Just starting to plan our first trip to Spain. My thoughts are to fly into Barcelona and spend three and 1/2 days then travel to Valencia spend one and 1/2 days travel to Granada spend two and 1/2 days then Sevilla spend two and 1/2 days then Toledo spend one and 1/2 days then off to Madrid and spend three and 1/2 days and fly home from Madrid. Is that enough time in each area to get a feel for it or is this itinerary out of control. Thanks
I would slow down...a lot...and enjoy each place you choose to visit. I fear that your trip will become a blur in your mind. I visit the wonderful country once or twice per year. By the time you allow for travel between the various cities, getting settled in, etc., you will not have all that much time to visit any of the places or meet the people. I would recommend Barcelona to Madrid via AVE train, AVE train to Toledo, overnight if possible, AVE train to Seville...Divide the time between them as you wish. Omit Valencia and Granada on this trip.
No real comment, as I am not you and would not know your 'normal' pace or travel style or what interests or what you look for in cities. Certainly you will get a feel of the varied cities of the Spains and should recognise differences.
Unclear and to think about. This totals 15 days. Is this grand total on the ground? Does this include arrival and departure days, (much of both will be a wash)? Have you recognised the time expended by whatever transport, door to door, between all these on your wish list? How will you travel around?
Sounds about right to me for a sampler trip. I assume you expect to change locations by public transportation in a few hours. Check train schedules for exact info. If you want to get oriented, look around, maybe visit a museum, have a nice dinner, you can do it on your suggested schedule. Next time you may want to concentrate on one or two places. It is easy to day trip to Toledo from Madrid, so you could eliminate one hotel.
Thanks to all who replied. This does not include travel to and from the states. I added the half days as I thought those would be travel days. Train early morning, check into hotel by 1-2 and still have a few hours to see something plus the next one or two or three days. If Toledo is a one day trip then I could do a day trip from Madrid. we are usually up early and out all day going. I was planning up to 3 weeks max if we needed it. We are not into art museums but love architecture, so seeing churches, palaces etc would be our thing. We also love to eat so restaurants where the locals go is perfect. Any other suggestions would be great.
Your follow up comment described similar experiences we enjoy. However, we have a three night minimum in order to give opportunity to breathe a little bit more and find some less traveled areas.
A little surprised to see Valencia in the mix, but tis worth the effort.
In Barc highly recomend the academia of music palau. Fantastic architecture outside and even better inside. Take the tour but also strive to attend a concert of any type of music. The experience will provide a great memory.
Carefully study how/when to purchase tickets fir the alhambra. Granada is ez to get around so consider staying just outside the tourist zone to save money on accomodations and food.
My experience in seeing the churches.....if the door is open, or someone is entering or leaving, then go in, be respectful, and enjoy the experience. I find that most of the churches are not open for tourist as a general matter, but all welcome you during the mass celebrations, etc. And, the smaller ones are often as much, or even more, impressive than the larger ones. In Madrid some of the churches are in buildings that appear to be an office building even. Great to find them!!
Toledo can be a day trip, but over night if possible. The city changes once the tourists are back on the train to Madrid (25 minutes) The AVE to Sevilla, by the way is 2 1l2 hours. And the ride from Barcelona to Madrid is also 2 1/2 hours. Great way to see lots of country.
It's not a bad itinerary at all in my mind. For the average tourist, your time in each place is pretty typical and easy to get a good feel. A couple of things to consider: Getting from Valencia to Granada isn't very efficient so you may need to factor in more than a half day. If you're not very into art, Madrid might not have much appeal for you. It's a nice city but lacks the "punch" of other Spanish cities and might actually be a let-down doing it last. Makes for a great base though to do daytrips. Do stay a night or two in Toledo; it is best experienced that way and not as a rushed daytrip from Madrid. If you take a day from Madrid, you could add a day in Sevilla to do a daytrip to Cordoba. It's also worth an overnight but that might be a bit too much moving around. It can also be done as a stop on your way to Madrid, but you have to store your bags at the bus station across the street from the train station.
" Train early morning, check into hotel by 1-2 and still have a few hours to see something plus the next one or two or three days. "
Have you checked the train schedules to see if this is always possible? You might need to adjust your timing when there is no early morning train. Likewise, you may not always be able to check into your new hotel that early. If you can settle on travel days in advance, you can get some really great discounts by buying your tickets ahead of time. Make sure, before attempting to purchase tickets, that your bank knows you will be making foreign purchases so that the card is not blocked.
It sounds pretty good to me. You have 3 or 4 night stays except for Toledo. Not too rushed for my taste.
Use the Renfe site (Spain's trains) to help plan your trip. Go to Trip Advisor's Spain forums and read the (very long and detailed) How does one buy Renfe tickets online? under Top Questions. It is invaluable information. You can sometimes maximize your sightseeing time by taking evening trains rather than morning ones. I would recommend an overnight in Toledo. Since you have to go through the Madrid train station to get there, you can leave your luggage at the station and just take an overnight bag. The trains from Seville to Madrid go through Cordoba. I highly recommend stopping for a few hours to see the Mezquita there, provided there's luggage storage at the train station.
Some sights close for a couple of hours in the middle of the afternoon
My first trip to Spain was in the 70's and I loved all of it with the exception of Granada, which seemed like a big industrial town with limited attractions and ambiance. I found Seville to be exactly the opposite, utterly charming.
You seem to have a lot of options regarding the duration of your tour, so I'd take as much time as you can afford. I agree with others that it's wonderful to have extra time when you're not rushing everywhere and you can just relax and improvise. You might want to think about adding a small town, like Ronda, to the mix. That's a great place to be with no agenda.
The trains are vastly improved now and quite fast. You can also find some incredible advance fares on Vueling that make it possible, for example, to fly from Madrid to Barcelona in the blink of an eye for less money than a train or bus.
The itinerary could be a bit ambitious in my view.
If I were to drop any city it would be Valencia. Granada is fantastic and La Alhambra is a magical place. Valencia is interesting if you are travelling with children since it has a very good sealife zoo (beluga whales can be seen) A major highlight in Valencia is the old market and of course a paella at la Malvarosa.... but that said its charm or interest cannot be compared in my view with the other cities mentioned. https://www.mercadocentralvalencia.es/
The only problem I see with the itinerary is that getting to and from Granada is not easy. It is not connected by AVE (high speed train) and you will eventually end up using the regular bus service.
Thanks again everyone for all your great input. My only reason for visiting Valencia was to break up the long train ride from Barcelona to Granada. I did not check the train connections I just assumed the train goes to Granada. I did google the distance between each city it was around 8 hours from Barcelona to Granada. My husband would go crazy sitting on a train for 8 hours. Barcelona, Sevilla, Cordoba ( now in the mix), Toledo are all must see as we love old world charm and architecture is our thing. We are dropping a day from Madrid as art is not our thing and it seems it has a lot of art museums we would not see. However, as this is the very beginning of our planning is there any other cities maybe north of Barcelona or in between Madrid and Barcelona we should investigate.? Yes, I do plan on getting Ricks Spain guide just waiting till November for the 2015 edition to come out. As always thanks.
As a first timer to Spain the absolute musts are Barcelona, Madrid, Toledo, Sevilla, Granada and Cordoba.
Fly into Barcelona (4 nights).
Fly to Granada (2 nights) for the Alhambra. Low cost local carrier Vueling has good fares.
Train to Sevilla (2 nights). Visit RENFE website for train times and fares.
AVE high speed train to Cordoba (1 night) for the Mezquita.
AVE high speed to Madrid (5 nights) from where Toledo is best done as a day trip.
Fly out of Madrid.
This itinerary is busy but in no way rushed if you are well organised.
It will leave you feeling satisfied you have had a complete Spanish experience.
Believe me you will want to go back !!