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9 days in Spain Itinerary, Skip Madrid?

I'm hoping for some input on an upcoming trip to Spain in late Feb-early March. We are two young women flying in and out of Barcelona. I've stayed a few days in Barca before but this will be my friend's first trip to Europe. We currently have hostel reservations for:

Barcelona, 2 nights (3 days)
Toledo, 1 night (1 day Toledo, 1 day Madrid)
Seville, 2 nights (2 days)
Granada, 3 nights (2 days)
Flying back early morning on the last day to Barcelona before our evening flight back to the states.

We are debating on skipping Toledo/Madrid and adding a day each to Seville and Granada but I've seen mixed reviews on whether Madrid is a "must see." We love food, culture, architecture and plan on walking a good bit to see more sights than spending time in museums. Any guidance on the time spend here? And whether or not to do a Toledo night / Madrid day?

Posted by
5122 posts

I was just in Madrid two weeks ago for the 2nd time. I was only there because that was the only affordable flight entry point into Spain. The Retiro park and the Plaza do toros bull ring were the highlights this time as I have already seen the art musuems.

In your case I would skip Madrid and Toledo and go straight to Seville (yes and add a day to Seville and Granada) because you would have to go back to Madrid from Toledo to get the train to Seville. There is no train to Seville from Toledo.

You will get a lot of walking in Granada (it is pretty hilly) and Seville (the most beautiful parks).
Also you can take a day trip somewhere from Seville we went to Cadiz on the Atlantic Ocean and drank wine watching the sun go down on New Years Day; it was 70 degrees.
I hope you bought your ticket to Alhambra already. It is usually sold out 3 months in advance.

Posted by
126 posts

You definitely need to drop at least one destination for 9 nights. Madrid/Toledo is probably the most logical choice.

It’s unfortunate that you’re flying to and from Barcelona because that means you’re going to have to backtrack a long distance from Andalucia. It would be easier to fly in or out of Sevilla.

I would add the additional day to Barcelona rather than Granada, simply because it has more sights and is much larger to navigate than Granada.

I’d also recommend stopping in Cordoba for a few hours to see the Mezquita, whether on a day trip from Sevilla or along the way to Granada.

Also, I’m confused how you have two nights in Barcelona, but three days? You likely have one full day and two half days.

Posted by
1012 posts

I'll second the recommendation of Cordoba above.
Your trip plan looks fine to me.

Posted by
2635 posts

I don't think you have enough time in Barcelona to merit going there. I love Barcelona, but its a huge city. Yes, absolutely drop Madrid, the other days are more interesting. I think you need 3 nights in Sevilla. I do think you could get by with two nights in Granada. I do think you are missing a real gem which would be Cordoba. If you drop Barcelona, you could do one or two nights in Cordoba as your itinerary permits. Cordoba's mezquita is fascinating but so is the town. There is the Juderia to explore as well as lots of homes with patios and flowers. Also the area along the river is lovely.

Posted by
2635 posts

OOps, now see that you are flying in and out of Barcelona. So, I would drop Madrid and sadly Toledo, and really, truly, you need to add Cordoba.

Posted by
12943 posts

I, too, am confused about how many nights you have on the ground in Spain. If it is only 8 nights, you do not have 9 days in Spain; you have 7 full days, a partial/jetlagged arrival day and a departure day that is going to be pretty well consumed with getting yourselves back to Barcelona and to the airport 3 hours before your flight is due to take off.

It also seems that you are counting some days twice in your city list. I suspect that Day 3 in Barcelona is the same day you're attributing to Toledo, right?

You definitely need to cut at least one city. Europe is full of great places; not one is a must-see on any given trip. You're skipping London, Paris and Rome, aren't you? So there's nothing wrong with also skipping Madrid. It certainly doesn't hold a candle to any of the other three.

For what it's worth, I think Toledo has much more interesting architecture than Madrid, but some of it is Mudejar, and you'll see quite a lot of that down in Seville and Granada, so on this trip it wouldn't be a tragedy to miss Toledo (though I loved it).

I don't know how recently you were in Barcelona, but the demand for tickets to the most popular attractions has gotten significantly higher in the last few years. If you want to go inside any of these places, you need to buy tickets before you arrive in Barcelona: La Sagrada Familia, Parc Guell, Casa Mila/La Pedrera, Casa Batllo, Palau de la Musica Catalana, Picasso Museum.

Posted by
1556 posts

If you're not into art, then go ahead and skip Toledo/Madrid.

I personally loved the food, culture, and architecture in Madrid, but you will have no shortage of those with your itinerary.

Posted by
2 posts

This is so helpful!! Thanks all!! Hate that we don't have more time to explore (and I agree, an open jaw flight is ideal, but we found a bargain flight in and out of BCN). I must remind myself this isn't my only trip to Spain, so we don't have to cram in everything. Looking forward to exploring Andalucia!

Posted by
241 posts

I would add at least one night to Cordoba as well.