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6 Nights in Andalucia Area / 4 nights Barcelona

After reviewing Rick Steve's "Spain 2016" and this forum, I am trying to work out details for a first time trip to Spain with my wife. All planning is flexible at this point. Our current plan is to fly from Lisbon (we're in Portugal for 9 days) to Sevilla and stay 3 nights, starting 12-Oct (@ Hotel Casa 1800?). Originally, I planned on getting a car upon leaving Sevilla and exploring multiple sites (Tarifa, Nerja, Ronda) before heading to Granada. Should we get a car or not? Which locales should we be sure to see and what can/should we skip? Should we look into in day tours (through a company) and which ones? After reading this forum, my current thinking is 3 nights in Sevilla, train to Cordoba and stay 2 nights, train to Granada and stay 2 nights, fly to Barcelona for 3 nights returning to the states starting the morning of the 4th day.

We like to be active, enjoy walking, and are fine with public transportation, but not if there is a better way.

So, does this skeleton of a plan "make sense" or are there better suggestions for timing, etc. (Right amount of time? Get a car or not? Day trips from home base? Where to stay?). Sorry for this being rather broad in scope, but with complete flexibility at this point, I want to try to put together the best plan.

Posted by
513 posts

Your "current thinking " itinerary sounds good to me. October, in my opinion, is the perfect time to visit Spain - I spend several weeks there every October (in fact I will be in Seville and Cordoba for seven days earlier in the month). The only thing you might consider is to add a day to Seville and one to Granada, then visit Cordoba (less than an hour by train) as a day trip from Seville. Either way will work well - enjoy your trip!

Posted by
14235 posts

Cordoba is my favorite city and I love the late evenings and early mornings there, but you don't have a lot of time. I suggest you leave Sevilla early in the morning, store luggage at the Cordoba bus station across the street from the train station, spend the day and take an evening train to Granada. I would add at least 1 of those 2 nights to Barcelona - 2 full days there is barely seeing some of the top sights.

Or you could use one of your days in Sevilla to visit Cordoba, even just a few hours to see the Mezquita and walk through the Juderia. Get a rental car, drive through the pueblos blancos, spend one night in Ronda, use the next day to see Ronda itself, then a late aftrnoon drive to Granada and drop the car. You could then add the extra night either to Sevilla or Barcelona. Sevilla really deserves 2 full days, but there is so much in Barcelona . . .

It appears that Oct 14 is a big day in Spain (Columbus . . . ). I'd make reservations for the week sooner than later. My favorite hotel in Sevilla (Amadeus) is already full on the 14th.

Posted by
332 posts

Just returned from Barcelona. You must take time to see the la Sagrada Familia. Take the audio tour. It is like 23 euro (edited to say that is for 2 pppl) but is amazing.

Go to the Baquerio Market on the Rambles.

We walked back from Sagrada la Familia to the Rambles and walked the length of it. We came back another day for the market.

Lots to do in Barcelona and depending on interests you could spend all your time ther but we wanted to see some of the surrounding area so we actually took a train north to the little village of Mataro. Highly recommend!

And walked along their Ramblas and ate at their little local restaurants. The TRAIN (I mistskenly said bus and have edited) ride along the ocean is alone worth the trip up and back. Beautiful.

We were there 3 nights and 4 days. So we took about 4 or 5 hours to do this.

Posted by
30 posts

Thank you both for your reply. I have now adjusted my dates for a Sept. 28th arrival into Sevilla to avoid the Oct. 14th crowds. Per your suggestion, we will catch an early train to Cordoba (Mezquita, etc.), get rental car and work our way to Ronda for evening arrival. Explore Ronda next day and then to Granada late afternoon (looking to stay at Amadeus), dropping off car (hoping a "one way" car rental won't be expensive). By making some adjustments, per your suggestions, we will have 2 full days in Sevilla, and we will be able to arrive in Barcelona a day earlier allowing 3 full days in Barcelona and area. Thank you again.
Mike

Posted by
30 posts

Thank you Vick for the Barcelona recommendations and I have added them to my plan. So for the Mataro day trip did you take the bus or train?

Posted by
14235 posts

Mike, I wasn't clear. I was suggesting either a day trip to Cordoba while in Sevilla, then driving Sevilla > Ronda > Granada or skipping Ronda and stopping for the day in Cordoba on the way to Granada. Driving from Cordoba won't take you through the scenic pueblos blancos which is the point of taking the car. If you want to go Cordoba > Ronda > Granada, take buses/trains and don't bother with a car.

The Amadeus Hotel is in Sevilla. I've rented cars twice in Spain, both times with different drop-off locations and at reasonable rates. I usually compare the quotes from autoeurope.com (usually Europcar rentals) and direct quotes from europcar.com. You can also try gemut.com.

You're still flying into Portugal and just move your dates forward, right?

Posted by
332 posts

Mataro was a train trip. Very easy. Just make sure u take the right train. We took (the wrong) high speed train out (one a bit further inland) and had to go past quite a ways and then diagonal our way back to mataro on a train. No big deal but cost us an hour at least. Plus we had to wait 45 minutes for train.

It was actually kinda fun though. Got to see more of the area that way.

Posted by
30 posts

Chani, that makes sense now and as you suggest, we will rent a car in Sevilla to drive through pueblos blancos. 1 night in Ronda on way to Granada (dropping off car there). We are planning to fly in from Lisbon into Sevilla Sept. 28th now.

Posted by
7124 posts

So putting dates to Chani's great suggestions...

Sep 28 Fly from Lisbon to Sevilla - 3 nts
Sep 29 Cathedral, Real Alcazar
Sep 30 Day trip to Cordoba
Oct 1 Pick up rental car. Drive via Arcos de la Frontera to Ronda - 1 nt
Oct 2 Drive to Granada - 2 nts. Return rental car.
Oct 3 Alhambra, Albaicin
Oct 4 Fly to Barcelona - 4 nts

Posted by
14235 posts

Don't forget to book your Alhambra visit as soon as you're sure of your dates. They sell out quicker than you'd think. I really enjoyed seeing the Nasrid Palaces on a night visit, then returning the next day for the standard day-time experience. The Palaces look very different at night. And that's the order I would recommend.

Posted by
13 posts

We just returned from Barcelona last week. Stayed at the Hotel Gaudi, just off Las Ramblas, about half way up. A block from the Metro station at Liceu across from La Boqueria. Wonderful! Had a rooftop lounge area that was fabulous. Very nice accommodations, excellent breakfast included. Highly recommend.

Posted by
30 posts

Thank you for the Barcelona hotel recommendation and I will look for Hotel Gaudi, as per earlier suggestion we changed our Barcelona time to 4 nights (from 3). Planning on staying 3 nights at Amadeus in Sevilla to start the Spain portion of trip (separate post for Portugal). Looking at a 1 night stay in Ronda if anyone has a recommendation (will be driving in/out). For 2 nights in Granada, I have penciled in Hotel Casa 1800 Granada.

Posted by
102 posts

When you're at the Seville Cathedral, make sure to follow Rick's advice of buying the combo ticket at the Church of the Savior a few blocks away, then literally walking past every one in line for the Cathedral to the area where tickets are sold. Just show your ticket to the security person there and they'll let you in. On the way, ignore all the dirty looks from the people waiting in the outrageous line.

That one tip was worth the cost of the book alone!

Posted by
243 posts

I would take a day off Sevilla and stay over in Granada. There is something magical about going to the Mezquita during the free hour 8:30-9:20 and if you get to the Alcazar before 9:30 it and its gardens are free too. You beat the crowds and tour groups. I've been to Sevilla and for me 2 nights is plenty. Great food and the Jewish quarter with shopping and narrow streets is great but for me the charm and repeat visits are Granada and Cordoba.

Posted by
30 posts

Thanks for the reply Ann. So are you suggesting dropping to 2 nights in Sevilla and adding a night in Cordoba (to be able to see the Cordoba site early the next morning)? You post said to add a day in Granada?

Posted by
243 posts

Yes, I would take a night from Sevilla to stay in Cordoba. I also would drop Ronda for another night in Granada. We did this trip last year by train and bus. By taking away Ronda you only have to move 3 times and won't need a car. It also depends on what you like to do. Sevilla for me is the old town and great tapas. Cordoba is charm, the Mezquita which is a world wonder plus the old section with its winding streets. If you do go to Cordoba climb the tower in the Alcazar and visit the gardens. Granada I think either 2 or 3 nights is enough. I would choose 3. The Alhambra is amazing but walking along the river and exploring the city is wonderful. It has a hippy casual vibe. Barcelona is a wonderful city. The Miro museum and Sagrada Familia are musts. We looked at going to Ronda this year but from locals found it was a lot of uphill walking. Instead we did Cordoba and Malaga.

Posted by
14235 posts

If you want to visit pueblos blancos you need to spend a night in Ronda. As I said, Cordoba is my favorite city but it's not worth the packing/unpacking, checking in/out, carting luggage around, for one night. I found that the Mezquita was less crowded at midday (lunchtime for tourists). On my last visit, I went for the free hour in the morning, the organist was playing almost the entire time and I thought the music was distracting and intrusive, definitely reduced the joy of the Moorish beauty. So I'd keep to Seville 3, Ronda 1, Granada 2, Barcelona 4.