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Andalusia for this fall!

A friend of mine is a “beginner” traveller. They have time this fall but she was overwhelmed with the thought of planning and just kept putting it off. I am very pressed for time with my own upcoming trip and another soon thereafter. I suggested Andalusia, because my husband and I loved it, and I’d have a rough itinerary for her, including hotels. The cities are Madrid, Sevilla, Cordoba and Granada. She wants to use all public transportation.

  1. I’ve looked at open jaw. It’s not an option. They will use Madrid round trip. 2.My husband and I drove between Sevilla and Granada. At that time they were working on a train line for Granada to Madrid/Córdoba. What is the most efficient route between the above cities using trains and/or buses? I have played with Rome2Rio and nothing stood out to me for transportation to and from Granada. Looks like all routes to/from Granada go thru Cordoba? 3.I will tell her to book the Sevilla alcazar and Alhambra in advance. Is there anything else that . should be prebooked? For us, we easily obtained Mezquita and Sevilla Cathedral tickets day of, but that was November and 6 years ago. If Alhambra tickets on their website are sold out, what are other options to get in?

Thanks for any help. I need to get back to my own trip, but I’d like to get my dear friend a good jump start on her trip.

Posted by
3829 posts

jules, the train now works between all of these cities. There are also bus options I used Seville-Granada, but that was because of schedule - not because I prefer bus. Granada - Madrid I ended up with a change of train in Cordoba. It was easy. There were trains that didn’t require a change, but again, schedule drove our choice.

I was there in March and Alhambra was all that was essential - I did the Alcazar a few days ahead and same with Mezquita and the Cathedral (in 2017 we bought at the door entrance for the cathedral and there was a line). But it doesn’t hurt anything to book ahead if they don’t mind a schedule. And as novice travelers, scheduling may be preferable. I can’t speak to anything about Madrid since I only spent the night before my return flight there - and spent several afternoon hours in the Prado (bought when we got there).

Some have trouble with the Renfe app, but it worked well for me.

Posted by
26396 posts

Because Cordoba is between all the other cities you might pair up, it doesn't really matter how you set up the itinerary as long as Madrid isn't in the middle somewhere, except that:

  • There aren't many trains in and out of Granada, so it's smart to check the schedule to see whether it seems better to approach that city from Seville, Madrid or Cordoba. If all train options are undesirable, look at buses to/from Cordoba.

  • Ending in Madrid is smart because of positioning for the flight home.

  • It's risky to buy an onward ticket for day of arrival, but that will probably mean paying base price for the train ticket. The trip to Cordoba is by far the shortest, so the penalty for buying a day-of-travel ticket to that city will be lower than for Seville or Granada.

Therefore, I'd go for either Cordoba-Seville-Granada-Madrid or Cordoba-Granada-Seville-Madrid.

I'd recommend getting the Seville Cathedral combo ticket at the Church of El Salvador. The line at the Cathedral can be long.

Options in case the Alhambra general tickets are sold out:

  • Alhambra Dobla de Oro ticket (a bit more expensive; covers some additional sights)
  • Granada City Card (more expensive, but not a bad deal; you choose Alhambra entry time as the time of purchase)

Be sure they know they need to buy the General ticket (used to be 14 euros, probably somewhat more now), not the Gardens ticket, which doesn't include the Nasrid Palaces.

Suggest they find time for San Juan de Dios while in Granada. It's a separate ticket but no need to pre-book. It's one of those over-the-top places you have to see to believe.

Posted by
5445 posts

Thank you Acraven and Texas Mom. I'm going to suggest they go to Cordoba upon arrival, then Sevilla, Granada and Madrid. When my husband and I went to Andalusia we immediately trained to Sevilla on AVE. I won't buy tickets in advance for my arrival day and I later realized a better strategy would have been to go to Cordoba first.

For the other routes, I was just looking at RENFRE and Trainline for tickets tomorrow and in a month to get a feel for pricing. I've never had difficulty with RENFRE. I'm seeing AVANT from Sevilla to Granada and either the price doesn't change over time or for a month from now any saver tickets are gone. It does look like there are not a lot of trains directly to Granada from Sevilla so they'd have to pay attention to the schedule.

I really appreciate the Alhambra info. I can't even imagine going to Andalusia and not seeing the Alhambra. I do recall the Alhambra ticket website/purchase being a little confusing so thanks for refreshing my memory on the details.

I did get my Sevilla Cathedral tickets by going to Church of the Savior first, and it worked well, so I will recommend that to them as well.

Depending on how they structure their itinerary and how many nights they end up with in Madrid, I am going to suggest day trips to Segovia and Toledo. I personally think Toledo should be a one or two night stay, but I'm really trying to keep it simple. I'm hoping by putting these day trips at the end, they will have become comfortable with the trains. I'm hoping I'll get them set up for success.

Thanks again, now back to my own trip