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How to break up an itinerary

We are going to Spain for about 14 days in May/June. At first I only wanted to go to Southern Spain, but I wonder if I would get too "churched and mosqued' out. We sort of need balance. Then I started to look at the beaches in Malaga and Nerja, but unsure. Any thought on how we can break things up with different types of things to do? I have three thoughts.

  1. Barcelona - fly to Granada - Ronda-Seville-Cordoba-Toledo-Madrid (fly out)
  2. skip Barcelona and use the above itinerary but end up in San Sebastian
  3. Stay only in Southern Spain and leave from Madrid and break things up with suggestions from here. Cadiz? Nerja? Something that doesn't involve a church? Will the white towns cover this? Jerez?

Thank you.

Posted by
7084 posts

Go and do what interests you. One can go to Spain and not visit the inside of religious or sites with Moorish architecture to fill up or have a rewarding time.
Sometimes it is better to look at official tourist information sites for a city or region instead of a guidebook aimed at a certain audience.

Posted by
360 posts

You're only as "churched out" as you decide. I look at these sites as more about history, architecture, and art to some degree. We did your #2 in May over the course of 18 nights and I did not feel too churched out, as they were all different enough to get a different feel from each of them. I would only go to the beaches if they interest you in the first place, rather than worrying about being too bored in the other locales (something drew you to them in the first place). If you think you're in a city for too long, you can always take a day trip elsewhere.

The one thing about #2 (and maybe even #1) is that getting to/from San Sebastian was really out of our way since you can't really fly in/out of there without going through Madrid or Barcelona and the trains are much slower in the northern section. By the way time waited for a connecting flight from Madrid, took the flight, and then drove from the airport into San Sebastian (and then vice versa), it will add at least four hours to your traveling.

Posted by
2691 posts

If your first instinct was to say south then I’d go with that...but breaking it up is a good idea. I’d suggest a few days in beach or nature areas without churches/museums. Nerja is a good option. The mountain areas (between Granada and Nerja, the Alpujarras) are another. A drive thru the white villages focusing on nature and wandering towns is a third option. There are more.

Also spend time even in the more “historic” or “churchy” cities doing...other things. Food tours. Exploring neighborhoods off the tourist track. Shopping in local markets. Enjoying nightlife and sleeping in. Spending hours in a park with a picnic. Just because you are in a city with museums doesn’t mean you need to spend every second in the museum. Break it up even within cities.

Posted by
842 posts

If you think you need a balance then you can plan to have some in an itinerary. But what jumps out at me from your itinerary (#1) is that you list 7 cities in 14 days which I think is way too rushed. And I say that as someone who tends to travel 'faster' than a lot of people advise on these forums. For example I did Seville, Cordoba and Granada in 8 days on one trip and found it just barely enough time. And Barcelona and San Sebastian are physically quite a distance from Andalucia where the other cities are. I think it would make sense to do just Andalucia (skip both Barcelona and San Sebastian - fly in/out of Madrid if you need to - both Seville and Granada have airports though). If you slow things down you'll have time to do things besides churches and mosques - like explore neighborhoods or countryside, or just relax in plazas, parks and cafes. You won't be just rushing from one main cathedral or palace or mosque to the next. And with 14 days you probably could add in a few days for Madrid/Toledo which are less 'out of the way' than either Barcelona or San Sebastian.

Posted by
114 posts

Thank you all. I have been researching all day. The logistics from getting from northern to southern Spain seemed tricky.

I think we will stay in the south as that was my initial idea. i'll look more into some historical tours as well, as we are huge history buffs, so thanks for that take. I actually thought about the nature parks and hiking, but was concerned about the heat that i have been reading about. We can't leave until about the 3rd week in May because of my daughter's college schedule.

Cooking classes are also a great idea! Thanks for all the suggestions.

Posted by
114 posts

Jean - I took a look at your trip from a couple of years ago through your link. That looks amazing!

Posted by
14788 posts

I don''t much like Spanish churches, but there is so much more to see and do that you could fill twice the time you have without entering any of them. And, by the way, there are some interesting ones. Take the rooftop tour of Santa Maria del Mar in Barcelona. Go to a concert in one of the medieval churches there.

Andalucia is full of variety. There aren't many mosques. The Mezquita in Cordoba is unique and stunningly beautiful, even with the church in the middle of it.

Posted by
2691 posts

Nature parks and hiking might be hot, but that’s not for sure. Granada and surrounds are often cooler than Seville due to elevation. In general anything up in the mountains will be less hot. Seaside areas have breezes and of course you can swim. Or just go early/late - the siesta exists for a reason. If you hit a heat wave or are extra sensitive to heat then it might be an issue, but in May/early June you stand a good chance of pleasantly warm weather, not insane heat.

Posted by
796 posts

Based on my travel experiences in Spain, I recommend going to Andalusia, Madrid, and perhaps Toledo. How many nights do you actually have on the ground? This was our itinerary for September 2017: Madrid (4 nights), Toledo (1 night), Córdoba (2 nights), Granada (2 nights), Malaga (2 nights), and Sevilla (4 nights) for a total of 15 nights. While it would have been nice to have an extra night in most places, I liked our number of nights and we were able to see and do a lot.

I chose Malaga for the coastal ambience. You have the beaches, if that is important to you. There is a wonderful cathedral but you certainly don’t have to visit it. We loved the Alcazaba. It’s a slow and wonderful walk uphill among ruins, lush greenery, flowers, fountains and small patios, with amazing views of the city, port, and Mediterranean. So that could be your nature walk. There is also a Ferris wheel for something different. Delicious fresh seafood!

And as others have mentioned, you can visit the white hill towns for country settings and getting out of the cities.

In Madrid, there is also Retiro Park, which is very pretty and relaxing. We sipped on sangrias for an hour at a cafe overlooking the lake. And you can take a rowboat/canoe out on the lake, too.

The Alhambra in Granada, the Mezquita in Córdoba, and the Alcazar in Sevilla are gorgeous and amazing, and I really don’t think you will be bored there.

If you like art, there are outstanding art museums in Madrid. Malaga, too, has many smaller art museums. I found the Picasso Museum to be very interesting.

Palacio de Viana in Córdoba and Casa di Pilatos in Sevilla are hidden gems!

Posted by
114 posts

I have not purchased the plane tickets yet as I am still trying to figure out the number of days, but plan to do that in the next couple of weeks . I am leaning toward flying into Madrid and flying out of either Malaga or Grenada. While Malaga may not be my first choice, it might do the trick if we are flying out of there. Plus, it might be worth it just to see the Picasso Museum. Plane ticket prices are quite good from Maalaga, and would save us time and money vs. going back up to Madrid to leave. We live near San Francisco, so close to a great airport.

We plan to go to Seville at the beginning of the trip because of everything I have read about the heat. Not sure if two weeks will make a difference (beginning vs. end of trip) but I guess it can't hurt.

I I love churches and museums - don't get me wrong- but I get a bit of flack from my family if I don't mix things up. I've received great advice here and have researched for all to be happy.

@kmkwoo - love that itinerary and will sort of be doing the same things, but want to incorporate a couple of other things if all possible. But love the way you split the # of days.