My daughter is doing a semester in Valencia, so we will be flying there in April with friends to see her and pick her up to take back to the states on our way home. Our friends are with us for only a week. Looking at landing in Valencia on a Friday afternoon- would like to go to Madrid-not sure what to see-interested in historical sites and local food and shops-so advice would be great. Know we would like to go from Madrid to Granada to see the Alhambra- saw a video on Cordoba and that looked like an interesting place to visit. I know this is pretty vague-but would like some opinions on what are some must see sights if you were only there a week. Also, if someone could speak to the train service between the above mentioned areas. Thank you for you help.
Hello, I'm not sure when in April you are planning to travel, but I wanted to give you a heads up that April 14-20 is Semana Santa in Spain. Know in English as Holy Week, Semana Santa is the week before Easter and is highly celebrated here in Spain, even more that Christmas.
How many nights will you have in Spain, not counting the night on the plane? We need to know precisely how much time you have. And it sounds as if you are staying longer than your friends, so do you have more than a week? I am confused.
Honestly, unless you are serious art-lovers, Madrid wouldn't be on my list for a one-week trip. Valencia would be even farther down the list. Valencia is obviously a must for you; Madrid may or may not be, depending on where you're flying back from. I'd be looking at Granada (since you mentioned it), Cordoba and Seville.
I like to use the Deutsche Bahn website for exploring train schedules. When you're ready to look at fares, you'll need to go to Renfe.com or one of the companies selling tickets for multiple train lines at the standard price. Do not use RailEurope, which will probably cost you considerable extra money.
Unfortunately, it's a long train ride (6 hours or more) from Valencia to Granada, traveling via Madrid and possibly having a segment by bus. (They are close to getting the high-speed rail line to Granada open, but there has been no announced date.) I rarely recommend driving, but it's a thought in this situation. You could pick up the car in Valencia and drop it in Granada.
If this sounds like too much hassle and you are art-lovers, you could consider train to Cuenca (atmospheric hill town along a ridge), train to Madrid, train to Cordoba. That wouldn't really leave time for Granada, I don't think, but it is accessible from Cordoba by train in about 2-1/2 hours.
If Granada makes the cut, you need to get your Alhambra tickets soon. They sell out very early. If April tickets aren't on sale yet, they will be very soon.
Holy Week is a very big deal in Andalucía, so if that's when you'll be in Spain, it may make finding lodgings more challenging that one would expect.
We will be in Spain from April 11th-26th. We are traveling with friends the first week thru the 20th. Then we will stay another week at one of our timeshare options. So the first week is when we would sight see. Spain is a country I don't know a lot about or what to see. We are basically choosing to go there since our daughter is there. Valencia is a given since she will be living there. I love history and exploring more of the older sections of cities and towns. Am open to suggestions. We are able to travel by any means. My husband has driven through many European countries and feels quite comfortable-I would just like the convenience of not having a car and finding parking-so the train seemed like a good option. Curious what others liked to see and do in Spain.
We will be in Spain from April 11th-26th. We are traveling with friends the first week thru the 20th
In that case, you should be aware that you will be traveling in Spain during Semana Santa. The majority of Spain's cities, towns and villages, all have their own processions and celebrations combining music, art, and colour.
In Andalucía, the region you are interested in, there will be the most intense spirit of Semana Santa. Cities like Córdoba, Granada, and Sevilla will have really spectacular Semana Santa processions. There may be some slowdown in those cities, towns and villages attributed to Holy Week. Note that Easter Monday is a public holiday in Spain, so the large majority of shops and restaurants will be closed.
Personally, I think that you should embrace the fact that you will be in Spain during Semana Santa. It will make your travel experience so much deeper and rewarding than any normal day of the week.
Since you mention you don't know a lot about Spain or what to see, I would recommend that you first pick up Rick Steves' guidebook on Spain and sit down and really hammer out what you want to see/do, big picture, with your family and friends, then circle back to this forum with a rough-draft of an itinerary, once you have more of a context.
Based on my very limited experience of Semana Santa 3 years ago, avoid Sevilla if you can. It is very crowded and I found the atmosphere surround the processions a bit off-putting. On the other hand, I started the week in Malaga and, being neither Christian nor religious, I still found the processions very moving. It's a solemn time and the crowds were not a problem. I had time to see the town's sights as well as spending hours watching the processions. I spent Easter Sunday and Monday in Cordoba (my favorite Spanish city). It was very low key - didn't feel like anything special was going on. Some sights were closed on Sunday, the Mezquita had regular hours on Monday. I learned that the main procession in Granada is on Easter Sunday, but by the time I found that out, the rooms in my low budget range were no longer available.
There were extra trains added to the schedule for the Valencia/Malaga route around Semana Santa. Malaga is only a couple hours by train from Granada.
Have you considered Barcelona?
I travel to Valencia for my job 1-2 times a year. I haven't had that much time to devote to tourism on my trips, but here are some of my thoughts in case anything helps you out.
I normally fly in and out of Madrid instead of trying to fly to Valencia. If you purchase rail tickets in advance, I find it a bit easier to take the AVE train to Valencia. If you use the AVE train between Valencia and Madrid, it is very fast and efficient. Train transpiration between the Madrid Airport and the main train station are included with the rail tickets if you are on an AVE train.
Don't be afraid to book rail tickets through Renfe. Renfe doesn't like american credit cards, but if you create a Renfe account and pay through Paypal, it works just fine. You then get access to some less expensive rail fares that you wouldn't on other websites.
The only main touristy thing I have done in Madrid was to visit the Royal Palace. I've visited several palaces in Germany and France, and the palace in Madrid is definitely worth a visit. There are also several areas to walk around that you will have a good time.
Valencia has some nice areas to visit as well. The main cathedral is very beautiful and for a small fee you can go up one of the towers for a view of Valencia (its a bit strenuous). There is a small chapel that is a separate church from the cathedral around the back of the cathedral that is definitely worth a visit. I've heard good things about the Arts and Sciences museum, the aquarium, and the zoo,
Sorry I can't comment about the other areas as I haven't been to those locations. Enjoy your trip!