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3 weeks in Spain - suggestions?

Hello all,

My better half and I arrive in Barcelona early October. Preliminary plan is 4 nights in Barcelona with a trip to Montserrat. Fly to Granada for 3 nights. Nerja for a couple of days. Ronda for a couple of days (is a trip to Gibraltar from Ronda worth it?). Sevilla is next for 2 or 3 days, then Toledo for 2 days and finally Madrid for 3 full days. This travel path is in the Rick Steves Spain 2019 book.

Any suggestions for improvement?

Thank you all!

Posted by
19187 posts

I have never been to Gibraltar or Nerja despite having spent over 5 months in Spain, which tells you I give them extremely low priority. I wouldn't try to see either one on a trip of this length that intends to range all the way from Barcelona to Seville and Granada. I would include Cordoba instead. I think you're short on time in Barcelona (just 3 full, non-jetlagged days) given that you want to go to Montserrat.

It sounds like you're planning to drive. Seville-Cordoba-Madrid is much, much faster by train. Even with Toledo throw into the mix--accessible by train only from Madrid although it's physically positioned between Cordoba and Madrid, the train would be faster. A car will be helpful in the south for seeing Ronda between Granada (Nerja) and Seville. Depending on you timing, the car might allow you to stop for short visits to one or more of Arcos de la Frontera, Grazalema and Zahara de la Sierra.

Another place I'd certainly include before Nerja and Gibraltar is Segovia, which can be a day-trip from Madrid.

These are just my opinions, of course. I think Rick's itineraries are too rushed for independent travelers. YMMV.

Posted by
114 posts

Agree with the above about dropping Nerja and adding Cordoba instead. We did both cities on our trip to Spain, and in hindsight I would have dropped Nerja to add nights to other cities. Consider even an additional night in Seville. I also would have liked to have another night to see other of the "white towns" in addition to Ronda. Have fun!

Posted by
14409 posts

Your post mixes counting days and counting nights. You should be counting only nights and know that for X nights, you have (X-1) days. How many nights do you have in Spain. Are your flights booked, open-jaw Barcelona/Madrid? What are your dates? Take into account that Oct 12 is a huge holiday.

What are your interests? If European painting is high on that list, Madrid needs 3 full days. If it isn't, one day is enough to see the highlights.

Three visits to Spain and I never considered Nerja, considered Gibraltar and nixed it. Cordoba's Mezquita is a must-see and the Juderia is one of the best-preserved medieval centers, much more than any of your other picks.

Posted by
584 posts

I agree with everyone that you should include 1, preferably 2, nights in Cordoba. The Mezquita is amazing, and there are other wonderful sites to see in Cordoba, such as the Alcazar gardens, Roman Bridge, Juderia, Palacio de Viana, etc. We loved Cordoba; one of our favorite places.

I think Seville deserves 3 full days, therefore 4 nights. The Alcazar is awesome! We spent 4 nights in Madrid. The art museums are outstanding. Also enjoyed the Royal Palace, Retiro Park, and wandering the neighborhoods.

3 nights are good for Granada. We didn’t go to Nerja or Gibraltar. Really enjoyed Malaga.

Posted by
3789 posts

Is the Alhambra in Granada important for you to see? If so and this is next month, you may be out of luck. Tickets on the website are booked out into second week of November. You may be able to take a Viator tour or ask your hotel to try and secure tickets, but if still no luck, you may want to reduce a night in Granada and add it to that Gibraltar consideration or Madrid for a visit to Segovia.

Posted by
4944 posts

I would focus more on Seville, cut a day from Granada add it to Seville.

I would skip Gibraltar on this trip.

Posted by
2 posts

Thank you all for the suggestions. From Barcelona, we are flying to Granada and taking the bus or train for the rest of the trip. Is the best way to see Toledo a day trip from Madrid?

Posted by
19187 posts

If you don't have time to spend the night, a day-trip from Madrid is your best bet, because the train is very fast. The fare is always the same, not escalating as your travel date approaches. However, the Toledo trains require seat reservations, and some may be popular enough to sell out. Rick particularly recommends buying your return ticket in the morning so you don't risk being marooned in Toledo for the night with a paid-for hotel room in Madrid. I have definitely seen trains listed as sold out, so it can happen. There is a great deal to see in Toledo, so I'd lean toward a late return to Madrid.

There are also buses making that run, but they take longer than the train and leave you at bus station that's probably not as close to your hotel as Atocha Station.