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15 days in Spain. Flying into Madrid. Flying out of Barcelona. Need help with Itinerary.

Hi,
My two college age daughters and I are flying into Madrid in June and flying out of Barcelona. Our airfare is set. We have 14.5 days not counting flight days. We need help with our itinerary. Thinking about Madrid for 3 nights with day trip to Toledo, then taking the train to Seville for 3 nights (possibly a day trip to Cordoba), It has been suggested from friends to include Ronda, a day trip to Tangier, Morocco, moving onto Granada and then Barcelona for 3 nights. One daughter wants to go to Ibiza for a day. Not sure how, or if, to include it all. Any suggestions on an itinerary would be very much appreciated.

Posted by
1524 posts

Jill - I would skip Tangiers. Spend more of your time exploring Andalusia.

For the 15 Days Itinerary with logistics in mind:

Starting off in Madrid

Madrid - 3 Nights with a day trip to Toledo

Seville - 3 Nights

Cordoba - 2 Nights

Granada - 2 Nights

Valencia - 2 Nights

Barcelona - 3 nights

You won't have time to go to Ibiza. If you really wanted to go, you would have to take a short flight from Valencia to Ibiza. It would be too far by ferry.

Posted by
2121 posts

Just some initial thoughts:

It's going to be very very hot in Andalucia in June, consider going instead to northern Spain, a much better choice for the high summer months. You can still visit northern Spain no problem with an open jaw flight in Madrid and out Barcelona (it actually works better than going south). I would skip Morocco or Ibiza unless you have multiple days to devote to each (which you don't have).

@RJean remember getting from Granada to Valencia is not simple as it would seem. The fastest option (outside of driving yourself) would be to take a 6 hr train that backtracks back up to Madrid. Drop Valencia, fly from Granada to Barcelona, and add back those 2 nights to Barcelona

Posted by
1524 posts

Carlos - It seems most travelers often overlook Northern Spain but it's actually a great destination to go to escape the summer heat of Andalusia. I am sure the poster will consider your advice.

Posted by
5011 posts

Advice above is spot-on. You do not have time for everything on your list. Skip Ibiza (not realistic for a day trip). Skip Tangier (it's the worst bit of Morocco you can find; save Morocco for another trip when you have enough time to see the better parts further inland).

Caution: when someone says they have "X.5" days not counting flight days, I think there's usually a little willful self-deception going on. Be honest with yourself from the beginning when counting your usable days. The day you arrive is not a usable day (no matter what time the flight is scheduled to arrive) - most folks will be hard-pressed to stay awake until dinner on that day, so don't expect much from yourselves that day. Your trip actually starts the next morning - the day after you arrive in Europe. Likewise, your departure day is not usable at all: it will be completely consumed by departure tasks. Also take note: if your flight departs from Barcelona, you need to spend the last night in Barcelona (or nearby) so you don't risk missing your flight home (an expensive disaster). So, count your days and nights carefully starting now, otherwise you may find yourself short on time and blowing through places with no time to actually be there.

Posted by
4578 posts

Based on Rick Steves’ guidebook suggestion, we were planning on including several days in Morocco, included in our southern Spain trip in 2002. But while we were planning, several months in advance, 9/11 happened, and Rick himself advised waiting before visiting a Muslim country in those uncertain times. We finally made it to Morocco last year, for 3 weeks, but were in Marrakech, Fez, the Sahara, and other places, and not Tangier, which Rick describes as “the Tijuana of Morocco.”

If you do go to Tangier by boat from southern Spain, you’ll first need to get yourselves south of Seville. Our trips to Spain, a country as big as Texas, have been either north or south, but not both. If you’re going to include all those destinations, instead of beginning in Madrid, then going way south, then way, way north to Barcelona, consider flying to Barcelona, then working your way south, departing back for home from Seville (or maybe Malaga?). That saves some virtual backtracking. Or start south, and end in Barcelona.

Posted by
18424 posts

Way-off-shore islands are not places to go for one day. It takes too long to get to them.

Tangier isn't a good destination. It's also not a practical day-trip unless you happen to be staying in Tarifa (which wouldn't be a good choice). There would be way too much travel time. And did I mention that it's not a good place to experience Morocco? Now, you can go to Morocco (though it will be doggone hot). There are flights to the great cities of Fes and Marrakech from Madrid and Barcelona--though probably not every day of the week. So you can take part of your time and fly to Morocco for 5 or more nights and see a couple of wonderful places.

But that won't leave you much time for Spain, where you could easily spend 2, 3, 4, 5... times as many days as you have.

How many nights will you be spending in Europe, not counting the night on the plane? Your arrival day may well not be worth much of anything as far as sightseeing goes. Many people don't sleep much on overnight flights, if at all. Even those who do sleep are usually signficantly jetlagged on arrival. Then, at the end of your trip, your last day will be devoted to getting to the airport on time, so realistically, if you have 14 nights in Europe, that's only 13 days.

These would be my minimum nights per city, based on what there is to see in each one:

  • Madrid: 2 (3 if you want to visit the big 3 art museums; add 1 day if you want to day-trip to Toledo; add 1 day if you want to day-trip to Segovia)
  • Cordoba: 2 (or day-trip from Seville, but 3 nights isn't too many for Cordoba)
  • Seville: 4 (add 1 if you want to day-trip to Cordoba)
  • Granada: 2 (but 3 would be much better; there's more to see in Granada than the Alhambra)
  • Barcelona: 5
  • There's no time for Ronda, Tangier (see above) or Ibiza (ditto).

I think those time allowances probably add up to one more night than you have, so you'd need to trim somewhere--and even then it would work only if you aren't interested in Madrid's art museums (or Toledo or Segovia). Given that you don't really have enough time for a relaxed visit to all of the places I listed and June is not the best time of year to see Andalucía, I agree with the earlier suggestion that you give serious consideration to visiting Madrid, Barcelona and some places in northern Spain (like the Basque Country). Much of the will probably have very moderate temperatures in June.

Posted by
581 posts

I love, love Andalucia! It was one of our favorite trips. However, I agree with Carlos that Andalucia will be VERY HOT in June, and that perhaps you should consider visiting northern Spain instead. For comparison purposes, we visited Madrid and Andalucia from mid-September to October 3 in 2017. Temps in most places were in the 80's, but in Seville temps were 90 - 95F, and this was late September. When I was planning our trip, I read trip reports from people who were in Andalucia during the summer months, and temps were in the 90's to low 100's. They wrote about being drenched in sweat after being outside for 10 minutes! If you decide to visit Andalucia, you should choose a hotel that has air-conditioning AND a pool. Plan on sightseeing early in the morning, and return to your hotel in the afternoon to swim to get some respite from the heat. And then continue sightseeing in the evening.

If you go to northern Spain instead, you can visit Costa Brava just north of Barcelona. Stay in Girona a few nights (a wonderful medieval city), and visit fishing villages and beaches along the coast. You could stay in Cadaques for a few nights to swim, relax, and visit Dali's house in Port Lligat and the Dali museum in Figueres. You could also venture into the Pyrenees. Are you willing to rent a car? Visiting Costa Brava is easiest with a car. But I know you can take a train to Girona, and perhaps buses to Figueres. The advantage to visiting Andalucia is that you don't need a car because you can take the train or bus to each destination. Perhaps someone else can chime in about public transportation options to Girona and the Costa Brava.

Another possibility in northern Spain is San Sebastian and Bilbao. I haven't been there so can't really offer first-hand advice.

I agree with Carlos about skipping Valencia, regardless of whether you go to Andalucia, and adding those 2 nights to Barcelona. Barcelona is a large city with many important cultural sights that require advance purchase tickets, and for this reason, you may not be able to visit as many sights as you think you can in one day.

Posted by
1524 posts

Well said Kmkwoo! I hope you will get the opportunity to visit Basque country in the near future. The cuisine there is excellent as well as the beaches of San Sebastián and Saint Jean De Luz. The Guggenheim museum of Bilbao is worth a visit. In the French side of the Basque, Saint Jean de Luz is my favorite. It's a wonderful coastal town.

Posted by
4742 posts

Forget going to the Costa del Sol, Ronda is good, but otherwise not much but a nasty beach. Tangier is not recommended. Don't try to go to Ibiza, it is just not worth the expense for a short trip.

Your plan is not bad, but I think you are trying to cover too many places.

You can cut a day off Cordoba (1 night instead of 2)

Madrid 4 days including day trips to Toledo and Segovia (See 1900 year old Roman aqueduct intact).
Seville 4 days
Cordoba 1 day
Granada 1 day (check on flying from Seville then on to Barcelona
travel involved to Granada 1 day
Barcelona 4 days

Posted by
2 posts

Thank you to everyone who responded. You have given me lots to think about. I'll take out Tangier and Ibiza but based on comments, will consider Northern Spain instead. I am willing to rent a car as well. Drove the narrow hills of Ireland, opposite side of the road with a stick shift so I shouldn't have a problem driving in Spain. If I don't count the day/night we fly in (arriving at 3:30 pm from San Diego) then we have 14 more nights, leaving on the 15th day.

Posted by
2121 posts

If you like Ireland you'll love northern Spain aka "Green" Spain, I'd describe it as a mix between Switzerland and Ireland, but with better food lol! It's quite the contrast compared to the south of the country. From charming medieval stone villages, to the picturesque rolling hills, the emerald waters of Bay of Biscay, the culinary delights of the Basque country, the unique Celtic culture of Galicia, and finally the towering jagged peaks of the Picos de Europa national park; Northern Spain has something for everyone and is generally less touristy than the rest of the country.

Here's a nice feature on Cantabria, from Lonely Planet, one of the several regions of Northern Spain: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/articles/cantabria-discovering-spains-little-visited-north-coast

PS: IMO the best way to see Northern Spain is with a car, you can pick it up, leaving Madrid, and drop off arriving in Barcelona.

Posted by
4742 posts

Northern Spain is nice, but that will seriously cut into visiting the South.

Seville was my favorite city in Spain, not to be missed.

Posted by
1235 posts

I think some of the warnings about avoiding city Andalucia in June are overblown. (late July/August perhaps). For a start being hot shouldn't be a problem for most healthy people. Just plan your days accordingly and include drinks' breaks. Certainly, you can expect Sevilla to be fairly warm by June - if not scorchio - but so will be Madrid. In fact, when you consider the "real feel" temperatures from being outside in the sun (as opposed to official shade temperatures), I doubt most would notice much difference between the two, both being nice and sunny. What will be different is the humidity, which many seem to forget even though that's what makes for a more uncomfortable day. You can expect it to be much more humid in Barcelona and Bilbao than Sevilla or Granada.

If Ibiza is a must, then you really need to go for a minimum of two nights, ideally three. You can fly from Sevilla to Ibiza and from Ibiza to Barcelona, so it would make sense to include it between those points.

Assuming you skip Ibiza (and Morocco), I'd suggest 3 nights in Madrid, including day-trip; rail to 4 nights in Sevilla, including a white village day-trip (not Ronda, there are better options); then from Sevilla to Cordoba by rail for 1 night; onto Granada for 3 nights; finally fly to Barcelona for 4 nights. Or is that one night too many? You could cut Barcelona to 3 nights if so. If you want to avoid moving around so much, you could make Cordoba a day's stop between Sevilla and Granada rather than an overnight.

Posted by
14246 posts

I just looked at the historical weather data for Sevilla here. Highs were

Jun 1-3, 2019 - 97-100
June 9-11 - 86-90
June 16-18 84-90
Jun 1-3, 2018 79-81
Jun 9-11 - 77
Jun 16-18 93-100
Jun 1-3, 2017 90-93
Jun 9-11 91-99
Jun 16-18 104-108

Barcelona's usually not as hot, but it's humid. Choose your poison.

Don't expect sights to be air-conditioned except for museums. Cathedrals and some churches are usually noticeably cooler than outside temps, but I've never been there in extreme heat. .

Posted by
18424 posts

It's fine to tell people to take a break during the hot part of the day (I've given that advice myself), but if you are planning the sort of itinerary that allows just 3 nights in Seville (with a possible day-trip to Cordoba), I'd argue that you're obviously planning to keep moving from sight to sight, not take substantial mid-day breaks.

I've spent almost my entire life in the southeastern US (if you count DC as southeast) and am a lot more heat-tolerant than average. In my experience, day after day in 85-90-95 F heat is draining. I agree that Barcelona can feel quite hot on humid days even if the temperature is only 80 or so. That's why I recommended places farther west.

These days even the Basque Country isn't immune from hot days, but it tends to be just a day or two at a time, and on those days the humidity level isn't very high. In the south it's not unusual to run into protracted periods of extremely high heat. In the entire month of June 2019, Seville had only six days when the temperature didn't reach 85 F. The highs on those days ranged from 81 to 84.

Posted by
4578 posts

This may not work for younger college-age people, nor in fact for everyone, but hot weather in Seville is exactly why there’s Sangria! Wine with fruit juice, chilled. Salud!