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12Days Trip to Europe

We'll be travelling to Europe for the first time in September flying in and out of Madrid. Is it possible to visit some parts of Italy and do both Barcelona and Madrid in 12 days?

Posted by
1996 posts

Let's break it down, you have 12 days that makes 11 nights. If you fly in to Madrid spend 3 nights there take the AVE high speed train to Barcelona, spend 4 nights, that leaves you 4 nights to spare.

You could fly over to (1) Rome or Venice or Firenze for 4 nights and then fly back from there, or just spend those 4 nights in another location in Spain, it really is up to you and your interests. One thing though do not fly in and out of Madrid, fly open jaw (in one city out the other), it will maximise your vacation time.

Posted by
5010 posts

Suggest you stop speaking and thinking about your trip in vague terms like "12 days". Doing that often leads inexperienced travelers to telling little white lies to themselves about how much time they actually have, resulting in unrealistic itineraries that leave you disappointed. It's better to specify actual travel dates - if you don't have actual flights booked yet (good, don't) start speaking and thinking about specific dates, even if those are proposals rather than concrete dates. That way, you can get a realistic sense of how much usable time you will have on the ground in Europe.

"12 days" is a slippery description. Some folks include their travel days, which is a big mistake. You probably will have about 10 full days on the ground, but it depends on flight details. Assuming that's the case, and you want to "do" both Madrid and Barcelona, that's going to eat up almost 10 days right there, unless you rush around like crazy. Unless you can carve out a longer trip (longer by a good bit) I would stick to Spain on this one, save Italy for another trip when you can do it justice.

Fly in to Madrid and out of Barcelona, or vice versa (rather than round-trip to/from one city); that will save you money, and most importantly on such a short trip, it will save you critical time, too.

Posted by
4 posts

@carlos We so wanted to do a open jaw trip start in Spain and fly out from somewhere in Italy. And just in time we found a pretty good RT deal to Madrid so we had to snag it up. Travelling Spain alone would be just fine as there's a lot to see but since I'm not sure when we will back again to Europe I atleast wanted to visit some of my bucketlist spots in Italy for a memorable trip.

Posted by
1996 posts

@Jeanscoco - if you do decide on the Spain only option you could do something like this:

Fly in to Madrid
Madrid (2 nights)
Ave high speed train to
Toledo (2 nights)
AVE High speed train to
Barcelona (4 nights)
AVE train to
Girona (2 nights)
AVE Train back to
Madrid (1 night)
Fly out of Madrid

This itinerary gives you a bit of a mix of large cities and smaller towns.

Posted by
162 posts

Hello Jeanscoco, personally I'd urge you to be realistic about what you can accomplish - I would choose Spain or Italy and then stick to it. If you just want to use your cheap Madrid fare a springboard to Italy then I would look for flights to Rome and back to Madrid from Venice or whatever your Italian trip entails. Every flight day is essentially wasted or is at best a partial day so minimize the number of days you travel by air. If you come into Madrid can you book out to Milan or Rome or wherever you want to go the same day? I would look at doing that and then come back into Madrid a day or two before your flight - see Madrid a little and fly home.

If you think you're going to see Madrid and Barcelona and then two Italian cities I think you're going to spend 4 of your 12 days traveling and not seeing either Spain or Italy.
1) Fly into Madrid - Madrid
2) Madrid - Madrid
3) Madrid train to Barcelona late - Barcelona
4) Barcelona
5) Barcelona
6) Barcelona Airport to Rome - Rome
7) Rome
8) Rome

9) Rome train to Venice late - Venice
10) Venice
11) Venice - Airport - Madrid
12) Madrid Airport

I don't see this being an enjoyable trip - days 6 and 11 are partial days at best and that is not enough time in any of those cities to do more than do a tourist pass through of the big highlights. Twelve days is really not enough for any one country let alone trying to turn that into two countries.

If Italy is where your interest lies then I'd urge you to lay out the best 11 day Italian trip you can and they try to plan that. If you can make that work as an added leg of your Madrid flight then do that trip. Keep in mind if you book your own "extra" flights you will probably need to go through baggage claim, customs and immigration - exit the arrival terminal and transfer to the departure terminal and go through security again. Also planes can be late so be sure you leave enough time between flights for make all this work. But if you go into Madrid you'll need a room and then transfer back to the airport which will really waste an entire day.

If you have strong desires to see specific things let that guide you in where you go, but be realistic about what you can accomplish.

My .02 euro,
=Tod

Posted by
4 posts

@Tod Makes so much sense since I've never been to Europe I have a very vague knowledge about all the travelling times , trains , flights. So thanks for those inputs. At this point I feel like leaving out Italy and maybe explore more of southern Spain instead. Hopefully I can sort this out more accurately.

Posted by
4 posts

@carlos Thankyou for the itinerary. We could maybe add in some southern Spain as well.