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If you had a week in Spain

We're thinking about going on a short trip to Spain in April (maybe 6-8 days). I really hate planning trips, which is part of why I love RS tours, but I'm going to attempt this anyways. Thinking about flying into Madrid (2 nights), train to Toledo (2-3 nights), train to Seville (2-3 nights), fly out of Seville. Is there anything obviously wrong with this itinerary, or something that would be a better plan? We really have not spent much time in Spain outside of military bases, long ago.

Our goal is to not have to rent a car, easy, stress free traveling, and go to warmish places to get out of the cold in the Pacific NW for a bit. Spain sounds fascinating, but there is so much to choose from. Browsing this forum makes me think that these might be some good places to visit for this time of year. We don't want to change hotels more than necessary. Maybe just two of these places would be better to visit? Thank you for any guidance you can give me!

Posted by
4689 posts

Please share when in April, as Easter is a big deal, plus there could be other events that might make your choices crowded or expensive.
The only "problem" with Toledo is that you have to return to Madrid before heading to Sevilla. It is just about 30 minutes each way, so just a slight inconvenience. You could go to Cordoba instead, as that is on the same train line. Both offer a lot.
There is a strong argument to be made for only two destinations. But overall, if you can fly into Madrid and out of Sevilla, that is plenty for a week. You could just stop in Cordoba long enough to see the Mezquita, then head along to Sevilla.

Posted by
7080 posts

When in April?
Holy Week (Semana Santa) is between 3-9 April and will be super-extra busy in Seville. Then 23-29 April is the Feria: very, very busy again in Seville.
It's a great vibe in both cases, but you might be too late to secure accommodation (especially for Semana Santa).

This aside...
Toledo is a one-day sort of place IMO: max 2 nights, and feasible as a day trip from Madrid. There are more crowds if you do a day trip, but that's still what I would do in a short trip like yours.
So, make it 3 nights in Madrid. Or even 4, as there is plenty to see and do Madrid.

Then, spend the remaining 4-5 nights in Andalucía: either all of them in Seville if you can dodge the big events or find accommodation regardless, or split between Córdoba and Granada if you come to the conclusion that you need to avoid Seville.
But you need to sleep in the city you fly out of for your final night, so in the second case, it would make sense to head straight to Córdoba after landing (by train from Atocha station), then Granada, then back to Madrid.

If the above sounds complicated: 3-4 nights in Madrid, 4-5 nights in Barcelona. Fly out of Barcelona. Completely different from Seville, but just as interesting to visit!

Posted by
49 posts

Thank you both for the suggestions, definitely gives me more to think about. I was looking at early-mid April, and perhaps I should avoid Easter. The hotels I was looking at in Seville didn't seem terribly expensive, I was just checking random early April dates.

My husband just suggested a train ride into the Pyrenees, which means that flying into Barcelona would be more convenient for that. So there's another possibility, but that might be more of a pain to then end up in Seville, if we went that direction.

Posted by
4689 posts

If you want the Pyrenees instead, just fly round-trip Barcelona--with a week, keep it simple!

Posted by
1046 posts

We are in Seville at the moment and it has been very disappointing. Plaza Espana was nice but the Real Alcazar was very crowded and not very interesting, and the cathedral really uninspiring. Food choices are bland and there is a lot of tourist pricing for meals. We are staying in Santa Cruz and trying to walk anywhere is terrible because of all the cars squeezing along really narrow streets.

We much preferred Barcelona.

Posted by
7653 posts

Spain’s big, and with just a week, limit your trip to southern or northern. Don’t try to go far north, and Madrid, too. That will not be easy or stress free.

Your original Madrid/Toledo/Seville looked reasonable to me. If you wanted another daytrip from Madrid besides Toledo, Segovia would be well worth considering.

Posted by
49 posts

Wow, then maybe we should avoid Seville, that doesn't sound great. And yeah, perhaps round trip to Barcelona would be good, I'm all about uncomplicated. I was thinking further south would be warmer, however, then again if it's too crowded, why bother! Or maybe Barcelona/Madrid (with a daytrip to Toledo and/or Segovia)?

Posted by
4689 posts

Aussie, check out this place--I hate crowds and found the cathedral creepy as all get out, but I loved Casa de Pilatos:
http://www.fundacionmedinaceli.org/monumentos/pilatos/

It sounds like tourism has really roared back--popular places are going to be crowded. Being very selective about what you pick to see can help, as can a car--but I understand not everyone wants to or can drive.

Posted by
4595 posts

I loved Seville, but it would group better with Cordoba and Granada..even Malaga. That being said, Madrid and Seville isn't too challenging to do. But if Hubs wants Pyrenees, then Madrid and Barcelona offer a lot and you aren't dealing with Andalucia April festivals. And sometimes April can be pushing 100F in Andalucia. Thank you global warming...

Posted by
49 posts

Great advice from all, thank you!

100 degrees? Yikes, didn't want to warm up that much.

Posted by
963 posts

Hey, everyone is entitled to their opinions, but if Aussie’s take on Sevilla is putting you then I feel compelled to step in. Sevilla is terrific. If there’s a legit knock it’s probably that the main tourist zone including (the very pedestrianized) barrio Santa Cruz is actually relatively modern “authentic” construct from a Worlds Fair. The people are authentic though, and you’ll find a world of difference between Andalusia and Madrid. The Cathedral is amazing, and the Alcazar is imo barely beaten by the Alhambra itself (I prefer the gardens here over Generalife.) I’ve been twice and hated leaving both times. Easter ferria is the paramount holiday in Sevilla. It may even feel a little slow before and after as people prepare/recover.

I enjoyed Toledo but one night is fine, two is comfortable. If you decide to include it, I’d hit Toledo upon arrival then do Madrid. Think you need another night in Madrid for sure. So, I think that’s Toledo 1 night, Madrid 3, and Sevilla 3? That’s a nice itinerary. Fast trains connect all these places.

Posted by
252 posts

Wow. We loved Sevilla in 2019. Like anywhere, there is good and bad food to be had, and Santa Cruz is not my favorite area. You just need to do your research. We’re in Malaga now having a great time. Prices are up but everything has gotten more expensive since COVID. Headed to a rural area to hike next and then onto Madrid. Spain is wonderful IMO.

Posted by
2017 posts

I liked Sevilla but maybe it was were I was at. The cathedral at Seville is I believe the second largest with St. Peter's being the first. That is one reason to visit. The other neat thing is that unlike other cities where you have to climb steps, the Geralda(built for the Grand Mosque) is actually ramps, which is easier to go up and a totally different feel to many church towers. Plus, I loved the Casa de La Memoria flamenco, which wasn't a big production and you didn't need to buy food.

Up to you but I loved Sevilla.

Posted by
49 posts

Gosh, now I’m thinking maybe Seville, though a lot depends upon flight costs. The cheapest flight right now seems like it would leave us in Spain during Easter, but maybe we should avoid that? Not thrilled with huge crowds.

Maybe start out in Seville, couple of nights in Madrid with a side trip to Toledo, end up in Barcelona for a day trip train ride to the mountains for my husband? I still have to research all these other suggested destinations! Time to go to the store and get the RS book, I think.

Posted by
4689 posts

You still just have a week, right? Five destinations would be a lot.
With airfares at such a premium this year, I'd see what works out the best and then choose two places--you will never run out of things to see and do in Spain.

Posted by
6817 posts

Sorry Aussie hasn’t liked Sevilla, but it is just one person’s opinion. Its cathedral is one of the largest in the world. I do understand how crowds can affect one’s opinion.

You could stay in the north and visit Madrid, Toledo, Salamanca, and Segovia.

Not sure which bases you’re referring to. I believe Morón is still open and Spain recently approved an enhanced presence at Rota. The air base at Zaragoza closed in 1992 while the one at Torrejón closed in 1994. We stayed at Torrejón one week before the last personnel departed.

We used to drive up to Sevilla from Rota every few months in the late 70s since it was the only city that had real department stores. Back then, just after Franco, Spain was barely a 1st world country. Times sure have changed.

Posted by
49 posts

I’m thinking just a week, but I could add days. Not really five destinations as far as spending the night in different hotels, but three places, with day trips. Then again, maybe that’s too ambitious and we should just stay in two locations. I definitely want this to be relaxed, but not sitting around all day. I’ve seen a lifetime full of cathedrals, so little desire for that.

Posted by
49 posts

Jaimeelsabio, I spent too much time at Torrejon during Desert Storm, way back when. And I was either sleeping, or drinking beer in order to sleep all day and then fly back and forth from the Middle East, so it’s all a hazy blur. Unfortunate to have been in such an amazing location and remember nothing about it except for bad sangria.

Posted by
2267 posts

Flying out of Sevilla to North America is tough- it often means an overnight layover before the westbound transatlantic leg.

I really enjoyed Sevilla. Lots of people stay in Santa Cruz, but I would never advise it. Beautiful, historic, but 100% tourist. I stayed near the Setas and Jade a great time. (And ate marvelously!)

But with just a week I’d dial back the ambition. Maybe just Madrid with a night or two in Toledo?

Posted by
4011 posts

I agree with Scudder, I'd say just focus on Madrid or Barcelona or Sevilla for your one week.

With 7 days there is so much to see in and around Barcelona. You can start in Barcelona for 4-5 days, then head to northern Catalonia for 2-3 days, a land dotted with bucolic farmland and old stone medieval towns with the mighty Pyrenees in one side and the turquoise waters of the Costa Brava on the other side. Girona makes for a great base to explore Northern Catalonia. Some of my favourite points of interests in Northern Catalonia:

Girona - An ancient city in northern Catatonia. Has an impressive Cathedral, towering medieval walls, narrow winding streets, and one of the best preserved Jewish Quarters in Europe. Some of the Game of Thrones T.V. series was shot here.

Besalú - Well preserved medieval town showcasing Romanesque and Gothic architecture. The centerpiece is the impressive medieval bridge.

Dalí Museum in Figueres - Extensive collection of Dalí's artwork, from paintings to sculpters and everything in between.

Empúries - which is the site of the ancient ruins of a Greek colony from the 6th–3rd century BC. It's quite unique as the ruins sit right on the Costa Brava overlooking the sea.

Vall de Núria - is a sacred valley in the high Pyrenees, there is a holy sanctuary and old 1930s hotel at the top, plus a small lake and plenty of hiking trails for all aptitudes. Very picturesque and popular with local Catalans. Accessible by rack railway from Queralbs.

Vic - they have a nice farmers' market day on the Placa Major. Vic is known for it's amazing Fuet sausages and the unique Vic Cathedral, a mix of Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque and Neoclassic styles. You can stop by Xarcuteria Solà S.c.p in the center of town to pick up some delicatessen supplies for sandwiches.

While Barcelona during Semana Santa is much more lowkey than other parts of Spain, know that many villages/towns in northern Catalonia do indeed have their own processions and unique celebrations. This could be a great opportunity to see centuries old traditions "in citu", like the medieval Dance of Death in Verges or the Passion Processions in Girona, while having a less crowded homebase in Barcelona.

Posted by
49 posts

Scudder, it looks like it would be fine to fly into Seville, just two legs from our home and no enroute overnight, but we'd fly home from Madrid or Barcelona. However, we don't want to get too complicated. Maybe I could add a day to the overall trip if it's getting too difficult.

Posted by
49 posts

Great suggestions, Carlos, those sound like amazing sights to see. I am wondering, though, whether I should avoid Holy Week in Spain. It sounds very interesting, though it makes me wonder if there will be huge crowds.

Posted by
4011 posts

In the main cities of Andalucia yes it will be crowded for Semana Santa, but that is where the passion is most strong, so it is a trade-off.

However if you home base in Barcelona or Madrid, there are smaller towns that one can day trip to that also have great Semana Santa festivities, like Cuenca and Zaragoza for Madrid or Tarragona and Girona for Barcelona, that way you can have the best of both worlds.

Posted by
690 posts

Jaimeelsabio, I spent too much time at Torrejon during Desert Storm, way back when. And I was either sleeping, or drinking beer in order to sleep all day and then fly back and forth from the Middle East, so it’s all a hazy blur. Unfortunate to have been in such an amazing location and remember nothing about it except for bad sangria.
Blockquote

But who drinks sangría in Spain? Only the tourists!!! Locals avoid sangria in bars, and in most parts of Spain you never find it anywhere. It´s something people make at home, more in summer, with friends on an outdoor barbecue or something of the kind...but sangria in a bar...never ever, it´s something for visitors that think we have it! :):):):):)

Posted by
49 posts

MikelBasqueGuide, as far as who drinks Sangria in Spain, that would never be me again! I think we stuck out like a sore thumb and didn't just get the bad stuff, but the terrible stuff. Kind of pathetic that over 30 years later, all I remember about this amazing place is bad Sangria.

Now that I booked the cheapest flights possible into London (can go just about anywhere from there on BA), I've realized that we only have six nights in Spain, with five full days and two half days, so my idea of staying at three different locations was obviously a terrible one. I'm thinking of either getting a hotel in Barcelona for the entire time and doing day trips, or two nights somewhere else(we could fly into Palma if that's worth visiting) and then the rest in Barcelona.

Posted by
49 posts

Well, after reading some of these threads, we're thinking Andalusia might be better for us. We can fly in/out of Madrid, or fly into Madrid, out of Malaga or Seville (though Seville is two legs, so less desirable). Interested in train/bus only, no car rentals.

If you were going to stay in two towns, what would you go for? I'm thinking maybe Granada for two nights, then Seville, Malaga or Cordoba for the rest? I'm wondering what would be the best central town that is a lovely and interesting place to stay, and easy to access other places on day trips. We would plan on taking trains out of this city, or going on organized bus tours, unless there was enough to explore in that one city alone.

Posted by
27431 posts

I liked Malaga, but the three main tourist destinations in Andalucia are Seville, Granada and Cordoba, and there's a reason for that. If your trip is no more than 8 nights, I wouldn't try to include Malaga.

I'd base in Seville (the largest city and needing the most time) and Granada (really too far from Seville for a comfortable day trip, and the Alhambra--not the only sight in the city--can take well over half a day). I enjoyed three nights in Cordoba, but you can have a decent visit there by day-tripping from Seville. Note that the fast trains between Seville and Cordoba sometimes sell out. Buying those tickets somewhat in advance would be smart if you can pin down your preferred travel date and time. It might also save you some money.

Trains between Seville and Granada aren't frequent. If you don't like any of the times available, take a look at the ALSA bus schedule. Direct buses are scheduled to take just 3 hours, though buses are obviously subject to traffic delays. The buses are comfortable, but be sure you know which Seville bus station to head for; there are two. It appears that ALSA buses to Granada depart from the Plaza de Armas station.

Since the trains from Seville to Granada travel through Cordoba, you could see Cordoba in transit rather than doing it as a day trip from Seville. It's sort of a trade-off: you'd save the travel time required for going back and forth between Seville and Cordoba, but you'd have to store your luggage in Cordoba. There are lockers at the bus station, very near the train station, but reports indicate they can fill up, so you'd have to plan ahead by researching other luggage-storage options. Also, the infrequent trains between Cordoba and Granada somewhat limit your choices. On the mid-April weekday I checked, there were no departures between 4:21 PM and 8:10 PM.

Posted by
49 posts

Thank you, acraven, that is very helpful. It actually looks like we'll only have six nights there, unless we leave out of Madrid in the morning, then it would be seven.