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8 days in Spain- Itinerary suggestions

Hello.We will be travelling to Spain for 8.5 days (reaching BCN by 12 afternoon) from Edinburgh.

We have 2 daughters 14 & 17 and this would be our first time in Spain. We aren t into museums so much.

the kids request was to go to Sans sebastian.does the itinerary below doable?

Thanks in advance for your time!!

Here is what I have been thinking:

Day 1 - Arrive Barcelona, checkin and go around
Day 2 -Barcelona
Day 3: Barcelona
Day 4: San Sebastian?
Day 5: San Sebastian?
Day 6: Madrid
Day 7: Madrid
Day 8: Madrid(Maybe a day trip) - Need suggestions
Day 9: Madrid. fly out at 8pm

Posted by
5385 posts

You can get two daytrips out of your time in Madrid:
1. Toledo

Both accessible by train.

You can fly Barcelona to San Sebastian otherwise you are looking at a 6 hour train ride

Posted by
13275 posts

The difficulty you're going to run into is the travel time from Barcelona to San Sebastian (5-1/2 hours by train for a morning departure only if you depart at 7:30 AM; otherwise it's at least 7 hours) and from San Sebastian back to Madrid (5-3/4 hours or more). By the time you add in hotel check-out, getting to and from train stations and hotel check-in, you will have spent darn near as much time changing locations as you will have for sightseeing in San Sebastian. And there are many other interesting places to see in the Basque Country. It seems a shame to make such a short trip there, with so much time wasted on trains.

Driving will not save significant time--maybe none at all by the time you deal with car pick-up and drop off and find parking (not cheap).

I'd suggest splitting your time between Barcelona and Madrid. Both cities have a wealth of convenient side-trips.

Posted by
4421 posts

You need to choose only two locations with only eight days and travel time. Add Bilbao to San Sebastian if you’d like as it is nearby.
Day 1, will you be arriving from the US? If so, you will be jet lagged so don’t do much that day except go for walks.

Posted by
1622 posts

It sounds like your flights are set. I would focus on Barcelona and San Sebastian. There are multiple possible day trips that you can take from Barcelona. We used this company for three small-group tours:

Day 1 - Arrive Barcelona, checkin and go around
Day 2 -Train to San Sebastian
Day 3: San Sebastian
Day 4: San Sebastian
Day 5: Train from San Sebastian to Barcelona
Day 6: Barcelona
Day 7: Barcelona
Day 8: Barcelona
Day 9: Train from Barcelona to Madrid. fly out at 8pm

Posted by
1163 posts

We split Madrid & Barcelona 4 nights each. We also did a day trip to Toledo. I agree 2 cities are doable. We particularly enjoyed Barcelona more than Madrid. Especially liked the architecture, art and history. We felt 3 nights in Madrid would have been ideal. You might consider a day tour from Barcelona to Girona. It's about a 40 min. train ride. We were very sorry we missed visiting Girona. See (We need to revisit Spain!)

Posted by
10 posts

Thanks everyone.

Looks like splitting time between Barcelona and Madrid seems to be more of a realistic option.

We will be flying from Edinburgh so jetlag isn't an issue.

Since kids are really looking forward to going to a beach, any suggestion for beaches around Barcelona?


Posted by
1163 posts

PE, unfortunately I can't speak to the beaches, but you can search on the RS site under "Beyond Barcelona, Montserrat, Figueres and Stiges." Stiges might be a good beach option. I read that it's a 30 min. train ride from Barcelona. Perhaps another poster will chime in with more suggestions.

Posted by
4379 posts

There are lots of beach options in and around Barcelona. The beaches north of Las Ramblas are popular (and crowded). But the girls would probably like the action in Barceloneta and along the boardwalk.

Nearby, towns like Sitges are charming and have beaches. Easy to get to by train. A day at the beach in Barcelona and another at Sitges might be a good mix.

A day to go hiking at Montserrat might be worth it if you are really into that, but I don't recommend it otherwise with your limited time.

Do spend time to see Sagrada Familia and at least one other Gaudi building (they might enjoy Casa Batllo most). Even teens are likely to be impressed with his architecture.

As for Madrid, I consider it more of a museum town, but lots of daytrips might keep everyone interested. Toledo is a great daytrip and town to explore the winding streets. Segovia is a similar, not quite as impressive town, but with an amazing Roman aqueduct.

In Madrid, the family might enjoy roast chicken at Casa Minga - open all day and easy to order (roast chicken is about it).

I agree with the others, trying to fit in San Sebastian too would really limit how much you can enjoy your time. If your flights are set into Barcelona and out of Madrid, stick with those two. They might be inspired to return some day to see more.

Posted by
10 posts

Thank you all for your suggestions!!

Here is the itinerary I came up with(referred to Rick Steves Spain book 2019 as well)

Day 1 - Arrive Barcelona(10.30 am), checkin and go around
Day 2 -Barcelona (go to Barecloneta beach)
Day 3: Barcelona
Day 4: Granada
Day 5: Granada
Day 6: Madrid
Day 7: Madrid(Maybe a day trip) - Seville
Day 8: Madrid
Day 9: Madrid. fly out at 6pm

Posted by
943 posts

With this new itinerary I feel like Granada is the outlier, you're going to deeply cut into your already limited holiday time just getting down there and then getting back up to Madrid. Currently, to get to Madrid from Granada, one has to go through a convoluted mix of buses, regional trains, and the AVE (total travel time 5 hr). It may be best just to fly to Madrid from Granada

Regarding Madrid, I feel you are giving it a bit too much time here, especially since you mention you do not like museums too much. Also, a day trip to Sevilla from Madrid is impracticable, it's like doing a day trip to New York from Washington DC.

I would recommend you take a step back and just visit Madrid (4 nights) and Barcelona (5 nights), and do day trips into Castilla and Catalonia, respectively. Save Granada and the rest of Andalucia when you have more time to do this region justice, assume you will be back. Hope this helps :)

P.S. check out Rick's Best of Barcelona & Madrid in 8 Days Tour, I think it will be helpful in your planning. (or just take the tour and add a day in Barcelona)

Posted by
13275 posts

Granada is awkward to connect to both Barcelona and Madrid. To get there you will have to burn a lot of time on planes, trains, or buses compared to the amount of time you'll actually have in Granada. I'd highly recommend taking day-trips from Barcelona (if you can tear yourself away) and Madrid instead.

You have only seven full, usable days in Spain. I wouldn't want to change hotels twice within that time (that's a half-day each time even if you have rapid transportation), nor would I want to deal with airports in order to travel from Barcelona to Granada.

Posted by
10 posts

Thanks Carlos!

My current plan is to fly from Barcelona to Granada, spend 2 days there.

I did notice the travel time from Granada to Madrid is 5 hours, but since we have 4 days in Madrid I thought it would be ok.

Maybe will do day trip to Toledo instead of Seville.