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First Visit to Spain June 2020

My husband and I are planning on taking our 2 teenagers (18 and 15) to Spain this summer. The dates will likely have us arriving June 15th 7:50am and leaving on June 27th (we know it may be rather warm). The planning is quite overwhelming as there are so many things to see and do.

Things to know about us:
My husband and I traveled to Italy several years ago and preferred Florence to Rome and wished we would have spent more time in Cinque Terre. I believe that is the seaside village feel that he would like to replicate here.
We preferred the restaurants and neighborhoods where we didn't run into many other Americans.
We enjoyed traveling by train.
This will be our kids' first international trip. We are choosing Spain because we would like our children to see the value in their having learned Spanish and what it is like to be part of the Spanish culture.
We love food and are looking forward to some authentic (no tourist places please) experiences.

Here are some of our thoughts:
Flying into Barcelona then traveling to Madrid and/or Seville. Much of my research leads me to believe that Seville may be more our vibe. My husband would also like to stay in a quiet beach town. He mentioned Valencia. My son learned about Segovia in Spanish and is intrigued. I have looked at Costa Blanca and it is reminiscent of Santorini and Cinque Terre in some places, however I am very open. At this point I feel like I have over researched and my perspective is off.

If it sounds a bit scattered, that's because it is. Any guidance with a realistic itinerary (yes, we know Barcelona is the outlier) would be very helpful.

Thank you for your time!

Posted by
5409 posts

First tips...

  1. Be careful - you only have 11 days. Spain is big and has lots to see. You can't get to it all with just 11 days.

  2. Consider flying in to Barcelona and out of Madrid (or vice versa). In fact, Barcelona is an outlier and if you really want to focus on "Spain proper" you might consider saving Barcelona for a follow-up, concentrating on Andalucia for this trip. Still, if you must include Barcelona this trip, then you will need to carefully limit your "rest of Spain" itinerary.

  3. If You want Barcelona + Madrid + Segovia + Seville...I don't think Valencia is going to easily fit, unless you're willing to skip some of the best Spain has to offer. Close to the "core" you will have to work in Granada, Cordoba (hard to skip either) and maybe other spots (white hill towns). You will quickly have to make some tough choices.

  4. Don't book your flights yet, until you have a rough itinerary figured out.

Posted by
3286 posts

I agree with David that you cannot do what you’ve mentioned in the time you have. Valencia needs to be eliminated. Another obvious place to cut is Barcelona, though its proximity to the Costa Brava would meet some of your other desires. The CB has many charming seaside villages.
I would be very leery of traveling to Andalusia in late June. I was in Seville once at that time, and the temps exceeded 104 F every day. One day it reached 107!
A reasonable trip might be Barcelona and Costa Brava 6 days. There are all sorts of day trip possibilities, including Girona and Tarragona. Madrid, with possible day trips to Segovia and Toledo could fill the other 5 days.

Posted by
529 posts

You might consider spending a few days in Mallorca to enjoy a beach and relaxed time, along with lots of history. It’s an easy and cheap flight from Barcelona.

Seville is quite wonderful though.

For the amount of time you have, maybe focus on northern Spain instead. Mallorca, Barcelona, maybe Bilbao.

Posted by
20844 posts

As you can see from the earlier responses (which just scratch the surface in terms of what Spain has to offer), there are many intriguing places in Spain. Given that, I would think seriously about how much of my vacation time I was willing to spend in the south. It is quite an understatement to say that part of the country "may be rather warm". But Seville is undeniably wonderful. So are the considerably smaller Cordoba and Granada. I find it hard to contemplate a trip to Andalucía that doesn't cover all three of those cities, but that's my issue; it needn't be yours. I think you just barely have time for Barcelona + coastal town + the Andalusian trio of Seville, Cordoba and Granada, without throwing Segovia into the mix. Cordoba is considerably closer to Madrid than Seville and is typically just a bit cooler than Seville. If you were willing to limit the Andalusian foray to Cordoba on this trip, it would give you a little more time to explore Catalunya. For example, Girona has a walled medieval center that's really charming.

Valencia is very pleasant and on the coast, but it is not remotely quiet or a town. It is one of the largest cities in Spain with a population of over 2.5 million people. I don't think that's the kind of destination your husband is imagining. I think from the standpoint of size and logistics, it would be better to choose a coastal town closer to Barcelona's orbit that you could visit on a day-trip from that city--assuming Barcelona ends up being included in the final itinerary.

If you want to be sure of seeing some Moorish architecture but decide not to travel all the way to Seville or even Cordoba, Zaragoza is a good possibility, being located on the train line between Barcelona and Madrid. Some trains make the run from Barcelona in less than 1-1/2 hours. I wish I could tell you Zaragoza would be a lot more pleasant than Seville, temperature-wise, but it can get quite hot in Zaragoza during the summer, too. But you can have a nice visit to Zaragoza in considerably less time than you'd need in Seville. Toledo, not far from Madrid, is another city with some Moorish buildings.

Segovia is indeed interesting. Aside from the aqueduct (a serious "Wow"), the look of the city is distinctive because of its architecture. It won't remind you of either Barcelona or the Andalusian cities. Like Toledo, it can be visited as a side-trip from Madrid if you're trying to minimize hotel changes. A hotel room would almost certainly cost considerably less in Segovia than in Madrid, however.

I trust that our experts on Catalunya will find this thread soon and weigh in, especially on you husband's desire for a small beach town. I'm useless there.

Posted by
14788 posts

Things to consider. . . . 4 people may move slower than 2 people. Whatever your pace was in Italy, you may want to slow it down this time. You will want to spend your last night in the city you're flying out of. That may somewhat determine your itinerary, depending on what flights are available to you. The predominant language in Catalonia (Barcelona area) is Catalan. I could be wrong but my understanding is that unless Spanish is your native language, the locals who speak English (most of them) prefer your using English rather than Spanish. For a beach town, consider Cadiz. I looked at the timeanddate website for the last 4 years and temps look pretty comfortable for the latter half of June. You can see daily weather conditions in cities you are considering for the month of June for the last 10 years. That will give you a much better idea of what to expect that anecdotal info or average temps. You might like to stay for 2-3 nights in Jerez, which may be a lot quieter than other Andalucian towns. It's about 1/2 hour by train to Cadiz, an hour or so to Sevilla. You can day trip by bus to Arcos. Maybe someone familiar with the area can suggest a quieter beach town not far from there.

I thought Toledo and Cordoba were quieter and had more "atmosphere" than Sevilla, especially in the evenings. They both have much better preserved medieval quarters.

There's a reason the Alhambra is the #1 sight in Spain. If you stick to Madrid/Andalucia you can fit it in, though getting there and back takes more time. You need at least 2 nights there. I consider the Mezquita in Cordoba to be the only must-see for everyone.

Posted by
11 posts

Thank you to everyone! This helps quite a bit.

It sounds like I should choose either North or South (which makes sense) and that possibly, the South would be better in terms of the "Spanish" side of our goal.
I will chat with my family and possibly ask for your help again after we narrow it down.