. If you have to pay for the bag at the airport it will cost you twice as much as your ticket. We also really enjoyed taking a day trip to Toledo from Madrid. We also took a Sandesman walking tour our first morning in Madrid, which we really enjoyed.

Posted by
3596 posts

Agree with previous poster...FLY

Vueling Air... Nov. 18... Prices start @40 euro... 1H35m flight time

Have a great trip