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After Madrid… where to go?

Ending 8 day Barcelona/Madrid Rick steves tour Monday Feb 21. Thinking of doing day trip to Segovia, back to Madrid as a base, then looping down through Sevilla and Granada, back to Madrid to fly home. I think my biggest want is to see the Alahambra. Other UNESCO world heritage sites a plus, but fall farther down the wish list (like, I could cut out Segovia or Seville if they don’t make sense). Thoughts? Suggestions on order to go in? Number of days? Ease of public transport? Thank you!

Posted by
4019 posts

I'm assuming you mean Madrid as a base for Segovia? Not for Andalusia? There are lots of possible day trips from Madrid, but not Andalusia. Some do Toledo as a day trip, however, we loved Toledo especially in the morning and evening when the day trippers were gone. Also you could spend 2-4 nights there. It's beautiful with a lot to do.

You don't say how many days you have beyond your tour. The Alhambra requires advance reservations to avoid disappointment. Granada is very enjoyable, but in my opinion, 2-3 nights is good. Sevilla is amazing and I would recommend at least 4 nights and more is better. In terms of other great sites, in my opinion, Cordoba's Mezquita is almost right there with the Alhambra. Some like to do Cordoba as a day trip from Sevilla or even Madrid. I sure wouldn't recommend that. We had 2 nights there and wished for more. It is a stunning little town.

Posted by
2439 posts

How much time can you afford to spend?
As minimums, Sevilla requires 3 nights and Granada requires 2, then you need a final night in Madrid before the flight (and thus 2 nights if you want to go to Segovia, which I would do after Andalucía because you need that last night in Madrid anyway).
If you have an extra night, Cordoba is worth at least an overnight stop - or a day trip from Seville, but better to stay there.

Posted by
1190 posts

This sounds like a good plan. Have you also considered Toledo? It is a quick train ride from Madrid.

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks for the advice! I’m open ended on time, though not more than 7 days. Toledo is already included as a day trip on the Rick Steve’s tour. So yes. After Barcelona, Toledo and Madrid. I would do day trip to Segovia from Madrid, then from Madrid on to Grenada and/or Seville for a few days, looping back to Madrid at the end to fly back to US.

Actually. I see the advice to do Segovia at the end since I have to go back to Madrid anyway - great idea!

Posted by
440 posts

Upon completion of your tour I would go directly to Granada. The Alhambra is spectacular, also visit the cathedral. Schedule 2 nights there. From Granada you can go directly to Sevilla for 3 nights or get off train in Córdoba if you decide to go there and spend one night there and then head to Sevilla for 2-3 nights. ( Personally, I would opt for the stop in Córdoba.) From Sevilla return to Madrid for 2 nights. Visit Segovia as a daytrip on one day and depart Madrid on next. Madrid airport is huge, give yourself plenty of time to get to your gate. Any fewer nights and as you say you will have to cut out one of your possible destinations. Trains available to all of your destinations. Service is good and relatively easy.

Posted by
3250 posts

Since I am now looking at something similar, just noting that if flying American or Iberia, you can add a flight to or from Granada onto the ticket from the US for about $65 if purchased as part of an original multicity ticket. With Delta or United you cannot do this.

Also noting that there are about 6 Alhambra ticket combinations. Not really sure which one to pick, and if both day AND evening (2 tickets) is really necessary.

Posted by
19214 posts

Tom, you do not want the "Gardens, Generalife and Alcazaba" ticket for 7 euros; it doesn't include the Nasrid palaces, which are the most spectacular part of the complex. Similarly, if you also want to visit at night (I enjoyed that, too, but I don't think it's a must-do, and it may even be more crowded then), don't buy the "Night visit to Gardens and Generalife". Again, that doesn't get you into the Nasrid palaces.

The Dobla de Oro ticket includes some additional sights. I'm big on Moorish architecture, so I went to just about every place in Granada mentioned in a guide book (or at least it seemed that way). The Dobla de Oro ticket made sense for me, but I think most visitors don't stay in the city long enough to save money with it. It's good to know about though, if you are late buying your Alhambra ticket and find your preferred date sold out. The Dobla de Oro tickets aren't all that much more expensive, and they don't sell out as fast.

Posted by
3318 posts

There are a number of UNESCO world heritage sites in the Madrid area including Salamanca, Alcalá de Henares, Ávila, Cuenca, Toledo, and Segovia. Other sites not quite as close include, the cathedral in Burgos, Lugo, Oviedo, and Santiago de Compostela. There are a few UNESCO sites in Sevilla as well as Ùbeda and Córdoba; more than enough for the time you have.

If the Alhambra is at the top of your list, visit it. For us the Alhambra general ticket at 14€ suited our needs as it get you into the Nasrid palace, Generalife, gardens, and Alcazaba. We’ve never seen the need to go back and tour the palace at night. On our last visit there were stayed at a hotel right at the complex so we’re able to see everything at night except the interior of the palace. Anybody can walk around the complex without a ticket, they just can’t go into the palace. To get a good view of the palace at night, go to the Mirador de San Nicolás.

Posted by
1210 posts

Since a day trip to Toledo is included on the tour and you would love to go to Granada, go. Granada is my favorite city in Andalucia that will not disappoint. The Alhambra is definitely worth visiting while there. There is a lot to see and do in Granada along with sitting in beautiful squares. Rick Steves guide book will steer you in the right direction. It looks like you can take a direct train between the Madrid-Puerta de Atocha station and Granada (3h 30m).

Posted by
3 posts

Thank you! So I’ve booked a room in Granada for the two nights after my tour ends in Madrid. Haven’t booked a ticket home yet as hopper is telling me to wait for prices to drop. I’ll decide about Seville later..:and probably skip Segovia for now.

Posted by
3250 posts

Looking at miradors of the Alhambra, I see that the famous one, Mirador de San Nicolás, has an unobstructed view, but I like this one since if the mountains have snow then they show up behind. https://www.google.com/maps/place/Mirador+de+Santa+Isabel+la+Real/@37.1809232,-3.5953392,3a,75y/data=!3m8!1e2!3m6!1sAF1QipOz0e8qq_PFWl8aH5OPYRO4GkrSfppJmtr0fqXw!2e10!3e12!6shttps:%2F%2Flh5.googleusercontent.com%2Fp%2FAF1QipOz0e8qq_PFWl8aH5OPYRO4GkrSfppJmtr0fqXw%3Dw114-h86-k-no!7i4048!8i3036!4m8!1m2!2m1!1smirador!3m4!1s0xd71fcc72232556b:0xb53102124616283f!8m2!3d37.180889!4d-3.5952534

The picture on the Alhambra website is from here but off the ground (drone?) so no obstructions.
https://www.alhambra-patronato.es/en/visit/faq (pan down to bottom)

Posted by
4019 posts

Of the views we had of the Alhambra, we thought the best/least obstructed was along the Camino del Sacromonte in the Sacromonte neighborhood. We were there about mid day. We also enjoyed wandering around the Sacromonte neighborhood (as well as Abaicin). If you do check out the area around the cathedral (recommended) there is a great little spice, tea, dried fruit stand right by the cathedral. I also recommend the Royal Chapel where Fernando and Isabel are interred.

Posted by
19214 posts

I'll be somewhat of a naysayer here. I don't think a view of the Alhambra from anywhere is such a big deal. The complex is very plain on the outside. The beauty is inside.