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Jun in Spain

Traveling to Spain 1-9 Jun (in country 2-8 Jun) for a trip with 13 yr old daughter into and out of Madrid from US. She wants to see historical stuff so I am tentatively planning Toledo (2nd), Cordoba (3rd?) , Sevilla (4,5th) , and Granada (6th). She would also like to go to Tangiers for a day trip to say she has been on another continent and country...think we can do it if we spend 3/4 day in Cordoba and night of 3rd in Sevilla. Is this itinerary realistic or are we rushing it too much. Is this the best part of Spain to see for history?

From what I've read people suggest taking trains to get around, but I'm not keen on hauling luggage around and like the flexibility of a car. I lived in UK for a while and went there with her in 2018 and am definitely glad we used a car. Is Spain that much different as far as traveling train vs car than UK?

Posted by
16834 posts

Trains on most of your route are probably faster than what you remember in the UK, e.g. from Madrid to either Seville or Granada in about 3 hours. They don't go everywhere, e.g. not much service to or along the south coast, such as not to Tarifa, from where the fastest ferries depart to Tangier. See also https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/transportation/trains/spain-rail-passes or transport summaries at the end of each chapter in Rick's books.

For such a short trip, packing light should be relatively easy and it definitely helps when hopping on and off trains, but also in hotels with stairs, etc. Keep in mind that you can't always park a car very close to your hotel, so that might affect your choice of hotels.

Tangier is definitely the easiest thing to cut to save travel time and allow more focus on these great Spanish cities. The Islamic architecture you'll enjoy on the Spanish side is much more impressive than anything in Tangier. If you did make the commitment to cross to Morocco, you might also fly at least one way (see www.skyscanner.com).

Posted by
18412 posts

You don't have enough time for a good visit to all the Spanish places you mention, much less to Tangier (which is not a good choice in Morocco anyway). Let me show you the result of your tentative plan. I'm assuming you'll use trains because they're faster; it gets worse if you decide to drive. The only issue is figuring out what to do about scheduling the train departure on your arrival day--but let's worry about that later.

June 2: Fly into Madrid after an overnight (possibly sleepless) flight. Arrive jetlagged. Clear airport (could easily take more than an hour). Get to Atocha train station. Take train to Toledo, find hotel and check in (or drop bags if too early). You have a few hours to sightsee in Toledo (remember, you have to eat sometime), which could easily occupy you for 1-1/2 or 2 days, but you are jet-lagged and fuzzy-brained. You've been to England: Is it possible all you'll want to do is sleep? How energetic will you be the next morning? Is it likely you'll get a slow start?

June 3: Take train back to Madrid and then to Cordoba (yes, this is faster than driving). Train time alone is 3 hours. By the time you add in getting to Atocha Station in Madrid and from the Cordoba station to your hotel, you're probably at 4-1/2 hours if the hotel check-in goes efficiently. You'll be eating twice in Cordoba that day. How many hours will you have left to see this city that, again, could occupy you for 1-1/2 or 2 days easily?

June 4: Take train to Seville (2 nights): Door-to-door this is probably going to be over 2 hours, more like 2-1/2. Here you'll have under 2 days. It's better than the half-day in Toledo, but Seville is very large, with widely scattered sights. I think you need a minimum of 3 full days there.

June 6: Take train (or bus if departure times are more convenient, but it will take longer) to Granada. The train time will be about 4 hours door-to-door. I hope your hotel is efficient with the check-in or the baggage drop, because you have not much more than half a day to see the Alhambra, where it's possible to spend nearly an entire day. When are you going to eat? There will be no time to see anything else in Granada unless you take the 1:20 PM train to Madrid the next day--and how much can you accomplish in a couple hours in the morning; you'll have to cut your sightseeing short to go back to the hotel to pick up your luggage and then head to the train station.

June 7: Back to Madrid (2 nights). Figure about 5 hours door-to-door, longer if you don't take the 1:20 PM (fastest) train. That gives you about 1-1/2 days in Madrid, which (art museums aside) is the least interesting, least historic place on the itinerary. Given how short your other stops are and the fact that you mentioned history rather than art, I'd spend only the last night in Madrid and add the other night to Seville, Toledo or Granada. I'd rather spend that time in Cordoba than Madrid, too, but to me it's not as painfully pinched as the other three cities.

The above assumes you're departing from Spain on June 9.

In summary, seven days on the ground isn't enough time for 5 cities, or for 4 cities. I'd argue it's not enough time even for 3 cities, but not everyone would agree with me there.

Posted by
4 posts

I realize it is a quick tour of things but due to custody stuff I don't have more time. The Tangier bit is just to check something off that my daughter wants - it took me many years before a judge ordered the passport and she wants to say that she has been places, and a new continent is way up the list. Based on your response, and other things I've read, I am contemplating using trains. Is the countryside generally not worth driving? I ask because in many of our other travels driving allowed us to see things we otherwise would not have seen...perhaps in Spain there isn't much worth the time outside the cities given how short we will be there.

Posted by
4 posts

Well, we did London in 1.5 days starting within 2hrs after we arrived. We did Stratford/Warwick, a bit of south Wales, -Salisbury/Stonehenge, Winchester, Oxford, and Windsor and visiting a couple friends in 8 days. I was thinking we could squeeze in a bit of everything - perhaps over estimating it a bit. I don't get, or need much sleep anyway, and we don't plan or doing anything in Madrid - other than possibly seeing Prado (not sure daughter will be interested). I know that 3 days in Sevilla will be too long - she is sort of like me in being able to move quickly. But overall I may have to rethink things...

Posted by
16834 posts

Is the countryside generally not worth driving? I'll go ahead and say, "No, it isn't."

With this limited time, I doubt that you'll stop unless you've identified a specific destination in advance. If you decide that you want a car for a couple of days south of Seville, e.g. around the white hill towns, then it's also an option to rent for that more limited time.

Posted by
18412 posts

OK, then if you've done it before, you know what you're getting into. But while you might walk around London and think the general architectural look isn't all that different from what we have here, that will not be your reaction in Andalucía, so I'd think you'd appreciate having time to wander and absorb the foreign-ness of it all. And things can take a bit longer when you're dealing with a foreign language.

I meant to give you links in my earlier post that you can use for determining train-travel times and estimating driving times.

Here's Renfe for the trains: https://www.renfe.com/EN/viajeros/index.html

The Deutsche Bahn website will allow you to see the Toledo-(Madrid)-Cordoba routing, whereas Renfe requires you to look up the two legs separately: https://www.bahn.com/en/view/index.shtml

And here's ViaMichelin.com for driving times; keep in mind that they don't including stopping, getting lost, traffic tie-ups etc. Also realize that a lot of your English driving was in small towns. Your Spanish destinations are either large or blessed with historic centers built on medieval street plans; you will not be able to drive into the center of some of those places, and you'll probably regret driving into the others. https://www.viamichelin.com/

Trains to Toledo, Cordoba and Seville are relatively frequent. They're much, much patchier into and out of Granada. That's why some people end up taking a bus. The ALSA buses are comfortable.

You'll save considerable money by buying your train tickets early enough to score Promo fare (which sometimes means buying tickets soon after they go on sale). Tickets are currently available for dates through May 31, so yours should do on sale soon. The cheap tickets aren't changeable or refundable, however, so be absolutely sure of your itinerary before buying. Also, you might want to think about whether you might end up canceling or postponing the trip because of the coronavirus situation. Even at promo prices, the amount of money you'll have tied up in train tickets will not be inconsequential.

Posted by
3047 posts

With the time you have, you really don’t have time to wander the countryside. You hardly have the time to adequately see the places you want to see. Once you’ve been to Spain a few times and have seen the main tourist sights, there are plenty of sights to see in the rural areas. It is very much worth spending time in them. Most of the castles, monasteries, hermitages, and walking paths are in the countryside. One advantage of visiting the smaller towns is there are fewer tourists. In some places there are no tourists. It’s in those areas, where few people if any speak English, where you get a feel for what Spain really is. We always drive.