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Girls trip to visit daughter living in Madrid - 7 day itinerary help

I am traveling from the US with a friend for a “girls trip” to visit my daughter in Madrid and niece in Toledo. My friend and I arrive the morning of Friday 12/3 and depart the morning of Saturday 12/11. We are both in our 50s, enjoy trying new foods, drinking, history, beautiful scenery, cultural exploration and music. I like to walk, she not so much. We are planning our travel itinerary with my daughter’s work schedule in mind. My daughter is off work Saturday 12/4 through Tuesday 12/7. This is my first trip to Europe. I would like to see sights beyond Madrid but there is less pressure as I am planning to return with my husband in the fall of 2023 for a longer visit.
Appreciate your thoughts and input on the following itinerary:
Friday 12/3 9:30am Arrival – Check luggage, do bus tour for layout of land and drive by sights, meet daughter for dinner, drinks, walking city
Saturday 12/4 – sightsee Madrid
Sunday 12/5 – depart for Seville
Monday 12/6 – tour Seville
Tuesday 12/7 – depart Seville (?) stop over in Cordoba on route to Madrid?
Or Day trip to Cordoba from Seville and depart for Madrid from Seville on Wednesday morning?
Wednesday 12/8 – Tour Madrid
Thursday 12/9 – Day trip Toledo
Friday 12/10 – Tour Madrid

Should we stay in Seville until Wednesday and do a day trip to Cordoba from Seville on Tuesday rather than while in route to Madrid? This would mean daughter returns a day earlier to Madrid for work on Wednesday while we stay behind in Seville for an additional evening. We would then depart for Madrid Wednesday morning.
All comments and suggestions welcome!

Posted by
3225 posts

With regard to Sevilla, the historic area and popular sights (cathedral and Giralda tower, alcázar, plaza de España, Torre de Oro) are in close proximity and easily walkable. Madrid’s sights are more spread out, but it has a good metro system. If I had never been to Córdoba before, I’d spend a night there. You could easily spend a half day in the area near the Mezquita, Roman bridge, Calahorra, and Alcázar. Likewise, I’d spend a night in Toledo if possible to enjoy the city without all the day trippers, although there won’t be as many in December.

Posted by
3 posts

Great, thanks so much for the information and quick response!

Posted by
18916 posts

Since this is your first trip to Europe, none of us knows how you will react to the overnight flight. For me it is a nearly sleepless experience (sometimes totally sleepless), with jetlag layered on top of it. If I took a bus tour on the day I arrived, I would fall asleep within a few minutes. It is far better (if the weather is remotely bearable) to walk around outdoors to try to get your body aligned with the new time zone. A just-show-up (no reservations or prepayment) walking tour would be a better idea.

I would also not plan for a special dinner out on Night 1; you may feel like doing that, but you may not. You may not be aware that Spaniards seldom sit down to dinner before 9 PM, and it's often 10 PM. I am no longer a functioning human being that late on my arrival day.

The magnificent art museums aside (how much interest do you have in those?), I find both Cordoba and Toledo (both centuries older) more interesting for walking around than Madrid, so I'd do whatever I could to maximize my time in those cities and in Seville. Toledo is so close to Madrid that not a lot of time is lost by visiting it on a day-trip (and it's nice not to be burdened with luggage), given that you probably don't have time to spend 2 or more nights there.

In terms of weather, Seville is likely to be a lot warmer in December than Madrid, but you're more likely to encounter rain in Seville and Cordoba than in Madrid.

It's hard to know what to suggest about buying rail tickets in advance for later this year since we don't have a crystal ball to help figure out what COVID will be doing in December. In normal times I think most of us would suggest buying your train tickets to Cordoba and Seville ahead of time, because there's a lot of money to be saved by buying non-changeable/non-refundable tickets, and the cheapest fares sell out first. That might not be the way to go these days, but you still stand to save some money if you buy refundable tickets early rather than just a few days before you travel.

There's a fixed price for Madrid-Toledo tickets, so the only reason to buy those in advance is to avoid any risk of a sell-out. That does sometimes happen, though I don't know how likely it will be to happen at the time of your trip, and on a weekday.

Posted by
2214 posts

As this is your first time in Europe, always count an extra night in your first destination city, it will take most people 1-3 (even more) days to get over Jet Lag. Since you will be traveling back to Spain in 2023 my instinct would be to just limit your trip to Madrid, Cordoba, and Toledo. Best to save Sevilla for another time when you can also visit other parts of Andalucía. To fully enjoy the magic of Toledo and Cordoba without those pesky daytripping crowds my recommendation would be to overnight in both cities.

So it would look something like this:

Fly in to Madrid
Madrid (2 nights)
AVE train to
Toledo (2 nights)
AVE train via Atocha station to
Cordoba (2 nights)
AVE train to
Madrid (1 night)
Fly out of Madrid

Posted by
3 posts

Excellent information and great insight, thanks so much! We will definitely take all into consideration. Appreciate your help!