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"Living" in Spain next Summer

We're trying to plan a 5-week stay in Spain next summer. My spouse will be working throughout so internet/Wifi is required. We've never been to Spain and are looking for suggestions. We'd like to rent someplace central but be able to take weekend trips to other areas. We have two teens who are more interested in the culture than the beach, and one is looking for language immersion as much as possible. We'd prefer just one location but might consider splitting it up, if necessary. And we'd prefer not to rent a car while we're there. Thanks for any and all suggestions.

Posted by
3511 posts

What a great adventure! I don't have any significant ideas for you, but I am excited for the opportunity you will have.

Posted by
3299 posts

Larger. Medium, or small city, or a town. I’ll throw out Santiago de Compostela, León, Burgos, Zamora, Soria, Valladolid, or Zaragoza. Since you’ll be there in summer, I mentioned places that are more northern, although Zaragoza can get pretty hot in the summer too. I also tried to recommend places that won’t be as packed with tourists as the popular destinations. For even small locations, maybe Lugo, Teruel, or Logroño.

Posted by
19160 posts

"Central" would argue for somewhere in the Madrid area. There are many really wonderful side trips to be taken from Madrid (we could start with Toledo, Segovia, Salamanca, Cuenca, and Alcala de Henares, but there are more), so that aspect of the area is good. Unfortunately, it's quite hot in Madrid in the summer, though generally not as bad as down in Andalucia. I'd suggest that as possibilities come up, you take a look at actual, real-world, day-by-day weather statistics reported for each of the places on timeanddate.com. Look at the most recent three years at least; the last five would be a lot better if you can spare the time. See what you think.

Barcelona's weather is considerably more moderate, but it can be humid in the summer, so it may feel hotter than it really is. Where are you living now?

The best mid-summer weather in Spain for all but the most extreme sun-worshipper (it's very often cloudy) can usually be found along or near the northern coast from the Basque Country in the east (abutting the French border) to Galicia in the west. Galicia wraps around the NW corner of Spain and extends down to the Portuguese border.

Any of those areas would provide plenty of interesting destinations for a 5-week stay. Depending on how critical the language immersion is to you, it may matter thatmany residents of Barcelona and Catalunya speak Catalan rather than Spanish/Castilian as their first language, though I assume virtually all are fluent in both. Basque is widely spoken and appears on signage all over the Basque Country (and no one is going to pick up Basque in 5 weeks, unfortunately), and Galician sounds at least as much like Portuguese as like Spanish.

The south is what many people think of as quintessential Spain, but Seville should be expected to be miserably hot, and 5 weeks is a long time. I'd guess Cordoba wouldn't be much better. Granada's at altitude, so it probably wouldn't be quite as bad.

Do you have precise dates yet? June would probably be not quite as bad as July and August.

Posted by
2 posts

Thanks for the information so far. We're thinking the month of June and picking up a cruise out of Barcelona the first week of July to end our trip.

We're currently living in Arizona so anything below 40c is still cooler than home would be. Our oldest has taken 5 years of Spanish so she'd like to do as much Spanish speaking as she can, and both the kids have expressed their interest in museums and points of interest rather than days at the beach or hikes. Although, with 5 weeks, I'm sure we'll have time for both. I'd love to see as many different parts of Spain as possible from a "central" location, but also realize that my husband needs to be able to work while we're there. It's not a straight vacation for him like it will be for the kids and I.

And without a car, I feel like being able to use public transportation as much as possible would be best. Which makes me think larger cities with day trips or weekend trips to smaller locales. We're still in the very early stages of planning and just trying to gather as much information as we can as we narrow down our decision.

Posted by
19160 posts

Your range will obviously be greater if you can spend one or two nights away from home at times. If you stay in one of the major cities, the very fast AVE/AVANT/ALVIA trains will whisk you rapidly to some rather distant destinations, but you might want to consider what it would be like to arrive in a city worthy of a 4-night stay (just choosing a random length of visit) and having only 8 hours for sightseeing. Tickets on those super-fast trains can be very, very expensive for such a quick side-trip if you wait until you arrive in Spain to buy them. If you buy the tickets early at the Promo rate you can save a lot of money, but you are committed to the specific date and time you have chosen, so it's a sort of tough decision to make. On the other hand, if your side-trips are shorter ones on slower trains, the timing of the ticket purchase won't matter. The fares don't increase as your travel date approaches and there are no reserved seats, so sell-outs are impossible.

Cuenca (from Madrid) is an example of a destination that is practical as a day-trip only if you use the potentially-very-expensive fast trains, which take as little as 54 minutes for the trip. There are infrequent slower, cheaper trains, but they take nearly 3-1/2 hours, and you probably wouldn't appreciate having to get to the train station for a 6:08 AM departure.

If you anticipate taking a lot of day-trips by train, you should be careful about where your lodgings are located vis-à-vis the train station(s). You can burn an annoying amount of time getting yourself to the departure train station over and over again. The largest cities often have two or more train stations used for departures to different destinations, which doesn't help matters any.

It would be great if you could split your time between two different bases. I'd probably choose Barcelona and Madrid since you're willing to deal with the heat and there are lots of varied side-trip options available from those cities.

You can explore train schedules here: https://www.renfe.com/es/en

Posted by
382 posts

Just to add to ACraven's info about RENFE trains — AVLO, the low-cost high-speed rail service will be running. In theory, it is possible to pick up a one-way ticket Madrid-Barcelona for as little as 7€. Although, in practice, the price often runs to anything between 25€ and 55€, much cheaper than the regular AVE service. Here's a link to the official website (Spanish schedules): AVLO and here is a link to general information about the Avlo service in English: AVLO English

Enjoy your time in Spain.

Posted by
19160 posts

I should have mentioned that I love Barcelona--just don't expect to be the only tourists there! Since you will end up in Barcelona for your cruise departure, you definitely should plan some time in that city pre-cruise. It's a much older city than Madrid that also has lots of over-the-top modernista architecture. The city has at least three full days' worth of sights, and real museum-lovers would need more time than that. Even pre-pandemic there were many sights that needed timed entry tickets because of extremely high demand, and that makes it impossible for a visitor to be maximally efficient.

Beyond the city itself good side-trips include Girona with its large medieval center; Figueres for the very quirky Dali Theatre-Museum--otherwise not so engaging a town; the beautiful, white former fishing village of Cadaques; quite a lot of beach towns, most of which I haven't been to (I did like Sitges); Zaragoza, which can be blistering hot as previously mentioned; Montserrat; Besalu with its fortified bridge and medieval district; and a bunch of other places stretching up toward the Pyrenees. Girona actually makes a nice base for seeing places that are farther away if you attempt them from Barcelona: Figueres, Cadaques, Besalu and of course Girona itself.

Posted by
4858 posts

You shouldn’t work remotely in Spain if you have entered on a tourist visa. You can apply for a non-lucrative visa, I understand.

If you don’t want a car, you need to be in a city, as public transport can be sketchy or non - existent in some rural parts. June is a popular month for holidaying for those not tied to school dates in northern Europe, however, school holidays start in mid June for Spanish children, so locations near the coast will be busy and expensive.

If heat isn’t an issue, Madrid, Seville, Zaragoza or Barcelona would all be good bases.