On our 9-day stay in Spain, we will start in Barcelona for 4 days (including a day trip to Girona) and end in Madrid for 3 days. Any suggestions for a 2-day stay between in Barcelona and Madrid. I haven't seen too many enthusiastic endorsements for Valencia.
What time of year is your trip?
Valencia is attractive, pleasant, etc., but it's not on the way between Barcelona and Madrid, so you'll lose some time sitting on trains. I think Zaragoza (right on the AVE line so no wasted train time) would be a better choice from the logistical standpoint. It has an attractive historic area and a very nice Moorish palace. But if this is a summer trip, be aware that Zaragoza can be very hot at that time of year.
However: Are you sure you're allocating enough time for Barcelona? Is it your first landing spot in Europe? If so, 4 nights there will give you just three full, fairly non-jetlagged days. There's a lot to see and do in Barcelona, and a lot of the most popular places require pre-purchased, timed tickets that make it difficult to squeeze in a lot of places in just a few days.
And are you planning any side-trips from Madrid--Toledo? Segovia? How do you feel about Madrid's art museums? If your "3 days" in Madrid is really 3 nights, that's only about 2-1/2 days--probably fine if you don't plan any side-trips.
I'd choose Toledo over Zaragoza. Toledo's worth a couple of nights or can be treated as a day-trip from Madrid.
Thank you for your suggestions. Your question about time spent in Barcelona is well-taken. The more I read, the more I think an additional day in Barcelona makes sense. I know it's the opposite direction, but I'm thinking two nights in Girona (with a day trip to Figueres) might be good for the days between Barcelona and Madrid.
I have used Girona as a base for visiting places north of Barcelona. It saved some train miles.
I couldn't find much of tourist interest in Figueres except the Dali Theatre-Museum, which is good, because there's a lot to enjoy in Girona. You should buy your ticket for the DT-M ahead of time to avoid the risk of showing up and being told the first available ticket is for hours later. The DT-M ticket includes entry to the fabulous jewelry collection in a different building nearby. I was told one can see the jewelry collection before the DT-M.
Fast trains to Figueres go to the Figueres-Vilafant Station, which is a considerable walk from the DT-M. There's a shuttle bus from the station to a point near the museum, but if the train is late you may miss the bus. There will probably be a taxi at the station. The main Figueres station used by the slower trains is a bit closer to the museum.
If you want to take a fast train from Girona to Figueres, you'll potentially save money by buying your ticket early, while Promo tickets are still available. Fares on the slow trains do not change. That goes for the Barcelona-Girona trip as well.
I haven't been to Zaragoza (yet). I was going to suggest Toledo (though it isn't "on the way"), then I read acraven's advice. I've been to Barcelona 3 times now, for a total of over 2 weeks and I've only gone to one sight twice (the MNAC museum) and I still haven't seen everything on my (ever-growing) list. I was in Girona only on a short day trip, so perhaps it rivals Toledo. I'd also suggest that you only need 3 days in Madrid if you either love European painting and want 2 days for the Prado, Thyssen and Reina Sofia, or you plan day trips.
Thank you for the information and suggestions. Very helpful.