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Best of Spain tour; help for pre- & post-tour

I am planning to sign up for a Best of Spain tour to start October 19 ending November 1, 2015. I love the trip planning stage and will be doing plenty of reading about Spain, it's history and things to do over the next months.

I would like to have some tips on what to see or where to go before & after the tour. I like to arrive a few days before to acclimatize and see more of Barcelona, where the tour begins. The tour ends in Sevilla; I also Would like to explore post-tour for up to 7 days to see more of the country. Perhaps going to more southern Spain to the coast.

Any feedback on the tour itself or tips on what to see pre and post tour would be great.

Thanks in advance.

Posted by
107 posts

Hi, June,

I looked at the Rick Steve's Best of Spain tour. I think you'll like southern Spain, although Granada is not high on my list of favorite places. Ronda is fun and Seville is spectacular and you'll be in the countryside too. That part sounds like a real Rick Steves trip.

Your tour ends in Seville, so that's where to plan your post-tour itinerary. I'd suggest staying there for another two days and then moving on. You might as well stay in the south for your post-tour because it will be warmer there, so I'd get a good guide book and figure out what other places you'd like to see in the vicinity of Seville such as Malaga, Lisbon, or Cordoba?

If you are flying in and out of Madrid, then spend some extra time in Madrid when you arrive before your tour because you're going to miss most of it on the Best of Spain tour. So, get out your guide book and figure out what else you'd like to see in Madrid. Then, since your tour starts in Barcelona, you might want to consider a quick trip to the north, perhaps to the Basque country. You can go to Oviedo or San Sebastian and take a bus or train from there into Bilbao and Gustiez. You can go from the Basque country to Barcelona to meet your tour.

Good luck and have fun.

Posted by
16883 posts

If you're thinking about including Portugal, note that ground transportation across the border is sparse. From Seville, a direct bus gets to Lisbon in 7 hours; no through train. Between Madrid and Lisbon, there is a direct overnight train, no daytime trains. Renting a car in one country and dropping it in another adds a hefty fee. For "budget" airlines, try www.skyscanner.com.

After my Spain tour, I did go north. For instance, you can take a train 8 hours to Burgos, then later on to San Sebastian and the Basque country.

Posted by
774 posts

Thanks so much for the advice. So many places to see!

Posted by
774 posts

I have been doing a bit more research, reading about Girona & Zarazoga (? Spelling). I am considering flying into Barcelona pre-tour but then heading off to those 2 sights. Has anyone visted those 2 cities, any recommendations? Thanks.

Posted by
14905 posts

For post-tour, I'd think about another day or 2 in Seville, maybe to relax a little in addition to seeing the other sights there, since being on a tour can be a little intense. I would definitely spend 2 nights in Cordoba. The Mezquita is a wow and there are other interesting sights. I found Cordoba to have a nicer atmosphere than any other the other Andalusian towns, especially in the old quarter in the evenings. You can also see another horse show there.

Posted by
513 posts

Hi June,

Your idea about visiting Zaragoza and Girona sounds like an excellent one to me. I think Zaragoza is one of the most overlooked cuties in Spain. The El Pilar cathedral is truly awesome! I spent two days there last October, and if I hadn't already had reservations for Barcelona, I would have definitely stayed another day or two. I personally believe that Girona, along with Tarragona, are the best day trips from Barcelona. You will need to find another guidebook for exploring Zaragoza (Lonely Planet usually does a pretty fair job with it) however, because for some unknown reason Rick doesn't like it - or else he has never visited it.

Jack

Posted by
7124 posts

I would suggest a few days before in Barcelona and perhaps longer after Seville where you could continue on your Spanish journey by heading north...Sevilla-Merida-Salamanca-Burgos-Pamplona-San Sebastian-Bilbao.
Make sure you take extra time in Seville for an excursion to Cordoba (which does not seem included in Rick's itinerary)
Alternatively you could visit San Sebastian & Bilbao before the start of the trip and fly to Lisbon after.
Zaragoza, Girona and Tarragona are all great suggestions as well.
In fact any place in Spain ending with an 'a' would be a general recommendation.

Posted by
774 posts

Thanks so much everyone. Spain is so large, so much history and so many things to see. I appreciate your feedback.

Posted by
18 posts

Hi June,
-Pre-tour: Agree with the earlier respondents - definitely check out Girona and Zaragoza. You'll love that Zaragoza isn't as tourist-filled as other Spanish cities. And Girona is one of my most favourite small cities in Spain, very picturesque and filled with history. IMHO, Zaragoza isn't as picturesque as Girona, but still has some amazing monuments.
-Post-tour: If you're ending in Sevilla, there's a really nice town near Sevilla called Carmona. Also, if you want to wake up early, my favourite "pueblo blanco" is Vejer de la Frontera. However, be warned NOT to depend on the last bus out of Vejer/Cadiz (Cadiz is where you would probably have to switch buses.). (I made that mistake, the bus schedule was wrong, but somehow I got extremely lucky to get another bus, but otherwise would have been stranded overnight in Cadiz). As the earlier respondents said, DEFINITELY go to Cordoba. The mezquita is amazing. Also, if you're at all interested in archaeology and Spain's Islamic past then go out to Medina Azahara near Cordoba.
Have fun!!

Posted by
3620 posts

We are thinking about the Spain tour also. We would love to marry it up to the Portugal tour but the logistics are just too tough. C'mon Rick, help us out here. Connect these countries somehow. TC

Posted by
774 posts

TC, I looked at combining the Northern Spain tour and the 14 day one; that did not work for me either.

Posted by
7124 posts

Some of the Best of Spain tour dates end in Seville on a Sunday (for your day trip to Cordoba)
And there are following day (Monday) departures on Heart of Portugal tour (fly to Lisbon to join).
Easy only if you are flexible with dates I guess.
Applicable for Best of Spain departures ex Barcelona April 20,27 May 4,11,25 Sep 7,14,21,28