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Advice on Travel to Spain during March Spring Break

Hello Fellow Travellers,
We are a family of four - husband, wife, daughter (16 yrs) & son ( 11 yrs) from Canada. We would like to travel to Spain for spring break (March 09-18, 2017 travel dates inclusive).
Reading various posts on different blogs, suggestions are to travel from Madrid to Malaga, Seville, Cordoba, Granada. My husband and I are originally from Goa, on the west coast of India so we are fond of architecture, beaches, rustic village.
Would like any suggestions if the plan to fly into Madrid from Toronto, take the train to Cordoba & Seville, then go to Granada by bus, go to Barcelona for even a day as my son (is an avid soccer fan) and fly out to Toronto is feasible and good.
This will be our first trip to Europe, and we would love any suggestions on how many days we should spend in a particular place, which airport we should land at, mode of travel from each place - train, bus or rental car. Is is advisable to book rooms through Airbnb or tourist apartments?
Thank you for any suggestions or tips.
Monica

Posted by
7261 posts

To make it easier to plan
First you should establish the city you will fly into and the one you will fly out of and book that.
Because you may or may not find the cost prohibitive.
Based on what you said I would try to book to fly Toronto to Madrid (as their is a direct fly) and Barcelona to Toronto (there is no direct here).

Posted by
15045 posts

9 nights, arriving on the 10th, flying out on the 18th. That gives you 8 full days on the ground. Your first day you may be zonked after a long flight with little sleep and lots of jetlag, so you don't get much out of it. Every time you change locations you use about 1/2 day (packing, getting to/from the train, etc.). There are no rustic villages on your list, though you may be able to day trip to see a couple from Barcelona (especially with a guided tour). Barcelona is on the sea with lots of beaches (remember, it's winter). Malaga too, but you won't have time to go there (and it's not rustic or a village).

If you can fly into Madrid and out of Barcelona, you could fit in Barcelona. You have to decide if it's worth it to you. It's 2.5-3 hours on the train between Madrid and Barcelona and you have to get to/from the train station at each end, so you're looking at travel time of 6-8 hours round-trip. The fastest way to get from Granada to Barcelona is by flying (the train takes over 7.5 hours). The flight's about 1.5 hours, but you need extra time to get to/from the airport, security, boarding, and maybe checking luggage (cabin baggage limits are often both lower than long-haul flights and strictly enforced), then waiting for luggage on arrival.

If your family can move quickly and efficiently from place to place, you could see Madrid, Cordoba, Sevilla and Granada in 8 days. Or you could split your time between Madrid and Barcelona, with a day trip from Madrid to Toledo (or even a night or two there.

Posted by
44 posts

We, too will be traveling in Spain the same dates that you are. We have had good experiences with Airbnb's in Europe. Especially for your family. Read reviews very carefully and read many of them before booking. You will get a relaxed "homey" place to stay typically in the heart of city.

From what I have read, beaches at this time of year are too cold.

We will be in Barcelona for 3 nights, flying to Grenada for 2 nights (with your interests in architecture, the Alhambra is a must as is Barcelona). From there we will spend a night in Ronda (smaller hill town) then on to Seville for 3 nights. We are bypassing Madrid on this trip as we simply do not have enough time-made the choice of Barcelona over Madrid.
I have never been to Spain, but have been researching this trip for a number of months, and receiving information from many friends who have traveled there.. I think, personally and after talking to friends who have traveled to Spain with their children, teens would prefer Barcelona over Madrid.
If you do decide on Granada and the Alhambra, you should book your tickets on -line fairly soon!
Others on this feed, who have been to Sapin may have better ideas for you.
Have a wonderful trip!

Posted by
21301 posts

I don't think 8 nights is enough for Madrid, Barcelona and Andalucía (even if limited to Seville/Cordoba/Granada). I think you need to pick two. If you choose Barcelona + Andalucía, you're probably going to want to fly an additional leg, either Barcelona-Seville or Barcelona-Malaga, which is a big hassle and time-waster. It's something I wouldn't want to do on such a short trip.

If this were my trip I'd fly into Madrid if necessary due to airfares but would spend all my time in Andalucía, which would allow just about enough time to visit one or two smaller cities/towns like Ronda and Arcos de la Frontera.

Going back to the idea of choosing two of the three areas you mentioned, I'd start by checking airfares for your dates for: RT to Madrid, multi-city into Madrid and out of Barcelona (and the reverse), multi-city into Madrid and out of Malaga (and the reverse), and into Barcelona and out of Malaga (and the reverse). The point of the Malaga multi-city options is not to see Malaga (no time) but to get you close to Granada. With four airline tickets to buy, you may find one of those routings cost-prohibitive, which would simplify your decision a bit.

As already mentioned, the Alhambra sells out, so you mustn't dally about making decisions about Granada. March 18 is already sold out, and you'll need a time-block with four tickets still available.

Don't feel bad about not being able to go everywhere this time. Spain is a large, varied country. There's plenty to see there on Trip #2 and Trip #3.

Posted by
11292 posts

acraven beat me to it. In 8 days, pick two of these three, max:

Madrid and around (Toledo, Segovia, Avila, El Escorial)
Barcelona and around (Girona, Montserrat, Tarragona)
Andalucia (Seville, Granada, Cordoba)

You could also spend all 8 days in just one of these, but I do understand the desire for variety. Just realize that, as Chani has very well laid out, you lose at least a half day (and spend a fair amount of money) when you go from one region to another.

I also agree that before deciding which two of the three, look at flight costs and routes. You can't do it all, and while you should never do something just because it's cheap, it's a good tie-breaker.

For Andalucia, Malaga (code AGP) is the biggest airport, but not what you want to see on your short visit. So, flying into or out of Malaga involves some time (several hours) getting to places you want to see. See if you can fly into or out of Seville (code SVQ), which is also a major airport, and a place you do want to see. Granada (code GRX) has a small airport with minimal connections, so that's probably not going to work well for going to or from Toronto; still, it can't hurt to check all three.

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you for all your suggestions and ideas which really helped us a lot. We have decided we would like to go local for the spring break but do Spain end July -beginning Aug for various reasons after reading through all your suggestions. The weather, better flight options from Toronto during summer and if work permits a couple of extra days.
We are looking at change in dates (July 26-August 06, travel dates inclusive). We would welcome any suggestions with the extra days.
Thank you
Monica

Posted by
15045 posts

July 26-August 06, I'd stick with Barcelona, and up north, though maybe Valencia. Andalucia is blisteringly hot in mid-summer, with 100+ temps not at all unusual, even Madrid suffers. Barcelona's coastal position means milder summers, so maybe that applies to Valencia too.

Though maybe you haven't been totally acclimated to Canadian weather and can still handle the heat . . .

Posted by
21301 posts

I agree: I would not visit Andalucía at that time of year. (Says the person who went to Sicily in June and Puglia in July.)

Barcelona was plenty hot enough last August, thankyouverymuch. If you stick to Catalunya there will usually be a beach at hand.

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you Chani for your post on the weather as it had totally slipped my mind about the hot summers in Spain. We have lived in Canada for fifteen years. My kids do not like very hot summers as they have had a very bad experience when we had taken them to Dubai when they were younger and they had to be hospitalised. My husband and I are okay with pleasantly warm weather but not very hot summers.

Planning this spring break has been really difficult as I have been ill since Christmas, and not enough time to spare at home after work. The input from Chani, Denise, Acraven, Harold and Jazz Travels was great. I am trying to give it a last shot again and come up with a rough itinerary. Our other option is London- Scotland- Ireland in July if we do not do Spain during spring. I would appreciate any help with suggestions which has been really valuable and helpful so far and is spurring me to go on.

Unfortunately, after checking I realised there are no direct flights during the spring break from Toronto to Madrid or Barcelona, but there are direct flights in summer. The return flight is direct though from Madrid to Toronto.
I was wondering if we could just do Madrid – Seville, Cordoba, Granada, Madrid (to fly back home). My daughter will check with her teacher if she can skip classes on March 08th & 09th to allow us some extra time. If she gets the okay we would fly out on March 07th , arrive in Madrid on 8th around 12 noon. The flight via Brussels or Frankfurt is the shortest ( 11 h .55 min.)
Madrid – March 09-10
Madrid – Cordoba (train) –March 11-12
Cordoba- Seville (bus?) – March 12, 13,
Seville- Granada (bus/train?) – March 14, 15, 16,
Granada to Madrid -17 to fly out early on 18th If all goes well the flight is at 09.45 am (nonstop 8 h 30 m).
Please feel free to suggest/make any changes to this rough itinerary. I will also be checking for Airbnb’s in Madrid. Any suggestions for budget hotels, mode of travel would also be of great help. Would it help to rent a car?

I am sorry for going back and forth with too many questions but I would like to see this trip to Spain (our first to Europe) go through, if possible, as the last few months have been very difficult.

Thank you all very much for your valuable input, suggestions, it has been a great help. :-)

Posted by
7136 posts

Mar 8 Arrive Madrid
Direct to Sevilla - 3 nights
Mar 11 To Córdoba - 2 nights
Mar 13 To Granada - 2 nights
Mar 15 To Madrid - 3 nights
Mar 18 Depart Madrid

Posted by
4780 posts

Moniqm,

Madrid – March 09-10
Madrid – Cordoba (train) –March 11-12

Cordoba- Seville (bus?) – March 12, 13,

Seville- Granada (bus/train?) – March 14, 15, 16,

Granada to Madrid -17 to fly out early on 18th

I'd suggest changing your route as follow:

  • Arrive Madrid, take train to Córdoba on day of arrival (1-2N)
  • Train or bus to Granada (2-3N)
  • train or bus to Sevilla (3-4N)
  • Train to Madrid (3-4N)

Book your Alhambra tickets as soon as you finalize your itinerary. There appear to still be tickets available for mid March, except for Friday the 18th, which has already sold out.

You may book your train tickets on Renfe.com.

Keep posting your questions here so we can help you get this trip planned ;-)

Posted by
21301 posts

Take a look at the Renfe (train) schedules before making a final decision on the route. They are pretty thin between Cordoba/Sevilla and Granada. You might have to choose between getting an early start on a slow train and a late-morning departure on a faster train.

The bus might be a viable option. ALSA serves that area. There may be other bus service as well.

Posted by
4780 posts

Great point by Acraven!

My mom and I took the ALSA bus from Córdoba to Granada, and from Granada to Sevilla when we traveled to Andalucía in 2015. There are definitely more time options offered by the bus than by train.

Posted by
5 posts

Keep posting your questions here so we can help you get this trip planned ;-)
Reading this and all your wonderful suggestions helped me sleep peacefully last night in a long time 😊. Thank you Priscilla, Acraven, David. I have been having some medical issues recently – my Mum passed away in July 2016 in Goa, and it has been difficult trying to come to terms with her passing away.

Due to extreme bad weather today, all school buses were cancelled; my daughter could not check with her teacher about the dates. Hopefully things will look better tomorrow.
I love the idea of moving away from Madrid as soon as we land, come back and spend some time in Madrid, before flying back to Toronto. I will be checking accommodation in Cordoba, Sevilla, Granada and Madrid.

I do not want to sound too pushy, but I would love to know if you’ll have any suggestions for hotels, accommodation in any of the above areas we could check out. We are not looking at anything fancy but budget friendly and pleasant. I have registered with Airbnb and will check it out too.

I have registered with ALSA and was having trouble with the RENFE site. Will check it out tonight. I have checked bookings for the ALHAMBRA and am confused. There are different types of visits –General Alhambra, Alhambra Gardens, Gold Fold, Night Alhambra, etc. Does this mean there are different types of tickets? Is it better to do only the General ?
Once we get the tickets booked, everything should fall in place and I will keep you all posted on the progress I am making.

Thank you all for being so wonderfully helpful with your suggestions and ideas. I am glad I stumbled on the RS site. Take care and stay happy & healthy 😊

Posted by
21301 posts

I suggest going to a web site like booking.com to see what you can find for the Andalucian cities on the days you think you'll be there. By the time you filter for price and maybe one or two other feature you want, there may not be a lot of options available for the dates you need. You can read the reviews on the ones that seem well-located (look down left side of screen for something like "Show on Map"). Then you can check back here if you still have multiple contenders. We do have some folks here who can help on that.

People are unlikely to offer much in the way of hotel suggestions without having a pretty clear idea of what you are prepared to pay. (If you've mentioned that, I've overlooked it.)

Posted by
4780 posts

Monique,

So sorry to hear about your mum passing away...

Here is a helpful website on how to book your Renfe tickets online..
It's best to pay with PayPal when booking on the Renfe site.

The man in seat 61 is also a very informative website.

If you have trouble with the Renfe website, you can book your tickets on Trainline.eu.

I don't know your hotel budget, but here is where we stayed:

  • Hesperia Córdoba in Córdoba- extra for a very hearty breakfast.
  • Hotel Amadeus in Sevilla- extra for breakfast, but there are plenty or places nearby.
  • Hotel Anacapri in Granada--includes breakfast

In terms of the Alhambra tickets, you'll want to book the "Alhambra General", which includes the Nasrid Palace plus the Generalife (Gardens & Summer Palace).

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you very much acraven, Priscilla for all your assistance and suggestions.
Booking.com suggested by acraven and hotels by Priscilla was of great help, as I now have the reviews to give me an idea of what is offered and a price range to work with..
Thank you for the help with the site for booking train tickets, the Alhambra tickets and the various websites. I now feel very confident with all your help, our trip is moving forward, just waiting for the teacher’s nod of approval that my daughter will not be missing a lot if we leave earlier than the spring break.
I hope someday I will be of some help, in the same manner you all have helped and encouraged me. I look forward to hearing from you’ll as each tip or suggestion has helped me with planning this trip. God Bless :-).

Posted by
21301 posts

I should have mentioned this earlier: You may save some money by going directly to a hotel's own website when you're ready to book. Or you may find that rooms are available when booking.com shows a sell-out.

Posted by
4780 posts

Monica,

Acraven makes a good point. I always book directly on the hotel's website.

One more thing... You may also ask specific questions by starting a new post on this forum, if you wish.

We purchased our bus tickets a few days before our day of travel at the bus station(s), but you can certainly book your tickets in advance.