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Madrid & Andalusia in May 2015

I'm looking for feedback on a 2-week itinerary - we've been to Barcelona previously 3 years ago & we loved it, now we want to explore more of Spain. We're focusing on food, great architecture and experiences, we are not beach people.

3 nights Madrid
train to Toledo, 1 night
train to Cordoba, 1 night
train to Granada, 2 nights
train to Ronda, 2 nights (?)
train/bus combo to Tarifa, 2 nights with a day trip to Tangier sandwiched in there
bus/train to Sevilla 3 nights

Hoping to fly into Madrid and out Sevilla, and we'd like the full 14 nights there, we realize the flights from San Francisco will eat up the better part of 2 additional days. Is this itinerary too ambitious? Any areas we're blowing through so fast that it would be better to drop them off the list? As you can see, we're planning to stick to public transit, but if renting a car would be better for Granada-Hill Towns-Tarifa (& possibly to drop off in Sevilla), we're open to it.

Posted by
9363 posts

Be sure that you factor in the time it takes to take the trains between cities. The train to Toledo is only about 30 minutes, so that will leave you plenty of time there the rest of the day and night. But a train to Cordoba is longer and might eat into your day more. That would leave you only the afternoon and evening there, which in my opinion, isn't enough. Changing locations will take the better part of a half-day (remember, two nights is only one full day in a location). If you make sure you allow for your travel time and orientation in the new place, you can make sure you have enough time to see what you have traveled to see.

Posted by
14881 posts

Hi Heather. When I planned my trip, I researched the Tarifa/Tangier bit and decided it wasn't worth the time, even though I had 21 days in Andalusia. It would have taken a long time to get to and from Tarifa, and most of what I learned said "Tangier is to Morocco like Tijuana is to Mexico." So I urge you to drop those 2 precious nights/days.

Check your flight from Sevilla to SFO. It could be that you'll change planes in Madrid and have a long layover. In that case it may just be better to fly round-trip to Madrid. If you do that, my suggestion: on landing, go directly to Cordoba > Sevilla > Ronda > Granada > Madrid/Toledo.

Driving in Spain wasn't hard at all, and I was solo, so I had to do my own navigation. You could benefit from driving from Sevilla to Ronda to Granada. That will give you the freedom to explore the white hill towns (pueblos blancos) while based in Ronda and then get to Granada efficiently. You could spend a few hours in Antequera on the way. The hills weren't hard to drive and it was all scenic. A couple of the hill towns are Very Steep - and this from someone who drove in San Francisco a lot.

2 full days in Granada is best (3 nights), one for the Alhambra and one for the rest. With 3 nights, you can use one for a flamenco show and one for the night visit to the Nasrid Palaces at the Alhambra. There are no fast trains serving Granada, so it's a 1/2 day from there to Madrid.

2 nights is good for Cordoba, especially if it's your first stop. The evenings in Cordoba were better than any other place, quieter, but with little cafes with live music. You can see the highlights in one day, but there's enough for a second day.

Posted by
4534 posts

It is certainly doable. I prefer staying at least two nights in places, but Toledo and Cordoba can certainly be seen fine with just one night (many people only see them as daytrips). You'll get mixed messages on Granada: for me two nights is plenty as the city didn't interest me that much other than La Alhambra. With two nights, you could do the evening tour of the Nasrid Palace as well as a regular daytime visit (book in advance as both sell out).

I haven't done Tangier and can't say whether that would be worth it, but plenty of people do it.

Unless you change your plan to spend more time in the white hills, I'd stick to trains and busses. With the exception of Ronda having a public parking lot outside of town, none of the cities are car friendly.