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2 weeks in Spain

Hi everyone! my husband and I are planning a 2 week visit to Spain last week of February through the first week of March. Our son is studying in Barcelona this semester and we plan to start there to visit him for 3-4 days. It is our second trip to Barcelona and we have also visited Girona in the past but have not seen any other areas of Spain. I'm am looking for itinerary suggestions to visit Madrid and south of Madrid areas of Toledo, Sevilla, Cordoba, White Hill Towns and Granada. We are open to open-jaw flight itinerary and know that from Barcelona we likely will take train to Madrid first. It's from there on that I need help! How long in each town, how best to go from one place to the next, which towns are day visits and where we'd want to sleep, etc. We are both in our mid-50's and in good shape. We love history, good food, some museums (not all day) and strolling like locals. Thanks in advance!

Posted by
1244 posts

February = colder and shorter daylight
Keep it simple
Take evening train from Barcelona to Madrid and spend three days with potential day trip to Toledo.
Then continue evening train to Seville for four days.
Then take evening train to Granada for three days and depart from there for return home.

Posted by
497 posts

With 2 weeks (14 nights?) minus 4 days in Barcelona that leaves you about 10 days for the rest of Spain. I would not try to hit more that 3 cities/towns in that time considering that you will loose 1/2 day when you switch cities. Consider going to Granada/Sevilla first and work your way up to Madrid so you can fly home from there. Four nights in Madrid would probably allow you to take a day trip to Toledo. You can also take a daytrip to Cordoba from Granada. This is just my opinion. Enjoy!

Posted by
811 posts

Granada has a nice, easy little airport. You might be able to fly home from there.

Posted by
3 posts

My husband and I spent three wonderful weeks in Spain this past October. We went directly from Madrid to Sevilla (skipped Toledo due to timing of the train), spent four nights in Sevilla, then two in Cordoba, and three in Granada before flying up to Barcelona. We took the trains with the exception of flying from Granada to Barcelona. Noor restaurant in Cordoba was one of our favorites on the trip. Beautifully plated tasting where the chef/owner makes it a point to talk with you. Also the Mesquita de Cordoba was another highlight of the trip--we did a "night tour." Only 80 people total and it was magical!! Very worthwhile. If you have the time, we took a couple of trains from Barcelona to San Sebastian on the north coast (Basque Country) for two nights, and then a third night in Bilbao (an easy one hour bus ride) where we visited the Guggenheim Bilbao before flying back to Seattle directly form there (with a change in Amsterdam). Also another favorite for us--more Michelin- starred restaurants in San Sebastian than any other single city. and it was geographically stunning! Enjoy!!

Posted by
796 posts

We visited Madrid and Andalucia in 2017. Open-jaw, or multi-city, makes the most sense. You could fly home from Seville. Exactly how many nights do you have on the ground? I plan my itineraries by nights, not days.

This is what I would recommend if you have the time:
Madrid - at least 3 nights
Cordoba - 2 nights
Granada - 2 nights
Seville - at least 3 nights but 4 nights would be better

Depending on how fast you want to travel, I don't think you have time to visit the white hill towns. It really depends on your travel preferences. We prefer to spend more time in a place to see all the important sites and take in the ambiance and get to know the place a little bit better.

Regarding Toledo, you could visit it as a day trip from Madrid, depending on what you want to see in Madrid. I actually prefer spending at least one night in Toledo, but I don't think you have the time. You don't want to spend the entire trip on trains, etc. packing and unpacking.

Regarding transportation, we took trains and the ALSA bus on this trip. The train tracks to/from Granada weren't finished at the time, which is why we took the bus. Both modes of transportation are wonderful: clean, comfortable, modern and on time.

Posted by
1767 posts

How about:
Fly nonstop from Barcelona to Granada for < $50 on Vueling.com. Sleep in Granada for two nights.
Take a direct train to Cordoba (1h 30m) and store your luggage at the bus station located behind the train station. Tour the Mezquita and then grab your bags and continue on to Sevilla (1h) and sleep in the Santa Cruz neighborhood (2 nights).
Take a direct train to Madrid (2h 45m). Sleep there for a minimum of four nights and include a day trip to Toledo (45-minutes). If you have more time, consider other day trip options i.e., Segovia (30-minutes) and Ávila (1h 30m).

Posted by
14773 posts

I'd fly open-jaw into Barcelona and out of Madrid, especially if you can get non-stop flights to/from home.
MaryPat suggested what I would have - fly to Granada, then train or Alsa bus to your next stop.

In my opinion, Madrid is the least interesting city in Spain and one of the least interesting European capitals. It's main attraction (and well-deserved) is the quantity and quality of its European painting collections. If you love it, you'll want 2 full days there just for the 3 top museums - Prado, Thyssen and Reina Sofia. If not, there's much more to see and do in Sevilla, Cordoba and even Toledo. If you don't plan to spend time in Madrid and you can't get a non-stop flight home, consider flying out of Sevilla with a European connection to the US.

I've been to Andalucia 3 times, twice in February and once in March. It's the warmest, driest part of Europe, the weather's always been pretty good - more sun than cloud, not much rain, temps mostly in the 60s during the day.

Posted by
8 posts

Thanks to everyone for your helpful comments. We just realized we'll be in Barcelona for the spring Carnival. Not sure if this is a good thing or not! Certainly is not making hotel reservations easier. Anyone here have experience with this event? Will it be difficult to get around, go to restaurants, sightsee, etc? I'm from Louisiana and I would certainly say that being in New Orleans during Mardi Gras is fun but it certainly takes over everything. Attractions are closed and restaurants are mobbed. Wondering if it
is similar in Barcelona during Carnival?

Posted by
452 posts

@https://community.ricksteves.com/users/848771 "New Orleans during Mardi Gras is fun but it certainly takes over everything. Attractions are closed and restaurants are mobbed. Wondering if it is similar in Barcelona during Carnival?"

No, it's not. Carnaval in Barcelona, despite the efforts of some, is not a notable event on the local calendar. It's fun, but it's not big. Sitges, just down the coast, is where to be IF you want to savour a Catalan carnaval.

Posted by
8 posts

Thanks again for comments. Flights are finalized and we have 15 nights. Tentative plan:
Arrive Barcelona--4 nights
Fly to Granada--2 nights
Bus to Ronda--2 nights with day trip to Arcos, Jerez
Bus to Sevilla--3 nights with day trip to Cordoba
Bus to Toledo--1 night
Train to Madrid--remainder of trip

How does this look? suggestions? Also, I don't want to spend more than 2 nights in Madrid. So that leaves 1 extra evening to add something or stay longer someplace. Would love input. Thanks!

Posted by
8 posts

One more thing...wondering if we should pick up a rental car in Granada to use there and in Ronda and Sevilla. Would return it in Sevilla. Would this be helpful?

Posted by
20797 posts

Buses from Ronda to points west (Arcos and Jerez) are not frequent, so I doubt the practicality of seeing both on a single day trip. With two nights in Ronda you'll have only one full day there plus some hours, and it really wouldn't make sense to make two separate day trips in the same direction. You'll need to do your Ronda sightseeing on the (partial) arrival day and your out-of-town trip the next day.

Unless you are mad for horses or sherry, I'd recommend skipping Jerez this time around. You simply don't have enough time to cover your desired destinations well, and I believe Jerez otherwise ranks well below Barcelona, Seville, Granada and Cordoba. (I admit to never having been to Jerez; I chose Cadiz, Arcos and Grazalema instead.)

The major reason I'm pushing the elimination of Jerez is that 3 nights in Seville is only 2 full days and some hours, and you're proposing to spend one day in Cordoba, leaving only one day and a few hours for Seville itself. Seville is quite large with many scattered sights. I like Ronda, but it's very much a secondary destination by comparison. I'd urge you to rent a car in Granada for the drive by way of Ronda to Seville, spending just one night in Ronda or elsewhere along that route, avoiding potential bus-schedule complications.

ViaMichelin.com estimates the total Granada-Ronda-Seville drive at 4-1/2 hours, but that doesn't include stopping, getting lost, traffic tie-ups, looking for parking, etc. Or lunch or sightseeing, of course. If you want to detour to Arcos de la Frontera along the way, ViaMichelin says you'll need an extra 40 minutes, but that definitely underestimates the additional time required. In Arcos you'll want to park down below the historic district, so it will take some additional time to get to what you want to see--or if you can get a taxi or bus up the hill, you'll need to allocated time to walk down. Still, if you don't have a long list of sights to see in Ronda, I think you can manage to see both Ronda and Arcos on the drive from Granada to Seville with only one night spent on the road. Heck, if you get an early start and aren't dawdlers, you might be able to make a quick stop at Grazalema or Zahara de la Sierra as well. Those last two are small and don't require as much time as Arcos or Ronda. Note: I have only traveled by public transportation in Europe, so I have no innate grasp of how much time you'll spend dealing with the parking conundrum.

I'd try to avoid daytripping from Seville to Cordoba and then later traveling right past Cordoba to get to Toledo/Madrid. You might consider seeing Cordoba in transit on the day you relocate from Seville to Toledo. You'd need to verify the availability of luggage storage very carefully. I think there are lockers in the bus station, but you'd need a back-up plan in case there are no free lockers when you arrive (which is totally possible). Googling luggage storage Cordoba should bear fruit.

A bus from Seville to Toledo will be an all-day affair. Trains are much faster. Both buses and trains involve overshooting Toledo and transferring in Madrid.

Posted by
3885 posts

Arcos is only 85km/51mi from Ronda. The drive would take a little over an hour. It’s an easy drive on rural roads and you’ll probably be driving no more 70kph/42mph. If you have a small rental car, you could drive up to the overlook in Arcos since there is a small paid lot at the top. The issue is coming down since there are a couple 90 degree turns, on a very narrow road. Hence, the recommendation to park at the bottom.

I concur with dropping Jerez de la Frontera in favor of visiting other white towns. When we went to Zahara de la Sierra we parked at the tower that you can climb. We didn’t stop in Grazalema, but parking the really small towns has never been an issue.

Posted by
796 posts

You could use that extra night to stay in Cordoba instead of visiting Cordoba as a day trip. We spent 2 nights there and loved it. It is a beautiful city with narrow alleys, white-washed walls, and patios, and more to see than just the Mezquita.

Additionally, 3 nights in Seville with a day trip to Cordoba doesn't give you a lot of time in Seville. We spent 4 nights in Seville and wish we had an extra night.

Posted by
1 posts

I will recomend you my city. Avilés, in the north of Spain. Avilés is the third major city in the Principality of Asturias. Its historic quarter has been declared a Historic-Artistic Site, since it houses significant gems of civil and religious architecture. Some of the main attractions are the pedestrian streets of Galiana and Rivero, Plaza de España with its City Hall, the old church of Sabugo, from the 13th century, and the modern Santo Tomás de Canterbury. In terms of civil architecture, Avilés can boast the palaces of Valdecarzana and Camposagrado and the Palacio Valdés theatre. Or the Oscar Niemeyer International Cultural Centre, a cultural centre complex designed by the Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer and an international project. More info about the city in https://turismoaviles.com