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13-Day Spain Itinerary for Solo Traveler

I will be traveling to Spain as a first time solo traveler (female/50ish). Very excited yet a little anxious about my adventure and seeking advice and tips on my draft itinerary, trains, etc. Will be traveling May 8-20. Thoughts, ideas, input is very much appreciated. Will be doing further research this weekend !
8. Arrive Madrid from US in AM
9. Madrid Full Day
10. Madrid / side trip to Toledo
11. Madrid to Barcelona - via morning AVE train
12. Barcelona
13. Barcelona
14. Barcelona to Granada (what is best way to travel ? train or plane?)
15. Granada
16. Granada to Seville? Bus? train?
17. Arcos or Seville
18. Arcos to Seville (Stop in Cordoba?) to Madrid via train
19. Madrid
20. Flight from Madrid to US

Posted by
11275 posts

You're packing in a lot; this trip is doable but will be busy. As long as that's what you're looking for, it's fine. If you want any relaxation time, you'll want to cut something.

Have you already purchased flights to Spain? You will save time on internal transit if you can fly into Barcelona and out of Seville or vice versa (putting Madrid in the middle), or at least only use Madrid airport in one direction instead of both.

From Barcelona to Granada, currently the best way is flying, until they finish the AVE to Granada.

From Granada to Seville, you can take bus or train; again, I think bus is faster at this time.

If you do follow the itinerary you posted, don't try to see the Prado on your first Madrid day. I made that mistake on my first Spain trip. Not only was I too tired to enjoy it, but after the Prado, all the other art museums are only seconds. See it on your last Madrid day.

Posted by
6875 posts

Please specify if you have bought the roundtrip plane ticket yet and what points are you flying in and out of.
But looking at you itinerary and considering that you are solo it is doable and you may find that you won't do it all once you start actually buying train and bustickets.

Posted by
9 posts

Yes, airfare is purchased. Flying in and out of Madrid. I am thinking of possibly taking out Granada and heading south via train to Seville, Cordoba. I hate to miss Granada, but I am not overly excited about getting on another flight to Granada. Appreciate your comments and input and am very open to suggestions.

Posted by
4524 posts

By flying in and out of Madrid, you tie yourself down somewhat, especially when you want to visit three very geographically distant places. You don't say whether cost is a major factor in your planning, but time is since you are limited to 13 days.

In your last post, you suggested possibly dropping Granada. I've never understood going to a region and then not visiting the most important cities there. So I would seriously consider sticking with two regions and spending a little more time in each. With Madrid as bookends, that leaves you two really good options:

Madrid>daytrips>Barcelona>daytrips>Valencia>Madrid

Madrid>daytrips>Cordoba>Sevilla>Granada>White Hills>Madrid

The exact order and time spent can be adjusted - but either of these limits time spent traveling and backtracking. All of these are easily done by train and/or some buses. The first one could also include an overnight in Toledo rather than making it a daytrip. Cordoba can easily be a daytrip from Sevilla or a stop between Sevilla and Madrid.

Posted by
3789 posts

I would support Douglas' recommendation of not doing 3 regions. Too bad flights are already booked. Personally, I would do Madrid and Andalusia and drop the White Hills (no appeal to me) and Barcelona if you don't want to fly from Granada. However, it depends whether you are a tapas of full meal type of gal. Some just want a limited amount of any one place. One rule of thumb some consider for travel is that every city change takes about half a day - packing, checking out, getting to train, travel, possibly holding luggage in train station locker, then getting back to locker, to lodging, checking in, unpacking. Even Toledo or Cordoba are going to add some time as you may need to deal with checking luggage somewhere while you sightsee.

Then there is jet lag. Is Madrid important to you? Are there must see places in Madrid? If so, then I suggest you move those days to the end of the trip when you will remember them rather than see them in a jet lagged fog.

What are your interests? That might help to know what to consider dropping or adding.

Posted by
7124 posts

May
8. Arrive Madrid. Train to Sevilla (3N)
9. Sevilla sights
10. Day to Cordoba
11. Train to Granada (2N)
12. Alhambra
13. Fly to Barcelona (3N)
Vueling VY2011 at 09:25
14. Barcelona sights
15. Barcelona sights
16. Evening train to Madrid (4N)
17. Madrid sights
18. Day to Toledo
19. Day to Segovia
20. Depart Madrid

Posted by
2773 posts

I'm one who likes to fly in and out of the same city, and to balance my time equally at each end. This allows me to acclimate to the new place, relax, and not worry about missing something due to getting adjusted. Also, I love returning at the end of my vacation to a familiar city. In addition to Madrid, I would pick two other bases, and make day trips if you needed more stimulation. As a solo traveler, I find changing bases to be the most stressful time, so I like to limit those so I have time to relax and enjoy where I am, instead of running around all the time...but that's just me. However, as this is your first European solo, don't run yourself ragged. Instead, give yourself time to enjoy the moment. You'll have more interesting experiences, in many cases, as a solo traveler. Enjoy! Wray.

Posted by
9 posts

Thank you all for your input. I picked up the RS Spain tour book and am feeling a little overwhelmed just reading about which train to take and where/when to purchase the tickets. I found a local tour company (Iberica Travel) that has a 5 day tour from Madrid leaving Tues. 5/9 going to Seville (2 nights) with stop in Cordoba; Ronda/Marbella (1 night); Granada (1 night) and stop in Toledo before returning to Madrid on Sat. 5/13. That would give me the 14th thru 19th to see sights in Madrid and Barcelona, flying out of Madrid on the 20th. Not thrilled about the single supplement charge, but it might be the best of both worlds for me. Or, I consider spending my time in Madrid doing side trips, and taking train to Barcelona. Thoughts? Decisions . . . Decisions !

Posted by
4622 posts

Andrea,

I found a local tour company (Iberica Travel) that has a 5 day tour from Madrid leaving Tues. 5/9 going to Seville (2 nights) with stop in Cordoba; Ronda/Marbella (1 night); Granada (1 night) and stop in Toledo before returning to Madrid on Sat. 5/13.

This tour sounds very rushed to me and I would not enjoy it, but that's just my opinion.

You can visit most of the cities, as those on the tour, but at a much slower pace and you may actually enjoy it more.

You mention that you'll be arriving on May 8th and departing on May 20th, so that gives you 12 nights and 11 full days for this trip.

So...If I had 12 nights, flying to/from Madrid, I'd do something like this:

  • Arrive Madrid, take train to Córdoba on day of arrival (2N)-- buy train ticket at airport.
  • bus to Granada (3N) - buy bus tickets in advance on the ALSA website
  • ALSA bus to Sevilla (4N)
  • Train to Madrid (3N) - optional day trip to Toledo-- buy discounted train ticket ( Sevilla to Madrid), 60-90 days in advance on the Renfe website ( pay with PayPal) or on Trainline.eu.

If you decide to travel to Toledo, you can buy your tickets at the Atocha train station in Madrid the day of, or the day before you plan to travel. Make sure you buy RT tickets.

Have an amazing trip!

Posted by
9 posts

I really appreciate everyone's input. I have put together the following Itinerary. If you see anything that might not work well regarding transportation and getting from one point to another or have other words of wisdom, please let me know. I am from Toledo, OH looking forward to visiting our sister city, even if just for a day.

7 Arrive Madrid / Ave train to Cordoba (2 N)
8 Cordoba
9 Bus to Granada (2 N)
10 Granada
11 Bus to Seville (3 N)
12 Seville
13 Seville
14 Morning AVE train to Barcelona (3 N)
15 Barcelona
16 Barcelona
17 AVE train to Madrid (3 N)
18 Madrid
19 Day trip to Toledo
20 Flight from Madrid

Posted by
7124 posts

Note the slow times travelling overland to/from Granada, hence the attractiveness of a flight from Granada to Barcelona. And even by AVE, the train time from Seville to Barcelona is 5.5 hours.