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First Trip to Europe Focus on Spain

I am visiting Europe for first time for 1 month from Sept. 21 to Oct. 19. First week will be in Berlin for Berlin Marathon and then for a day in Munich for Oktoberfest. We were going to go to Rome, then Spain, but time is too short. After 1 week in Germany we have 3 weeks left. Flight home leaves from Paris. We plan to spend 3 days there at end of trip. So that leaves us with about 15 days after eliminating Rome. I speak Spanish so I was thinking that it would be best just to explore that country and visit more on next trip.
Tentatively we have planned to fly from Munich to Barcelona and spend 1 day (2 nights). there. On to Madrid by train for two full days (3 nights)., Train to Seville for 2 days, then bus to Lisbon for 2 days. Then fly to Tenerife Canary Islands for 3 days. Finally fly to Paris for 3 days before trip back to Los Angeles (home). We like nightlife, and food. We are definitely foodies. Museums bore us. Can you comment on this itinerary and give feedback or suggestions. We are fluent in English, Spanish, and French. We appreciate your suggestions and comments.

Posted by
2037 posts

Personally, I think that’s a lot of moving around. We like to spend a minimum of 3 nights in each stop. That gives us 2 full days to explore. We’re not museum people either. Assuming I did the math right and you have 17 nights after your week in Germany: I would add a night in Munich. It will be expensive at that time. Book soon. One day in Barcelona doesn’t even seem worth it. Fly into Madrid for three nights. You could do a day trip to Toledo. Then train to Granada for 3 nights. Then train or bus to Malaga for 3 nights. Then train to Seville for 3 nights. Then fly to Paris. Spend at least 4 nights there. That brings you to 17 nights.

A few things to consider: each time you move locations, you lose at least half a day of sightseeing between packing, getting to the train station, travel, getting to the hotel. Meals in Europe are slower than the US. Don’t expect to be in and out of a restaurant in an hour. And dinners are later. Don’t worry about a language barrier.

Posted by
6404 posts

Since you want to focus on Spain, I would focus on mainland Spain and leave Lisbon and Tenerife for another time. Lisbon deserves more than 2 days, and Tenerife, while beautiful, is really quite far (4 hour flight to Paris) and the food is definitely not the highlight.
Museums bore you: I am with you there... and in such a case you just need 1 day/2 nights in Madrid. If you keep a second day, that day could be a day trip to Toledo or Segovia.
However, you need at least 3 nights in Barcelona and 4 would be better.
The time not spent in Tenerife could be spent in Granada (2 nights) and Córdoba (1 night or day trip from Seville).

So the trip plan would look as follows:

  • Barcelona 3-4 nights
  • Madrid 2-3 nights
  • Granada 2 nights
  • Seville 4 nights OR Córdoba 1 + Sevilla 3 OR Sevilla 3 if you are short on time

Then fly to Paris from Seville.

Posted by
2153 posts

I mostly agree with the above posters—I'd slow it down. But I'd argue that Madrid is so much more than a few big museums. To take a short or dismissive approach to the city is to miss out on the richness of one of Europe's major cities. Three full days is a reasonable minimum there, exclusive of any day trips. (and there are some great day trips there.)

Posted by
4 posts

Thanks to everyone for your suggestions and feedback. It's hard planning a trip. You want to see so many things but we know we will be exhausted. I think we will eliminate Munich and Oktoberfest, fly from Berlin to Barcelona and stay 3 days (4 nights). Train to Madrid and 4 full days in Madrid. Train to Sevilla. 2 full days in Sevilla. Bus to Lisbon. 3 full days in Lisbon then fly to Paris. 4 full days in Paris. I know it is still a lot, but at least we will be able to take ground transportation through Spain and to Portugal. Nothing is as exhausting to me as going to the airport, even for a short flight.
Thanks again for your feedback. It helped me to finally make up my mind.

Posted by
25606 posts

Seville is a large city with lots of sights. Many of us (dare I say "most"?) would say that if you take Madrid's art museums out of the equation and don't plan any side trips (Madrid has magnificent ones), Seville needs more time. It's a more distinctive city than Madrid.

When you say "two full days" in Seville, what does that mean? The minimum time I'd want to spend there is 4 nights, and with that little time I wouldn't try to squeeze in a day trip to Cordoba (though I'm sure many others would).

Cordoba's quite an important, attractive place. It's less than 50 minutes from Seville by express train. Lisbon is 6 hr. 40 min. away via Flixbus--and I know which mode of transportation I'd expect to be more reliable.

Lisbon's a lovely city, but there's much more to see in Portugal than just the capital. That's a second reason why I wouldn't subject myself to such a long bus ride for just a bit over 2? days in Lisbon. (Again, what does "3 full days" mean here?)