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itinerary tweaking - Barcelona, Girona, Toledo, Madrid

Previous iteration has been rethunk, thanks to the good advice here. Now considering the following:
Arr Barcelona late afternoon on Tuesday 3/3
3 nights/2 full days in Barcelona
Early train to Figueres, see Dali sites, train back to Girona early afternoon
Girona cathedral, wall, other medieval sites depending on time
1 night in Girona Hotel Nord 1901 Superior - anyone familiar with this hotel?
Fast train (or 3 trains) to Toledo which with planning and a bit of luck should get us there in 5 hours or less, time for a walk around and dinner
1 night in Toledo Palace Suite Apartment - anyone have experience here? (I was disappointed that the recommended Santa Isabel is booked for this night)
Toledo sites the following day, afternoon train to Madrid
3 nights/2 full days in Madrid, flight home morning of 3/11
Does this sound reasonable? I know I could easily spend days in either Barcelona or Madrid, but we'd like to see a bit outside the biggest cities, too, if at all possible. Thanks again!

Posted by
1522 posts

Celeste, the itinerary is excellent. You did well doing an open jaw flight plan and your days are distributed very well for the time you have. I do not have experience staying at the accommodations you listed.

Posted by
785 posts

Thanks!
Also, I have tickets to Sagrada Familia and I know I need to get them for Park Guell, but are there other sites they are a must to buy in advance? How about the trains? I understand I may save (some? a lot?) by purchasing in advance, but are there any that might be sold out in March?

Posted by
1962 posts

For me it feels like you are really lacking time in all places you will be visiting (except maybe Madrid) and this itinerary does not sound reasonable. I feel like the 1 night stays at these smaller cities (Girona/Toledo) are deceptively short, as you have to check in to the hotel, travel around with luggage etc., consider you will not even have a full 24 hrs in either of the small cities you really want to see.

Getting from Girona to Toledo will require 2 station changes, Sants and Atocha, by the end of the day I would be pretty tired and in no mood to run up and down the steep hills of Toledo, most sites will be closing by the time you reach Toledo in the evening, that only gives you precious few hours the next day to see all of Toledo (same story with Girona).

I personally would take a step back and consider, for 8 nights, either Madrid (and environs) plus Toledo OR Barcelona (and environs) plus Girona. I think the pacing will make for a much more enjoyable and rewarding vacation, because for me trying to cram in Barcelona, Girona, Madrid, and Toledo in 8 nights does not should like a vacation ;-)

Posted by
785 posts

Getting from Girona to Toledo will require 2 station changes, Sants and Atocha

Do you mean changes of station or train? It appeared from my searches today that the transfers were within the same station, Sants in Barcelona and Atocha in Madrid. I know these are probably large stations but I've never found train transfers particularly tiring as long as I'm not making too tight a connection. I think I'd be ready to walk a bit after half a day of train travel. There are many who have posted that they did both of these on day trips, so I'll at least have an overnight to see them after the day trippers leave. I completely understand that I could always use more time anywhere I've ever traveled. I already have open jaw tickets into Barcelona and out of Madrid so at least no back-tracking there. Thank you.

Posted by
1962 posts

I see, Sants is more easy to navigate than Atocha, you will have enough time to make the connections, though what I wanted to communicate is that you will need to take 3 separate trains, making 2 changes at Sants and Atocha. You should also take into account that there will be some light security (metal detectors) to actually get onto the AVE platforms, these usually add 15 to 30 min depending on how busy the station is.

As you have already purchased your flights, that firms up your plans considerably. I think the question then is to see Toledo and Girona as day trips or as 1 night stays. In this case I'd personally see them as day trips from Madrid and Barcelona, respectively, less moving around/changing hotels etc.

Posted by
17636 posts

Treating Toledo as a day-trip from Madrid will give you more time in Toledo and less time in Madrid. To me, that would be the right call unless you're big-time art fans. I'm one of many who find Madrid less distinctive and interesting than Barcelona, Girona and Toledo.

I like Girona a lot and agree that it's great to include smaller cities, but 8 days is just not long enough in my view to go to four different places. Each transfer tends to take at least half a day, so going to four places leaves just 6-1/2 days to actually enjoy those places. In the end, you'll be short on time everywhere except (perhaps) Madrid.

Posted by
14131 posts

As usual, I agree with acraven. Visit Girona as a day trip and stay overnight in Toledo. There's more to see in Toledo and you'll be able to navigate around the daytrippers. Allow 30 minutes to transfer in Atocha station.