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Itinerary help Southern Spain, still undecided (w/3 children: 11, 11, 8)

July 20-24: Madrid (side trip ideas: Toledo, Segovia). We are staying just north of the busy city, hotel includes pool, and plan to train in/out for touring Madrid. It's an SPG hotel, so getting 2 rooms on points.
July 27-31: Barcelona (we have an apartment on the top of Las Ramblas)

I need help with: July 24-27 in Ronda. I love what I've read and photos I've seen about Ronda and staying on a B&B/ranch with horses, pools, etc. It's definitely out of the way but wanted to focus on 3 main areas during our 10 days. (Don't want to include too many museums and keep European travel fun for kids.) I consider this part of the trip to be a relaxing few days. As I checked transportation in/out, it appears we can all train down in 3.5 hours for about $350 total for the 5 of us. Driving provides an option to see other places, but about 5 hours. My fear is driving through the mountains. (Heard it's a bit rough at times and we experienced some of that in Germany.) Especially concerned since a couple of kids can easily get car sick - hence, reason to train it. Out of Ronda to Barcelona, we would fly on Vueling.
I have not made train/plane reservations in/out Ronda/Malaga (July 24/27) area yet, only hotel stay. Wondering if we should skip it entirely?
If you had these 3 nights in between Madrid and Barcelona areas, with children, where would you go/see? How would you transport?
Thanks!
Lori

Posted by
139 posts

I've been to Ronda and it is lovely but is there somewhere closer to Barcelona you could do your relaxing days in the country? It looks like a long way to go with 3 kids that might get car sick. Wherever you decide to go I always enjoy having a car in the countryside when traveling with kids.

Posted by
3714 posts

As you said, Ronda is way out of the way. If it was me, I would consider taking the train from Madrid to Valencia or some small town between there and Barcelona on the coast. There is regular train service stopping in the small towns on that route. I bet the kids would love some time on the beach and in the Med.

Posted by
26 posts

Hi Lori,

We have a similar plan for travel later this month with a 4.5 year old. 2-3 days in madrid with side trips to Toledo, 4 days in Seville & around and 2-3 days to Barcelona. Our plan to to take train between these places & in Seville area, hire a car. Still deciding on few things. Our aim is also have less museum time.

Thanks..

Posted by
138 posts

Thank you all for replies thus far.
So, if I were to eliminate Ronda, and could either train or fly, reasonably close by, where to? The procession of St. James is around that time East of Madrid and always thought about experiencing that. I might have to Madrid dates, but it's possible. This then keeps me in the northern half of Spain. Second option is as suggested, a coast. We could do a northern coast and travel up into southern France (which would please hubby). If we skip Ronda, the above are probably my preferences.
Again, suggestions/comments welcome!
Thanks so much.

Posted by
14 posts

I agree, Ronda and the area is beautiful, but not that much to see. We loved Seville which takes 2 days and a day trip to Cordoba by train is easy. But Southern Spain will be quite warm in July. San Sebastián is beautiful and has a lovely beach in a bay, don't know how crowded it will be in July. And the food is amazing!

Posted by
16883 posts

The "buffet table" is loaded, but I hope you have a better idea of your direction, with these replies.

Posted by
5648 posts

If I may add a couple more dishes to the "buffet," we visited Spanish Basque Country this past November and really enjoyed it - particularly the food at several restaurants in and near San Sebastian (a/k/a Donostia). From that region, we flew Vueling to Barcelona, so we flew over the Pyranees and a lot of other potential great locations. It was the usual, "if we had more time, we'd have loved to have seen more in the area."

Is it the driving up and down in the hills that could bother the kids? If so, the mountains in the Pyranees and hilly parts of Basque Country might bother the kids as much as driving around the Ronda area. San Sebastian has a renowned beach, by the way, but it was empty in rainy, cool November. The aquarium in San Sebastian was a real hit with all the other visitors' kids when we were there. It's a long day (or 2) to drive between Madrid or Barcelona to San Sebastian, so that may not be an option. We took the train from Madrid to Bilbao, rented a car and drove to San Sebastian, and turned the car back in at Bilbao before flying to Barcelona. With Vueling, it was much cheaper to fly out of Bilbao than San Sebastian, and it was much cheaper to fly from Bilbao to Barcelona than the reverse.

Are the kids OK on a plane, especially during turbulence, taking off, and landing?

You mentioned heading north from Barcelona. We enjoyed visiting Girona (steep, narrow, but very cool passageways in the old town) with its throng of college students (maybe they won't be there, in school, in July), and the Salvador Dali towns of Figueres, Cadaques, and Port Llegat. Dali may or may not be your or the kids' "thing," but those towns would be getting you on your way to southern France.

Posted by
138 posts

We've decided to stick to the original plan of seeing something in the south. Since we have our reservations in Ronda, we may keep them. We probably will drive from Madrid and save on train cost x 5. I think we'll plan to leave early and stop some place for food before heading into Ronda. Where would you suggest a quick jut to from Madrid to Ronda? Cordoba? Seville is the other direction and we do intend to go there but perhaps not on the way down.
You've all been great, and I thank you for all of your responses with ideas!

Posted by
138 posts

Oh and it's the mountain driving, and the fact it's the back seat, that gets them queasy. Planes are fine. We will plane from Ronda to Barcelona.

Posted by
1294 posts

The plains of spain have no rain.........
Driving from madrid to ronda in july..........
The very hot plains of spain offer long periods of pain.
This is a long hot boring drive........ Are we there yet? No.
Btw: what size car are you renting which will confortably hold all the passengers plus luggage.
Hmmmm
Some prices are better paid then saved.
Train travel is fun, comfortable and easy; for kids and adults.
In ronda take the kids to the bullring so they can pretend to be matadors. Dont worry, no bullfights will be occuring (Unless you choose to drive).

Posted by
1501 posts

Why don't you fly to Granada and take the kids to the Alhambra? It's the most marvellous site in Spain! Google it, it's definitely something that the kids would enjoy! Valencia has beaches and it would be a closer drive.